I was like many Mgobloggers yesterday in being unhappy to learn of the acrimonious end of Ondre Pipkins’ career at Michigan but also uncertain of whether the coaching staff did anything wrong. Regardless of the specifics of Pipkins’ situation, it raises this difficult question:
When is it appropriate to for a player to take a medical hardship? Edit: I presented the question I addressed below poorly. The question is: When - if ever - is it appropriate for a program to try to impose a medical hardship on a player? The analysis below is from the point of view of the school. I thought that was obvious, but it was not.
I think we can all agree that a medical hardship is appropriate when a player, his doctor(s), and the coaching staff all determine that the player cannot or should not play football again. This is the Platonic ideal of medical hardships. It doesn’t require discussion, because of what I assume to be a consensus on its propriety.
Reality rarely fits, though, so neatly into such a category. It is uncommon, as far as I know, that a player becomes incapable of playing football in the most literal sense. Antonio Bass stands out to me as the only player I know to have left Michigan while being truly unable to carry out the basic functions of a football player. We are accordingly left to sort out what a program ought to do regarding a medical hardship when faced with various shades of grey.
To help think about medical hardship situations, I refer below to an imaginary player, Player X, who plays wide receiver for State University (“SU”), a major-conference Division 1 team. When uninjured, he has the speed to be a deep threat, runs good routes, has good hands, and is a willing and capable blocker. It is realistic to believe that he can catch 75 passes for 1,200 yards. To make this all easier, assume that he is neither a positive nor a negative presence in the locker room.
To further help think about medical hardships, I list below a series of situations in which Player X suffers an increasing accumulation of injuries but – crucially – does not want to leave the team. I’ve done this because I think considering plausible scenarios – but not real players who played for schools we may like or dislike – keeps us grounded in reality but not so grounded that we make choices based on our fandom. Many injured players will not fit exactly into the situations I describe, but I believe I’ve broadly covered the possibilities.
A final thought before we start: When thinking about what SU should do when Player X has suffered an injury or injuries, we have to consider SU’s ethical duty to Player X, to its competitors, and to its own program. The need for SU to consider its duty to Player X is obvious. It may be less obvious (to an Alabama fan) that SU has to consider the rightness of its actions in relations to its competitors, but it does. A team that removes injured players from its 85 man roster more liberally than its competitors will likely have an advantage over them in terms of talent (thus the long-time complaints about Nick Saban). Finally, I think SU has at least some ethical duty to its program – its coaches, players, etc. – when considering whether to give a player a medical hardship. We can at least imagine a player or players who insist they can still play despite the fact that they have no realistic chance of contributing and who become, at the risk of being crude, dead weight that takes up reps, time in the weight room, scholarships, and fall camp slots* that could go to players who can help the team win.
*Poster Reader 71 pointed out yesterday that the NCAA limits you to having 105 total players – scholarship or walk-on – in fall camp.
All of that having been said, on to the hypothetical situations:
Situation No. 1: Player X suffers an ACL tear, and he can now realistically be expected post-recovery to catch 50 balls for 500 yards in a season.
I think the vast majority of us will agree that SU owes a duty to Player X to keep him on the team here. 50 catches for 500 yards are the numbers of a very valuable player even if they are not as good as those Player X could have produced pre-injury. And we have to assume that he still takes satisfaction of some sort in playing football. We can hardly say that he has broken any obligation to the program by “only” gaining 500 yards or that he is not still benefitting from being on the team.
I think the vast majority of us will also agree that SU would be violating an ethical duty to its competitors by pushing Player X out the door in this case if it did so to replace him with a better player. I’m not sure anyother program would cut Player X here (maybe Tom Crean if this were basketball), but we can certainly say that most would not and that pushing him out here would violate the intent of the medical hardship rule. SU, then, would at least potentially gain an unfair competitive advantage by cutting Player X to make room for, say, an all-everything high school wide receiver or an All-American wide receiver transferring from another school.
As for SU’s duty to its program in this case, Player X could possibly be replaced by a better player, but he is hardly a non-contributor. Cutting him and replacing him with a better player would improve the talent on SU’s team but also likely hurt team chemistry and player morale.
Considering all of SU’s ethical duties in this case, it’s easy to say that they should keep Player X. Using a medical hardship in this instance would be wrong.
Situation No. 2: Player X suffers yet another knee injury and can now realistically only be expected to catch 25 passes for 250 yards.
I think the vast majority of us will still agree that SU owes a duty to Player X to keep him here just as they did in Situation No. 1. The same reasoning applies despite the fact that Player X is less valuable than he was before. 25 catches for 250 yards is a nice contribution even if it likely won’t get you on an honorable mention all-conference list. It’s also still the sort of contribution a player presumably takes pride in making. Player X has not broken any duty to SU that would allow them to impose the end of his playing days, and football is likely still rewarding to him.
I think the vast majority of us will also still agree that SU owes a duty to its competitors not to cut Player X to make room for a better player in this instance. The same reasoning that applied in Situation No. 1 makes sense here. Rule-abiding teams do not get rid of guys who can catch 25 passes.
As for SU’s duty to its program here, the same reasoning applies as applied in Situation No. 1, though I think we have to concede that – all things being equal – team morale will take less of a hit when a player who catches 25 balls is pushed off the team than when a player who catches 50 balls is pushed off the team. The player with 25 catches is less obviously succeeding, and so it is easier to find logic in getting rid of him (even if that logic seems more misguided than not). And I think we have to concede that a potential replacement of the 25-catch player has a better chance of improving the production of SU’s wide receiver position than would a replacement of a 50-catch player (the replacement of the 25-catch player only has to catch 26 passes for there to be an improvement). So the team is more likely to lose out on increased production by keeping the 25-catch player than it is by keeping the 50-catch player.
Considering all of SU’s ethical duties in this second situation, it is still fairly easy to say that SU should keep Player X on its roster here. A replacement of Player X who is better than him could be found somewhat easily, but that consideration is trumped by all the others by a wide margin.
Situation No. 3: Now things get a little harder. Player X tears an Achilles. He can only be expected post-injury to catch 10 passes for 75 yards, serve as a decent blocker, and play a bit on special teams.
My guess is that Mgobloggers are somewhat divided over a case like this. I believe, though, that the reasoning of Situations 1 & 2 still applies here as far as SU’s duty to Player X. 10 catches for 75 yards is not a lot, but it’s still a contribution. And Player X made no promise when he accepted a scholarship that he would play football with any particular degree of success. He also likely feels some satisfaction in what he provides to the team.
As to SU’s duty to its competitors here, I believe it would still be an unfair competitive advantage to dump Player X in this situation. We might say that a player who is only going to grab 10 passes for 75 yards didn’t pan out, but not all players pan out. And the medical hardship rule was not designed – nor is it generally used – to allow teams to cut a player simply because he might be considered a bust.
As for SU’s duty to its program in this situation, I think we have to conclude that dropping 10-catch Player X will hurt team morale but – all things again being equal – not hurt it as much as dropping 25-catch Player X would. It is relatively easy to see 10-catch Player X as having failed and therefore to rationalize his departure. It is also the case that replacing him with a wide receiver who can out-perform him will be that much easier than it was for 25-catch Player X.
Balancing all of SU’s ethical duties here, I believe SU must keep Player X on the roster. He is not giving SU a great deal, and he could likely be replaced by someone who would help the team more. But SU would be violating the agreement it made with Player X when it offered him a scholarship to play football, robbing him of a still-rewarding experience, and gaining an unfair advantage over other schools.
Situation No. 4: Now we will certainly be divided. Player X tears a hamstring and suffers an MCL tear and ACL tear to his other knee. He is capable of running routes in only the most literal sense, and he is a poor blocker. He gives 100% effort at all times, but he produces no more than a good intramural player off the street could.
SU’s duty to Player X in this instance is difficult to pin down. They offered him a scholarship to play D1 football. He can now do so in a literal sense, but he will never contribute to a win. We could thus arguably say that Player X now has – through no fault of his own – reached a point at which he is failing to live up to his end of the scholarship-for-play bargain. And it also becomes fair to question how rewarding football could still be for Player X, though it is ultimately only Player X who can make that determination.
SU’s duty to its competitors here is also hard to determine. Is the medical hardship rule generally taken to mean that a player like Player X can be pushed into leaving the roster? My sense is that it is, and this is partly informed by posts by Reader 71, who played at Michigan.
SU’s duty to its program, when considered in isolation, points toward pushing Player X to take a medical hardship. Every practice rep that he takes could go to a player who might help the team win. And his scholarship could be used for a player who could help the team win. There would presumably be some morale loss by pressuring him into a medical hardship, but it would be relatively easy for players to rationalize this action.
When balancing the above considerations, I still lean toward believing SU would be wrong to force Player X to take a medicalhardship. As I noted regarding Situation No. 3, Player X never promised to play football with any particular success. And we have to assume that being on the team is still rewarding for him even if an outside observer might question that, because the cost to him of staying on the team in terms of time and energy spent is very high. He is being rewarded – at least in a subjective sense – by remaining on the roster, or he is self-destructive, and we have no right to assume the latter.
SU seemingly wouldn’t gain a competitive advantage by cutting Player X, and the program as a whole would benefit from removing him from the roster. But my instinct – and I admit this is a conclusory statement – is that SU’s ethical duty to Player X is more important than its ethical duty to the rest of its program within the context of considering his scholarship. I do not feel particularly strongly about this, though, and readily admit that I may be discounting the wellbeing of the program as whole.
Another thought: The question of whether Player X has a duty to his teammates to take the medical hardship here is an interesting one, though one I don’t have time to take up.
Situation No. 5: Player X suffers multiple concussions, a neck injury, or something similarly serious. He can play post-recovery, but his doctors tell him he is at risk of experiencing a lifetime of unpleasant and debilitating symptoms if he endures another injury of the same type.
I believe SU is free to take a paternalistic approach here and tell Player X that, while he is free to transfer and risk his health with another program, they are not going to watch him leave the field on a cart in an SU uniform. If the coach of SU wants no part of Player X having to spend years sitting in a dark room because, like former New York Jet Al Toon, he becomes dizzy and experiences terrible pain if he stands or sees light, then the coach is free to tell Player X that he has to play elsewhere if he is to play at all.
If SU is willing to keep Player X on the roster, then I think they at least owe him a duty to explain to him the potential risks and the potential rewards of continuing to play football. Perhaps a potential top-10 pick could rationally choose to continue to play even if he faced, say, a 25% chance of paralysis. But he should make that decision with as must information as possible.
There is no problem here as far as SU’s duty to its competitors. A great many programs would, I think, push Player X into a medical hardship here.
As far as the program as a whole, the question hinges in part on how well Player X can play. Can he still gain 1,200 yards? Then the program obviously benefits from keeping him around. Can he only gain 75 yards? Then the program might gain by being rid of him. But regardless of his remaining ability, it is worth considering the potential damage to the program in terms of morale and image that would result from having a player seriously hurt (consider the Shane Morris incident last year).
The issue of how well Player X can play, though, is very small in relation the potential that he suffers a debilitating injury. The consideration that dwarfs all others is whether he ought to risk his health in order to gain from remaining on the team and potentially playing professional football.
Summary: This isn’t an easy issue. Some cases will be black and white, but the right answer is often unclear – and arriving at it requires a good deal of detailed information about the given situation. I lean toward believing programs should keep players on their rosters in almost all instances, but there is room for reasonable argument as to when exactly they are not required to do so. And there may even be cases in which a program should force a player to take a medical hardship.
Using the Composite 247sports rankings, here is every player Michigan has signed in the modern recruiting rankings era that was the #1 ranked prospect in their respective state.
|2002||Gabe Watson||DT||5 star||MI||Southfield||Southfield|
|2003||Prescott Burgess||S||5 star||OH||Warren||Harding|
|2003||Will Paul||TE||4 star||MO||Ballwin||West|
|2003||Clayton Richard||QB||4 star||IN||Lafayette||McCutcheon|
|2003||LaMarr Woodley||LB||5 star||MI||Saginaw||Saginaw|
|2004||Adrian Arrington||WR||4 star||IA||Cedar Rapids||George Washington|
|2004||Doug Dutch||WR||4 star||DC||Washington||Gonzaga|
|2004||Brett Gallimore||OT||4 star||MO||Riverside||Park Hill South|
|2004||Will Johnson||DT||4 star||MI||Lake Orion||Lake Orion|
|2005||Kevin Grady||RB||5 star||MI||Grand Rapids||East Grand Rapids|
|2005||James McKinney||DT||4 star||KY||Louisville||Central|
|2006||Brandon Graham||LB||5 star||MI||Detroit||Crockett|
|2007||Ryan Mallett||QB||5 star||TX||Texarkana||Texas|
|2007||Renaldo Sagesse||DT||3 star||QUE||Montreal||Alma|
|2011||Blake Countess||CB||4 star||MD||Olney||Good Counsel|
|2012||Amara Darboh||WR||4 star||IA||West Des Moines||Dowling Catholic|
|2013||Chris Fox||OT||4 star||CO||Parker||Ponderosa|
|2013||Shane Morris||QB||4 star||MI||Warren||De La Salle|
|2014||Jabrill Peppers||CB||5 star||NJ||Paramus||Catholic|
|2015||Brian Cole||ATH||4 star||MI||Saginaw||Heritage|
|2015||Zach Gentry||QB||4 star||NM||Albuquerque||Eldorado|
|2015||Tyrone Wheatley, Jr.||TE||4 star||NY||Buffalo||Canisius|
- Some, uh, massive busts but some pretty great players.
- Prescott Burgess was a beast.
- Kind of hard to believe D.Green wasn't #1 in Virginia in 2013.
- Pierre Rembert was #2 in Wisconsin in 2002. If things hold up and Bredeson follows through with his commitment and signs with Michigan in February, Michigan will grab WI's top ranked player for the first time.
Many Michigan fans are mystified by the current recruiting strategy of taking so many low-rated (or unrated) players at this early stage in the process. ‘Does JH know what he is doing?’ ‘Why not wait, as you can scoop up these guys later if the bigger fish don’t come on board.’ Even those of us who totally trust JH must admit to being a bit boggled when he took the 2 star DE; notwithstanding that he had worked him out personally at camp. However, when you look at the numbers - in light of Harbaugh’s track record - his madness makes more than just sense... it is genius.
2015: I believe that we will take Jhonny Williams as a transfer so will need to make some room to get down to 85. That should be no problem with the rumored medicals and other natural attrition.
2016: It looks like we are going for 25 recruits (#Fab 25)... or even more. There are 15 - 16 spots open at present which means that 10 or so more are expected. We do not name names on this site (and I fully agree with that policy), but looking at the roster it is fairly easy to see where the 10+ openings will come from. Medicals, un-offered 5th years and transfers for PT or other reasons could open at least 25 spots for the 2016 class. In fact, 28 (the league maximum if you have at least 3 early enrolees) is a very plausible number. This makes the spate of offers - and the less-than-sexy commitments - more understandable.
The bottom line is that JH is Confident that with his track record, and an EUTM, he can spot the right kind of athletes and mold them into Winners. To get 25 - 28 of those guys you can't sit on your butt waiting for high rated prima donnas to sign your dance card. This is why the 'Swarm' camps were such a stroke of genius. They gave JH the opportunity to see athletes from all over the country up close and personal. All of the ones who checked out as potential winners were offered. Never mind the star ratings of the armchair experts; one of the best talent evaluators in all of football worked these guys out in person. There is absolutely no way that he could have seen the vast majority of these kids if he had just waited for the Michigan camp... Genius!
We've got the Right guy in the Right Place at the Right time... Enjoy!
Sometimes I feel my abilities to contribute to this blog are limited. I didn’t grow up playing organized sports, so I can contribute very little technical data. I spent much of my time learning nonessential sports information by studying books, magazines, and sports cards. I tried my hand at writing a diary about this kind of off the wall material once and enjoyed the experience. However, WolverineDevotee has admirably cornered the market on these types of posts, so I must look for something else to add.
Last summer, I happened to be in an antique store in Carson City (MI not NV) because of a rather bizarre part of my job in my former career as legislative staff. While there, I saw old department store catalogues for sale. They were surprisingly expensive, so I didn’t buy any, but as with most things in life, the internet answered my needs and scanned copies were easily found.
As I looked through them, I noticed that many displayed Michigan apparel in some form, and that gave me the idea to add some fashion perspective to the blog. With all the hubbub about Nike vs. Adidas and shades of Maize, I thought this would be a good time to collect these pictures and provide a laugh for some and memories for others. I hope you enjoy this brief look at ‘M’ fashion from the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s.
First a quick disclaimer…my source for this post does not have an exhaustive list of catalogues, so there could be a many other images out there that would be good to add. Also, I may have missed some within these catalogues; scrolling through 500-600 pages in one catalogue can get tedious. However, I will add that the catalogues are fascinating, not only for the price and styles but the breadth of what they sold.
1970 Montgomery Ward
I started looking at the catalogues in the mid-to late 1960s, but there was very little sports apparel of any kind. Some NFL, but no NCAA until the late 70s. The NFL gear could be another post, but I couldn’t help including this gem. I realize Joe Namath was a big thing in this era, but I saw nothing else like this. A few team shirts and jackets each year, but then along comes a doll complete with 12 different outfits. Incredible.
Here we have our first instance of ‘M’ apparel. Unfortunately, the actual clothing isn’t shown, but the logo to be used on the jacket is in the second column from the left, second from the bottom. For this they stayed all business and used the traditional university seal. It’s also interesting to see the variety of teams offered, including schools like Maryland, Michigan State, Texas Tech, and California. In later years, options would be very limited to major schools like ‘M’, Notre Dame (who is surprisingly not offered here), and Penn State.
Another offering from same catalogue is the “sport carry all”. Unfortunately, no ‘M’ logo is pictured, but it was an option (with colors navy and gold, really?), so I thought I would include it here. Interestingly, here Notre Dame is offered, along with very odd choices in Boston and Delaware.
Here is a t-shirt with a very large ‘M’ on it. It’s an interesting variation of the split M. But hey, at least it’s not that Gopher or the UCLA Bruin.
A slew of interesting takes on various logos here. Again, a unique version of the split M. This time with university seal doing the splitting. I have certainly never seen this variation anywhere else.
I’m kinda liking this varsity sweater, though I’m not sure I would have occasion to wear it. This is an interesting rendering of the block M. Skinnier than usual, and it seems like the middle portion doesn’t come as low as it should.
These short, mesh jerseys were pretty popular in this era, at least they sold NFL versions in a number of different years. I thought it was interesting that they used Ron Kramer’s number here, but then I realized that they were each number 87…and this was Christmas 1986, right before 1987.
Again with the number 87. Who wants to wear a jersey with the year on it?
Preppy collegiate sweatshirt? Sure, I guess. It’s interesting that apparel with the University’s seal was popular enough to be offered several times. Also, your nation’s rugby shirt if you’d like; I assume in anticipation of the Olympics the following year.
Here’s another offering from 1987. Apparently, they felt kids would be disappointed if they got a Penn State helmet and it was blank, so they added an emblem.
Quite the large wolverine we’ve got here. But again, it could be worse; at least it’s not the cartoon Bruin of UCLA. Also, Hawaii with a rare appearance. Was that a normal logo for them? If so, it’s terrible.
Mesh jerseys with another appearance in 1988. It’s pretty tough to see what is on the ‘M’ set. It looks like a typical split M on the shorts.
“In case anyone has any doubts or has terrible eyesight, I cheer for the Wolverines” says the fan with a massive split M on his sweater. In all fairness though, if there was a year to wear this sweater, 1989 was the year.
While we’re on the subject of apparel from the great year of 1989, I’m going to make a quick interlude to insert a couple of personal pictures of ‘M’ clothing from that year. Though I probably should have included these in this post your own apparel thread. I found this t-shirt at a thrift store a couple years ago. Oh that there might be occasion for a similar shirt to be produced again.
This sweatshirt was my older sister’s, but it ended up in a bag of clothing repatriated by my parents to my house several years ago. I don’t know what a teddy bear had to do with ‘M’ or with the Rose Bowl, but it was available if you wanted it.
Here we have “team jackets by Chalkline.” And another logo variation with the words Michigan and Wolverine down each side of the block M. I can’t say I’m sad that this style of jacket has passed on.
Back to the large wolverine here, also large stripes. Maybe this was the impetus for the “throwback” jerseys of 2011?
Finally from 1989, another version of the mesh jersey. Unfortunately, only displayed with Notre Dame. But some pretty awesome socks down in the corner.
Here the apparel with the university seals is offered on kid’s clothing. Again, I don’t picture this conversation happening “Hey Tommy, that’s an awesome garland around the lamp on your sweatshirt.” Also, does Notre Dame still use that Leprechaun? It seems very familiar from that era, but not so much lately. Maybe I just haven’t paid attention recently.
And here is an adult option of the clothing from the last page. Also, Zubaz. I’m young enough or sheltered enough that I associate these with the 2014 Tigers, but I guess they were quite the thing in 1991. The logo looks like the split M with “Wolverines” across it, an interesting twist.
And Zubaz hats to go with those pants. I realize this is just like, my opinion, but these jackets are awful. Again, the ‘M’ offering isn’t the worst (I would say that goes to Georgetown). I would like to think that if I was a functioning adult (and not just a 6 year old) at the time, I would have had the same opinion in 1991, but who knows…
Here the M is split by a…wolverine? Might as well. It looks like they have two different shades of maize going here, but when has that ever worried anyone?
Replica helmet for sale, not much of note here. Unless you want a Super Bowl helmet with the score on it. I guess if you were a fan of the Cowboys this would be nice, but it doesn’t seem like there would be a wider appeal.
And a duffel bag, again nothing too unique or interesting. I like the basketball court rugs. That’s an item that could do with a revival, if it’s not still available in some form.
Ah, the Starter jackets of the mid-90s, certainly an iconic look. From a marketing standpoint, things seems fairly standardized by this point. It’s interesting that the split M has been dropped, it was such a ubiquitous symbol for quite a while.
To complete 1994, a couple of seating options. It looks like they solved the multiple colors of maize from 1991 by going with blue, but interestingly they kept the wolverine. Maybe I haven’t noticed, but I don’t remember seeing a wolverine image used in marketing at all recently. You also had the option of buying an “ABC Wide World of Sports” beanbag if you didn’t feel like supporting a specific team.
Finally, a couple bonuses. I had to include this page from the 1975 Montgomery Ward catalogue because it reminded me of Graham Glasgow.
And this offering from the 1976 JCPenney catalogue. I suppose I should mark this last one as NSFW or at least OT, but for those of you who were around and conscious of such things in 1976, were his and hers matching underwear really a thing? Like did people coordinate each day? Would you plan out your whole week in advance? I’m not sure I even want to know the answers to these questions.
A look at the recruiting rankings of Harbaugh's 2010 Orange Bowl team (and a thought about Andrew Luck)
Last week I posted a diary in which I looked at the recruiting rankings of Coach Harbaugh's 2007 and 2008 classes at Stanford. This is a summary of what I learned:
Despite only having one consensus four-star, Stanford's 2007 and 2008 classes produced five first-team all-Americans, eight first-team all Pac Ten players, two second-team all Pac Ten players, and four honorable mention all Pac Ten players (note that I counted Owen Marecic as both a first-team all Pac Ten player, an award he won as a FB, and an honorable mention all Pac Ten player, an award he won as an LB).
Coach Harbaugh's recruiting picked up in 2009, with that year's Stanford class including nine consensus four-star players. Stanford's 2010 class also included several consensus four-star players.
Stanford's 2010 Orange Bowl wining season was the peak of Coach Harbaugh's time on the Farm (they finished the year ranked No. 4), and I wondered how much the 2009 class and the 2010 class were responsible for Stanford's success that year. Did the lowly-ranked 2007 and 2008 classes create a decent foundation for the program with Stanford only making the jump to elite status once the cavalry arrived in the form of 2009's and 2010's highly-ranked players?
The answer to my question, to a surprising extent (to me anyway), was no. The starting line-up for Stanford in 2010 (the starters for the Cal game, anyway), which I list below, included only four four-star players (I bolded their names). Seven spots in the starting line up, meanwhile, were filled by players who were either two-star recruits or unranked at the time they entered college (I underlined their names).
QB – Andrew Luck – R/Soph – **** (0.9768)
RB – Stepfan Taylor – Soph – **** (.8961)
FB – Owen Marecic – Senior – ** (0.7745)
LT – Jonathan Martin – R/Soph – *** (0.8620)
LG – Andrew Phillips – R/Senior – *** (0.8264)(inherited from prior staff)
C – Chase Beeler – R/Senior – *** (0.8558)(transfer from Oklahoma)
RG – David DeCastro – R/Soph – *** (0.8847)
RT – Derek Hall – R/Senior – *** (0.8333)(inherited from prior staff)
WR – Ryan Whalen – Senior – walk-on, seemingly no recruiting ranking/stars
WR – Doug Baldwin – Senior – ** (0.7778)
TE – Konrad Reuland – R/Senior – **** (0.9780)(transfer from Notre Dame)
DE – Matt Masifilo – R/Junior – *** (0.8889
NT – Sione Fua – Senior - *** (0.8778)
DE – Brian Bulcke – R/Senior – ** (no 247 ranking)(inherited from prior staff)
ILB – Owen Marecic – Senior – ** (0.7745)
ILB – Shayne Skov – Soph - **** (0.9514)
OLB – Chase Thomas – R/Soph – *** (0.8641)
OLB – Thomas Keiser – R/Junior – ** (0.7444)
CB – Richard Sherman – R/Senior – *** (0.8389)(inherited from prior staff)
CB – Johnson Bademosi – Junior – ** (0.7333)
SS – Delano Howell – Junior – *** (0.8877)
FS – Michael Thomas – Junior – *** (0.8484)
Starting line ups don't tell the whole story of a season, of course, so l looked at other contributing players, which I defined as anyone with 100 or more yards rushing, anyone with 100 or more yards receiving, anyone with 20 or more tackles, and the second team offensive line (note that second team center was a “Player X or Player Y” situation). This group included three four-star recruits and four players who were either two-star recruits or unranked as they entered Stanford.
RB – Anthony Wilkerson – **** (.9378)
RB – Tyler Gaffney – Soph – **** (.8955)
RB – Usua Amanam – R/Fresh –*** (0.8742)
QB – Alex Loukas – R/Junior – *** (.8241)
RB – Jeremy Stewart – Senior - *** (0.8000)
TE – Coby Fleener – R/Junior – *** (0.8333)
WR – Griff Whalen – Junior – walk-on, seemingly no recruiting ranking/stars
TE – Zach Ertz – R/Fresh – **** 0.9090
WR – Chris Owusu – Junior – *** (0.8708)
SS – Taylor Skaufel – Senior – ** (0.7852)
ILB – Max Bergen – R/Junior –** (.7444)
LB – Chike Amajoyi – Senior –*** (0.8294 )
LT – Tyler Mabry – R/Junior – *** (0.8368)
LG – Matt Bentler – R/Junior – ** (0.7889)
C – Sam Schwartzstein – R/Soph - *** (0.8273)
C – Kahlil Wilkes – R/Fresh - *** (.8620)
RG – Kevin Danser – R/Fresh - *** (.8600)
RT – James McGillicuddy – 6th/Senior - *** (.8667)(inherited from prior staff)
Summary: Coach Harbaugh took Stanford to the No. 4 ranking in the country with seven four-star players, eleven two-star/unranked players, and a host of three-star guys making up the bulk of his team. Two-star/unranked players outnumbered four-star players in the starting lineup by seven to four...Note: I'm treating Owen Marecic as two players here, because he started on both offense and defense.
A brief editorial: Finishing No. 4 in the country with a team that is more two-star than four-star is pretty remarkable in my eyes. I'm inclined to give Coach Harbaugh total trust when it comes to recruiting right now. He's earned it.
A final, somewhat tangential thought: I can imagine someone saying, "But he had Andrew Luck!" And there was undeniably a certain amount of fortune in that. But it's worth noting that Luck's offers before Stanford offered him were Texas A&M, Baylor, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Kansas, Nebraska, Purdue, Northwestern, Duke, and Houston.*1 Alabama would later offer Luck, but coaches like Bob Stoops, Mack Brown, Pete Carroll, and Les Miles apparently never did.
Luck was admittedly an unusual recruit. At one point he named a top five of Stanford, Purdue, Northwestern, Virginia, and Rice. It accordingly didn't take much to see that he was among the best chances a school like Stanford had to land a four-star quarterback. But Harbuagh still had to understand that Luck was worth the four-star hype and worthy of going "all in" for, which is how Luck's high school coach described Stanford's approach to their recruitment of Luck. *2 My conclusion about Luck, then, is that it's not fair to assert that Coach Harbaugh papered over the flaws in his two and three star team with an all-everything player at QB who was obviously going to be an All-American. Unlike Terrelle Pryor, for example, Luck simply wasn't considered that when he was in high school, and at least some insight was required in picking him as your potential future quarterback.
The Washington Post just reviewed the widely reported study of a think tank (AEI), which dismantled the NFL's Wells report. AEI showed that the Pats balls were not abnormally deflated. That had already noted by many reputable scientists. What’s new about the Washington Post’s take, however, is that it comes out and says what many of us who've read the AEI report were too polite to say. The Post provides a scathing—almost directly accusatory-- rebuke of the Wells reports' analysts and of the NFL itself.
Why? When AEI reanalyzed the data, “The math in the Wells report didn’t add up….the results could not be replicated.... What’s worse, is the methods it used were not the ones it said it used. “The Wells report said it would use one equation, but then used a different (and weird) equation to arrive at its numbers (see my summary of the details below).*
It’s a standard principle in science: If you can’t replicate a set of results, then …a flaw or a fraud is at work. Either you made a mistake, or you made it up. Another plain English phrase possibly applies to all of this:
….”Lately the NFL has begun turning these special counsel investigations into manipulated campaigns calculated to enhance the commissioner’s profile and powers.
And they seem to be written to fit predetermined conclusions.”
(a not surprising fact given that the analysts it paid had previously written reports to help industries dispute links between cancer and 3 known causes of it: asbestos, toxic waste and cigarette smoke.)
According to the Washington Post, The AEI’s re-analysis of the Wells report supports the NFL Players Association’s charge that the Wells report “delivered exactly what the client wanted. It ….wasn’t an investigation; it was a frame job by the commissioner’s office desperate to reestablish its authority.”
“Twice now Goodell has ginned up false scandals that seriously and unfairly targeted individual players, and damaged franchises, on what turned out to be bogus or flawed evidence. Forget his bungled handling of Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice — at least those guys actually did something wrong. In the Deflategate and Bountygate affairs, Goodell hammered people who appear to have done nothing.” (even if they were apparently paid to do it in Bountygate)
Recall that the NFL also enabled Brady and the Pats to be convicted in the court of public opinion through daily leaks of false information about ball pressures, switched kicking balls, trips the john, and other incidents. Meanwhile, it withheld for over a month the true data, which could refute not only the data inaccuracies but also the faulty analyses)
The Post continues: “The AEI’s entry into Deflategate is important, because the institute was a major factor in righting the Goodell-driven injustice in Bountygate back in 2012. The Commissioner went all hanging judge on the New Orleans Saints, suspending several officials and players for a supposed bonuses system to injure opponents between 2009-2011. But then AEI analyzed injury data — something that surely the commissioner should have done. The AEI found that the Saints injured fewer opposing players than all but two teams in 2009 and all but one from 2009-11. After AEI’s report was presented at an NFL hearing, the suspensions were vacated……
Goodell is now in a truly interesting and awkward position. …Does Goodell stand by the conclusions of the Wells report, dig in and refuse to budge — thus establishing that he’s incapable of fairly considering evidence and is a serial abuser of his powers? Does he try to parse and sidestep the AEI analysis, by claiming that the scientific evidence is just a small part of the case against Brady? Trouble with that is, more than half of the Wells report’s 243 pages is taken up by pressure gauges and pounds-per-square-inch analysis – all of which must be thrown out according to AEI. If the balls weren’t deflated, then what’s left? One e-mail exchange, in which Brady complained that some game balls against the New York Jets were ludicrously overinflated. Is this evidence of ill intent? Hardly. Brady’s solution to the over-inflation was to suggest the refs check the rulebook. Not the act of a cheater.
Or does Goodell do the right thing and rescind Brady’s suspension on the basis of the new info in the AEI report — thus admitting that the league spent millions on a railroading farce? There is trouble for Goodell in this option too, because it suggests that the league office under Goodell’s leadership is either incapable of executing a proper investigation, or unwilling to….Brady may or may not win his appeal. But there is one sure loser here, trapped in a box of his own making: the commissioner.”
*you can read the AEI report link below. Among the Wells reports’ questionable practices:
1. it claimed to include a mean term in the statistical model (ANOVA) as well as a second error term and other interaction effects, But it actually did not use this model to obtain the reported results.
2. The authors also give the impression of running a regression using all the data but instead used a series of individual regressions.
3. They falsely claim that substituting different pressure gauges’ results in the analysis yielded the same results.
4. The halftime measures suggest the two referees switched gauges between testing the Pats and Colts balls, and this is not noted in the report. (the two gauges different by as much a 0.7 PSI, about half the degree of deflation claimed).
5. In their statistical analysis, the Wells study only compared the pressure changes in the Pats balls with the Colts balls, not with the expected pressure changes based on atmospherics. This not only invalidated the statistical assumptions (since similar changes from pregame to halftime measures will occur due to atmospheric conditions, leading to correlated error terms in an incompletely specified model). Beyond merely changing confidence in the statistical significance of results, however, it also made the results completely misleading. To show this, AEI does a separate and study of atmospherics (the relation of the ball’s pressure to temperature and other factors). When the latter are analyzed, the Patriots balls do not significantly deviate from the prediction of the Ideal Gas Law in the direction that one would expect based on the Wells report’s conclusions. By contrast, the Colts halftime pressures were higher than predicted, implying less deflation occurred than actually should have been the case. That was because the balls were given more time to warm up and were not measured until just before the halftime ended.
The AEI’s analysis of this point is incredibly detailed--even to the point of analyzing sequential pressure changes in the measures of the Pats, then the Colts’ balls. It thereby shows how the pressure changes could be explained by the order of measurement of the Pats and Colts balls. It is not consistent with the NFL’s allegations that the Pats deflated the balls. .
ADDENDUM: Summary of the appeal letter sent to the NFL (with expected arguments)
1. Brady was not proven guilty.
The accusation disregards contrary evidence. It’s based on speculation piled upon speculation about Brady’s involvement with two Pats’ employees’ purported conduct. It grasps at dubious, contradictory and mischaracterized circumstantial evidence merely to conclude that it is “more probable than not” that Mr. Brady was “generally aware of” “inappropriate activities.”
(Also, the balls were not abnormally deflated in the first place).
2. Brady's punishment is unfair and inconsistent.
The NFL stipulates a $25,000 fine for a team, not for a player. Yet, Brady suspension would cost him nearly $2,000,000 in unpaid salary for an alleged “general awareness” of actions
(not to mention endorsements lost already from the NFL’s defamatory and inaccurate media leaks, a million dollar Pats’ fine, the loss of 2 draft picks worth more millions, and the consequent threat to the future success of Brady’s teams).
Even if there were one iota of definitive proof of deflation and guilt, no player in the NFL’s history has ever gotten anything approaching this level of investigation or discipline for similar behavior.
(Brady’s initial suspension far exceeds that of Adrian Peterson for child abuse or Ray Rice for knocking his wife unconscious and dragging her out of an elevator by her hair. Also, 2 teams escaped any punishment at all after definite proof that they overinflated kicking footballs).
Never before in history had the NFL even tested football pressure at half time, let alone conducted a sting operation on other players for similar behavior.
(A former Bears QB admitted deflating balls. Colts’ sideline employees were never investigated despite the suspicious actions they accuse the Pats of. Reportedly, they carried under their sleeves the pins that could be used to deflate balls illegally. Other Pats critics like Jerry Rice were never investigated or penalized despite admitting that he applied stickum to his gloves to make it easier to achieve a completion. That’s a clearer advantage for Joe Montana than Brady).
3. Goodel should not arbitrate this case and the Exec VP Vincent should not have determined discipline in the first place.
An independent arbiter is needed due to NFL bias Only Goodel—not Vincent—is supposed to determine discipline. (Such delegation is a ruse to let him control the investigation and avoid embarassment). In fact, a previous independent arbitrator said Troy Vincent was unfamiliar with proper disciplinary procedure and should have no role in it. Also, Vincent cannot be unbiased as he was directly involved in game day events. As such, he must testify about his own involvement in such events. Goodel must too.
(The implicit accusation is that the NFL and Indy set up a “sting operation” to implicate Brady and the Pats. Who was the driving force behind the investigation? Mike Kensil, whose father was the Jets president and who himself worked 20 years for this team—one that has had longstanding legal disputes with the Pats. Kensil reportedly walked up to the Pats equipment manager at halftime and said, “We weighed the balls. You are in big f—ing trouble.” The NFLPA believes this statement not only showed prejudgment but also that Kensil took joy in trying to catch the Pats in the act. To make matters worse, Kensil destroyed the alleged “evidence.” Kensil inspected the footballs at halftime and instead of preserving them as evidence had them reinflated. As such, it was not possible to judge the pressure of all Pats and Colts balls together under the same atmospheric conditions. Remember that the AEI report found that such conditions fully explained the pressure differences).
Also, both Goodel and Vincent must both testify about when they became aware of the Colts’ complaints about ball deflation and what decisions and steps were thereafter taken. Specifically, the NFL had claimed it did not suspect deflation until a ball was intercepted in the game’s 2nd quarter. But there is now written evidence that Indy informed the NFL of their concerns a day earlier. If the Colts had notified the league that the Patriots were breaking the rules, the league is supposed to notify the Patriots about the complaint.
Also, since we now know that league officials were alerted before the game, they must explain why the exact PSI of each ball wasn’t recorded by NFL officials before the game.
(Apparently, the refs were not told of the concern of league officials prior to the game so that an improper sting operation could proceed. The NFL officials’ sting operation proceeded even though refs could have prevented this crucial game from being played with presumably underinflated balls).
The NFL is biased and lacks credibility in this case. Goodel, Vincent, and other NFL officials are themselves suspected of improper behavior. So, Goodel must explain why a neutral party with no ties to the League should not be appointed for Brady to maintain the integrity of the investigation. Goodel previously concluded that one was needed to hear Ray Rice’s case for that
4. In a footnote, the NFLPA letter also says that Brady did not knowingly violate rules or fail to cooperate with the investigation.
(But would any celebrity hand over their cell phones and emails to a biased organization that previously defamed his character through unauthorized and inaccurate news leaks?).
5. If the NFL does not appoint an independent party, the Brady and the NFLPA will sue the NFL.