also duty-free guys falling over and grabbing their shins
So what do we see for this year? Here's the schedule, home games in caps:
Sept. 4 ~ CONNECTICUT
Sept. 11 ~ Notre Dame
Sept. 18 ~ MASSACHUSETTS
Sept. 25 ~ BOWLING GREEN
Oct. 2 ~ Indiana
Oct. 9 ~ MICHIGAN STATE
Oct. 16 ~ IOWA
Oct. 30 ~ Penn State
Nov. 6 ~ ILLINOIS
Nov. 13 ~ Purdue
Nov. 20 ~ WISCONSIN
Nov. 27 ~ Ohio State
This is the same conference schedule as last year, in the same order. Only the stadiums are changing.
One key difference is all the non-conference games are on the front end. No baby seals on the menu in the midst of conference play. I see that as a good thing. It definitely didn't help last year -- the feast just seemed to leave the team lethargic the next week against Penn State.
Win or lose, UConn is a great way to prepare for ND the following week. The Huskies are probably about right in competitive terms for a hungry UM team coming off a disappointing season, so it should be a good, hard-fought game. Just what the doctor ordered. I give the Wolverines the edge at home.
Notre Dame is an unknown. New coaching staff, star quarterback and running back gone. Two very good seniors gone on the offensive line. Sound familiar? Nonetheless, they open against Purdue at home, so they will be primed and ready to go when UM comes in the next week. But I like having a tough early road game. Last year, the first road game was the first loss. There were no road wins. Four home games in a row is not a good way to start a season.
So even if Michigan goes 1-1 in the first two games, the team will at least know the drill when they go on the road to Indiana to start the Big Ten season. IU will be out for revenge, but let's say we score enough points to win going away, like 40 or something.
Thus, like last year, it's not inconceivable the team could have three wins going into Big Ten play, and four when they play State. The big difference being that this time Michigan will have the experience of a gut-check road game in South Bend under their belts, and after Indiana we are looking at back-to-back home games against State and Iowa. This is a much better outlook than last year, which was the opposite.
Iowa is homecoming, followed by a bye week and then a five-game grind beginning at Happy Valley and ending in the Horseshoe. This is a tougher way to finish the season than last year, but if we play Penn State at 5-2 again it will be a more seasoned, mature 5-2, with at least a few more wins to be expected. [That is, more than none!] Plus, there was no bye week last year. The team played every week. An extra week to heal at mid-season should help matters.
I doubt 9-3 is realistic, but 7-5 or even 8-4 seems possible. I expect a lot of carnage (i.e., parity) in the Big Ten this year, much like last year (UM's dismal results notwithstanding), so even 7-5 could mean a decent bowl berth.
The reasons this coming draft is inspiring so many to try to grab the brass ring are all the result of the expiring labor agreement between NFL Players and owners. First, it is likely that the next agreement will include a slotted rookie draft with lower starting salaries, like the NBA currently has, so some players may be entering during an uncapped year to maximize the pay in their first contract. Second, the next contract may extend the period before players can become unrestricted free agents, so they would like to get in now to start their counter toward that time. Finally, the number one reason college underclassmen are being advised to enter now is the potential lockout in 2011, players getting in now can ensure themselves a payday rather than risking a year without a season.
The prospects for a lockout are very real. The NFL Players Association is desperately trying to get the owners to negotiate a new contract but the owners are unwilling to meet. The owners are looking forward to the uncapped year, not so that they can spend like crazy, instead it provides them an opportunity to dump bad contracts without penalty while locking up their young stars. While many current NFL players have been looking forward to the uncapped year as a windfall, the owners included language in the contract that adds an extra transition tag to protect a teams best players and extends the unrestricted free agency period from four years to six for this coming season; locking up many of the league's best young stars when they expected their freedom.
Since we all know that most of college football's top players are merely using the NCAA as a launching pad to the NFL, they don't need too much encouragement to take a shot at the league. Here's a list of players that have already declared or indicated that they are strongly considering it (I included the Scout star ranking when they left high school or junior college):
|QB||Sam Bradford||Oklahoma||Declared||4 star|
|QB||Jevan Snead||Mississippi||4 star|
|QB||Ryan Mallett||Arkansas||5 star|
|QB||Jimmy Clausen||Notre Dame||Declared||5 star|
|QB||Case Keenum||Houston||2 star|
|RB||Jonathan Dwyer||Georgia Tech||4 star|
|RB||Evan Royster||Penn State||Declared||3 star|
|RB||John Clay||Wisconsin||4 star|
|RB||Brandon Saine||Ohio State||4 star|
|RB||Toby Gerhart||Stanford||3 star|
|RB||Jahvid Best||California||Declared||4 star|
|RB||DeMarco Murray||Oklahoma||5 star|
|RB||Harvey Unga||BYU||2 star|
|RB||Joe McKnight||Southern California||5 star|
|RB||Darren Evans||Virginia Tech||4 star|
|RB||Delone Carter||Syracuse||4 star|
|RB||Ryan Mathews||Fresno State||Declared||2 star|
|WR||Dez Bryant||Oklahoma State||Declared||4 star|
|WR||Arrelious Benn||Illinois||Declared||5 star|
|WR||Damian Williams||Southern California||4 star|
|WR||Dezmon Briscoe||Kansas||Declared||2 star|
|WR||Demaryius Thomas||Georgia Tech||3 star|
|WR||Golden Tate||Notre Dame||Declared||4 star|
|WR||Vincent Brown||San Diego State||3 star|
|WR||Chris Bell||Norfolk State||5 star|
|WR||Dane Sanzenbacher||Ohio State||4 star|
|WR||Mike Williams||Syracuse||Declared||2 star|
|TE||Rob Gronkowski||Arizona||4 star|
|TE||Aaron Hernandez||Florida||5 star|
|TE||Weslye Saunders||South Carolina||4 star|
|TE||Jermaine Gresham||Oklahoma||Declared||4 star|
|OT||Brian Bulaga||Iowa||4 star|
|OT||Anthony Davis||Rutgers||Declared||5 star|
|OT||Gabe Carimi||Wisconsin||3 star|
|OT||Jason Pinkston||Pittsburgh||4 star|
|OT||Bruce Campbell||Maryland||Declared||4 star|
|OL||Bryant Browning||Ohio State||3 star|
|OL||Justin Boren||Ohio State||5 star|
|OL||Maurkice Pouncey||Florida||4 star|
|OL||Mike Pouncey||Florida||4 star|
|DE||Carlos Dunlap||Florida||5 star|
|DE||Cliff Matthews||South Carolina||5 star|
|DE||Cameron Heyward||Ohio State||4 star|
|DE||Derrick Morgan||Georgia Tech||4 star|
|DE||Everson Griffen||Southern California||Declared||5 star|
|DE||Greg Romeus||Pittsburgh||2 star|
|DE||Jason Pierre-Paul||South Florida||5 star JC|
|DE||Thaddeus Gibson||Ohio State||4 star|
|DE||Adrian Clayborn||Iowa||4 star|
|DE||Justin Trattou||Florida||5 star|
|DE||Ryan Kerrigan||Purdue||3 star|
|DE||Kevin Basped||Nevada||2 star|
|DE||Dontay Moch||Nevada||2 star|
|DT||Gerald McCoy||Oklahoma||Declared||5 star|
|DT||Brian Price||UCLA||Declared||5 star|
|DT||Marvin Austin||North Carolina||5 star|
|DT||Allen Bailey||Miami (Fla.)||5 star|
|DT||Stephen Paea||Oregon State||3 star JC|
|DT||Abe Koroma||Western Illinois||Declared||3 star|
|ILB||Rolando McClain||Alabama||4 star|
|ILB||Scott Lutrus||UConn||2 star|
|ILB||Quan Sturdivant||North Carolina||4 star|
|ILB||Travis Lewis||Oklahoma||4 star|
|OLB||Greg Jones||Michigan State||3 star|
|OLB||Navorro Bowman||Penn State||Declared||4 star|
|OLB||Rennie Curran||Georgia||4 star|
|OLB||Bruce Carter||North Carolina||3 star|
|OLB||Von Miller||Texas A&M||4 star|
|CB||Joe Haden||Florida||Declared||4 star|
|CB||DeAndre Morgan||North Carolina State||3 star|
|CB||Ras-I Dowling||Virginia||2 star|
|CB||Donovan Warren||Michigan||Declared||5 star|
|CB||Kareem Jackson||Alabama||3 star|
|CB||Dominique Franks||Oklahoma||4 star|
|CB||Amari Spievey||Iowa||2 star|
|CB||Johnny Patrick||Louisville||3 star|
|CB||Chimdi Chekwa||Ohio State||2 star|
|CB||Jimmy Smith||Colorado||3 star|
|CB||Kendric Burney||North Carolina||3 star|
|CB||Devon Torrence||Ohio State||4 star|
|S||Eric Berry||Tennessee||Declared||5 star|
|S||Morgan Burnett||Georgia Tech||4 star|
|S||Reshad Jones||Georgia||4 star|
|S||Major Wright||Florida||5 star|
|S||Chad Jones||LSU||5 star|
|S||Deunta Williams||North Carolina||4 star|
|S||Jermale Hines||Ohio State||4 star|
As you can see, of the 87 players on the list 21 have already made their intentions known. The 2009 draft had 46 early entrants, but only nine had declared before January 1.
So how will this impact the Big Ten?
There are 20 Big Ten players on the list and four of those have already declared. Nine of the players play for Ohio State. It is unlikely that all of the players above will enter the draft, however it is likely many will. If you combine this group with graduating seniors the power in the Big Ten could change dramatically. Here is a list of contributors that will be gone from each team in the Big Ten:
|RB||Daniel Dufrene*||Demetrius McCray*||Brandon Minor|
|RB||Bryan Payton*||Carlos Brown*|
|WR||Arrelious Benn**||Trey Stross||Greg Matthews|
|WR||Chris Duvalt||LaTerryal Savoy*|
|TE||Michael Hoomanawanui||Troy Wagner||Tony Moeaki|
|OT||Rodger Saffold||Kyle Calloway||Mark Ortmann|
|OG||Jon Asamoah||Pete Saxon||Andy Kuempel*||David Moosman|
|OG||Mike Reiter*||Dace Richardson|
|C||Eric Block||Rafael Eubanks|
|DE||Antonio James||Greg Middleton||Chad Geary*||Brandon Graham|
|DE||Doug Pilcher||Jammie Kirlew||Adrian Clayborn**||Adam Patterson*|
|DT||Rahkeem Smith*||Travis Meade*|
|LB||Will Patterson||A.J. Edds|
|LB||Justin Carrington*||Pat Angerer|
|CB||Dere Hicks||Amari Spievey**||Donovan Warren**|
|S||Donsay Hardeman||Austin Thomas||Steve Brown|
|P||Anthony Santella||Zolton Mesko|
|Michigan State||Minnesota||Northwestern||Ohio State|
|WR||Blair White||Ben Kuznia*||Andrew Brewer||Ray Small*|
|WR||Kevin Frymire||Dane Sanzenbacher**|
|TE||Nick Tow-Arnett||Jake Ballard|
|OT||Rocco Cironi||Matt Stommes*||Kurt Mattes*||Jim Cordle|
|OG||Brendon Moss||Desmond Taylor*||Bryant Browning**|
|C||Joel Nitchman||Andrew Moses*|
|DE||Trevor Anderson||Cedric McKinley||Corey Wootton||Cameron Heyward**|
|DE||Colin Neely||Barrett Moen||Thaddeus Gibson**|
|DE||Derrick Onwuachi*||Lawrence Wilson*|
|DT||Michael Jordan*||Eric Small||Adam Hahn||Todd Denlinger|
|DT||Garrett Brown||Marshall Thomas*||Doug Worthington|
|LB||Brandon Denson||Simoni Lawrence||Austin Spitler|
|LB||Greg Jones**||Rex Sharpe*|
|LB||Adam Decker*||Nate Triplett|
|CB||Jeremy Ware||Traye Simmons||Sherrick McManis||Chimdi Chekwa**|
|CB||Ross Weaver*||Marcus Sherels||Devon Torrence**|
|S||K. Davis-Clark*||Brad Phillips||Kurt Coleman|
|S||Ashton Henderson*||Brendan Smith||Anderson Russell|
|P||Blake Haudan||Jon Thoma|
|QB||Daryll Clark||Joey Elliott|
|RB||Evan Royster||Jaycen Taylor*||John Clay**|
|WR||Brett Brackett||Royce Adams*|
|WR||Graham Zug||Aaron Valentin|
|TE||Mickey Shuler||Mickey Turner|
|OT||Dennis Landolt||Zach Jones|
|OG||Lou Eliades||Zach Reckman|
|C||Doug Klopacz*||Jared Zwilling|
|DE||Jerome Hayes||Keyon Brown*||O'Brien Schofield|
|DT||Jared Odrick||Mike Neal||Daniel Moore|
|DT||Ollie Ogbu||Dan Cascone*|
|LB||Sean Lee||Jason Werner||Jaevery McFadden|
|CB||Knowledge Timmons||Brandon King|
|CB||A.J. Wallace*||David Pender|
|S||Cedric Jeffries*||Torri Williams||Chris Maragos|
|P||Jeremy Boone||Chris Summers|
* indicates non-starting contributor
** indicates early entrant
Source: www.rivals.com, www.foxsports.com, www.scout.com
Mgoblog readers can extrapolate the data anyway you choose, but a few things to note. Only two teams lose fewer player than the 12 that Michigan loses; Northwestern loses 11 and Wisconsin only loses nine. Penn State loses 27 contributors while Ohio State loses 21 and Michigan State loses 18. These departures don't include any transfers, nor do they include any disciplinary departures (see Spartans).
We all know that good teams reload and often players on the bench outshine the player they replace, but I am happy to see how few holes we will need to fill relative to the rest of the conference.
It will be an interesting off season. The NFL has made it a little more interesting. We will know how many players are truly leaving on January 15, the last day to declare for the draft.
Who’s Who in College Football—or Which OOC Team is Most Like a Big 10 Team:
I’m interested by similarities between teams in different parts of the country. Some teams just should be good. Some teams just should suck. This goes beyond who is the current coach and the team’s record over the past five years, but extends into areas that include demographics, recruit density, tradition, and conference affiliation. Schools with everything going in their favor should be strong, even if they aren’t historically, and those who don’t shouldn’t be as good over the long run. For example, Boise State just shouldn’t be as good as Texas—even if Boise State decided to pour the same amount of money into football as Texas. They simply don’t have the necessary recruiting base, tradition, or exposure to draw the recruits required to compete with Texas—despite Boise’s relatively strong program. With the long dark offseason upon us, I’m thinking of some comparative projects to occupy my college football obsession over the next eight months.
With that in mind, I’ve identified a team to match with each team in the Big 10 from elsewhere in the country. This isn’t about who had the best and worst records this year or even in the last five. It’s about looking at the whole picture and determining who is most similar to schools in the Big 10. I’ll save Michigan for last, and I’m interested to see what everyone’s thoughts are. This isn’t meant to be a definitive list or an insult to any school, rather something to foster discussion and force me to learn more about the greater college football landscape.
Ohio State = Texas
To me, this is the
easiest comparison to make. Ohio and
Texas are two of the most populous states in the Union, with Ohio at number 7
and Texas at number 2. Each state has a
very large public university system, with Ohio State and Texas clearly standing
out as the flagship schools for both states (I know Miami, not that Miami, is a
solid school—but tOSU is vastly improved academically and is clearly Ohio’s
flagship school). Texas does produce
significantly more talent as a state than Ohio, but I think the top recruits
available per school are relatively similar because Texas supports so many more
BCS teams (4, 5 with TCU to 2 for Ohio).
There were 13 Rivals 100 recruits in Texas to four in Ohio last year.
The football teams are obviously similar today and over time. Ohio State is number 5 all-time in winning percentage and Texas is number 3. Both teams have been elite over time and there is no reason to think that either school will falter soon. The programs are also considered to be among the most valuable, according to Forbes, with Texas ranked number 1 and OSU at number 8. You could even drill down further with the comparison. They have had iconic coaches, Hayes and Royal, iconic players, Griffin and Young, along with numerous titles and conference dominance. Ohio State may be coming out of a long period of struggling against elite competition, just like Texas when Big Game Bob Stoops was in his prime. Finally, each team has a historically elite level rival from a smaller state that poaches many of its best players from Texas/Ohio—Oklahoma and Michigan.
Ohio State and Texas
are elite football schools from football crazy states that should, based on
demographics, own their conferences and regions.
Other schools considered: Florida, USC
Penn State = Florida
Forget the obvious comparison between Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno. Seriously, forget it. Despite each of those coaches building their program completely in their image and serving as the single most recognizable person affiliated with either school, the comparison still sticks when the coaches are ignored or marginalized in the analysis.
Pennsylvania is the 6th
most populous state while Florida is 4th. Florida is obviously one of the great
recruiting hotbeds for football talent, with 7 Rivals 100 recruits last
year. However, Pennsylvania holds its
own with 3. Neither school is the
strongest academic school in the state.
Pennsylvania has several top schools, such as Penn and Carnegie Mellon,
while Florida and Miami are both easily stronger academically than FSU.
Beyond the coaches, both teams are historically similar. Both were long-time independents, and joined the Big Ten and ACC soon after Arkansas agreed to join the SEC in 1990—signaling the death knell for the Southwest Conference and putting the writing on the wall for independents everywhere. By 1990, both programs were very strong, and were expected to dominate their conference upon entry. This definitely happened in FSU’s case, but not so much for Penn State.
As I previously stated,
I believe that FSU and Penn State are very similar without the coaches. When the coaches are incorporated, they
become extremely similar. I won’t bore
anyone with the details, but they are both great, all-time win list, etc and
the schools are both bracing for life after the program icon—with FSU having
Other schools considered:
Michigan State = Auburn
This was a tough
comparison in many ways. MSU is its own
special character, and finding it a partner wasn’t easy. Obviously, you can’t define MSU without
incorporating Michigan. MSU, perhaps
more than any team in the Big Ten is defined by its rival. While there were periods where MSU was
unquestionably better than Michigan, over time it isn’t even close. There are several schools that are
historically similar in addition to Auburn, such as Texas A&M and UCLA, but
I chose Auburn because of Michigan’s and Alabama’s (state not school)
Alabama is a much less populous state than Michigan, at number 23 to Michigan’s 8. However, it is surrounded by (and is) very fertile recruiting territory and is surrounded by some very populous states, such as Florida and Georgia. This enables Alabama to house two big time programs despite its relatively small size. While both schools have had periods of great success, Auburn for much of this decade and MSU in the 1960s, both have generally been overshadowed by their in-state rival.
Both schools are
considered to be relatively strong academically, but not at the level of their
in-state big brother—although the University of Alabama appears to fluctuate
quite a bit in the rankings I looked at.
They are both public institutions and long time members of their
Auburn and MSU are also both interesting because of their contrasting histories during the 1960s. Duffy Daugherty at MSU famously took many black recruits that schools like Auburn and Alabama couldn’t admit, and built a national power in the 1960s.
considered: Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, UCLA
Illinois = Virginia
Illinois and Virginia are
two of the schools whose lack of success in football is difficult to
fathom. Both are unquestionably old
money, high quality schools. The states
are relatively populous, with Virginia coming in at number 12 and Illinois at
number 5. Also, I lived in Northern
Virginia for about 18 months, and felt like Washington D.C. was almost a part
of the state. Assuming about half of the
population thinks the same thing, with the other half leaning towards Maryland;
the effective population expands to number 11 in the US. Both are long-time members of their
respective conferences, and have a solid recruiting base. Each has won two conference titles in the
last 25 years.
Given their population,
history, and status as the flagship public school in a populous state, both
schools should be much better at football.
Unfortunately for them, each has failed to keep up with their more
powerful conference members. In
Illinois’ case, Notre Dame has also made life difficult for the football
program. Virginia has always been
overshadowed by their more powerful southern cousins in the SEC.
Other schools considered: California, Arizona
Wisconsin = Colorado
Before I started this research project, I would not have placed these two schools together. I started with the idea that Texas was very similar to Ohio State and how similar MSU was to teams like Auburn and Texas A&M, but I had very little to go on for the rest of the conference. First, Colorado and Wisconsin are similar in population, ranking 22 and 20 respectively. Neither is a hotbed of top recruiting talent, producing one Rival’s 100 recruit each in 2008. Both are good, quality schools in pretty fun college towns.
They are pretty similar football wise, although Wisconsin has had much more success the past 15 years. Wisconsin has six Rose Bowl berths, two since 1998 and has emerged as a solid 3rd or 4th team most years in the Big Ten. Colorado was one of the stronger Big 8 teams right before the Big 12 was created, including a national title in 1990, but has fallen on hard times recently under Gary Barnett and Dan Hawkins.
These schools are examples of schools that shouldn’t be very good. Both are a long way relative to their opposition from the population centers that produce their conference’s best recruits, Texas in the Big 12 and Ohio/Pennsylvania in the Big 10 and they don’t have elite tradition on their side. Wisconsin has built its niche in the Big 10 by being the only Big 10 team that still plays classic Big 10 meat grinder football, and Colorado likely needs to find a similar formula to build its success.
Other schools considered: Arkansas, Missouri, Nebraska
Iowa is really
hard. It is the least populous state in
the Big 10 footprint, yet it is a top 30 public school. They have solid football history, including
eleven Big 10 titles. It is difficult to
find a school that matches it demographically, is strong academically, and has
a solid football background. I picked
Arkansas for several reasons, delineated below.
Arkansas is behind Iowa academically by about forty spots according to US News. However, it is still a solid school and has an underrated football history, like Iowa. Arkansas has 13 conference titles to its credit, and both schools claim one national title. Demographically, they are similar. Iowa is the 31st most populous state, while Arkansas is number 33. Each is the smallest state by population in their conference and produces similar top talent. Iowa had one top 100 player last year while Arkansas had two. Both are traditionally behind their more powerful rivals, but have been able to remain competitive.
Minnesota = Syracuse
Did you know both schools didn’t always suck at football? Both schools are northern programs far, far away from the recruiting hotbeds in the South and West. Both recently played in really crappy dome stadiums despite the potentially massive advantage of playing outdoors in a northern stadium. Minnesota moved out of the Humpty Dome last year, but the Carrier Dome still lives.
Minnesota was actually
Michigan’s first real rival, having excellent teams in the 30s, 40s, and 60s,
with the Little Brown Jug going back to 1903.
Both Syracuse and Minnesota were early beneficiaries of integration,
especially Syracuse with Jim Brown and Ernie Davis. Each have solid academic programs in very
Other schools considered: Oregon
Northwestern = Stanford
Obvious, right? The only other good options were Duke and
Vanderbilt, but they’ve shown very little inclination to be serious about
football in the last long time, even though Duke has had success in the distant past.
Other schools considered: Duke, Vanderbilt
Purdue = Maryland
Both schools are solid schools in similarly sized states. Each is easily overshadowed by their more powerful neighbors. Each claims one national title and several conference titles. Both schools have had recent success, but show no signs of breaking through and competing year in and year out for titles.
Other schools considered: Pitt
Indiana = Washington State
Both historically suck,
can you tell I have nothing to say about Indiana? The states are similarly sized, with
Washington at 13 and Indiana at number 16.
Washington produced zero top 100 players last year, while Indiana had
one. Indiana has played in nine bowl
games, while Wazzu has played in 10.
Both have losing records to Michigan (and just about everyone else) and lay claim to
fountains of unintentional comedy—Lee Corso and Ryan Leaf.
Other schools considered: Kansas, Iowa State
Michigan = Oklahoma
I really think this is a great comparison for many reasons. However, I want to get the glaring weakness out of the way first. The University of Oklahoma may be the best school in the state and the best school for many, many country miles, but it is not even close to Michigan. Enough said, right?
I chose Oklahoma for
Michigan over everyone else for the reasons below. However, because this is a Michigan blog, I
want to explain how I eliminated everyone else. Michigan, like every other
team, is defined partly by the demographics and history of its conference. If we accept the Big 2 (tOSU and Michigan)
premise that most years those should be the best teams in the Big Ten based on
historical success, then no one in the PAC 10, Big East, or ACC closely matches
Michigan’s situation. Each has its historical
strong school, but not two or more historical juggernauts. I could place FSU and Virginia Tech here with the ACC, but
I don’t believe they match Michigan and Ohio State’s situation because there isn’t a historical rivalry and neither has the same amount of
history. The SEC has two teams that are
close to Michigan's situation, Tennessee and Alabama.
I discounted Tennessee because their monster rival from a bigger state
(Florida) hasn’t been as good for as long as tOSU and they have only played 39
times to 106 for Michigan-Ohio State and 99 for Texas-OU. Alabama was discounted because they don’t
have a great out of state rivalry that has mattered nationally like Michigan-Ohio
Football-wise, these schools are very similar. Both are very old money. Each claims 42 conference titles and many national titles. Both schools have had some of the best coaches out there, and continue to be relevant today. Despite their astonishing success, neither is a recruiting hotbed. Each school must poach most of its top players from elsewhere in their conference footprint and nationally.
I find the most
intriguing similarity to be the comparison between Oklahoma and the members of the
Big 12 to Michigan and the members of the Big 10. Both schools are either the best or second
best school in just about each meaningful modern statistic in their respective
conference: conference titles, All-Americans, wins, etc. Both schools have a much larger school to the
south that is its traditional rival, Texas and tOSU. Both schools down south hold just about every
advantage over Michigan and Oklahoma.
They are in top recruiting states and should be consistently better
based on demographics. Yet Michigan and
Oklahoma claim more conference titles and national championships than their
bigger rival. Each even has an upstart
little brother in-state that claims to be their most important rival!
Michigan and Oklahoma defy the odds to remain relevant. Assuming most recruits like to stay near home and a similar commitment to football excellence by all D-1 programs, neither would be as strong as they are. However, tradition and commitment to excellence have kept both relevant and powerful.
considered: Alabama, Tennessee
Again, this is meant for fun, and not as a definitive list. There is no perfect comparison, and each school is very different. I’m interested to hear everyone’s thoughts.
TOM: Does Jay Hopson leaving affect your feelings towards Michigan at all?
TONY: I wouldn't say it does, because he wouldn't be my position coach if I go there. I have been talking to coach Hopson this whole time, but I met the other coaches on my visit.
TOM: What other visits have you taken, and what do you plan on taking?
TONY: I've been to Maryland, and I plan on going to Ole Miss. I'm going to try to squeeze in Miami and Georgia, too.
TOM: Are you and Clarence still planning on going to the same school?
TONY: As far as this point, yes that's the plan.
TOM: Is Michigan still on top for you?
I will say that Tony wasn't aware that there was a dead period, and seemed frustrated that his coach was the one that told him coach Hopson was leaving, and not Michigan. (That kind of makes me feel like there might be some schools breaking the rules with contacting him, if he didn't know.) Once I told him it was a dead period he understood. We'll see what happens. I have a bad feeling about Miami for some reason, but that's not based off of anything, so take it FWIW.
Update x2: 3 more (in addition to Alford) assistant coaches and both O and D coordinators have been announced. I will underline them as they become official. All of them had some interesting quotes should answer peoples question as to why Martin came to ND, in particular. Molnar will be coaching QBs in addition to being the OC, that most likely means that Hinton will be the WRs coach when he is officially announced.
Coordinator/ILB - Bob Diaco (Cincy)
DBs - Chuck Martin (GVSU)
D Line - Mike Elston (Cincy)
OLBs - Kerry Cooks (Wisconsin)
Coordinator/QBs - Charley Molnar (Cincy)
TE and OTs - Mike Denbrock (Indiana State)
RBs - Tony Alford (Notre Dame)
Interior Line - Ed Warriner (Kansas)
WRs - Tim Hinton (Cincy)
S&C - Paul Longo (Cincy)
Special Teams -
<blockquote> From the Article: Most are expected to be hired and finalized early next week and out on the recruiting trail by midweek. We also expect an announcement on the staff sometime next week. </blockquote>
Defense and S&C
Hinton is the big unknown obviously, he is a LB coach on the current Cincy staff but has also been a RB coach for Kelly while at Cincy. With Alford already announced as the RB I think he stays on the defensive side of the ball, Kelly seems to like splitting the LB duties between a ILB and OLB coach so my guess is Hinton and Cooks will continue that trend. Otherwise, I like what Cooks has done at Wisconsin and of course Martin has been well discussed post GVSU HC. Longo is Kelly's Barwis its as simple as that; he has really developed some nice lineman in particular. He also heads up Camp Kelly, the spring workout sessions which have a reputation of their own.
I was really hoping Molnar would come with Kelly and he looks to be the Coordinator as well, Denbrock is also a possibility as well. Denbrock is a bit of a ND ex-patriot as he coached at ND when Willingham was the HC. This is supposedly a good thing though from what I have been hearing, but I am still skeptical myself. He seems to be pegged for TE for sure and probably also include the OTs. The only other new name is Ed Warriner (pronounced Warner if your so inclined) from Kansas. Kelly is looking to bring the same OLine scheme he used at Cincy which is supposed to be pretty uncomplicated compared with the zone blocking scheme Weis used. That leaves Alford and his RBs; I loved the hire last year and I was really happy when he was retained by Kelly. He seems to be the next "Recruiting Coordinator" based on what he is doing right now for Kelly. The big hole remaining on offense is a QB coach, maybe that is where Hinton will end up but it seems unlikely right now based on the discussions going on. Only 9 assistant coaches (not counting S&C) are permitted by the NCAA rules so it would have to be someone already listed or Kelly himself. Jeff Genyk was expected to come with Kelly from Cincy (current QB coach) so just have to wait and see.
But there you go, should know more soon
It's only 48 days until the baseball season kicks off. I have about 10 posts about Michigan baseball alumni or events of various importance that I've had stored away for a while, and thought that I would share this off season. I previously released one of these on my own site, A Tragedy: Steve Howe. I'll start the mgoblog series with perhaps the greatest Wolverine, George Sisler.
Probably the most successful professional player ever to hail from Michigan, George Sisler was a do it all kind of player. The hard throwing lefty pitched plenty for the Wolverines, but also kept up a batting average around .445. Sisler chose Michigan almost on a whim; his parents had demanded he put off his big league aspirations for a while and get a college education. Bypassing the two primary teams recruiting him (Western Reserve and Penn), George came to Michigan following his high school catcher Russ Baer.
While at Michigan, Sisler played for the first-year engineering school team as a freshman in the intramural league. At the time, freshmen couldn't play for the varsity squad. His MVP performance over the juniors of the law school in the championship was enough to catch the eye of Professional&College Hall of Fame coach Branch Rickey. Sisler became an immediate starter in his sophomore season of 1913. The 1913 season was a big break through for the Wolverines who posted a 21-4-1 record, their first 20 win season in history. Sisler was a big part of that, both pitching and playing the field. While overall stats aren't easily available (yet), the one game that stood out in Sisler's career at Michigan was the 1915 start against the Michigan Agricultural College Aggies (now MSU Spartans). Sisler threw a complete game 2 hitter. He struck out 10 batters that day, but also went 4 for 5 with a pair of triples, 2 steals, 3 runs, and 5 fielding assists (one started a double play). How's that for domination? Sisler would finish the year with a .445 batting average and win All-American honors for his pitching and outfield play.
In 1914, Sisler battled some arm trouble but still managed a batting average around .500. After seeing a doctor about the arm in the off season, Sisler returned for the 1915 season and was an All-American again. By this time, he had earned his degree and was ready for the big leagues. After some battles in court over an illegal contract he signed as a minor, former Michigan coach Branch Rickey helped Sisler put the lawsuit to rest and sign Sisler as a free agent. Rickey was then with the St. Louis Browns (now the Cardinals) baseball club of the American League. Sisler left Ann Arbor and was pitching for St. Louis that summer, throwing 6 complete games in 8 starts. Sisler also started playing first base and the outfield during his days off from pitching, hitting a modest .285 for the season, a career low for a full season.
As the years went by, Sisler pitched less and less due to his value at the plate. He became the full time first baseman for the Browns in 1916 and became know as "the next Ty Cobb." He didn't disappoint either. In 1920, he won the batting title with a .407 average with a record setting 257 hits in a season. That record stood until 2004 when Ichiro finally broke it (they only played 154 games in Sisler's time, but Ichiro had 162 games to break the record). Sisler also had a career high 122 RBIs that season. Sisler won the first ever AL MVP award for his 1922 season, batting .420 with 105 RBIs. His hitting streak of 41 games was a record (not broken until Joe DiMaggio overtook him in 1941), and his 51 stolen bases were a career high.
Sisler would miss the 1923 season in its entirety due to a massive sinus infection that plagued him with severe headaches and double vision. Upon his return in 1924, Sisler never had that same edge he had before the infection. Before, he could place a hit anywhere he wanted. Afterward, he still hit for a good average (.290-.340), but never at the near .400 levels he was accustomed to. Sisler also took over managerial duties for the Browns. That job didn't last too long, ending in 1926. Sisler admitted he never felt that he was ready to take over as a manager.
Sisler was traded to the Washington Senators (who would become the Minnesota Twins) in 1928, but would only be there a few weeks before being traded to the Boston Braves (to become the Milwaukee then Atlanta Braves). Sisler did well with his first year with the Braves, but tailed off the following two seasons before being demoted to the minors. He played a season with Rochester in the International League and one with Shreveport-Tyler in the Texas League. He would retire from the game in 1932.
After retiring, Sisler opened a sporting good store and started the American Softball Association (the biggest name in softball today). Sisler engineered the first lighted softball field, leading to an explosion in the sport in the 1930s. In 1939, George was also inducted into the first ever class to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
In 1942, he was reunited with Branch Rickey and offered a position in the Cardinals' organization as a scout. He would later work for the Brooklyn Dodgers as a scout and player developer. Sisler was one of Jackie Robinson's coaches, teaching how to play first base to ease his transition into the major leagues. Sisler would follow Rickey one more time to Pittsburgh where he continued as a scout and player developer where he coached Roberto Clemente on hitting. He would stick with the Pirates for the remainder of his career as a hitting coach at various levels.
George Sisler died on March 26, 1973.
George Sisler, The Baseball Biography Project