in town for free camps
Due to real time updating, we're doing it via diary tonight. Also, I've noticed how crappy the diary editor is, so sorry for frequent updates as it keeps screwing up the html.
Tonight at midnight is the signing deadline for all drafted MLB prospects. If they don't sign tonight, they either go to college for 3 years or sit out (play in independent or foreign leagues) until next year's draft. Michigan has three recruits drafted, Daniel Fields (Tigers - 6th), Derek Dennis (Rays - 10th), and Patrick Biondi (Tigers 35th).
Fields, son of career minor leaguer and one time Tigers hitting coach Bruce Fields, did indeed sign with the Tigers around 10:30pm tonight. Fields was widely considered the top prospect out of Michigan this year (he or Dennis depending who you asked). He is expected to receive a 7-figure bonus for signing and attend the next few weeks in Lakeland, FL as the minor league season ends at the end of this month.
From the Jason Beck Tigers Blog:
"It was a very tough decision," Fields said Monday night, "because I'd fallen in love with Michigan ever since I went on my visit. It was a very tough decision. It was actually pretty hard calling coach [Rich] Maloney and telling him I wasn't coming."
The 7-figure bonus was way above the normal compensation for a 6th round pick, but his commitment to UM was the main culprit to his fall from the first 3 rounds to the 6th. The Tigers will probably get a slap on the wrist from Commissioner Bud Selig for the salary inflation but probably nothing more.
This is a pretty big loss for Michigan as Fields could have been a starting middle infielder this upcoming season. With Kevin Cislo graduating, the second base job is up for grabs and his to take.
In other signing news, Derek Dennis may be having a couple extra suitors at his door tonight. The Rays' top two prospects, LeVon Washington (2B) and Kenny Diekroeger (SS) both chose college over the pros. This leaves the Rays with Dennis as their top remaining unsigned middle infielder.
Dennis sounded like a Michigan lock only two months ago, but he was also invited to take batting practice with All Star third baseman Evan Longoria. Nothing's been heard since that June quote, so Dennis could still be mulling over his options.
If we hear anything about his signing tonight or tomorrow, I'll update you here.
Everything I've continued to read still has Dennis as a 100% Michigan lock.
The Freep also ran their article on Fields, where he described coach Maloney as "the main reason why I chose Michigan. I love him to death."
I have about a hundred updates for my computer and I have finally gained access to some high speed internet, but now I have to kill time while I wait. One thing I have always wanted to do is see a game at a different venue for the entire regular season. I thought I would share what my plan would be this year if I could make all the trips. So I hope you enjoy my theoretical game plan of travel based out of the Washington DC area. Attendance numbers – Wikipedia, Mileage – Google, Pre-Season Ranking – Bleacher Report (I know this means nothing)
Week 1: Lots of good games but a trip up to New York is possible, so I chose Minnesota(43) @ Syracuse(93). Carrier Dome in Syracuse holds 49,500. 374 miles from DC. 6 hour and 18 minute drive. Would be strange being inside for the first game of the season, but should be a good game in which Minnesota wins.
Week 2: Notre Dame(36) @ Michigan(75). My ticket is purchased. 521 miles. 8 hour and 36 minute drive. You know the rest.
Week 3: Nebraska(29) @ Virginia Tech(8) Lane Stadium holds 66,233. 265 miles. 4 hour and 19 minute drive. Should be a big game, especially if VT beats Alabama in their first game.
Week 4: Iowa(23) @ Penn State(4). Beaver Stadium holds 107,282. 215 miles. 3 hour and 45 minute drive. Both teams should be 3-0 at this point, plus woo night game.
Week 5: Virginia(89) @ North Carolina(35). Kenan Stadium holds 60,000 and is supposed to be very scenic. 269 miles. 4 hour and 36 minute drive.
Week 6: Duke(82) @ NC State(48). Carter Finley Stadium holds 57,583. 281 miles. 4 hour and 32 minute drive. Should just stay in North Carolina for the week after the Virginia – UNC game. I’d get to see what should be two easy wins in one state!
Week 7: Marshall(98) @ West Virginia(18). Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium holds 60,000. 207 miles. 3 hour and 27 minute drive.
Week 8: Georgia Tech @ Virginia(89). Scott Stadium holds 61,500 and has what might be one of the longest full names in college football. The Carl Smith Center, Home of David A. Harrison III Field at Scott Stadium. 111 miles. 2 hour and 13 minute drive.
Week 9: Miami(41) @ Wake Forest(39). BB&T Field at Groves Stadium holds 31,500. 337 miles. 5 hour and 33 minute drive. Starting to get later in the season, but what should be a solid ACC matchup.
The next three games are a bit of wishful thinking, but could be done, technically.
Week 10: Florida State(31) @ Clemson(56). Memorial Stadium holds 80,301. 530 miles. 8 hour and 37 minute drive. Death Valley!
Week 11: Florida(1) @ South Carolina(55). Williams-Brice Stadium holds 80,250. 479 miles. 7 hour and 30 minute drive.
Week 12: Vanderbilt(51) @ Tennessee(34). Neyland Stadium holds 102,037. 483 miles. 7 hour and 38 minute drive. Lane Kiffin drives an orange lamborghini with OMG shirtless Eric Berry on the hood onto the field for their Heisman campaign.
Week 13: Boston College(76) @ Maryland(65). Byrd Stadium holds 51,055. 0 miles. Yay metro!
Week 14: Cincinnati(47) @ Pittsburgh(17). Heinz field holds 65,050. 246 miles. 4 hour and 14 minute drive. Brian Kelly in an NFL stadium?
Week 15: Army(77) @ Navy(32). Lincoln Financial Field holds 68,582. 139 miles. 2 hour and 37 minute drive. More NFL stadiums?
15 games. 29 football teams. (Cavaliers twice.) 4457 miles driven. 1,048,374 screaming fans. (If they all sold out). The fall of a lifetime.
Anyone ever dream of doing something like this? What games on the list would you skip/ replace? What region of the country would you base out of? It’s tough and takes a bit but if you have the time make your own. What games/stadiums have you always wanted to go to? One year in my life I will get to do something like this and it will be epic. Only 15 minutes longer to finish my download!
I'm not sure this is worth a diary; in fact, I tried to post it as a comment to the minor foofaraw in the comments in the Terry Talbott commitment post but I am an old man and couldn’t figure out how to do it in the reply.
Anyway, there is some minor ongoing debate about whether or not OSU pwns UM or vice versa, with those adopting the former position wishing to ignore the first decade or two's worth of games and those adopting the latter wishing to, well, not ignore them.
So, below is a handy graph I put together that allows you to calculate the UM winning percentage (100 minus which is not the OSU percentage, since that figure includes ties) from 1897 to 2008, using two different cumulative percentages.
The blue line calculates, for each year, the cumulative winning percentage up to that year. So, if you take 1957 as the reference point, you'll see that UM had won about 63% of the games up to that point. If you go all the way to 2008, you'll see that UM has won 54% of the games (i.e., in the whole series).
The red line calculates, for each year, the winning percentage from 2008 back to that year. So, again taking 1957, the graph indicates that UM has won 44% of the UM/OSU games from 1957 to 2008.
Note that the first point in the red line is equal to the last point in the blue line, or 54%. Also, the blue line is generally more favorable to UM, the red line more favorable to OSU. That's how come I chose the colors!
Note also the, erm, distressing trend from 1987 to 2008. So, from 1987 to 2008, UM won about half the games. The more recent the window of observation, the worse things look for UM; hence the shorter preferred time horizon for many of the Buckeye faithful. Conversely, the longer back one goes the better things look for UM; hence, the longer preferred horizon for UM fans.
Now you have all of the data you need to make whatever selective, cherry picked point you want to make. You're welcome.
Is our mascot useless*?
Being a student of U of M and being raised in a house where an entire bathroom was created into a shrine for all things maize and blue, I certainly know of the tradition of the Victors, "GO BLUE", and anything else possibly Michigan in character. However, besides a cheap, furry, stuffed "wolverine" with an M on the front, I can't really say I identify anything about the wolverine creature with the great University of Michigan. Is it possible we need to simply can the mascot, and be "Michigan"?
I must admit, one of the factors in my analysis is that, unlike many other (debatably) great sports schools, we really don't do anything with our mascot. We don't have any hand signals (like the Gators or Longhorns), no prancing mascot on the sideline (thank God), or even a wolverine that shoots lasers out of its eyes! With the exception of "the Claw" that we do on fourth down (and I rather liked the straight-up chop better), it seems as if anything related to the wolverine is missing from the University of Michigan.
* Please, at this point, consider my good health and your conscience as a fellow MGoBlogger before negging me into a bottomless pit where the minions of the emperor of space will feed on my soul.
- Michigan's midwest recruiting base has not been Rodriguez' territory during his tenure at West Virginia, Tulane, etc. Here, he's competing not only against MSU for state recruits, but against the perennial challenge of pulling recruits from Ohio against OSU's turf. He has some leverage against Pennsylvania, perhaps, and some against Ohio because of his stint at West Virginia, but overall he will not find many 5 or 4 stars in the Midwest.
- Rodriguez' preference for the spread-option scheme inevitably pushes him to recruit in talent-rich southern states, in Texas, and in California. These areas, like the Midwest, feature powerful programs that draw the highest rank recruits, leaving our program to fight for those not committed to LSU, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, USC, Texas, UCLA, Cal, etc. Drawing 4 and 5 star recruits to Ann Arbor from the south and west has always been a staple of Michigan recruiting, and will continue under Rodriguez. But it will not increase significantly under Rich Rod unless he shifts his balance from emphasizing "scheme" to "raw talent regardless of scheme." He won't do that.
- Compared to other high-profile coaches, Rodriguez strikes me as more doctrinaire. Oddly enough, Bo, Mo, and Lloyd were more willing to try different offensive schemes during their careers. Among current coaches at established powerhouses, Tressel, Carroll, Saban, Meyer, Stoops, Mack, Meyer, Miles, etc. strike me as more adaptable, more flexible than Rodriguez. Put simply, it is impossible to talk about Rodriguez as a coach without immediately jumping into his success with the spread. But it is possible to talk about some of the best of his peers without identifying a single offensive scheme. Were the spread to become the pros preferred offensive scheme, I think we would double the number of 4 and 5 star recruits. Until that happens, college coaches who continue to be more flexible in offensive philosophy will probably draw more of the higher ranked recruits, because there will be more opportunities for larger, less nimble players, players with great talent but not well-suited to the spread.
Note: This Diary comes with the standard disclaimer that recruiting ratings are subjective, and that this amusing exercise is not intended to answer the fourteen unanswerable questions.
Several mgocolleagues have objected to my disturbing avatar, the congenial visage of Gothmog, the Morgul lieutenant from the Lord of the Rings movies (not, for fellow nerds out there, to be confused with his namesake, Gothmog, the Lord of the Balrogs, from more ancient Tolkien history). I have a potential replacement for this avatar: Sylvester McMonkey McBean of Sneetches fame.
Why McBean? Well, Mr. McBean adds and subtracts stars with his Star On and Star Off machines, which is the exact skill set that we are looking for if we would like to answer the Pat White question once and for all.
Our new coach arrived in Ann Arbor with a reputation for finding diamonds in the rough, and for turning three stars into five stars with one part eye of newt, one part Mike Barwis, and two parts mad offensive genius. Was this by necessity or design? Rich Rodriguez appears to have an aptitude for spotting hidden talent and Mike Barwis is clearly able to turn 45-year-old couch potato fantasy leaguers into Ray Lewis, but are we making lemonade out of lemons? Has Rich simply been forced in the past to settle for a kettleful of lower-rated players and relied on outliers in a normal distribution to produce the occasional Pat White? <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
The debate has intensified since, after a three and nine season, Michigan recruiting has begun to resemble West Virginia recruiting a little too closely for comfort. The optimistic among us believe that Rich Rodriguez can create a juggernaut from three-star players that are a perfect fit for his philosophy and also happen to possess that killer attitude not present in such players as Gabe Watson or Alex Mitchell. Said killer attitude, combined with said killer, Mike Barwis, may be the foundation of Rich McMonkey McBean’s purported eye for diamonds.
How do we move this question from the realm of water cooler optimism to something more analytical? That is the purpose of this post. I am proposing a collaborative, ongoing post-recruitment rating system that will allow us to determine if, in the Rich Rodriguez era, perfect-fit three-stars are more desirable than random four-stars. Of course, we all acknowledge that perfect-fit four-stars (or perfect-fit five-stars, for that matter) are better than perfect-fit three-stars, but all these questions can be addressed with a system that continues to rate recruits after they begin playing football at the University of Michigan
Here’s where the mgocommunity comes in. As the work of one grotesquely deformed orc, this enterprise would hardly be taken seriously. However, if the career ratings that follow the recruitment ratings are the consensus of what can be objectively described as the most sophisticated and knowledgeable football blog community out there, then we might have something. I am not polishing the apple here; anyone who reads the Diaries on a regular basis knows that this is accurate.
The point here is that we want to expose where recruiting ratings were/are wrong. In the 2002 class above, for example, Rivals was slightly wrong about Gabe Watson and very wrong about David Harris. There was no malice or incompetence in their being wrong; they just were off in projecting those players. It is an inexact science. It is also important to note that this uses the recruiting ratings in a specific way: as a college career projection and not a snapshot of their status at the end of their high school career. Only in this way can the information be useful to us.
What now follows is a request for feedback regarding preliminary judgment calls I have made to launch this system. Which needs a name. Perhaps McBean Rating, but I am open to suggestions here.
The definitions are critical. These career ratings must mirror the intent behind the recruiting ratings for our conclusions to be useful. (Note: All recruiting ratings used are from Rivals.)
Question 1: Do you agree with these definitions for the two rating systems? If not, please suggest changes.
Question 2: What should be done about players that leave the team? Consider 2008. Dann O’Neill was a four star player coming in; does he count when he leaves after a year? What about a Justin Feagin, who played a little and was kicked off the team? Clearly, Taylor Hill or Marcus Witherspoon, who never put on a uniform, should not count…but is this so clear? Should there be no penalty for recruiting someone who leaves? Remember, the ranking of the class coming in is based upon Dann O’Neill and Taylor Hill being there.
This is a critical question in my opinion. If we start removing players who don’t play much or at all, then we’ve messed with that cryogenically preserved Team Ranking that is a touchstone in the Pat White debate. <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Michigan has had six players from 2008 leave, including four 4-stars. Newsflash: that drops that class to 15th or 16th, all other classes staying the same. Which, of course, all other classes are not the same. Who the hell knows what Alabama’s ranking after the fact truly is? We obviously can’t re-rank the Rivals rankings; we must work with signing day class.
For purposes of making a start, I have judged that if the player sees the field for more than a cup of coffee, they get a rating. With this model, O’Neill, Wermers, Witherspoon and Hill do not get a rating from McBean, but Feagin and McGuffie do. The star calculation for a class over time, then, compares the final average from Rivals to only the McBean rated players. In the 2002 class above, all 21 players produce an average of 3.52 stars. The McBean average is 3.37 stars using a denominator of 19, not 21. Thoughts?
Question 3: Check my conclusions for lightly used players. This is where the mgocommunity will be critically helpful. I could barely remember some of these players and Googlestalking was marginally productive. For example, did Quinton McCoy and Tom Berishaj in the 2002 class ever play? The greatest inaccuracies will be for those players who played a little, like Feagin, but I don’t remember because it was years ago.
Question 4: If you disagree with my McBean rating for any player, please educate me. I am getting old and my memory is not what it used to be.
Here are the first three classes in which all the players have a final McBean rating (none are playing college ball any longer). It would seem, based on a preliminary review using the tentative rules that Lloyd’s classes underperform slightly. It will be very interesting over time to see how Rich’s classes do.
Here are the next two classes that have incomplete McBean ratings.
I will somehow compile the feedback and present a final McBean Analysis for each “closed” class. As each class becomes closed, I will present the final after feedback. Hopefully, Rich produces guys on the left.