In all the discussions on mgoblog concerning "where does our class rank?" I notice a common theme. People often disparage Scout's ranking, or ESPN's, or Tom Lemming's concerning our class, as being whack or wrong or stupid. i read very few criticisms of Rivals. But other than criticisms like "ESPN is evil" or "Scout is whack" or "Lemming over-rates Midwest talent" one thing I never read is any fact or evidence that proves those opinions. One guy on another thread said Todd McShay sucked and was terrible at this job, and supported it with the fact that ESPN had Campbell rated as the #21 OT. Ahem.
Now since as far as I can tell, Rivals is the only service (before today) that ranked our class top ten, it begs the question: are most people here hopeless homers that endorse a service (Rivals) that agrees with our prejudices? Or is there actual evidence that Rivals' past predictions are more accurate than Scout's or ESPN's or Lemming's?
It seems that the only rational response to a clear lack of evidence is to answer "it looks good" or "we think" rather than to be definitive on such an inexact science as recruiting projections. The sober response might be to say that I hope that Rivals is right and Scout is wrong. Or does this stance just prove I don't know what I'm talking about?
Breaking news: On ESPNU a guy from Scout's Inc. (ESPN's recruiting service, not the Scout website) said that the best pickup for the system on signing day was Michigan's pickup of Denard Robinson and Jeron Stokes. Still think ESPN sucks? Or are you reconsidering?
EDIT: Some posters have misunderstood the diary to either be an ad-hominem attack on homer posters, or that I somehow do not like this class. On the contrary, I do like it, and was actually 1- asking if there was actual evidence of one service or another being better or worse at predicting recruit's success, and 2- arguing that if there is not clear evidence, then if a service disagrees with Rivals lofty ranking we should at least acknowledge that others disagree without trashing the source.
I followed yesterday's discussion about Facebook and friends with interest. Full disclosure: I am a 49 year old Michigan Grad. In other words, my time really came before extensive use of Facebook, Myspace, etc. For those of you who are teens and current students, I am just another old fart. However, I am also a pastor, who has some responsibility and relationship with youth in the church, and I have a 15 year old daughter. She lives on Facebook. For this reason, I have a Facebook account. It allows me to briefly keep tabs on the youth at church, and my daughter, and rarely, to comment or reply to something. Some of the youth just use Facebook, and no e-mail. For the same reason, if they request it, I also text message them, instead of calling or e-mailing. I am trying, with some reluctance, to stay "current."
However, I never even consider texting or facebooking someone who isn't interested in contact. In fact, I RARELY facebook or text those who I already know. I have never even considered becoming "friends" on Facebook with someone I don't already know personally. I probably only go on Facebook once or twice a week . . . I just don't have time for it. And when I go there, I sometimes wonder at the wisdom of some of the stuff the youth actually put up for others to read.
Which brings us to recruiting. It is bad enough that I waste as much time as I do on mgoblog. But I don't think I would ever consider putting recruit names in to see if they would "confirm" me as a friend. I'm just an old white geezer they don't know from Adam.
However, instead of criticizing, I would love to hear from some of you young whippersnappers about proper Facebook etiquette. Are you telling me that in youth culture, it is ok to send friend requests to as many people as you want, whether you know them or not? What is the age cut off? When are you weirded out by someone older contacting you on Facebook? I kind of assume that somewhere around 30, you are an "adult," and below, you are youth or college age.
As regards recruits, it just seems weird and inappropriate to me to have personal facebook contact with a recruit, just because you were able to google stalk his name and high school, and so forth.
On that note, I really liked the Oku comments about just being left alone. Between fans, recruiting gurus, family, media, coaches, and who knows who else, it has got to be really over the top, the amount of contact and pressure put on quality hs football players.
I really like reading Tom VH, but I'm curious how he gets so much info without becoming annoying to recruits. When does one cross the line?
On another topic, I think it is great that these athletes have the opportunity to take visits to different schools. What I think many of us Michigan grads forget is how sheltered many of these players are. We should all remember that many of them have never been on a plane, and in some cases, never traveled out of the state they live in. Some of them have rarely, if ever, eaten in a nice restaurant. When I moved to Chicago, I was shocked to find some teens who had NEVER been to Lake Michigan, or to Indiana. To some of these recruits, seeing the ocean or snow or a huge stadium is about the same as many of us going to Antarctica or Mount Everest. I also think it is wise for them to check several schools out, to make sure they are sure. For every Ricardo Miller, (or coach's kid Jim Harbaugh) who knows they are going to Michigan, there are a dozen who don't have a clue. I would rather that they visit enough schools to know "Yes, I really want to be a Michigan Man," then to make a commitment and have regrets.
Another thing I remember from my time in AA was how many fellow students had lived their whole lives in Michigan, especially metro Detroit . . . in Livonia, or Troy, or Warren, or Gross Pointe, or Bloomfield Hills, but also a bunch from Grand Rapids, or Muskegon, or the Lansing or Flint area. They had never been extensively exposed to other areas of the country and world, and were pretty narrow in their thinking. Mind you, there were always kids from Chicago and NY, but the vast majority were Michigan homers. Maybe things have changed now. But my point is this. Many Michigan fans have lived in Michigan their whole lives, went to Michigan, and want their kids to go to Michigan. Even if they had the money, they wouldn't choose to go (or for their kids to go) to Texas, or to Harvard, or to Yale, or to Stanford, or to Southern Cal, or to Washington. And yet, we want kids from wherever to leave their families, their roots, their comfort zone, just so we can have a football team. If someone wants to do this, to escape Pahokee or wherever, that's great. But I don't think it's unreasonable for kids (and parents) to be somewhere near each other. I parked next to LaMarr Woodley's folks at the ND game 3 - 4 years ago, and I'm sure his parents were happy to be able to drive to a majority of their son's games. In hockey, I'm sure that Kampfer's parents are glad he's going to school close enough to attend. The solution is not just to recruit kids from elsewhere (Florida, Texas, Ohio, California). The solution has to be at least partially, to improve the quality of HS football in Michigan.
I've lived all over the country: the West Coast, the East Coast, the South, the Northeast, the Midwest a few times (including my stint in Ann Arbor), so I know about that of which I speak. I've been in Boston for the last 4 years, which has a climate similar to Ann Arbor.
I used to complain about the winters, but not any more. The cold is really not that bad. Get a good coat with a hood. Dress in layers. Get some boots. For lack of a better phrase, be a man about it.
The cold is at most a minor inconvenience when you consider all the upsides of living in the North. Though it's a clique, the change of seasons IS spectacular. There is a rhythm to the dying leaves and then barren trees and then splashes of green returning with spring. Maybe even better than that is the snow. The snow this year has had an other-worldly beauty to it. At night, it sparkles from the street lights as you walk by. I can think of no more peaceful setting than walking through snowflakes quietly drifting down.
I'm sure SEC coaches talk about how miserable the cold can be in the Big Ten. I'm sure Pete Carroll talks about the fun and sun in So Cal. And maybe cruising "the strip" in Gainesville in the middle February is what you seek. But I for one chose Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan. I chose the Law Quad in the fall and a jog through the Arb on a crisp winter morning. And I'm better for it.
Bored while waiting for an 18-year-old to decide your level of happiness for the next four years?
Here's a list I compiled of the best (in my opinion) player to wear each jersey number, 1-99, for Michigan, from 1929 to the present.
If you're wondering why guys like Germany Shultz, Al Benbrook or Willie Heston from the Yost years aren't on there, that's they didn't wear numbers back then. When they did start wearing numbers, however, they switched them around almost willy-nilly. I'd love to have Ernie Vick (19, 8, 2, 14, ...) or Harry Kipke (1, 4, 6, 14, 18, or no number at all) on my list, but they wore too many numbers to associate them with one or another. Therefore, I made my cut-off at 1929, when Kipke became the head coach, and made numbers (relatively) permanent.
Also, a player can only have one number they are associated with (even if Braylon Edwards was the best player to ever wear 80, he's up against the No. 1's)
All-time best Michigan man at each number.
1. Braylon Edwards, WR (over Carter, Terrell, Alexander)
2. Charles Woodson, CB
3. Tripp Welborne, CB (over Marlin)
4. EDIT: Jim Harbaugh, QB (over Marquise Walker)
5. Gordon Bell, HB
6. Tyrone Wheatley, HB (over Dave Brown)
7. Chad Henne, QB (over Leach & Henson)
8. Jason Avant, WR
9. EDIT: Dennis Franklin, QB
10. Tom Brady, QB
11. Alvin Wistert, OL/DT (over Albert and Francis Wistert)
12. Ricky Powers, HB
13. Garland Rivers, CB (over Larry Stevens)
14. Brian Griese, QB
15. Elvis Grbac, QB (over Breaston)
16. Adrian Arrington, WR
17. Ted Petoskey, End (over Larry Foote)
18. Bump Elliot, HB (over Amani Toomer)
19. Robert Brown, C/DT (this is a big number for kickers)
20. Mike Hart, HB
21. Desmond Howard, WR (over Biakabutuka)
22. Ty Law, CB
23. Jamie Morris, HB (you try picking btw JM and CP!!!)
24. Butch Woolfolk, HB (over Jack Clancy)
25. Tom Curtis, S (over Shazor)
26. EDIT: David Key, HB/DB
27. Bennie Friedman, QB (over Charles Bernard. Who remembers Stephen King?)
28. Robert Timberlake, QB
29. Leon Hall, CB
30. Andre Weathers, CB
31. Stuart Harris, S
32. Anthony Thomas, HB
33. Leroy Hoard, FB (over Mike Taylor)
34. Tony Leoni, HB (not Brabbs?)
35. B.J. Askew, FB
36. Aaron Shea, TE
37. Erick Anderson, LB (Can you pick btw him and Jarrett Irons?)
38. Robert Wiese, FB (met this guy on the plane once)
39. Adam Finley, P
40. Ron Johnson, LB (over Ron Simpkins)
41. Zoltan Mesko, P (over Rob Lytle)
42. Billy Taylor, RB/FB (over Tony Boles, Lawrence Reid)
43. Jim Pace, RB/FB (over Carl Diggs)
44. John Lott, DB
45. Dave Harris, LB (over Bill Daley)
46. Harry Newman, QB
47. Bennie Oosterbaan, End
48. Gerald Ford, C
49. Bob Chappuis, HB (over Ed Frutig)
50. Otto Pommerening, OL
51. Steve Everitt, C
52. Rod Payne, C
53. Mel Owens, LB
54. Mo Williams, OL
55. Brandon Graham, DE
56. LaMarr Woodley, DE
57. Maynard Morrison, FB/C (over Dave Pearson)
58. Rob Renes, DT
59. George Lilja, C
60. Mark Messner, DT (over Danahue)
61. Turner Booth, LS (Michael Sullivan, Willis Ward)
62. Quentin Sickels, OL
63. Les Miles, OL
64. Clare Jack Wheeler, QB
65. Reggie McKenzie, OL
66. Mike Hammerstein, DT
67. Mervin Pregulman, OL
68. Joe Cocozzo, OL
69. Jon Runyan, OL (over Forest Evashevski Sr.?)
70. Marty Huff, LB
71. Dave Gallagher, DT/OL
72. Dan Dierdorf, OL (over Jumbo Elliott, Robert Wahl)
73. Bill Dufek, OL
74. Mike Husar, OL
75. William Yearby, OL (over Bubba Paris, Skrepenak, Baas)
76. Steve Hutchinson, OL (over Stefan Humphries)
77. Jake Long, OL (over Jansen)
78. Dean Dingman, OL
79. Jeff Backus, OL
80. Alan Branch, DT
81. Glen Steele, DE
82. Norm Betts, TE
83. Bennie Joppru, TE
84. Shawn Thompson, TE
85. Lowell Perry, End (over Paul Seymour)
86. Tai Streets, WR (over Bob Westfall)
87. Ron Kramer, End
88. Jim Mandich, TE
89. Richard Rifenberg, End
90. Tim Jamison, DE
91. Matt Dyson, LB (over Josh Williams)
92. Steve Evans, LB (what, you prefer Dan Rumishek?)
93. Sam Sword, LB
94. Jason Horn, DT
95. Curtis Greer, DT
96. Calvin O'Neal, LB
97. Chris Hutchinson, DT
98. Tom Harmon, HB
99. Pierre Woods, LB
*Thanks to the Bentley Library for their searchable database.
Notice only two players are from last year's team. But I have high hopes that some of the younger guys can end up on this list eventually. For some of them, it wouldn't require so much improvement as a switch to a generally bad number.
Now make me a liar. I'm sure I'm wrong on several of these.
MichFan1997's recent Facebook conversation with Ricardo Miller has rekindled the shouldn't-be-but-is awkward topic of how much access to high school athletes is necessary, appropriate, and/or healthy.
For the record, I am a 21-year-old junior at the University of Michigan; I am Facebook friends with many members of the football team, including William Campbell and Tate Forcier, who only recently arrived on campus. However, I have never made any attempt to communicate with them except Andre Criswell, who often asks his "friends" to guess his current weight. I have never posted on anyone's wall or added an optional "personal message" when I friend request them. I simply hit the friend request button and wait for a confirmation.
But isn't that counterintuitive? Am I not requesting this man's friendship because I want to be his friend? Because I want him to acknowledge me?
At the present apex of online activity and access, I would actually contend that such is not the case. I don't particularly care what Bryant Nowicki is up to or what kind of music Dann O'Neill likes. Adding a football player as a Facebook friend is simply the current generation's trading card. There is nothing in the friend request transaction that belies sincerity; the athlete in question never has to look at my name again and most likely never will. He simply hits "accept" and I get the satisfaction of listing Johnny Sears, Jr. as one of my "friends." That's where it ends. Or at least should end.
But unfortunately, it doesn't end there, because high schoolers with no obligations or commitments to a university also have Facebook accounts, and it is in these situations that the creepiness escalates.
In the comments section of the Ricardo Miller diary entry, chitownblue said:
"Every time I hear about an (adult?) fan having facebook and myspace conversations with 17-year-old kids, I get completely and utterly skeeved out, and worried for these kids. Not because you're a rapist (you're probably not), but because these kids naively let hundreds of people gain access to their lives, and the second they decommit, or drop a pass, or get arrested with weed, or anything, they have hundreds of strangers whom they've 'disappointed' with access to give them a piece of their mind."
This is a legitimate concern; I looked through the "previous posts" on William Campbell's wall and found these comments, dated December 29th, 2008--the height of his decommitment.
"Wow, bro...All I gotta say is what ever happened to loyalty?? UR not a true Michigan man, get the hell out and stay out!!!!"
-Brandon Coot Kusz of Kalamazoo Valley Community College (a true Michigan man if there ever was one)
Obviously that kind of message is despicable and Mr. Coot Kusz is an irredeemable pile of shit, but, as rude as that post was, I found the resultant comments way "creepier."
"Dude, Brandon. STFU, Big Will hasn't even made his mind up yet. Dude, Coot get a life."
"Dude So What. He shouldn't be bitched at for changing his mind."
"hey brandon get a fucking life you fucking loser"
"it unreal that u guys make these comment on here. its reall uncalled for i mean im crushed too that he prolly wont be donning the maize and blue, which by the way u would look really good in big will, but i mean hes still just a kid. tone it down with all the criticizum. Hey Big Will if u change ur mind Michigans here. Youd start right away ya no" (spelling unchanged)
Keep in mind that all of these comments were posted on William Campbell's wall, not Mr. Coot Kusz's. Campbell's "defenders" didn't want Campbell to feel better, and they didn't really care if Mr. Coot Kusz regretted his asshole comment. They believed that Kusz's comment cost Michigan ten Recruit Points and they wanted the glory of restoring them. "Gosh," Campbell said in their minds, "that Kusz guy is a total dick who makes me want to eschew Michigan for LSU, but thanks to Jordan and Dylan's reaffirming pep talks, my faith in the Wolverines is restored to an amount identical to the moment immediately preceding Kusz's comment."
These are the creepers. Anyone who friends a high school football or basketball player is doing so with the warped and fictional assumption that he can actually recruit the kid simply with the power of the internet. These are the same people who start groups like "Bring Jelani Jenkins to Michigan" and actually accrue enormous memberships.
Facebook friendships with enrolled college football players is not inherently creepy because there is no recruiting fantasy involved. They're already there; there's nothing to sell.
Recently, David Oku had this to say about recruiting:
"Everyone is trying to get me to pick already, but I'm not ready," Oku said. "All these coaches are making it worse by calling and trying to talk when I don't want to. This is a lot of pressure to put on one kid, and it doesn't help that I've got some family stuff going on, too."
"I'm not taking any calls," he said. "I just want the coaches to give me some space. Too much is going on for me right now."
"I'm not committed to anyone anymore," he said.
"I don't have any plans to sign on Wednesday. I don't know when a decision will be made. I just need some space and some time to think and sort things out. Hopefully the coaches will respect that and understand how difficult this has become for me."
These kids have people clawing at them - calling, texting, e-mailing, facebooking, "chatting" before they've done a thing - I've never seen someone talk seriously about the toll it can take on a young kid who has lots of other things to worry about.
Maybe, before we start becoming facebook friends with people 5-15 years younger than us, we could step back and realize that these are not mature adults we're dealing with - and they're making the biggest decision of their lives to that point - one not based on our own entertainment.