I did not make this headline up
We all know recruiting is a crap shoot, generally speaking. You're taking 17 & 18year old kids away from home for the first time, putting them amongst 1000's of other students they've never met, AND asking them to kick some ass against equal or better talent on the gridiron. And, oh yeah, don't forget to study or you'll be on a bus back to ____________. It's a lot to handle. But I digress.
I did some research to see if there's a correlation between a team's rank in recruiting and their on-field success.
Here's a re-cap of the last 6 years in the Big 10 (including 2009). Each team's national recruiting rank (per Rivals.com) is noted and their rank in the Big 10 is the order in which I've listed the teams. For 2008 and prior I've also noted their finish in the big 10 and their conference record. (NOTE: the national ranking has nothing really to do with my hypothesis but I didn't realize that until I had already typed the entire list up).
Ohio state - ranked 3 nationally
Michigan - 7th nationally
MSU - 16th
Penn St - 25th
Illinois - 32nd
Minnesota - 39th
Wisconsin - 43rd
Northwestern - 58th
Indiana - 59th
Iowa - 63rd
Purdue - 74th
Ohio St - 4th nationally(T1 in conference play at 7-1)
Michigan - 10th (10th in conference at 2 - 6)
Minnesota - 17th (6th at 3 - 5)
Illinois - 23rd (8th at 3-5)
Wisconsin - 41st (7th at 3-5)
Penn St- 43rd (T1 at 7-1)
MSU - 47th (3rd at 6-2)
Iowa - 53rd (4th at 5-3)
Purdue - 63rd (9th at 2-6)
Northwestern - 73rd (5th at 5-3)
Indiana - 78th (11th at 1-7)
Michigan - 12th nationally (finished 2nd at 6-2)
Ohio State - 15th (1st at 7 -1)
Illinois - 20th (3rd at 6-2)
Penn St. - 24th (5th at 4-4)
Iowa-28th (6th at 4-4)
Wisconsin-34th (4th at 5-3)
MSU-42nd (9th at 3-5)
Northwestern-53rd (10th at 3-5)
Minnesota-57th (11th at 0-8)
Purdue-59th (7th at 3-5)
Indiana-97th (8th at 3-5)
Penn St- 6th nationally (finished 4th at 5-3)
Ohio St-12th (1st at 8-0)
Michigan-13th (3rd at 7-1)
Illinois-30th (11th at 1-7)
MSU-33rd (10th at 1-7)
Iowa-4th (8th at 2-6)
Wisconsin-42nd (2nd at 7-1)
Purdue-50th (5th at 5-3)
Minnesota-62nd (6th at 3-5)
Northwestern-81st (9th at 2-6)
Indiana-84th (7th at 3-5)
Michigan-6th nationally (5th at 5-3)
Iowa-11th (4th at 5-3)
Ohio St.-12th (2nd at 7-1)
Penn St-25th (1st at 7-1)
Purdue-29th (8th at 3-5)
Wisconsin-33rd (3rd at 5-3)
MSU-35th (9th at 2-6)
Illinois-51st (11th at 0-8)
Northwestern-52nd (6th at 5-3)
Minnesota-55th (7th at 4-4)
Indiana-72nd (10th at 1-7)
Michigan-5th nationally (1st at 7-1)
Ohio St.-9th (6th at 4-4)
Penn St-14th (9th at 2-6)
MSU-16th (7th at 4-4)
Purdue-20th (5th at 4-4)
Iowa-38th (2nd at 7-1)
Wisconsin-39th (3rd at 6-2)
Illinois-50th (10th at 1-7)
Minnesota-58th (8th at 3-5)
Indiana-59th (11th at 1-7)
Northwestern-78th (4th at 5-3)
What does all this mean (other than I just stole 2 hours of the company's time)?
Ohio State finished with the best recruiting class in the Big 10 twice (08 and 09). They also finished first in the standing twice (07, 06--NOT including ties for first).
Penn State had the top recruiting class once (in 06) and finished first in conference play twice (08 and 05).
MICHIGAN has had the top recruiting class THREE TIMES (07, 05, and 04) yet only finished first in the conference once (04).
My theory is that a higher rank in recruiting does not always equate to success on the field.
I tried to quantify a teams recruiting class rank and their standing in the conference at the end of each season (finish 1st get 1 point. 2nd = 2, and so on). It's somewhat inaccurate because I didn't account for ties. This can be looked at two ways: if a team finished the season with the same record as another team but beat the other team head to head, they were awarded a 1st place finish while the defeated team was awarded 2nd (or a 2). However, if rings are all that matters, then Ohio State is gonna jump to the head of the class since they earned 4 of them over the last 4 years. Frankly, that doesn't sit well with me, so fuck em.
Unfortunately for us, Michigan takes somewhat of a beating: they have an average finish of 1.66 in recruiting within our conference (2,2,1,3,1,1 divided by 6 = 1.66) yet an average finish of 4.2 (10th,2,3,5,1)
Here's the entire list (recruiting avg/standing avg):
Penn St 3.66/4
The best case scenario is to have a lower standings avg vs. your recruiting avg. Wisconsin faired best in this category by finishing with an avg recruiting rank of 6.3 but an average in standings of 3.8.
The worst finishers are Michigan, Illinois, and MSU. Shit!
There are a lot of factors when it comes to onfield success and converting 4 and 5 star recruits into champions. Coaching changes, injuries, early departures for the NFL. But, in my opinion, these numbers tell a story.
We have some work ahead of us, gentlemen (and ladies).
I really hope RR makes the following high on his priority list:
1. Find two guys who will return kicks and punts. Give them at least 500,000 reps. TEACH THEM THE BASICS. Tuck the damn ball on the correct side. Practice in cold weather. Practice when the wind is swirling. Teach them about an obscure concept called "Fair Catch". We cannot have a situation where the attitude is "Hey you look fast go return kicks for us". I am not saying this is happening now or happened last year, just make sure it doesn't happen ever.
2. Teaching good tackling technique. Easier said than done, but we really need to come up to at least D-1 levels on this. This has been a problem at UM for quite a few years(RE for all his "fire" couldn't teach tackling to save his life). Reply to all questions in press conference about defensive "schemes" with one standard retort: "Shut the hell up. When we learn how to tackle better than little girls, we will talk about schemes".
3. Have a conversation with Sheridan and explain to him that under NO circumstances should he take the field. If Tate gets injured, Denard gets injured, Threet gets injured, furrah gets injured.....even the Coner! gets injured, HE STILL HOLDS THE CLIPBOARD. Make it clear to him that we will snap the ball to Will Campbell in the wildcat formation before he even thinks of seeing the field.
4. Put some research into ritual sacrifices that will satisfy the Angry Michigan Hating God. You can prepare all you want, but if we have the kind of luck with injuries that we had last year, hello death...
Over the past four years, Alabama has recruited 107 players to Michigan's 85. That's 22 more players - an entire class - over a four year period (using raw, unadjusted numbers from Rivals). On the heels of national criticism for signing 32 recruits and relying on "attrition" to shoehorn those 32 players onto campus, he unabashedly racks up 27 more including an astounding six on signing day of the four and five star variety:
Kenny Bell WR 6-1 160 - 5.8 Rayville, LA
Kendall Kelly WR 6-4 210 4.45 5.9 Gadsden, AL
Dre Kirkpatrick DB 6-2 180 4.5 6.1 Gadsden, AL
Eddie Lacy RB 5-11 210 4.4 5.9 Geismar, LA
Brandon Moore OL 6-4 313 5.2 5.8 Montgomery, AL
Tana Patrick LB 6-3 215 4.5 6.0 Stevenson, AL
Clearly, Oily Nick has a way of assuring new recruits that the depth chart isn't working against THEM. Look at the two stud WR signing today (and four in this class), despite Alabama having TWELVE underclassman WR on the roster, including ELEVEN freshmen and sophomores:
82 Earl Alexander WR So. 1V 6-5/216
11 Brandon Gibson WR Fr. RS 6-1/192
15 Darius Hanks WR So. HS 6-0/190
19 Chris Jackson WR Fr. HS 6-1/190
8 Julio Jones WR Fr. HS 6-4/210
4 Marquis Maze WR Fr. RS 5-9/167
80 Mike McCoy WR Jr. 2V 6-3/199
39 Kyle Pennington WR Fr. RS 5-11/170
1 B.J. Scott WR Fr. HS 5-11/188 Prichard, AL
48 Travis Sikes WR So. 1V 6-2/194 Nashville, TN
45 Sam Snider WR Fr. HS 5-10/163
43 A.J. Walker WR Fr. RS 6-1/185
Or how about seven more OL to go with those 15 underclassmen OL on the roster? Nothing like 22 OL competing for spots on the two deep with those that fall short developing bizarre illnesses and family problems.
Setting aside the coaching transition, what would Michigan have been like with a whole extra class? Three or four more LB to help that weak spot, alternatives to Sheridan, no positions of need such as DL...
Or how about Ohio State, who signed 80 players over that same period of time? How much better would they have been with 27 more players passing through the system?
This is not a level playing field. As long as this loophole exists, southern country club destinations will have a massive advantage over schools that actually regard these players as human beings rather than meat.
The time for limiting the number of recruits to the actual number of available scholarships is way overdue.
Note: all ratings used will be via Rivals
Quarterback: With an unproven Steven Threet and walk-on Nick Sheridan as the only returning QB's with experience, this position was critical this year. Originally, Michigan took care of this with both Kevin Newsome (now at Penn State) and Shav'd Beaver (Tulsa???). However, the finished product is the accurate CA QB Tate Forcier (#5 dual threat), and FL ATH Denard Robinson (#14 ATH). Both QB's appear to have a high upside and can throw. Mission accomplished here. GRADE: A
Running Back: There was a moderate need here with Grady, Minor, and Brown all entering their last year. McGuffie and Horn were also victims of attrition. Ohio's Fitz Toussaint (#8 all-purpose back) was a solid pick-up and produced monster senior year. Michigan also picked up a couple of smaller, speedy type guys in MI RB Teric Jones and FL RB Vince Smith, the latter of whom will really need to hit the weight room hard. Decent class here. GRADE: B
Wide Receiver: There was a need for at least one slot guy in this class and that need was taken care of with FL ATH Jeremy Gallon (#11 ATH). Gallon will need to put on some weight and there are questions as to his eligibility, but he should be fine. Outside WR was also a pressing need with JR Hemmingway and Toney Clemons being unproven. Greg Matthews is more suited to be a #2 WR and is also a senior. MN WR Bryce McNeal seemed to fit the bill, but he defected to Clemson. DeWayne Peace also did not stick. However, on Signing Day, Michigan picked up big recruit in PA's Je'ron Stokes. Stokes defected from Tennessee after months of being committed there. MI WR Cam Gordon (#36 WR) provides depth or maybe another big body at LB. Solid class here. GRADE: B+
Offensive Line: Despite picking up six commits in 2008, it was still important to gain at least 2 or 3 more kids to help take care of depth issues. Michigan did this with AZ OT Taylor Lewan (#16 OT) and IL OT Michael Schofield (#18 OT). The day before signing day, Michigan also snatched up SC OG Quinton Washington (#8 OG) from under South Carolina's noses. A very nice class here. GRADE: A-
Defensive End: This position was, along with QB, the main priority in the 2009 class and Michigan didn't disappoint. AZ DE Craig Roh (#7 WDE) brings in some mad pass rushing skills/moves. NJ DE Anthony LaLota (#11 SDE) is another very athletic kid, but will need some fine-tuning as he is very raw. One more DE would have been nice (I'm thinking about you, Sam Montgomery), but with Brandon Graham staying for a senior year, two should be alright. GRADE: A
Defensive Tackle: MI DT William Campbell scared Michigan fans everywhere after de-committing, then removing Michigan from his short list. All this, after over a year of being committed, led to him...committing again at the Army All-American game. Campbell is a high level recruit (#5 DT) and is a five star, blue chipper. However, this class suffers from the loss of DeQuinta Jones and Pearlie Graves. A second DT could really have been used, as this is possibly the least deep position on the entire team now. The grade suffers some because of that. GRADE: C+ (THIS IS NOT AN INDICTMENT OF CAMPBELL, WHO I FEEL WILL BE AN AMAZING ASSET).
Line Backers: This position struggled during 2009. However, Obi Ezeh and Jonas Mouton were only sophomores. Here's hoping they get better. That being said, only half of last years four LB recruits are even still around. More LB's were needed. Jordan Barnes de-committed, perhaps because Rich Rodriguez softened on him. OH LB Isaiah Bell (#26 OLB) is a nice pick-up. FL LB Brandin Hawthorne (#35 OLB) is undersized and is a major project with a lot of athletic upside. FL S Mike Jones (#25 S) is also likely to be a LB in college. Mediocre group, but potential is there. GRADE: C+
Safeties: With Angry Michigan Safety Hating God looming around every corner, safeties are always in need. FL S Vlad Emilien (#14 S) is a good pick-up, but did suffer a major knee injury in high school. MI ATH Thomas Gordon provides depth here. However, he was a HS QB who will need to learn to play defense. He is a big player and could have some upside. Not a terrible class here, especially with OH DB Justin Turner expecting to play a little bit of safety as well. GRADE: B
Corner Backs: Speaking of Turner, for the third year in a row, Michigan was able to haul in an elite corner prospect. Turner (#3 S) could start off as the slot corner and may see time at both corner and safety, i.e. Marlin Jackson. Michigan also brings in FL CB Adrian Witty. Witty is the lowest rated prospect in this class and is recovering from a knee injury. At the very least, he provides depth, special teams player, a practice body, and brings another QB with him in Robinson. Turner makes this class. GRADE: A-
Kicker: With KC Lopata on his way out and Bryan Wright hurt, Anthony Fera committed to Michigan to fill the void at kicker. However, he left for Penn State. FL K Brendan Gibbons (#8 K) brings a big leg and fills the class need here. GRADE: B (I'd feel weird giving any higher grade to kickers here)
OVERALL: B+/A- I'm not sure which grade to give here. The class filled needs at QB and DE. More skill and speed was found. However, it could have used more LB and DT. All in all, I'll take this class.
WHAT IT MEANS FOR 2010: Obviously, DT and LB are the top priorities for next year. WR is taken care of, barring defections, as Ricardo Miller and Jeremy Jackson have pledged to Michigan. Here are the players M has offered so far:
QB: Devin Gardner, Christian Green, Robert Bolden. Keep an eye out for an offer to Je'ron Stokes' brother Malik as well.
RB: Corey Brown, Austin White, Brennan Clay (Tate's teammate)
WR: Chris Dunkley, Dejoshua Johnson (plus 2 committed WRs)
TE: CJ Fiedorowicz
OL: Seantral Henderson, Robert Crisp, Matt James
DT: Jay Guy
DE: Darryl Baldwin, William Gholston
LB: Austin Gray
S: Marvin Robinson
CB: Cullen Christian, Lo Wood, Dior Mathis (Cass Tech)
Here is a great link if you're interested in further exploring the 2010 class: http://www.umvarsityblue.com/2010/index.php
If you made it this far, thanks for reading. GO BLUE!!
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.