don't we all
So at this point I am having many issues with finding enough information for schools not named Michigan before 2004. I've had to skip one Penn State class and am sure I'll have to do it with other schools. Fortunately, Purdue and Minnesota are mailing me their information. I've got requests out at many schools trying to get information. So at this point, I've got two Michigan classes in a row, and then back to the grind of finding information. Enjoy.
Edit: It's randomly bolded, and I can't get the editor here to unbold parts of it. I give up again. When I write my posts in dreamweaver they are supposed to come out perfectly!
Set the Stage:
Head Coach: Lloyd Carr
2001 Performance: 8-4-0, 2nd Big Ten, 20th Overall
New Blood: 23
Mini Recruiting Board Lives Here:
The 2002 class was recruited off of a mediocre 8-4 campaign in 2001, which succumbed to Tennessee in the Citrus Bowl. Lloyd aimed for a very balanced class here, though a light on the line on both sides of the ball. The emphasis on skill positions was expected to pay off in spades. This class contained 13 in-state players, showing Lloyd's preference for Michigan Men to come from Michigan.
How They Did:
Overall Record: 47-16
Varsity Letters: 61
Graduated on Team: 18
Started a Game: 17
Full Eligibility: 15
5th Year Seniors: 12
- Jason Avant, WR, All-Conference 2005
- Dave Harris, ILB, All-Conference 2006
- Gabriel Watson, DT, All-Conference 2005 2006
- Jason Avant, 2006, 4th Round, 109 Overall
- Steve Breaston, 2007, 5th Round, 142 Overall
- Dave Harris, 2007, 2nd Round, 47 Overall
- Gabriel Watson, 2006, 4th Round, 107 Overall
Of the 23 students drafted, 18 graduated, 17 started a game, 15 used their full eligibility, and 12 played as redshirt seniors.
I think this class justifies the use of the man-game starting ratio. This team had an extremely weak starting percentage, barely over 15%, but a high winning percentage, ~75%. The senior season, at 7-5, reflects the starting percentage well. All other classes for Michigan within this time period should have a higher starting percentage, and better senior seasons. This was nowhere near Carr's best performing class.
The lean of this class was towards its skill players in recruiting, and a couple of strong players came from it. Steve Breaston and Jason Avant were both strong receivers and anchors for their senior campaigns. However, the linemen, even though they had less presence, had 43% of the starts for the class. Gabe Watson, DT, won two All-Conference First Team honors, and was drafted just before Jason Avant in the '06 draft. Of the skill players, only two wide receivers an an inside linebacker (Dave Harris) stood out, while Gabe Watson, Reuben Riley, Mark Bihl, and Rondell Biggs all became strong presences on the line during their respective senior campaigns.
You see often the laments of fans over Michigan loses that shoulda, woulda, coulda been a victory. If only this, or if only that. (Cordell Stewart) (Crable!) (Charles White!) (Sheridan!) (Troy!) (Vince!) (Dixon!) (Edwards!) (Rocket!) Whatever. While such games exact a pain that never seems to dull, those do not hold a candle to the 2008 Capital One Bowl Game. That game, at least to me, is the most wrenching.
Allow me to explain.
Michigan was not supposed to win that game. The Michigan defense had yet to prove it could slow down yet alone stop a spread offense, and the Urban Meyer brand Florida Spread scored over 40 points 9 times that season and 49 points 6 times. Tim Tebow won the Heisman, the Maxwell, the O’Brian and the AP Player of the year. They had Percy Harvin, who when healthy, was supposedly unstoppable. And, this is basically the same team that came back in won the NC the following season, though who they played slips my mind at this time. AND the game was being played in Florida. Many Florida fans live in that state. Indeed, the Gators would go on to have a very good game. 399 yards of offense, 3 td passes, Harvin had over 200 yards of total offense himself, NO TURNOVERS, and aside from their secondary they had a great game.
The Blogosphere was crackling with loss scenarios. Most of them gruesome. Even the Michigan Otherwise Fanatics are casting doubts and sighing the sigh of death. That loss at the end of the season to that team with the really good players is still stinging. Lloyd is leaving. Rich Rod and twenty miles of bad controversy have arrived. (Even though the proverbial dam had yet to burst.) The curse of a billion kittens and swimming fowl hung in the air like the exhaust from a city bus on a hot summer day.
Then finally the teams stepped onto the field. The Gators are talking trash. The Wolverines bark right back. Wow. I truly wasn’t expecting trash talk in the Cap One Bowl, but yeah, its on.
And ON it was. 524 yards of offense, 10 of 15 3rd down conversion, 28 first downs, 373 passing yards, 151 rushing yards, 32:18 time of possession. And…
Adrian Arrington 9 153 2 37
Mario Manningham 5 78 1 24
Carson Butler 1 65 0 65
Greg Mathews 7 62 0 18
Well, that is SPREADING in around.
41 points. Hart’s two fumbles excluded, its more like 55 points. Remove those two interceptions and who knows.
Thanks to the fine work by U of M Historian (with an assist from Wiki) it is possible to travel back in time and see a good portion of the Capital One Bowl. It is a good idea, as well. Stats don’t show one-handed grabs, around the back grabs and in traffic grabs--and a bunch of most excellent other plays.
Worst win ever? Yeah, because I can’t stop wondering the what if’s on this team. Morgan Trent ran down Percy Harvin and made numerous big plays and big hits! Heck, the D gave up some yards but they were hitting like monsters and making everybody pay. The O gave up four turnovers and never quit--in basically, Florida‘s backyard. Everybody was catching the ball and blocking downfield. Carson Butler went 65 yards! Henne was 25 of 39. Hart was pounding like a sledge hammer on sandstone. The line were blocking like they were defending Mt. Olympus. It was pizza power gone mad! All these things, all this great talent blooming in the last game of the year, and the last game ever for U of M by many of these guys. And not one Big Ten title between them. Oh well, stuff like that happens I guess.
Besides, 4.25 million is a chunk of change to bring home.
I keep hearing a lot of things said about our dearly departed QBs of the last couple years, and some of the assumptions don't make sense to me. This is the way I hear the story told, without dates but in chronological order:
1. Threet chooses Georgia Tech and Mallett chooses Michigan
2. Threet chooses to transfer to Michigan
3. Mallett doesn't like Michigan and decides to transfer to Arkansas
4. Threet chooses to transfer away from Michigan
Tell me if this doesn't make more sense. Bear with me as this is intricate:
1. Mallett grew up a Razorback fan but he wouldn't start over Mustain (or he assumed as much), so he goes to the next-best statue-QB school available: Lloyd Carr's Michigan Wolverines
2. Threet grew up a Michigan fan, but knowing that Mallett would be there, he shied away
3. Mallett doesn't like Michigan and Michigan doesn't like Mallett. Even the football seems to hate Mallett, as it finds ways to slip out of his hands time and time again.
4. Mitch Mustain transfers to USC. Mallet transferring to Arkansas becomes a question of when, not if. Carr knows this.
5. Carr looks furiously for the best available option. He knows Threet would transfer if he knew that Mallett was leaving, so he tells him that. Threet can't tell anyone that he knows Mallett is transferring, though.
6. Michigan has a bad season, Carr is gone, Rodriguez is hired.
7. Threet sees he's not in our long term plans anymore. His transfer is a question of when, not if. The wide open starting job of last season kept him at bay for a year.
8. Rodriguez knows the situation and looks furiously for two QB recruits. He is telling them that Threet is as good as gone. (How do you get two comparably talented QBs to be part of the same class, with last year's starter returning? Perhaps the reason we kept losing commits was because they kept being assured Threet was transferring, but it wasn't happening.)
9. Threet transfers; hello starting freshman QB! (edit:
Notice that we had no more QB decommits as soon as the transfer was made public.)
The big difference in timeline 2 is that everyone's actions are reactions to something external rather than unprovoked. What do you think? Is there evidence that Threet really opted to transfer to a volatile coaching situation, knowing he would sit behind a 5-star QB for four years? That makes no sense to me, especially since he transferred again this offseason because he doesn't want to be a benchwarmer.
I read the post "Sunk Costs" and disagreed with the following point on who is to blame for this past season:
"Lloyd Carr put all his eggs in Mallett's basket, leaving Michigan with David Cone as upperclass QBs this year. His recruiting was obviously rotting slowly, too."
Unlike the Drew Henson situation, Lloyd Carr did not put all of his eggs in the Ryan Mallett basket. When Mallett signed in 2006, Jason Forcier was only a redshirt-sophomore and would've had 2 more years of eligibility left if he had stayed. Once Mallett arrived on campus, Forcier decided to bolt for Stanford, something Lloyd could not have planned for. This turned out to be unfortunate for both sides, as Forcier had to sit out last year (there would've been chances for him to play here) and then played hardly at all this season. He could've been a decent QB here and would surely have been a big step up from Threet or Sheridan this season.
Despite this, Lloyd still had a solid backup plan in place. He signed Steven Threet at the start of the 2007 season. Threet was meant to be a solid back-up to Mallett for 2-3 years that could develop into a potential starter by the time he reached his junior year. This can still happen obviously, he was just pushed into the starting role too early. Also important to keep in mind was that before Lloyd announced his retirement he had signed 4 star QB John Wienke from Illinois, a traditional drop-back player who ended up at Iowa after Carr announced his departure (I don't quite recall if it was before or after the Rodriguez hiring). If Wienke had stayed on he probably would've been better than Sheridan at least this year. Mallett bolted after the bowl game.
The QBs this year were clearly not ready, but Lloyd is not at fault. There was attrition out of his control. A running quarterback would have been great this season but that's not the system he ran and he probably never thought Michigan would hire a coach like Rich Rodriguez. This was just an unfortunate result of a drastic regime change.
A Michigan football historical parallel I found interesting:
Fielding H. Yost died in 1946. The 1947 Michigan team won a New Year's Day bowl. After 1947, Fritz Crisler handed the reigns to 42-year-old Benny Oosterbaan, who Crisler described as "the best offensive mind in college football." Oosterbaan proceeded to thumb his nose at Michigan tradition by retiring Ron Kramer's #87 while he was still on the team. While Crisler had never had a season worse than 7-3 or finished worse than tied for 4th in the Big Ten, Oosterbaan had two losing seasons in his 11 years at the helm, as well as 6th and 8th place finishes to cap his tenure before handing off to Bump Elliott.
Glenn E. Schembechler died in 2006. The 2007 Michigan team won a New Year's Day bowl. After 2007, Lloyd Carr handed the reigns to 44-year-old Rich Rodriguez, who many described as "the best offensive mind in college football." Rodriguez proceeded to thumb his nose at Michigan tradition by ending the tradition of having season-long captains. While Carr had never had a season worse than 7-5 or finished worse than tied for 5th in the Big Ten, Rodriguez set the Michigan record for losses in his first season and then ...
Obviously the comparison is ridiculous (Oosterbaan did win a national title and 3 Big Ten titles; Crisler was the outside hire and Oosterbaan was a Michigan guy, whereas Lloyd was inside and RichRod was not), but here's hoping we're not heading for the 1950s and 1960s of Michigan Football (which included a span of 17 years with one Big Ten title from 1952-1968). I guess the bright side is that even if we are, history would indicate that this won't last forever, and that the next Bo is coming around...in 2028 or so?
First "Game" vs. Buckeyes:
Fielding H. Yost, 1901: W, 21-0
George Little, 1924: W, 16-6
Tad Wieman, 1927: W, 21-0
Harry Kipke, 1929: L, 0-7
Fritz Crisler, 1938: W, 18-0
Bennie Oosterbaan, 1948: W, 13-3
Bump Elliott, 1959: W, 23-14
Bo Schembechler, 1969: W, 24-12
Gary Moeller, 1990: W, 16-13
Lloyd Carr, 1995: W, 31-23
Rich Rodriguez, 2008: ________
Go Blue, Beat OSU!
As the season comes to a close this Saturday I thought about the last three months and started thinking of some questions.
I thought about how it may have turned out differently if one, two or an untold number of things would have fallen into place or turned out in a different way.
Of course, this serves no practical application other than the pure sport of conjecture and debate, but still, if you're bored at work or just desperate for something else to comment on, have at it.
1. What happens if Terrelle Pryor signs with Michigan? He obviously starts, but how much better does Michigan do?
2. If Lloyd Carr had not retired, what would our record be this year? Would Michigan be better or, given the departures last year, about the same?
3. If Michigan played Utah again at this point in the season, would we win or has Utah progressed that much more throughout the season?
4. If Threet starts from the opener and stays healthy throughout the season, does it get us another win or two?
5. What happens next year?
So, yea, just some things to think about.
This post is, by no means, a declaration of anger about what has transpired this season. I just like to think about how things may have worked out under different circumstances.