this would be bad if it wasn't LIES
Just a couple weeks after wrapping up another successful season (51 wins, B10 title, WCWS appearance, #6 ranking in final polls), some more good news for the softball team. Two players who will be joining the Wolverines this coming season were honored as the Gatorade Player of the Year in their respective states (Illinois & Georgia). One looks like a complete hitter, hitting for power & average very impressively, while the other looks to be another great pitcher. I'm especially excited about that, because if she produces immediately, we'll be the rare team that can throw 3 different pitchers successfully, and if it takes her a bit, she's got time to come along & play understudy to Driesenga & Wagner. The future remains bright under Carol Hutchins' guidance!
So I went to the Midwest Coach's Tour, aka "Sports-O-Rama," tonight in Chicago, hosted by the Chicago Michigan Alumni Association. We had a wonderful time, hearing from Brandon, Hoke, Beilein, Kim Barnes Arico (Women's basketball,) and Hockey Asst Coach Brian Wiseman.
It was a great night, and a lot of fun. It was clear they had rehearsed and done this before, as this is the end of a 10 day tour, starting on the West Coast. (Brandon asked Hoke, for instance, "Did you really say that Notre Dame was chicken?" To which, Hoke answered, "I did.") They all had a good time, were happy to be there, and took a number of questions from the crowd. The only hard question had to do with Michigan's APR, which was low last year, and lower this year. We're abysmal compared to ND & Northwestern. (football is 7th in the Big 10 in ranking.) Brandon didn't quite say "answer to the hand," but close. His basic answer was, come back to me again in four years and ask the same question. The rolling average makes it very difficult to overcome students who do poorly four years back.
Afterwards, the coaches went to different locations, to take questions, sign autographs, take pictures, etc. The lines were ridiculously long for Hoke and Beilein, understandably so. I waited a bit to talk to Brandon. The first thing I'll say is that he was very personable, approachable, and not defensive at all. You can see how he is great for the position of AD. Here are a couple things he said.
- Adding Maryland and Rutgers is not just about TV dollars today. They both certainly open us to the New York, Baltimore, DC markets. But more than that, the problem is projected population growth. According to Brandon, the midwest is flat to declining in the number of people. Projecting out 10 years, the SEC & ACC are seeing significant population growth in their footprint, while the traditional Big 10 footprint is stagnant and stable. Adding the two new teams helps mitigate against this population trend.
- In the future, 12 noon starts will be extremely rare for Michigan (except maybe for Ohio.) TV drives everything, and they want as many night games as possible, and late afternoon games as possible. Teams in the bottom half of the conference will be relegated to 12 or 12:30pm starts. Michigan will almost always have an afternoon or evening start time.
- Brandon is working hard to schedule better non-conference games. A number of teams are ducking Michigan, even when offered very significant money (I think Toledo would be one of these.) We already have a home and home with Arkansas, and with Virginia Tech. Expect an announcement on a home and home with a major West Coast team in the next couple weeks. (USC? UCLA? Stanford? Oregon? I'm guessing Stanford.) ND is at least 10 years, maybe 15, before being regularly rescheduled.
- The door is open for Chris Webber. He is the only one of the Fab 5 not to reach out to Michigan. (Obv., there were limitations until recently on his contact with Michigan.) But Brandon is willing to talk with Chris, if that's what Chris wants to do.
The highlight of my evening, by far, was an unexpected discussion. Three of us were getting ready to head out. As we were walking, I looked over at Laura, and said to the two guys I was with, "I want to say hi to Laura Hoke." She was incredibly personable, sweet, talkative, and approachable. Obviously, you don't ask Laura bubble screen questions. (sorry, Heiko.) But she was just a fount of information. We went all over the place, and I'll try to remember some of what she said.
- The coaches and wives are extremely close. Hoke and Mattison were together at Western Michigan for 5 years, overlapped several years under Carr at Michigan, and are back together again. Hoke and Borges got along very well at San Diego. They all just get along, and enjoy each other's company. I can really see how the wives getting along fosters the family atmosphere recruits have talked about. Every school says they're a family: Michigan really is.
- The wives sometimes join their husbands in recruiting. (And they have to be reminded by coaches to talk to recruits and recruit's moms, not to each other.)
- Laura told a story about talking to Pepper's coaches and parents, just making small talk. They assumed she was part of the staff in some capacity, asked who she was, and she said, "oh, I'm one of the d line coach's wives." At which point, one of them figured it out.
- I asked whether it was Hoke or his grandchild that brought Mattison to Michigan. She said, "Both (citing the friendship.) She also said, "Mattison really didn't enjoy the NFL the same way he enjoys the college game."
- I asked how long Borges and Mattison would be there. She said, "Forever. They're not going anywhere." Seriously, as long as their health holds out, I think Borges and Mattison will stay at Michigan. I think their wives don't want to go anywhere else, especially Mattison's wife.
- I asked if Brady ever encouraged one of his staff to take a promotion to coach elsewhere. She said, "Well, the ONLY coach to ever leave Brady's staff was Montgomery." That's an incredible statistic, and speaks of real loyalty.
- I mentioned that Da'Shawn Hand has talked about how "real" the Michigan coaches are, not putting on a show, just regular folks who enjoy life and care for each other and the players. That he liked the "family" atmosphere. Laura told me another story. She mentioned that a recruit had come to Michigan, and had also visited another school down south, who really "put on the red carpet." The recruit's mom was very impressed by the red carpet treatment, and Hoke's attitude was, "that's not us. We're not doing that for anyone. We are who we are." The recruit eventually went to the school down south. I thought to myself later, that recruit must have been Treadwell. I could see that if Mississippi really pulled out all the stops, treated recruits like royalty, that would impress some of them.
- Brady doesn't ever do negative recruiting. He just shares about Michigan and their resources, and Michigan sells itself.
- I asked Laura what was the hardest part of recruiting. She said, "It starts so early, and it never stops." Laura said, "if a five star recruit [her words] comes to campus, what are the coaches going to do? They're going to go to the office, show the recruit around, spend time with him." With unofficial visits happening all the time, you NEVER are off as a coach or a wife. She said they'd get a couple weeks of vacation in July, but that's it.
- Laura (like Brady) is very open. Brady shared again about his bad choices his first two years at Ball State. This really shapes how he cares for the "105 sons" who are on the MIchigan team. On this area, Laura had very high praise for the academic support team, and how proactive they are in helping Freshmen before they get on campus, and the minute they're on campus.
- I asked Laura about Football Saturdays. She said that they were a lot of fun. They have as many as 50 family members sleeping over Friday and Saturday night in their home.
- Laura really enjoyed the Senior Leadership training in California last week. The Seals did their thing, Laura was able to visit friends in San Diego, the team got to see the Rose Bowl (and picture being there,) and the Seniors did their football clinic for kids in Pasadena. Brady had nothing to do with it: the seniors needed to organize drills, and make the whole thing happen.
I hope you all get the opportunity to go to one of these things sometime. What a great couple Brady and Laura are. Just seeing her and Brady, I can see why the summer Barbecue would be so successful. And what a treat to hear her perspective on football at Michigan. She so clearly is having fun and enjoying this.
I will stand by the essence of what I said, although this is all from memory, and so it is not word for word. There was way more that happened, but this already is far too long, and gives you a taste of the evening.
Sam Webb does a very nice ARTICLE on Jabrill Peppers's background. Many of the general points are known (esp. re: Peppers's dad), but a very worthwhile read all the same. He discusses his commitment freestyle, as well as several deeper matters.
My favorite observation from Peppers re: Michigan's football program?
Michigan provided an ideal mix of all of those attributes, but there was one specific trait that allowed the Wolverines to distinguish themselves tangibly from their opposition. The ability of the players and coaches to connect with Peppers during his early April visit to Ann Arbor was summed up in one memorable statement.
"Real recognizes real," Peppers said afterward.
With the recent commitment of Peppers, I thought it'd be interesting to see how many of the last 2 (edit: now 3) classes of recruits were considered top 5 nationally at their positions by at least one of the services. This is kind of an arbitrary cutoff, and actually leaves off a decent amount who are top 10 at their position nationally, but here's what we've got. Services listed in order of highest ranking for each player:
2012 (thanks to user Allin4Blue)
Ondre Pipkins #3 DT - Rivals
Sione Houma #4 FB - ESPN
Kyle Kalis #4 OG - 247
Joe Bolden #3 OLB - 247, #4 OLB - Scout
Royce Jenkins-Stone - #2 MLB - Scout
Chris Wormley #4 SDE - 247
Terry Richardson #5 CB - ESPN
Devin Funchess - #5 TE - ESPN
Kyle Bosch #3 OT - Scout, #4 OG - 247
Taco Charlton #3 WDE - 247
Derrick Green #1 RB - Rivals, Scout, #5 RB - ESPN
Shane Morris #3 QB - Scout, #4 QB - Rivals, 247
David Dawson #3 OG - 247, #2 OG - ESPN
Patrick Kugler #1 OG - Scout, #2 C - 247, #3 OG - ESPN,
Jake Butt # 4 TE - ESPN, #5 TE - Scout, Rivals
Dymonte Thomas #4 S - Scout
Jabrill Peppers #1 CB - Everyone save Scout at #4
Drake Harris #4 WR - 247, #3 WR - Scout
Bryan Mone #5 DT - 247
Ian Bunting #5 TE - ESPN
3 TE - 1 H, 2 Y
|Name||Class||Position||Ov Rank||Pos Rank||Top 100||Top 250|
|Jabrill Peppers||2014||ATH||3||1||Top 100||Top 250|
|Michael McCray||2013||ATH||130||4||Top 250|
|Josh Furman||2010||ATH||223||16||Top 250|
|Jourdan Lewis||2013||CB||115||10||Top 250|
|Blake Countess||2011||CB||135||10||Top 250|
|Terry Richardson||2012||CB||141||11||Top 250|
|Dymonte Thomas||2013||S||71||9||Top 100||Top 250|
|Jarrod Wilson||2012||S||238||14||Top 250|
|Joe Bolden||2012||ILB||75||2||Top 100||Top 250|
|Michael Ferns||2014||ILB||103||6||Top 250|
|James Ross||2012||ILB||115||3||Top 250|
|Ben Gedeon||2013||ILB||214||11||Top 250|
|Royce Jenkins-Stone||2012||OLB||140||14||Top 250|
|Brennen Beyer||2011||OLB||182||11||Top 250|
|Antonio Poole||2011||OLB||201||12||Top 250|
|Chris Wormley||2012||SDE||129||6||Top 250|
|Taco Charlton||2013||WDE||132||3||Top 250|
|Lawrence Marshall||2014||WDE||152||10||Top 250|
|Tom Strobel||2012||WDE||180||10||Top 250|
|Ondre Pipkins||2012||DT||60||6||Top 100||Top 250|
|Bryan Mone||2014||DT||71||5||Top 100||Top 250|
|Henry Poggi||2013||DT||121||11||Top 250|
|Quinton Washington||2009||DT||207||17||Top 250|
|Maurice Hurst Jr.||2013||DT||257||21|
|Patrick Kugler||2013||OC||68||1||Top 100||Top 250|
|Kyle Kalis||2012||OG||49||3||Top 100||Top 250|
|Kyle Bosch||2013||OG||87||3||Top 100||Top 250|
|David Dawson||2013||OG||95||4||Top 100||Top 250|
|Chris Fox||2013||OG||110||5||Top 250|
|Mason Cole||2014||OG||110||7||Top 250|
|Michael Schofield||2009||OG||196||13||Top 250|
|Erik Magnuson||2012||OT||83||9||Top 100||Top 250|
|Taylor Lewan||2009||OT||156||11||Top 250|
|Logan Tuley-Tillman||2013||OT||167||12||Top 250|
|Shane Morris||2013||PRO||72||3||Top 100||Top 250|
|Devin Gardner||2010||DUAL||68||2||Top 100||Top 250|
|Derrick Green||2013||RB||26||4||Top 100||Top 250|
|DeVeon Smith||2013||RB||207||15||Top 250|
|Justice Hayes||2011||APB||115||6||Top 250|
|Dennis Norfleet||2012||APB||195||7||Top 250|
|Jake Butt||2013||TE||171||6||Top 250|
|Drake Harris||2014||WR||44||4||Top 100||Top 250|
|Amara Darboh||2012||WR||222||28||Top 250|
|Year||Top 100||Top 250||Other||Grand Total|
I think I missed a couple, since I get 81 scholarships (ex-2014), but interesting data nonetheless. I wanted to go back and do this since I thought it brought a little more detail to the old classes that used to be on the star system without the 247 Composite method.
Keep in mind about there are about 1,100 - 1,400 football scholarships per year in the Big 5 conferences + ND.
With the addition of Maryland and Rutgers the conversation has centered around
WHY, WHY, WHY, TV sets and whether or not this was just a cover for Delaney to ditch Leaders and Legends. MGoUser trppwlbrnID asked the question that should always be asked, what about recruiting?
With the addition of the two schools, I dug into their recruiting bases and how much opportunity there might be for Michigan to jump into some new territories.
Home state of Maryland recruits (2009-2013 classes) weighted by consensus rating
Nearly half of Maryland’s last five classes have come from Maryland and Washington, DC. These two regions would have the most likely opportunity for Michigan. Pennsylvania, Georgia and Florida are regions that aren’t going to give any advantage because Maryland has joined the Big Ten.
Home state of Rutgers recruits (2009-2013 classes) weighted by consensus rating
Over half of Rutgers’ recruits came from the home state of New Jersey. Like Maryland, Rutgers has looked to Pennsylvania and Florida as key secondary regions. So that leaves just the home regions of New Jersey, Maryland and DC as areas that Maryland and Rutgers have had success that seem viable for Michigan to make new inroads into.
Over the last five years, there have been 73 players from New Jersey, Maryland and DC that have garnered a consensus 4 star level rating. Five schools have signed at least four of these players. Penn St has signed 9 of these players while the new members of the Big Ten have signed 7 each. Florida and Michigan have each signed four. When you look at the totals by conference (excluding Maryland and Rutgers from any conference) the Big Ten is already the leading team in recruiting these key regions.
The Big Ten is already getting about a third of the players not going to the new members. Adding Maryland and Rutgers into the Big Ten count gives them 45% of the top recruits from the region. In terms of quantity, there doesn’t seem to be much upside for Michigan in the newly acquired regions on a quantity basis. Some of the ACC signees may end up going B1G but even taking a third of these players is still just one extra recruit for the conference per year.
The Elite Opportunity
During the same five year period, the Maryland/Rutgers region has produced 15 players who were consensus Top 100 level players only one signed with a Big Ten team (Eli Apple, OSU) and Maryland (Stefon Diggs) and Rutgers (Darius Hamilton, Savon Huggins) were each only able to sign three of the fifteen. Of the other 11, four went to other ACC schools, 3 to the SEC, 3 to the Pac-12 (one of which was the embattled Yuri Wright) and one to Notre Dame.
Overall, the Big 10 and Michigan already have a solid presence in the local areas where Maryland and Rutgers have the most success. The area that seems the most likely for Michigan to gain a new advantage will be the elite level recruits that have been avoiding the Big Ten presently.
The Michigan Opportunity
As noted above, Michigan is already doing better than most at signing 4 star talent from the region. There is certainly an opportunity to do more, but this shouldn’t be a major change for Michigan. The biggest windows of opportunity are probably in some of the Top 100 type players. Recent names such as Stefon Diggs and Kendall Fuller are players who Michigan might have had a better shot at with the new footprint (although Fuller’s recruiting did overlap with the news). This isn’t a massively talent rich region but it has enough to produce a couple elite prospects annually. Michigan and Ohio should be most poised to step in and take advantage, especially with Penn State buried for the next several recruiting cycles.
The more difficult to quantify opportunity is probably Virginia. Maryland isn’t a major player in the state, but with the Derrick Green commitment and the recruitment of Da’Shawn Hand the opportunity to play two games in neighboring Maryland should definitely help solidify Michigan’s position as a major player in Virginia recruiting.