"It's a lot easier being a drug dealer than an AAU coach" - this guy. Tell me something I don't know. I mean, don't think but have never tried either.
I am sure you have seen the artile, U-M’s Rodriguez wants more walk-ons... although he probably doesn't want them starting at QB again.
So, what makes a great walk-on program? Is it finding All-Conference or All-American talent? Or maybe filling needs on the roster with great “character guys” - “projects” - “late bloomers”?
The most famous walk-on is probably Daniel “RUDY” Ruettiger and his sack against Georgia Tech in 1975. So what can a new or “preferred” walk-on program mean for Michigan? <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
It seems coach Rodriguez, who was a walk-on himself at West Virginia, hopes to find a handful of players that can contribute in the future and possibly on this year’s team:
"They're going to create some competition at practice, and I would suspect in the new walk-on group, there will be three to four of them who will earn scholarships. There will be one or two who may play as soon as this year, and I'm really excited about that."
But, where do walk-ons come from?
The term usually refers to an athlete who becomes part of a team without being recruited beforehand or awarded a scholarship. Until 1977, schools were allowed to offer as many scholarships as they desired, a rule that resulted in the stockpiling of top players by major football programs. The NCAA has limited the number of scholarships since ’77: 95 from 1977-91, at 92 in 1992, 88 in 1993, and at 85 since 1994. Schools are also required by Title IX to provide an equal number of athletic scholarships to men and women; 85 football scholarships are thus, hard to even out…
Thus, teams look to walk-on players to fill out their rosters, participate as members of the scout team, and at some positions - prove their merit before being considered for a scholarship (punter, kicker, long-snapper, etc). Walk-ons also provide depth at positions that were not adequately addressed by scholarship recruits or where a team has seen losses due to injuries. However, for many players it is a chance to fulfill a dream – and it is unlikely that they will ever see meaningful playing time.
There is debate as to who benefits from scholarship limitations. Some claim that it has lead to greater parity within the system and allowed smaller programs to attract talent. While others argue that top programs get the best of both worlds: recruiting the best players and luring other talented players who are willing to enroll as preferred walk-ons.
At Michigan, a successful walk-on program should result in the attraction of players who were recruited by other programs, but would prefer to play at Michigan because of our tradition, academics, or maybe a connection they have to the Michigan family... Michigan enters this season with quite a few players in the walk-on program and hopefully some that might contribute down the line: Barker, Lindley, and several kickers. For the time being lets ignore the walk-ons that contributed to last year’s team…
Ideally a strong Michigan program can attract positions of need such as FB within our system and give our coaches a chance to find contributors in a unique way. Because of its small town makeup and tradition of 7v7 football, Nebraska has produced a lot of talent within its walk-on program over the years (Joel Makovicka, Jason Peter) – something that Barry Alvarez has attempted to recreate at Wisconsin:
The big exception to the rule was Jim Leonhard, a walk-on from tiny Tony, Wis. “He was a little safety that no one recruited,” Alvarez said. “By his second year, he was leading the Big Ten in punt returns and still wasn’t on scholarship. We got him on scholarship in a hurry after that.”
And where’s Jim Leonhard now? “In his fifth year in the NFL,” Alvarez said.
Many small town players prove to be great athletes with hard work ethic, but they receive no attention from coaches and recruiting services. Thus, the Nebraska’s program has been the benefactor of a great tradition of walk-on players – much of it is chronicled in a new documentary, Walk Ons: Husker Edge, that is available on the web this week.
Overall, I think an argument can be made already based on our recruiting in 2009-2010, that our coaches are scouting and targeting talent to fill unique needs within our defensive and offensive schemes (fullback/deathbacker/slot-ninja). Some of these players are going to be relative unknowns and others may only be lightly recruited by major programs. This combined with Michigan’s large fanbase, tradition, and strong academics – could be exactly what we need to establish a strong walk-on program.
Author's Note: Due to Demand - Info on Furrha...
-local talent from Ann Arbor Pioneer
-had ascholarship offer from GVSU, interest from some MAC schools
-decided to commit to UofM as a preferred walk-on
-info from Brian on Nader Furrha
I usually check out thebiglead.com for some random sports news, and came upon this post by an (apparent) Michigan alumni. I'm actually with his analysis (outside of "Stevie Brown should be a fluid playmaker") until the last paragraph or two, when he turned to blogsphere trick #2 to drive interest in his post - unsubstantiated claims for firing of a coach with little justification other than "look at this schedule." (Note: trick #1 is to link to pictures of attractive women).
My take - RR and Michigan certainly look to be in better shape this year than last, and from everything I've read and seen the team is light-years ahead of where it was from a system standpoint than this time last year. That said, freshmen QBs and a younger defense do not lend themselves to dramatic turnarounds, and I think most level-headed UM fans don't expect miracles. I still think 7-6 (7-5 + bowl loss) would be a good season, and 6 wins is certainly plausible. But if the QBs play like freshmen and/or DEATH!!!!!!, and MINOR RAGE suffers through a series of minor injuries, this team could certainly go sub-.500 again. But I think the administration knows that it will take some time, and I think the real pressure comes in year 3 if this team continues to wallow in the lower 2/3 of the Big 10.
Rich Rodriguez is 4-0 against UConn (and coach Randy Edsall). The year they (UConn and WVU) shared the title, UConn lost by 45 points.
|Year||Location||WVU||UConn||WVU record||UConn record|
|Turnovers (Total )||7||10|
I'm not saying that this had any reason for why UConn was scheduled for the opener, merely that despite UConn's success (they were a combined 26-22, with two bowl games and WVU was 41-9 with 4 bowl games two of which were BCS) RR had their number. Maybe this is all moot considering that Connecticut is better than those past teams, RR only played a UConn team with a winning record twice, RR had very good teams, and 4 games is a pretty small sample size, but this is interesting nevertheless.
Yes, the dual title is a shout-out to “Rocky and Bowinkle”.
Although this post should be totally unnecessary, idiocy abounds and the madness must be stopped. Short of writing personal checks to players (or some equivalently massive set of rule violations), Rich Rodriguez WILL NOT BE FIRED by season’s end. He will live to fight another day and to coach another year in Ann Arbor no matter what happens on the field this season.
I was listening to WTKA recently and they had some airhead running his mouth about how RR is on the “hot seat” this year, that he needs to have a winning record, etc. I got ticked by his obvious ignorance of what exactly constitutes the “hot seat” and his general lack of analysis, betraying a lack of understanding of the state of M Football. But I dismissed it for what it was: talk radio. They’ve gotta talk about something to justify their existence. And the more simplistic, inane, and agitating, the better.
Then Brian linked a Phil Steele article from the Orlando Sentinel in which Phil lists RR as the #7 coach in I-A (FBS) on the “hot seat” and I couldn’t take it anymore.
FIRST of all, let’s start with the definition of the euphemism “hot seat”. In sports, “on the hot seat” means “you’re about to get fired unless you produce like now.” The last word in that sentence is where Phil (and others) must be getting confused. It’s not “yesterday” or “last year”, because that’s “you WERE fired.” It’s not “in the next 3-5 years”, because that’s a seat that’s just not hot. Hot Seat = NOW … or else.
SECOND, let’s look at what Phil said about RR.
· Phil expects M to be an underdog in 7 games. By implication, that means Michigan would be a favorite in 5 games. No one in Wolverine Nation would be thrilled by a 5-7 finish. But RR won’t get fired over it either. Why? Because Michigan AD, Bill Martin, is a patient man. Bill knows that his football coach is only in his second year of getting his players and his system in place. Bill waited through 5 years of Tommy Amaker, he’ll certainly wait through 3-5 years of RR.
· Phil thinks RR will get us to a decent bowl and make major strides just like he did in his 2nd year at West Virginia. We would need to go 6-6 to go to any kind of bowl, 8-4 to go to a “decent bowl”, as Phil says. Why would that get RR fired? That sounds like the kind of progress everyone is hoping for.
· Phil thinks that a lot Michigan alumni mistakenly assume that RR’s spread offense is a pass-first, run-second scheme (like, who exactly, Phil?). Even if that were true, it would have exactly ZERO effect on RR being fired this season.
I'm sorry, Phil. Why exactly is RR in your "hot seat"?
THIRD, even a major catastrophe on the field this season would not result in RR being fired. Hypothetically, let’s envision Michigan going 0-12 this year. That means we lose to Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Indiana, and Delaware State all at home. Let’s just focus on those four games. Imagine the plausible scenarios by which we would accomplish this level of devastation. Here’s what comes to mind:
· Injuries to every starter AND Nick Sheridan and David Cone and … (Zoltan can play QB and we still beat Delaware State)
· Everyone who returns kicks/punts fumbling the ball (cf. the 2008 Wisconsin game)
· Coaches using a Ouija board to decide what plays to call
· Opponents discovering kryptonite to neutralize Zoltan’s super powers
· Pre-game F-16’s piloted by Bucknuts crashing into the Michigan bench kamikaze-style
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Last year, we beat Miami Ohio, the moral equivalent of Delaware State. Last year, we beat Wisconsin after turning the ball over 5 times in the first half. Last year, Nick Sheridan (bless his heart) led us to victory ON THE ROAD against Minnesota. Last year, we had the worst football team I’ve ever seen, and we still won 3 games.
There’s no way we do any worse than last year. Everyone on the roster has as much (true freshmen) or more (everyone else) experience as last year’s team. Which means we make some (or “significant” according to Phil Steele) improvement this year (somewhere between 4-8 and 8-4). Which means RR will not be fired this year. Which means RR is in no way on “the hot seat” this year.
So give it a rest, folks.
And don’t start talking about those Michigan fans who blindly defend RR at all costs. I’m not saying he’s the second-coming. Heck, we’re probably looking at a 6-6 season. I’m just saying there’s no plausible on-the-field scenario by which he gets fired by season’s end. Get used to the idea that RR will be our coach for 2009, 2010, and probably at least 2011 before he’s at risk of being fired. Like I said, Bill Martin is a patient man, even if you’re not. Use your heads and cool your jets.
And GO BLUE!
An article by Pat Forde. It's one of his typical dread pieces. He's terribly wrong with some of the things he says, but it's ESPN.
It's mostly about the normal stuff for this coming season; erasing last year's memories, QB play, defense growing up in time.
Before anyone gets the wrong impression, I pleased as punch with the Rodriguez hire. Love the guy, the system, the recruiting, even the accent. Here come's the but. But, he was my second choice during The Search, to Paul Johnson, then of Navy, now of Georgia Tech.
How do you think Johnson's triple option flexbone would have looked with Michigan's personnel last year? The idea of Minor, Brown, McGuffie and Shaw in twos threes and fours, with nary a Sheridan or Threet among them is a vision that taunted me occasionally last fall.
I'm no expert on blocking schemes, so I have no idea if there would have been any less early season ineptitude, but if they had improved as they did in the real 2008, how deadly could this offense have been by November?