rundown of Michigan's riser
Grant Wiley, Dee McCann, Quincy Wilson
So MGoUser fab5 found a West Virginia blog called Couch Fire Sports that had an interview with former WVU linebacker Grant Wiley—a totally unvarnished interview. The blog's managed to land almost a dozen of these interviews with former athletes and they're… blunt. A section of cornerback Dee McCann's interview:
CFS: Was WVU your first experiance with mass amounts of “white girls”?
DM: Yes it was, and I had fun.
CFS: Is it true you knocked out a younger star recruit at Hardees and sent him straight to Divison 2 ball over a very cute female athlete?
DM: NO COMMENT, Hahahaha. NO COMMENT !!!
These things have a zero BS rating, and a lot of them talk about Rich Rodriguez. The results follow.
Dee McCann [CB, JUCO, 2004-2005]:
CFS: How were the practices in the NFL compared to thoughs of Rich Fraud? Did he have you practice to many hours also?
DM: The practice hours were about the same but Coach Rods practice was more high tempo but he prepare me for the next level. …
CFS: If you could tell Rich Fraud one thing it would be … Hey Coach …
DM: THANKS FOR EVERYTHING.
Anthony Mims [CB, 2000-2005]:
CFS: How do you feel about the negative light being shed on WVU by Ex Coach Rich Rodriguez?
AM: I think it’s some BS, but not mainly on Rods part, but the NCAA. Those “violations” can be seen at any other school in the country.
CFS: If you talked to Coach Rod on the phone, you would say … Hey Coach ….
AM: I’d wish him luck on the upcoming season and thank him for everything he’s done for me.
Quincy Wilson [RB, 1999-2004]:
CFS: So is Rich Rod a dick? What are your thoughts?
QW: The whole Coach Rod thing was handled wrong on both ends. I never had a problem with Coach Rod. I think if you want to leave then fine will find a coach that bleeds blue and gold like Coach Stew.
CFS: What are your thoughts on the Super Bowl Shuffle?
QW: one of the classiest songs ever.
Vaughn Rivers [CB, 2003-2007]:
CFS: How do you feel about the negative light that is shed upon WVU with all the Rich Rodriguez drama?
VR: Alot of propaganda you know alot of behind the scenes issues the public really never knew about. Some things that never get brought to light but the loyalty of the West Virginia faithful is incomparable and I can also understand their feelings of betrayal.
CFS: If you talked to Coach Rod on the phone, what would you have to say to him? Hey Coach …
VR: I would tell him as I always have and always do, thank you for the opportunity you gave me and the work ethic you installed in us.
John Pennington [walk-on WR, 2000-2003]:
CFS: How do you feel about the negative light Rich Rodriguez has brought upon WVU with the investigations?
JP: I know Bill Stewart will do a great job handling the situation and I hope we can turn it into a positive.
Finally, Grant Wiley [LB, 2000-2003] wrote paragraphs and paragraphs, too many to replicate here. Here's a chunk:
Couch Fire Sports: First impressions of Rich Rod?
Grant Wiley: … Michigan players, fans, and alumni need to stop crying like a bunch of babies and turn on the 2007 Mountaineers so they can see their future.
I remember coming back to school after the Music City Bowl, on crutches, for our first meeting with Rich. I didn’t research him or read any of the papers so I really had no idea what to expect. I wouldn’t have known that I was Big East Rookie of the Year hadn’t it been for the trophy I was presented with. So Rich introduced the staff and very adamantly told us we were going to play like our hair was on fire or not play at all. From the start he was re-instilling the discipline I feel we needed at the time. The meeting ended and typically people were overreacting, trying to find their exit strategy, and a lot of guys were just ready to take that next step to win, coming off of destroying another SEC team.
Rich pulls me into his office and breaks me down like this. “Grant, you had a good year, and I think you are a good player. You didn’t really have to work for your position, it was kind of handed to you.” At the time I wanted to tell him to go fuck himself, but I knew what I went through to start as a freshman and the work I put in to be the best linebacker in the country. So I didn’t over react, I just took it as more motivation to prove this guy I was the best. Maybe that is what his objective was to begin with.
Wiley's "one knock" on RR was his lack of "truly genuine relationships" with the players he didn't recruit. Wiley says he's sure that's changed, but the transition at Michigan suggests it hasn't.
A second question about whether he'd rather play for RR or Bill Stewart has this section:
I loved the fact that Coach Rod’s in your face attitude was being embodied by guys I played with that naturally didn’t have that attitude, so in the end they were better players because of it. I mean the proof is in the pudding. Coach Rod wins games. No matter where he goes, he is going to win games. Coach Stew has been winning games as well. But, I don’t see the same attitude out on the field, offensively, as when Rich was in charge. You can teach technique until your blue in the face but if you don’t have that killer inside come out when you play, you won’t stand a chance.
You should probably read the whole thing; it's more insight into Rich Rodriguez's philosophy and program in a few paragraphs than we've gotten since his hire.
BONUS UNEXPECTED BEILEIN HATE. One basketball player who experienced the John Beilein era was interviewed, Drew Schiflino:
CFS – If you and Coach Beilein had a phone conversation how would it go, Hey Coach ….
DS – Hey coach you’re so fake and the biggest asshole ever, karmas a bitch … CLICK.
That's like… hanging up the phone, right? Not pulling a trigger?
UPDATE: should note that Schiflino was kicked off the team before his senior year. You could probably find some WVU football guys who did not complete their careers with unkind words for RR, too.
More meta UFR stuff. Biological fun fact: because of Chris Chelios, Mike Comrie, and my loose affiliation with the Wings due to a childhood spent in then hockey-free Colorado, I migrated my NHL fandom to the Edmonton Oilers a while back. How's that working out? Just fantastic, thanks.
One of the compensations of following the sort of team that would sign 70-year-old Nikolai Khabibulin to a four-year deal without giving him a physical is that the blogging community around the team is spectacularly good. I've read Lowetide and MC79 for years and have just stumbled on the SBNation Oilers blog. It has a post called "Groupthink, Confirmation Bias, Hockey Fans And Microstats." I put in in the feed reader three times.
Anyway, here's UFR motivation in a nutshell:
In the world of sports fans, confirmation biases abound. It's impossible for individual fans to record, catalog, process, analyze and interpret the results of hundreds of independent events occurring constantly throughout a game, but it's much easier to pick out those events and sequences of events that support their conclusions. Any hockey fan that has sat silently shaking their head while the crowd piles on an undeserving player recognizes this immediately. It's a powerful psychological force, especially in a setting like sports. Fans can confirm their biases for themselves and immediately fall back on thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands of fellow fans to confirm what they already know.
It seems that the Michigan fan's groupthink these days has been pretty accurate. Most of the people who have come in for internet horsewhippings have subsequently fluttered in and out of the lineup (Mike Williams, JT Floyd, Obi Ezeh, Jonas Mouton, Dorrestein/Huyge platoon) or been moved to less terrifying spots for their athleticism (Kovacs). Even so, it's nice to have UFRs around for when it's unjustified, like when Steve Breaston was getting killed for dropping about the same number of balls as any other receiver on the team.
And yes, I will UFR the Ohio State game, probably about a week after spring practice finishes up.
Right, I forgot about the pablum. So Da'Sean Butler suffered an ugly ACL tear in his Final Four game against Duke and then had that uncomfortable moment with Huggins.
But before that he said a bunch of nice things about Beilein:
"Everybody has to buy in, and you have to get the right people," Butler said, referring to Beilein's offense, which requires discipline and precise shooting. "You've got to get the absolute right people for that system, because if you have even one person that doesn't understand or doesn't care to understand, a cancer on the team of some sort, then it can throw everything off, honestly.
"The system works. That's the best system I've ever been part of in my life as far as just running an offense. It suited me so well. I think everybody kind of gets into, you've got to get all these five-star and whatever recruits, and for him, you just need to find the right players who can obviously make shots, but who will work hard. And if you find that right group, and not like prima donnas, it could be a very good system."
I guess that's nice but I bet the "whole lot of nothing" quote Butler dropped a few days ago resulted in a sharp thwack on the head and a reminder to never say anything that could be construed as not wildly positive. On the other hand, Huggins is still running Beilein's 1-3-1 regularly. That does seem meaningful.
Might be time for another "eeee" tag. Yes, more David Brandon hype ahoy:
“I don’t put a disproportionate amount of emphasis on any one year, but clearly this year was a year we hoped for better and certainly lost a little bit of momentum in terms of our improvement,” Brandon said. “But that doesn’t detract from my belief that going forward we can regain that momentum, and our program is going to get bigger and better and stronger when we get those practice facilities in, and we do some things that will afford us to be able to recruit a little more aggressively. It’s going to help both those programs a lot."
He manages to strike a balance between acknowledging things have been disappointing and offer public support of his coaches in response to the machine-gunned "when can we fire this guy?" questions he appears to field 24/7.
That comes from an article that focuses on the future of the basketball program with a couple of Brandon quotes that give an indication of what the U has planned for Crisler:
“We need wider concourses, we need more restrooms, we need better amenities in terms of food service and service opportunities for our fans,” Brandon said. “We need to re-seat the bowl, think differently about the kind of seating that we use and probably put in some kind of club-seating opportunities to give special experiences to people who are willing to take advantage of those.
“Probably come up with a different game plan as to where we put the media and just how we professionalize that arena.”
Emphasis mine. That sort of talk would be an anethma about Michigan Stadium—though it is basically undergoing the same process—but is welcome in reference to Crisler, which is what you'd get if you took Joe Louis Arena and turned off half the lights. If Brandon can fulfill his goal of having the broadcaster who declared Crisler one of the worst in the country return to eat crow*, Michigan's facilities renovations will be essentially complete. The last thing to do would be another Yost renovation that brought in video boards and some other things.
*(This has to be Bilas, right? I imagine this happened during one of his many defenses of Tommy Amaker.)
This was a Malcolm in the Middle plot. MVictors has detailed Michigan's tumultuous 1909 on his blog and in HTTV, and now we have a postscript thanks to mgouser and extremely unusual person Alaska Hokie. Michigan QB Joy Miller was the Demar Dorsey of his day, except with academic laziness (the classes: he had none) substituting for juvenile robberies. He was eventually booted from the team and ended up cleaning pots for a horrible woman in Alaska. Or something close to that:
QUARTER BACK LOSES HIS MIND
Famous Football Player on the Wolverine Team is Located at Walla Walla Working as Laborer.
HIS MIND IS TOTAL BLANK
Disappeared Months Ago From His Home and All Trace of Him Has Up to the Present Been Lost.
WALLA WALLA, March 19.—James Miller, the famous quarterback of the Michigan team last year, who has been missing from his home for several months, was located in this city yesterday working as a laborer. His mind is a total blank and he is quite unable to recognize his friends. He was elected to the captaincy of the Wolverine team for next season.
The end. It was Washington, but same difference.
Man-for-man, his isn't the most talented offense in the conference, but given the close-to-the-sweatervest approach at Ohio State and widespread inexperience at Penn State, I'd put my money on MSU leading the conference in scoring at a little over 30 points per game. Just like last year, though, part of that will be out of necessity, to overcome the growing pains of a pair of new and/or ineffective cornerbacks, specifically, and a back seven in general that just doesn't have the horses to seriously contend for the conference title or one of the floating BCS slots. Assuming the offensive line holds up, though, the passing game will have a few eye-popping afternoons, and a Gator or Outback Bowl bid likely awaits after a borderline top-25 finish in the neighborhood of 8-4.
That is not within a game or two of .500, which will be its undoing. Spartan .500 gravity is one of the universe's most powerful forces.
Etc.: Devin Gardner is walking around campus in a sling. He's still practicing, though. Canadian hockey writer/broadcaster person Bob McKenzie sent his son to St. Lawrence to play college hockey. The younger McKenzie has just played out his eligibility, causing the elder to post on his experience with college hockey. Browser-crippling version of Inside Michigan Football #3 up.
We will carry him through the city of God on a golden palanquin, crying out "oh child of wonder, share with us your one true vision." If you're like me—a shiftless loner who can watch TV during the day and really likes the national soccer team—you no doubt remember the searing vision from last year's Italy-Brazil Confederations Cup matchup. Someone made an animated gif of it.
I know you will never stop watching that, and I'm sorry.
Holy cow. This will mark the second time in a week something interesting has been said by a West Virginia newspaper that had nothing to do with Rich Rodriguez. (Floating an apparently legit rumor that Chuck Heater is a potential Jay Hopson replacement was the other.) Imagine this alternate history as told by Mike Brey:
“Four or five years ago my athletic director called me in for a meeting and told me to be prepared. We’re going to the Big Ten,” Brey said, so matter-of-factly that you figured everyone knew about it.
But that really wasn’t the case.
No one knew that Notre Dame stood on the doorstep of jumping to the Big Ten a few years back. They knew they had the chance to go, that the Big Ten wanted them, but that were close enough that the Irish athletic director was calling coaches in and telling them to prepare for the move, that it was a sure thing … well, can you say Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College.
“It changed at the midnight hour,” Brey said, “but he was preparing me for that.”
I have no penetrating insights here. Just… wow. This will prompt even more Mike White shrines across ND Nation.
Another departure? Probably not. USF fired Jim Leavitt after he went Woody Hayes on one of his players and then lied about it extensively. This led to a number of articles floating Calvin Magee as a possible replacement, in which he'd "expressed an interest," albeit not publicly.
It looks like South Florida is going another direction, however:
Nothing could be confirmed late Monday, but speculation was heavy that the Bulls could be a match for Holtz, the son of a coaching great who has guided the Pirates to back-to-back Conference USA championships.
That's a non-entity of a statement there, but there's an article in the competing paper that says Holtz has been contacted by USF:
"I have gotten a call to find out if I had interest in talking to them,'' he said. "Obviously, there is interest from a standpoint of the league they play in, the Big East, and my parents live here in Orlando, my wife is from Port Charlotte. We would have four grandparents right there. There are a lot of positives to it. I think it's definitely an up-and-coming program so, yeah, there would be interest.''
It's rare to see a guy with a job make a public statement of interest and not get the gig. Michigan looks like it will hold on to Magee, then.
(HT: Orson as Spencer.)
Midterms. The NHL's Central Scouting Board has released their midterm rankings. Players of note for Michigan:
20. Jon Merrill, D, USA U18
50. Jacob Fallon, F, USA U18
75. Luke Moffatt, F, USA U18
98. Alex Guptill, F, Orangeville (2010 or 2011)
132. Kevin Clare, D, USA U18
170. Derek Deblois, F, Cedar Rapids, USHL (2010 or 2011)
(About Guptill and Deblois: It's uncertain whether or not they'll be on campus next year. They are eligible for this draft and usually that means they'll be on campus the season after they get drafted, but when they committed they were expected to be members of the 2011 class. Robbie Czarnik leaving opens up a spot for one, and it's possible they'll bring the other in early with the money they'd earmarked for (argh) Jack Campbell.)
Items of note other than "argh Jack Campbell": Merrill and Moffatt have dropped, Moffatt considerably. These are just North American skater rankings. Add in Euros and goalies and Merrill projects as a late first or early second rounder, Fallon a third-rounder, and Moffatt somewhere in rounds three to five. Moffatt was getting hyped as a possible top ten pick and a definite first rounder. That might be bad for their instant impact but better for the long term future of the program if they decide to stick around longer. Also a possibility: the CSB rankings, which can be wack, are a little wack.
On the other hand, Fallon keeps moving up and Clare is in a nice sweet spot for a stay-at-home defenseman who will be around for three or four years. The above-listed players and USHL D Mac Bennett are the entire class. Since Bennett went in the second round last year, that's impressive. Every player Michigan is bringing in next year is expected to be or has been drafted, and it seems likely the majority of the class will be off the board when the fourth round rolls around. If it makes you feel any better about this year, no one in State's current class is even on the list.
The timing on this is fantastic. So, yes, John Beilein got an extension after one of the most disappointing losses of his Michigan career, one that finally closed the door on all but the most insane Michigan fan's NCAA tourney hopes. Predictably, people were outraged on the radio. Predictably, Mike Rosenberg rushed to write an article that reads like "a Goofus and Gallant article with Goofus (RR) mostly standing just outside the frame" according to zingy MGoBoard poster wolverine1987.
Assorted e-pinions that, in retrospect, are directed at people who won't listen anyway:
- This was not decided after the season started.
- Yes, obviously David Brandon knew this was happening. Conspiracy theories about Bill Martin dropping a nasty present in Brandon's lap are transparently silly.
- The buyout is the thing that matters and I doubt that it increased significantly, if at all, should Beilein's tenure go the same direction Amaker's did. I think that point is moot—the NCAA bid will buy him enough time to get a full roster of his guys in and his history indicates that he'll be successful enough in the long run that he will likely retire a Wolverine. If it's not, though, a few hundred K here or there is not going to prevent Michigan from making a move.
- Short of massacring an entire village of Vietnamese peasants, Beilein is here for a long time, extension or no.
Etc.: Rivals recognizes the Big Ten's bowl season as basically on par with the SEC's and far better than anyone else's. CMU hires Michigan State assistant Dan Enos; Enos is regarded as Dantonio's primary recruiter guy. Should be some small help with in-state recruiting. Charles Woodson, your NFL defensive player of the year, extensively profiled by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
Baseball draftin'. While the Major League Baseball draft isn't a major concern for anyone currently on the team—only Chris Fetter is expected to get drafted, and he's a senior—there are a couple of recruits who will be watching carefully to see where they go:
Derek Dennis, a shortstop from Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central High School, Daniel Fields, an infielder from University of Detroit Jesuit, and Patrick Biondi, a Dearborn Divine Child outfielder, are all potential early-round draft prospects.
Maloney said Baseball America projects Dennis as a third- or fourth-round pick and Fields as a fifth- or sixth-round pick.
Michigan is close to signing Forest Hills shortstop Derek Dennis. Dennis visited this last week, talked with Coach Maloney, Lloyd Carr, John Beilien, and Red Berenson to discuss the benefits of college. The GRP makes it sound like if he’s not taken in the top 3 rounds, he will forgo signing and come to Michigan. This may bode well, as if a team suspects he may not sign, he may get drafted even lower, increasing his odds of coming to Ann Arbor.
Dennis did not go yesterday, when rounds 1-3 were held. Fields, meanwhile, was the subject of an ESPNRise article in May that contains only this about the probability he'll end up on campus:
"He's got the combination of speed and potential power that a lot of people covet," says his father. "The power has to be more consistent, and I think it will be. To me, he's a potential five-tool player."
"He's the whole package," adds Fernandez.
MLB scouts will likely come out in droves this spring to watch Fields, who knows he has another great option -- his scholarship to Michigan -- in case the draft doesn't work out.
I didn't find anything on Biondi.
Zonin' it. Florida State, now possessors of former Rodriguez offensive line coach Rick Trickett, is something of a funhouse mirror via which we can discern things in the Michigan program. Trickett's installed the same sort of zone blocking Michigan has, and this has led to a fantastic post at Tomahawk Nation about the system. My favorite bits are the ones where TN transcribes a video of Alex Gibbs, the longtime Broncos guru and a guy who had major influence on zone running games across the country, including the spread 'n' shred:
Above all, we want guys who want play so bad they could die. We want guys who can run, who are athletic, who have "recoverability", but who maybe lacks bulk and strength. Maybe doesn't know what his body is about yet. We want guys who are going to take advantage of that redshirt year.
TACKLES: Tall, length, maybe no basic strength, but he can run, and we're willing to let him add that power. 6'5 1/2" is usually the max we want.
GUARDS & CENTERS: height and length doesn't mean ****. Marginal height, but plays with great leverage. "LOW WAISTED" (long torso short legs), with leverage under our bodies. Healthier by not being heavy. RARE for them to play early. Nobody over 6'3". My center must be football brilliant.
Very intelligent on the inside. The "test score limit would SCARE YOU."
In here you see the initial seeds of Molk, Omameh, and Huyge's successes, plus the coaching staff's out-and-out glee at picking up 6'3" Quinton Washington. You can also see why maybe Dann O'Neill was buried and why Mr. Plow said "screw you guys, I'm going home." Also of interest: that Christian Pace AMP interview where he came off like a future engineer.
Also note Florida State's heir apparent at running back, Jermaine Thomas. Thomas was a nondescript three-star—though ESPN made googly eyes—with but two major offers (Florida State and LSU). All he did last year was this:
And that's not especially cherry-picked runs against I-AA teams, either: take out Thomas's 18 carries against them and his average drops, sure, but only to 6.2 YPC. His highlight video is strikingly reminiscent of someone you might be familiar with:
That guy is a smaller, possibly faster, version of Brandon Minor down to the upright running style. One cut. Go. Also, check out how many of Thomas' big runs here are outside zones that get, you know, outside. I don't think I saw Michigan pull this off at any point last year. I specifically remember posting UFRs that openly questioned why the fullback always shot outside of a tackle who was getting shoved back to the point where the tailback had no choice but to turn it up between said tackle and Molk's generally-effective reach block. Since I never saw anyone actually get outside the tackle, it seemed like a waste.
I wonder what caused that. There are a number of possibilities:
- The tackles weren't that good.
- Molk's youth and lack of strength made it tough for him to anchor and dangerous for the tackle to hold his ground lest the holes evaporate entirely.
- Opposing teams, confident in their ability to avoid second-level blocks from Michigan's ponderous guards, sold out to stop players from getting outside.
The answer was probably some mix of the three.
Truth is, almost every program has at least a dozen secondary violations a year. Until recently, they almost never made news.
Uh… maybe if Feldman is talking about entire athletic departments, and even that's a stretch. To suggest the Keystone Kiffins are anywhere near an NCAA median—or even under it—is wrong:
Of the 21 NCAA recruiting violations committed by Big Ten schools during the 2007-08 year, Ohio State committed more than half with 13.
Big Ten teams not named Ohio State averaged 0.8 secondary recruiting violations last year… for their entire athletic department. Even violation-happy Ohio State had only four fey self-applied wrist taps given to the football team, which is two fewer than Tennessee has racked up in six months.
How much does this matter? In no way whatsoever, apparently. But let's not pretend that this is some sort of media explosion over nothing*: Kiffin is racking up secondary violations at a rapid pace, and the reason they're so much more visible than the others are is that other secondary violations are things like "accidentally talked to recruit on Shrove Tuesday." Kiffin's blunders are far stupider, and far more public.
*(WE GET IT, Clay Travis. The SEC is going to dominate everything forever and everything that happens is evidence of this.)
Mike Spath posted that Lucas Lessio, a first-round pick in the OHL Draft, may become a Wolverine. He would then play at St. Mike's (The school that produced Caporusso, Cogliano, and Burlon) next season. His source told him that Lessio would be the best player to come to Michigan out of Ontario in the last decade (which includes the names listed above as well as Mike Cammalleri). Lofty praise. He's been compared to Rick Nash in the past, according to that thread.
Holy hotpants. Please get to campus, everyone.
Tim also has a complaint about the home schedule, which finishes up with a Thursday night game against new power Notre Dame, but a commenter corrects him:
Spring break doesn't start until Feb. 27 or something like that next year, so thankfully students will actually get to be there for senior day. I'm assuming that is part of the reason why the game is on a Thursday.
If so, this is a fantastic move by the AD. Most previous senior days have been over breaks, which has been an enormous missed opportunity. Having a full-fledged home crowd for what could be a CCHA-title deciding game also seems like a good idea.
It will continue. Michigan's basketball scheduling looks like it will remain shiny as long as Beilein's around:
"When you have a situation like we're in right now when you have an (experienced) team coming back, I wanted to get my arms around this thing," coach John Beilein said. "We wanted to have enough games so we can have enough games in this (Crisler) arena. At the same time, when you've got a team coming off the NCAA tournament and a lot of people back, that's the time to go after it."
Adding Kansas to the mix may be the most intriguing element.
"I always would like to have one really marquee big-time team coming here," Beilein said.