impossible to google so here's his wiki photo
Michigan has hired former 49ers/UCLA offensive coordinator Michael Johnson in some capacity:
Head football coach Michael Johnson has resigned and is taking a position on staff at the University of Michigan. Good luck coach!! #GoBlue
— TKA Athletics (@TKA_Athletics) February 13, 2017
Michigan has all nine of their assistant coach spots filled so Johnson is an analyst until such time as the NCAA approves a tenth assistant coach, which is expected to happen in the near future. Sam issued a gut feeling that a guy matching Johnson's description would be coming in to help coach the WRs, which he's done on and off in the NFL.
Johnson's son, Michael Johnson Jr, happens to be 247's #1 dual-threat QB in the 2019 class. Johnson was until recently his son's coach. This is either good or bad for Michigan's chances with him depending on how this "individual associated with a prospect" legislation works out and what role Johnson actually fills.
If Johnson is the tenth assistant then Michigan can definitely recruit his son because the legislation only applies to non-coaching jobs. If he's a staffer, the legislation stipulates that you can't hire a guy for a two year period before the prospect's projected enrollment. Johnson Jr is more than two years from enrolling, so Michigan might be fine. There is some disagreement about this from our law-talking guy.
FWIW, Johnson was Jim Harbaugh's QB coach for a brief period when both were with the Chargers.
Michigan's added Greg Frey as an OL/TE/run game coach, as you probably heard about. Michigan valued his addition enough to move Jay Harbaugh into a somewhat awkward spot as the RB coach, and his track record makes it obvious why.
Michigan, Part I
Rich Rodriguez and Frey walked into a disaster zone in 2008. After Corey Zirbel was forced to retire with an injury, Michigan had something like 7 or 8 scholarship offensive linemen. Things did not go well.
By year three, Frey's last in Ann Arbor, Michigan had a first-choice lineup of:
- LT Taylor Lewan
- LG Stephen Schilling
- C David Molk
- RG Patrick Omameh
- RT Perry Dorrestein
Four of those guys would go on to NFL careers of at least a few years in length, with Lewan and Omameh still in the league. Lewan and Omameh were Frey recruits. Lewan was a fast-rising prospect who Frey IDed first and got in the door for before he rose to the mid-to-high four star status he ended the cycle with; Omameh was a late poach from Cincinnati. Molk, who Frey inherited as a redshirt freshman, won the Rimington as a senior.
2010 and 2011 stand out as the zenith of Michigan offensive line play over the past... God, probably 15 years. 2011 had Lewan, Molk, and Omameh back; Frey recruit and future NFLer Michael Schofield drew into the lineup along with Mark Huyge. Lewan, Omameh, and Schofield returned in 2012 but the two new guys (Ricky Barnum and Elliott Mealer) were major steps back, and from there it was disaster time.
This is a painful recent memory for Michigan fans; it is also a best-case scenario for anyone attempting to suss out the ability of a position coach. Michigan was bad when Frey arrived; they were good when he left; the air went out of the balloon over the next few years.
Frey landed in Bloomington after his brief strange trip under RichRod and was the OL coach for Kevin Wilson until Wilson was booted a couple months ago. How much of Indiana's improvement was Wilson and how much was Frey is impossible to determine, but the combination took IU's offense to heights not since since the days of Antwan Randle-El.
This season the vagaries of recruiting Indiana and a series of injuries forced multiple young players onto the field, with predictable results; despite that Frey's track record is very strong:
...his work in Bloomington has been outstanding. Jason Spriggs is in the NFL. Dan Feeney is a potential first-round pick and probably the best guard in this year's draft. Even less heralded players, like Collin Rahrig and Jake Reed (and probably Dimitric Camiel soon to join them) have spent time on NFL rosters.
And all of that was done without the benefit of the kinds of highly regarded players Michigan would be more likely to attract than IU. When they committed, neither Feeney nor Camiel were considered among even the top 900 prospects in the 2012 class, according to the 247Sports Composite, while Spriggs was listed as a tight end.
Michigan fans no doubt remember 2015's mashing at the hands of Frey. That year's line was 8th in adjusted sack rate and 35th in adjusted line yards; the previous year's was 27th and 86th. Run efficiency took a big hit this year but IU popped back up in sacks allowed.
Frey made a ton of chicken salad in Bloomington and both close observers of Indiana...
sorry to ruin your morning but michigan just hired greg frey and, um, that’s bad for indiana https://t.co/yV50f2BnCz
— CRIMSON QUARRY (@crimsonquarry) January 25, 2017
...and national analysts...
— Steve Wiltfong (@SWiltfong247) January 25, 2017
...think Michigan just scored a coup.
But what about crootin?
A conveniently-timed article from the Tampa Bay Times:
Indiana-Tampa Bay recruiting pipeline outperforms state schools
This is largely attributable to Frey.
"The reason Indiana is having so much success in the area is all because of Greg Frey," Largo football coach Marcus Paschal said. "I have a great relationship with him that goes back a long way. He knows Rick Rodriguez, who I played for. Frey even recruited me when I played at Largo and he was an assistant at USF."
Indiana has five commits from the Tampa area in this recruiting class, including a four-star kid they flipped from USC. Frey also recruits Cincinnati for the Hoosiers with good success. He should be an asset.
But what about manball?
You'll note that for the last decade Frey has been coaching spread OLs that run a ton of inside and outside zone and not much gap stuff. (If you remember gap stuff from Indiana in the last couple years you're probably thinking about the pin and pull sweeps that are a staple of most offenses these days.) The transition from hyperspace IU chaosteam football to Michigan's manball is a large one.
This is probably more asset than drawback. Michigan has not run outside zone with any effectiveness the past couple years; Frey promises to help fix that. That should help diversify Michigan's run game. Michigan has a large portion of the manball specialists in college football already while Frey has been on the cutting edge of high-tempo spread for a decade. It's reasonable to expect some profit as those two systems exchange DNA.
Finally, Frey was the right hand man of Ohio State's new offensive coordinator for six years. If anyone has insight into Kevin Wilson's tendencies it's him.
But what about the media?
You may remember Frey's, er, enthusiastic coaching being a major point of contention during Michael Rosenberg's crusade against Rodriguez. That was more about one man's quest to dethrone Michigan's coach than anything rational, as Frey's successful tenure at IU demonstrates. When you're winning (relatively so, in Indiana's case) and producing draft picks this is how the articles go:
“See the defense!” he shouts.
For the record, we have left out the helpful adjective.
And then, again in family friendly form:
“See what’s going on!”
“Find the ball!”
You coach in the take-no-prisoners Big Ten and it’s no time for hugs and sweet words of gentle persuasion. Not in this practice moment, anyway. Frey’s message is as clear as a sledgehammer, and you’d better believe it works. He has built one of the conference’s best offensive lines, meaning it’s one of the best in the nation, and he hasn’t done it with five-star recruits.
I predict a notable silence.
Michigan needs to fill another offensive coaching position. Per multiple reports Tyrone Wheatley Sr. has accepted the Jaguars running backs coach job—yes the one where he gets to spend all day with Denard Robinson ahh now you understand! Here’s Rapoport, who had it earlier than most:
As the #Jaguars wait for an OC, they have hired Tyrone Wheatley as the team's running backs coach.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 17, 2017
Wheatley coached with new Jags HC Doug Marrone at Syracuse and followed Marrone to the NFL’s Bills in 2013 and 2014. When Marrone parted ways with Buffalo Michigan scooped up their old running back star, signing Wheatley to a two-year contract. It was assumed at the time that Wheatley would leave after that if a better job came along.
Returning to the League probably does help Ty move forward with his career, since it’s been no secret that Wheatley would like to eventually run a unit or a team. If running backs coach for Jacksonville’s NFL team seems like a lateral move to Michigan fans, it’s probably not as much to NFL GMs. With no OC signed as of yet, it’s also possible Wheatley could be more involved in the offense there than he was at Michigan.
One of Michigan’s best recruiters (he departs ranked 7th nationally on the 247 recruiter rankings) and a living legend in his own right from his playing days, it’s a loss for Michigan, if not an entirely unexpected one: Wheatley was recently interviewing for the Western Michigan head coaching job. For many reasons—former Michigan star, Denard, expanding Harbaugh coaching tree, universally acknowledged good person—we wish him the greatest success.
Running backs coach is reputedly easier to replace that most positions, though recent experience in Ann Arbor demonstrates the importance of a good one. Mike Hart, who’s served as running backs coach at EMU and WMU and is currently in that role at Syracuse could be one candidate. Thomas Wilcher, the longtime head coach of Cass Tech, is also available. Harbaugh might even look at someone who isn’t a former Michigan running back. His track record says whoever it is will be good.
Per Adam Schefter, Michigan has its Jedd Fisch replacement, and it's a doozy:
Former Browns Asst HC Pep Hamilton had accepted an offer to become Michigan's Asst HC/passing coordinator, per school source.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 9, 2017
Like Fisch, Hamilton has been a college and NFL offensive coordinator. Unlike Fisch, he is leaving his current job of his own volition, probably because it's the Browns.
In 2011 and 2012 he was David Shaw's offensive coordinator at Stanford; the Cardinal finished 8th and 29th in S&P+. (That second year was post-Luck, FWIW.) After 2012 he followed Luck to Indianapolis, where he was the OC for three years. The Colts finished 13th, 17th, and then imploded thanks to a spate of Andrew Luck injuries and poor play when he was available. Hamilton was fired midseason in what was widely regarded as a Jed York-esque scapegoating. Hamilton was well-regarded around the league just a few months before he got the axe.
That's a pretty good resume for a coordinator; Hamilton is coming in as a co-co-coordinator. Meanwhile any QB coaching issues that may be inferred from Luck's terrible no-good 2015 should be obviated by his head coach. Also he might make a good head coach candidate when Harbaugh leaves for the Rams. (Did the Rams already hire a coach? Does it matter?)
Michigan is in the market for a new offensive assistant. FoxSports's Bruce Feldman reports that passing game coordinator and QB/WR coach Jedd Fisch will be UCLA's next offensive coordinator.
It was only a matter of time before Fisch climbed the ladder. He joined Jim Harbaugh's first Michigan staff after a two-year stint as offensive coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Due in part to circumstances beyond his control, he's never spent more than two years at the same job since 2007, when he finished off a three-year assistant stint with Baltimore before working his way up the coaching ranks with the Denver Broncos, Minnesota (B1G), Seattle Seahawks, Miami (YTM), and Jacksonville.
Harbaugh will have some flexibility with his next hire because of his ability to handle the quarterbacks himself if need be. He could look for someone from his coaching tree; Greg Roman, Harbaugh's offensive coordinator for the 49ers who's looking for a new gig after an abbreviated stint in Buffalo, is already being put out there as a potential candidate, though his specialties (OL and TE) overlap with Tim Drevno's. If Harbaugh desires a more passing-oriented coach, he could go for a coach without a previous connection to him; that worked out rather well when he took Fisch two years ago.
Fisch played a big role in Jake Rudock's remarkable in-season development in 2015 and had plenty of input as a playcaller the last two seasons. We'll always have "good shit, Jedd":
Fisch will now get to work with a potential #1 draft pick in UCLA QB Josh Rosen. Best of luck to him.
So this happened. This is going to get out of control.
@Thatboylid80 lol don't start with this hammer shit
— David Dawson (@DamanteDawson) October 9, 2016
I'm warning you to brace yourselves for how out of hand this is going to get.
Y'all give bro @Thatboylid80 a name he gone run with it lmao he just yelled downstairs that he's the hammering panda
— David Dawson (@DamanteDawson) October 9, 2016
This is where we got involved.
— Ace Anbender (@AceAnbender) October 9, 2016
And then Smoothitron from the top rope:
— Abraham May (@Smoothitron) October 9, 2016
I hope you lashed yourself to the deck before reading this collection of tweets.
A coaching carousel on deck. At the midway point of the season it's looking like this could be an interesting December:
- Les Miles is already gone from LSU.
- Brian Kelly is 2-4 at Notre Dame, is definitely losing to a service academy, and is unlikely to make a bowl.
- Charlie Strong is running out of rope at Texas, now 2-3 and 0-2 in the Big Twelve while playing horrendous defense.
- Baylor still needs a long-term coach.
- Oregon is 0-3 in the Pac 12 and may be thinking about pulling the trigger on Mark Helfrich.
- Both LA schools have two conference losses already and sit at 3-3; wholesale collapse from one or the other isn't out of the question.
All of these schools will be pitching Tom Herman, and either all but one or all of them will end up disappointed. Once you get past Herman, up and coming candidates include... uh. Harbaugh acolyte Willie Taggart's turned USF around, PJ Fleck's itching to move up for anyone who's a boat enthusiast, and that's about it. Gonna be some weird guys getting head coaching jobs at major schools this offseason.
The situation in East Lansing. It's not good if you're a Spartan fan, but you're not no matter how much you're scouring the RCMB for hilarity and then emailing me when Google naturally responds by popping up MSU ads on this here site. (You know who you are. You are legion.) So it is good.
Bill Connelly had a deep dive into the decline from a team that was technically invited to the playoff to one that S&P+ currently has at 20% to make a bowl game. I jokingly referenced it in the game column but it deserves some actually attention. The problems in approximate order of severity:
- The OL is a "sieve." This has led to some ugly rushing stats ("85th in Rushing S&P+, 101st in rushing success rate, only 18 rushes of 10-plus yards (119th)") despite having LJ Scott, who I continue to believe is the truth. It is also getting Tyler O'Connor sacked a ton.
- The DL is a nonentity, deep into the triple digits in sack rate and largely responsible for a rushing S&P+ that is just as bad as their offenses's. This was predictable to some extent since MSU took not one but two grad transfers on the DL in an effort to shore up their line after Craig Evans and Montez Sweat got booted.
- It's an old team not likely to have a midseason turnaround as the youth gets their heads on straight.
The numbers figure to get a bunch worse next week, when S&P+ finishes whittling away the preseason projections that still make up a portion of their rankings. Without those projections MSU, currently 60th, would be 84th. Even now S&P+ has Michigan a 25-point favorite(!!!) on the road in East Lansing.
Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the season?
A couple more things about MSU. Their depth chart this week features an OR between their top three QBs. Also, instagram sleuthing by iSportsDave seems to indicate that Riley Bullough is out for the season. Or possibly another one of their linebackers.
Weekly fancystats love us update. Michigan is now 85%+ to win each game before OSU and an 18-point favorite against Iowa, the toughest remaining game before Football Armageddon II. S&P+ sees that as a dead heat, with OSU getting a slight edge because the Game is in Columbus.
In other S&P superlatives, Michigan is #1 nationally in:
- field position
- opponent success rate (at 19% Michigan is giving up less than half the number of successful plays than an average D-I D)
- points per trip allowed once the opposition gets inside the 40
- rushing defense, rushing success rate, and adjusted line yards
- passing defense, passing success rate, and adjusted sack rate
- standard down D, success rate, and line yards per carry
- passing down D (they're top five in every other passing down category but not #1, shame)
- third down D
- havoc rate
The D is on pace to be historically good.
Ross Fulton on OSU's (relative) struggles against Indiana. OSU still won comfortably, but under 400 yards against a hurry-up team like IU is a sign that the Buckeyes are indeed mortal. Ross Fulton examines why that was so:
The simplest explanation for Ohio State’s passing problems was that J.T. Barrett was off. ... As he admitted after the game, he again refused to take the open underneath routes. For instance, below he does not get the ball to Curtis Samuel out of his break.
He instead tried to force mid-range passes. But such throws were often late and with too much velocity, leading to inaccuracy high and outside. ... The game became reminiscent of other contests where Barrett was off, such as Penn State in 2014 or Michigan State last year, when Barrett missed open deep throws. As Meyer reiterated in his Monday press conference, Ohio State’s offense is based upon running the football and hitting vertical shots off play-action. Without such completions, opponent safeties can play aggressively downhill, resulting in a lower rushing success rate and a less efficient offense.
Things went from bad to worse last year because Barrett was decidedly not off, hitting two heavily contested bombs. Even so, if Michigan can put the game on his passing chops their chance to win goes up a great deal.
Perspective. The Rutgers game continues to generate thinkpieces, like this one from Inside NU:
The Romans at the Battle of Cannae, for example, were outsmarted and then completely destroyed by Hannibal’s Carthaginians. Rome’s armies took a full decade to recover. At the English victory over the French in the Battle of Poitiers in 1356, the entire French army fell apart and the French king was captured. Significant parts of France would remain under English rule for nearly a century.
Michigan 78, Rutgers 0 is worse than any of that. At least the French could claim that they brought an army to Poitiers. At least the Romans can take pride in the fact they had a plan whatsoever, even if it was incredibly dumb. Rutgers could not do anything. It was immobilized through lack of competence. The closest historical comparison is the Battle of Ulm, in which Napoleon was able to capture a huge Austrian army simply through highly skilled movement over the course of three days. And even then, it’s hard to compare. It took Michigan three hours.
Yes, it's a very Northwestern piece. I can't wait for The Only Colors to write one through the lens of the greatest Jerry Springer episodes they've seen or participated in.
NLRB is coming at the NCAA again. With the O'Bannon case now finished with no clear victory either way, but the NCAA did take hit as an antitrust violator. The National Labor Relations Board has now handed down a ruling that refers to football players as employees and bans certain practices:
In an unprecedented foray into college sports, the National Labor Relations Board has declared that Northwestern University must eliminate "unlawful" rules governing football players and allow them greater freedom to express themselves. The ruling, which referred to players as employees, found that they must be freely allowed to post on social media, discuss issues of their health and safety, and speak with the media.
The new rules apply to the football programs at the 17 private universities that play in the FBS, including schools such as Notre Dame, Stanford and Baylor -- but not public universities.
This is not a big thing right now but might open the door to more seismic items.
(HT: Get The Picture.)