we going to the ship
Michigan represented in the real bracket. This Is March, and that means it's Name of the Year time. College football, which annually raises hundreds of names from obscurity, contributes five participants—at least five that I recognize—to this year's tournament:
1 seed Kobe Buffalomeat, an Illinois State signee.
15 seed Dredrick Snelson Jr, a UCF wide receiver.
11 seed Bumper Pool, a 2018 LB committed to Okie State (who Michigan pursued).
5 seed and Michigan signee Luiji Vilain(!).
1 seed Quindarious Monday, a 2018 safety out of Georgia recently offered by Michigan.
2 seed Sultan McDoom does not appear to be related to Eddie, FWIW. Also there is a Taco Dibbits who is presumably not related to Taco Charlton.
I believe Vilain is the first Michigan-affiliated participant since Iris Macadangdang made it to the final in 2009, losing to LSU DE Barkevious Mingo. Yes I knew that off the top of my head. Yes my brain is very good and full of useful things.
The NOTY bracket is always a magical one that different people will take different things from, like a diamond with 64 gleaming facets. Personally, I'm partial to Boats Botes. Boats.
— Cass Tech Football (@Detroit_CTFB) March 14, 2017
Many, many spring practice(?) things. I was thinking about splitting out huge data dumps from Sam Webb and Steve Lorenz into a separate post but since they're mostly about winter workouts—ie not even practice—during the heart of NCAA tournment season maybe we'll just jam it in here.
Prepare for JAM:
- Webb reports that Don Brown is bringing up Mike Wroblewski—who is apparently called "ROBO"—unprompted as the third ILB along with McCray and Bush. Sounds like Michigan will be rotating three guys for two spots.
- Drevno picks out Mike Onwenu as the gentleman with the biggest offseason improvement. Also mentioned: Rashan Gary, Ian Bunting, and Donovan Peoples-Jones. Meanwhile Lorenz reports that Onwenu has shed significant weight and is in a good spot.
- Sam is asked which early enrollees are consistently drawing mention and responds with Cesar Ruiz and—surprise—Donovan Peoples-Jones. Lorenz also mentions Ruiz as "college ready" physically and broaches the possibility he'll be a four-year starter. That would necessarily kick either Mason Cole or Ben Bredeson out to tackle. Frey thinks he can bat Cole around this spring and it won't have a negative impact.
- Lorenz also asserts that the coaching staff is pushing Juwann Bushell-Beatty because they think he can make it. They thought he was a reasonable option midseason, so he's got to be doing something right in practice.
- Per Lorenz, Karan Higdon's gotten up to 200 and he'll push Chris Evans.
- Metellus and Hudson are candidates at both safety and VIPER(!). Metellus is getting talked up a lot as a guy who had "one of the best winters on the roster" by Sam and by Lorenz as the favorite to start next to Kinnel, as he's a "rock solid 205" and a Don Brown favorite.
- Lorenz reports that Michigan is big on Carlo Kemp and Donovan Jeter has impressed early.
There's more at each of the links but that's how they get you, with the useful information.
ACC BIG 10 BIG 12 SEC PAC 12 BIG EAST. It's me again. Looking 4 home & home next year. Pls call me 4 chance 4 QUALITY road win, top 33 RPI pic.twitter.com/zYAZpR3kJn
— Dan Muller (@DanMuller) March 13, 2017
Illinois State should have been in. Ken Pomeroy writes on the exclusion of Illinois State from the field. One reason I was mildly incensed about what the committee did this year is that they gave the numbers-literate a window for hope:
In January, the NCAA invited me and several other people to discuss using new metrics to support the tournament selection process. It is encouraging that the people in charge of men’s basketball at the NCAA are interested in using the best tools available.
That discussion obviously went nowhere, as the Minnesota-Wisconsin seeding discrepancy and Illinois State exclusion demonstrate. Kenpom's take on the Redbirds:
Teams from a competitive mid-major conference like the Missouri Valley play a much different kind of schedule. Most games against teams outside the top 100 are conference games, which are just as likely to be on the road as they are at home. Also, very few of those “bad” opponents are going to be as bad as Howard or Western Carolina, whom Marquette played. Although it played many more teams outside the top 100, Illinois State still had fewer games (three) against teams in the bottom 100 than Marquette. As a consequence, a whole lot more of Illinois State’s games against poorer teams were potentially loseable, if the Redbirds had a particularly bad night or their opponent was feeling it. And the Redbirds did lose two of them—road games to Murray State and Tulsa. ...
If Marquette and Illinois State swapped schedules, the Golden Eagles would almost surely lose some games to teams outside the top 100. If you put Illinois State in the Big East, it would have earned some quality wins. No doubt, though, the Redbirds would do much worse than their 17-1 Missouri Valley Conference record when facing the tougher competition. But consider that Xavier went 8-10 against Big East teams not named DePaul and easily earned an at-large bid. The standard for small-conference teams is incredibly high, while the standard for major-conference teams is not as high as you think.
The "bad loss" mode of thinking fails to take into account the fact that when you play a high number of road games against teams with RPIs from 100 to 200, an NCAA quality team will be expected to lose some of them.
There are metrics that take this into account. "Wins Above Bubble"—defined as "the amount of wins you have - than the amount of wins an average bubble team would expect to have against the schedule you faced"—is an easy concept to grasp that ranks on overall resume instead of the distorted windows that arbitrary RPI bins provide. Illinois State was excluded despite being 1.5 WAB, ahead of 7-seed Dayton and 9-seeds MSU and Vandy*.
We blithely dismiss Illinois State's record because it came against "nobody", but anybody can be somebody on the road. Take Illinois State's game at Missouri State. On the day of the game, Missouri State was ranked #130 in Kenpom—bad loss territory if this was RPI. Illinois State was ranked #44, which is where nine-seed VT is ranked today and ahead of at-large picks VCU, Seton Hall, Providence, and USC. Kenpom gave Illinois State—which, again, was performing like a legit NCAA tournament team at the time—just a 63% shot at victory. Play nine road games against teams from 100 to 200 and an NCAA bubble team should lose a couple, as Illinois State did. Their record should have been enough to get them in the field.
*[I don't think WAB should be used for seeding; it's a selection metric. I mention the above teams because they were not only in the field but evidently not even on the bubble.]
New hockey coach maybe possibly. This gentleman appears to be Pavel Datsyuk's agent:
— Jeffrey Moss (@JeffMossDSR) March 15, 2017
Obligatory disclaimer: agents are not always reliable sources, and the deletion of said tweet makes it even shakier. If, however, he is correct and Michigan has already moved to secure their next head coach that could mean they've gone off the board. IE: they hired Not Mel. It seems doubtful that this guy would be in the loop if it was Pearson.
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.