I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
Rivals ranks Five-Star Challenge camper Steven Parker 123 spots higher than any other service.
Rivals released their updated 2014 Rivals100 today, and this would've gone without more than a passing mention if not for this tweet that accompanied the release:
— Rivals.com (@Rivals) August 19, 2013
Fans of recruiting often throw out unsubstantiated claims about bias in the player rankings; this "fun fact" from Rivals, though, is just begging for some investigation into potential issues with their rankings. Does Rivals favor recruits who show up to their camps?*
I decided to take a look at the players in the Rivals100 who are listed as participants in the Rivals Five-Star Challenge; they represent 51 of the top 100 prospects on Rivals. My rather unscientific method of looking for potential bias was to look at each Five-Star Challenge participant's ranking on Rivals and compare it to their highest ranking on any of the other three services; if there's consistent bias in the rankings, Rivals should be the high outlier for this specific set of prospects. You can pore over the full (chart?) chart here; below is a summary of what I found:
- 26 of the 51 Five-Star Challenge participants (50.9%) were ranked higher on Rivals than any of the other three recruiting services.
- 11 players from the group were ranked at least 20 spots higher on Rivals than elsewhere, compared to eight whose highest ranking was 20 or more spots above their placement on Rivals.
- Five FSC participants in the Rivals100 were ranked 50+ spots above their next-highest ranking, including significant outliers OK S Steven Parker (#46, 123 spots higher than Scout) and TX OL Demetriux Knox (#35, 92 higher than Scout). Only two such players — AZ OL Casey Tucker (#79 on Rivals, #27 on Scout) and FL LB Kain Daub (#86 Rivals, #24 Scout) — fit the opposite criteria.
- On average, the 51 FSC participants were ranked 5.3 spots higher on Rivals than they were anywhere else; that number would obviously be even higher if we were looking at the industry average instead of the next-highest rank.
Where the numbers get really interesting, however, is when we look at the relationship between Rivals, ESPN, and Under Armour. As of this year, Rivals's recruiting rankings are "presented by Under Armour." Meanwhile, ESPN and Under Armour are still partnered for the Under Armour All-American Game. When I mentioned this potential conflict on Twitter earlier today, our friend TomVH noted that both Rivals and ESPN have input into the Under Armour AA selections:
— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) August 19, 2013
Since Rivals and ESPN both have potential conflicts of interest regarding Under Armour All-American prospects, I revisited my chart and looked for prospects whose highest non-Rivals ranking came from ESPN. Of those prospects, six are committed to the UA game. These are those six players:
|Name||Rivals100 Rank||ESPN Rank||Delta||Highest Non-ESPN Rank||Non-ESPN Delta|
This is, to be sure, a limited sample, but I can't say I'm surprised to see that each player's highest ranking drops — significantly, in the case of the top three players on the chart — when the two services with ties to the Under Armour Game are removed. When running the numbers for the full set of 51 Five-Star Challenge participants and using the highest non-ESPN rank for Under Armour All-Americans, the gap between Rivals and the other services widens significantly — the prospects are ranked an average of 11.1 spots higher on Rivals than the other services.
Rivals received some immediate backlash when they published the tweet at the top of this post; they repeatedly replied to commenters with this explanation when pressed about potential bias in their rankings:
@travatrave It shows how many of the kids we were able to evaluate first hand and in person, no bias at all.
— Rivals.com (@Rivals) August 19, 2013
This isn't an illegitimate explanation; Rivals got the chance to see a large group of top prospects in a setting that no other recruiting outlet was allowed to attend, and that should rightfully lead to some disparity in player rankings — both to the positive and negative. The fact that the Five-Star Challenge participants skew to the positive, however, along with the trend of major outliers among Under Armour All-Americans, suggests that some bias is present when it comes to recruits who participate in a Rivals-sponsored event.
Recruiting rankings, as we well know, are by no means an exact science, and my methodology here is far from ideal. That said, the role of sponsors in recruiting rankings is worth watching with a critical eye.
*Notably, the Rivals Five-Star Challenge is only open to Rivals reporters. No other outlet is allowed to cover it.
Woody-punchin'. WH provides the 1977 Game, which Michigan wins 14-6. Woody Hayes punches the camera at about 11 minutes:
Griese could be good at the TV. Not that Griese, the other Griese. I'm now holding out vague hopes that we could be getting something a little bit like NFL Matchup out of ESPN's Thursday night CFB preview show:
Griese, Mark May and Scott Van Pelt will preview the weekend's top four or five games.
"I'm going to use game film to illustrate what the keys are to look for," Griese said in a telephone interview."That will be fun for me. I like teaching people about the game."
Griese, who led Michigan to an unbeaten 1997 season and national championship and then played in the NFL, hopes to exercise his game knowledge from years and years of digesting game film as a player.
"That's where I like to live," Griese said of being a student of football film breakdown. "From people I talk to, there's an insatiable appetite to understand the nuances of football. I don't think there's any better way to understand the game than to watch it, but to watch it in a way that's informed. I want to give people things to watch for that maybe they wouldn't have known to look for, and look at it from an insider's perspective. I want them to watch and at the end hopefully say, 'Brian alerted me to this, and that's what happened in the game.'"
I know, I know, Mark May. You can't have everything. And we have seen technically-minded guys get swallowed up by the great dumbing-down over and over again. Let me have my candle in the wind.
Lacy still extant. Message board trolls started telling folks that Alabama starting tailback Eddie Lacy had torn his ACL and was done for the year, which doesn't appear to be true. He did give his ligaments the business at an inopportune time:
Alabama starting running back Eddie Lacy sprained his ankle and a knee in Saturday's practice.
“Not a serious thing. Probably going to be day to day but probably be a little bit slow next week," coach Nick Saban told AL.com. "I think in five to six days he’ll probably be ready to go.”
And I can't find anything on the internet that confirms anything about the ACL except for the one random guy in the comment section from the mgoboard post.
The sprain was two days ago, so his availability for Michigan is not in question unless a coach is lying about an injury, which is of course totally possible. If Lacy can't go—sigh—Dee Hart, the former Michigan commit, is supposed to take over top duties.
Beard update. Mealer's beard gathers a couple of quality quotes in a Daily article, one from Jeremy Gallon, who is apparently an aficionado:
“He has a face full of straight, perfect, beard hair,” redshirt junior wide receiver Jeremy Gallon told ESPN. “You don't find that everywhere. I mean, look at it, you can’t even put it into words. It's amazing.”
And the second from Navy SEALs:
When Mealer and 21 other seniors took a trip to Coronado, Calif. for a three-day leadership trip in late May to train with Navy SEALs, he was told by the SEALs that he was sporting a true “Afghanistan beard.”
“We take pride in that,”one of the SEALs told Mealer, he recalled.
But the SEAL left Mealer a stern warning: “If we find out the season comes along and you've shaved that, we’re sending the team after you," he recounted laughing.
Also receiving six points is the Daily staffer who slapped this headline on the story:
Mealer, beard battle for starting spot on offensive line
ESPN gets four for…
Wolverines push follicle limits
…by the way. M-Live gets zero for "Michigan Wolverines linebacker Jake Ryan's hair is like Clay Matthews, now wants similar game." STEP YOUR BEAR/HAIR HEADLINE GAME UP, MLIVE WOOOOO
Probably the best thing to ever happen in Minnesota. Faint praise, sure, but BHGP's countdown of the top 25 Kirk Ferentz wins hits the top ten with that one time they clinched the Big Ten for the first time in twelve years and tore down the goalposts… at a road game:
There has not been a fan pwnage since that comes close.
This was dumb, but known. The guy who voted Michigan #1 defended himself by saying "I have never heard of this 'defensive line' thing you keep bringing up," but he'd announced he was voting M first a couple months ago, so, like… yeah. It even came with a picture of Ron Zook. I was going to write more about this but then I realized we were talking about a preseason poll and decided not to.
This is dumb, and was not known. Penn Live has various bits from the Posnanski book on Paterno, and one is relevant to your interests:
Following PSU’s controversial 27-25 last-second loss at Michigan in 2005, the Lions’ only blemish on an 11-1 season, Paterno was furious that officials put a few seconds back on the clock, possibly allowing Wolverines QB Chad Henne enough time to throw the game-winning TD pass on the final play. According to Posnanski, Paterno told friends he was considering pulling the Lions out of the Big Ten as a result.
Someone should check to see if there was frequently-used BWI handle that went dark six months ago or so.
The thing that makes this so ridiculous is that Paterno had literally just badgered the refs for two extra seconds on the previous drive—and got them. The one second hanging on the clock at the end of that game was just as much Paterno's as Lloyd's.
This is dumb, and also dumb. Former Spartan Jim Miller thinks there's an RGIII-Kirk Cousins quarterback controversy after Cousins tore up the second half of an NFL preseason game.
Random hype video. A little repetitive, but it serves its purpose:
What a good idea to bring this up again. Appalachian State's coach had a press conference just to talk about the Horror. What a good idea for the person who won that game. I'm just glad we'll never have to think about it aga—
/Ace shows Brian 2014 schedule
/Brian makes thirty-fifth appointment at Lacuna, Inc. since announcement of Horror II
Walking sans canes. Via Tom, here's Brock Mealer walking without assistance:
Etc.: Michigan alumni clubs sing the Victors worldwide. ESPN has a segment on Alabama linebacker play. Corn Nation joins the Big Ten division names boycott. Playoff details sound about like what you would think. UNC is going to go back and find out if their academic fraud is really as bad as all that. UMHoops recaps Mark Donnal's summer.