this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
Obligatory @ right via HSR.
Coaching bits. Rocky Long is officially the new head coach at SDSU, so Michigan will need a new DC. He will bring his strength coach Aaron Wellman, so kiss Barwis goodbye. ETA before he's hired at Pitt: six seconds.
Who did what who with what and the when. I have a request in for a rundown of the Borges years at Auburn with a good friend who is the world's #1 Auburn fan, but they sort of just won a national championship so that might take a little bit. Over at Maize 'n' Brew they have a breakdown of Hoke's years at Ball State from a BSU alum. On offense they started off with a "disaster" of a pro-style offense that got the first coordinator canned, whereupon Stan Parrish was brought in:
Coach Parrish junked the previous offensive scheme almost completely. He still employed two tight ends due to Steinhaus and Darius Hill being two of the biggest weapons on the offense, but also used a lot more three and four wide out formations and the fullback ceased to exist in the offense. Ball State ran a balanced, one back attack with Joey Lynch and the Nate Davis excelling at quarterback, MiQuale Lewis at running back, and Dante Love at wide receiver/running back/quarterback.
So Hoke has some flexibility when it's clear that whatever you want to do isn't actually working, but… yeah, seems like the default impulse is to line 'em up and waggle them three times a game.
On defense, Hoke kept the same guy through his six years but "was the defacto defensive coordinator" by the end of his tenure because Smith was kind of not so good. They moved from the 4-3 under that Greg Robinson actually knows how to run to a Big Ten default 4-3:
For the first four years of Coach Hoke's tenure, Ball State ran a defense that the media mostly called a 3-4 defense, but I think would be more accurately described as a 4-3 under defense. The last two seasons, when Coach Hoke was basically running the defense, Ball State mostly used the 4-3 defense, although the 4-3 under defense was also still used.
Hoke grabbed Long at SDSU, obviously. Depending on who you talk to Long invented the 3-3-5, which is what the Aztecs ran. Flexibility there, though not a whole lot of success. Even in the epic Ball State year that got him out of the MAC, the Cardinals got bombed for 45 points in their two year-ending losses. This year's SDSU team was better on offense by every metric than defense. For a "defensive-minded" coach his success seems based on having a couple quarterbacks that were pretty good.
Fluffwar 3000. Anyone doubting the media 180 should have listened to the press conference, wherein questions were gently peeled by the assembled masses and placed in the most pleasing spot on Hoke's tongue, whereupon they dissolved in a haze of gruff footbaw talk. I think I heard someone say "he's dreamy" at one point. This will be annoying for people irritated at the way Rodriguez was treated but is an asset for the program. Everything is black or white, you see.
We should hold a competition for most Charmin-soft headline over the next six months. Candidates so far:
- "New U-M coach Brady Hoke's character impresses peers"
- "Michigan players applaud hiring of Brady Hoke"
- "Alumni rally around Hoke hire"
- "Brady Hoke earned respect and admiration from former Michigan football players"
And a candidate for most least correct:
These are all exactly what you'd expect, so there's no need to read any of them. Our brief period as a rogue program has ended, and the worst-case outcome of the next few years in the media is a bunch of clucking at fans who aren't satisfied with how much better Brady Hoke's record is than Rich Rodriguez.
Save Drew Sharp, of course. He was the lone guy to fire off a negative question amongst the general fawning, that directed at Michigan's aspiration to win conference championships instead of national ones. I wonder if he asks his wife why she didn't aspire to marry a human being instead of Marvin the Paranoid Android.
The truth. Michigan's situation is odd. They are a 7-6 team with pretty good yardage numbers that has an easier schedule next year and a boatload of returning starters, so they should be better, possibly a good bit better. But they're transitioning coaches and if Denard stays are probably going to make an awkward transition in offense exactly at the point where this year's crater of a recruiting class will start hurting them badly. So Lamarr Woodley's right:
“I mean, hopefully they’ll look good next year, but it will probably take a while for them to be adjusted,” he said. “I don’t want to go into that Michigan State situation, where they’re hiring and firing.
“We have to stick behind coach Hoke and give him time to bring in the guys he needs for his formula."
Michigan will have to be patient, because a tenure much like Charlie Weis's is a strong possibility: good results early, falloff once this class and the last one come home to roost, many grumbles about early success being vapor. Michigan will (should?) have an upperclass Devin Gardner instead of freshman Jimmah and some semblance of an offensive line, so the rough patch might not be awful. It's likely to come.
(Yes, exactly zero players said things like this for Rodriguez.)
The upside. I think this is both praise and condemnation:
Spoke to a bunch of coaches here in Dallas at AFCA who think Brady Hoke will do well at Michigan. They kept using the word "solid" a lot.
Calling a coach "solid" is like calling a girl cute. Also, this…
@mgoblog You may have gotten your Dantonio, for whatever that's worth.
…is the exact same thing. It's hard to envision Hoke not having the same sort of dismal record against the USCs of the world if he's going to rely on recruiting nowhere near as well and out-executing, as Michigan State found out the hard way against Alabama.
Meet the Drew Sharp of San Diego. Brady Hoke had been so openly coveting the Michigan job that even San Diego State's athletic director was all like "he gone," but there is a lone wacko out there willing to point and scream "Rodriguez":
Hoke never purchased a home in San Diego. He rented in La Jolla. He wasn’t staying here forever, and even he no doubt is surprised by how fast this happened. He hadn’t done much of anything, which he admits.
But in the end, it wasn’t so much betrayal as it was deception. It’s hard to say San Diego State is better off today, but if Brady Hoke couldn’t be stand-up about this thing, sneaking around in college football’s increasing shadows, maybe the school’s better off.
A witch! Burn her!
At least there's that. The Mathlete's PAN metrics are pretty easy to understand ratings that go into more detail than wins and losses and as the coaching search progressed he threw up numbers for most of Michigan's candidates. The Hoke graphs are the single most encouraging thing I've seen about the hire, as it does show almost constant improvement across eight years. Ball State, with Hoke in blue:
San Diego State, with Hoke in maize:
Arguing about how fast the improvement happened at Ball State is secondary to the fact that it did improve consistently, though I tend to hold the post-Hoke implosion against him since I'd rather see a smoother glide path to incompetence as the program you put together gradually falls apart. That looks like "Nate Davis graduated so let's GTFO."
This goes here.
Etc.: Guy who won right to attend press conference is a Michigan engineer who wrote a script to enter him millions of times. Michigan engineers: good. Guys who program MGoBlue.com: not Michigan engineers. DocSat: "After three years of attempting to transition out of that mindset into something smaller, faster, sleeker and newer, Hoke is a sign that the Wolverines have declared defeat and decided to turn back home. That will make a lot people happy, but only if the wins eventually follow."
Senior day fluff. But somtimes fluff is okay:
Please don't do this. People of the internet: UFR numbers are dangerous things when taken too seriously, and while I think they're on track most of the time—or I wouldn't do it—the place where they're shakiest is in the secondary, where players rarely get on screen unless they've screwed up. So if you're making a case for James Rogers as Michigan's best defensive back it makes me wince when UFR totals get brought out. MNB Dave doesn't go hog wild with it or anything but just to re-iterate, please take all numbers in the secondary with a grain of salt. I can't see the guys back there most of the time. I do the numbers because they're better than nothing at describing what happened but the why and how are not included.
As an aside, I actually kind of agree with Dave that Rogers has been Michigan's best corner by a nose since his wide receiver allergy hasn't been ruthlessly exploited by McFarve. That's the Michigan secondary in a nutshell.
Is this for real or for roster? A followup on ideal cornerback height finds that All Conference guys in the Big Ten have been 5'11", or at least listed at 5'11", far more often than any other height. Does this mean Michigan is recruiting guys too short to be big time corners? I'm doubtful. The table of filthy lies also known as Michigan's roster displays the scholarship cornerbacks like so:
|5||Courtney Avery||CB||5-11||174||FR||Mansfield, Ohio (Lexington)|
|12||J.T. Floyd||CB||6-0||183||RS SO||Greenville, S.C. (J.L. Mann)|
|18||James Rogers||CB||6-1||188||SR||Madison Heights, Mich. (Lamphere)|
|22||Terrence Talbott||CB||5-11||179||FR||Huber Heights, Ohio (Wayne)|
|24||Cullen Christian||CB||6-0||188||FR||Verona, Pa. (Penn Hills)|
|29||Troy Woolfolk||CB||6-0||195||SR||Sugar Land, Texas (Dulles)|
Avery is listed at 5'9" by ESPN, and Scout with Rivals giving him 5'10". He is not 5'11". Scout's number is from a combine. Talbott is listed at an exacting 5'9.5" at Scout, also a combine number. If you're 5'9" on a college roster you're truly tiny, because they let you wear sensible heels when they put these things together.
When almost half the All Conference guys are one exact height that says short guys get fibbed up to 5'11", I'm guessing.
In the year 2013 Stupid people at Oklahoma newspapers. Our kicker situation could be worse. Doc Sat links a post at the most-loathed Oklahoman, which auto-plays inane banter between Jenni Carlson, the author of the terrible cheap shot that spurred the "I'm a man" rant from Jeff Gundy, and perpetually hungover Barry Trammel. So that's not so good. But after you shudder, hit pause, and think seriously about noscript, you find this out about the Oklahoma roster:
Bob Stoops has granted scholarships to four kickers, with a fifth promised to yet another kicker.
I can hear the jokes now. How many scholarships does it take to screw in a field goal?
But it's true. Jimmy Stevens, Patrick O'Hara, Tress Way and Bryce Easley have scholarships, and Michael Hunnicutt has been promised one next year. None of the five are seniors.
There's an element of typical middle-aged white sportswriter misrepresentation in here since Tress Way is the punter and a very good one, but dude Oklahoma's going to have four kickers on scholarship next year… aww goddammit. I just fact-checked this dip. (Don't click any of these links unless you like inane banter.) Stevens is the starting kicker. O'Hara is a walk-on. Easley is a walk-on. Hunnicutt is not an incoming recruit but another walk-on. It's understood that if a walk-on gets a scholarship one year that's not guaranteed to continue unless the kid establishes himself a starter or major contributor. Oklahoma's going to have maybe two kickers on scholarship next year. BFD. The lesson, as always, is ignore Barry Tramel.
This was going to have something to do with Michigan's kicker situation, I promise, but then it degenerated.
Well, that could have gone worse. The basketball team moved the competition level up slightly yesterday and still made easy work of Bowling Green, winning by 19 and giving up just 29.6 eFG. This is not terribly exciting because last year BG was 14-16 in the MAC and checked in #206 in the Kenpom ratings. A final warmup against Gardner Webb (awful) is followed by tests against Syracuse and some other team in Michigan's preseason tournament.
Etc.: Troy Woolfolk explains the origin of "T-Woolf" in the Daily. I'll translate to internet: "Tloy Woorfork explains the origin of 'T-Woorf' in the Daily." T-Woorf sounds like a Klingon who raps in Dutch. Another Michigan Man podcast, this one previewing Wisconsin. Ricky Stanzi's pro-America stance takes a "darker, Nixonian turn." Soony Saad fluff and a reminder that there's an NCAA tournament game against hated UCF on Sunday.
Newsbits of importance from Tom. Dark I'm-not-saying-I'm-just-saying rumors about Craig Roh and Demetrius Hart have been flying around the internets this week. Tom clarifies. On Craig Roh:
My source told me that Craig has been concerned with his position switch to linebacker, and believes he is much more effective as a defensive end.
Craig actually vocalized his concern about his position to the coaches after the Penn State game, and my source says that he has been playing much more on the defensive line during practice this week.
Roh's apparently been handed to Bruce Tall and will no longer be mostly a linebacker. This is both good and another instance of players coaching themselves. Meanwhile, Demetrius Hart decommit rumors are false:
There was a slight mix up with Demetrius' enrollment with Michigan, but it has been cleared up. That was the issue, it wasn't that anyone was recruiting him harder, or anything along those lines. Everything has been straightened out, and his mom says Demetrius will be at Michigan in January.
Insert the usual CYA boilerplate about how anything can happen, but you can focus your panic elsewhere.
Crowded. JT Floyd is officially out for the year with "freak" ligament damage in his ankle. Hooray.
The Never Forget banner guy has updated it, and if any further members of the secondary wish to make themselves unavailable they'd advised to do it quickly because we're running out of room:
New additions are Michael Williams (concussions), JT Floyd (ligament damage), Jared Van Slyke (leg injury), and Vlad Emilien (transfer). Available locations are limited to that patch of maize underneath the crying wolverine. Given the state of the secondary this is getting considerably more RR-fault-ridden as the year goes along. Justin Turner and Vlad Emilien's transfers are big deals with the free safety depth chart reading "Ray Vinopal" and the corner depth chart reading "Random Three Star Freshman Projects and James Rogers."
At least the Floyd injury has been a productive one for the legions of Michigan photoshoppers:
So we've got that going for us. Courtney Avery will draw into the lineup for Floyd.
Okay, a final final final word or two. It's unfortunate that Anchorman references are vastly overused because sometimes there's nothing you can say except…
…I'm not even mad, I'm impressed. That is amazing. I'm sitting on this pile of ninja corpses, covered in blood. As the sun rises over a scene of indescribable gore I laugh, because what else is there to do?
Probably not in the special section about how naughty Michigan's been:
the committee wrote that "though serious," the overage was "far less extensive than originally reported and that no student-athletes were substantially harmed."
Though this was obvious as soon as the smoke cleared last August because the piece was so shoddily written, it is now official. Hurrah for pyrrhic victories.
Watch this. The House Rock Built's "Stuffing The Passer" series is the best thing going in the CFB blogosphere right now:
If "Shit My Dad Says" is being made into a sitcom, Stuffing The Passer can't be far behind.
Elsewhere in coach grumbling. You've probably seen this but Brandon Graham has some depressing quotes that point towards the Those Meddling Kids theory:
I’m surprised they didn’t stick with what Coach Robinson was running,” Graham said of the 3-4 the team deployed in 2009, its first year under Robinson. … “Let Coach Robinson play his defense,” Graham said. “Let him do what he knows. He was thrown off, I would say. I know the 3-3-5 is what he (Rodriguez) has been doing for so long. He’s just got to adjust to the Big Ten.”
Michigan ran a 4-3 under last year but that's beside the point. Those quotes from a guy who was in the program last year indicate that no one who doesn't know a 3-3-5 like the back of his hand is ever going to be comfortable as a defensive coordinator at Michigan as long as the WVU guys are around saying things like "hey it's a bye week, I've got this great idea."
While everyone says "scheme is overrated," Michigan's offense puts the lie to that. It's not necessarily the 3-3-5 itself—this is not a BLANK can't work in the Big Ten argument—but attempting to run an exotic niche defense with a guy who doesn't know it (and evidence suggests is a terrible coach anyway).
I'm pretty sure this is as close as we'll get to an opinion from Angelique Chengelis, if that's actually what it is:
Hope for next year?
Much has been made about Michigan's defense, which is near the bottom of several national categories, including total defense. Illinois was in a similar spot last year, but has made strides under new defensive coordinator Vic Koenning:
Scoring defense: 30.2 (96th) in 2009, 16.8 (12th) in 2010
Total defense: 403.3 (91st) in 2009, 301.4 (15th) in 2010
Pass defense: 248.8 (100th) in 2009, 183.9 (19th) in 2010
Rush defense: 154.4 (76th) in 2009, 117.5 (26th) in 2010
That certainly reads like a "hint, hint."
Defensive antidote. Via Wolverine Historian:
Penn State jerkos. As an internet fanbase, Penn State has a remarkable knack for accusing others of pathologies they're displaying literally within the accusation itself. The latest example is a piece at Black Shoe Diaries the author probably thinks is Swiftian satire that takes a sentence from the game recap, some random comment I don't recognize and didn't make about the Terrence Talbott whiffed PBU that turned into 40 yards, a somewhat maudlin paragraph from Maize and Brew supporting Rodriguez, and a random quote from pissed off David Molk. It combines these to show how self-centered Michigan fans are… in a post whining that Michigan fans didn't give Penn State its proper respect.
BSD can talk about self-centered behavior when they do this:
Indiana has a legitimately very good pass offense. They had 41 opportunities to make catches and made 40. Chappell almost never went to the wrong guy and missed on maybe five of his 65 attempts. Their receivers are tall and fast and shifty. One dollar they're the most productive pass offense in the conference at the end of the year.
Michigan State has somehow acquired the without-question best stable of tailbacks in the league; Iowa's Adam Robinson isn't bad but he's not the equivalent of Baker/Bell/Caper, and there's only one of him.
Indiana imploded and Michigan State's run game is pretty mediocre. We tried the credit-the-opponent bit and then all of the opponents turned out to be much worse on offense than Michigan made them look. Doing it now against your gritty moxie ginger neckbeard quarterback would be delusional. Penn State sucks and Michigan is worse. But I said Ogbu is a beast, so your pathetic insecurities can be a tiny bit less pathetic. Let's hold hands.
Now go talk about how arrogant we are as you caress each other's soft places while whispering "what if Michigan never comes back" and we discuss whether we should keep Rich Rodriguez and worry about falling into a Notre Dame-like fallow period. Tim was right to describe BSD as a place utterly incapable of recognizing irony.
Etc.: Craig Roh's eyebrows, and the rest of Craig Roh, are attractive to some guy who ranks him the #13 "hottie" of the year in CFB. Yost Built has ten things to know about Alaska. Amani Toomer is running marathons now.
It's been real, jihad guy and generic Barwis picture.
When this was breaking last night I was trudging through the fourth quarter of the Penn State game, gin in hand, and didn't feel like rushing to do anything except maybe to throw up. But it happened and it's over and the news is good, and by good we mean "exactly what everyone expected" but at least all those wild theories about how the NCAA is going to blow up the program and make an example out of Rodriguez are gone:
The NCAA has concluded that Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez did not fail to promote an atmosphere of compliance, a previous allegation that the school challenged, a source close to the situation said Wednesday night.
Other reports state that the NCAA has accepted the self imposed penalties and added a third year of probation. The official release will happen at 3 PM, but Michigan's leaking all the relevant details early. If you'll allow me a moment of self-congratulation, that's exactly what was projected around these parts when Michigan announced its response to the notice of allegations.
Our long and winding journey that started with wildly overheated allegations and ends with some misinterpreted stretching and excessively involved grad assistant ends. After this afternoon's flurry of redundancy there are no more news events to push this to the forefront, so Michigan can get on with the reductions quietly and the proverbial dark cloud hanging over the program can finally evaporate.
I can't emphasize enough how much of a steaming crock of crap the initial Free Press story was and how richly everyone involved with it deserves to be fired, but at least they immolated the idea that journalistic ethics are a reason to read boring neutral "objective" copy and stupid 600-word columns dashed off without an ounce of research. They also drove a ton of traffic here as Michigan fans looked for accurate projections of what was going to happen, and in doing so obliterated the idea that bias, which this place has in spades, necessarily leads to inaccuracy. So thanks for that. Send me your resumes in five years when you all lose your jobs; I'll get back to you with all possible speed.