to play football, not to play trumpet
Paging Dr. Stalin
getting our glares on
Will there be a roster purge a la Charlie Strong or can we expect Harbaugh to try and retain almost everyone?
I'm not a fan of purges; part of a leader's job is to gain buy-in, but they do happen. Some attrition will certainly happen, but I'd like to not dig a huge roster hole we're digging out of for 3+ seasons.
Strong's purge is not likely to repeat if only because that kind of massive roster depletion is just about unprecedented. Strong walked into a combination of bad timing (two guys suspended for sexual assault) and no discipline after the Mack Brown decline had truly festered. Strong read guys the riot act…
Sources said all of the players in question were told that Strong was watching them closely dating back to February, when they were part of a group pulled aside and told that their attitude and/or behavior had to change.
As part of that conversation, players were told they’d be subject to more random drug tests, sources said.
…and they did not respond. That led to a lot of guys out the door.
Michigan has already experienced one of these, as Kyle Bosch was brought into a meeting with Harbaugh and told there would be some conditions on his continued membership:
“I was at school all day, getting ready,” Bosch told Sporting News on Tuesday morning. “Then I met with Coach Harbaugh and I didn’t expect the transfer. That was not my original intent when I went up there yesterday. … This was very untimely. If it was my intention to transfer, I would have done that a long time ago.”
Bosch said his meeting with Harbaugh produced two options: stay with the program with stipulations (he did not say what they were) or transfer.
The kind of things Bosch dealt with over the past year are best left unspecified, but if he didn't want to meet the law laid down by Harbaugh it's best that he find somewhere else to be.
Bosch is an exception. Hoke was very good at getting guys who work hard and go after their schoolwork, thus the APR and extremely low transfer rate. That rate is about to pick up for a lot of reasons (remember that even before the season ended Hoke mentioned two OL were headed out), but the departures won't rise to the level of a purge or leave Michigan alarmingly short-handed this September.
You can tell this is the case just by the recruiting numbers. Michigan has room for a class of 12 right now. Without epic departures that isn't going to get past 20, and a roster that only has to add 15 or 16 players is not in dire straights.
This staff versus previous staff.
Hi, I'm your DL coach. [Eric Upchurch]
Since the site has been 90% devoted to the assistant coaching rumors or hires for the past several days I wanted to throw a question at you.
The natural reaction in the wake of hiring Harbaugh and turning the page on the previous regime is to look at everything through rose colored glasses. At least until the first game we lose, people will mostly think he can do no wrong and every person he hires or recruits is a great fit.
If we take a step back, how do you feel the staff construction we will have next year compares to our reaction to the staffs that Rodriguez or Hoke hired in their first seasons? Do you see any areas that make you scratch your head or long for someone else?
There's no comparison. Hoke and Rodriguez both imported the large majority of their existing coaches and held on to Fred Jackson. Those coaches had experienced success—sort of in Hoke's case—in a specific context at a lower level of competition. Rodriguez fatally did not bring Jeff Casteel along; Hoke imported Greg Mattison and brought Al Borges with him.
- Is an in-demand OC/QB coach.
- Hired an in-demand DC.
- Kept Greg Mattison as a position coach.
- Hired the guy who built the Stanford ass-kicking machine.
- Hired Ty Wheatley in the recruiting-heavy RB slot.
- Hired an ex-NFL OC and successful college OC as a WR coach.
- Hired a special teams coordinator who has 15 years of crazy success.
Nobody on this staff is going to wander over to San Jose State after they're done at Michigan, and most of them have experienced impressive amounts of success outside of the Harbaugh context. With limited exceptions that latter was not true of anybody on either of the previous two staffs other than Greg Mattison.
If there's anything with this staff that makes me pause it's the still-hypothetical Dougherty hire. He's only had one year of TEs, and with the importance of those guys in the Harbauffense it seems like you'd want a guy with a long track record there, possibly with some OL coaching mixed in to help out Drevno. OC/OL is a lot on one plate.
But we don't know if that's actually going to come to fruition—given the timing here it's possible that Fisch swooped in on his spot. The last thing we heard about Dougherty was a Football Scoop report from three days ago—unreliable to start and increasingly so as we get further out without any confirmation. I'm beginning to think that's not happening.
[After the JUMP: search postmortem, these are my readers.]
When can we fire this apparel company?
What do you think will happen when the Adidas contract runs up? It's no secret around these parts the quality of garments that Adidas has put out have been sub-par to say the least. I know the majority of MGoBlog would prefer to go back to Nike, but there's a faction that would like Under Armour. Where do you see this going? Especially since I would anticipate the Nike contract not being nearly as lucrative as an Under Armour signing or a re-up with Adidas. Does Hackett (assuming he's still around) or a new AD listen to the fans or do you think they go for profit here?
I don't know. Nike isn't willing to spend bucks as huge as Adidas and Under Armor, which was a contributing factor in Miami's recent switch to the only incompetent Germans. Adidas has the four most expensive (FOIAable) contracts in college sports, with Michigan's whopping 8.2 million at the top of the list. That number is double what OSU gets from Nike.
Part of that premium is because Adidas isn't as cool to the whippersnappers and you have to weigh that, but this isn't a few hundred thousand a year Michigan is weighing. Switching to Nike would be a decision that costs Michigan a significant chunk of change.
The ideal situation may be Under Armour stepping in with an on-par offer. UA's done some wacky stuff with Maryland but they've been extremely reserved with Auburn's classic look. (An extensive Googling reveals no alternate uniform horrors.) I'm a huge fan of what they've done with Northwestern, incorporating a historical design element in a unique way.
Aside from the excessive logo frippery* that plagues everyone these days, that is a fantastic, distinctive look. Even the font is on point. I'd rather have UA take a swing at—or just, like, sit quietly by and not do anything weird with—Michigan's uniforms than Adidas.
But I don't wear the stuff so I don't know. It seems like the players are gung-ho about Nike and Hackett is listening; plus it seems like there is some real recruiting impact in basketball.
*[The best thing Dave Brandon did with Michigan's brand is render the mandatory Big Ten logo in Crisler as faintly as possible.]
Rate the get
How big of a get is Harbaugh compared to Ohio state landing Urban? Obviously OSU's down time was smaller than Michigan's, and Urban won national titles at Florida, but in terms of hires it has to be close to comparable, right? Recruits lining up and all that.
In terms of difficulty of acquisition it's a much, much bigger get. Meyer was momentarily retired and looking to get back into coaching, and his preferred style of offense makes him unattractive to NFL teams. It probably took the two sides about a half hour to come to an agreement after Tressel got axed. Michigan was in a much more difficult situation with Harbaugh, who could have coached at about 20 NFL teams if he wanted to.
In terms of impact and probable success, it's close. I would still go with Meyer, who had already won two national titles, over Harbaugh. Harbaugh's done kickass things in his tenure as a coach but he hasn't had the kind of sustained run on the mountaintop that Meyer did at Florida. That's splitting hairs in any case.
[After the JUMP: manball an aid? best coaching combos, NFL reporters, Milhouse.]
The importance of coach background?
Patterson is a rare defensive HC standout
I know there are plenty of questions about the coaching search coming through, I'd hoped to give a different take.
In your opinion what is the preferable background of a coach. In the modern game with high powered, explosive offenses being the key to success, the trend seems be leaning towards guys with strong background in developing offenses (Tom Herman, Gus Malzahn, etc). I still maintain that the best background for a head coach is having a much stronger background on the defensive side of the ball. A top notch defense requires the ability to adapt to the offense (everyone runs the same offense week to week, defenses must adjust) putting a higher premium on extensive experience multiple jobs running multiple defenses.
The other key to success is recruiting (it seems you can out scheme your way to an effective offense, but a defense is more about the 'Jimmy's and Joe's). In my estimate, the best coach would be a guy with a lot of DC experience who knows what hates to defend and hires that guy. For instance, if Hoke had just admitted he didn't know anything about offense and spent the blank check Brandon gave him on the best guy to run a Denard led team (As I recall there were heaps of Oregonesque coordinators out there who would kill to walk into an experienced Denard job with money to spend on top assistants), we would probably be celebrating Hoke as a genius for not wearing the headset. I'm not sure Rodriguez hiring a stud D coordinator and letting them run the D the way they wanted would have worked because a number of his D recruits didn't pan out, which I believe goes to talent identification.
Please don't excommunicated me from the M family, I still think Harbaugh is the top candidate despite his offensive background!
You've got a pretty good case with "DC who knows what he hates to defend," as that's exactly what Bob Stoops did and he's been pretty successful. On the other hand, the top guys in college right now have a decided offensive bent.
Defensive guys at top 25 schools: Saban, Dantonio, Patterson, Snyder, Whittingham, Mora.
Offensive guys: Meyer, Helfrich, Fisher, Briles, Mullen, Freeze, Rodriguez, Johnson, Richt, Graham, Pinkel, Swinney, Andersen, Malzahn, Harsin, Petrino, Miles, Sarkisian, Kill.
A few of those are tenuous (Swinney was never a coordinator, Kill has been a head coach for so long he's just a head coach); even considering that it seems like the rapid evolution of offense has made OCs preferable to DCs.
And when DCs do have sustained success it's often because they have an oddball system they make work, whether it's Saban's NFL-style pattern matching, Dantonio's hyperaggressive cover 4, or Patterson's 4-2-5. Imposing your will is possible on defense; it seems to be a lot easier on offense.
I know you are being loaded with questions around the coaching search. My question is for after the search is over. The basis of the question is simple. How long do you think until Michigan is back to at least consistent 8 to 9 win seasons.
My personal belief is that with Harbaugh the chances are quick. But, what if it is not Harbaugh and someone who specializes in spread concepts to their offense, ie.) a Mullen or Herman? Do you think those hires would lead to as heavy an attrition as the Rich Rod transition did? If not how well would the current roster mesh with those schemes. Lastly if one of those two or another spread guy was hired, and the transition isn't a great fit, should we be prepared for Harbaugh, Harbaugh, Harbaugh, all over 4 years from now? Thanks in advance.
There wasn't actually that much Rich Rod-Hoke transition attrition. Most of the guys who left did so because they couldn't stay in school or find playing time. IIRC, Cullen Christian and Ray Vinopal left with Tony Gibson to go to Pitt, but I don't think anyone else could be claimed to have left as direct effect of the changeover. (Check the most recent Attrition Watch and correct me if I'm wrong.) In general, transfers are rare. PSU had their program burned to the ground and open season declared on their players and they only lost a few guys.
Recruits who haven't signed LOIs are a different matter, but if Michigan has a coach in January they'll have about ten spots to fill.
As far as spread/not spread, the differences in personnel there are considerably overstated. OSU and Miss St run power-oriented spread offenses built on being beefy mean guys; that kind of offense would fit well with Michigan's recruits on the OL. Receivers are receivers; Michigan has a couple slot guys. Tailbacks like Brandon Minor and Carlos Hyde function in the spread; Michigan's current crew could do just fine.
QB is the big difference, and it's an issue. I do think Morris has sufficient wheels to be a keep-'em honest threat, and as OSU's shown over the past half-decade or so, a spread oriented system tends to keep reads for shaky QBs relatively simple.
Hoke did a very good job stocking the roster with guys who stick around and they are beginning to mature, so a relatively quick (read: year 2) turnaround is within the realm of possibility.
[After the JUMP: frankly, things get very silly.]
1976 Michigan Football Team
Circled are Jim Hackett, 53, and Jack Harbaugh, Bo assistant
I am not putting all the eggs in the ol' basket based on this. Maybe a few.
Chances of similar nepotism catastrophe?
Well, we've just witnessed the final episode of Brady Hoke in Michigan Stadium. It's very easy for some to feel anger at the head coach, but the more appropriate target(s?) are those responsible for elevating Hoke to a position he was incapable of executing. Beyond the anger, are the responsible parties still in a position of influence? Not Brandon, of course, my concern is more directed toward Schembechler Hall. Is there a risk of essentially repeating the same mistake of another Michigan Man, albeit a more competent version?
Uh… no? We have already plucked the last fruit off the Lloyd Carr tree, such as it is, and Michigan men available are:
- JIM HARBAUGH. Probably not a mistake.
- LES MILES. Questionable due to age and sketch, but even so not in Hoke's galaxy as in terms of qualifications, or lack thereof.
- NOBODY. There are no other Michigan-affiliated head coaches.
I guess Michigan could go way off the board and hire one of the near-rookie NFL coordinators who have ties, but you have to think that after the last search they would try to avoid the appearance of nepotism. I cannot say for sure, of course. Michigan could go with Harold Goodwin or Teryl Austin, because nobody knows anything about Jim Hackett.
I kind of doubt it, though. After the two obvious guys there isn't a midlevel head coach with an uninspiring record who you can just barely see as conceivable if you squint particularly hard.
Meanwhile the new president isn't a Michigan guy and seems kind of appalled by the current culture of the department; most of said department consists of Brandon-hired short-timers with no connection to Michigan. The guy dead-set on the nepotism hire has been flushed, and what are the chances Michigan hires two CEOs like… that… back to back?
Okay, okay: nonzero. But not high. If Hackett's anywhere near the meat of the bell curve the backup plan won't be hired because he knows six different places Encore Records has been.
[After THE JUMP: or where Le Dog went to]
Mailbag: Retaining Mattison, Coach Before AD, Hackett Long-Term, Braxton Transfer, Schlissel Concerns(?)
Left: via Eric DeBoer. Right: ICE ICE BABY TOO COLD
It seems very clear that Hoke is gone at this point. Is there a scenario in which we could fire Hoke, but keep Mattison at DC? This is a top 25 team with a competent offense. I actually like Nuss too as I believe the playcalling has been good and Gardner just isn't executing, but he also seems as good as gone right?
It's rare for assistant coaches to be kept on after a head coaching change. OSU kept Luke Fickell, but they've devolved his responsibility repeatedly and their defense is not up to par with their offense. You get the sense he's mostly around for recruiting. Other than that I can't recall a coordinator-level assistant who survived their head man getting axed.
Making an exception for Mattison depends on a lot of things. For one, is he pissed off enough that he just retires? Mattison's pressers have been feisty, full-throated defenses of Brady Hoke over the last couple months. It's clear Hoke commands seriously loyalty from him, and it was expected he'd be retiring in the somewhat near future anyway. He would take some convincing to stay, and making that pitch is a delicate thing I'm not sure certain targets *cough*HARBAUGH*cough* would be good at.
Meanwhile, there's the question of how good this defense actually is. Yeah, they're seventh nationally in yards per game and 12th in yards per play. They've also faced a selection of completely horrible offenses. Yards per play rankings of Michigan power 5 opponents, out of 128:
- NORTHWESTERN: 125th
- PENN STATE: 121st
- UTAH: 89th
- MINNESOTA: 68th
- INDIANA: 57th, but most of that is w/ Sudfeld
- RUTGERS: 50th
- NOTRE DAME: 38th
- MICHIGAN STATE: 12th
There are two teams in there that are better than average and if you take Indiana's QB situation into account (Indiana has averaged barely 200 yards a game since Diamont took over) there are three of the very worst teams in the country. #91 Maryland and… uh… #11 Ohio State are pending.
That plus Michigan's notoriously slow tempo means the advanced stats have a very different perspective on Michigan than raw ones. FEI has Michigan 35th(!) in the country, which is barely average in a schedule adjusted system. Michigan is 31st in S&P.
It's not hard to see why. They gave up 400 yards to Gary Nova, got plastered by David Cobb, and folded on the second drive in East Lansing against the one legitimately good offense they faced. The man press misstep was costly, and I don't have a lot of hope Michigan is going to throttle Ohio State.
So. Given that and the likelihood Mattison's going to call it quits sooner rather than later anyway, I wouldn't put a high priority on retaining him. It might be different if there was a guy on staff that looked like an heir apparent, but Mark Smith keeps getting bounced to other roles, Roy Manning is probably still too young, and Kurt Mallory was interviewing at I-AA schools last summer.
I don't see anyone sticking around after the transition except Manning, who's established himself a great recruiter and can go back to his natural LB spot. I still think Nussmeier's track record is an excellent one, especially in QB development, but it's going to be a hard sell to retain him after this year's performance.
[After the JUMP: AD hiring stuff, prez stuff.]
Previously: Gardening Lessons (The Story), Preview Podcast, Preseason All-Big Ten Teams, Point Guards, Wings Part 1 (LeVert, Irvin), Wings Part 2 (Chatman, Wilson, Dawkins, MAAR), Bigs (Donnal, Doyle, Bielfeldt), Media Day Player Interviews, Big Ten Newcomers, Big Ten Outlook Part 1, Big Ten Outlook Part 2, Mailbag Part 1
Who will get the bulk of the minutes at center? The panelists disagree. [Fuller]
The preview is almost done, but first, Alex and I attempt to answer perhaps the longest mailbag question in this blog's history. Without further ado, a five-part query covering everything:
Can you predict the minutes by position for the roster this year given the unique nature of this team compared to the past rosters?
I'm very intrigued to see how Beilein deals with the youngest but probably deepest and most versatile roster he's ever had. For most years we were scrambling to find 8 usable scholarship athletes and this year we have 11 guys who could see meaningful minutes in any given game. How will he handle that? How will he handle the frustrations that come with so many freshmen learning a complex system? How will he handle the unique skills that guys like MAAR or Wilson offer if they aren't quite the fit into his system?
Ace: I'm going to start from the end—first of all, Wilson is an ideal fit in the system (more on him later), and second of all, if a player is good enough to get on the court, Beilein is going to adjust his team's approach to fit his personnel, as we've seen time and again.
Also, talk about good problems. There really are 11 players who could see at least a consistent bit role this season, though I highly doubt Beilein is going to go with an 11-man rotation; I think he'll whittle it down closer to eight or nine as the season goes on.
My best guess at how the minutes breakdown will look when this team settles into a rotation—in the early going, I expect some experimenting as Beilein figures out what his freshmen can and can't provide:
1) Walton - 30, Albrecht - 10
2) LeVert - 35, Albrecht - 5
3) Irvin - 30, Dawkins - 10
4) Chatman - 25, Wilson - 15
5) Doyle - 20, Donnal - 10, Wilson - 10
Positions matter less than minutes distribution here—Irvin and Dawkins can both play the two, and LeVert can play the three, for example, and those positions very similar in Beilein's system, anyway.
Of the freshmen, I think Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman is the most likely to fall out of the rotation. Michigan has plenty of guards that can handle the ball, Walton's ability as a spot-up shooter will allow for the Walton/Spike backcourt to get a good amount of run, and Rahk's iffy shooting is going to hold him back, especially once M hits the meat of the schedule—Beilein's system doesn't work nearly as well if defenses don't have to respect the outside shot of one of the guards.
Aubrey Dawkins, meanwhile, has the skill set to be an immediate bench contributor. He can defend multiple positions and he can shoot the three; add in his outstanding athleticism, which should make him a good finisher on the break, and it's easy to see a role for him as a three-and-D guy with some upside.
I'm of the mind that all three freshman centers, including DJ Wilson, will get extensive time, and their minutes will wax and wane depending on the matchup; Wilson should see more time at the five against smaller, athletic teams, while Doyle may be leaned upon heavily against a bigger squad like Iowa. I believe Doyle will end up playing the most minutes at the five; I'm a fan of his combination of size and ability to finish near the basket, and for some reason it doesn't feel like Donnal is currently living up to expectations.
[Hit THE JUMP for Alex's guess at the rotation plus our outlook on DJ Wilson, picks for this year's breakout players, and comparable players to this year's freshmen.]