things go poorly
Visit from some guy. Someone at TSN—the Canadian ESPN, eh?—took in the Saturday Notre Dame-Michigan game and reported back in volume. Yost did not burn his ears off:
t's been a long time since I last traveled to Michigan's Yost Arena to see a hockey game, as I did on the weekend, and it was about as much fun as I remembered.
The road trip weekend with longtime friends Geoff, Brian and Sparky was a blast, as the energy in Yost Arena makes it a must-see for hockey fans.
I remembered thinking that it was really cool to have a band playing Hail to the Victors during the game the last time I was at Yost (to see the Western Michigan Broncos upset the powerhouse Wolverines in the early 1990s) and it still seemed that way now as the combination of the band and student section kept things lively throughout and was rip-roaring during the third period.
It's kind of novel to have a third party report back without breaking down into tears after hearing Yost's PG-13 penalty cheer (which I still think should be stopped or modified but holy crap some people need to chill).
Elsewhere the guy claims that college hockey "stifles creativity," probably because he's watching a really good Jeff Jackson team. (He does disclaim with "at least on this night.") That's an annoying criticism, as college hockey has a rep for deploying little skilled ninjas that can't find a home in the rough and tumble CHL, or whatever, and that's used as a tool to bash the development potential of college hockey. But when you get a game like Michigan-ND, that's stifling creativity. You can't win.
Le sigh. This doesn't make me feel better and probably won't make you feel better, but Mike Spath has confirmed with CCHA officials that both calls against Notre Dame were incorrect. The first:
The official ruling from the CCHA is any puck directed in by a skate, regardless of intent, regardless of kicking motion or not, is not allowed. However, the call on the ice was a goal because no official saw the puck deflect in off the skate.
So that Miller goal earlier in the year was correctly waved off (despite what appeared to be an allowance for it in the rules) and the CCHA has basically declared all goals that come off an attacking player's skate to be null and void. Okay, the officials on the ice missed it—annoying—and they weren't allowed to use the angle that clearly showed the kicking motion—also annoying but not their fault.
It's the waved-off Michigan goal that really gets me:
The neutral-zone referee thought he saw the net come off and blew the play dead before the puck crossed the goal line. …
CCHA sources admit that the neutral-zone referee should not have blown his whistle when he did, remarking "You have to trust your partner and the deep-zone referee, in this case, was in the proper position to make the call. You only act in that manner if your fellow official isn't in position, if he fell down or is racing down the ice." So essentially, the official on top of the play did not blow the whistle and was rendered useless when the neutral-zone referee blew the whistle prematurely.
There's your two-referee system in action. Here it was actually the veteran ref, Brian Aaron, who assumed his partner six inches from the net couldn't tell if it was knocked off. And even if he didn't the proper action was to let anything not obvious go and review it later. The net never even trembles in the video. Very frustrating.
Meanwhile, Spath predicts Mitera plays against Ferris State and no sooner. He is "behind schedule" according to Red.
Wait, does this mean Scooter has cancer? New Big Ten director of officials Bill Carollo talked with ESPN's Adam Rittenberg recently. Naturally, the Brandon Minor touchdown-like-substance against Michigan State came up:
The good news is no one's died of cancer on that play at Michigan because the right team won the game. Had a mistake with replay given six points when we shouldn't have or vice versa and decide the game, it would have been a much bigger problem. So we were a little bit lucky.
Indeed, and it goes down with the Domata Peko fumble return as the most egregiously awful but thankfully meaningless touchdowns in Big Ten history. I still maintain that the league's policy of staffing the replay box with decrepit ex-officials is a bad idea. Sure, have some guy who knows the rulebook inside and out up there (or, in this case, doesn't) but pair him with someone still amongst the living.
History of shirtless creepy panic. Bleed Scarlet has an excellent piece on how recruiting came to be the way it is, and a roundtable I answered a few questions for. I'd like to highlight this idea cribbed from Vijay of iBlog For Cookies:
Do you favor an early signing period in college football? Would such a proposal help or hurt prospective student athletes?
Brian Cook - “Sort of. I’d like a nonbinding letter of intent program. You sign it and 1) you can’t take official visits to other schools and 2) other schools are not allowed to contact you in any way whatsoever. You can rescind it at any time up until the official signing date. This system seems a lot better than the current one — you’re not really a commit until you sign, and that has some meaning — but doesn’t lock players in any earlier than they get locked in now.”
Anyone see any issues with this setup? I think it's a bulletproof improvement on the free-for-all we've got going now.
I was recently in a debate over the Rich Rodriguez hire in which my opponent stated that the spread offense has to have too many top tiered athletics in critical positions to work effectively, therefore believing Rich Rodriguez was a terrible hire.
He went on to say that you need to have a star QB & RB, a quick offensive line, WRs that can not only catch but who can run fast, and once one of those positions are taken out of the equation, the whole offensive system is dead. What are your thoughts on this? I truly believe that Rich Rodriguez is not only great for Michigan, but could ultimately strengthen the Big Ten with his progressive style offense, which in my opinion is greatly needed right now. Michigan could have hired 15 different types of Bo Schembechler who would have kept tradition and powerhouse football intact, but they didn’t. They took a risk, and hired outside of the box. I thought I would get your opinion on the spread offense and the argument above.
Your friend appears to be making the argument that for an offense to be effective it has to have good players. I agree. The larger theory—that Rodriguez's offense is more dependent on massive levels of talent than your average pro-style thing—is counter-intuitive at best. Rodriguez developed the system at Glenville State, won with it at Tulane and Clemson and West Virginia, and until he had the Pat White-Steve Slaton terror combo there's no plausible argument you can make for the superiority of the talent at Rodriguez's disposal.
If there are concerns with the spread 'n' shred they go in the opposite direction: it's an offense that can make do with iffy performers at a lot of spots (WR, OL, FB, TE) because it basically ignores them, so when you've got the talent there it's not going to help you. And even that criticism is tough to apply when the near future of the QB position is some combination of Threet and Forcier, guys who aren't going to win games like Vince Young did.
I noticed that Bryce McNeal mentioned that Christianity was a factor in his decision to commit to Clemson. I also recall Shavodrick Beaver citing God as one reason that he ended up committing to Tulsa instead of Michigan. Do you think that Michigan under Rich Rodriguez has a 'Jesus deficit' in recruiting and if so, how big of a problem is this? Is it possible that in addition to being a secret-file shredder and snake oil purveyor that RR is also Muslim or, even worse, Catholic? For what it's worth, my sister-in-law's cousin sings in the same church choir as Les Miles' wife. She reports that Miles regularly attends services, even the morning after away games.
Recruits commit to schools for their own private reasons. When asked about them, they come up with any old thing they think will sound good: God, family, national championships. When the real reasons are "my girlfriend is going there" and "I am afraid of Tate Forcier" and "cash money, homes" they get replaced with God, family, and national championships. Beaver's quotes were especially grating because he'd been giving similar quotes about Michigan for a long time and he had decommitted in favor of a coach who had spent all of one freakin' year at Rice. (Malzahn's immediate departure for Auburn was karma.)
But there might be something in this God deficit theory. Michigan hasn't fared too well against Notre Dame of late despite the presence of the great green goblin, after all, and Tressel participated in some sort of football-player-sponsored revival meeting at Ohio State's old basketball arena a few years ago. Michigan is highly secular compared to its two main rivals.
That hurts with some with recruits, but it probably helps with some others who may not walk around wearing Darwin fish but also aren't too enthused about getting evangelized for four years.
Do you think the amount of verbal de-commits is more of a philosophical difference between the recruiting methods of RichRod vs. Lloyd?
Wouldn’t Lloyd take a verbal commit from a kid only if he was not going to visit anymore schools; whereas RichRod may let a kid verbal commit & still visit other schools?
Also, hard to take a commitment seriously if the kid is from out of state & hasn’t visited the school yet. The de-commits do not bother me as much when it is a kid from Texas, or Virginia, as opposed to Michigan, or Ohio – harder to sell a kid if he isn’t from Big Ten country.
There are a number of factors at work in Michigan's tide of decommitments:
- Kids are committing earlier and earlier and decommitments naturally rise. Nowadays a lot of kids are committing just to reserve a slot and then keeping their options open. I've heard that one Michigan decommit never had any intention of signing with Michigan and just used the commit for leverage, publicity, and offers.
- A 3-9 season can't help things, and…
- …neither can the tidal wave of negative publicity that accompanied Rodriguez's move from West Virginia and the accompany Boren hootenanny.
The geographical thing is a red herring. Michigan's decommits almost all came from the Midwest (McNeal, Barnes, Campbell if you count him) or re-committed to a school no closer to them (Newsome and Fera both picked Penn State).
Only Beaver's bizarre Tulsa defection and the presumed commitment of Peace to a Big 12 school really fit that pattern. Two of seven isn't exactly definitive. With both DT recruits other than Campbell on the fence, that percentage may rise, but not to the point where it's going to be a majority of the issue.
A story I thought you and your readers may enjoy:
At the beginning of the school year, someone in our house bought a fish tank. We added a few guppies to the tank, and decided to honor the new football season by naming one lucky guppy "Sam McGuppy."
Over break, Sam tragically died. (fitting, no?) However, there is a new season of Michigan sports underway. So, when we bought a replacement for Sam, we decided to name him "DeShawn Swims."
We all enjoy your blog, thanks.
Marco and Chris
Yes, these are my readers.
Well, at least we've been spared four years of tortured puns:
"To tell you the truth, I wanted to play wide receiver," Peace said. "I told the Michigan coaches that I wanted to play receiver. At the beginning of my commitment they said I could play cornerback or receiver. Then as time went on, I went on my visit and told them I just wanted to play receiver and if I could only play corner then I would look for another school to go to. They told me that it was fine and I could play receiver. Then something came up where they didn't land enough corners so that is where they wanted me."
And that is where he not wanted… him. Self. Or something. So he decommitted and is now favoring Kansas.
As usual, there are multiple ways to spin this:
- Michigan would rather have Travante Stallworth and Je'ron Stokes and Willie Haulstead instead of the #100 player in Texas, or
- They really really need corners.
Neither makes perfect sense, as Michigan isn't exactly overflowing with 2009 receivers of the not-slot variety and none of the receivers above look like locks or anything. But it's hard to interpret a conversation like "I know you told us if you had to play corner you would decommit, but we want you at corner" as anything other than a polite way to say goodbye.
That's fine if they replace Peace with an equivalent prospect. On the surface that shouldn't be too hard since Peace is a replacement-level Michigan recruit, but Chitownblue makes a good point when he notes that Michigan currently has no replacement-level recruits available at corner and will likely be offering a sketchy player or two at the position. The best case scenario appears to be an Adrian Witty (two star CB with KSU, FIU offers) commit that induces a Denard Robinson (big-time QB/ATH/DB recruit) commit. Then Tate Forcier becomes Colt McBabyJesus and Robinson is free to be a kickass corner.
That's a lot to ask for.
MI DT Will Campbell recommitted on Saturday. The dossier:
GURU RATINGS & CHATTER
|5*, #4 DT||5*, #4 DT, #25 overall||79, #22 OT|
Will Campbell first became known to Michigan fans when he committed at Michigan's summer camp a year and a half ago, when he was a rising junior. An early commit like that presaged big things—offers, rankings—and when Scout and Rivals started publishing lists of these things Campbell was indeed awarded the coveted fifth star and took his spot as the top recruit in Michigan's class. Then he decommitted, took a bunch of visits, scared the crap out of everyone, and eventually rejoined the fold. Relief goes here.
Campbell's guru ratings are reminiscent of those given to a Cass Tech defensive tackle from a couple years ago who considered Michigan and LSU but came up with the wrong answer: Joseph Barksdale. Michigan told Barksdale he'd be best as an offensive lineman, which he didn't want to hear, causing a rift. Meanwhile, both Scout and Rivals ranked him as a five star DT; ESPN said "no!" and declared him a good, not great, offensive tackle prospect.
Who was right? Eh, both, sort of. Barksdale came to LSU a defensive tackle and instantly ended up on the other side of the ball—ESPN was right—but then established himself an immediate, excellent starter as a redshirt freshman—ESPN was wrong. That latter accuracy is likely to repeat; on one side you've got two sets of recruiting analysts and virtually every program in the country. On the other you've got a few guys with a track record of goofily leaving off one or two guys every year.
A position switch a la Barksdale is not likely for Campbell, even if he played both ways at the Army All-American game, for one glaring reason: Michigan's depth chart. Michigan returns every offensive lineman on the roster and adds two highly-rated tackle prospects this year. On the other side of the ball, though, Terrance Taylor and Will Johnson exit and the candidates to start next to Mike Martin are a Canadian (Renaldo Sagesse) who saw little time a year ago and a converted fullback (Vince Helmuth) who saw none. Yikes. At a position that usually sees at least three players contributing, that's a scary depth chart.
Campbell's been the subject of dozens of articles since his decommitment, but virtually all of them are like "eeee where's he going." Not many were useful after that became clear, but a few remain relevant. The first came around this time a year ago, when Campbell smoked a wide array of the country's top talent at the Army combine:
Campbell, who is ranked as the nation's No. 55 player for 2009, wanted to show he deserves a much loftier ranking than what he's at currently. He set out to destroy every offensive linemen that was in his path. He did that and more. Using an array of spin moves, bull rushes and pure agility, Campbell couldn't be blocked.
Player after player wanted to test their ability against him, but it didn't matter.
"I want to be an All-American," Campbell said. "I want to be a five-star. That's basically why I came down to San Antonio. I wanted to show that I'm the best defensive tackle in the nation."
He might have just done that.
"He's got great size and great power," Rivals.com recruiting analyst Barry Every said. "I'd like to see him trim up in the belly area a little bit, but he's got it everywhere else. I can't wait to see what he looks like on game tape. He's got the potential to be a five-star guy."
This time around, Campbell was the only player at the Army game to play both ways. His coach (Terry Smith of Gateway High in Pennsylvania, who you may remember from the Justin King recruitment) was very positive about him:
"Campbell is a true Warren Sapp kind of athlete," Smith said. "I saw him out there catching punts, catching passes and then he's making all those tackles on the defensive line. He's fast, he's strong, athletic and he's big."
He's the East team's best defensive lineman according to most. (He was also ranked #12 in the state by SpartanMag.com. ROR.)
More from Smith:
Massive Detroit (Mich.) Cass Tech lineman William Campbell has been working with both the offensive and defensive lines during practice, and Smith said the 6-5, 317-pounder will probably go both ways.
"He's enormous, he's explosive and he's really athletic for a big guy," Smith said. "He's a fast learner. He's a fun-spirited kid who loves the game and that's why we're able to move him on both sides of the ball because he can pick it up. He just enjoys playing the game."
In the game, Campbell consistently drove back double teams and flowed down the line to make a couple tackles, but appeared to take a few plays off. He might have been spying on the QB, or just tired since he was also playing offensive line as well.
Cass Tech coach (and Michigan alum) Thomas Wilcher on his charge:
"I think he's had perseverance," noted Wilcher. "He went through his career here and kept up great academics. He kept up all his schoolwork. He worked out hard every year and he did whatever it took to become the best athlete. No matter what you asked, no matter what you told him, he always achieved that level."
Everyone except USC, and USC seemed leery not because they were skeptical of his talent but because they didn't think he would seriously consider leaving. The finalists other than Michigan were Miami, LSU, Alabama and Florida.
I couldn't dig up any, unfortunately.
FAKE 40 TIME
Nor could I find a 40 time
Eeeeee he commits eeee:
And here's an interview from Scout:
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Every signing day or thereabouts I run down the recruiting class in detail and provide a "YMRFSPA"—you may remember me from such players as—comparison. Sometimes these are a little flimsy. Jason Avant gets mentioned entirely too much. But here we have a rock-solid comparison: Gabe Watson. Watson was also a simply ginormous five-star defensive tackle recruit some thought would be better on offense. Watson also had rumored motivational issues, as is usual when you're talking about men with their own gravitational pull.
Watson was a slight disappointment during his Michigan career, but only a slight one. Instead of an All-American performer, he was an all-conference one—twice. He's currently contributing to an NFL playoff team.
Campbell's something of a goof but he's less of a softy than the legendarily nice Watson, and Watson's motivational issues were so extreme that he was benched in favor of Pat Massey for the first couple games of his senior year. He was close to the bad end of the effort continuum; Campbell is likely to be less frustrating.
Campbell's got some technique and Barwis issues to deal with, but is coming in early, which should mitigate his freshman unpreparedness considerably; with the depth chart looking like it does Campbell is at least 50-50 to start immediately and is a lock for considerable playing time as a freshman.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Well, if the other two DT recruits stick they're done at a postion of great need, and with great success. Unfortunately, it sounds like it's going to be a battle for both guys until signing day. OK DT Pearlie Graves has talked about a visit to Oklahoma for a while now. Recent scuttlebutt has been most positive, though. The commitment of Jamarkus "Texas Coke Orgy" McFarland helps, and may end Oklahoma's recruitment of Graves. It seems likely he sticks.
LA DT DeQuinta Jones, on the other hand, seems considerably more open. Keep in mind he's never actually been to Michigan's campus, committing unexpectedly after he figured out LSU probably wasn't going offer. That was seemingly because Jay Hopson is one suave dude. Hopson remains a suave dude, but Jones plans visits to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State prior to his Michigan visit.
Though the board doesn't reflect this, my current view of the situation: Graves and Campbell are commits; Jones is open but is probably going to Michigan. With no other recruits on the radar, his decision will determine whether M ends up with two or three DTs in the class.
So, for some reason I started googling Michigan's 2010 hockey recruits. Coverage of junior hockey in the US being what it is,—nonexistent—this is usually a fruitless exercise, but Clare did turn up a couple of interesting items. Like this, for instance:
Clare is in white and the "clear loser" of this fight according to the 1996-vintage website dropyourgloves.com, but, hey, you can fight in college anyway. Meanwhile, I missed this article on Clare published shortly after his late November commitment. He's the captain of the U17 team:
The butterflies vanished when he walked into the locker room before his first game and found a 'C' stitched on his jersey, everyone crowding his locker and pelting him with congratulatory slaps on the back.
If anyone doubted the 'C' belonged on his jersey, he did his best to change their minds on his very first shift.
"We were on the faceoff and a kid was giving me crap about something, and he was like 'What you gonna do about it?' and I said, 'You wanna go?'" the 6-2, 185-pound Clare recalled.
They dropped the gloves. Clare's much more than a punching lunk, though. I get the impression he's on track to be picked in the top three rounds of the NHL draft, though that's a pretty vague impression.
Fellow 2010 D commit Mac Bennett came in from some praise from USHR in September*:
5’11”. 170 lb. Hotchkiss defenseman and Michigan recruit Mac Bennett is a smooth skater who reads plays smartly, and excels in the transition game. He’s going to be an excellent college player. Smallish for a pro defenseman, but rates highly in every other are, so he will be drafted.
I keep saying this, but I like saying it so here goes again: if the 2010 hockey recruiting class hits campus intact it will be ridiculous. Knock on wood.
*(USHR is a subscription service but one that frees its archives after three months.)
I don't know if there's any smoke to this fire, but Moosman's bio page at scout.com has UM listed as high interest, UW as medium, and no one else in the picture. Take that with a grain of salt.
Meanwhile, UM boards everywhere are panicking about Antonio Bass wanting to play quarterback because of one LSJ story and some fanboy open letter on Spartanmag. Worry meter still reading low here, check back next week.
It also appears that GA longshot Kyle Moore will take an official to Michigan, but don't expect miracles.