alternate headline: man does job
Dennis Norfleet's murky situation has blown up into the first real PR crisis of the Harbaugh administration. Unfortunately for Michigan, it's one they're legally prohibited from saying much of anything about. FERPA restricts their ability to say much other than "he is on the team" or "he is off the team." Right now Michigan isn't saying either. They've gone with this:
A Michigan athletic department spokesman told The Detroit News that the situation was "an internal matter."
All right then.
Harvel added about Norfleet's situation: "If only one kid out of 120 is missing class, they must be the No. 1 program in the country (for football players' academic achievements)."
Harvel has repeatedly said things like "we're not going to let him be a victim," outed private conversations he had with Fred Jackson, publicly bemoaned his decision to switch away from a Cincinnati program on the verge of hiring Tommy Tuberville, and generally done everything in his power to make academic standards like "go to all your finals" seem nefarious. Usually when high school coaches blow up like this it's because their kid has seen his scholarship yanked for a dubious reason, or none at all.
It was Harvel who leaked the apparently erroneous information that Norfleet was gone, which turned the story from message board rumor* to something that every local news organization has dedicated big stories to. It was Harvel who went full steam ahead with the information that Norfleet was not doing things expected of him in the classroom. He is the #1 reason this is a thing. Because Norfleet is a "victim."
I mean, you know me. I just about challenged Brady Hoke to a fight about Norfleet's misuse during his tenure as head coach. But if Norfleet is no longer on the team because he missed several classes and did not attend at least one and possibly more finals, that is on one person: Dennis Norfleet.
And Jim Harbaugh cannot be concerned with just Norfleet here. It's his first semester as head coach and he's just going to let that slide? What kind of message does that send to the other 84 kids on scholarship? Is that likely to improve or degrade the overall academic performance of the program?
The answers to those rhetorical questions are obvious to everyone except Harvel. Privately resolving issues with the head coach—and there have been a number so far that have been so resolved—is more likely to create a positive outcome both in the short-term individual player level and for your relationship with a major school of interest to your players. But Harvel has decided that grandstanding without information that is, you know, correct is more important.
I hope Norfleet makes it back. His coach isn't helping.
*[Albeit one that was more credible than your garden-variety internet rando mutterings since it had the backing of John Borton, an editor at Rivals. It is not hard to trace the path here: Borton names Norfleet, Nick Baumgardner starts checking it out, hits upon the King coaches, and then the tempest takes over the teapot. This is why I don't report on potential transfers anymore. I would rather not spend a week with my head in an alligator's mouth, thanks.]
the last of the famous international playboys
This rumor had been floating around for a couple weeks now, picked up steam on Rivals this morning, and has now been confirmed by Nick Baumgardner:
ANN ARBOR -- Dennis Norfleet is no longer a part of Michigan's football team, according to his former high school coach.
Martin Luther King High School football coach Dale Harvel told MLive on Tuesday that Norfleet has been dismissed from Michigan's program by coach Jim Harbaugh.
"Evidently he was dismissed from the team, Dennis informed us he was no longer on the team," Harvel said Tuesday afternoon. "Something about a disciplinary thing between him and coach Harbaugh. Whether it was academics or something internal, I'm not sure. He just said they had a disagreement and he was let go."
I have heard it was academic. Not sure if that's a slackness that is now verboten under the new regime or a Norfleet morale issue leading to breakdowns elsewhere. [UPDATE: Steve Lorenz says he skipped "more than one final."]
The writing was on the wall as far as Norfleet's career went when he featured as a tiny cornerback in the spring game and was mercilessly picked on for the only offense of the day. With that secondary and that WR corps, the fact he was on defense was a death knell. He may have continued returning kicks and punts; even that job was going to be put under major threat by Jabrill Peppers.
This does get Michigan to 85 scholarships, give or take a walk-on. With a couple of medical hardships likely to be on the way, there should be room to add a fifth-year WR or two, as Mike Spath has suggested might happen.
I will now go sit by myself in a dark room and listen to the Smiths.
Max Bielfeldt was re-listed as a senior a couple years back and walked on senior day, so his departure was expected. It's now official, per Jeff Goodman. Bielfeldt himself:
"With (LeVert) taking that scholarship, any little option of something else happening -- me coming back -- got a little bit smaller," Bielfeldt said. "The odds aren't very high that I come back here next year."
As a grad transfer Bielfeldt can be immediately eligible next year; Bradley, near his home, has been mentioned as a possibility. Dan Dakich will still talk about his calves during Michigan games for nostalgia's sake.
Meanwhile, despite Caris's decision to stay Michigan is still under the impression they have room for another player next year.
U-M coaches have made it clear that even with LeVert's return, the roster will have room for at least one addition.
Following Tuesday's announcement by LeVert, Troy Manns, [Kenny] Williams' coach at LC Bird High School coach in Richmond, told MLive that LeVert's return does not impact Williams' interest in Michigan.
"No, not at all," he said.
Asked if Michigan told Williams it still would have space for him if LeVert remaining a Wolverine, Manns answered, simply, "Yes."
With seemingly everyone else content to fight out the playing time crunch next year that would likely be Austin Hatch either going on medical hardship or, if his family is so inclined, becoming a walk-on next year. That would cost money but would keep the door open to Hatch getting on the court some.
Via WD, every snap of Jake Rudock vs. Michigan. It is quite unimpressive, though I remind you it was debilitatingly cold and windy for the 2013 Crimes Against Manpanda Redux game, and he was a sophomore. There were three long plays in there. The first Kevonte Martin-Manley was WIIIIIDE open and Rudock's pass floated in (against the wind) slowly and inaccurately so KMM had to step immediately out of bounds. The second his receiver made a great play while double covered. The third was the one Avery and C.Gordon botched extraordinarily. The last throw on there was his best.
UPDATE: There's also an every pass vs Wisconsin.
To answer the guy in the thread, yes that is the game that inspired our most depressing shirt ever. My original shirt idea in the discussion that became that shirt was "Fuck it man, let's go bowling".
Transfers are Only Rare in Peace Time. As I partially experienced when they tried to tell me regular courses at La Sorbonne weren't French enough to count as foreign language*, transferring credits to Michigan is a bitch.
|Transfer to Michigan for Victory! We're for winning the war too!|
Local community colleges like WCC or OCC have transferred often enough that they've smoothed this over, but random Division I schools are at best a crap shoot, and JCs for guys Saban couldn't get through Alabama admissions are right out.
For that reason more than its coaches' tastes (Rodriguez and Hoke both recruited plenty of JuCos before coming here), Michigan has taken extraordinarily few transfers over the years.
With five (Isaac, Lyons, O'Korn, Rudock, O'Neill) projected to be at Michigan this fall, Wolverine Devotee tracked down every transfer he could.
The short transfer list underscores the difficulty with admissions. In the last 30 years the only Michigan transfers not from like academic institutions (Stanford, USC, Georgia Tech, SDSU and Notre Dame), were freshmen from decent Ohio schools (Goodwin and Nienberg), one guy who was at Michigan previously (Evans), one guy from a local academic CC that sends a lot of students to Ann Arbor, and Russell Shaw, who is the lone exception to every conversation ever had about Michigan JCs and transfers.
It also has a bulge in the mid-1940s, when Michigan went all-in on active duty programs. Most notably the university created an intensive Japanese language school that took over East Quad, and was the wartime home of the national JAG program, which we housed in the Law Quad. Michigan gamely used these and the regular training school to siphon talent away from rivals in every sport. That's how we got Crazy Legs Hirsch out of Wisconsin, and Howard Yerges and J.T. White from Ohio State. Iowa Pre-Flight became a quasi-Big Ten team in the era by convincing stars from the region to enlist in the Air Corps.
Via the board there might be two more grad transfers en route before fall. Why is Michigan taking so many guys now (other than new coaches in non-Michigan places always bring in guys they recruited elsewhere to fill gaps?) Well one is grad transfers are a relatively recent phenomenon and are more like a normal admissions process for those schools.
For the rest, my best guess is during The Happening, Michigan had asked Harbaugh what ducks they need to be in what order, and one of his requests was admissions won't jerk him around. This happened at Stanford; in fact the school refusing to accept January enrollments cost him both RGIII and 2015 Heisman candidate Taysom Hill. This is just a wild theory, but "You could eff up our shot at Harbaugh" is probably one of the only football arguments you could ever make to admissions that they'd care about.
There is at least one transfer whom WD missed: 1997 co-captain Eric Mayes, who went to Xavier then transferred to Michigan and walked on, according to a certain co-worker of mine who's probably not ecstatic about me just pointing you to his old blogspot.
* (We acknowledge you read Voltaire in the original, but you weren't doing it to learn French!)
[Jump for Cazzie and a surprising stop in Brady Hoke's Offensive Vision Quest]
Isaac tried to avoid the no-pads thing last year without success. Future Isaacs won't wonder about immediate eligibility, because the answer will be "nope." [Bryan Fuller]
I must be the only person on earth paying attention to @umichcompliance. This is normally evidence that the rest of you are sane and hearty individuals, but yesterday they posted what looks like relatively big news nobody else has mentioned yet:
Beginning fall 2015, 4-4 undergrad transfers may no longer use a NCAA waiver to be immediately eligible http://t.co/yPrPY4OmzQ
— Michigan Compliance (@umichcompliance) March 17, 2015
You may remember transfer waivers being a big thing during the Ty Isaac transfer saga. It was thought that Michigan might lose out on him since they were not within the 200-mile radius of Isaac's house the NCAA required for a hardship transfer. He decided on Michigan anyway, applied for his waiver, and was denied.
Why make the change? In recent years more and more players had been trying to get transfer waivers for increasingly dubious reasons. It was getting ridiculous, and threatened to create more of an open market for transfers than there was before. (You may think that's a good idea; the NCAA does not.)
Instead the NCAA will offer a one-year extension of the five year clock* in circumstances that warrant it. IE: if you've already redshirted you can make a hardship transfer without losing a year of competition. This wouldn't have affected Isaac but would remove a barrier to other athletes without the incentive of immediate eligibility.
Brian buzzed me last week with a recruiting question on early enrollees:
1) Are EEs less likely to redshirt?
2) Are EEs more likely to start as freshmen? Underclassmen?
3) Are EEs more likely to be all-conference? Drafted?
4) Are EEs more likely to stick around as 4th and/or 5th year Seniors?
I hear a lot about the benefits of being an EE; you get on campus early, you get to start working out with the team trainers and players, start taking classes, etc. I think Clemson has something crazy like 12 EEs this year and I can't imagine that hurts their team development. I'm just curious if it actually gives any empirical advantage to those who do so.
Thanks and Go Blue!
I don't have national data, but I've got the early enrollees in my giant spreadsheet (see "EE" column). I'm pretty sure of things since 2008, but before that I had to rely on Michigan's press releases from signing days and spring games.
2015: Malzone, Cole
2014: Speight, Canteen, Harris, Cole, Mone, Ferns, Watson
2013: Douglas, Butt, Bosch, LTT, Taco, Dymonte
2012: Ringer, Bolden, Wilson
2011: Greg Brown
2010: Gardner, White, Hopkins, J.Rob, J.Jackson, Ricardo, Pace
2009: Forcier, V.Smith, Campbell, LaLota, M.Jones, Hawthorne, Vlad
2007: Mallett, Helmuth, Chambers
2006: C.Brown, Boren
2005: Kevin Grady
Just from reading that list you'll notice transition years have relatively few of them; a healthy Michigan probably has six or seven guys enrolling in January each year. You'll also note a lot of guys who left for one reason or another.
1) Are EEs less likely to redshirt?
Yes. 32% of EEs redshirted as freshmen versus 65% of those who enrolled in fall (those who never enrolled not counted). They obviously came to play.
2) Are EEs more likely to play early? Yes, but they're less likely to play overall. Here's the average number of starts per their season in the program for players who would be eligible*. Notice the difference?
* "Would be eligible" means I've removed redshirt (including medical), and transfer years, and 5th years of guys who never redshirted. Those lost to attrition otherwise are counted.
That is wow. It is extremely weird for there to be as many starts for true freshmen as for third- or fourth-year players. This shows that early enrollees are more likely to play as freshmen, but were progressively less likely to be starters each season thereafter.
You also can see the average start numbers per eligible player are rather low.
It's more accurate to say you find out what they are much earlier. Notably, NONE of the early enrollees to earn starts at Michigan redshirted initially (the 11 starts by a 5th year are all Gardner's).
It's also worth nothing that it wasn't the same guys contributing to those columns. Your true freshman EEs with more than 3 starts were Mason Cole (12), Jake Butt (8), Tate Forcier (12), and Darryl Stonum (10). Those guys—for reasons of injury, Denard, or temporal existence—contributed just 8 starts to the sophomore column, which is filled instead by Boren, Vincent Smith, and Jarrod Wilson.
3) Are EEs more likely to be all-conference? Drafted?
That seems to be much more relative to their talent, but we'd need national data to make that assumption. One day I'll add NFL draft information to the big spreadsheet; maybe we'll discover something then.
4) Are EEs more likely to stick around as 4th and/or 5th year Seniors?
As you probably guessed from the above chart, they are way LESS likely, and from the data it appears that's mostly because they're flight risks. Even if you figure all of the current players make it to graduation, early enrollees at Michigan have an average of 1.92 (!) lost seasons of eligibility out of the four they get, compared to 0.82 for fall entries.
This remains true even if you remove all the guys currently on the team. Here's a breakdown of the % of former players (from 1993 class to 2014) who stuck around X amount of years by when they enrolled:
|Seasons at M—>||5||4||3||2||1||DNQ|
That is stark. A good third of early enrollees left the program after just a year, and the hits kept on coming. When you total up all the eligible seasons of enrollees lost to various types of attrition, the EEs were particularly likely to be giving those seasons to other schools:
|% of Season Lost To:||Fall||Early|
|Gave up football||10%||2%|
Of the 37 early enrollees, six played out their eligibility and 13 are currently on the team. Three losses were natural attrition (Mike Jones was an unrenewed 5th, Hopkins gave up football, and Pace was a medical loss), and three were dismissals (Forcier, Stonum, and Austin White). That leaves 12 transfers: Boren, Mallett, Helmuth, Chambers, Emilien, LaLota, Ricardo, J-Rob, G.Brown, Ringer, Bosch, and Ferns.
Only the first two of those transfers wound up helping Power Five programs, though Bosch and Ferns still have the opportunity to do so. Mallett and Boren would have been guaranteed starters on the 2008-forward teams. The rest seem to be guys who were buried on the depth chart and realized it early.
What have we learned?
An early enrollee is more likely to care extremely about early playing time. They chose Michigan in part for an immediate opportunity to start, thus raising the likelihood of early playing time. However they are way more volatile in attrition.
Your expectations of an early enrollee from Michigan's smallish sample is that you'll find out right away if he's going to be either a long-term starter or a non-major contributor. A lot of these guys come to compete for an open spot, and either win it or move on.