Mike Lantry, 1972
Quick reminder. If you haven't filled out Toby Hopp's survey about social media in the sports blogosphere, you should even if you never comment/diarize around these parts. It'll help me as I direct the future evolution of the site, and reward/punish the progenitor of the naked man banner, whichever you prefer.
Roundtree, one of about 10 players and staff members to volunteer at The Salvation Army of Washtenaw County’s toy shop for needy families Wednesday, said he hasn’t talked to Smith recently, but Smith missed a team meeting earlier this week and it’s “looking like” he’ll leave.
AA.com even linked it. I feel all legitimate. To restate the previous opinion: losing a highly-rated guy at a position of need is obviously bad. At least we have clarification now that Michigan will be able to bring in a recruit to replace him.
On the other hand. At the same event, Rodriguez cracked the door open for Boubacar Cissoko:
"I'm under the impression he's trying to work his way back," said Wilcher, who speaks to Cissoko a few times each month. "I know he's working hard at school."
Wilcher said Rodriguez should be applauded for at least giving Cissoko an opportunity to potentially rejoin the team.
"I think the most important thing is that Rich Rodriguez has opened up the door to the thought of letting the kid entertain the thought of working his way back," said Wilcher, who played running back for Michigan from 1983-86. "That should be focused on -- how Rich Rodriguez is not going to turn his back, and at least lets you try to crawl back and prove you can get back by going through the proper procedures."
Michigan obviously needs help in the secondary even of the very short and somewhat toasty variety, and if he manages to limp through the rest of this year without getting in a hint of trouble there might be a rewarding comeback story in there. I've gotten a couple of independent, consistent reports that Cissoko's troubles weren't limited to missing class or practice, so he should have a long way to go. I still think he's a longshot to get back on the team and a longer shot to be a contributor, but I'd love to see the guy work through this and stick, if only for his own sake.
Also, Donovan Warren is at least keeping his options open when it comes to a return:
Michigan’s defensive backfield for next year is still in flux. Teammates have raved about freshman Justin Turner, but cornerback Donovan Warren could return after flirting with the NFL. Rodriguez told people last night that Warren is keeping in contact with the coaches while gathering information.
So I'm saying there's a chance.
Kiper == Gladwell. What do you do when Mel Kiper is seemingly wise by rating Zoltan Mesko and Brandon Graham the best available players at their positions but at the same time declaring this:
Redshirt junior guard Steve Schilling is the No. 4 performer in his class at the position, while redshirt junior Obi Ezeh is the No. 5 inside linebacker among those with a year of eligibility remaining.
This isn't even an old rating; Kiper published this list two days ago($). Has anyone ever made it in the NFL after being benched for a walk-on?
Word. A couple of Florida recruits saw a small sports blog dig up photos they posted on MySpace in eighth grade. In one the kid in question is holding a plastic gun and sixteen dollars. In another, he is wearing a bandana and throwing up an ooh scary gang sign. Naturally, this was picked up by the two big sports blogs that strive daily to become Perez Hilton, with Deadspin's Barry Petchesky opining like so:
"Not for nothing have they garnered the "University of Felons" nickname," Deadspin's Barry Petchesky wrote. "I'm not saying a top recruit posing with a gun and $16 is necessarily a crime, but it's not going to change any impressions."
Raise your hand if you thought you were hard in eighth grade. Thought so. SI's Andy Staples does something unusual and fantastic by getting in touch with the two kids to get their side of the story:
Trail said he's heard from plenty of people about the hand gesture in his picture. "That supposed gang sign I'm throwing up? That's where I stay. That's my neighborhood," he said. "I've thrown that up on the field a lot, and no one has said anything." …
Trail said he couldn't believe an adult would scour recruits' social networking pages looking for embarrassing photos. "If you really care about me that much to go on my MySpace to get a picture of me, point blank, get a life," Trail said.
Where is the right place to draw the line here? The City Boyz Inc. social media pictures were newsworthy because they were current photos of Hawkeyes who had just been arrested for credit card fraud doing unsanitary things with large amounts of money. At that point it's reasonable to say "hey, look at this picture of a guy with thousands of dollars in cash." Scouring the internet for pictures of a kid with sixteen dollars and a plastic gun… eh… not so good.
Since I do a lot of media bashing around here, let me praise Andy Staples: he's been consistently useful since his hiring at SI and is a guy I look forward to reading. With Luke Winn diving into Kenpom stats on a regular basis, SI has a great 1-2 punch in college sports.
Etc.: If you have ESPN insider, Bruce Feldman asked me to argue that Notre Dame should have taken a bowl bid this year. Apologies in advance: it's strictly above the belt. Steve Hutchinson and Jake Long make SI's All-Decade team.
This has been the hot rumor the past couple days and TomVH has confirmed that redshirt freshman safety/LB Brandon Smith has received transfer papers and is looking to move on. Hurray.
Smith was a top-100 "athlete" in the hybrid Rodriguez/Carr class who technically committed after the transition had been announced but, like JT Floyd, was a Carr recruit all the way who was just stringing out his commitment for reasons unknown. So this could be a "Carr guy" moving on to a place he'd rather be. In any case it's the departure of one of the most highly rated players in a class entering its third year at a position, be it linebacker or safety, of desperate need.
Smith didn't seem to be working out, as he was too big and slow for safety and spent his game as a quasi—linebacker starter on skates, but there's zero upside here. He could have put on 20-30 pounds easily—his "frame" was a reason he was rated so highly—and eventually turned into a contributor at linebacker. At the very least he would have been a relatively veteran body on a defense that needs every last potential contributor. BONUS: Michigan can't even add anyone to replace him because of a mysterious but apparently real oversigning change that prevents Big Ten teams from backdating players who enroll early*. DOUBLE BONUS: Before the season I took a look at Michigan's APR and concluded that sanctions resulting from transfers were unlikely, but the attrition has continued at a pace that makes me nervous.
*(Which will definitely help the struggling conference compete nationally.)
The writing was on the wall for this one, but some playing time against Penn State made it seem like Cissoko had come through his recent issues and would rejoin the team in good standing. Not the case, unfortunately:
Michigan sophomore cornerback Boubacar Cissoko has been kicked off the team.
Coach Rich Rodriguez, through a team official, confirmed Tuesday he dismissed Cissoko for a "violation of team rules."
That's obviously a severe blow to Michigan's already paper-thin secondary, both for this year and going forward.
UPDATE: Details from Wilcher:
Cissoko's high school coach, Thomas Wilcher of Detroit Cass Tech, said Cissoko was dismissed from the team for missing class, missing workouts and missing study table.
"That's what he was suspended for in the first place," Wilcher told The Detroit News. "He's upset. He's going to transfer as long as he can meet the requirements."
Wilcher said Cissoko had a difficult time handling the "social structure" at Michigan.
"He couldn't handle it," Wilcher said. "He's always been a quiet kid. (But) he needs to do what needs to be done as a student-athlete. Nobody is bigger than the program."
He was probably on zero-tolerance and missed something, or somethings, yesterday and or today. I really hope he does manage to transfer somewhere; if he doesn't and he leaves ineligible that's another double-blow to Michigan's APR.
Very Web 2.5 way to find this out but here you go via the twitters:
RT: @umhoops: RT @mikerothstein: RR: minor didn't practice, headache. Turner cleared. #michigan
Waiting on Witty now.
Also, Helmuth and Evans "may look to transfer" and did not practice today, which would be further blows to defensive depth, albeit ones that weren't looking to play unless there were no other options.
UPDATE: The Free Press is reporting that Evans and Helmuth are transferring:
“Good young men,” he said. “Sometimes that happens, guys think maybe I can (play elsewhere), I’m not getting a lot of reps and not up on the depth chart or something. I try to remind the guys the depth chart is not going to be solid until the first week.”
Also, Teric Jones has moved to cornerback.
Initial takes on that: once Helmuth moved from FB his chances of ever seeing the field without injury Armageddon were very low. Evans started the first game last year but was immediately displaced; neither were touted recruits and if the defense wasn't already very short on bodies it would be No Big Deal. But it is, and wow the number of scholarship players on D is vanishingly small. Jones' move, then, is a very good idea.
UPDATE UPDATE: News is saying "may"; next presser we'll be at so this interpretation dance won't be an issue:
Michigan's football team could be down two more players.
Junior linebacker Marell Evans and junior defensive tackle Vince Helmuth have asked to look in to playing at other programs, Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez confirmed on Wednesday.
This first started with a message board post around these parts, and now we've confirmed it with two additional sources close to the situation: freshman offensive tackle Dann O'Neill has left the team. It's unclear whether he's transferring or giving up football.
Now… as we learned to our collective terror during the McGuffie transfer wobbling, these things aren't official until they are official. This appears to be a done deal, however, and has passed the threshold of likelihood where it's worth reporting. Thus: this post.
The departure shouldn't affect Michigan's 2009 season, as O'Neill wasn't on the two-deep and had never been mentioned as a threat to find playing time. Most of what we'd heard on him was along the lines of "great frame but needs a ton of work with both technique and strength." But he was a big-time recruit in the hybrid Carr/Rodriguez class, and his washout is disappointing. With Kurt Wermers' departure that six-member line class is now down to four; further departures will start cutting into players earmarked as future starters.
The good news is that Barnum, Khoury, and Omameh have all positioned themselves as future starters, possibly as early as this year, and are unlikely to depart. Elliot Mealer's recovery from his shoulder injury makes him something of a wild-card, but he's also been the subject of scattered positive reports.
This takes Michigan to approximately 21 scholarships in the 2010 class, but Michigan is probably going to have to fill O'Neill's spot with another offensive lineman; expect four to sign up, with OH guard/center Christian Pace already in the fold.
As Kurt Wermers' uncle posted on premium message boards a few days ago, the redshirt freshman guard Wermers isn't returning. (I was trying to get a second source before loosing it into the wild; in retrospect that was probably excessive caution borne of the whole he-is-he-isn't-he-is McGuffie thing. I knew the poster was Wermers' uncle from his posts during Kurt's recruiting, and he posted that the decision had already been made.)
Wermers was a middling recruit who hadn't generated any practice buzz yet. He wasn't going to be in the two-deep this year, so the impact on 2009 should be nil. Down the road it'll depend on how many others end up leaving early; some level of attrition is fine but we saw the fruits of widespread losses last year.
I wonder who this is directed at: "Stay tuned. There's a couple guys I'm gonna sit with here. Just guys that maybe if they're not doing all their responsibilities and doing what they need to do to be part of our football program may not be back. I hope that's not too many."
Um… a couple? Obviously Grady is hanging by a frayed thread and will have to plead for his place, but I'm hoping "a couple" is just PR.