Johnson pictured before he was immolated by 73-degree temperatures [Patrick Barron]
The humanity. Michigan's Florida trip was just another step towards the destruction of collegiate athletics:
"It's been wonderful," running back Drake Johnson said. "I think the team bonding aspect was the best. Obviously, we're here to learn football, but I think being together this whole time, sometimes being on campus can kind of spread you away from your team because you're caught up in school life. Being here has allowed us to accelerate the process of learning."
They will never recover. I will play the world's tiniest violin for them.
Soon, but not yet. Harbaugh on one Brandon Peters:
"It's impressive what he did (this week), as young as he is, being out here for the first time, he's got some real coolness about him," Harbaugh said unprompted Friday evening after the team's final practice at IMG Academy. "It showed up over and over in each of the four days.
"He's not a guy that panics. He's a natural in a lot of ways."
I mean, that sounds like "very soon" but some of the praise on offer here is definitely of the "for a freshman" variety:
"A lot of times with freshman quarterbacks, let alone someone who is coming in at mid-year, you expect fumbled snaps or they can't get out of the huddle. But he was out of the huddle on every snap, every call."
So maybe we can pump the brakes on the inevitable Brandon Peters Is A Real Challenger chatter. Here's hoping he goes redshirt, backup, really good redshirt sophomore. If someone else doesn't pip him in two years.
Linebacker group taking shape. Harbaugh called Ben Gedeon a "stud" after four spring practices, so let's hang on to that when we're squeezing our worry balls about the linebacking corps over the offseason. Also:
“I think Noah Furbush is going to contribute,” Harbaugh said. “Devin Bush Jr. is going to be good (too). So we got some real good players in there. I feel much better about our linebacker situation after four days.”
On the one hand, awesome. On the other, four mostly unpadded days. Harbaugh also praised McCray but noted his injury history. He can hang out with Drake Harris in his dorm room made entirely from bubble wrap and soothing whale song.
Satellite camps are on. Michigan's got one scheduled in Alabama for June 6th, so those haven't been banned yet.
MAAR profiled. Or Rahk or whatevs man. Brendan Quinn talks to his dad about the origin of the name:
"Oh!" the 58-year-old booms. "I tell you, man, to this day, it was the most magnificent thing I've ever seen in my life."
It's a Saturday morning in Manhattan and Dawud Abdur-Rahkman — the former David Cody — is rolling. The busy coffee shop disappears as he smiles and squints, telling the story of how he met Muhammad Ali in 1978. His voice crackles like old vinyl.
Every memory is vivid: Ali's sweat flying as he sparred. Ali looking 10-feet tall. Ali taunting the kids in jest, "I told you chumps I'm the greatest!" He remembers meeting Ali one-on-one and only being able to muster, with a tremble, "How you doing, Champ?"
Hey, I remember getting blitzed by that dude. The New York Times has an article on Keith Frazier, former SMU player and walking academic red flag who serves as a poster child for the ridiculousness of the one-and-done rule imposed on the NCAA by the NBA:
Frazier’s educational track record was pockmarked with failure. His high school grades mysteriously and quickly improved whenever his eligibility to play was at stake. He most likely had too many absences and failing grades to graduate from high school. And top officials at S.M.U. ignored their own professors, who recommended that Frazier not be admitted to S.M.U., an academically tough university.
Frazier took an online summer course before enrolling in freshman classes. An S.M.U. team assistant secretly completed Frazier’s work, an N.C.A.A. report found.
Frazier played against Michigan, helped SMU torch us, and has since left school. He would have been better off in the NBA from the drop… and in this case, SMU would have been better off as well. But guys like Frazier are all over college basketball, because they have to be.
This isn't a situation like football where there is a legitimate safety concern for recent high schoolers being put in the shark tank against guys like JJ Watt; it's solely the NBA using the NCAA as a marketing arm. Unfortunately I don't see a solution since the NFL's rule was challenged in court and stood because it was part of a CBA. Jim Delany proposing the return of freshman ineligibility is the nuclear option that will never happen… and really seems like the only option, period.
See also: Ben Simmons, who was left off the Wooden list because of his GPA in his only semester of college.
NOPE. If you're wondering who secured an interview with Tom Anastos and managed to turn it into a sympathetic piece for a guy who has MSU hockey 42nd in RPI in year five, well, it's Graham Couch because of course it is. MSU is so bad at hockey that it makes me, a Michigan fan, upset. And it's worse when Anastos's solution to MSU's problems is to bring in overage players:
Q: What’s the timeline now for the turnaround, to be closer to what North Dakota and other elite programs are on the ice, where there’s a noticeable difference? You’ve got a heralded class coming in but those guys will be young next year.
Anastos: “Yeah, but we have some older kids coming in. We’re not getting to the point where we’re starting to be able to be more patient (in when we bring in a recruit). … To answer your question about North Dakota, I thought it would take a good eight or nine years to be able to get ourselves in a position where you’re competing for those most elite prospects, and you can build the depth in your roster."
Dude was supposed to be connected to every junior program in the state and he cannot compete for the same recruits Michigan does. I'll admit that I don't know a ton about MSU's incoming class but it doesn't seem "heralded" by anyone. It has zero NTDP players. Only one of their guys was even ranked in the midterm CSB rankings. It's not even that old, five years in. North Dakota mostly recruits like Michigan and BC do; the old dudes strategy is one that second-tier programs use to offset the fact they're not bringing in the Kyle Connors of the world.
Why Anastos thinks it would take twice as long as a player is eligible to turn around a program is obvious: it's the only possible justification for the guy keeping his job. Fire this dude, fire Mike Eaves, go to home series in the playoffs, Make the Big Ten Great for the First Time.
Also hire Mel Pearson, Michigan.
Etc.: This is a tradition I could do without. Further reminding us of the Amaker era, Michigan is the 8 seed in the Big Ten tourney and will play Northwestern at noon on Thursday. Big Ten hockey guy who isn't a hockey guy tries to defend league's sneaky rules ploy, fails. Calls removing eligibility from 21-year-old freshman a "modest proposal," unironically.
Ball screens not so much this year.
Everyone should go back to these logos. Wisconsin never changed theirs, but the lack of Jaunty Iowa Newsie in my life has been acute:
1978 Big 10 Conference football slide schedule pic.twitter.com/gzoNcRQY2v
— Sports Paper (@PressRoomGFS) February 22, 2016
[HT: Hoover Street Rag]
It's not like the results are good when he does open his mouth. Useless person Jim Delany:
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany told CBS Sports this week he has “no reaction at this point” regarding Michigan's spring break trip to Florida.
While this is disappointing, keep in mind that whenever Jim Delany talks he sabotages his own side. When called to testify in the Ed O'Bannon trial he accidentally firebombed the NCAA's case. Delany didn't bother to fight for home games in the Cofopoff. He said he "didn't have a lot of regard" for Alabama right before they curbstomped Michigan. The current SEC dominance was preceded by Delany writing a snotty open letter. Having him on your side is like having Mark May pick you to win. It ain't good.
But this is such a slam dunk that even Delany might be able to make a couple good points. Someone ask Greg Sankey what his opinion of this trip is:
The Vanderbilt baseball team will travel to Washington, D.C., on Wednesday to start a six-day fall break team trip.
The Commodores will tour the capital and practice three days at the U.S. Naval Academy in nearby Annapolis, Md.
“That’s a huge plus for our kids just to be on the Naval Academy’s campus,” coach Tim Corbin said. “… It’s an opportunity to educate your kids in another way besides baseball. I’ve always wanted to take them to the capital.
Nobody cared about this then, and the only reason Sankey cares about it now is because of recruiting. That is transparent.
Team stuff. Harbaugh signed a bunch of autographs a couple days back and took some media questions while doing so; in addition to the Sankey stuff he revealed a couple of position switches, at least temporary ones:
Khalid Hill is going to work at fullback. Zach Gentry will stay at TE
— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) February 19, 2016
I imagine that Hill's tenure as a fullback will be similar to Poggi's: he's much more likely to go out for pass than carry the ball, but he's good at that bit and a squat 270, so I can see that working. It's still pretty much the same fit for him as a blocky/catchy guy.
The Gentry move is a lot more interesting. It says either one or both of these things:
- the quarterback battle is all but decided, likely in John O'Korn's favor, or
- Gentry's brief moonlighting at TE during bowl practices was too impressive to ignore.
I lean strongly to the former since O'Korn's had the opportunity to play QB in front of Harbaugh for a year; Gentry may have impressed at TE but not enough to remove a touted competitor from the single most critical open position on the team… unless that position is not particularly open.
That's good since it's a tangible piece of evidence supporting the extremely positive practice chatter in re: O'Korn.
Meanwhile, Allen Trieu reports that Rashan Gary will start as a strongside end (or "anchor" in Brown's system) with Taco Charlton moving to WDE. Both of those are moves that we've projected for a bit. That does create a bit of a problem. Matt Godin was pretty good as Chris Wormley's backup early in the year—he actually played about as much as Wormley did—and not very good as a defensive tackle when injury pressed him into duty there. Michigan needs a fourth DT to rotate in with Glasgow, Mone, and Hurst. With Gary at SDE, either Wormley or Godin is likely to get sucked inside.
Finally, Harbaugh said that Mason Cole was going to play a bunch of center in spring.
PRATT. JUST PRATT. The highlight from Harbaugh's presser:
Pratt, my man Pratt’s got to get past a few more things. He’s one of the students. We had about 14 guys who were students who tried out about a month ago and did really good. They’ve been keeping up well, so we’ll be looking forward to seeing them on the field. Guys that were just going to the University of Michigan.
“A lot of them are freshmen. Pratt’s one that’s a junior, but if he walked in here right now, you’d say ‘okay, he belongs.’”
On if there are any fullbacks in the group:
“Yeah, there are. There are two or three fullbacks in the group and some linebackers and a kicker, a snapper. Pratt’s an offensive lineman.”
On what his first name is:
“He’s Pratt right now. He’s just Pratt.”
This will probably be the last we heard of Pratt just Pratt but it was memorable.
A DB coach candidate. Aubrey Pleasant is one possibility; Michigan is also interviewing Chip Viney, a QC coach for Oklahoma. Viney is a former UCLA corner who took a grad transfer to NMSU in 2011; afterwards he was scooped up by Oklahoma as a grad assistant before transitioning to the QC job last year. He is a Harbaugh kind of guy:
Viney also surprised the players by frequently wearing his cleats to workouts and challenging both other defensive backs and receivers to one-on-one battles. He went head-to-head against guys like Sterling Shepard and Jalen Saunders.
“A lot of those guys think since he sits in an office he doesn’t have it, but he still does have it,” Sanchez said. “Guys would talk, but if he put those cleats on, he will get you."
Viney is widely credited with Oklahoma's success recruiting the Fresno area and California more generally:
Chip is awesome,” first-year defensive backs coach Kerry Cooks said. “From a personality standpoint, he’s as good a recruiter from the G.A. spot I’ve ever been around. It’s easy for him to be relatable to these players. He’s phenomenal with that.
“He’s played the position and played it at a high level. He knows the details. I have complete confidence with Chip. It has been a blessing to have him.”
Viney, who played at UCLA, has become the name synonymous with OU’s recruiting success in the state of California.
Viney's a former corner; Zordich is a former safety. He's young, upwardly mobile, and an excellent recruiter in a part of the country that is a major focus for Michigan's national recruiting. Everything looks like a fit. The Oklahoman just published a glowing profile of him a week ago; would not be surprised if he was the guy. Harbaugh specializes in finding guys like him.
While we're on coaches. I don't think I mentioned that one of the open analyst spots is going to be filled by Jimmie Dougherty, who a lot of people though was going to be Michigan's WR coach before Jedd Fisch fell into Harbaugh's lap. Meanwhile, Matt Doherty returned to Miami.
OSU postgame, 1995. Via Dr. Sap:
Also here's 1981 MSU via Wolverine Historian:
Now that we definitely have a draftee can we have Willie Henry back? Kiper is projecting Graham Glasgow in the second or third round, and Harbaugh's unvarnished opinion is a major aid:
"Jim's highly regarded and highly respected, he's done a phenomenal job wherever he's been," Kiper said. "Jim's a phenomenal coach, whether it be in the NFL (or in) college football. He'll have Michigan right there with Ohio State and the best teams in the country, had a real good recruiting class ... his opinion is huge."
Henry is getting lost in the shuffle of a deep DL class, he says, but the combine could be impressive for Henry if that playing strength translates to bench press reps. Kiper also says Rudock will get drafted. If that happens it'll be a testament to Harbaugh's development skills.
Why you want the money to be on the table instead of under it, Part N. Somehow the Big Ten continues to lead the universe in TV ratings:
Amateurism is a handicap for the Big Ten.
Interesting job. Michigan posted an interesting "analytics coordinator" job with a bunch of responsibilities:
1. Perform data analysis for identification of play calling tendencies and strengths and weaknesses of our team and our opponents
2. Creation of and provision over research in regards to specific teams, conferences, styles, and College Football as a whole, that lead to insightful measures and reports
3. Weekly video scouting of top opponent players through an in-house created Player Evaluation System
4. Creation of Michigan post-game summary statistics and advanced measures of success
5. Weekly management of coach-produced player grades and helmet stickers
There are many other things, all of which seem like good things for Michigan to be keeping track of.
This is a good omen. When you have three really good scorers you tend to do well in the tourney:
Over the last 17 years, a handful of college hockey teams have had similar production from a standout trio. Of the eight teams that finished with three top-10 scorers during that stretch, three won national titles and another three finished runner-up.
Miami was the most recent in 2011; they got dumped in the first round. Red called Racine "the difference" in the Ferris State game… I can't agree with that, but he has been critical over the past month.
Half of this is Baxter, the other half Ferrigno. Michigan's increased emphasis on special teams paid off a year ago even if there were some hiccups:
— SportSourceAnalytics (@SportSourceA) February 22, 2016
Will be interesting to see how Michigan maintains there without Baxter. I don't think they'll give back all the gains. Harbaugh doesn't carry around guys who don't pull their weight like Hoke did.
Etc.: Illegal man downfield rule to be enforced vigorously. I'll believe it when I see it. Michigan moves up to 14th in Baseball America's poll after a 4-0 start. Omaha.com names them a CWS dark horse(!). Will Carr goes from GA to analyst at Texas. Rashan Gary's decision process; contains lots of fun quotes.
IT'S MADE OF PAPER UNKNOWN TO MANKIND. The Daily has a book that compiles all their Harbaugh stuff, Harbaugh-related stuff, and Harbaugh-tangential stuff from the past year. You can order it for $5 plus shipping, or skip the shipping and pick it up from the Student Publications building on Maynard. Proceeds help the Daily keep running so they can continue to pump out epic features. Someone's got to write COLUMNS that don't make you want to die.
If this is the start of the zombie apocalypse I'm going to be upset. Gotta give me at least five years of Harbaugh before the end of the world.
The Ross Academic Center is being quarantined pic.twitter.com/Cp0L7jFiAr
— Jason Rubinstein (@jrubinstein4) February 17, 2016
Apparently most of the swimming and diving team is sick and they're checking the pool for something that turns you into a flesh-eating, non-verbal lumbering horror. Sounds like they should check the press box, not the pool.
Also please not before the MONORAIL. True story: one of the first Every Three Weekly articles ever was about an outlandish plan to join Central Campus to North Campus with a monorail. (In it, Tom Goss projected it would make money thanks to monorailgoblue.com, because Michigan had just launched mgoblue.com. Also it was on paper. I am old.) Well, IT'S HAPPENING DOT MONORAIL:
Schlissel, city envision monorail to unite North and Central campuses
Tuesday, University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel reintroduced the idea of creating a rapid transit system between Central and North Campuses, a project that has essentially been dormant since 2013.
Would I ride this just to ride it? Definitely. Let's put our town on the map.
Yes, thank you sane person. Man, has it been hard to keep the fisk in the garage after the latest and dumbest hot take explosion about Harbaugh. The main reason I haven't opened both barrels is indecision about whether I should go after Mitch Albom, Drew Sharp, or Tony Barnhart, all of whom put the literary equivalent of Skyline chili on the internet in response to Harbaugh's plan to visit IMG. Nothing has been as dumb as this, though:
I mean… I can't put it past a guy whose version of the "Art of the Deal" will be titled "Chasing Rutgers," but cumong man. Put down the Confederate flag bong and sober up.
I may break down pretty soon here and call someone horseface, but for now Andy Staples is keeping me sane:
The Power Five leagues, including Sankey's SEC, got autonomy legislation passed so they could loosen some restrictions that other Division I schools wanted to keep tight. The new attitude in major college sports was supposed to be this: If you want to do it, do it. If you don't, don't. That lasted until several millionaire coaches got mad at another millionaire coach trying to mitigate their competitive advantage.
I'm so so done with being Meatloaf The Football Program: I'll do anything to win but I won't do that. Staples does mention that Harbaugh getting up in his players' spring break might come up during the infinite lawsuits the NCAA is fighting, but since a bunch of spring sports already do that it's likely a moot point. And as I always point out, Michigan fans should be hoping amateurism dies swiftly and comprehensively for the same reason the Yankees don't want a salary cap. I don't think Harbaugh is consciously attempting to point out the hypocrisy, but I'd support him if he was.
Meanwhile in attempts to negative recruit based on the above. Michael Dwumfour opens up about his recruitment process, detailing an ill-fated Penn State trip:
The Penn State coaching staff knew the competition it was up against. According to Dwumfour, the Lions poked fun at Jim Harbaugh’s recruiting techniques.
That didn’t sit well.
“When I was at Penn State, I heard jokes about Harbaugh and stuff like that,” Dwumfour said. “In the back of my head, I’m thinking ‘What he’s doing is working, obviously. Instead of criticizing him, you might want to take some of his techniques to try and help yourself out and get some recruits.’”
The prospect of Penn State coaches making fun of Harbaugh's sleepovers boggles the mind, but I put nothing that is bogglingly dumb past James Franklin.
Status of Bush the elder. Devin Bush Sr was long rumored to be on the verge of a Michigan job, something that he was openly hoping for in an interview with Brandon Brown:
“For me, if I was to get an opportunity, because I would love to coach at the next level, I never wanted to put it out there because I didn’t want to move my kids while they were in high school. If you get into that world you could be moving every eight to ten months. Once my son graduated, now I would be open for an opportunity because I don’t have to worry about moving kids, it’s just my wife and I.”
That sounds like a guy who is waiting for the Ts to get crossed and Is dotted. And now that Michigan's down Greg Jackson they might look at him for that job as well; Bush's profile isn't that far away from Jackson's: former NFL safety, little high-level experience. Harbaugh grabbed Jackson when he was an assistant DBs coach with Wisconsin.
Who doesn't these days? Tom Brady's agent wants to blow up the NCAA, and he's likely correct about how the edifice comes tumbling down:
This is the promise of [Don] Yee's advocacy. He is a football insider with firsthand knowledge of how a business works and the credibility to make people listen. He is exhausted, he says, by talk without much action and has reached the point of arguing for revolution: Blow up the system. Start over. Build anew. "This generation of players has more tools at its disposal than any other to be heard and to organize," he says. "If they adopted a Twitter hashtag of #disruptthefinalfour for the NCAA tournament, they would at least start a discussion. And significant change typically happens through some discussion that is too large to ignore."
All it would take is two basketball teams deciding to delay a Final Four game and amateurism is all over but the shouting. They don't even have to refuse to play. All they have to do is agree to start the game 15 minutes late, and there will be no illusions as to where the power actually resides. Yee:
"Nothing will change for the players unless they take the responsibility of becoming something more than willing victims to this system," Yee says. "At some point, you have to look in the mirror and ask yourself, 'Who am I? What am I doing? What's going on, and what am I doing about it?' These players, they have all the power -- they simply don't realize it."
That is correct. Someone's going to be the NCAA's Curt Flood, and pretty soon. Related: Sonny Vaccaro talks to the NYT, says the same things Vaccaro usually does.
I guess he's a Walverine. Michigan fans have this odd conversation about whether it's okay to be a Michigan fan without having attended the school. They do this largely because MSU fans are livid that nobody who doesn't go to MSU gives a damn about the Spartans and project this anger all around them. Meanwhile 95% of Alabamans are either Auburn or Alabama fans, and… uh… let's just stipulate that more than 5% of Alabamans do not have a degree from either institution. (Ace, at home, just screamed "BAN BOOKLARNIN'" again.)
It is good to have Michigan fans scattered about with no other connection to the school. One of them just joined the recruiting class:
“Honestly I’ve been a Michigan fan since I was little,” [Dylan] McCaffrey said. “My grandma is a big Michigan fan. She has a house about 40 minutes away [from Ann Arbor], so I don’t know why, but I just ended up loving them. I could’ve always seen myself going there, and in the end I just went back to how I felt about Michigan as a kid.”
Another person who was a Michigan fan for no particular reason: Jabrill Peppers. Let all who want to root for winged helmets do so irrespective of their degrees, and let MSU fans stew about it.
More on "floor seats". Everyone hated it. Especially people who have televisions. ESPN trotted out some poor damn spokesperson, who immediately torpedoed any sympathy I might have for her with a statement so inane it bordered on Dave Brandon Hire:
ESPN was built on trying new things and taking risks, and tonight is just another example of that.
ESPN was built on showing people athletics contests, not utterly failing to do so.
Austin Davis is looking rather different these days. Many people thought taking Davis was questionable at best when Michigan did, and it is going to be strange next year when Michigan has up to six post players on the roster (Doyle, Donnal, Wagner, Wilson, Davis, and Jon Teske). But Davis has done everything he can to prep himself:
“The big thing is I changed my diet around; I changed it pretty drastically,” he said. “And then I got on a new weight program.” …
A year ago, Davis was more of a plodder as he moved up and down the court. His teammates often had to wait for him to join them before they could run their offense.
That, more than anything, is why no major college offered him a scholarship — and U-M coach John Beilein made Davis aware of that fact.
“We had a directive,” said Eric Davis, Austin’s dad. “Coach Beilein really wanted to see him start moving better and running the court better.”
He has, and he now looks like a college post. Whether he'll still look like one in college is unknown; his 79% shooting percentage is indicative of both his talent and his competition level.
Who runs Big Ten hockey? The equivalent of Tom Anastos. Tom Anastos, hockey coach, not Tom Anastos, CCHA commissioner. Because Anastos was all right at the latter before being thrust into a role he had no frame of reference for. Ditto the folks running Big Ten hockey:
“Coming from a non-hockey background, it’s kind of hard for me to imagine a fan in the state of Minnesota who wouldn’t be excited to see a Michigan or a Michigan State come in to play,” he said. “I recognize and acknowledge that significant rivalries developed over the years in the previous leagues, and that’s fine."
Minnesota fans did not like this interview with Brad Traviolia, not one bit. I'm not much of a fan either. Nobody comes to the Big Ten hockey tournament because most fans are very far away from said tournament no matter where it is.
There is no possible solution to this problem. A neutral site Big Ten tournament is never going to draw. I have had season tickets for a decade now and I have no plans to ever go to a neutral site Big Ten Tournament, because that product sucks. It sucks being in a big empty building where hockey is going on. I am barely willing to put up with it for an NCAA tournament game. A Big Ten tourney where everyone makes it in doesn't even come close to moving the needle.
The only solution is to go to series on home ice, which four of the six schools should support since they have dedicated rinks. If Wisconsin or Ohio State don't want to host because of high school sports, they don't have to. Quit letting two schools that clearly don't care about hockey dictate to the 3.5 that do.
Hockey tourney status: don't collapse. Jim Dahl's excellent Pairwise projection site is reaching peak utility as hockey comes down the stretch here. Michigan is in barring a spectacular collapse:
Even 2-5 likely sees them sitting in a pretty secure at-large spot, though they'd definitely want to win a game in the Big Ten tournament. Three wins and they would be all but a lock going into that tourney unless results elsewhere conspired against them; 4-3 and they're 100% in.
A one seed would require Michigan to absolutely sprint down the stretch; even a 6-1 finish most likely sees them still a 2 going into the BTT.
I have no idea how good this goalie is. The Daily's Jason Rubinstein on Michigan's poor, bombarded goalie:
After three and a half years, Racine is playing the best hockey he ever has in a Michigan uniform. Berenson named him the team’s bona fide starter more than three months ago. For his last six games, he boasts a .931 save percentage, a career high for any stretch over five games that he has played.
And this past weekend, he was the only reason Michigan managed to escape Madison with five points, rather than three. In Saturday’s contest against Wisconsin, the Wolverines won in a shootout, despite surrendering four goals.
“You should’ve seen him at Wisconsin,” Berenson said. “He stood on his head, and we had no business winning the game based on the chances we gave up.
“That was his best game of the year.”
This has got to be the strangest year for hockey since I've been paying attention. They give up four goals to a very bad Wisconsin team only because their goalie stands on his head; they are on pace for a two-seed.
Etc.: Barry Alvarez apologizes for saying innocuous, accurate thing about UW hockey. Bob Miller on incoming goalie Jack LaFontaine. Jim Harbaugh adopts a kitten. PWO Anthony Kay profiled. Incoming hockeyist Nick Pastujov also profiled.
Crootin'. Here's a 35-minute video breakdown of the recruiting class from Scout.
Helen Lovejoy, commissioner. Obviously the SEC was going to get fusty about Michigan's plan to practice at IMG over spring break. They did not do so in a way that came off at all plausibly. Shot:
“Our primary reaction [is] that, in the face of the time-demand conversations, we've got one program taking what has been 'free time' away,” Sankey said. “Let's draw a line and say, ‘That's not appropriate.'"
“The net of that is to say the Southeastern Conference is not going to be outpaced in recruiting,” Sankey said. “If the national approach is that we want to have more aggressive summer camps and coaches touring around all summer, then we will not only engage in that behavior, we will certainly engage in that behavior more actively -- probably more effectively than others.”
Shorter Greg Sakey: we are concerned about the kids, but if we don't get our way screw the kids. Par for the course amongst lizard people. This is of course a conference that's completely fine with a baseball schedule that sees Northern teams literally spend a month straight in the South, but don't screw with a man's right to go to South Padre, brah.
Meanwhile, try not to burst out laughing at this one:
Sankey is also concerned Michigan would be at a “site full of prospects run by a business enterprise that has a lot of interests -- but one of those is sports agents. It seems like very much the wrong tone.”
The "wrong tone," says the comissioner of the League of Extraordinary Bagmen. I'm all for people getting whatever money they can out of college athletics but to turn around and wave the rulebook at Michigan's face while crapping on it daily is hypocrisy worthy of… well… a high-ranking NCAA official. I cannot top reality there.
Hello: Bush the Elder? Buzz has been building that Michigan would fill one of its open recruiting/analyst spots with Devin Bush Sr, who built the Flanagan program from nothing into a state champion. That had been constrained to subscription sites until this article:
Multiple sources have told the Miami Herald on Tuesday that Flanagan coach Devin Bush is on the verge of joining the staff at Michigan where three of his Falcons -- son and linebacker Devin Bush Jr. and safeties Devin Gil and Josh Metellus -- have signed.
An announcement is expected next week. Bush is obviously a natural for the spot Chris Partridge vacated when he got bumped up to linebackers coach. The two guys have very similar backgrounds. Both were/are HS head coaches who made previously lagging programs into powers by getting gents to transfer. Partridge was interviewed by the WSJ a few days ago, providing some insight into why his hire was so successful for Michigan's New Jersey recruiting efforts:
How much does your New Jersey background help you land recruits from there?
Shoot, some of these kids I’ve seen play football since the fifth and sixth grade. I know them, I know the guys that have coached them their whole lives, I know similarities in the styles that they play, you know people that know their families. Of course, it gives you an advantage because you’re just so familiar and because they feel comfortable. And ultimately, they know that I’m watching out for them.
Hopefully Bush can have a similar impact in a bigger pond.
Meanwhile Flanagan is set to replace Bush with Pretty Much Devin Bush. DC Stanford Samuels, another Florida State legacy whose son is a major recruit, is expected to get a promotion.
Oversigning, the coda. The oversigning thing doesn't get brought up anymore because people mad about it more or less won. Get The Picture has a list of SEC signees per team before and after the Houston Nutt cap was implemented that shows a big dropoff for the worst offenders:
|SEC Average Signing Class Numbers|
|Team||Average Class 2007-11||Average Class 2012-16||Difference|
(He's using that to show that Georgia is now fighting with both arms instead of one.) Even if the LOIs foregone were mostly sign-and-place type deals where a guy who's going to JUCO signs a letter of intent for funsies that's still an improvement since no longer is that guy restricted if he does get eligible—and he isn't signed with a team that doesn't even want him to qualify.
The NCAA should still move to a yearly cap with no limit on overall scholarships to remove the incentive to get rid of a guy entirely.
I thought this was the entire point of dodgeball. If this was the standard for psychologizing folks in my time, whole dang middle school would have been in a line going out the door of the psychologist's office:
Harbaugh had to see the psychologist because he drilled a kid in the head during a game of dodgeball. In the fourth grade.
— Ben Axelrod (@BenAxelrod) February 5, 2016
Dude didn't dodge the ball. That's the name of the game, man. Can't hold Harbaugh accountable for that unless you're the SEC commissioner.
I want to see his review of Infinite Jest. Harbaugh went on a media tour at the Super Bowl, the highlight of which was this:
"You look like a writer!" Harbaugh says with enthusiasm as we shake hands.
Harbaugh saw a movie about a writer recently, on a flight a couple months back. It was calledThe End of the Tour. He loved it, loved the dialogue. And now he has just one question.
"Was that a real person, David Foster Wallace?"
I don't expect or even want my football coach to know the answer to that question because I expect that people who know the answer to that question are bad coaches. But I do think he should start with a Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again because it is the most accessible writing DFW did and that he'll probably think "oh, the NFL" after seeing the title.
Etc.: Shoe not effective when used as gun. Michigan is 6th in the post Signing Day S&P rankings. Austin Davis is tall. Children are not. Harbaugh has no unfinished business in the NFL. Wheatley in the Players' Tribune.
Just another day in the life.
— angelique (@chengelis) February 5, 2016
Hackett on WTKA. Jim Hackett stopped by The Michigan Insider today for a 30-minute long interview that wandered through a bunch of news. He of course kicked things off by sounding like your kindly grandfather trying to relate to 13-year-olds in board shorts:
Hackett anticipates ‘cool surprises’ for UM schedule
In other news things:
- Hackett does not think that the MSU flip is fixable.
- The Big Ten is going to go to more of an SEC model with conference scheduling after the move to nine games: "…because of the nine-game Big Ten season, we’re going to have to have an early Big Ten game as the season opens."
- All games going forward will be sold by the Big Ten Network, so Michigan's ability to schedule Notre Dame is further compromised. So that sucks. On the other hand, no more Jerryworld. I might take that tradeoff.
- Despite that both head coaches in the M-ND rivalry want to see it return, and people are working towards making it happen in some capacity. This is the first public confirmation that the series might return.
- Michigan will be forced to play more night games from 2017 onward.
SOTS on the tubes. In case you missed it:
Signing of the Haters. A lot of Michigan State folk have spent the last couple days talking about something that doesn't have a damn thing to do with them. Par for the course, but once they start yelling about how "Signing of the Stars" was some sort of unethical boondoggle designed for hype and recruiting I have various fuses in my head blow and can only reset them by typing this on the internet.
1. Yes, it was designed to put Michigan in the news. It worked so spectacularly that UCF is complaining about it. It will hopefully boost Michigan's recruiting going forward.
2. It also raised 120k for pediatric cancer research. I shouldn't have to even bring this up because having a goofy variety show where you introduce recruits does not need to be justified. The correct answer to "Michigan had a Signing Day event" is "so what?", not "but it was for cancer." Michigan could have raised zero dollars and there would be no valid complaints outside of corniness.
3. But they did raise some money for cancer.
5. Michigan State fans just can't stand a coach who yells at referees like a maniac and does everything he can for media attention. If they had such a coach they'd tar and feather him and shoot him into the sun.
Or maybe they wouldn't.
This is virtually identical to Alabama lizard people moaning about Michigan's satellite camps, attempting to cloak pure self-interest in concern trolling.
Hello, IMG, we are to be in your base. Rumors that Michigan was going to go outside of the box for spring practice have come to fruition:
Harbaugh confirmed Wednesday that the program will spend its first week of spring practice at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida during Michigan's spring break week -- which begins later this month (Feb. 27).
"Our plans for spring football are to go to Florida our first week while the university here is on spring break," Harbaugh said. "We'll go to Florida and have four practices down there. We're going to work hard but we'll have fun doing it."
IMG will be familiar to Michigan fans as the home of TE Isaac Nauta in the previous cycle. This time around they've got…
"Why would Jim Harbaugh want to hold spring practice at IMG Academy in Florida?"
*Pulls up 2017 rankings*
— Scott Bell (@sbell021) February 3, 2016
…a few guys.
This is going to be fun. Ian Boyd on Rashan Gary:
The numbers on Gary are jaw-dropping, no matter how inflated high schooler measurables can be. In a partially laser-timed SPARQ test before his junior year, he produced the following results, blowing away all other 2016 stars tested at the national event.
Height Weight 40 time Shuttle time Vertical leap Rashan Gary as a high school junior 6'4" 287 4.74 4.38 32.1" Average 2015 NFL Combine defensive lineman 6'3 1/2" 286 4.96 4.5 32.2"
Boyd believes Gary can play as an end and will bounce across the defensive line throughout his career but his highest upside in the future is as a defensive tackle, where his pass rush ability should maintain more of its value as he moves up to college and eventually the NFL.
Assuming that Michigan slides Matt Godin out to the SDE spot he was effective in early last year and starts Taco Charlton at WDE, Michigan's biggest need on the DL in 2016 is indeed three-tech, where Willie Henry's absence leaves Michigan with (probably) Mo Hurst and Brady Pallante backing up.
Harbaugh media tour. Michigan appears to have sent Jim Harbaugh on a tour of every radio show in the country. They're conveniently located in one place—wherever the Super Bowl is—this time of year, and Michigan's taking the opportunity to have Harbaugh around, seeming (largely) sane and repeating that he has no intention of exiting Ann Arbor any time soon:
On future NFL opportunities: "This is where I want to be. I'm having the time of my life." Mentions 2015 most fun year in football.
— Zach Shaw (@_ZachShaw) February 5, 2016
Coaching moves. After a one-year pitstop as an analyst at Michigan, Erik Campbell gets the WR coach job at UConn. With Partridge moving up and TJ Weist also getting a WR coach job, his with South Florida, Michigan has three open analyst/recruiter type spots if they maintain the same level of staffing as they did last year. One of those spots has been filled:
Prattville assistant Bam Richards (@cadillac98) tells me he is joining the Michigan Wolverines as an offensive analyst.
— Stephen Gunter (@Stephen_Gunter) February 4, 2016
Michigan has of course gotten to know the Prattville staff pretty well over the past couple years.
Flanagan's Devin Bush Sr. is widely expected to get the second opening. Who might fill the third is unknown, but it'll probably be someone who ends up at loose ends after the NFL season.
Etc.: Good to know, Jourdan Lewis. Trevor Siemian will throw-god in the Super Bowl. Jehu Chesson is still on crutches a month after the bowl game. Doubtful it'll be an issue that affects him in fall, could hold him out in spring. The Players' Tribune as new-world press releases.
Basketball preview here.
Super Saturday. Photos from the doubleheader from the Players' Tribune:
The Manuel UConn tenure. Jeff Jacobs has an exellent, comprehensive rundown of Warde Manuel's tenure at the UConn AD. Some UConn fans blame him for the Huskies getting left behind in the zombie Big East while Louisville got the golden ticket to the ACC; other than that somewhat fanciful complaint his tenure was rock-solid:
There are people who disagree with this, but Manuel handled the Kevin Ollie hiring as full-time coach just about perfectly. Ollie's biggest supporters, some who held their own power, wanted Ollie to get a long-term contract immediately. Manuel wanted to get to know Ollie, wanted to see him in action. Ask yourself this: What defined Ollie? He always had to work the hardest to prove himself on the court and that narrative continued for more than a decade in the NBA. If he was to be a success, the best possible outcome would be for Manuel to wait, like what he saw and give him that long-term deal three to four months into his job. That's what happened.
When Ollie was on his way to winning a national championship in 2014, there was Manuel ahead of the curve to lock in Ollie with a new five-year deal.
UConn's four major sports (football, both basketballs, and hockey) are all on the upswing or maintaining a high level of success. Manuel also pulled UConn out of a Jim Calhoun-generated APR disaster and spearheaded a move to Hockey East.
He's gone as soon as the NFL comes calling. Harbaugh writes an article for the Players' Tribune:
I’ve talked to a lot of people who feel that way about Michigan — and I’ve talked to a lot of other people who feel that way about their college, too. It happens everywhere. You probably feel that way about where you went to college.
But in my unscientific surveying of people I’ve talked to, I feel that it happens the most here at Michigan.
Which is why finally, I moved to Ann Arbor a third time. To be the head football coach.
A lot of people outside of Michigan asked me why I decided to make that third move to Ann Arbor. It’s pretty simple: I love football. I love coaching. I love Michigan. And for me, there’s no better place for those three things than right here in Ann Arbor.
It doesn't hurt that there's no megalomaniacal guy in a fur coat hovering over his shoulder in Ann Arbor.
As a side note, do you know what I see in my head whenever I hear "Players' Tribune"?
This is what I see, except with cards that read "PRESS" sticking out of their hats.
A firm-ish return date. Beilein on Levert's return:
John Beilein to @dandakich , "Caris LeVert has been out 5 weeks, he's getting better, hope to have him back on the court this or next week".
— Producer Kyle (@ProducerKyle) February 1, 2016
It's good to have a timeframe. It's unfortunate that timeframe isn't a little quicker now that Michigan's World Tour Of Bad Big Ten Basketball has concluded.
Death to autobench, in numbers. Tucked away in a piece on Washington having an unprecedented number of guys foul out is this note on the most DQ-averse team in college basketball:
By the way, there has been only one team to avoid a disqualification this season. The last time a Michigan player fouled out was February 17th of last season when the human box-score line-break, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman fouled out against Michigan State. My stance on when to sit players in foul trouble is somewhere between “ignore foul trouble completely” and “always sit guys in the first half that have two fouls”. It’s a very tough problem to study. But it seems to me that if you do subscribe to the latter approach, the fact that none of your players are fouling out is an indication your instincts for loss aversion are too strong.
The fact that Michigan fouls so rarely in the first place makes the autobench even more frustrating in practice. It is what it is; it's a blind spot.
Recruitin' rabblin'. Andy Staples on the decommit thing:
We'll need to hear Michigan's side of the Swenson case before passing judgment, and NCAA rules will keep Wolverines coaches from publicly discussing the specifics of Swenson's recruitment until after he signs. If it turns out Michigan's staff waited until January to tell Swenson—who committed to then-coach Brady Hoke in November 2013—he wasn't wanted, then the Wolverines deserve criticism for being lousy communicators. If Swenson had this knowledge in September or October, he could have reopened his recruitment earlier at a time when other schools would have had more open slots. The well-paid grown-ups here should be held to a higher standard than the high school students, and if Swenson's camp is telling the truth, Michigan's staff might need to learn how and when to break bad news.
It beggars belief that Swenson's camp is telling a full and honest accounting of the story if only because Michigan insiders started chattering about his place in the class months before the actual decommit, first privately and then in public. A final decision may have been delayed; if he didn't know it was because he didn't want to. Either way, Michigan should be explicit about these things much earlier.
The bump. Bill Connelly has an article on the "Bama bump," which is the perception that recruits committed to or recruited by Alabama get rankings boosts. Some services say they peek; others say no way:
To summarize, Luginbill said, "It absolutely exists because of subscription sales." Scout's Brandon Huffman said, "We don't do it, but others might." 247Sports's JC Shurburtt said, "Nah, but they do produce a lot of NFL talent, which matters," which seems like a roundabout way of saying it does kind of exist, only for reasons other than subscription sales.
Only Rivals' Mike Farrell said, "Nope!"
The denials here are odd, since re-evaluating a prospect once you get information like "Nick Saban is a fan" seems, you know, sensible. Connelly is in favor of the bump, and for the most part so am I. And it does exist. In Michigan's case it's usually when they become interested in a lower-rated guy. An unranked or two star player is about 99% likely to work his way up into generic three-star territory by the time Signing Day rolls around.
And for all of Luginbill's protestations, they absolutely do bump guys. When Khaleke Hudson committed to Michigan he was rated a 74 and below guys headed to Georgia Southern and schools of that ilk. Fast forward to today and he's flown up 34 spots. But that's fine! Before the bump Hudson's ranking looked plainly goofy. I think you should be humble enough to take Harbaugh's opinion into account when you rank guys. It's a better system than "did this guy show up to our camp," for sure.
Now, it's possible that Bama sees guys in the manicured regions move up. I don't follow their recruiting closely enough to know. This is not generally the case for Michigan commits, who tend to slide gradually as the recruiting year goes along. When I do job interviews I ask why this is, and I don't think I've heard the correct answer yet*. Michigan commits tend to slide because they stay the same while a select group of recruits below them emerge into big-time prospects. When you're perched in the top 10% of all high school recruits the direction you generally go is down even if you are ranked correctly.
*[It's still useful for hearing a person's ability to reason on the fly.]
Glasgow on Harbaugh. Stay enthusiastic, my friends:
“You know those commercials, The Most Interesting Man In The World? He’s like the most interesting coach in the world,” Glasgow said this week at the Reese’s Senior Bowl.
“He’s a really, really genuine guy and he just really cares about his players. Even though he looks crazy out there on game days and all that stuff, he’s really not like that behind closed doors.”
Only refs and people who drive slowly cause Harbaugh to throw conniption fits. BTW, we already have a "jim harbaugh is the most interesting man in the world" tag.
Jimmy & Johnny. Ann Arbor Pioneer is inducting Jim and John Harbaugh into the Hall of Fame of Purple-Wearing Athlete People on March 11; the eventbrite site just went live yesterday. The Facebook page has been posting vintage photos all week of the Harbros and here's one contest that was over before it began:
Sam & Ira are hosting, and they've invited us.
Michigan replay, 1992. Check the sweater:
Etc.: Former Gilman head coach Biff Poggi is taking another head coaching job in Maryland and thus won't be joining the staff. Carr on the Manuel hire. The year in Harbaugh hijinks. Baumgardner has a long article in which Lorenz and Trieu offer some takes on the class. Why Holtz is going to SOTS.