Mike Spath points out that doing an interview for the official site is a pretty good indicator he'll be back.
It's an exciting day in the world of Performance Enhancing Drugs, as two bombs have been dropped on major athletes in major American sports.
In Baseball, investigation into a clinic in Florida has once again linked everybody's favorite multimillionaire Alex Rodriguez, among others, with a clinic distributing PEDs. This is much more recent than his allegedly "isolated" use of them from 2001-2003.
And, leading up to Super Bowl week, SI has printed a report suggesting that Ray Lewis took Deer-Antler Spray, of all things, to help his recovery from a triceps tear--a substance that includes a substance banned by the NFL. The Ravens have issued a denial that features this argument: "Ray Lewis has never tested positive for banned substances."
If that sounds familiar, that's because it is the same defense used by Lance Armstrong for 14 years prior to his confession to Oprah of rampant PED use.
Personally, I'm not surprised; I'm a cycling fan and to be one is to understand the effectiveness and elusiveness of cheating. Years of looking into it have left me with the conviction that PEDs are widespread and widely un-caught in many sports. It is simply too easy to get away with.
Ironically, if Ray Lewis were to be nailed for this, it would be roughly analagous to catching Al Capone for tax evasion--a punishable infraction, but only a small portion of what is a much larger web of drug use in the League. Not to say that Ray Lewis is in any way unusual in what he may or may not do, because I don't think he is.
Title pretty much says it all. Better that these things happen sooner than later, I suppose.
Sam Webb reporting that it was Michigan's call.
An informational post about the Rivals 100 players Michigan has recruited since 2002 got me thinking, and in this relatively quiet period, I decided I wanted to dig a bit deeper.
The question I set out to answer: How do these guys turn out? At what rate do top recruits become top players in our program? And how does that compare to other programs?
Given limited time, I compared us to only one other program: Ohio. I used Rivals 100 data for position, stars, and rank. The "Impact" data point is my subjective interpretation of a player's career impact; 3 is a high impact player (Solid starter to All-B1G type), 2 is a role player (contributor to starter), and 1 is a low impact player (did not produce for whatever reason). These ratings are NOT based on talent or careers at other schools--only the player's impact where they signed their LOI. Players who have not yet had the opportunity to demonstrate a rating are designated "n/a". Players with an asterix have not yet signed. And yes, some of you will argue with me, but my overall ratings are close enough to make some good starting points for conversation. Here is the data, followed by conclusions:
|Derrick Green (*)||RB||5||8||2013||VA||n/a|
|Henry Poggi (*)||DT||4||70||2013||MD||n/a|
|Shane Morris (*)||QB||4||81||2013||MI||n/a|
Let's start by looking at Michigan's "gets". There are some definite correlations. A higher national rank does indeed give a player a higher likelihood of making an impact. Of the 36 players who received a rating, nine were 3's (high impact), eight were 2's (role players), and 19 were...not so good. That gives Rivals 100 players during this period a 25% chance of being great, a 22% chance of being okay to good, and about a 53% chance of not being helpful at all. Basically, it's about 50/50 on whether or not these kids make a positive impact at Michigan.
That said, of the nine players who were 3's, 6 were five-star players. Two more five-star players made a 2 rating (Burgess & Campbell), and many would argue Burgess was a 3 (erroneously, but they would argue). That means roughly 80% of your five-star players end-up solidly contributing, and of the two that didn't--Mallet and Grady--only Grady was a complete bust, as Mallet went on to SEC stardom.
Of the 20 players who were 1's, 10 were ranked 80th or lower nationally, and only six were ranked higher than 40th.
I think it's important to consider that this time period includes two tumultuous coaching changes and a year of "lame-duck" coaching from Carr. I do not believe it will be representative of our success going forward, but it's the data we have.
|Theodore Ginn, Jr||DB||5||2||2004||OH||3|
Ohio's data gives us 35 rateable recruits to our 36. They show a similar correlation, with higher rankings and five-star players much more likely to be 3's. Of their 35 rated players, 17 were 3's, 4 were 2's, and 13 were 1's. That means roughly half (49%) of their rated players were 3's, and about 37% were 1's. Interestingly, many of their 1's were players who had trouble with the law--an issue that was much less prevalent with Wolverines.
The comparisons are pretty obvious: Ohio has gotten much more production out of their top recruits. This is, no doubt, partially attributable to mostly consistent coaching through the period by one of the best in the game (even if was a lying cheater). Ohio also had higher-ranked recruits--their average national ranking is 45.9 to Michigan's 55.2--and were much more geographically concentrated in Ohio and the midwest than Michigan's players.
Another interesting bit of data is that position does not seem to make much of a difference. LBs are probably the most successful recruits, but it matters very little. National ranking seems to correlate with impact regardless of position.
Going forward, my expectation is that roughly two-thirds (60-66% would be good) of Rivals 100 recruits end-up as solid contributors or better for Michigan, with about half becoming impact players. Unfortunately, the lower rankings of this year's four Top 100 recruits (Morris is 81 and Kugler 82) would suggest they have a smaller chance of being successful, while Poggi is most likely to be at least a contributor and Green has a 50/50 chance of being great. If Green finishes his career as a 3, and we get two 2's out of the other three, it will have been a very good year. If there are two 3's, it's a great year, and if there are two or three 1's, things didn't go so well.
I do believe our success with top talent will say a lot about or staff and look forward to revisiting this in 2016, when Hoke has had a full five-year cycle to demonstrate how well he can maximize talent.
EDIT: After some honest thought and good criticism, I bumped Will Campbell up to a "2". It's a "meh" difference statistically, but he probably earned it this year.
Article on SI about Michigan recruiting on an elite level and mentions this very site.
#18 in-state ranked player for the 2013 class. He is Mr. everything on his team: RB, WR, CB, SS, FS, KR, PR. Guy has a single offer that is from Toledo.
Doubt he gets a look from Hoke since it is so late in the game. Still, he looks like a good fit to multiple positions.
As any chess master will tell you, allowing one’s pieces to languish on the back rank is a certain invitation to humiliating defeat. Or, as anyone who has ever played Axis & Allies well knows, a general who hordes his Industrial Production Certificates will quickly fall to the opponent who transforms hers into military units and strategically deploys them as rapidly as possible. So I was quite surprised the other day when several posters suggested that Michigan ought to “bank” its last remaining scholarship for the 2013 class, rather than sign a player who might not arrive in Ann Arbor with the highest of expectations. Like chessmen or IPCs, I have always felt that a football coach must aggressively leverage production from his full complement of 85 scholarships—or as many of that number as possible—if he hopes to outcompete the other 120 programs in the country.
Scholarships are not chessmen, of course, nor are they IPCs—and the calculus that goes into offering and signing a collegiate student-athlete is quite a bit different than the evaluation of choices in a board game. So, although the idea of purposefully letting a scholarship go unfilled struck me as intuitively unwise, the suggestion did not seem entirely without merit. After all—if by passing on a probable depth player in 2013, Michigan could sign a likely frontline contributor in 2014, then the payoff might be worth the investment. The overarching strategic principles remain sound and generally applicable, I felt, but is this case the exception? I decided to take a closer look.
Most estimates place the expected size of Michigan’s 2014 class at around 17 scholarships. This projection appears based on fifteen players exhausting their eligibility in 2013, and two redshirt juniors not being offered fifth years. With usual attrition, UM would more realistically expect to have about 20 scholarships available. But for purposes of this analysis, I will presume the 17 figure holds true.
Banking a 2013 scholarship would enable UM to sign an 18th player in the 2014 class. Therefore one part of the “to-bank-or-not-to-bank” equation seems to be the reasonably anticipated quality of the eighteenth recruit in UM’s 2014 class.
In 2012, Michigan had twelve recruits who received four or five stars on Rivals; the 18th-highest recruit would have been a 3-star with a 5.7 grade (Ben Braden, Jeremy Clark, Devin Funchess, Matt Godin, Mario Ojemudia, Kaleb Ringer, AJ Williams, and Chris Wormley fit that description, according to Rivals). In 2013, Michigan has seventeen recruits with at least four stars and a 5.8 grade, though the 18th-best recruit again checks in with 3 stars and a 5.7 grade. Therefore, Michigan’s performance in the last two recruiting cycles would seem to suggest that banking a 2013 scholarship would most likely produce a high (5.7) 3-star recruit to Rivals.
A slightly improved performance in 2014 could realistically land a low (5.8) 4-star recruit. However, between 2005 and 2012 only twelve recruiting classes have featured at least 18 players rated four stars or higher on Rivals. And, of those twelve classes, all but two (2006 FSU and 2008 ND) belonged to teams that had won (mythical) national titles within the preceding decade. Michigan, which hasn’t won the MNC since 1997 and hasn’t seriously contended for one since 2006, and which doesn’t happen to be in a talent-abundant state like Florida or have a Catholic pipeline like ND, would not seem especially well-positioned to defy this pattern. On the other hand, Scout.com (which is a bit more generous with their star rankings) lists fifteen classes with eighteen or more 4+stars from 2005-12, and is already projecting two more for 2013: one of which belongs to Michigan.
We can thus assume that a hypothetical 18th recruit for 2014 would likely be a player on the 3-4 star borderline, with a Rivals grade of 5.7 or 5.8. Maybe not a heavy bomber, but still a pretty high-quality recruit either way. The drawback, of course, is that player would not join the team until the 2014 season.
While landing eighteen or more 4-stars is uncommon—and almost unheard-of for non-MNC contenders—landing twenty-seven or more 3-stars ain’t no thang. Between 2005 and 2012, there were 32 recruiting classes of 27 or more players that finished with a top-15 ranking on Rivals. Of those classes, 18 (or 56.25%) had at least 27 players rated 3-stars or higher. Now, if we were at the beginning of the 2013 recruiting cycle and were trying to predict Michigan’s chances of signing at least 27 three-stars, this percentage would already suggest Michigan has pretty good odds of pulling it off. But with UM having already obtained verbals from 27 players, of whom 26 are rated 3+ stars (the 27th recruit is LS Scott Sypniewski)—and needing only to fill the one remaining spot, the chances of Michigan being able to find one more 3-star recruit for that final spot would appear to approach 100%.
So, let’s assume for purposes of the remaining discussion that the final spot would to go a (mid) three-star player with a Rivals grade of 5.6. This player would be a tad less talented than the hypothetical 2014 signee, but would have one more year of experience in the program. Assuming one year of collegiate coaching and strength & conditioning is equal to or greater than the value of a .15 upgrade on the Rivals grading scale, recruiting a slightly less-talented player in 2013 is at worst equivalent to signing a more talented player in 2014 (as the 2013 player’s redshirt season cancels out the banked-scholarship season for a recruit who plays as a true freshman). But, assuming both players would redshirt their first years in the program, UM would sacrifice an entire season of production from one scholarship position. It is doubtful that the slightly greater overall production one might expect from a 2014 player over the course of his career would sufficiently off-set this high immediate cost.
Player #28 of 2013 Class
Player #18 of 2014 Class
Redshirt (no production) or 5.6
X – No Production
5.6 + 1 year
Redshirt (no production) or 5.7
5.6 + 2 years
5.75 + 1 year
5.6 + 3 years
5.75 + 2 years
5.6 + 4 years or new recruit
5.75 + 3 years
5.75 + 4 years or new recruit
In the end, while there appears to be a stronger case for banking the last scholarship than I expected, I still think UM ought to take another player if they can find a Willie Henry or Dennis Norfleet type of player to come on board. The potential benefits of saving the scholarship for 2014 are tenuous and distant, while the costs are immediate and certain. Moreover, any attrition that occurs between now and 2014 will further diminish the expected returns from the hypothetical 2014 player, as a 19th recruit taken in 2014 is presumably less likely to be of four-star quality than the 18th, a 20th player even less, and so on. Then, of course, some of the most likely targets for that final spot are defensive tackles, who would become subject to the Heininger Certainty Principle (which, frankly, is better than super submarines, long-range aircraft, or even V-2 rockets!).
[Edit: Nerd that I am, I suppose I subconsciously view Axis & Allies as essentially a gen-X Monopoly or Clue—that is, a board game title with which anyone within, say, ten years of my (37 year-old) vintage ought to be reasonably familiar. Thus, as I was trying to finish this diary in the wee hours last night, I evidently didn’t think it necessary to include a brief primer on what A&A actually is, or the basic strategy underlying the game-play. Having thought better of the matter this morning, I offer the following supplement.
A&A is a famously-imbalanced, turn-based World War II strategy game that involves five players on two de facto teams: the Axis (with one player controlling Germany and the other Japan) and the Allies (comprised of players for the USA, UK, and Russia). Each turn follows a pre-set sequence: Russia plays first, followed by Germany, then UK, then Japan, then USA. Within each turn, a player first “purchases” military units using the currency of the game, Industrial Production Certificates (or “IPCs”). A player receives IPCs by controlling territories on the game board (generally speaking, the more heavily industrialized the territory is, the more IPCs it is worth). Once the units are purchased, however, they may not be deployed until the end of the player’s turn. In the meantime, the player may maneuver his units and attack opponents—but only using his or her pre-existing units.
Industrial Production Certificates are collected at the very end of a player’s turn, after all movement and combat has taken place. And the amount of IPCs a player has to spend at the beginning of his or her next turn may be reduced through bombing raids or rocket attacks that other players launch in the meantime. Furthermore, new units may only be deployed in spaces where a player has an “industrial complex”—often the only such space is a player’s home country—so it may take one or more future turns for a newly-deployed unit to travel to a forward area of the board where it can make a meaningful contribution to the game. Therefore, it behooves any player to spend his or her entire allotment of IPCs at every opportunity—thus converting them into actual units that can occupy, defend, or invade territories (thus preserving or increasing a player’s future IPC stream).]