Mike Lantry, 1972
Faster than a speeding bullet,
More powerful than a locomotive,
Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound…
Look, up in the sky!
It's a bird!
It's a plane!
It's the reason we'd rather watch college football than do almost anything else in the world.
It's been a week of ebullient celebration in Ann Arbor while Columbus burns but even those outside of The Sacred Brotherhood have started to muse on the actual justice of it all. WatersDemos took the premise of a New Yorker article – "Is college worth it?" and ran with it for college sports. Most prescient, I thought, was goodness of creating a class of "fake" (not his words) students to serve the interests of what's essentially brand marketing.
I'd like to take that further: what's so good about college sports?
(after the jump, it's a job [lowers voice] for Superman.)
(clicks get larger) Unlike other Tricky Tressel images today, MINE SHOWS JIM IN A SWEATER VEST!
They will still celebrate him in Columbus. The name Tressel will mean 9-1, will mean 2002, will mean an era when in-state talent and Big Ten Championships were Ohio State entitlements. But as of today, the argument over the last decade will be simply academic. Jim Tressel has resigned as head coach of Ohio State and a new legacy, a stained legacy, will now be written (#WhileWaitingForDohrmann) (UPDATE: It's here)
To you, hyper informed Michigan fan, there will be few surprises. We knew about the cars ever since Maurice Clarett told police in 2003 that $10,000 worth of stuff had been stolen from his "borrowed" ride. We guessed about the improper benefits too when Clarett corroborated his teaching assistant's claim of academic impropriety, and it came out that Troy Smith's mystery suspension had been because he (as a backup RB) was taking a booster's money. We figured it went higher when the university shot back at Clarett's allegations by discrediting him, then welcomed him back with open arms the minute he backed off his claims (which killed the case). We figured the institution was on board when every "investigation" into a reported incident came back finding there was nothing more than was originally reported.
This weekend former Buckeyes took to the Twitters to evoke "The Sacred Brotherhood" when Ray Small broke code.* Raise of hands: who didn't already figure out that Tress
puts put particular value on discretion?
Of course we saw it because we're Michigan, naturally ready to believe the worst about the Buckeyes. Why didn't anyone else though? SI's Andy Staples took some of the credit (emphasis mine):
If the three highest profile players of a big-time coach's career all got dinged by the NCAA, you would think that coach might be dirty. So why, after Maurice Clarett, Troy Smith and Terrelle Pryor all faced NCAA sanctions, did people still think Ohio State coach Jim Tressel was squeaky clean? Why, after Tressel admitted in March that he played ineligible players and lied to the NCAA about it, did people still rush to his defense, claiming him an otherwise perfect coach who made one little mistake?
Because Tressel, Ohio State and a compliant media -- yes, I'm just as guilty as the other two parties -- sold that narrative so well.
Like other organizations built on loyalty over honesty, the loyal will remain so. Ohio State's best possible outcome now is for the NCAA to believe Tressel was solely at fault, take the resignation as evidence it's not an institutional problem, and in five years or so revive the sweatervest as a Buckeye legend who won big then graciously took the fall when the gotchyas got him.
Through my blue-colored glasses, that this incident exposed an institutional – not just a coach - problem is wholly believable, particularly in light of the period of time, and how the president and AD have handled themselves since last winter. That the NCAA will see it that way is not so clear. They'll certainly wonder how Ohio State had the gall to think it could get away with feigning ignorance, handing out a few suspensions, then asking for dispensation to play in the Sugar Bowl. But to admit that the tats and the cars were systemic is to admit the NCAA has been blind to the improper benefits at Ohio State manifest for 7 years.
Tonight we expect an SI article by George Dohrmann that may make NCAA's decision for them. In August, unless that's moved back to add more violations, will be the big hearing. Prediction: a lot more popcorn will be consumed before it's all over.
Caveat: There are a lot worse things a person can do than to give a free car to a guy you're still ultimately "paying" a tenth of what he brings you (Ballparking here: Pryor room/board/education/car: ~$12,000-$15,000? Pryor jersey sales: $1 million - 13,334 sold at $75/pop?) They cheated and lied and it was unfair but let's keep this in perspective.
* He's recanting today but The Lantern posted some of the audio. Undisputed: Ray Small likes to say "you know."
EPIC GIF by the monarch:
And it gets better from there.
Your Diarist of the Week is BlueNote, who had the most informative article to date on this blog about the outlook for Ohio State and its efforts to keep information within the Brotherhood:
Takeaway #3: OSU is playing hardball
The general crappiness and irrelevance of the documents retrieved by the AP signals to me that OSU is handing over very little. The school is challenging the AP to keep fighting.
Takeaway #4: The fight will continue
The fact that the AP actually published a story about Doug Archie’s 2009 performance evaluation means that this topic is gold to the media. If this non-story gets major national press, imagine what the AP could expect from a story about Sarniak emails?
In other words Ohio State plans to give up every inch in gallons of blood, and the AP can get so much play off any Ohio State scandal related article they're happy to oblige. Also: BlueNote thinks the highly anticipated SI article tonight might be a (state version of the) Freedom of Information Act tidbit that revealed more than it was meant to.
As for Michigan (oh yeah, us), two great diaries this week on Hoke's recruiting. The first is a fancy schmancy "my guess at the final Class of 2012" thing by JC3. The other: I was pleasantly surprised by the thought put into oakapple's discussion on early commitments and whether they will be a benefit or a great risk. He's talking mostly about the consensus 3-star types. Count me among those in favor of classes large and early, with a "moar study needed" caveat. Recent memory has plenty of last minute offers (Feagin, Butler, Criswell) who didn't pan out (recent last-minute guys who did were in the immediate aftermath of a coaching change). I'd rather hit January wondering if we can squeeze in somebody than have the staff trying to pry guys away, and have a year to focus on 4- and 5-stars with a safety net.
Geaux_Blue put together an APR Comparison Chart for football:
The purple line at the top is who you think it is, the light blue one just under it is going to fuel at least one Penn State fan justifiably acting arrogant toward you at some point in the future, and the worrisome navy line which started among the leaders and which has been going down down down while everyone else is going up up up…c'est nous.
MaizeAndBlueWahoo introduces us to the latest Varsity Men's Sport: Lacrosse.
After the jump, 10,000 words on what I plan to do on my summer vacation.
I don't know and don't want to know why it turned up pounds of shirtless man meat on page 1, but add "OHL" to things you should never search for on Google Images. "Existentialism" on the other hand, is quite entertaining.
Stacked somewhere in between the Oshawa Generals and Bowling Green was a letter with a block M in the corner. It contained a brochure for the University, a questionnaire, and the contact information for the coaches. Turns out, I had not been emailing coach Berenson at all, but now I had his real address. I emailed him and got a response from an assistant coach. He told me to call him.
WHAT?! I can call these people?! How was this not explained to me before? I had never bothered to email any other school and since the player must initiate contact, they couldn't reach out to me.
You don't know if Michigan will even offer you because it's too early on NCAA's schedule for anything like certainty. You are surrounded by people who want to see you in the OHL. You are drafted, and given a contract:
I sat down with the GM, who knew that I was considering college. He basically explained to me the benefits of the CHL, the education packages, and the unique experience of being a young local celebrity. He was very polite about it, but told me that if I was signing, he wanted it done within 2 weeks.
The diaries were blessed again with the concluding Parts II and III of JimLahey's epic personal tale that illustrates just how difficult it really is for hockey talent to cross the border, even for those who desperately want to play NCAA. Well written and poignant, with everything from twists to cliffhangers to a surprise ending, its plot is worthy of an episode of Law & Order. Except it happened to this guy. This guy: Diarist of the Week (again).
There was only one other diary this week, but it's a good 'un: ebv returned to do another analysis of correlation between defensive talent and performance, and also defensive experience and performance. Ganking charts:
Experience / Talent:
He used the Rivals depth charts so that's guys on the two-deep, not the starters. The comments had a lot of suggestions, and this overlaps with them, but I think there are a couple of factors that really need analysis more than average age and star-rating of two-deep:
- Size of classes over 5-year period. A 3-star who made the two-deep out of 108 potential defensive players recruited is probably going to be more qualified than a 3-star who made the two-deep out of 40 defensive players recruited.
- Run it again with just starters. The two-deep still includes a lot of guys who might not be ready to play, because the scholly limit and dress limit and whatnot. If the great teams have a 5-star junior or senior starting and two hyped freshmen backing them up, it won't show with an average age.
- Gimme a "worst starter" breakdown too. Xcalibur once tried to test that when Michigan was rolling out Kovacs at free safety and every team we faced began running most of its plays directly at Kovacs. If there's a "weak link" effect for defenses, that will throw off your performance metrics for the team defense.
- Related to above: Distribution?
5th yr Sr Sr / RS Jr Jr / RS So So / RS Fr True Fr Avg. Team A 3 5 5 5 4 2.91 Team B 9 1 1 1 10 2.91
You are looking at teams with very big differences. Team B can field a much more experienced starting 11, but any injury or bust or low-rated older guy means a true freshman is likely starting. Team A's distribution is far more likely to be seeing players in their middle years handling significant time. You can do the same thing with star ratings:
5-star 4-star 3-star 2-star Walk-On Avg. Team A 3 5 5 5 4 2.91 Team B 9 1 1 1 10 2.91
Any busts from B and you are starting a 2-star or a Walk-On. Distribution among the starters would tell us if there's a weak link effect too.
After the break (in honor of jg2112's poor scrolling wheel) I realign the NHL and suggest a playoff system.
Before we start, do me this favor: Make a fist, then straighten your arm at about a 45 degree angle from your body. All set? Now say this with me:
It came out earlier this week that HC Carol Hutchins, along with Jenny Brundage and Bonnie Tholl, helped save a recruit's father's life in late April. Then on Friday and Saturday softball twice made Little Sister cry uncle (ie 8-0 mercy rule). Friday it took 6 innings in Ann Arbor; on Saturday it was a 5-inning no-hitter in East Lansing to take the Big Ten title outright. They're on to the NCAA Regionals starting Friday with a 51-4 record, 16-0 on the road, and feel like a team headed for the Golden Palace.
Aside: Unfortunately for Mark Dantonio, there's no mercy rule for in-state recruiting. Onward and upward!
I've been kicking this entry around ever since the stupid logo with the stupid names came out. As Six Zero noted at the time, there's a lot more that goes into a branding job than drawing something on Photoshop. However it's not the 20-page booklet explaining proper branding uses and sizes and colors that caused a region-wide facepalm.
Ever since the moment about 20 minutes after the unveiling when we realized this wasn't Delany et al. pulling a DeAnthony Arnett commitment hat dance, the Internet has taken it upon ourselves to propose something better. Brian suggested East-West as a throw-up-hands consensus just so we don't have to use the official ones – and since this is his blog you are instructed to do the same – but personally I hate the cardinal direction convention almost as much. Herein are a handful of those collected, plus a few of my own:
Leaders / Legends:
Reason to Like: None if you have a soul.
Reason to Hate: That such an idea ever got past an ESPN message board.
Awkwardness ensues when: National reaction to unveiling of names was "Ha ha; no really…"
What's the catch: Keyword is "surprising."
"I think we have enough experience with names, and expansion and development of divisions, to know that you never, rarely, get 90 percent approval rating," Delany said during the interview. "But to get a 90 percent non-approval rating was, you know, really surprising."
Now remember the people who were surprised by this reaction later said they're not going to make any changes this year in the hopes that the divisional names grow on us. Where have I heard this reasoning before? Oh yeah, that's exactly how I ended up playing clarinet for 5 years instead of 5 minutes.
West / East:
Reason to Like: It's simple and neutral, I guess. "Champions of the West" in the song means something again. Deep thought: While we're fixing fight songs, wouldn't MSU's be more accurate if "vim" meant "D.U.I.?"
Reason to Hate: Trite, boring, and inaccurate.
Awkwardness ensues when: I am Funnybot. Where can you get from Michigan to Wisconsin by going East? In the Big Ten! Awkwaaaaard.
What's the catch: Thankfully this is off the table.
Griffith / Palmer:
Reason to Like: History of the Big Ten 101: Griffith was the first commissioner, Palmer House was the venue in Chicago where the conference was founded.
Reason to Hate: History of the Big Ten 101 is a prerequisite
Awkwardness ensues when: Could have honored James H. Smart (the "brains" behind the formation of the original Western Conference) but whoever's not in the "Smart" division would raise hell.
What's the catch: The Gary Bettman-itude of the shirts who decide this means there's close to zero chance of division names that your typical Ohio State fan won't recognize. Meijer & Wal-Mart Divisions are more likely.
Great Lakes / Heartland (or Great Plains):
Reason to Like: Neutral and highlights regional nicks.
Reason to Hate: Completely interchangeable. Favored by Lynn Henning.
Awkwardness ensues when: Generations of young Big~Ten fans grow up sucking just as much at Geography as counting.
What's the catch: Either Nebraska and Iowa are not "Heartland," or Michigan and Michigan State are not "Great Lakes."
Black / Blue:
Reason to Like: Because the region is mostly in the footprint of the NFL's black & blue division. Or because we tend to have entire positional depth charts wiped out by injury by the time the conference season starts.
Reason to Hate: Think how tired this will get after the umpteenth headline featuring the conference getting bruised.
Awkwardness ensues when: In the conf. championship game, (Black Division Champ) Michigan fans take up the "Let's Go Blue" chant.
What's the catch: This isn't a trait the conference really wants to focus on.
Lakes / River:
Reason to Like: Best shot at a geographic split. Mich&MSU are surrounded by the Great Lakes, Minn, Neb, & Iowa have 1,000s of Lakes, and Northwestern's on the Lake; the other division's schools are in states (Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania) either along the Ohio or Mississippi Rivers. Okay, it's a stretch.
Reason to Hate: Like we're the only place in the world that has lakes and rivers.
Awkwardness ensues when: The rule of silly recruit names means we'll eventually have a kid named Lakes representing a Rivers school playing a kid named Rivers representing the Lakes Division.
What's the catch: Like "Lake Michigan" somebody will get offended when something's named after the Ohio river.
Bo / Woody:*
Reason to Like: Is perfect.
Reason to Hate: If you're Michigan or Ohio State: none. If you are not Michigan or Ohio State: WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!
Awkwardness ensues when: Michigan State wins the Bo Division, burns the trophy, and replaces it with another piece of schlock from Forwards in West Branch.
What's the catch: The newer members won't care as much – Penn State and Nebraska are two proud programs with history and tradition that rival M/OSU - but the years and years of being one of the "Little Eight" are not fond memories for the rest.
Where's Wisconsin? / Why Do We Have Wisconsin?:
Reason to Like: ha ha, yer funny.
Reason to Hate: Hey, these division names recognize a school that isn't mine! WAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!! (just kidding, guys. Could you imagine if we were like that?)
Awkwardness ensues when: Wisconsin thinks we're playing peek-a-boo and keeps yelling "I'm right heeeeeeere!"
What's the catch: Levity is underappreciated in formal settings.
Like one more than the other? Take the poll.
The minute the Big Ten announced it would have divisions, fans of 9 other schools* immediately screamed "Don't call them Bo and Woody!" This is because the most obvious binary convention in the conference are two iconic coaches who for a tenth of the conference's history were the Big Ten. When people talk about the Big Ten it's not how Randy Walker and Joe Tiller revolutionized passing from the Spread, but how Hayes, Schembechler and their acolytes did things that are manly. The two schools account for over 45% of the conference's football championships, and that number's over 50% when you stop counting the Purdue and Iowa's with 2 losses in the early 1900s who claimed one anyway in those Wild Western Conference days.
Without intervention, this would be the organic standard. Obviously Michigan and Ohio State fans (of which we are many) are leading this charge, but Nebraska fans and non-Big Ten followers seem to also be coming around to a split of "The one with Michigan & its rivals" and "The one with Ohio State & its rivals" since that's the most natural way to remember it. As for placating the other schools, I recommend we rename all the trophies:
- Champion: Paterno Trophy
- MVP: Red (Grange) Award (can certainly have some fun pouring red paint on the MVP each year, right?)
- Coach of the Year: Osborne Award
- Kinnick Award: To the Big Ten player who shows the greatest combination of outstanding athletic performance, sportsmanship, academic achievement, and service to his community, as embodied by Nile Kinnick
- Amos Alonzo Stagg Award: To the player or coach who makes the greatest contribution to Big Ten football (through outstanding innovation, service, or play).
- Offensive POY: Randle El Trophy
- Defensive POY: The Bucking Bronco (Unfortunately Nagurski's taken by the NFL for the same thing)
- Special Teams POY: Biggie Munn Award (so we can tell both Minnesota & Michigan State they got two)
- Best Passer: Griese Trophy (highlights them as Cradle of QBs)
- Best Back (QB/RB/FB/WR/TE): Paddy Driscoll Trophy
- Best Lineman (Offense or Defense): Big Joe's Slab of Bacon (Since they play for an Axe now, we could repatriate the old Slab for the best lineman. Big Joe is Joe Thomas)
- Best Defensive Back or Linebacker: Webster Trophy (I totally had to Wikipedia this one -- you try to find a Spartan football player other than Kirk Gibson or Plaxico whom anyone outside of Michigan can name!)
- Bo Div Champ: Schembechler Trophy
- Woody Div Champ: Hayes Trophy
* Nebraska was still too giddily checking out the house like Little Orphan Annie to care. Plus their online community is, for the internet, pretty level.
Above, that's Michigan's Solar Car Team's 2010 build, which won the U.S. solar car race thing. Below: that's Michigan State's entry in the same race. These are from Bronco648's (short) must-read diary UMsolar and the FSGP, which includes pics of M's even sleeker 2011 car apparently en route to Australia for the international competition. Before you rip on Sparty just remember which one you'd rather find in your basement years later when you're desperate for a beer pong table.
NOLA Blue did a comparison of Michigan's 2011 opponents and returning starters. The concept's there but then he kind of inexplicably ignores backfields and how good the players are, just listing number of returners at OL, TE, DL and LB as his basis for predicting games. This is the classic Charlie Weis-era Notre Dame mistake: Returning Sam Young again doesn't make you better.
As for the Diary of the Week, it's Part I of one man's journey from Pee Wee Hockey in Ontario to (hopefully) Yost Ice Arena.
"This is the biggest game of your career so far, their captain, like you, is also one of the best players in Ontario. If we win, people will say you're better than him. We always support you, but if we lose, people are going to blame you and say that he's better than you. Do you want that? Get to sleep early tonight, make sure you eat lots of carbs, protein tomorrow, and drink water all day. When I talk to your teacher, I want to hear from her that you were asking to go to the bathroom all day."
I was 8 years old.
Part I tracks JimLahey's journey from top Ontario prospect to waiting for a scholarship to Michigan or heading to the OHL. FTR he's not Caporusso so stop guessing he's Caporusso. Caporusso Mention Rule still applies:
Hoke's Glorious Kingdom, Which is His / Angela Cesere|AnnArbor.com
April in the D is overrated, but I can't complain about May in Michigan. As I write this I'm sunburned from the year's first sail, half-comatose from the first grilled burger, and spamming F5 on the MGoBlog home page so I don't miss another victorious recruiting battle. This being Michigan of course the week came with one rain storm, one frost, and two fuuuuuuuuuuu's, but today the sun is shining, the uber alleles are replicating, the warring has ended, and general sentiment feels our winter of discontent can be made glorious by this son of Hoke.
Last week's Diary of the Week made the state of Michigan football analogous to morning; maybe spring's more like it.
The week has also seen a few hands take their turns at analyzing recruiting rankings. Before they came out I was goofing with my own attempt at such but…yeah, lots of work, that. What I do have however is a comprehensive Big Ten recruiting database started. First comparable,
Percentage of recruits from in-state from 2002-2011:
Some of these are thrown off by the few schools that sign a substantial amount of JUCOs (Minnesota, Purdue, MSU) but if you pull them it doesn't change much of anything above.
Percent of players from source:
Are you surprised? The Ohio State homegrown number really stands out. What struck me was that the numbers are so low across the conference. This makes sense if you think about the relative populations of these states, kind of. Less populous Iowa had to leave the corn fields, while Ohio State can run a McKinley-style front porch recruiting campaign. What it doesn't gel with are the general perceptions of teams that "win with homegrown talent." Ohio State can say that but Wisconsin – even after dominating on the home front – still must travel abroad for most of its players.
Like this but with free cars
As for Michigan State, their hypothesis is that John L. Smith went out of state while Dantonio "got it." Let's test that:
- JLS (2003-'06): 23.36% recruits from Michigan (M: 27.16% in that time)
- Dantonio (2007-'11): 44.55% recruits from Michigan (M 21.24% in that time)
Seems to be right. The classes:
* Morris Watts was interim H.C. for the last three games of '02 after Bobby Williams was fired. JLS arrived right after the bowls. The '03 class was mostly Bobby's.
** The Michigan recruiting was mostly done by Carr; Rodriguez added five players, all from out-of-state.
There's nothing substantially different about Michigan from late-Carr to RR, except the huge in-state recruiting year in '02. If there was a "he cares" meme going up it was based on disparity. Dantonio's 2011 class looks like it went "national" but really he moved even more heavily into Ohio. So let's see that:
Percent of Recruits from Any Big Ten State:
And Michigan's regional recruiting by year (with how M finished the previous season):
|Year||In-Region||Previous Year's Result|
|2002||85.71%||8-4 / 6-2, lost 45-17 to Tennessee in Citrus Bowl|
|2003||58.82%||10-3 / 6-2, def. Florida 38-30 in Outback Bowl|
|2004||59.09%||10-3 / 7-1. lost 28-14 to USC in Rose Bowl|
|2005||56.52%||9-3 / 7-1, lost 38-37 to Texas in Rose Bowl|
|2006||52.63%||7-5 / 5-3, lost 32-28 to Nebraska in Alamo Bowl|
|2007||40.00%||11-2 / 7-1, lost 32-18 to USC in Rose Bowl|
|2008||54.17%||9-4 / 6-2, def. Florida 41-35 in Citrus Bowl, New Coach|
|2009||40.91%||3-9 / 2-6, no bowl.|
|2010||70.37%||5-7 / 1-7, no bowl.|
|2011||70.00%||7-6 / 3-5, lost 52-14 to Miss. St in Gator Bowl, New Coach|
Recruiting is a perception game, not just numbers, but you can clearly see how perception has affected Michigan's out-of-state recruiting. However the top chart seems to equate winning periods with success and vice versa. Look at Purdue in the Orton/Kirsch era as opposed to after. See Minnesota under Mason as opposed to KILL FIGHT WIN! See the Dantonio Effect at MSU. But I don't think you can take this and declare "Big Ten recruiting wins championships." Take Indiana: they got over 40% from elsewhere when they sucked in the early 2000s, and just 20% from elsewhere today.
What you see is two years of DiNardo riding post-Randel El fame until his teams were so bad the XFL wouldn't take him back had they still existed. Indiana recruits locally because few people outside of the footprint would consider going to Indiana when they can sign with a Mid-Major and win some football games once in awhile. Ohio's in-region numbers are driven by their ridiculous in-state rate. Penn State's is low because they exist outside the Midwest and use Maryland, Jersey, and the D.C. area like we use Ohio. All this chart really shows, without knowing the context for each team, is possible evidence of strategy:
- Looks like they took it outside: Zook, Brewster, JLS, Rodriguez?
- Looks like they focused inside: Dantonio, Tressel
The evidence isn't strong enough to claim either as fact. So one last chart:
Percent of Big Ten-Bound In-State Recruits Who Chose School X: (numbers are for that school's own state):
Here strategies become slightly apparent. Ferentz may fill his roster with non-Iowans but only after he makes sure virtually every Iowan who can play for a Big Ten team will play for his. Wisconsin and Minnesota also stand out for keeping talent home. Most of the Minnesotans who weren't Gophers were Badgers. Of the 28% of Big Ten cheeseheads who don't end up at Wisconsin, 9% went to rival and neighbor Minnesota, 6% went to Indiana, which probably means they didn't have an offer, and 5% went to Northwestern, which is close to Wis. population centers and a better school and also probably a place for kids Wisconsin didn't want.
Indiana takes what it can. Penn State accesses the Atlantic States but can't protect its West from hemorrhaging talent all around the conference. Michigan State since '06 is heavy into the 3-stars Michigan didn't want (and the 4- and 5-stars Michigan did want). Ohio State and Illinois are homebodies because they are state schools for very populous states. Purdue and Northwestern draw from all over, though the Boilermakers have seemingly shifted away from bothering with their home state in favor of being players in Chicagoland and all around the conference.
Then there's Michigan. Big school in a shared state, we get only a quarter of the in-state talent. It's apparent from this why it's so important to compete in Ohio and around the country: the presence of a sibling makes the Iowa/Wisconsin home-first strategy impractical. I leave the rest of the conclusions to you; on to the diaries.
Whatever your boss wants you to be doing right now, it can wait while you check out this Diary of the Week-winning set of recruiting maps, updated by Rescue_Dawn. This time he broke up the maps into commits, (red), Offense offers (maize) and Defense offers (blue). The bigger the circle, the higher profile the recruit according to the services. It went up before Standifer got his offer but otherwise it's up to date.
But wait, there's more: Thanks to Deep Under Cover you can now contribute to a Google version of this, a sort of Google Wiki Mappy Thing (Internet, it's time for new words; we used up your words):
It is an empty slate, so get cracking.
Bumped from the boards to the diaries, and then from there to the front page this week was Gopherine's piece on Recruiting Bias and Accuracy, who got the Black Heart Gold Pants guy to pony up the data from the recruiting to NFL study* to check out whether under-scouted players outperformed their recruiting rankings.
Of course, the chart doesn't disprove my mildly paranoid belief that Midwesterners are consistently being slighted by the jerks on the coasts, so let's call this a win.
Note that the Midwestern 5 star recruits underperform the mean. This has no impact on the claim (5 star recruits can't be underrated), but it's interesting nonetheless. Really small samples for 5 stars is all the explanation I need.
* UpUpDownDown said something about Iowa Running Back Hating God visiting him in the night with a Walkman and Van Halen?
: Dammit. by Zone Left.
I'm more an old comedy man myself, but even Philosopher Kings are down for puffin' up the pillows, breaking out the good Grechetto, and getting into a good ol' fashioned seminar on Why do we watch football? Plato, according to WatersDemos:
Football is our way of observing our own ideal cities in speech. It engages all three elements of the soul, and teaches us that only proper ordering of the soul can lead to success. In this case, the reason element is represented by the head coach, who (hopefully) is akin to a football philosopher king. Second, you have the courageous/spirited element, i.e., the players, who hopefully are akin to football warriors. Finally, you have the desire element, represented by the fans, whose generally unrealistic and limitless demands really belong on the bottom of this pyramid (with some exceptions of course).
Read, and become a better man for it.
Eye of the Tiger read some tea leaves and described four plausible scenarios for the 2011 season, revealing the fears and hopes of this great unknown.
- 10-2: A weakened Big Ten sees Michigan return to the Rose Bowl, though he admits this is unlikely.
- 9-3/8-4: Progressive improvement over the season, maybe with a win over reeling Buckeyes?
- 7-5/6-6: A different kind of mediocrity, which is one or two injuries to the O-line away.
- 5-7 or worse: It takes years to build up from one of the worst defenses in the country, but ruining one of the best offenses can happen much faster.
My Mom is the only other family member to go to Michigan. On State week she puts on maize and blue and ribs my MSU siblings about had they only studied harder. Without her I never would have pursued my career, gone to my school, met my friends or my wife. She has read (and unsolicitedly copy edited) almost anything I've ever written. In the words of Mr. Slocum: i love her i think she da realest bitch alive.
Here's people dressed in grad gowns dancing in the Diag to Rusted Root:
The cards at the end made me think it's an elaborate advertisement for the sponsor. But I have questions: did they use real grads? Did we go to blue gowns this year, or did they just figure we use Duke's tailor? All I can find out on the inter-webs is that musical theater major Erik Heitz was involved with it.
Anyway it's a nice segue into saying so long to last week's graduates. I thought I had it bad, showing up the year immediately following football and hockey national championships to have Brian Cook's class be all like "Ha Ha, You Missed It!"* Well these cats started classes the week of The Horror, and leave with the taste of the "okay now we have to fire him" blowout to Mississippi State. In the process they survived three losses to Michigan State, four losses to Ohio State, an Ultimate Test of Fandom Endurance, and the punch to the dong that turned Corey Liuget's life around.** However they did witness two comebacks versus Notre Dame, Illinois in OT, postseason runs from eminently likeable hockey and basketball squads, and apparently more flash mobs than any class in history.
So here's to the Class of 2011. You got pretty hosed seeing just the carcass of Bo's Empire, and then having to suffer three years of rebuilding just so we could knock down and declaim the whole damn edifice. Yet there you were, every week, boozed up in the student section with all the optimism of a Denard smile, and all the un-canned coordination of a flash mob. You should all get avatar badges or something.
* This was literally the front page headline of our Daily freshman orientation issue.
** Bonus: Article written by "Tim Sullivan" (NTTS).
Those Who Will Never See This Day
About a month ago I promised a Part II to revisiting the Decimated Defense series. I got all the research done, down to making images of the charts, and planned to get it out the following week. But then I got early winds of the Cullen transfer (and learned I was seriously depressing my only follower on Twitter), so I put it off, and put it off, and put it off. With some fallout coming down the line from Tat-gate, Michigan State's Third Annual Assault and Potluck, and whatever Saban has to do to get down to 85 again (they're at +11 according to oversigning.com), maybe it's best we wait 'till at least fall practice for the whole reveal.
Still, with sincere apologies to DosLeches, Cullen's transfer to Pitt leaves the pool of defensive backs in the same perilous state it's been in for Class of '11's entire collegiate career. Observe (UPDATE: sorted by position, and where you'd expect them to be on the depth chart given projection as recruit and time in program):
|Starred, left after Junior season for NFL, not drafted|
|Fell down depth chart, resisted move to FS, transferred before 2010 season|
|Played as fr and so, but got kicked off team during 2009 season|
|2007||Troy Woolfolk||5'11"||176||5.5||Injured for 2010 season, Medical redshirt, expected starter at CB in 2011|
|Played as freshman, transferred after 2011 Spring Game|
|2008||J.T. Floyd||6'0"||179||5.5||Injured during 2010 season, if recovered possible starter at CB in 2011|
|Not admitted to university|
|No redshirt, graduated after 2010 season|
|2010||Courtney Avery||5'10"||165||5.5||Played and started as Fr, projected starting CB in 2011|
|2010||Terrence Talbott||5'10"||172||5.5||Played and started as Fr, backup at CB|
|2011||Greg Brown||5'10"||180||5.5||Freshman EE|
|2011||Blake Countess||5'10"||171||5.8||Incoming Freshman|
|2011||Delonte Hollowell||5'8"||162||5.7||Incoming Freshman|
|Bust, head injury in 2010 effectively ended career|
|Moved to Spinner/LB, played sparingly as So., transferred late in 2009 season.|
|Not admitted to university|
|Held back by injuries in early career, transferred before 2010 season.|
|Transferred citing playing time (?!?!!!) before 2009 season|
|2010||Marvin Robinson||6'1"||190||5.8||Backup in 2010, projected backup at SS in 2011|
|Moved to LB, injured in 2010, possible starter at WLB in 2011|
|Moved to LB, fell down depth chart, bust.|
|Started at FS in 2010, moved to LB, projected starter at SLB in 2011|
|2010||Josh Furman||6'3"||194||5.7||Redshirted in 2010, 3rd on depth chart at SS|
|2010||Carvin Johnson||6'0"||185||5.7||Played SLB/Spinner as Fr, projected starting FS in 2011|
|2009||Thomas Gordon||5'11"||199||5.5||Played as freshman, projected backup at either S position in 2011|
|Was starting FS by end of fr year, transferred after coaching change in 2011|
|2011||Raymon Taylor||5'10"||167||5.8||Incoming Freshman|
|2011||Tamani Carter||6'0"||175||5.5||Incoming Freshman|
|2008||Jordan Kovacs||6'0||195||4.9||Student body walk-on, 3rd year starter at SS as RS Jr in 2011|
Here's the talent distribution versus the field, with incoming freshmen not counted because they're freshmen:
Take where you were right before Woolfolk went down last year, remove James Rogers, and add a year of experience to everybody, and that's Michigan's 2011 defensive backfield. As you can see the closest thing after Troy to an upperclassman with any kind of recruiting hype is Marvin Robinson, a true sophomore who doesn't seem likely to displace Kovacs and may move to linebacker in the future. Unless the new staff works miracles and/or some of these guys were very underrated, please keep expectations low. Best case scenario is nobody gets hurt, Carvin as a sophomore is the second competent free safety at Michigan since 1997, and the unit performs like a poor man's Notre Dame.
Sorry DosLeches. It depresses me too, but a Ngata/Mattison face-mash can always cheer me up.
There were two this week not counting TomVH and Tim (YTTS).
First, stubob put up Part II of his Gauging Team Effectiveness blog, this time with San Diego State broken down. It's not a very tight comparison since there's a huge difference in schedule strength but the results show some competency. Inspired by the exercise, the_white_tiger posted a long and detailed response on his blog Maize-Colored Glasses. Takeaway from the latter is that Hoke inherited a thing that was worse than we thought it was, and left it a thing better than we thought it was. There may be something to those uber alleles after all.
As for your Diarist of the Week, that goes to Captain, who ran with a theme from the alma mater to give us a fitting metaphor for the state of the program:
Although his success may still lurk in the realm of our collective optimism, Brady Hoke is already bringing something palpable to this team. It's light materialized into rote sound bytes about "toughness" and "fundamentals." It's identity. It's the dawn that ends the night.
It's morning in Michigan.