this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
On Wednesday morning, under pressure to do so in time to headline a Signing Day ceremony at his school, Cass Tech running back Mike Weber decided on Ohio State over Michigan by the slimmest of margins. On Thursday, Weber's position coach and lead recruiter for Ohio State left for the Chicago Bears. Weber:
He also removed all references to Ohio State from his profile.
Michigan fans jumped on this because it's in our interest that every recruit and coach of a recruit and parent of a recruit believe Urban Meyer a slimy salesman (he's not). Ohio State fans jumped to defend it by characterizing Drayton's departure as a surprise to everyone including Drayton, and equating it with signing a junior transfer quarterback after Gentry's LOI was in.
When Ohio State does something shady (or not shady but treated as such in the weird morality of college sports), Ohio State fans will be the first to tell you that everybody does it. They're right to a degree, but the degree is the difference between how much heat the Earth radiates into space, and the Sun. Regardless of whether Urban knew Stan Drayton was leaving beforehand, or if Drayton knew he'd get the job until then, what's clear is they didn't let Weber know the coach he was committing to was likely to walk away as soon as they had his signature on the dotted line.
Purposely fraudulent or unbelievably unfortunate timing, the real lesson here is that coaches are free to make the best decision for themselves, and players are manipulated into signing away that liberty.
And for nothing. Signing Day, really, is only the first day of a period that stretches through April that schools may receive official commitments, in the form of a "Letter of Intent." That letter is merely a non-compete agreement in which the school the player signs with provides nothing in return. The scholarship offer is a completely separate deal.
Since Weber already sent in his LOI, his choices are to stay at Ohio State, wait a year for the LOI to expire then transfer and wait another year, or ask Ohio State to release him, in which case
he still has to wait out a year under NCAA transfer rules CORRECTION: would be free to choose any school. Ohio State can hold him to the LOI, or release him only to schools they choose. They can also rip away his scholarship for just about any reason.
The recruits are finally starting to get wise. Roquan Smith is still unlikely to end up at "Michigan University," but he was moments from sending in his LOI when news (that reporters meant to embargo until after Signing Day) broke that his coaches might not be there. Because he waited, he can now take another week to consider his options.
A Florida commit's father yesterday explained why his son is holding off too, tweeting "…Florida making too many coaching changes this is not a game it's my son's life." He followed up in response to angry idiot-who-tweet-at-recruits fans with the central moral question:
It's not, except in the warped morality of the NCAA and its apologists who think "amateurism" means players shouldn't be entitled to the same rights as every other citizen.
Signing Day is a total boondoggle. Recruits who have any sort of leverage should never sign a LOI, and should never feel pressured to commit on Signing Day. They should ask to sign a financial aid agreement only.
Meanwhile the NCAA should look at allowing players to transfer and play immediately if their head coach or primary recruiter leaves the school. It would prevent players from getting bait and switched, give coaches more job security, and ultimately plateau coaching salaries as schools come to value longevity instead of flashiness in their hiring of them.
How Karan Came. Michigan did get a highly rated running back in the class. Brian already linked to it in yesterday's recruiting post but if you missed it, Karan Higdon's coach is a MUST READ for anyone interested in how this process plays out:
I immediately called the Michigan football office and spoke with a secretary. I told her that there was a running back in Sarasota that may be worth a late look and she advised me to send and email with his profile. I sent his recruit profile and his HUDL highlights. I was contacted almost immediately afterwards and spoke with Chris Singletary. The first thing he asked was what type of kid is Karan and what his grades were.
Meta: Cumong! Brian's eye dialect for "come on!" has an origin. That diary is way more investigative and thorough than you thought it was when you saw it floating on the sidebar all week.
It also got me thinking about just how old this site is, and some of the other characters from Brian's section to be immortalized in these pages. Like "UNACCEPTABLE!" guy. And the narratively adorable moppet from the first great MGoBlog game column. That kid is probably in an English lecture right now. Which reminds me: happy 10th birthday, MGoBlog, belatedly (it was December 4).
Softball is Fun and Has a Woodson.
Sierra's gloves are purely hypothetical by now. Photo: The Californian
Softball has been initialized. This year's team will have to overcome the graduation of a great class, but returns shortstop Sierra Romero and three candidates for best pitcher in the nation. South Bend Wolverine has your full preview, to which I'd like to add my take.
A great pitcher pretty much owns in softball, and Michigan is filthy rich in them. The lefty/righty combo of Haylie Wagner and Sara Driesenga could easily be the best duo in the country if both seniors regain their forms after somewhat disappointing (for them) 2014s. Sophomore Megan Betsa is due for a season on par with the best of the Wagner/Driesenga era. They also added the top pitching prospect in the nation in Tera Blanco out of California. Like Driesenga, Blanco is as dangerous at the plate as on the mound.
And there's Romero. As a sophomore, Sierra was one of three finalists for softball's version of the Heisman. Most of that is her Cabreraian bat, which is already bopping out national records. My favorite of those: Career Grand Slams—the NCAA record is nine; half-way through her Michigan career Romero already has seven (tied for third all time with 2005-'08 Wolverine Samantha Findlay).
Last year Sierra also finished tied for seventh all time for walks in a season with 67, 20 of which were intentional (the most you get is about 250 plate appearances so that's quite a lot of walking). Since Michigan graduated her protection and two top-of-the-order bats, we could end up seeing that number skyrocket if Coach Hutch doesn't find some hitters to fill the bases ahead of Romero and clear 'em behind her. If she does, this is a national championship team.
A Special Hell for Terrible Michigan Coaches
There is a place where they man-block with Patrick Omameh, run Denard Robinson under center, and never use counters. In this place they run a 3-3-5 defense that only ever rushes three and tells its middle linebacker to line up a foot in front of the guard whose job it is to put the middle linebacker in that spot. When they punt, and they punt quite often, they only use two gunners, because that's what NFL rules say.
No, this place isn't some nightmare mashup of the worst parts of the last six years of Michigan. It is called San Jose State.
- Offensive coordinator: Al Borges
- Defensive coordinator: Greg Robinson
- Special Teams coordinator: Dan Ferrigno
I know I shouldn't watch. But I have to.
Your Moment of Zen:
Some empty seats are emptier than others. Empty seats in Michigan Stadium can mean different things. The "This opponent isn't worth my time" seat and the "I do not enjoy standing in rain while an incompetent coaching staff criminally misuses Denard and Devin" seat are similar in their protest and non-physical occupancy by humans, but not in essence.
There is the empty seat at 11:58 a.m. because a college student got too drunk on Friday night, and the empty seat at 11:58 p.m. because the college student is on the field after a ridiculous 4th quarter under the lights. There's the empty seat in the 4th quarter of a blowout, the seat we leave empty in case Crisler should ever return, the empty seat about 2/3rds of the way up some corner whence sprouted a long flag pole, and the empty seat left by Lloyd Brady's graduation. Dave Brandon lost his job because he didn't know the difference between a "Why am I paying to see something I could watch on my 60-inch HDTV?" empty seat and a "This experience isn't why my family was in these seats for 40 years!" empty seat.
|Reserved for Fritz. [Marissa McClain/Daily]|
The emptiest seats in Michigan Stadium, however, are Seats 21 and 22 in Section 10, Row 70:
Mom and I held hands between the tailgate and the stadium entrance. I felt her tension and she told me she was thirsty and was going to buy a Coke and that I should go ahead and sit down. As I walked those last few steps to our seats I realized we were going to have to communicate Dad's passing to our stadium friends. Mom knew.
Mom passed away in 2003 after an inexplicably courageous battle with the bitch breast cancer. But before she died she watched many Michigan games with my daughter - her new best friend.
I still have the unused tickets Mom and Dad were going to use that Saturday in September of 1989. We beat Maryland that day.
The emptiness of a seat is proportional to the degree it was filled. Thank you, jmdblue, for sharing your research.
Other diaries: The recruiting board of alum96 is updated. LSA charts the four factors over the first half of the basketball season. Canadian with a weekly hockey update (Michigan is up to #12). Bet on a Super Bowl with Touchdown Tom coming down to the last drive.
Best of the Board
HARBAUGHS IN THE NFL
Chart of players Harbaugh recruited who are currently in the NFL, by Auerbach:
As a commenter pointed out, no Richard Sherman et al. if they were recruited under Harris or Teevens but played for Jim. I'm investigating but on quick glance about half of these guys were TE/DE types out of high school.
ULIZIO VIA UCONN STAFF:
Just gonna c&p from brewandbluesaturdays:
"A guy with NFL feet who has the body balance and flexibility to be a good player. He has long limbs and shows good toughness on tape. He is a quiet kid but all in all should turn out to be a good player."
In Harbaugh OL scouting we trust and all, but interesting to see what UConn saw in him.
YOU ALSO FORGOT SPACE
Jay Harbaugh sent a TE recruit a list of eight (the recruit's number) reasons to come to Michigan. Most were the standard Michigan selling points but one I hadn't thought of before was proximity to NFL teams (image via CBS Sports):
Jay is young enough I could have babysat him, but the one thing he does have on his resume is NFL scout coordinating, so if he's bringing this up as a thing maybe it's a thing? We'll have to teach him you always bring up the lunar alumni association.
Conboy's pro career looks like it will end the same way his college one did:
Andrew Conboy of the Elmira Jackals was suspended 20 games by the League for a cross-checking incident against Brampton. He was given a major penalty and a game misconduct for cross checking another player in the face, and a match penalty for deliberately attempting to injure an opponent.
As for Tropp, who's with Columbus (because go figure), earlier this season he avoided suspension for a cross-check to the back of the head of Ottawa's Mark Borowiecki in the 3rd period of a blowout. I hope it wasn't because he had no priors.
QUICK HITS: How JMFJ parents scammed him. Texas didn't get A&M's guy instead of Gentry after all [Don Draper was right about that one airline account dot gif]. Brian in the AA Observer. Should there be Wolverines on the logo? Your favorite dorm memories—if someone named Shannon brings up this time in the Mojo Dungeon when he was set up in the Stacks with grenade launchers and spent 10 minutes owning me, Corky and Sway, remind him who finally sniped him down from there…WITH A KLOBB!
Your Moment of Zen:
(A KLOBB!!! Shannon! From the next room, peeping around the corner, with a KLOBB.)
So that happened. This was a spoof off of Michael Irvin and Warren Sapp's "U Know It"—the U meaning what you think it means. Relevant information to recruits:
They also point out that Ohio State has never had a quarterback play in the Super Bowl. This got me wondering which schools produced the most SB starters. Results are in a Google Sheet.
The two tied at the top are Stanford (two Plunketts, five Elways) and Notre Dame (Montana's four, Theismann twice, and Daryle Lamonica). Brady now has Michigan at six, tied for second with "the Cradle of Quarterbacks" (Purdue, in that needs to be pointed out now). I didn't count schools that guys transferred from—if you do, Russell Wilson gives NC State two, Vince Ferragamo credits UCLA as well as Nebraska, Jeff Hostetler gives Penn State another, and Troy Aikman puts Oklahoma on the board—still no Bucks. All hail Touchdown Tom!
Filling the Class
This year's diary rock star alum96 kind of collated the knowns and unknowns and think we knowns and Sam Webb hinted at knowns regarding the 2015 class as Michigan races to fill at least six and maybe as many as 11 more spots. He's updated the diary so it's fresh, and also added a profile of Zach Gentry, who seems to be trending very blue.
Versus a Bivouac Wolverine? I've met a lot of different groups of Michigan fans, enough to start finding slight differences in what they like to talk about. Western Michigan fans have to deal with a greater number of Domers, East Coasters tend to care a lot more about Penn State, Southern transplants need constant ammunition against SEC der. Ohioans have a Bo-like loyalty that can only come from a fandom borne under siege. Ann Arborites don't need arguments for what's good about the program; they want to know what's wrong and how do we fix it right now!
In Metro Detroit we have to deal with Sparties. When I was growing up Michigan went to Rose Bowl after Rose Bowl, all the while going on about values and academics. From the perspective of the Perles-era Sparties, whose own program was basically a despicable version of Brady Hoke's, we were insufferable. The Spartan fanbase as a result got VERY sensitive to things like non-alum Michigan fans telling the old "they both got into Michigan State" joke and came up with "Walmart Wolverine."
No good Michigan fan uses that term. The whole concept is ridiculous: Across America, college football programs are the biggest sports team in the state and what outsiders identity it with. Nobody in Ohio would question if it's alright to root for the Bucks if you actually went to truck driving school. The Cornhuskers without the support of the entire state of Nebraska would be in the Mountain West. Notre Dame would have a national following of 150,000 lapse Catholics who came from money. The SEC would be in Division II. The only people who care if you went to the school whose colors you wear are either uber-pretentious, or more likely went to an "other" school that nobody would root for if they didn't have to.
Etc. National college hockey general update.
Best of the Board
CAN I GET A SHIRT IN HERE?
One of our constant complaints under Hoke was the number of redshirt opportunities he missed. Marley Nowell speculated whether Michigan might try to get some shirts on some guys (you don't have to be a freshman to redshirt). I think it's a good question, especially since Michigan could end up graduating more players than we can replace in a couple of years (the roster currently has 26 juniors).
Of course when you get into the candidates there's always reason not to. Gedeon, Canteen, Jenkins-Stone and Dymonte are already on the two-deep; Taco, Lewis and Cole, the running backs and Morris are already starting. That leaves Houma, DaMario, Ways, Watson, and Stribling. If the staff gets a late shirt on any of them it's at least a good sign that they value the future of the program. Doubt it happens.
WHO IS GOLDEN ARM?
A trip back through Bo's Lasting Lessons turned up Bo-bits on Brad Bates, Jim Hackett, Jerry Hanlon, and of course this about Jim Harbaugh:
"Jim ended up being twice as good, in my book, as the Golden Arm- Harbaugh was the Big Ten MVP his senior year, beating the other guy by a mile- and Jim's teammates liked him. Maybe Harbaugh didn't have half the arm of the Golden Boy, but he had twice the brains and ten times the heart. Give me those specs, anyday."
This sparked a long thread about who this "Golden Boy" was that Bo was talking about. Testaverde? Jeff George? A guy who was on that team said Jim Everitt.
ETC. Slate calls us nerdy. Gary Anderson was frustrated by core requirements. UNC players pushed into paper classes suing for the educations they were supposed to get. Jay Harbaugh asks Twitter if you can own a pet wolverine. Rosenberg gets fisked for inflating deflategate. Bubba Paris' heartfelt call to Michigan fans reposted from Facebook.
Your Moment of Zen:
I remember Charles.
Harbaugh's offensive philosophy
So who remembers a time when Michigan recruiting wasn't wholly depressing, and we had a recruiting tracker wiki to follow the names and their respective levels of interest?
|Your new friend for January. Find it under Useful Stuff.|
: I do! I do!
Mr. Blue! Hi there Mr. Blue!
: I'm so excited to get everyone on campus and build this class. TEXT ALL THE RECRUITS!
Well you can do that Mr. Blue.
: Hey, I've been getting those texts. We should all come visit together guys. Is it true Tyrone Wheatley is on staff?
: As have I. Verily this is all data I must consider.
Happy teeth! Data! Guys, it's been forever!
: Wait, I missed those. Do you have my number right?
: I remain 100% committed to Just Fired the Coach I Committed To U, but can you guys add me to the chain anyway?
: Sure thing Nefarious Eduardo!
: I've been following you guys on the tracker that umhero put together but if you want to add me too it's spelled S.a.d. J.o.s.h and my cell is 734-…
So those fellas have returned thanks to the work of umhero. I made it a wiki and added it to the bar above.
Well they're not from the Midwest. EGD had an interesting point to make regarding the comparison of Harbaugh's staff to Hoke's. Brady's guys were all very familiar with the Midwest, and that bore out with a very strong regional recruiting profile. It was already a good assumption that Harbaugh would be stretching his territory from sea to shining sea. I map each coach's region of greatest competence:
The only Texas connection they have is Fisch's short tenure with the Texans. Harbaugh prefers his staff to recruit their own positions but these regional connections matter a great deal in getting that guy in with coaches and players.
In a World Where Everybody Has to Say What They Mean in Pictures. Ron Utah imagined what various dudes in the Great Harbaughning would have said if they'd been absolutely candid. I actually think he got a lot of the thinks wrong, so I'll take a stab at them:
: So Jim when did you decide you wanted to be the head coach of Michigan?
[After the jump: more of Jim Harbaugh's pictorial answers to the CC questions, and where recruiting happens]
Those Van Bergenian thighs. That Clarkian pass rush. That responsible chin…[Fuller]
Final reminder to settlers along Lake Erie: We're coming to your Cleveland on Monday to talk about…I dunno…basketball or kickers or something. We've now added "Big Ed" Muransky to the lineup. Here's some footage of Muransky (#72 right, sometimes left tackle) as a sophomore against MSU, courtesy of WH. The rest of "we" are Brian, John U. Bacon, [huge gap in how much you care] and myself.
We've got the area reserved behind the bar through 11, and there's about 100-120 people coming, which means when the Ohio State fans show up later to watch the national championship game there'll be this wall of Michigan fans to greet them. And a bearded blogger guy rooting loudly for Oregon…while standing behind Big Ed Muransky.
Huge thanks to this lemon-eater for setting it up.
OT don't care SVG is boss: The Pistons cut their best player then ripped off a seven-game win streak. To win #6 they had to preserve a 1-point lead from the defending champions on the road, so Van Gundy used the last rasps of his weakening voice to demand the stones "Just form a [bleep]-ing wall." So I formed an effin' t-shirt.
If you hate this one you're all fired. My "IT'S H4PPENING" shirt is gone now but we've got several other new offerings if you haven't been on the store lately:
Not this again! New coaches mean new schemes to learn and WMUKirk did an amazing job in two diaries of showing how Durkin likes to play chess. Part 1 got into the base stuff and Part 2 was about how he mixed those to stay one step ahead of Jameis Winston's reads. There's this from Part 1:
What I've noticed is he doesn't deviate from 4 basic coverages. Quarters, Cover 3 Press, Cover 1, and his favorite blitz is the Fire Blitz from the QB's blind side. He hardly ever runs Man Under, Tampa 2, or Cover 0. He values speed and isn't against running a 3-4 with 3-3-5 personnel.
Florida's 3-3-5 was lifting one of the middle linebackers for a safety/spur/hybrid space player dude, and looked thusly:
The WDE is a pass rusher type and is standing up. On 1st and 15 this is Xtreme speed.
That's a 3-3-5 but not a Casteel stack; it's more like one of Mattison's okies except the MLB is a LB, not Mike Martin.
[Cont. after the jump]
So yesterday was the first time we really got to try out my brother's new double-TV basement setup. The plan was to watch all of the football for 14 straight hours, but once the Wisconsin game ended the kinderfolk had taken over TV2 and put on the movie that the current generation of kinderfolk cannot stop watching: Frozen. During one lengthy halftime, we acquiesced to a volume swap, and soon enough here's this room full of men in MSU and Alabama and Michigan gear intently watching a (double-) princess flick.
|This won the internet' in December. By Red_Lee|
From what I've managed to piece together of the plot from 30+ partial viewings, there's a snowy kingdom with a rich shipping and ice manufacturing industrial base that comes to be ruled by a princess with magical ice powers. As a kid she shoots her sister with it. Later the sister gets engaged to a prince she doesn't bother to scout, and as a result ice princess accidentally locks her country in a polar vortex. Ice princess then runs off, sings "eff it all" and builds ice castles until her sister shows up, at which point she shoots her sister again. So now she has to come back and make things right, which leads to her shooting her sister a third time, and this slowly turns sis into an ice statue. Then ice princess hugs the statue and cries, and everything suddenly goes back to summer because all along she had the ability to de-ice everything by loving something other than herself.
Message received, Disney. Now that Michigan's leadership is actually focusing on the realm instead of the realm's perception of its leadership, it turns out our wealthy little Nordic fantasy land doesn't have to be a barren, frozen waste-tundra after all.
Bronxblue gave the whole coaching search his Best and Worst treatment. Like the rest of us, he found the whole thing refreshingly sensical, like Michigan was acknowledging factors that created bad decisions in the past, and was approaching the pursuit of Harbaugh and Plan B with a zeal for deliberation and responsibility that Dave Brandon put into presenting himself as deliberate and responsible.
He also got into the meta of reporting on this process. As a rule of thumb, the more a media person is saying "trust ME" instead of "trust THIS INFORMATION" the less you should believe him.
[After the jump, a long discussion of the running game next year, and a moment of zen you don't want to miss]