in town for free camps
Two-parter this [ed-actually we did this last…] week.
1. What was the most painful single attrition loss you remember (Woodson was not painful since you didn't expect him to come back. Neither was Stauskas. Hypothetically losing Trey Burke after one year would have been THE WORST. Guys who were 50/50 only get half points.)?
2. Guy who would have been eligible for the 2015 football team you most miss?
Worst attrition loss ever?
Brian: We're a fun bunch this week. Here is a picture of Denard.
comes with one free Molk
Despite the fact that Mitch McGary went in the first round and there was a pretty decent chance he was going to leave even if the NCAA didn't come down on him like lunatics, it's gotta be him. We got those six tournament games that hinted at his ability, and then he wasn't right during his sophomore season, and then he was gone because he had a soon-to-be-legal substance he was tested for after not playing in a game.
I just needed to have one season of McGary as his effervescent self before he went and blew up NBA twitter. Michigan's most recent basketball season was a magnificent combination of crappy circumstances that prevented McGary's impact from being severe in a program legacy sense... and despite that, his absence pulls at the heartstrings harder than anyone else's.
[After the jump: nothing as anger-inducing as McGary, at least.]
It's happening. Hail To The Victors is fully funded with two weeks left to go. I credit Harbaugh more than anything else. Thanks all the same; we will still be taking pre-orders through Kickstarter through the 18th.
Hail to the king. Oh nothing just Harbaugh hanging out with the first lady and Ciara.
— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) May 1, 2015
Soon he will start appearing in historically significant photos and no one will remember that he was not, in fact, present.
Also sick beatz yo
— Coach Erik Campbell (@ErikCampbell) May 1, 2015
Seriously. I want to know what a Jim Harbaugh stadium playlist sounds like. Other than silence and the sound of manliness.
Hutch points with the best of 'em [Paul Sherman]
Hail to the queens. Softball locks down its eighth-straight Big Ten title:
On Sunday, No. 3 Michigan softball won the conference's top spot outright, beating Penn State 9-2 to improve to 48-6. It was the program's eighth-straight championship and 19th all-time.
Christner hit a walk-off, RBI single in the bottom of the fifth inning to score Sierra Romero from second and end the game via the run-rule. Christner finished the day 2-for-2 with three RBI, and 8-for-9 in the series.
They will host the Big Ten championship and should get a home regional.
It could be happening? Michigan rattles its defection sabers in an interesting direction:
Michigan's process of figuring out whether or not it'll stick with Adidas or sign with a new apparel provider is ongoing. And this week, Michigan athletic department officials saw a pitch from Under Armour at its headquarters in Baltimore, a university spokesman confirmed.
A meeting is just a meeting and could be held for reasons other than "we are seriously considering Under Armour." I wouldn't read anything in particular into that. It is a move that implies Michigan is seriously considering a change despite having a contract that gives them Most Favored Nation status.
As for UA's pull, they just signed Wisconsin and their Notre Dame contract is rumored to be very big:
Under Armour has proven it can pay big money, too, though, as the supplier reportedly signed Notre Dame to a 10-year, $90 million contract in 2014. Though Notre Dame has never publicly confirmed those figures.
If money is the only factor it won't be Nike, which tops out at about half that. And if we're talking about Adidas versus UA my preference is for the latter.
Congrats draftees. Devin Funchess and Frank Clark went in the second round; Jake Ryan went in the fourth. Seems about right for Funchess and Ryan. Clark's spot is interesting for multiple reasons.
He got booted for a domestic violence charge, then failed to follow the contrition playbook in the aftermath. If you thought this might make the NFL wary you may have also had hopes the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight was going to be interesting. Nope.
The other interesting bit: that Clark got drafted in the second round, period. He was always a pretty good player who flashed high-level talent; he was not the kind of consistent threat I'd think is mandatory for anyone to be drafted as a DE in the first two rounds. I mean, Alan Branch went in the second round. I didn't think Clark was anywhere near his level in college. The Seahawks evidently did.
It sounds like they did do their homework. Nick Baumgardner has an extensive article on Clark's draft spot:
He said Michigan's staff and personnel were "shocked" by the arrest, and maintained that the team got enough information from U-M's staff to allow the team to feel confident in taking a chance on Clark in the second round. He also explained how there were a number of teams who were prepared to take Clark on Friday night, possibly early in the third round.
"It was a process," he said. "I was there two days after it happened. Our area (scout) went through there twice. Our regional scout went through there twice. We spent several days there. The easy thing to do was to dismiss this. But, over time and I don't want to get into specifics of it, things became clearer and clearer in the evaluation process.
"We brought him out here, he met with our sports psychologist. But to be there at the time, to see the secretary's reaction ... it was, like 'wow.' ... You get a really, really good feel for the individual (in doing that)."
As I said before, Clark's got an opportunity for a second chance that not a lot of people get. I hope he makes the most of it.
Etc.: MLive has video from a recent AAU tournament featuring commit Austin Davis and target Brian Bowen. Gardner pre-draft interview. He landed with Tom Brady, which is not a bad place to land. The NCAA's mission is disavowed by the NCAA.
The NFL Draft begins on Thursday, and while Michigan doesn't have a long list of potential draftees, at least a couple former Wolverines will hear their names called this weekend. The first of them will almost assuredly be Devin Funchess, who's projected as a second- or third-round pick with a small chance of sneaking into the end of the first round. What should an NFL team expect to get from Funchess? Here's a look at one of the draft's most intriguing boom-or-bust prospects.
By The Numbers
Position: Wide Receiver (or Tight End, if you're not into the whole blocking thing)
Height/Weight: 6'4", 232
40 Time: 4.70 (combine), 4.47 (pro day)
Junior stats: 100 targets, 62 receptions (62% catch rate), 733 yards (7.3 YPT/11.8 YPC), 4 TDs
Sophomore stats: 92 targets, 49 receptions (53% catch rate), 748 yards (8.1 YPT/15.3 YPC), 6 TDs
The most striking aspect of Funchess is his physical talent. He pairs solid, though not elite, wideout speed with a tight end's frame. He's too fast and fluid in his movements to be defended by most linebackers and safeties, while his size can prove overwhelming for smaller cornerbacks—at least, it did when Michigan actually decided to take advantage of his mismatches.
Despite his size, Funchess isn't ponderous in his movements. He reaches top speed in a hurry, and when he's at his best he can be a sharp route-runner who gains separation with quick, fluid breaks and some nice deception:
Funchess' size helps him on his routes; he's tough to jam at the line, and he uses his hands well to disengage from defenders on his breaks.
A former basketball standout, Funchess can get up—he boasts a 38.5-inch vertical—and high-point the ball. While he's not the most natural pass-catcher (more on that later), he's able to make very difficult catches look relatively easy because of his athleticism.
Funchess is dangerous after the catch, capitalizing on his speed/power combination to run through opposing defensive backs—or occasionally leap right over them. While he's more of a straight-line runner than a dynamic open-field juke threat, he covers ground in a hurry and utilizes a solid stiff-arm in the open field.
Funchess too often allows the football to get too close to his body, which leads to some awkward catches and, with frustrating frequency, flat-out drops:
His route-running needs more consistency. The sharp, fluid breaks mentioned above weren't always apparent last season, though much of that may be due to the toe injury that lingered for most of the season.
Then there's the reason Funchess moved to wide receiver in the first place: his blocking, or lack thereof. He simply couldn't hold up as an in-line tight end, and his blocking didn't improve much when he moved outside. When putting together this post, I asked Brian for a canonical example of Funchess blowing a block:
Brian: there isn't one because there are so many
Brian: there are three in the ND UFR
That's referencing the 2013 Notre Dame game, when Funchess still played tight end; his blocking performance in that game may have expedited his move to receiver. Unfortunately, that move didn't mask Funchess' issues with both technique and effort as a blocker:
While most of Funchess' efforts weren't that egregiously bad, he's got a long way to go as a blocker.
If you asked me after his sophomore season, I'd say without hesitation that Funchess is on his way to being a very productive NFL receiver. When healthy, he's a matchup nightmare, and NFL offenses are finding more ways to incorporate oversized, TE-like receivers. Then last season cast a lot of uncertainty over Funchess for reasons both within (drops, blocking) and outside (playcalling, QB play, injuries) of his control.
I still think Funchess can be an impact player worthy of an early-round selection. He can be a red zone threat right off the bat, and if he limits his drops he can be an every-down player. I like the CBSSports comparison of Funchess to Carolina's Kelvin Benjamin, who has a similar build (6'5", 240) and profile—Benjamin was the Panthers' go-to receiver as a rookie of out FSU, and while he was very productive (73 catches, 1,008 yards, 9 TDs), he had issues with drops (52% catch rate) and route-running. I'm not sure Funchess is as ready to be an instant-impact player; replicating Benjamin's rookie season is likely a best-case scenario.
I think Funchess is at the mercy of which team selects him more than a lot of receivers. If he's drafted by a franchise that tries to turn him back into a tight end, he's likely to be a bust. If his new team lets him go to work on the outside, he's got the chance to develop into a productive downfield threat, especially if he's paired with a receiver who works well underneath.
This should be how we remember Devin Funchess. It is not. [Fuller]
Losing isn't conducive to hero worship. This is, perhaps, an obvious point. For every Minnesota-era Kevin Garnett, a beloved star on a bad team, there are many New York Carmelo Anthonys, nitpicked and questioned to an unreasonable degree while surrounded by lesser talents, hampered by poor coaching, or both.
Which brings me to Devin Funchess. In 2013, Funchess could do no wrong as the matchup nightmare foil to Jeremy Gallon's production by precision. Expectations entering last season were so high Brian had to repeatedly clarify that Calvin Johnson comparisons weren't entirely reasonable:
So Devin Funchess probably isn't Calvin Johnson. Michigan should try to prove that assertion wrong. Expect something between first team All Big Ten and an All-American followed by an early entry into the NFL draft. He may even win the Mackey award, because people don't pay attention.
Funchess's 2014 initially met expectations; he looked like a man among boys while scoring a trio of touchdowns in the opener against Appalachian State. Funchess managed 107 yards against Notre Dame as Michigan got whomped, but the seeds of discontent were planted:
Devin Funchess tore ligaments, crack bone in a toe in the ND game. Took a shot in the toe before Utah. Re-injured it. Never got better
— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) March 21, 2015
We didn't know this, of course, because Brady Hoke didn't talk about injuries. "He's fine," Hoke said, days before he'd hold Funchess out of the Miami (OH) game.
Funchess didn't look the same for the rest of the season. He didn't record another 100-yard game until the season finale at Ohio State; he reached the end zone just once after the opener. With the offense—and the season, and the Hoke era—crumbling around him, the focus turned to his occasional drops and a perceived lack of effort. Save for Devin Gardner and the coaching staff, Funchess drew more ire from fans than any other member of the program.
Never mind that he clearly played hurt. Never mind that his quarterback had the worst year of his career. Never mind that his catch rate actually improved from 53% to 62% despite him being targeted on nearly a third of Michigan's passes—and even more frequently on passing downs, when it became obvious to all that the ball was going his way. Never mind that when Gardner threw his second interception against Northwestern, Funchess blew through two block attempts, chased down Ibraheim Campbell after a 78-yard return, and laid a lick on him for good measure:
This didn't fit the narrative. Funchess wasn't an otherworldly talent gamely battling through injury in a lost season even if it meant hurting his draft stock. He was a prima donna wide receiver who hadn't earned that status, a guy who didn't care about winning, if you interpreted an unfortunate postgame presser soundbite as so many did.
When Funchess declared for the NFL draft, the reaction from many Michigan fans wasn't one of disappointment or sadness; instead, the news was met with indifference or, quite often, a list of all the reasons why he'd fail as a pro. That list got longer when he ran a disappointing 4.7-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine a month ago. It was only after, when his draft stock and earning potential had taken a serious hit, that we learned he was still recovering from an injury of which we never knew the full extent.
I can't say for certain whether Funchess will succeed in the NFL. If I had to guess, though, I think he will. At his best, his combination of size, speed, and body control is up there with anyone; we just didn't get to see him at his best last year for reasons almost entirely out of his control. If he works through his too-frequent battles with butterfingers, he's got the potential to be a defense-bending number one receiver.
In an alternate universe, Funchess may very well be Braylon Edwards, whose game was eerily similar right down to the frustrating drops. We remember Braylon in a very different light; winning helps quite a lot, as does avoiding injury and being surrounded on all sides by NFL talent. I hope we'll come around on Funchess and similarly celebrate his accomplishments instead of bashing him for failures not of his own doing. If, and hopefully when, he's skying over NFL defenders like so many Mountaineers, we'll be glad we did.
Stuff for a good cause. The UM Alumni Club of DC has an annual auction to raise money for the scholarships they endow. It's going on now, and includes things like signed Jake Long and Denard Robinson NFL jerseys, tickets to various games next year, and Michigan jenga. 100% of proceeds help kids go to M. Bid on everything.
Except the jenga. I will cut you if you try to take it from me.
Exit the one thing I liked. I liked the "Legends" jerseys for the most part. Having a QB wearing 98 was unique, and Michigan does not have much recognition of the guys who have had jerseys retired. While yanking numbers around annually was a bit much, I thought it was a nice reminder of those who had gone before. No more?
So, it sounds like Michigan's Legends Jerseys, a staple under Brady Hoke, are no more. pic.twitter.com/FZ5eNryUzJ
— Brent Yarina (@BTNBrentYarina) March 23, 2015
I understand that we are going to discard many Brady Hoke staples with prejudice. Incessant second and eleven: seeya. Touching your armpits after observing another sack: GTFO. Allowing 400 passing yards to Rutgers: toodleoo. But in this one case I feel we may be throwing the staple out with the staplewater.
Also heavily rumored. Michigan may be rejoining the ranks of the bestickered helmets.
I'm in the middle here. I like throwback stuff; I like clean, simple stuff. I would prefer helmet stickers made occasional re-appearances for uniformz games, but that's not really how helmet stickers work.
Swat swat swat swat swat. If you follow me on twitter you know the existence of the UC Irvine Anteaters was killing me as they pushed Louisville to the limit in their first-round tourney outing. Irvine has a 6'8" guy… and two 6'10" guys… and a 7'2" guy… and a 7'6" guy. As someone who has pined for a rim protector ever since it became clear Michigan basketball was going to have a really good offense even if their center's game is limited to finishing around the hoop, I was having tiny little conniption fit about a tiny school that had never been to the tournament grabbing enormous people left and right.
Anyway, long story short Jon Teske is tall and alters shots:
Michigan pledge Jon Teske scored 12 points and blocked six shots in the loss, but had a much greater impact than the numbers might indicate.
Though he was credited for only six blocks, the seven-footer (Rivals.com's No. 96 junion nationally) altered at least a dozen shots near the rim with his ridiculous wingspan and was whistled for two fouls on which it appeared he had all ball.
The first two of those were against Esa Ahmad, a WVU-bound forward who Michigan recruited for a minute several months ago. Teske's currently enduring the usual crazy zone defenses that high school teams deploy when facing someone of his size, and he is a young guy who's still growing. Whatever he's going to be is still a long way off—hopefully that includes college-level rim protection duties.
If it isn't broke but could use some improvement, add gradually. Doesn't have the ring of "if it isn't broke, break it" but has the salutary benefit of applying to Michigan football instead of disruptive "sharing economy" Silicon Valley startups. And it's what DJ Durkin is doing to the defense:
"I wouldn't say we're doing 'most' of either (scheme), if there's a defense that fits a scheme and it exposes something with the offense, we'll play it," senior linebacker Joe Bolden said earlier this spring. "Some plays we'll be in 3-4, another we'll be in 4-3. Just depends on personnel, what the other team runs. The scouting reports in the fall will determine what we play. And, if we're playing a 3-4 better, why would we do a 4-3? And just the same the other way.
"I really don't think it's that hard to grasp, personally."
Michigan's defense won't be exactly the same next season, but it won't be drastically different either. More importantly for Durkin, though, the experience level is high.
And again it's what Michigan is going to try to do with that alignment that matters.
Neither option is good here. Funchess revealed that he had a boo-boo last year:
Devin Funchess tore ligaments, crack bone in a toe in the ND game. Took a shot in the toe before Utah. Re-injured it. Never got better
— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) March 21, 2015
So either that happened when he was inexplicably playing in garbage time or had already happened by the time he was inexplicably playing in garbage time.
I mean, come on. I'd like to see the NCAA burn as much as the next guy but this is laying it on a little thick:
Khari Harding transferred from Auburn to Tulsa to be closer to his ailing father and maximize his dad’s chances to watch him play live next fall.
Under a new NCAA amendment ratified this week, the latter apparently won’t be possible. The NCAA eliminated immediate eligibility hardship waivers for Football Bowl Subdivision transfers.
The rule change is effective immediately, so it doesn’t matter that Harding — whose father Corie is battling cancer for a second time — has been taking classes at Tulsa for two months before the amendment was ratified.
Surely the ability to go to school for free in immediate proximity to your dad so you can see him all the time is the important thing here, not the fact that your football career is going to be delayed by a year. You could argue that the redshirt is actually a benefit.
Andy Staples disagrees with the above paragraph and proposes one weird trick for transfer rules that would handle cases like this by devolving the responsibility to people a bit less bureaucratic. In bullets:
1. Schools may not prevent athletes from transferring to another school and receiving financial aid.
2. The player must sit out the following season. (With only one possible exception.)
3. The athletic director at the previous school signs a form allowing the transferring player to play immediately.
I'd be fine with that. The NCAA couldn't do anything to prevent conference rules from kicking in further restrictions (IIRC the SEC does not allow grad transfers between its institutions; the Big Ten has some restrictions that may or may not apply to Jake Rudock), so if you are concerned about the dread specter of Smotrycz proliferation don't be.
Big Puppy, NBA edition. Just a matter of time before he has his own t-shirts and line of dog food and possibly several different breeds of dog all competing to be renamed McGary:
3. Mitch McGary Running
It’s like the Kramer painting: You can’t look away.
Look at all that churning effort, the weirdly stiff arms and hands, the eager glance backward that says, “Please pass me the ball, I’m open, I’m running really fast, so fast, like the wind, am I going to get the ball?” He’s like a dog looking for a Frisbee.
Jokes aside, big men who run the floor suck in defenders and open up shots for teammates. Good on the rookie for playing out the ball.
Yes, he's a purebred McGary. He generates possessions and feels at an elite level.
NO I WILL NEVER GET OVER IT STOP ASKING. Why has Al Borges never recruited a quarterback who could be considered successful*? Well, it may have something to do with his long-time association with Steve Clarkson, who seems to have fobbed off all his lower-level prospects on mister gullible. This Steve Clarkson as portrayed in Bruce Feldman's "The QB" and reviewed by Spencer Hall:
3. Dilfer's just one of the QB whisperers profiled, a group of guys who all come across with drastically different results. George Whitfield, the man on ESPN chasing guys around with a broom, comes off as half-cracked, but still seemingly legit. The guy who pronounced Tim Tebow's throwing motion to be fixed after three months or so of work, Tom House, might be the biggest beneficiary here: a flaky ex-pitcher with piles of data, a messy office to match, and a stellar roster of clients who quietly swear by him. In contrast, Steve Clarkson, the man who brought Jimmy Clausen to the world, comes off as a money-hoovering huckster prone to announcing any client as "the next [STAR QB GOES HERE]" if given enough cash. Feldman doesn't even have to try, really. You just write down Clarkson's quotes and they do their own work.
Clausen was actually pretty good, if not at all deserving of his hype level. The other guys…
*["successful" is here short for "was the clear starter for his team as an upperclassman."
I only kind of hate Wisconsin basketball. I apologize to that one guy whose entire question to me was a statement about said hatred, but Wisconsin is so fascinated by the NCAA stenographer that Nigel Hayes is answering questions like this:
I didn't know you had to capitalize xylophone. But that's why I'm not a stenographer.
Anyway, I still hate that they get away with the Wisconsin Chest Bump all the dang time but I have always coveted their bigs and I find them relatively tolerable when Michigan is not playing them. This has been a difficult confession. Share yours in the comments!
Etc.: Yes, please. Stopping taxpayer money from being spent on stadiums should be a bipartisan thing right? Jim Boeheim is just kind of this dude who doesn't like NCAA rules. Gasaway on the SCORING CRISIS. Relevant to our current situation: the rise of the vagabond QB. Congrats to Carol Hutchins on her 1400th win, a 20-0(!) bombing of OSU.
When I weep on national television I only get scorn.
Gentry vs Malzone: FIGHT
Quarterback recruiting policies.
I know that Harbaugh has every right to recruit his own personnel, but considering that Malzone is already on campus, did he just get royally screwed? If he never suits up, can he transfer without having to sit out?
The idea that a quarterback would be screwed over by the addition of another guy at his position in the same class is Hoke-era thinking that should be quickly discarded. Wilton Speight doesn't seem to mind:
Boom!! Loading the stable! #goblue
— Wilton Speight (@WiltonSpeight) January 25, 2015
sent in the immediate aftermath of Gentry's commit
Every other position sees fierce battles; QB should be no different. And even if Malzone is put off by the idea of sharing a spot in the class with Gentry, I think that's more than offset by the idea of getting coached by Harbaugh and Jedd Fisch.
FWIW, Malzone could transfer after his first semester at Michigan. He would have to redshirt and then would be a redshirt freshman wherever he ended up, as Steven Threet was when he fled Paul Johnson's triple option system at Georgia Tech.
The more likely exit scenario for the quarterbacks who find themselves down the depth chart in the midst of cutthroat competition is to get a degree in three years and then transfer with two years to play two. An increasing number of elite QB recruits are throwing themselves in grinders like Michigan's with that idea in their back pocket. If Michigan is going to take two QBs a year that should be part of the pitch: the least you leave here with is a Michigan degree and three years of kickass coaching. Malzone has a head start on that with his early enrollment.
By the way, with reports that elite CA QB KJ Costello is heavily interested in Michigan, this could be the respective first two QB recruiting years of Hoke and Harbaugh:
- Hoke: Russell Bellomy.
- Harbaugh: Malzone, Gentry, DeWeaver, Costello.
That's one three star previously committed to Purdue versus what is probably four four-star recruits. (Hoke did recruit Malzone but Malzone is a block-M true believer who stuck with his plan to enroll early despite Michigan not having a coach at that juncture.) One of the major reasons the Hoke list is so short is that in deference to Shane Morris they didn't take another quarterback in his year… or the year in front of him. That was a disastrous decision. Let's not do that any more.
Harbaugh won't: at Stanford he took an average of two QBs a year.
Two stars bad. More stars good.
@mgoblog with so many high end prospects out there showing interest,why are we pursuing 2 ⭐️players at any position right now?
— Tessmer (@TyTessmer) January 25, 2015
There are only a couple guys on the board who fit that description: recent OH OL commit Nolan Ulizio and as-yet-unoffered FL CB Markel Bush. Everyone else is at least a three star and—unlike many of the transitional Hoke recruits—courted by or committed to high level BCS schools. (Hoke got decommits from Indiana, Vanderbilt, and Minnesota; Harbaugh has flipped guys from Texas, Nebraska, and Wisconsin.) So Harbaugh is already doing well.
As for the two stars, Bush is clearly a backup plan in case they don't get two of the four guys they've offered (Iman Marshall,
Will Lockett, Damon Arnette, and Jarius Adams). Ulizio is an offensive lineman. Offensive linemen are less likely to fulfill recruiting expectations than any other position, and as you say Michigan had opportunities to look at other, more highly-rated guys. They passed. Is that a concern?
…let's cool it on the judgy bits just yet.
[After THE JUMP: Marrow, length of tenure, Dymonte Thomas, sloxen, Gary Danielson email]