Mike Lantry, 1972
hurts my heart asshat
A continuation of the Wednesday post that covers the last three years and what's shaping up in 2012. Side note: light day today. Semi-vacation day.
2009: Dominance Type Substance
Chris Norman, Larry Caper, Will Campbell
|Touted Recruits||Head To Head||Signee Rankings|
|2009||2||8||1||1||4||1, 6, 12, 24||2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 15, 20, 25|
(MSU H2H wins: Dion Sims, Larry Caper, Edwin Baker, and Chris Norman.)
Michigan State nearly swept the in-state four stars, though some of those were pretty iffy—Jeremy Gainer's offer list read "MSU, Iowa and crap"; Donald Spencer's read "MSU and… MSU." Others could be filed under "just one of those things," like Blake Treadwell being a Spartan coach's son. Others were no longer of interest to Michigan because of their offensive system.
That said, this year saw four players who Michigan wanted and seriously could have used go to Michigan State, more than the previous six years combined. Only one—Norman—was a Ren/SE kid. Michigan's instate recruits were three Cass Tech kids and Inkster's Cam Gordon; with the exception of Michigan getting the #1 kid in the state this looks like a complete reversal of The Natural Way Of Things.
2010-2011: Even Footing
Anthony Zettel, Will Gholston, Brennen Beyer
|Touted Recruits||Head To Head||Signee Rankings|
|2010||1||3||3||2||2||2, 11, 12, 22||1, 5, 7, 8, 9, 18, 19, 24, 28|
|2011||3||1||2||2||2||4, 5, 6, 7, 19, 25||1, 9, 10, 14, 26|
(MSU H2H wins: Mylan Hicks, Will Gholston (2010); Ed Davis, Lawrence Taylor (2011))
The last two years were a wash. Michigan State picked up four more head to head battles, all of them for Ren/Southeastern kids. Michigan won a few, mostly Cass Tech kids. The state continued to bleed talent outside its borders.
2010 was odd because three of the four-star prospects in state were quarterbacks. Michigan won the derby for Devin Gardner, then Robert Bolden picked Penn State; Joe Boisture was left over for State. By the end of the year it was clear he was massively overrated, and he's already left the program. Gholston and Hicks were in bad places for Michigan recruiting; Max Bullough was a legacy. CJ Olaniyan also picked Penn State. A bit farther down the list Michigan made a bad choice by taking Austin White over Nick Hill and inexplicably ignored eventual Iowa commit Austin Gray. Their on-again, off-again recruitment of Jon Hankins (and his presence at SE) eventually turned him off; he went to Ohio State and contributed there his first year.
Last year the top player in the state was again a Ren kid who went to State. DeAnthony Arnett flirted with instate schools but always seemed headed elsewhere; he ended up at Tennessee. Anthony Zettel was a lifelong Michigan fan that Rodriguez/turmoil/etc eventually blew. The next four guys ended up at Michigan; further down Michigan lost SE's Ed Davis to State and Jacob Fisher to The Process.
We don't have rankings yet but a head to head scoreboard will suggest some things.
Royce Jenkins-Stone, Mario Ojemudia, James Ross
Michigan commits: Ben Braden, Royce Jenkins-Stone, James Ross, Devin Funchess
Michigan leans: Matt Godin, Mario Ojemudia, Ron Thompson, Dan O'Brien*
MSU leans: Aaron Burbridge
*[O'Brien maintains Tennessee as his leader but Michigan is currently second with MSU nowhere in sight; if he stays instate he will be at M.]
The Natural Way Of Things returns.
With both schools seeking pro-style offensive players and running 4-3s on defense the evaluation gap has evaporated. Southeastern and Renaissance have no D-I players; even if they did, the "hurts my heart" guy got fired and the "Will Gholston lived with me" guy was hired by (surprise!) Michigan State to be a video coordinator. Those two factors were at play in six of the ten head to head battles Michigan State won over the last four years, and most people who follow these things closely think a couple of the exceptions are iffy. Tyler Hoover probably didn't actually have a committable Michigan offer and Michigan seemed to back off of Sims after they got wind of he and his dad's involvement with a laptop theft ring.
Hoke walked into a situation closer to those Michigan experienced at the beginning of the time frame covered here: Michigan has a number of very good regional recruits but few that are being recruited nationally. Of those guys two are at Cass Tech and a third is best friends with the guys at Cass Tech, leaving Danny O'Brien the only guy notching offers from way across the country who isn't extremely predisposed to head to Ann Arbor.
Still, Hoke locking down guys who should go to Michigan is an accomplishment. Michigan's downfall started when they failed to take advantage of the record bumper crop of 2007, losing "locks" like Ronald Johnson, Joseph Barksdale, and Dionte Allen and failing to swing any of the guys who were "locks" to other schools. Michigan lost CJ Olaniyan, Jon Hankins, and Dior Mathis two years ago. Last year Anthony Zettel escaped to Penn State, Jacob Fisher to Oregon, and DeAnthony Arnett to Tennessee. Those sorts of losses were far less frequent in the early part of the time frame here—from 2003 to 2006 Michigan missed on one top-three Michigan player they offered. Further down the list they had a similar strike rate.
Michigan lost its grip on instate recruiting late in the Carr era and failed to reassert it under Rodriguez. That was a combination of a run of talent at schools featuring guys who were going to funnel their guys to State come hell or high water, State legacies, and some guys on the margins of four stars. Without that confluence of factors, MSU was pretty much just MSU.
So: the question?
It seems likely Michigan will get seven or eight of the top ten-ish players instate. This is indeed unprecedented. In the long long ago when the Natural Way Of Things held, the state didn't produce enough talent for Michigan to offer the top five players, let alone the top ten. When it suddenly started producing buckets of talent huge chunks of it fled. So, like, Hoke uber alles.
Kellen Jones M bowtie FTW.
Improving the not LOI. Compliance people complain to each other on twitter about people who abbreviate the "National Letter of Intent" as "LOI" instead of "NLI." Apparently there are other LOIs. You have been warned.
In any case they should be heavily reformed. Right now they're one-way binds with silly timing that have created a cottage industry of kids who attempt to reserve their spot by being "committed, but open." Paul Johnson's opinion of this is similar to Artur Boruc's about corn:
What I’d like to see happen, but I’m probably by myself: if you have 85 scholarships, and you can sign 25 a year or however many you have. When they commit, they sign the papers and you stop. It would stop all the verbal commitments and all the hats. The guys who weren’t ready wouldn’t commit. You’d call their bluff. They couldn’t make their reservation. We’ll talk to kids all the time, juniors right now, who are committing. We’ll say ‘Are you sure you want to do that?’
“Oh coach, I’m open.”
[HT: Get The Picture.]
I'm not really sure what the argument against early signing is. The way it's set up now everyone scrambles to get their class locked in on Signing Day, so someone like FL WR AJ King who has his scholarship pulled by Purdue is in a tough spot in his attempt to find a landing place. If he was signed, he'd be signed and hijinks both ways would be seriously reduced.
The Bylaw Blog has a few other suggestions, one of which I've made in this space before: the NCAA should implement a "no contact" agreement. That piece of paper would be non-binding but would allow the school specified by the player to contact the kid without restriction… and make it a violation for anyone else to. Official visits would also be off the table. That's a verbal commitment that actually exists and would help coaches figure out who's serious and who's just making a backup plan.
Heart-hurting. Remember that video of the Detroit Renaissance coach declaring Michigan's treatment of former Ren players "hurt his heart," thus explaining why Michigan couldn't get anyone out of there no matter what? Raise your hand if you're surprised that Ren's Lawrence Thomas recited the entire negative recruiting playbook:
"Why not Michigan? They had problems. There were some past experiences with other Renaissance players that I didn't like. Plus, Rich Rodriguez sent an assistant to our school to recruit me. He wouldn't even send the defensive coordinator, just an assistant. Then we'd hear that Rich Rod would be in Florida recruiting."
The Renaissance players were Andre Criswell, a last-second addition at FB who never saw the field and was kept on as a GA after leaving the team before his fifth year, and Carson Butler, the insane tight end who finally ran out of chances towards the end of Rodriguez's first year. Butler was treated so badly he stuck up for Rodriguez during the jihad. Michigan did as well by those kids as they could given the latter's hatred of nerds, be they in the wrong dorm room or playing for Notre Dame.
So… this was not a situation likely to produce a commitment even if Rodriguez showed up with every assistant he had, and one that would likely have continued under Hoke. Similarly, when Taiwan Jones complains about a lack of attention from Michigan during his visit to the UConn game he's complaining as a guy who had been a MSU commit for months already and who Michigan never even considered offering.
This continues the theme from these Blue Chip articles in the News since the beginning of time: Michigan commits asked about State say something short, polite and vague, State commits asked about Michigan rant about a lack of respect, and the guys towards the bottom of the list submit a tear-stained questionnaire because neither school thought they were good enough. This will happen next year, and the year after, and so on and so forth.
Adventures in re-evaluating wins. So… how about not losing to Iowa by twenty points? Yeah, got a whole new sheen on it today, that does.
I mention it by way of inserting this "Fran-graph" from BHGP:
Michigan's at the top and you can see the extreme focus on the rim or the three point line in Michigan's field goals. BHGP's Horace E Cow explains:
In men's basketball in the NCAA this year, players have made 34.5% of threes and 48.2% of twos. The average value, then, of a three-point attempt is 3*.345 = 1.04, and the average of a two is 2*.482 = .964. This fact has led many college (and pro) coaches to the reasonable conclusion that three-point shots are better bets than two-point shots, and that their teams should take as many threes as possible (Todd Lickliter was one of these coaches, actually).
Not all twos are worth less than threes, though: shots at the rim are usually made at a very high percentage (60-70%) and thus the average dunk or lay-up is worth 1.2-1.4 points, much more than the average three. Putting these two facts together (threes are better than most twos, but dunks are better than threes), coaches have developed what could be called a "hollowing-out" strategy on offense: threes and dunks are encouraged, anything in between in discouraged.
My first experience with this line of thinking was watching some Kentucky game back in the day when Pitino was coaching them and hearing the announcer go on about how Pitino loathed shots just inside the arc. Beilein's system is the logical extension of that thinking. Michigan's makes against Iowa: 14 threes, nine layups/dunks, and ten anything else.
If you can get it to work it's great, and it's not a strategy that seems to have a ceiling. One of this year's other proponents of the dunk-or-deep strategy is #1 and current opponent Ohio State. Because they have Jared Sullinger they aren't launching as many threes but both their 2PT% and 3PT% are off the charts—they're in the top ten in both nationally. They've got four guys who take a large volume of two-point shots, and two of them are shooting a Jordan-Morgan-like 59%. Ohio State's distribution isn't quite as extreme but it's essentially the same thing.
The slight difference between the programs is the ability to recruit Jared Sullinger and Deshaun Thomas every damn year.
180 update. Media 180, Signing Day edition:
- Brady Hoke's first recruiting class looks like unqualified success
- Brady Hoke earns first win as U-M head coach — in recruiting
- Brady Hoke's first recruiting class adds toughness to Michigan football team
And I'm not even looking at the Free Press, which remains dead to me. I can only imagine the tiny drawings of angels.
I like the one that says there's more toughness now. That's definitely true. Being not tough was the problem, not the secondary being old enough to drive only if they all stood on each other's shoulders in a huge trenchcoat. Also that's the same guy who wrote about the "impossible expectations" driving Tate Forcier away. Pete Bigelow needs to make up his mind about toughness.
[Disclaimer section: Hoke did an okay job, but nothing that should push opinions either way. Not going into the year down eight kids is good. Losing Willingham to Central Florida(!?!?) is pretty wack, but being in a position to say that's wack is impressive since Michigan was nowhere with that kid before Mattison showed up. Losing Jake Fisher makes the tackle depth chart terrifying. I also don't understand telling Rivals 250 receiver Devin Lucien, a guy who was seriously looking at Stanford and silently committed to Rodriguez during The Process because he liked Michigan's academics, "defense or GTFO." Even if you don't want Hakeem Flowers, Michigan had room for another five players and has no receivers in this class.
Meanwhile, most of the guys picked up were of the low-hanging fruit variety: guys who were committed to Indiana or Minnesota or Vandy and didn't have a ton of other confirmed Big Ten options (Heitzman, Carter, Taylor, Bellomy) or guys who had been openly coveting Michigan offers (Poole, Rawls, Taylor again) but didn't get them until later. TX TE Chris Barnett is the exception.
This class is a wait-and-see sort of thing. We won't know if these late pickups were players RR and other Big Ten schools misevaluated or warm bodies for a while, and we won't know about Hoke's recruiting prowess until the 2012 commits start rolling in and he's competing against Ohio State. Not that Rodriguez won many battles against OSU.
On the other hand, a quarter of the class won't fail to show up or wash out by the end of spring like the last RR class so that's cool. Snatching Frank Clark away from MSU despite his existence in close proximity to Ted Ginn is promising. Also: kicker. Hoke uber alles.]
Etc.: Thomas Rawls may be a member of the Jackson family. The awkward Hoke-Rodriguez video. Going back to the 4-3. Michigan finishes 21st in the Rivals rankings. Hoke's got 8 years before the deck stacks against him significantly. Don't play the Hoke "toughness" drinking game. Nutt greyshirt hijinks.