to play football, not to play trumpet
— Evan Daniels (@EvanDaniels) July 13, 2015
So that sucks. Michigan was hard after both Battle and similarly ranked (just outside top 10) Alabama SF Josh Langford, and Battle pulled the trigger in May when it appeared Langford was about to take that option away from him. Beilein apparently thought that decision was earnest enough that he cut off pursuit of Langford, who committed to Michigan State three days after Battle reopened his recruitment.
When you play the game of thrones… There's of course going to be a lot of Michigan fans upset at Battle, and Battle's family, and Syracuse, and the world in general.
How Michigan went from a near-guarantee of one game-changing talent to none with a richer rival isn't complicated: Beilein is operating with honesty in an environment where most everybody else is just trying to get theirs. Because of the nature of basketball—small rosters and the sure effect of pure talent—winning a guy like Battle or Langford is highly likely to substantially change your team's prospects. Once you're into the extreme edge of 17-year-old basketball ability distribution, there aren't enough humans out there to start getting picky over which ones have nice families, a firm handshake, and a head for marine engineering.
This is known. We have a "basketball recruiting is dirty like dirt in a dirt sandwich" tag for this reason. When you make a play for a guy who could make any team better, you're entering a cutthroat world where any weakness—including trust—will get exploited.
So we got Lannister'd, and it was cruel, and possibly avoidable. But before you go advocating poison (or worse, tweet at a recruit) remember that highly sought teenagers have to navigate the same sea of bullshit.
Obviously Battle was pretty serious in his interest in Michigan, since there seems to be little reason otherwise to keep the option open. Obviously Langford wasn't guaranteed to come here if Battle didn't commit, since an end to pursuit on Michigan's end was enough to push him to Izzo. Obviously if the same had happened to Izzo and Michigan was the beneficiary we'd be laughing right now.
How much do you wish this was different? The more people you meet, the more you'll realize they tend to expect everyone else to operate the way they do. Dishonest people expect dishonesty; the operating factor in "nice guys finish last" is nice guys tend to be surprised when the competition isn't so nice. Beilein has lost enough battles to Kentucky to know how the world operates outside his program, but the essence of Beilein is he's ready to trust because he's trustworthy. Sometimes this gets him burned, other times Mr. Basketball of Indiana finds it astonishingly refreshing. Take the good with the Battle.
What now? Michigan is still pursuing 2016 PG Cassius Winston, which hasn't changed, and has a scholarship offer to PG Quentin Goodin. They'll probably offer another wing now. That Beilein recognized Battle and Langford early enough to be a major player for their services speaks to a scouting ability that hasn't lost its edge. That same ability has served him well with late pickups Spike, MAAR, Dawkins, LeVert, and…
So what 3* does Beilein get drafted higher than Tyus Battle?
— guestavo (@guestavoo) July 13, 2015
I trust he'll be a good one.
With the regular signing period for the 2015 class less than a month away, it's time for one of our every-so-often basketball recruiting roundups. Headlining this edition is a visit from one of the best players in the country.
Jaylen Brown Sets Official
2015 GA SF Jaylen Brown, the #2 overall prospect in the country, has twice had to cancel planned official visits to Michigan due to scheduling conflicts. The third time should be the charm, as Sam Webb reports he's set to visit later this week:
Scout's #1 player in 2015, Marietta (Ga.) Wheeler SF Jaylen Brown is slated to visit #Michigan Thursday and Friday of this week
— Sam Webb (@SamWebb77) March 16, 2015
A potential commitment from Brown would have a significant impact on the outlook for next season, but Michigan faces daunting competition: Brown has also visited Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, and UCLA, in addition to the in-state pairing of Georgia and Georgia Tech. Everyone's favorite one-and-done factory currently leads his 247 Crystal Ball picks.
Brown is one of two 2015 prospects left on Michigan's radar with one scholarship available, making the not-so-safe assumption that Caris LeVert stays and Max Bielfeldt doesn't return. The other, far more likely option is German forward Moritz Wagner, who added a scholarship offer during his official visit for the Rutgers game.
[Several class of 2016 updates after THE JUMP.]
Hoops: Michigan Drops Jalen Coleman
Since basketball recruiting news comes in waves with long periods of inactivity, and I'm the basketball guy around here anyway, hoops recruiting updates have been absorbed into the regular recruiting roundups; please excuse—and correct!—any errors I might make while I acclimate myself to the hoops recruiting scene, which I've largely ignored while Brian handled the updates.
The big recruiting news in either sport this week is that Michigan, in the wake of landing D-III transfer Duncan Robinson, has dropped high four-star 2015 IN PG Jalen Coleman from consideration, per GBW's Kyle Bogenschutz ($):
Via a phone call Tuesday afternoon, Coleman’s father Piankhi Lands said that recruitment is now over.
“Well we were trying to (set up an official visit) and they told us they were only recruiting one person for the class of 2015 and a Division III guy they had picked up, they didn’t want to set up an official date, Lands said. “They had already given a scholarship out.”
This means a couple things. For one, the staff must be very optimistic about Robinson if they're willing to pass on a shot at an elite 2015 recruit like Coleman to get him—Michigan was a very strong contender (along with Notre Dame, oddly) to land Coleman until this development. It also means the scope of the 2015 recruiting focus has narrowed significantly. Five-star IL PG Jalen Brunson announced five official visit destinations recently that did not include Michigan ($). Sam Webb believes Michigan is also done recruiting four-star Saginaw SG Eric Davis ($).
Two names appear to remain on the board for 2015, players Michigan would take despite the fact that either one would knock a slot out of the very promising 2016 class. The first is Indiana five-star Caleb Swanigan, a skilled 6'9" big man with offers from the likes of Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky, Indiana, Louisville, and Michigan State. It's hard to see a scenario in which Michigan wouldn't take him if he wanted to come. While the Spartans are thought to lead in his recruitment, Michigan isn't out of it, per The Wolverine's Chris Balas ($):
The Michigan camper (last summer) has kept the Wolverines in the mix.
"The relationship is pretty good," Swanigan said, "and it's starting to build strength. They usually don't offer guys until after the year because they're real concerned about academics, but they're starting to recruit me more.
"Michigan, definitely, they show a lot of love. I've been to the facilities once or twice before. They've been pretty strong."
The other is high four-star combo guard Perry "P.J." Dozier, who's probably still under consideration because he's 6'6" (and reportedly growing) with point guard skills. He's slated to take an official visit to Michigan on September 26th. Dozier sees himself as a primary ballhander at the next level, and apparently so does Michigan, which Dozier's father said is a big positive when talking to Bogenschutz last week ($):
“And again, we never really told the coaching staff what we were looking for, we wanted them to tell us what they saw him as and Michigan did a great job in recruiting, they were there pretty early in the game, showing a lot of interest and with the history of what they’ve done there.
“And Michigan, we have much more respect for the coaching staff there. But mainly, they’re recruiting him the way he wants to be recruited.”
Dozier could potentially eliminate the need/spot for a point guard or shooting guard in the 2016 class given his size and skill-set.
In 2016 hoops recruiting news, Michigan offered 6'6" five-star wing Josh Langford while he was on an unofficial visit last Friday. UMHoops has some video of him dunking all over people, among other things, at that link; Dylan has also compiled sophomore highlights for 2016 commit Jon Teske.
[Hit THE JUMP for football updates, including newly released state rankings from Scout for Michigan and Ohio, and commit Andrew David kicking footballs a very long way with accuracy.]
1994: when the universe was right-side up. Via Wolverine Historian:
This game featured a halftime interview with one Gerald Ford:
It's over. Everything is over. The FAKE 40 scale has been broken. They said that man could not claim a 40 time with more than five FAKES attached. They said a lot of things. Well, I present you with the first level eight (eight!) FAKE 40 time:
— Northwestern Sports (@NU_Sports) August 7, 2014
Unstoppable run-god Trevor Siemian? That does not sound right. Rodger Sherman figures that whether this is true or false this is the beginning of the end for Pat Fitzgerald. I agree. This has destabilized the entire structure of the sport.
IS IT MAIZE? This poster-type thing makes Michigan's uniforms look far less highlighter-y than they have in the recent past:
Delonte Hollowell front and center
All discussions about this inevitably center on the fact that you can make the same color look vastly different depending on lighting and various other photo doodadery, so let's just stipulate that. But maybe it'll look like a color instead of a fire truck this year.
I am intrigued by your newsletter. 2016 AL SG Josh Langford is arriving on campus today. It is possible there has not been enough chatter about this. Everyone's focused on Tyus Battle after Battle's camp appearance, but Langford is just as highly touted of a prospect, says highly positive things when asked about Michigan, and now 247's Jerry Meyer has put in a prediction for M on their Crystal Ball. He offers a brief explanation as to why:
Duke had been considered the leader in his recruitment but the Blue Devils have only showed minimal recruiting interest to this point.
Sources tell 247Sports that Michigan and Kansas are the two schools in the strongest position with Langford. … A physical guard at 200-pounds or more, Langford loves to attack the rim and also has a versatile and skilled game that would fit great into John Beilein's system of play.
Langford's quotes about Beilein are on the rapturous side, and apparently there's some substance to that.
Meanwhile, Michigan is asserted to be the leader($) for 2016 CA PF TJ Leaf by Scout analyst Evan Daniels. Asserted to be the "slight" leader. That is still an improvement over the perception that Indiana or UCLA was on top.
Leaf's Crystal Ball is a total mess, with five different schools listed—a recent Duke offer has caused a lot of picks for the Blue Devils to come in, there's a random CBS Sports writer projecting Florida, etc. Leaf just visited Arizona, as well. His recruitment could go any direction from here. Michigan probably needs another visit before Leaf's announcement in March or April to feel good. The current plan is for Leaf to take an official in February.
DRIII. Jeff Eisenberg has a rather lengthy article on the second-newest Wolverine, Duncan Robinson. How does a guy go from D-III to Michigan? Bad luck and hard work.
He stood only 5-foot-7 entering his freshman year at Governor's Academy in Byfield, Mass. He suffered an ill-timed back injury that hampered him during the all-important summer before his senior year at Exeter. And even after his growth spurt, he still needed to build the muscle necessary to absorb contact and finish at the rim. …
"His goal is to be an impact player," Tilton said. "He's not a kid looking to play a small role. He'll put the effort and energy in. I have not coached a kid with more passion for the game of basketball. He has a tremendous work ethic. He spends hours and hours on his craft. Basketball is his social life, and that's why he has been able to put himself in this position."
It'll be fascinating to see how this decision works out. Michigan passed on Nevada's Cole Huff when it looked for all the world like he would end up transferring in and seem ready to shut down 2015 recruiting entirely with Robinson in the fold. All Hail Infallible Beilein, of course, but 6'8" two-guards shooting 45% from three do not grow on trees.
Almost ready to shut down 2015 recruiting. 6'6" combo guard PJ Dozier just announced a top five and a plan to visit Michigan this fall, and if he has been shut out by the Robinson commitment he is not aware of this fact:
“Some people will say I like this school because they’re this type of school and I’ve watched them forever. But P.J. is selecting a school that is the correct way in what is going to be the best program and the best fit for him so Michigan is definitely a strong, strong possibility.”
Michigan does have a spot in the 2015 class, and if a guy on Dozier's level—#31 on the composite—wants to take it you probably let him even if it removes the possibility you get a similarly-ranked 2016 guy.
Well yeah. Listen to this man, he is a wizard.
"It's no longer about education," Snyder said. "We've sold out to the cameras over there, and TV has made its way, and I don't fault TV. I don't fault whoever broadcasts games. They have to make a living and that's what they do, but athletics -- that's it. It's sold out."
I am skeptical it was ever really about education but yes probably more so than now; "sold out" is correct.
I would be okay with this. Stunningly, a plurality of coaches in the Power 5 support doing away with cupcakes entirely:
Of the 65 Power Five coaches from the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC and Notre Dame, 46 percent (30 coaches) favored playing exclusively Power Five opponents while 35 percent (23 coaches) were opposed. About 18.5 percent (12 coaches) were undecided.
"About 18.5." Significant digits, man.
Anyway, they did away with the requirement that you have to win six games to go to a bowl, significantly greasing the skids towards a "yes" vote. Pac-12 coaches were the most gung-ho in favor, with only Rich Rodriguez opposed; the ACC was the only conference where more coaches were opposed to the idea than in favor; The Big Ten split down the middle. Hoke was not quoted but was listed as in favor.
Joe Dumars' last transaction. Brendan Quinn notes that the DRIII transfer saga was kicked off by none other than Joe Dumars's firing:
After the Pistons fired general manager Joe Dumars in mid-April, a six-week search for his replacement finally landed on Marist College head coach Jeff Bower.
Bower accepted the position, vaulting from a low-major college coach to an NBA GM.
That left Marist scrambling for a new coach as the summer churned toward key recruiting periods. The coaching search in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., ultimately landed on Mike Maker, a 48-year-old who had led tiny Williams College to a 147-32 record and two national championship game appearances in six years.
With Maker gone, Robinson started looking around. May this transaction be more in the 'Sheed department instead of the "everything after the Billups trade oh and also the Billups trade" department.
Etc.: Thanks, Landon. Autonomy passes. No one knows what that means yet. Impact figures to be minimal in basketball. Scrimmage details. You have to register, because you need to be bombarded by emails. The NFL is suddenly open.
Josh Langford will someday win a national title by sliding the ball between an opponent's legs
Basketball recruiting stuff. Michigan's packing in a number of visits before their upcoming Italy trip. D-III transfer Duncan Robinson is of course expected on campus this week. Joining him will be 2016 AL SG Josh Langford, who arrives Friday.
Langford is kind of a big deal, a 6'6" athlete who's in the top 20 of the 247 composite. He should get his offer while on campus, and while Michigan hasn't fared particularly well while recruiting against the Dukes and Kansases of the world—both have offered—Langford has been paying attention to what's going on in Ann Arbor($):
"It's an honor to be recruited by Michigan because I've watched Michigan on TV a lot and it was very shocking for me to be able to talk to Coach Beilein on the phone because he is one of the greatest coaches all time and one of the best skill developers in college basketball right now," Langford said. "To have them tell me that they want me to be their next wolf just makes me want to work even harder."
The last "wolf" was Nik Stauskas; like Stauskas, Langford is a 6'6" guy who can function as a quasi-point guard.
2015 MI C Seth Dugan is also scheduled to be on campus in the near future. Dugan is a late-rising seven-footer who's caught the eye of a number of Big Ten teams and just fielded a bunch of quality mid-major offers (Xavier, Davidson, Rhode Island).
Pelini level. I am now thinking of an Adidas commercial in which Kanye raps about getting on Pelini level with all the great awkward photo headshot gentlemen being really awkward. I am now sad the World Cup is over. I am now over that.
Meanwhile they just hosted 2016 OH C Jon Teske, who has become a serious priority for that class. He seemed to name Michigan his leader in a group of two:
"Michigan is recruiting me the hardest, probably, and that's why they're on top," he said. "The top two right now are Michigan and Ohio State, and I think it will come down to those two.
FWIW, OSU has center prospects in their 2014 and 2015 classes, neither of whom seems like an early-entry candidate at the moment.
In less immediate news, 2015 SC SG PJ Dozier announced a top five that includes Michigan and will be taking an official visit. Probably, anyway. Michigan may shut down 2015 recruiting after picking up a shooting guard at any time. The other schools on Dozier's list: Louisville, North Carolina, Georgetown, and South Carolina.
Dozier hasn't been on campus yet and thus doesn't have an offer. He's #31 on the composite, and his dad denies reports($) that North Carolina is a "dream school" and likely destination. This makes me believe that is in fact the case, but Michigan's got their shot. Probably, anyway.
Finally, Rivals projects they will move 2016 NJ SG Tyus Battle to five star status.
Miss you, Brimley
Anonymous, you are so boring. You hear "anonymous quotes" and you get your interest all piqued but Joe Tiller ain't around no more, so the results are as tepid as if they came from a press conference. Athlon has the dirt-type substance:
“What are they going to do new offensively? They just hired Doug Nussmeier. Where they’ve struggled, they haven’t been what they thought they’d be on the offensive line. They lost both their tackles now.”
How about anonymously describing Michigan's CFBStats page?
“I think they were very meager running the football. They struggled protecting the quarterback. The statistical things you evaluate – offensive line, rushing yards, yards per carry, they were pretty poor in those areas.”
There is an interesting bit about Michigan's current defense…
“Defensively, I don’t think they were near what they want to be. They have a great defensive coordinator, he’s a very good coach, but as the defense is designed to stop the run it’s become more of a passing league in some ways. Great, you held them to 100 yards rushing but they threw for 350 and you got beat.”
…or at least it would have been interesting if that even vaguely resembled reality. The Big Ten was a passing league in no way whatsoever. Michigan was the top team in YPA by some distance last year and finished in a tie for 23rd nationally. The top teams in passes per game are Indiana, Illinois, and Purdue. Those teams were bad. (Indiana was fun! But not, like, a contender.)
Devin Gardner’s back, so it will be interesting to see, are they building an off for Gardner for one more year or building for the future for Shane Morris or whomever they recruited?
…oh for pants' sake. What about the rest of the teams?
“They [MSU] aren’t going to miss Max Bullough as much as everybody thought. The kid who replaced him in the Rose Bowl was pretty good.”
That kid was a senior who signed a CFL contract. They let these people vote! You probably think that's a shot at the Coaches Poll; it's not. It's a shot at democracy.
Most of the rest of the comments are "this unit was good" and "they have this player" and "they no longer have this player." Whoever did this interview is no Mike Spath.
Hooray for reception. For whatever reason, cell reception took a severe turn for the worse last year. It was middling but generally acceptable for a couple years before that; last year it was impossible to get anything in or out until they installed the wifi, which was pretty iffy but at least vaguely functional.
I know it is possible for things to actually work, since my trip to Penn State featured horrific football but lovely crystal-clear LTE despite the fact that Beaver Stadium on gameday is significantly bigger than the rest of the town.
So Michigan's going to try to fix it:
U-M announced Friday that "upgraded cellular coverage at Michigan Stadium for Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility" is coming to Michigan Stadium. The new system will be tested Saturday during the International Champions Cup soccer match between Manchester United and Real Madrid in Ann Arbor.
A press release from the U-M athletic department states that "a major upgrade to the distributed antenna system (DAS)" has been made at Michigan Stadium," but adds, "It has been very difficult to build adequate capacity into the stadium due to its significant size as well as the open bowl which has limited locations for antennas."
I know that when the NHL came into town to scout for the Winter Classic they were flabbergasted at the lack of reception. Hopefully this gets Michigan up to par.
Problem: what will Brandon blame soft student ticket sales on once they fix it?
But they just gave you free food. Mmm boilerplate.
Michigan reports to fall camp with level of hunger that wasn't there a year ago, players say
I'm in a show-me state. Not Missouri. Just, like, personally.
I'm impressed you didn't shrivel into a ball and die. Brennen Beyer was 14 when The Horror happened, and he witnessed it in person like many of us:
"The field goal at the end … just shaking my head, knowing we lost that game. It was a bad feeling," said Beyer, who watched with dismay as Jason Gingell's 37-yard field goal was blocked as time expired.
I bet he's planning to do whatever he can not to relive that experience.
Might be a bit light for the GLI this year. All five Michigan-affiliated players at the WJC camp made the final cut from 42 to 27. While that's not quite the final team right there, the final roster usually doesn't deviate much. The cuts are usually the young guys they think will be key components of the next couple years. One of those guys is commit Kyle Connor, so that's a good sign for his future.
The rest: Compher, Motte, Larkin, and Downing. Compher is a holy lock after making the team last year only to break a bone in his foot, and I expect the other guys to go as well. This year's roster is deep, at least.
Also in hockey, TheScout.ca did rank Michigan commit Michael Pastujov their top available player for the upcoming OHL draft. Here's why:
1. Michael Pastjov - Poised and creative playmaker with soft hands. Strong and balanced, wide track skater. Adept at creating.
— Sean Lafortune (@SeanLafortune) August 5, 2014
With his brother already committed to the NTDP and a spot waiting for him when he reaches the right age, he should fall in the draft. Hopefully it's a long way and to some place like Barrie.
Wait, what? The last place I expected to hear anything about poor student ticket sales:
With less than a month until the season opener, Nebraska still has 1,000 of its 8,500 student football season tickets for sale.
However, athletic department spokeswoman Chris Anderson said Friday the school still expects to sell out all 8,500 student tickets. All remaining tickets are for the south end zone.
That's nuts. Nebraska is the second-smallest school in the league, but they've still got 25k students and nothing else to do in Lincoln. And their head coach may bite the head off one of their players while stroking a cat, Bond villain style. Entertainment, you have.
Etc.: Reviewing Bo's final year. The company that puts on the soccer friendlies is called "Relevent Sports," which just goes to show you that even people who intentionally name their thing something that looks like a typo every time you see it can have success. What a country.