somehow we're only 124th
In CONGRESS, July 4, 2013
The unanimous Declaration of the five united Conferences of America (and the mid-majors and stuff)
When in the course of football events it becomes necessary for one league to dissolve the postseason selection systems which have bound them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, or field turf, or grass, or whatever-you-know-the-blue-stuff-from-Idaho, a separate and more equal system to which the Laws of Nature and of Walter Camp entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all D-I programs start the season equal, that team sports are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are a postseason which is entertaining, properly rewards regular season achievement, is respectful to the cherished traditions of man and Providence, and above all may declare among the nations an unequivocal champion whose commemorative season review may be included unto mankind's Sports Illustrated subscriptions…
From here Jefferson goes on to excoriate George III for a laundry list of tyrannical acts like dissolving elected champions and repeatedly screwing over Kansas State, but you get the gist: we are free!
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that postseason systems long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that the BCS disposed mankind to suffer by constantly abolishing the forms to which we were accustomed. Having undertaken just such an endeavor, it be our duty to provide new guards for our system's security, seeking out the potential injuries and usurpations within the playoff before we go ahead and pledge to it our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred trophies.
A new playoff thus established, allow me to submit to a candid world the entirety of the BCS era revisited as if it were governed by this gallant new postseason.
Precedents. This is 1998 through 2011 as if determined by the new playoff system as Brian was federally mandated to describe last week. I put together a similar post to check various postseason ideas last December and again in May to check if home or bowl sites would be more compelling, but the system proposed is so radically different than the 4-teamers I was checking it's worth another go-round. Hinton did a four-teamer study for 2006-'11, and Connolly did one too, but both left out the hand-crafted, top-tiered, fat-free, non-playoff bowls, which are the best new idea to come out of these discussions.
The Reason I'm Doing it Again: I'm looking for potential points of controversy that would best be smoothed over or at least anticipated, so we don't have a Whiskey Rebellion.
Articles of Revisitation (the method part you don't have to read unless you're going to comment on the method). This is a seven-game postseason consisting of a four-team playoff whose semifinal round is played within the "Big Six" bowls (the seventh game being the championship). Theoretically the top 12 teams get in but I have a feeling before the money guys affix their John Hancocks there will be plenty of room to put a 14th ranked Michigan in a marquee bowl over a hypothetical 1-loss Won't Sell Out State.
Obviously much of the stuff we’ll run into by going back to 1998 has already been taken care of by realignment and conference championships. However with mega-conferences and uneven divisional splits we have not seen the last of two conference foes and rematches.
To fill in the details they're still working out, I added the Cotton and Citrus to the Rose-Orange-Sugar-Fiesta lineup in order to get six. They're the two oldest non-BCS bowls and have the next-highest payouts already. Both SEC affiliates, if they maintain their traditional conference loyalties, the result could create a bias in favor of the SEC and against the ACC and Pac 12. I’ll be watching to see how this works out.
Nobody cares who won a mid-major (sorry Big East) championship. This makes the years before the Miami-VT-BC defection a bit weird-looking. Tougher non-conference schedules and conference championship games should help to clarify the top in years going forward.
Bowl precedence (ie better matchups) is decided by an unwritten understanding of each bowl’s historical importance, and their historical tie-ins. Close or intriguing matchups are preferable to “fair” matchups, and where possible I’ve shown a preference for teams to play close to home because that helps sell tickets. Where possible, Rose gets B1G and Pac champs, Orange gets ACC, Sugar gets SEC, and the Cotton has first dibs on any former Southwestern Conference team. If there’s a mid-major nobody wants, it goes to the Fiesta Bowl because somebody has to, and they're in the NCAA's doghouse at the wrong time. The Semis rotate but the new guys can get pushed aside for the old affiliations.
Numbers in parentheses are AP rankings so don't treat them like they're meaningful. Rematches are avoided if possible, though I did have one because of context. On with the shew!
1:00 pm: Cotton Bowl: Florida (7) vs. Texas A&M (10)
4:30 pm: Fiesta Bowl: Arizona (5) vs. Tulane (9)
8:00 pm: Sugar Bowl (SEMI): Tennessee (1) vs. Kansas State (4)
1:00 pm: Citrus Bowl: Arkansas (11) vs. Michigan (15)
4:30 pm: Rose Bowl: UCLA (6) vs. Wisconsin (8)
8:00 pm: Orange Bowl (SEMI): Florida State (2) vs. Ohio State (3)
Champs: Ohio State/Wisconsin/Michigan (B1G), FSU (ACC), Kansas St (BXII), UCLA (P12), Tennessee (SEC)
Left out: Georgia Tech (12), Nebraska (13), Virginia (14), Air Force (16), Notre Dame (17), Syracuse (8-3)
The new controversy: Right away we have Michigan getting in despite being ranked (by the AP) below three relatively equal candidates, a 1-loss team (AF), and two teams who beat us. The selection committee is going to take heat every year for picking an 11th and 12th team out of a pile of 9-win major conference teams and 1-loss mid-majors. Schedule strength was the main quality I used to choose here (and supreme bias).
1:00 pm: Citrus Bowl: Michigan State (9) vs. Florida (10)
4:30 pm: Rose Bowl (SEMI): Florida State (1) vs. Wisconsin (4)
8:00 pm: Orange Bowl: Marshall (11) vs. Penn State (13)
Champs: Wisconsin (B1G), Florida State (ACC), Nebraska (BXII), Stanford (P12), Alabama (SEC)
Left out: Minnesota (12), Texas (13), Mississippi St (14), Southern Miss (15), Pac Ten champion Stanford (22).
The new controversy: The Pac Champ isn't even invited? I'm sure a semifinal and the #1 overall Seminoles are enough of a consolation prize for the Rose Bowl. But I have to wonder if the conferences will sign on to something that could possibly leave their 3-loss champion out of it entirely. There are years in packed mega-conferences when a handful of great teams all beat each other up. Do the Big Five get auto-bids then?
1:00 pm: Fiesta Bowl: Nebraska (9) vs. TCU (13)
4:30 pm: Sugar Bowl: Florida (7) vs. Oregon (8)
8:00 pm: Cotton Bowl (SEMI): Oklahoma (1) vs. Washington (4)
1:00 pm: Citrus Bowl: Virginia Tech (6) vs. Notre Dame (10)
4:30 pm: Rose Bowl: Oregon St (5) vs. Purdue (14)
8:00 pm: Orange Bowl (SEMI): Miami (2) vs. Florida State (3)
Champs: Purdue/Michigan/Northwestern (B1G), Florida State (ACC), Oklahoma (BXII), Washington (P12)/Oregon State, Florida (SEC)
Left out: Kansas State (11), Texas (12), Georgia Tech (15).
The new controversy: The rematch or fairness problem arrives. Miami beat FSU, but lost to Washington, who lost to 2-loss Oregon, who lost to Wisconsin and Oregon State, who lost to Washington. With that inbred mess of 1-loss teams, who plays Oklahoma in the first round, then? Do we avoid the rematch or try to rank them?
1:00 pm: Cotton Bowl: Oklahoma (10) vs. Tennessee (8)
4:30 pm: Sugar Bowl: Texas (9) vs. LSU (12)
8:00 pm: Fiesta Bowl (SEMI): Oregon (2) vs. Colorado (3)
1:00 pm: Citrus Bowl: Florida (5) vs. Maryland (6)
4:30 pm: Rose Bowl: Illinois (7) vs. Stanford (11)
8:00 pm: Orange Bowl (SEMI): Miami (1) vs. Nebraska (4)
Champs: Illinois (B1G), Maryland (ACC), Colorado (BXII), Oregon (P12), LSU (SEC)
Left out: Washington State (13), South Carolina (14), Virginia Tech (15).
The new controversy: The question of who gets to die by Hurricane is neatly dispatched, aye, but if the selection committee is supposed to be fair, why are we seeing LSU and Florida and Miami all hosting at (basically) home? Because that guarantees more ticket sales. You knew this would happen when they eschewed home sites so that southerners could go on pretending snow is just a myth; now see it in action.
1:00 pm: Cotton Bowl : Texas (9) vs. Michigan (12)
4:30 pm: Fiesta Bowl: USC (5) vs. Oklahoma (8)
8:00 pm: Sugar Bowl (SEMI): Miami (1) vs. Georgia (4)
1:00 pm: Citrus Bowl: Penn State (10) vs. Washington St (6)
4:30 pm: Rose Bowl (SEMI): Ohio State (2) vs. Iowa (3)
8:00 pm: Orange Bowl: Kansas State (6) vs. Notre Dame (11)
Champs: Ohio State/Iowa (B1G), Florida State (ACC),Oklahoma (BXII), Washington St/USC (P12), Georgia (SEC)
Left out: Alabama (13 but ineligible due to NCAA violations), Colorado (14), West Virginia (15), Florida State (16).
The new controversies: The Rose Bowl features a pair of Big Six Bowl-eligible teams from the same conference who didn't play each other in the season, a situation that repeated itself with MSU-OSU in 2010 and with Michigan and Wisconsin in 2011. Can you do that? Does BTN then have first dibs on the friggin' Rose Bowl The second controversy is the inclusion of so many teams from one conference. Indiscernible teams with head-to-head wins tend to get bunched in polls, and selection committees are liable to do the same thing. What happens when on conference has the 10-11-12 and the next the 13-14-15? Here the B1G has four representatives, five if you count ND.
1:00 pm: Citrus Bowl: Tennessee (6) vs. Ohio State (7)
4:30 pm: Orange Bowl: Kansas St (8) vs. Florida State (9)
8:00 pm: Rose Bowl (SEMI): USC (1) vs. Michigan (4)
Champs: Michigan (B1G), Florida State (ACC), Kansas St (BXII), USC (P12), LSU (SEC)
Left out: Purdue (12), Iowa (13), Washington State (15)
The new controversy: By this point certain bowls are getting to host way more often than others. Should they rotate? Among the old BCS or include Cotton/Citrus in that rotation? The count so far is Rose and Orange 3, Fiesta, Sugar, and Cotton 2, Citrus zero.
1:00 pm: Cotton Bowl: Texas (6) vs. Georgia (8)
4:30 pm: Fiesta Bowl: Louisville (7) vs. Boise State (10)
8:00 pm: Sugar Bowl (SEMI): Oklahoma (2) vs. Auburn (3)
1:00 pm: Citrus Bowl: Iowa (11) vs. LSU (12)
4:30 pm: Rose Bowl: Cal (5) vs. Michigan (13)
8:00 pm: Orange Bowl (SEMI): USC (1) vs. Utah (4)
Champs: Michigan/Iowa (B1G), Virginia Tech (ACC), Oklahoma (BXII), USC (P12), Auburn (SEC)
Left out: Miami (13), Tennessee (14), Wisconsin (15)
The new controversy: Undefeated Utah is given the nod over the warring Texas/Cal factions; undefeated Boise State is (boo hoo) left out. The Fiesta Bowl gets stuck with them and Petrino's 1-loss Louisville (a game previously played at the Liberty Bowl), but this keeps everything else aligned nicely. To make it interesting the Big XII should offer a two-year trial membership to the victor.
1:00 pm: Sugar Bowl*: Georgia (8) vs. West Virginia (11)
4:30 pm: Fiesta Bowl: Oregon (6) vs. Auburn (7)
8:00 pm: Cotton Bowl (SEMI): Texas (2) vs. Ohio State (4)
1:00 pm: Citrus Bowl: LSU (10) vs. Virginia Tech (12)
4:30 pm: Rose Bowl (SEMI): USC (1) vs. Penn State (3)
8:00 pm: Orange Bowl: Notre Dame (5) vs. Miami (9)
Champs: Penn State/Ohio State (B1G), Florida State (ACC), Texas (BXII), USC (P12), Georgia (SEC)
Left out: Alabama (13), TCU (14), Louisville (15)
The new controversy: Man can't we just have Texas play USC? But this is a Rose controversy really, since by nature of winning their head-to-head Penn State is now the 3rd seed and places out of the Rose Bowl. Wait…how can a Big Ten team win its way out of Pasadena? Or do you say the hell with seeds and put the Big Ten champ and the Pac Ten champ in the Rose Bowl. My solution: put OSU against Texas in the Cotton Bowl, and now both undefeated teams are essentially playing home games.
*Note the Sugar Bowl that year was moved to the Georgia Dome for Hurricane Katrina--hindsight says the WVa.-Georgia game was a hit so let’s keep it.
1:00 pm: Fiesta Bowl: USC (8) vs. Boise State (9)
4:30 pm: Cotton Bowl: Oklahoma (7) vs. Auburn (10)
8:00 pm: Sugar Bowl (SEMI): Ohio State (1) vs. LSU (4)
1:00 pm: Citrus Bowl: Wisconsin (6) vs. Arkansas (12)
4:30 pm: Rose Bowl (SEMI): Michigan (2) vs. Florida (3)
8:00 pm: Orange Bowl: Louisville (5) vs. Notre Dame (11)
Champs: Ohio State (B1G), Wake Forest (ACC), Oklahoma (BXII), USC/Cal (P12), Florida (SEC)
Left out: West Virginia (13), Virginia Tech (14), Wake Forest (15)
The new controversy: Notre Dame started the season ranked #2, beat no teams that ended up ranked except #25 Penn State. But what do you do with a 2-loss Notre Dame team? The question is moot so long as they're scheduling like 2012, though many of their regular opponents are very up-and-downy. Also I guess Wisconsin and ND could flip games—the question here is are we honoring the Citrus's affiliation or is that gone now?
Poetry to be replaced by Mizzou
1:00 pm: Cotton Bowl: Missouri (7) vs. Florida (9)
4:30 pm: Fiesta Bowl: Kansas (8) vs. Hawaii (10)
8:00 pm: Sugar Bowl (SEMI): LSU (2) vs. Oklahoma (3)
1:00 pm: Citrus Bowl: Virginia Tech (5) vs. West Virginia (11)
4:30 pm: Rose Bowl: USC (6) vs. Illinois (13)
8:00 pm: Orange Bowl (SEMI): Ohio State (1) vs. Georgia (4)
Champs: Ohio State (B1G), Virginia Tech (ACC), Oklahoma (BXII), USC/Arizona State (P12), LSU (SEC)
Left out: Arizona State (12), Boston College (14), Clemson (15)
The new controversy: That 4/5 split can get down to razor thin—do you favor a Pac12 co-champ (relevant now only for Big XII) or a clearly better non-champ and end up with two conference foes in final four?
Selfishly, this robs us of Lloyd's last stand against Tebow.
1:00 pm: Cotton Bowl: Texas Tech (8) vs. TCU (11)
4:30 pm: Fiesta Bowl: Alabama (4) vs. Utah (7)
8:00 pm: Sugar Bowl (SEMI): Florida (1) vs. Texas (3)
1:00 pm: Citrus Bowl: Ohio State (10) vs. Cincinnati (12)
4:30 pm: Rose Bowl (SEMI): Oklahoma (2) vs. USC (5)
8:00 pm: Orange Bowl: Penn State (6) vs. Boise State (9)
Champs: Penn State/Ohio State (B1G), Virginia Tech (ACC), Oklahoma (BXII), USC (P12), Florida (SEC)
Left out: Oklahoma State (13), Georgia Tech (14), Oregon (15), Virginia Tech (22)
The new controversy: Some years simply conspire to ruin any hope of a cut-off. Said Hinton:
Valid Complaints. This was a year of torches and pitchforks under the BCS, and would have been under anything short of at least a six-team field; really, you can make a compelling argument here for at least eight teams, maybe nine. There is no tidy, fair or convincing way to solve that kind of logjam with a four-team bracket.
Undefeated mid-major, or any of a million compelling one-loss top programs? Bama gets left out of the playoff in favor of Pac Ten champ USC (who then gets to play near home—oh the unfairness!) and those two play each other so at least only one can be bitching at the end of the season.
1:00 pm: Orange Bowl: Georgia Tech (9) vs. Penn State (11)
4:30 pm: Rose Bowl: Oregon (7) vs. Ohio State (8)
8:00 pm: Citrus Bowl (SEMI): Alabama (1) vs. Cincinnati (4)
Champs: Ohio State (B1G), Georgia Tech (ACC), Texas (BXII), Oregon (P12), Alabama (SEC)
Left out: Virginia Tech (12), Miami (14), BYU (15)
The new controversy: Boise State's best season ever just happens to fall at the same time as two other mid-majors' which means they're punched out of the playoffs like LaGarrette Blount (OH SNAP!). After two seasons in a row of this, fans are declaring the new playoff system a disaster and call for an expansion to six teams. NCAA officials declare a six-team playoff would bring ruin to college football, and swear on their souls it will never happen so long as they're in charge.
1:00 pm: Cotton Bowl: LSU (11) vs. Virginia Tech (12)
4:30 pm: Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma (9) vs. Boise State (10)
8:00 pm: Sugar Bowl (SEMI): Auburn (1) vs. TCU (4)
1:00 pm: Citrus Bowl: Ohio State (6) vs. Michigan State (7)
4:30 pm: Rose Bowl (SEMI): Oregon (2) vs. Wisconsin (3)
8:00 pm: Orange Bowl: Stanford (5) vs. Arkansas (8)
Champs: Ohio State/Michigan State/Wisconsin (B1G), Virginia Tech (ACC), Oklahoma (BXII), Oregon (P12), Auburn (SEC)
Left out: Nevada (13), Missouri (14), Alabama (15)
The new controversy: We get to see that Michigan State/Ohio State game we missed in the Big Ten season in the "Bitching that we're just as deserving as Wisconsin" bowl.
Will the committee try to get the Michigans of the world into prime bowls,
or are they there to prevent that from happening? (Upchurch)
1:00 pm: Cotton Bowl: South Carolina (10) vs. Kansas State (11)
4:30 pm: Sugar Bowl: Arkansas (7) vs. Boise State (8)
8:00 pm: Fiesta Bowl : Alabama (2) vs. Oklahoma State (3)
1:00 pm: Citrus Bowl: Michigan (13) vs. Clemson (14)
4:30 pm: Rose Bowl: Stanford (4) vs. Wisconsin (9)
8:00 pm: Orange Bowl (SEMI): LSU (1) vs. Oregon (6)
Champs: Wisconsin (B1G), Clemson (ACC), Oklahoma State (BXII), Oregon (P12), LSU (SEC)
Left out: USC (5 but ineligible), Michigan State (12), Baylor (15)
The new controversy: Michigan State beat Michigan but lost to Wisconsin (their 2nd loss on the season) in the Big Ten Championship and dropped out of the Top 12, thereby no longer being eligible for the…yeah this doesn't get "fixed." A similar argument in reverse is over the Stanford/Oregon thing, where Oregon won their head-to-head and a there-but-for-the-grace Pac12 championship game, but Stanford was ranked several spots higher. However the Citrus Bowl is a more likely destination. The difference is Oregon won their conference; Michigan State won their division because their blowout loss to Notre Dame wasn't counted in the division standings while Michigan's close loss to Iowa counted the same as MSU's blowout loss to Nebraska. N.E.way long story short the Spartans are still korking coupons about the whole biz, even if it's a Citrus Bowl bid now.
Things to discuss at the next Constitutional Convention:
- Rate the relative importance of SOS, conference champion, head-to-head, total wins.
- Will proximity to the bowl site be a consideration for the committee's hand-picking?
- Will the NCAA leave room for them to put major draws in places to up the takings at the risk of favoring those programs?
- Conference foes who haven't played each other—can they play in bowls?
- What's more important: a fair seeding system or better/more traditional matchups?
- Which bowl gets the semi each year? Should they rotate, favor certain ones, function on a system (preferably no—anytime you hamstring the committee you're lessening the good a committee can do)
- Can it be expanded to six teams? Perhaps this is something to be constantly reviewing and if it proves necessary after, say, 10 years, do it.
- At least the BCS had a hard number (and pollsters with obvious agendas/incompetency) to blame. How will the committee justify its razor-thin decisions between 4 and 5, and 12 and 13? I vote for lengthy, judge-like written "opinions" made public to publish. Minority can write opinions too.
- Auto-bids for major conference champions?
- Backbone? Sparties are gonna Spart, even when they're not justified. Can they agree not to make sweeping changes in response to last year's slights?
- Billeting troops—this should not be allowed. If any of our lawyers want to create a 4th Amendment case against bowls having power to choose hotels for the schools (aren't they technically billeting government-subsidized "troops?" You can use Kellen Winslow's testimony…) you will win a cookie. Or two cookies if it goes to trial.
Happy 4th of July.
The highly rated 2012 and 2013 (barring mass decommitments) classes have us all aflutter these days, so much so that we have to keep reminding each other most of these guys won't play a down for several years. Mentally placing them all in starring roles by 2016 is the classic recruiting fan's error—some work out, many end up overrated, plenty don't get to the end of their eligibility. Who knows how many will actually redshirt? I thought I'd try to answer that.
Why We Do It or Don't. Well, the obvious: would you rather have an 18-year-old who joined the team just weeks ago, or a 22-year-old who's been with the team for four years? The biggest reasons for the team not to redshirt a guy is when they think he's likely to be NFL-ready in four seasons, or if he's needed right away.
Then the human element comes in: Kids arrive needing to lose fat, needing to become accustomed to the rules that now govern their lives. Meaning no offense to Brackinses or Sarantii, but sometimes you bring in a guy because he's a good teammate (cough cough …of Kelly Baraka) and can help on special teams now but whose ceiling is such you highly doubt you'll renew his 5th. Players who came for the education will plan on moving on after four years. Players who came to play football will grate about being on the bench when they're better than the guy getting playing time (why Urban Meyer is going around pretending like he's the only coach who "plays the best players.") (Upchurch----->)
Coaches with three years to prove themselves will fire every bullet in the chamber to survive the current gunfight, not the one in four years. No coach in the country will hold back Desmond Morgan for just the hope of a 2015 Desmond Morgan, or at least not unless he's got a bunch of 2015 Desmonds on hand already. And there's the rub: the only way to have that luxury later on is to have the luxury already.
Historical Trend. Redshirting is a practice much older than my fan memory can take me. The history of serial redshirting freshmen is hard to track down but it seems to be exactly as old as the five years to play four rule, which was a response to wild old days in the '20s and '30s when teams were stocked with nigh professionals.
WWII screwed everything up as servicemen swapped schools to be at whatever camp their service commanded, then came back from war as 26-year-olds with eligibility. The mess clears out by 1960, which class had four players—quarterback Forest Evashevski, guard John Marcum, center Bill Muir, and tackle John Yanz—make it to a fifth year. None from the class of 1961 were on the '65 roster; five of the '62 freshmen made it to '66. There's your "good old days" baseline. Let's put that against the era I can at least kind of check against memory (big HT to Mike Desimone, whose wheel I have reinvented):
|Class||Total||RS'ed||% of Class||5th Yr||% of Class|
|2001||21||15 (+1)||71.4% (76.2%)||8||38.1%|
|2005||24||13 (+2)||54.2% (62.5%)||7||29.2%|
|2006||21||11 (+1)||52.4% (57.1%)||8||38.1%|
|2007||23||11 (+3)||47.8% (60.9%)||10||43.5%|
|2008||25||14 (+1)||56.0% (60.0%)||8||32.0%|
Those parenthetical +'s are medical hardship redshirts or mid-career transfer years given to players from those classes who weren't redshirted initially, e.g. the three for 2007 are Woolfolk, Hemingway and Threet. In chart form (click embiggens):
The slightly different shade of blue for the 2009-'11 classes are the guys on track to play five years; they won't all. We're still looking at relatively small groups of redshirt seniors for the next few years, as cascades of attrition forced a lot more guys to play early who otherwise wouldn't have.
You can see what I mean about cascades. When Michigan was really humming, only about 30% of the freshmen were playing right away. That became more like 50% in the Late Carr era, and then peaked at 60% during the Year of Whatever Sticks. In the middle of that you can see the '97 and '98 classes were, for their time, anomalies for playing 8 or 9 true freshmen.
Who those freshmen were is instructive:
1997: Demetrius Smith, William Peterson, Pat McCall, Ray Jackson, Mo Williams, James Whitley, Anthony Thomas, and DeWayne Patmon
1998: David Terrell, Drew Henson, Justin Fargas, Marquise Walker, Todd Howard, Larry Foote, Hayden Epstein, Walter Cross, and Evan Coleman
That's three cornerbacks, six running backs, two linebackers, and a lot of guys listed at or near the top for their position coming out of high school.
Positional Redshirting. You don't need me to tell you some positions get more redshirts than others. Positions where weight matters—defensive line, offensive line, tight ends, and linebackers—should be more likely to see redshirts since very few people, even in the early-growth-spurt-athletic-freak category, can safely put on BCS-level muscle by 18. Those that demand a high level of developed knowledge and skills—quarterback, center, safeties, middle linebackers—might be a secondary category. Receivers and cornerbacks have a lot to learn and do need size but those are secondary to physical traits. And then there's running backs, who regress/retire from the NFL before 30, seem to progress little in measureables over the course of their college careers, and therefore usually play early unless blocked. Special teams is another consideration; safety-like objects are desired in abundance while 280-lb. future tackles need not apply. Let's test that against the '93-'11 recruits:
It's twue. Dwamatically so. While I was at it, I thought I'd also use the opportunity to see which positions Michigan favored over this same time period. The "Factor" means how many starting positions you're really recruiting for (TE and WR split one). The question here was whether how often that position is redshirted factors into whether we over-recruit or under-recruit that spot. This may be the most useful table of this article:
Column C being how many recruits per year we managed to get to fill each starting spot. Okay, forget useful. What you're seeing instead is Michigan recruiting lots and lots of running backs. There was pretty high attrition there in the '90s, but this doesn't even count all the RBs who moved to other positions, something they did a lot of 20 years ago, when every HS team's best player was the running back. DT, OT, and kicker—recent problem areas—show up as dramatically under-recruited. Running these numbers over different time periods would say more but sample sizes are getting tiny as it is.
The best of what's left of the 2008 O-Line haul (Upchurch)
Anyway, yes, they're correlated, except safety is sitting in the "need more dudes" region with a less-than-average rate of redshirting. So we didn't have safeties either. On the other hand Michigan had some great tailbacks and quarterbacks come through here.
Going back to the table above, the only one that doesn't exactly fit the paradigm of a mass/experience/athleticism matrix is defensive tackle. For that just see the list of who redshirted versus who didn't:
|Marques Slocum - 6'5/336||Jason Kates - 6'2/339|
|Richard Ash - 6'3/320||Alan Branch - 6'6/331|
|Quinton Washington - 6'4/315||William Campbell - 6'5/331|
|Marques Walton - 6'0/292||Gabriel Watson - 6'4/331|
|Grant Bowman - 6'3 /289||Terrance Taylor - 6'0/319|
|Will Johnson - 6'5/285||Larry Harrison - 6'3/313|
|Norman Heuer - 6'5 /282||Mike Martin - 6'2/299|
|Will Heininger - 6'6/277||Vince Helmuth - 6'1/291|
|Alex Ofili - 6'4 /275||Renaldo Sagesse - 6'4/289|
|Rob Renes - 6'2 /275||James McKinney - 6'2/285|
|Terry Talbott - 6'3/260||William Carr - 6'2 /276|
|Josh Williams - 6'4 /260||Paul Sarantos - 6'3/261|
|Eric Wilson - 6'4 /255||-|
|Shawn Lazarus - 6'3 /245||-|
|Ben Huff - 6'4 /232||-|
Richard Ash, two guards (one of whom would have played but had eligibility issues), and a bunch of guys less than 290. Among those who played as true freshmen, it's planetary objects, a 20-year-old Canadian, a couple of low-expectation position switchers, and Will Carr. Find a freak athlete over 300 pounds who wants to play right away, you put him at the nose. On the left you're looking at a lot of vintage 3-techs. From this I take it players Michigan recruits for nose are probably more likely to play right away, while a 3-tech should be expected to need more time to develop.
Hyped Players Play Early. The nose tackles also seemed to have come with more hype. Recruiting data doesn't go back beyond 2002 but with that small sample plus the anecdotal evidence above from 1997-'98, we can see a little of how stars affect the likelihood of redshirting:
Everyone else is average; the 5-stars are the ones who seem to overwhelmingly get on the field as freshmen, them being the most likely to be college-ready after high school and expected to be NFL-ready in four years.
2012-2013 and Beyond. We haven't done anything here really except confirm what we pretty much already knew about redshirting. That all said, here's my predictions for the upcoming guys:
[UPDATED: Now with more "Why?"]
|Blake Bars||OG||93.5%||4||?||A couple of OL injuries and he's in.|
|Joe Bolden||LB||64.9%||4||No||Early enrollee, already 2nd on depth chart|
|Ben Braden||OT||95.8%||3||Yes||Less ready than Bars/Kalis at this point|
|Jehu Chesson||WR||57.5%||3||No||Need receivers. At least one will play|
|Jeremy Clark||S||53.3%||3||Yes||Kovacs/M-Rob ahead. Plz don't burn on Special Teams|
|Amara Darboh||WR||57.5%||4||No||See Chesson|
|Devin Funchess||TE||80.8%||3||Yes||Not ready. Needs to gain size|
|Allen Gant||S||53.3%||3||Yes||Depth at SS, more ready than Clark|
|Matthew Godin||DT||55.6%||3||Yes||3-tech development track|
|Willie Henry||DT||55.6%||3||Yes||See Godin|
|Sione Houma||FB||56.3%||3||Yes||Hopkins and experience ahead of him|
|Royce Jenkins-Stone||LB||64.9%||4||Yes||If MLB, EEs are ahead. SLB 2-deep is set|
|Drake Johnson||RB||36.4%||3||No||RBs play early – want him ready if Toussaint leaves early.|
|Kyle Kalis||OG||93.5%||5||No||Most ready of OL. OL depth is scary thin|
|Erik Magnuson||OT||95.8%||4||Yes||High ceiling but not ready for PT yet|
|Dennis Norfleet||RB||36.4%||4||Yes||Would like to get separation from other returners.|
|Mario Ojemudia||DE||66.7%||3||Yes||Too small to hold edge right now|
|Ondre Pipkins||DT||55.6%||5||No||Weak depth chart plus 5-star nose tackles always play early|
|Terry Richardson||CB||42.9%||4||No||Is 7th CB, but 3 coming next year and Talbott is the guy to beat at field corner|
|Kaleb Ringer||LB||64.9%||3||Yes||Bolden better. Injuries could draw him in|
|James Ross||LB||64.9%||4||Yes||Needs to gain muscle, separate from Des|
|Tom Strobel||DE||66.7%||4||Yes||RVB-like – needs to grow into 5-tech|
|A.J. Williams||TE||80.8%||3||No||Has much to learn but depth here is scary|
|Jarrod Wilson||S||53.3%||4||No||EE. If ahead of Furman won't R.S.|
|Chris Wormley||DE||66.7%||3||No||Competition to back up Roh is Brink and Heitzman|
|Jake Butt||TE||80.8%||4||No||College-ready TE needed immediately|
|Taco Charlton||DE||66.7%||4||Yes||Clark/Beyer are JRs – gain size.|
|Gareon Conley||CB||42.9%||3||Yes||One boundary will play, but not Conley|
|David Dawson||OT||95.8%||5||Yes||Hopefully 2012 OL ready. If not it's true freshman OT hell all over again|
|Jaron Dukes||WR||57.5%||3||Yes||8th/9th receiver|
|Chris Fox||OT||95.8%||4||Yes||Tackles are supposed to redshirt|
|Ben Gedeon||LB||64.9%||4||Yes||Separation from big 2012 LB class|
|Khalid Hill||TE||80.8%||3||Yes||Developing into U-back|
|Maurice Hurst Jr.||DT||55.6%||3||Yes||3-tech track but could draw in for depth|
|Patrick Kugler||OC||100.0%||4||Yes||Centers always redshirt|
|Jourdan Lewis||CB||42.9%||4||No||One boundary will play. Probably Lewis|
|Mike McCray||LB||64.9%||4||Yes||Slotted for SLB: Gordon/Ryan/RJS|
|Shane Morris||QB||63.6%||5||Yes||All depends on if Gardner gets his RS|
|Henry Poggi||DT||55.6%||4||?||Highest-rated DT on roster after Pipkins|
|Wyatt Shallman||RB||36.4%||4||Yes||Are you *sure* you're a ….|
|Deveon Smith||RB||36.4%||4||No||Smith, possibly Toussaint gone. Opportunity knocks.|
|Channing Stribling||CB||42.9%||3||Yes||One boundary will play, but not Stribling|
|Scott Sypniewski||LS||NA||NA||Yes||Glanda will be a senior|
|Dymonte Thomas||S||53.3%||5||No||7 safeties on roster for 2 spots, none more highly rated, 4 just a year older|
|Logan Tuley-Tillman||OT||95.8%||4||Yes||Tackles redshirt.|
|Csont'e York||WR||57.5%||3||Yes||See Dukes|
Yeah, 15 and 17 redshirts when we've been averaging 7 to 10—what was that I said about the classic fan mistake again? I'm kidding myself about 2012 and the depth on the team currently, but I could see 2013 actually shirting that many guys, provided they're not needed to fill new holes and whiffs from this year. The tight ends, at least, will see the field, and at least a DT will likely be called upon before he's due. It's quite far out to be thinking about not wasting a year of a York here or a season of Shane there, but 2017 will thank us.
Somewhere in Ohio right now is a printer watching helplessly as thousands of beaming Denards drain their most expensive ink pots. They are Buckeyes, and acted like total Buckeyes at times, probably because to a Buckeye a few months of going to bed with this image on your mind is excruciating:
You are not a Buckeye, and therefore to you it is beautiful. It is Hail to the Victors 2012. It's 8 1/2 inches wide, 10 3/4 inches tall (a good bit larger than HTTVs of yesteryear), and 128 pages long. It is a production of MGoBlog. MGoBlog staffers wrote it, edited it, produced it, published it, and took most of the photos in it. Our regular apparel partner, Underground Printing, is the one distributing it. More importantly, MGoBlog readers supported it through an astoundingly generous response to our KickStarter campaign. There are no ads in it (this time), just a sponsor page at the end to recognize the folks most responsible for this book existing longer than the company that used to publish it.
You can have it. It's $12.50 plus shipping (
I think that's $3.00 EDIT: S&H is $4.99 and tax is $1.05, so $18.54 total to get it mailed) and will be put in mailboxes starting June 30. There are plenty to go around. Consume!
Here's how it happened: By about last August last year, frustrated that the old publishers still hadn't paid us or the rest of the contributors for the 2011 book, I approached Brian with the concept of taking HTTV indie. I've been in the publishing business and Brian never lost the contacts that made HTTV a flagship series since 2007. We figured how many copies we sold in years previous, what it would cost to produce it ourselves, and whether we could, at minimum, afford to cover our expenses plus pay back last year's contributors for last year. That concept became deadly serious when it turned out the reason the old publisher wasn't paying anybody was because they were folding.
The Kickstarter was Brian's idea. It took some time for us to come up with a number, finally settling on $20,000, a little less than half of our projected expenses ($44k – which turned out to be close enough), figuring if we have enough to cover up-front expenses we can sell enough to make up the rest; if we raised less, oh well it wasn't going to happen. The kickstart was finally posted in late March. This is when the thing went from omigod I hope our wives are cool with five-figure debt, to omigod you guys! You guys, who committed to your copies so fast if I didn't know better I'd think Mattison was telling you it'll make you a Baltimore Raven. In a day we met our funding goal. In two days we'd doubled it. In a week we had broken even on the whole thing. In the end you did this:
I'll save you the details of what came next, except to say captioning is like trying to write the great American novel using Twitter, and there was a point when we realized every article was 25% too short because our page size had changed. Also there are two typos that will haunt me forever, and a few Easter eggs for longtime MGoReaders to find.
Here's what you bought yourself, by which I mean here's a preview of what we put in this actual physical book which you can own and put on the coffee table or bathroom rack or read on planes and other places cheap Internet cannot travel:
- LETTER FROM THE EDITOR by Brian Cook. Non-randomly selected words/phrases from the last sentence of each paragraph: Real Talk, fergodsakes, millennium, dysfunctional, song.
- THE TEAM, THE TEAM, THE TEAM, by Brian. A 30-page, position-by-position look at the 133rd Michigan Football squad, with depth charts, last year's stats, predictions, and a few record books that might be rewritten this year.
- RECRUITS TO KNOW, by Brian. Doesn't include some of the guys who made it into the position previews. Ojemudia's laser eyes are tame when compared to those of RJS. It was short on space so if you don't like anything from Ringer to Houma, that was me.
- THE ENEMY, THE ENEMY, THE ENEMY, by Jerry Hinnen of CBS Sports, and MGoBlog's Ace Anbender (Notre Dame) and Heiko Yang (Ohio State). This is a 24-page, team-by-team preview of the 2012 schedule, with extra pages devoted to rivals (not you, Minnesota) and other big games (not you, Illinois). For OSU I enlisted editing assistance from Ramzy Nasrallah of Eleven Warriors, who set us straight on a few things and was ignored on others. Unfortunately Brian's intro page had to be cut from this so maybe we'll post that later.
- TULIPS, REAL ESTATE … SEASON TICKETS, by Michael Elkon of Braves & Birds looks at Michigan's rising ticket prices and donation demands versus a home spate that sees every directional MAC school more often than Wisconsin or Penn State, and poses the obvious: where does the bubble burst?
- SOME OF PART OF THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STORY, SORT OF, by Craig Ross is a response to John Bacon's Three and Out and the closest we'll probably ever come to a Lloyd-angle view of those events.
- THOSE WHO STOOD, by Seth Fisher, is my saccharine retelling of the careers of Team 132's most prominent seniors while assessing their ultimate place in Michigan history.
- CONFIDENCE MAN, by Chris Brown of Smart Football and Grantland takes us into the mind of a Mattison to discover how, over the course of one season, he managed to turn Michigan's defense into a Michigan defense (TM), by focusing on playing Michigan's defense.
- PREDICTING PERFORMACE by The Mathlete of MGoBlog uses the best predictors known to stats to guess at the performance of M's 2012 offense, defense, and overall difficulty of the entire schedule.
- FOURTH DOWN AND NOWHERE TO GO by jamiemac of Just Cover Blog is a discussion on the astounding level of play Michigan got last year on its 3rd and 4th and short situations, how this was secretly just as important as turnovers in how the season went, and whether it's repeatable for 2012.
- HARRY WHO AND '32 by Greg Dooley of MVictors takes us back to Gerald Ford's sophomore season, a time when the NCAA made as much sense as the Big Ten's postseason priorities, and an athletic little quarterback named Harry Newman led the Wolverines to a National Championship.
- THE HUMAN HURRICANE: FIELDING YOST is a long excerpt from John Kryk's next book. The book is on the Point-a-Minute dynasty; the article is the part about how Yost got to be the man who made it.
- HAIL TO THE ROUNDTABLE between Cook, Fisher, Ross, and Dooley discusses the current staff, the defensive turnaround, breakout players, Hokeisms, fusion cuisine, and 2012 predictions.
- COMIC SECTION: CHARLIE'S FIRST MICHIGAN GAME by Six Zero of The Blockhams
Plus the roster that was sent to print before I could confirm Gardner's # change was the real deal, and a cover and back cover and section images designed by MonuMental, and a table of contents that I wrote and sent off before I realized we could add 4 more pages and thus which erroneously says the Sponsors Page is on the inside back cover when it's actually just the last right-side page of the book. And the Sponsor Page. About that…
Upchurch | Because they bent over backwards, get it?
The following appear in the back of the book (not on the inside back cover like it says in the table of contents) for going far beyond a pre-order and a t-shirt during the HTTV Kickstarter. If you know any of these folk you should walk up to them at a socially awkward moment and sing Muppets in celebration of them (don't do this):
|816 Hill ~Class of 2002||Jonathan Giroux||Ken Mickey|
|Andy and Ken Anbender||David Glasser||Mike Curtis Agency-
Farm Bureau Insurance
|Zac Barry||John Granger||Milty|
|Alexander Bash||Nikki Guglielmo||Edward Mitchell|
|Joe Beaulieu||Jason G Heitman||Mike O’Byrne|
|Jeff Becker||Kirk Hemmen||Paul|
|Scott Bishop||Greg Henchel||Pharker|
|Jonathan Borman||Steve Higgs||Jeffrey M. Raab, LSA ‘96|
|Brooks||Drew Hill||Walt and Connie Reebel|
|Ben Davis and||Peter F. Holland||Josh Rockey|
|Christie Brown||Tom Hoover||Joshua Ruland|
|Cory S. Brown||Kyle Hubbard||Safran Family|
|David Callahan||Nathan Isenberg||Brad Schafer|
|Brian W. Callahan||William and Claire||L. David Schenk III|
|Carey Family||Johnson||Brian Shull|
|Scott Childers||Captain Cory Kastl/
Cadet Garrett Kastl
|Damian P. Silver|
|Michael Cromwell||Andrew Kim||Frederick Cogswell|
|Jerry Current||Matt Kramer||Simmons IV|
|Matt Duane||Donald J. Kunz||Malcolm T. Simpson|
|Eric Dunn||Adam Lanseur||Bo Snyder|
|Chris Eagle||Kevin “ILL” Legel||Hariharan Sundram|
|Joseph Eichhorn||Matt Lenhoff||Ben Swihart|
|Epic Win Apparel||Mark Liinamaa||Jeff Taepke|
|A. Espinoza-Diaz, CoE ‘98||The Linn Family||Jeff Timberlake|
|Joseph Fix||Lud, LSA ‘05||Jason Tolbert|
|Dana S. Fletcher||Kelly Lytle||Trueblueintexas|
|Will Fluharty||Greg Macklem||Bill Weiner|
|Alan M. French||Evan Makela||Eric M Wilfong|
|Crew Gary||Bob Manza||Rahul Yaratha|
Hawaiian War Chant Level (they gave more, and thus get quotes):
Arthur: Harbaugh, you owe my brother $25.00.
Jeff Baiocchi: Go Blue!
Michael A Barton: F--- the bigger boat! Get more ice and rye, a lot of rye, Drapers coming over.
Matt Candler: Go Blue!
Dahman Law: Dahman Law, unabashedly supporting the legal and blogging interests of Wolverines all across enemy territory, and soon in Michigan. Check us out at dahmanlaw.com.
Jonathan Gaines: “Dad, is it weird that I pity Sparty more than I hate Ohio?”-teenage daughter after 2011 Big Ten Football Championship game. -WFBlue
Michael Hacker: Hacker Bros. BBQ. You can’t drink all day if you don’t start in the morning.
Don Hubbard: Go Blue!
Scott Jacobs: S. Jacobs LSA ‘92
Bob Kennedy: Go Blue!
Jerome Lim: Go Blue!
Jamie MacMillian: JustCoverBlog.Com, providing college and pro football commentary, breakdowns and analysis since 2009. Your 2012 football season wont
be the same without us on your reading list
Jonathan McDonald: I firmly believe this publication will equip Michigan fans with an unprecedented decided schematic advantage. Go Blue!
JP: JP Gaztambide... Puerto Rico en la casa. VAMOS BLUE!!!
Steve Reynolds: Keep that UM fandom growing, Angela!!
Some additional names need to be mentioned here. Courtney Fathers of CorkBoards, our art monkey who held out hope of actually sleeping in the month of May way longer than we thought she would. Eric Upchurch, who provided most of the photographs for the book, and who blew most of what we paid him on special equipment he believes can capture the entirety of a Denard smile without the glare. To other contributing photographers in order of appearance: Drew Hoover of Bama's student newspaper, the Crimson White, Communications Specialist 1st Class Chad McNeeley of the U.S. Air Force, the University of Notre Dame Athletics Department, Shotgun Spratling of Neon Tommy, Daryl Quintaig of Illinois student newspaper The Daily Illini, Mark Boomgaard of Spartannation.com, Derek Tam of NU Intel, "Proud Buckeye" James D. DeCamp, and the University of Michigan Bentley Library. And a special thank you to the players, coaches, staff and fans of 133 Michigan football teams for remaining steadfastly worthy of so much ink.
We're going to try again next year, probably with another Kickstarter, wholesale distribution, interior ads, and I expect 1,000% more Devin Gardner.
HT to MFanNE for putting this in a thread: ESPN has begun culling the latest data submitted by member institutions to NCAA on how much money their athletic departments are actually raking and spending. Since ESPN in a fit of awesomeness decided to leave their database for 2008-'11 just lying there for the Excel-ing, I figured I might grab the data and shoot the sheet.
The universities gather these data for their Title IX reports, therefore I am almost positive they reflect the budgets for entire athletic departments, not just football. But football being football you can expect most of the swings were football. Totals from those four years are what is presented and sorted by below.
Note that private schools and public schools in Pennsylvania don't have to report, therefore they haven't on many of these. This applies to BC, Duke, Miami (YTM), Wake Forest, Pitt, Cuse, Northwestern, Penn State, Baylor, Rice, SMU, Tulane, Tulsa, Navy, BYU, Notre Dame, Temple, TCU, Stanford, USC, and Vanderbilt. This will screw with conference overall data.
|#||University||Conf||2011||Ticket Sales '08-11|
|2||Ohio State||Big Ten||$50,009,395||$168,909,180|
|9||Texas A&M||Big XII||$32,771,997||$125,721,452|
The ticket sales thing is going to be a bit janky since I don't know where the donations to get tickets count. Minus Penn State and Northwestern, but including Nebraska, the Big Ten is the only conference averaging over $25k/year per school.
|#||University||Conf||Student Fees '08-'11|
|3||Florida International||Sun Belt||$60,801,888|
|5||South Florida||Big East||$52,288,800|
With the exception of Virginia, these schools are drawing from the students way more than they can get from contributions.
|#||University||Conf||University subsidy '08-'11|
Two schools trying to build a case to be in BCS conferences, and the directional Michigan schools. When you vote for David Brandon, you vote to end this shameless expenditure on MAC-letics. #BrandonforMichigan2014
More after the jump.
Ah, I see you entrusted the future of your defensive backfield to Chris Richards
and Johnny Sears, and offered Carson Butler. You shouldn't have done that.
With the additions of two defensive tackles—the only sore spot really left in the class—the 2013 haul is starting to take shape, and this shape is looking pretty darn shapely. Granted we thought the same last year when thousands of 4-star linebackers and linemen burst out of their Ohio prisons to join the Wolverines, leaving—we thought—the staff several months to chase down a few 5-stars. Those didn't really materialize, and might not again. But it's just
November … August … Early JUNE (!) and there's 20 guys in the next class, and they're mostly blue chips, and unless ESPN has done something drastic to their scores I think an entire legion of superheroes just pledged to my alma mater.
If there's any doubt that Brady and Hokesters (this is a terrible name for our coaching staff) are killin' it on the recruiting trail, consider this is now the second year in a row that a board thread has been started to ask is this the Best Michigan Football Recruiting Class Ever?
M-Wolverine beat me to it, but the gold standard here is still 1995—in a word: CharlesWoodsonTomBradyeeeeeeeeee. Also Renes, the Williamses, James Hall, Tai Streets, Aaron Shea… That class was the core of the national championship squad and populated NFL rosters for the next decade. (SI Vault--->)
Putting Captain Hindsight on the sidelines for a moment, the anecdotal standard is 1998. That class was sterling at the top, headlined by Drew Henson (who had nine confirmed miracles by October of his senior year). Before pos-bang threads existed, the fanbase-wide giggle session from Henson playing catch with David Terrell in Central Park nearly toppled the young Internet. Marquise Walker (9th best player in the country overall according to Sporting News), Justin Fargas, Cato June, and Hayden Epstein were too considered Parade All Americans. LB/DL Dave Armstrong and LB Victor Hobson were close. Tom Lemming of Prep Football Report and Bobby Burton of the National Recruiting Advisor named Michigan 1st in the land; Allen Wallace of Superprep put us behind UCLA because they had DeShuan Foster.
(Also in 1998, 548-year-old Brooks MacCleod Bollinger beheaded the Kurgan, won the Prize, and signed as a freshman with Wisconsin.)
The 2013 class isn't expected to be so rich at the top, and thus is unlikely to win the same beauty contest, but it's deeper, still naming high-three star types at the point of the list where '98 was tapering off into French Canadians. The ratings are bound to shift—down as do most early commits as more of their classmates are evaluated and placed on the board, and various uncommitted Top 25 recruits leap toward this year's shiniest object—but at this point there's already enough of it to start, you know, thinking about what all that promise actually promises.
Since '98 and other successful classes occurred before humanity shifted its considerable intellect from inventing things and pondering the meaning of our existence so we could figure out how teenagers work, there is no easily accessible written record from that era with which to compare, except the little from DeSimone. Certainly 5-stars and whatnots existed before 2002, but that's where the Rivals and Scout databases begin, so we shall too.
2002 to 2013 to Various Scouting Systems
Again, I'm throwing out hindsight for now because the Class of 2013s are currently 75 percent of their way through high school, an accurate assessment of their actual abilities not available until 2017 or '18. The class before them hasn't stepped on campus yet. Half of the class before that are redshirt freshmen right now. As to the rest, yes, individual players often vastly under- or out-performed their rankings. Insert usual essay about recruiting in the aggregate is legit yo.
You've seen the way I like to represent this before, putting the classes beside each other with heat-colored levels. I'm not sure if I explained why they're lined up that way; the idea is you can see how many blue chips (4-star and higher) on the left side of the mid-line, and assess how many depth guys and fliers (3-star and lower) you're filling in with. The yellow-green guys (5.7 to Rivals, 79 to ESPN) seem to be 40-60 to become solid Big Ten-level starters or better; the ones over the 4-star threshold something more like 55-45, thus I'm trying to represent a kind of mid-point.
Clicking embiggens, but you can see what's causing the excitement already: Scout is very bullish on the recruits Michigan has verbals from already, and ESPN has either dramatically changed their ranking system or somebody slipped them a press release about Shane Morris taking practice shots at Jake Butt. The numbers are on a Googledoc if you can see if/where I went wrong with this.
At this point we allow Captain Hindsight back into the room…
The captain says 2008 is going to be rough.
This is that column on the spreadsheet where I tried to reassign star ratings based on each player's performance. A 5-star is a major-impact player who probably got drafted in the 3rd round or better; a 4-star is an All Big Ten sort—the RVBs of the world, or a player like Kovacs who's a star but has an exploitable hole in his game (yes, Kovacs was added to 2008). A 3-star is a contributor but in a just a guy way, a 2-star someone we didn't want in there (think Savoy or Banks). The "NR"s are mostly injuries or early early attrition but not the later stuff; if we got a good look at what a guy can do I rated him, e.g. Mallett is still in there for 2007, since coaching change losses aren't likely to apply to us any time soon. This isn't supposed to correlate with performance; it's meant to see what recruiting classes yield.
What struck me most is how long we seem to have been going without those 4-star-like dudes, exactly the type of guys these last two classes have been filled with, and which characterized '95. I too hope some of the more epic blue chips we're after sign up, but even if they don't, the 20 guys in this class are already among the better ones signed in the last decade, and it's not out of the question that they may some day be the best.
Beginning my freshman year (1998), we started referring to highly touted young cornerbacks for Michigan as the "Next Woodson." The first was James Whitley, a freshman who played semi-extensively in 1997 and looked good when the supporting cast made his job easy. We were quickly disabused of Whitley=Woodson in 1998 when Notre Dame shredded him.
This is of an impossible comparison; players who can reasonably be considered the best at their position ever don't exactly replicate. But we humans get sentimental about things we had and like to envision never losing them (there's some psychological term for this I believe) so we pretend like the new thing is going to grow into the old thing. It didn't hurt that after a few painful years of Whitley we got, if not exactly Next-Woodsons, a string of really good cornerbacks we could call Next-Woodsons:
Archived from MGoBlue.com
They were tall like Woodson, and came with very high recruiting accolades like Woodson. But the first thing we noticed about them was that as freshmen they were tackling kind of like Woodson. With Woodson as a freshman I remember being excited as hell because he really popped almost right away. I don't remember him against Virginia that year, but he was active every game thereafter and a star by the end of that season. We're not going to compare Blake to Woodson because he's not that. The question is whether he might be the next in the line of future NFL-ish dudes we had from Law through Warren.
Since pledging to Michigan in a deep and dark December when everyone figured Rich Rodriguez was unlikely to survive, then giving out quotes attuned to our particular type of arrogance, this was a guy we all liked. Countess, who's about 5'11 now, i.e. average height, started the last six games, and played his best one in the Sugar Bowl, suggesting enticing levels of future ability. (Photo: Upchurch------------->)
I don't think we were expecting such big things right away. Tim wasn't in the Hello: post:
After a redshirt year (or a year spending time almost exclusively on special teams), he'll slowly work his way into the lineup over the course of a couple years. He probably won't have a chance to be one of the starting corners until he's an upperclassman, but there are so many variables between now and then that it's hard to project.
Brian called him Courtney Avery++ and was more positive in the predictions:
Projection: His height will always be a hindrance but if I had to bet he starts for three years and ends up an All Big Ten sort of player. Will not redshirt since he's polished and will probably be better than anyone behind the starters on day one; solid favorite to take over for Woolfolk next year.
Nobody said "would bounce Woolfolk back to safety halfway through his freshman season en route to being Michigan's star field corner in 2012." Blake on Blake:
I know, I know: stats do not a cornerback's story tell. A tackle could mean a perfectly defended edge or a deep pass badly defended followed by a defensive back draped over the triumphant receiver. They don't say how often they were targeted or whether he whiffed on a key third down that cost the game. Anyway:
Countess is sized more like Todd Howard than the giants above him on this list, but in case you missed the play of a certain DB of Virginia Tech, corners his size can do just fine in college, even against Big Ten receivers. And in case you missed Blake in that game, he had eight tackles (six solo), so we're hardly talking about a pure cover guy. The stats do seem to tell a story beyond "just a guy playing cornerback," but they should not alone be trusted.
We really only have UFR data from two of these seasons, and since they're separated by four years this too is going to be fraught with inconsistencies. Here's Countess's 2011:
|12||OSU||2.5||10||-7.5||Could not deal with deep stuff by himself.|
|11||Nebraska||1||3||-2||Lost leverage on big run.|
|10||Illinois||3||2||1||Also had a jumped Jenkins PBU.|
|9||Iowa||4||6||-2||Great day except for the 44 yards that were all on him.|
|8||Purdue||1||2||-1||No one was really tested back here.|
|7||MSU||1.5||3||-1.5||Not Woodson yet.|
|6||NW||2||2||0||Beaten deep once, but also a push.|
|5||Minn||5||1||4||Think we may have something here.|
|4||SDSU||6||4||2||Not as rapturous as we thought but still pretty good, full stop.|
Not rapturous. Here's Warren, and remember, the 2007 scale is not comparable to the 2011 scale—the comments are probably more informative than the numbers.
|12||OSU||0||2||-2||Just the one PI.|
|11||Wisconsin||3||4||-1||Relatively tough day.|
|10||MSU||2||1||1||Still can't believe that PI call.|
|9||Minnesota||5||2||3||Minnesota attempted to pick on him all day and mostly came up empty. Already a standout, IMO, and poised to have a huge career.|
|6||EMU||5||1||4||Quickly becoming a typical Warren day: three instances of blanket coverage that become incompletions, one badly missed tackle. I'll take it.|
|5||NW||5||2||3||Big bounce-back day.|
|4||PSU||1||4||-3||Needs to work on his tackling.|
|3||ND||3||1||2||Long handoff whiff was disappointing; rest of it was pretty okay.|
|1||Horror||0||0||0||Came in for Sears|
Warren got in a few games earlier than did Countess but if Blake was 2nd on a depth chart when Johnny Sears was getting torn up by a I-AA team he'd have gone in as well. Likewise Leon Hall's ability to earn his way onto the field in the apparently strong 2003 backfield itself was an accomplishment. Donovan had some tackling issues in the UFR that I didn't remember; Countess did seem to do better holding the edge. What I'm looking at is Donovan's game against Minnesota, where he was targeted relentlessly and came out of that convincing Brian we had a Next-Woodson on our hands. Put that against Countess's first and second games, when, likewise, we had collective visions of Next Woodsonism when he was targeted by SDSU and Minnesota.
Overall the scant evidence from our eyes and available reviews suggest a guy probably in striking distance of the Next-Woodsons. If I told you this time last year that a guy already on the roster projected at the tail end of a group of Ty Law, Marlin Jackson, Leon Hall, and Donovan Warren, would you take that?