"Rodrick Williams Jr.'s 10-month old, 2-foot-long savannah monitor named "Kill" gets the RB some strange looks when they go for walks together."
Hello, I'm back, and very thankful to have missed the dumbest week of the offseason thus far. The long-promised recruiting mailbag is here, and I'll have a recruiting roundup tomorrow once I've caught up.
There may be in-class attrition. It probably won't include Mike Onwenu. [Rapai]
At long last, we've gone long enough—hold on...
[checks three different message boards]
[checks Twitter again]
...we've gone long enough without a commitment for me to put together the recruiting mailbag I promised weeks ago.
— CBCS (@MGoFour) June 15, 2015
It wouldn't surprise me in the slightest. Michigan already sits at 21 commits in the class and they have several positions of need yet to fill: wide receiver, tight end, defensive tackle, BUCK linebacker, cornerback, probably one more offensive lineman, and maybe an additional inside linebacker. They may even take a kicker, though Quinn Nordin's recruitment is trending towards Penn State. That's seven or so more potential spots. If they find a way to make the numbers work, this class could conceivably reach 28 players, with the coaches backdating a few early enrollees to fit under the yearly cap of 25.
Can Michigan make this work without oversigning? I think so. Brian covered part of the numbers outlook in his recent mailbag, noting two areas where scholarships should open up:
- There are 4-6 current redshirt juniors who are candidates for unrenewed fifth years. They'll have spent four years in the program and will leave with degrees in hand.
- There are a couple potential medical redshirts, not including the now known to the public effort to get Ondre Pipkins to agree to take one. Pipkins, a senior, wouldn't have affected the 2016 scholarship count regardless.
There's another huge factor: the impending depth chart crunch. Michigan is set to have seven scholarship quarterbacks on the roster in 2016; they'll also have seven scholarship running backs. That's 14 players for two starting positions (three if M goes RB-by-committee), and there's a good chance underclassmen pass an upperclassman or two. Depending upon how the depth chart shakes out, there could be 3-4 transfer candidates just from those two position groups. As the pecking order is established in fall camp and during the season, some players will look for playing time elsewhere.
In addition, I looked at Stanford's 2010 class for a reason. Any class that fills this many spots this early is likely to have attrition, and while Stanford's 2010 class had an unusual number of decommitments even for Harbaugh, it'd surprise me more if Michigan held onto every current commit than if they lost at least a couple. David Reese is looking at Louisville and Notre Dame. Dele' Harding camped at West Virginia recently. In-class attrition should be expected.
For those looking at the number of highly ranked targets on Michigan's board and wondering where those spots will come from, that should help provide an answer, as should this: always remember that fans tend to overestimate their team's chances of landing top-ranked commits. Is Michigan going to pull in some four-stars and perhaps even a five-star or two down the stretch? Yes. Are they going to add Rashan Gary, both Kellys, Dontavious Jackson, Terrance Davis, Ahmir Mitchell, and Nasier Upshur to round out the class? No. While Michigan is in very good shape with each of those prospects, anyone who's followed recruiting for a while knows that a class never wraps up so neatly, let alone so spectacularly—especially when dealing with so many out-of-region prospects.
At this point, I'm not too concerned about the numbers. There's still an entire fall camp and football season to play before Signing Day, and Michigan is in their first year under a demanding coach with a markedly different style from his predecessor. If M has to "free up" a half-dozen scholarships in February, we have a problem; I don't anticipate this being a problem.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the mailbag.]
Pipkins got on the field late in the opener last year [Bryan Fuller]
Ondre Pipkins will attempt to use his last year(s) of eligibility elsewhere and he is not happy about it:
"I feel I'm healthy and ready to play," said Pipkins, who played last season after he was cleared to return from a torn knee ligament. "I don't want to sign the form. I wanted to play for my seniors and for the team. Coach Harbaugh said, 'I recommend you take the medical.'"
Pipkins said he felt constant pressure to retire. …
Harbaugh told him that he wanted "to make sure you graduate from Michigan" and that the coach did not plan to invite him to fall camp due in part to medical concerns. The lineman added that Harbaugh told him that he did not believe he would be drafted into the NFL for medical reasons.
"I feel bad I wasn't able to complete this journey with my classmates," Pipkins told ESPN. "I feel I am healthy and without pain. I believe Michigan wanted to free up the scholarship. I felt I was practicing well and could compete at a high level at the nose tackle and tackle positions."
First off, good for Pipkins for saying something about it—and apparently painting Harbaugh in a somewhat sympathetic light.
But this is a strange situation for a lot of reasons. I can't really figure out why Harbaugh would want to run Pipkins out of town:
- He was scheduled to be a senior and Michigan is at 85 scholarships right now, with the three former walk-ons (Kerridge, Glasgow, Glasgow) we think will get scholarships in 2015 accounted for.
- Pipkins thus doesn't impact the numbers in the 2016 class; the only reason he'd need to go this year is if Michigan was going to bring in yet more transfers.
- ND DE transfer Jhonathan Williams was just told no by Michigan.
- I'm sure at least one other player has a very legit medical hardship-inducing injury they haven't announced yet.
There were some rumors Michigan was looking at fifth year wide receivers that haven't come to fruition as of yet, but none of this really makes sense. Michigan seems to have room for him, and the move would appear to be a redshirt (that he should have gotten as a freshman /shakes fist at Hoke) so that he can be a fifth year somewhere else after getting his degree. That is unless he actually shouldn't play football.
Pipkins asserts in the article that Michigan wanted the scholarship… but for what?
Tony Jefferson (L) and Kain Colter (R) left Stanford's class for very different reasons.
I swear I'll be posting a full recruiting mailbag this week, but when looking at Michael Spath's article on Jim Harbaugh's recruiting style, this merited a closer examination:
At Stanford, The Cardinal produced a slew of decommitments during Harbaugh's tenure (18 alone in 2010), and we've been told that when Harbaugh accepts a commitment, it is often the early stages of the vetting process, and that over the next few months both coaching staff and recruit could come to the conclusion it is not the right fit.
If such were to happen at Michigan, fans would have to ask themselves if they are OK with a recruiting strategy in which players are recruited and offered a scholarship but ultimately told prior to Signing Day that it would be best for all involved to part ways.
Stanford's elite admissions turned away a few prospects, and one could argue it was the school not Harbaugh that had final say, but a staff should have a pretty good feel from the onset which players have the grades to be admitted and those that do not. At Stanford, Harbaugh was willing to accept pledges from an abundance of borderline prospects.
18 decommitments in one class! On its face, that's alarming, especially in the context of Michigan taking this many early commitments. To get a clearer picture of what happened at Stanford and what we can expect from Harbaugh at Michigan, I took a look at the decommitment stories of every one-time 2010 Stanford commit I could find to see what really occurred.
The good news: Harbaugh didn't just kick 18 players out of his class to make room for better players. In fact, a good number of these decommits were players Harbaugh didn't want to lose. There was no Elliott Porter situation. The bad news: while Harbaugh didn't seem to go so far as to yank anyone's scholarship outright, a couple of the tactics he used probably won't sit well with Michigan fans, and understandably so.
I've separated out the 2010 decommits into categories. I believe Spath's source for the 18 decommits figure is this Bleacher Report article. There's only one player on the list (Tyler Brosius) whom I couldn't verify was ever a Stanford commit in the first place; neither Rivals nor Scout even listed him as holding an offer. Here's the rest:
Prospect Chose A Better Opportunity
Several of Stanford's 2010 commits had one of the more common reasons for a commitment flip: they got what they found to be a better offer from another program and made the switch.
- Four-star CA S/LB Tony Jefferson, now on the Arizona Cardinals, committed to Stanford in September of his junior season. He backed off the following January, saying he wanted to keep his options open while citing concerns over Stanford's strict admissions, and ended up at Oklahoma.
- Four-star CA LB Jordan Zumwalt fielded heavy interest from both Los Angeles schools while he was a Stanford commit, and on Signing Day he switched to UCLA, in part because it was closer to home.
- Four-star MD CB Louis Young committed to Stanford without taking a visit, had second thoughts, recommitted, had second thoughts again, and eventually wound up at Georgia Tech.
- Three one-time Stanford commits—four-star GA WR TJ Jones, three-star UT S Chris Badger, and three-star KY OL Tate Nichols—flipped to Notre Dame during the process. Jones switched after an official visit to South Bend, while the other two made their decisions shortly after receiving Irish offers.
- Three-star OH CB Courtney Avery changed his commitment to Michigan after earning a camp offer in the spring.
- Three-star TX DT Will Hampton started fielding increased interest, decided he wanted to take visits, narrowed his choices to Notre Dame and Northwestern, and eventually chose the Wildcats.
That's eight of the 18 who simply decided to pursue what they found to be a better opportunity elsewhere.
Standard Recruitment Issues
For one reason or another, something came up during the course of these players' recruitments that led them to end up elsewhere:
- Four-star FL OL Torrian Wilson changed his commitment to Louisville when his primary recruiter at Stanford, Willie Taggart, took the head coaching job at Western Kentucky. He also said his mom wanted him closer to home. There's good evidence that was the driving factor—he'd later flip his commitment again, this time to UCF.
- Four-star TE Blake Barker, who hailed from Cambridge, MA, changed his commitment to Harvard, telling Rivals he wanted the right combination of academics and proximity to home.
- Four-star MO RB Brandon Bourbon also decided he wanted to play close to home, swiching to Kansas just days before NSD after being committed to Stanford for six months.
Senior Year Injury
This is where things start getting uncomfortable. In two documented cases, Stanford stopped contacting recruits after they suffered injuries during their season season. That's how Kain Colter, a three-star athlete, wound up at Northwestern instead of heading to Palo Alto:
During his first game that fall, Colter heard a "pop" after throwing a post route. An MRI revealed a torn labrum and biceps, but he kept playing as a running back and receiver while rehabbing a shoulder that eventually needed surgery.
Stanford originally stuck by him, but then their correspondences dwindled. They wanted his MRI results and claimed he would have to wait for clearance from the admissions office. Interesting for a kid who carried a 4.2 grade-point average.
Finally, Spencer said, "They just stopped calling. It was a bad situation. I wanted them to man up and talk to Kain."
Colter decommitted in late December. Three-star FL OG Joe McNamara had a similar experience:
The 6-foot-2, 270-pound McNamara, a three-star prospect rated the 28th-best offensive guard in the country by Scout.com, was excited to become a Cardinal. That's when his recruitment started taking a turn for the worse.
Tearing his ACL roughly a week before the season started, forcing McNamara to sit out his entire senior season, McNamara wanted to be sure Stanford was still behind him. After no returned calls or emails, McNamara had to start from scratch.
"The thing that took the longest was finding out if Stanford was in or out," McNamara told Badger Nation Monday. "They never came out and said I was out of the picture but at the same time, there was no communication. I would say probably November was when I re-opened the recruiting process."
McNamara wound up at Wisconsin. If there's a positive to be found in these two cases, it's that Harbaugh never formally pulled either player's scholarship, and both opened up their recruitments with enough time left in the process to find suitable landing spots. It's tough to sugarcoat the complete lack of communication from Stanford's end, however.
Stanford Ceased Contact
Somewhat related to the above, the main way it seems Harbaugh indicated to recruits it was best for both parties to go their separate ways was to stop talking to them.
- Three-star GA S Daunte Carr opened up his recruitment because he hadn't heard back from the admissions department with less than a month to go before Signing Day. He later committed to Arkansas.
- Three-star NV LB Evan Palelei committed in the spring of his junior year, then decommitted in early September of his senior year because he "lost contact with them over the summer." Palelei eventually signed with Navy.
The Late Grayshirt
- In arguably the most concerning situation of them all, the Stanford staff informed three-star TX TE Zachary Swanson that he'd have to take a grayshirt with about a month to go before Signing Day. He chose instead to sign with Virginia.
I can't find anywhere what happened in the case of three-star OG Harris Williams, who flipped to Boston College in July after originally pledging to the Cardinal in late April.
A lot of the attrition in this class occurred for reasons outside Harbaugh's control, but there are definitely red flags that come up. Falling out of contact with recruits as a way of not-so-subtly pushing them out the door isn't a great look, especially in the case of injury; even worse is blindsiding a prospect with a late grayshirt.
We'll see if Harbaugh operates in a different way at Michigan, where he won't have to worry as much about potential attrition within his classes due to problems with admissions. While this stuff doesn't quite rise to the SEC level of recruiting malfeasance, it's not going to go over well in Ann Arbor if Harbaugh isn't more open with recruits about their place in the class as the process moves along.
Not literally a comic book. 28 minutes of Charles Woodson highlights from high school do not quite feature him bounding over a tall building:
Full go minus one decision. John Beilein doesn't see anyone transferring this offseason:
"Everybody seems to be all onboard 100 percent," Beilein said Monday after attending a USBWA Final Four luncheon honoring freshman Austin Hatch. "Obviously, we're not with them 24 hours a day, but I love their attitude right now."
That does not include Caris LeVert, who is deciding on the NBA draft. It seems that people around the program are cautiously optimistic he will stay for his senior year, but we won't have certainty until the early entry deadline, April 26th.
That would leave Michigan with zero scholarships this year and two plus any attrition after next season in 2016. Unless Hatch goes on a medical scholarship that would cut out Mike Edwards, the various transfers looking at Michigan, and Jaylen Brown.
In related news, it looks like Max Bielfeldt will spend his grad transfer year at Bradley.
Meanwhile, another one bites the dust at Indiana. The Hoosiers get a commitment from prep post Thomas Bryant, bringing the number of Indiana players guaranteed to get run off this offseason to three. Someone please fire Tom Crean.
Spike surgery. Spike Albrecht will have surgery on both hips to eliminate the pain he played through this season. His projected return is in four or five months, which cuts him out of all the summer stuff but should have him back on the court a couple months before the season. That should be enough time to knock off the rust.
Soon, a fully healthy Spike will also be dunking on fools.
Out go the successories posters. Harbaugh on the weight room:
"It was shiny, like somebody from Chicago came in [from a ] P.R. firm," Harbaugh said. ""This isn't a slide show.
"This is work."
Don't get a DUI and then fail your probation. Harbaugh on Glasgow:
"The legal system has got as much hanging over his head as anybody else could possibly put on him," Harbaugh said. "There's nothing more that I, or the football program or the university could have on Graham right now than what (the courts) have.
"This is somebody who is taking a breathalyzer every morning and every night. He's got to be clean, 100 percent clean, not a drop of alcohol. And he'll either do it, or he won't. I believe in him, I believe he will. But we'll all know, there will be no secrets on that. Whether he does it or he doesn't, it'll be for public consumption."
He will have to do this through January, so he will either be clean as a whistle or you'll know he wasn't.
This is a lovely shot chart. Aubrey Dawkins did two things last year:
Threes and throwdowns. He was excellent at the threes, average at the throwdowns, which still means he was extremely efficient. Next year's project is getting some of those hexagons to be larger without changing their distribution. Oh, and doing the defense and rebounding stuff.
Adjusting for the matchups and expected points in each game, scoring in the smaller tournaments has been about 5.6 ppg more than the NCAA tournament. This is 2.4 ppg higher than the typical difference in these events. That's not something that will transform the game, but if you assume that boost applies to the entire 2015-16 season, it would take the sport to scoring levels not seen since 2003. (That statement excludes last season, when scoring increased dramatically, partly because a bunch of fouls were called.)
Not surprisingly, most of the scoring increase can be attributed to an increase in pace. Accounting for the teams involved and the increase in tempo normally seen in lower-level events, there have been two additional possessions per 40 minutes than we'd expect under normal rules. This is a more modest change compared to scoring and only turns the clock back to 2011 in terms of pace. This suggests simply reducing the shot clock to 30 won't produce significantly more up-and-down basketball. A surprising finding here is that slow-paced teams were affected as much as fast-paced teams were.
One of the concerns of the 30-second clock is that it may make offenses less efficient, but the postseason experiment isn't providing much evidence of that. Accounting for the quality of the teams and the usual increase in efficiency seen in the lower-level events, efficiency was actually up, though by a miniscule 0.6 points per 100 possessions.
The efficiency thing is almost certainly noise, but it looks like any effects are going to be minimal in that department. I don't think there's much wrong with college basketball other than the fact that block/charge is impossible to call and the refs are hilariously bad in general—but that's not something you can wave a wand and fix.
Final CSS rankings out. Minor movement for most players. Zach Werenski is 9th, down from 6th. Kyle Connor moves up a spot to 13th. 2016 recruit Cooper Marody moves up ten spots to 53rd. There were some more significant moves:
NTDP forward Brendan Warren dropped from 34th to 66th, which is an early third round pick to the fifth or sixth. He had an okay year only with the U18s.
Incoming defenders Joe Cecconi and Nick Boka went in opposite directions; Cecconi dropped from 70 to 88 and Boka shot up from 176 to 117.
Given Michigan's needs next year I'm happy that Boka's stock has apparently surged, even if Warren is less of a prospect than you think he might be. I wonder if Michigan will try to bring Marody or another 2016 recruit in now given Copp's departure.
The Hockey Writers have an extensive breakdown of Werenski that compares him to Trouba. I know I'm seeing Werenski a year younger, but he is not Trouba. Trouba was a commanding defenseman at both ends of the ice. Werenski really came on in the offensive zone late in the year but was a significant source of defensive problems.
Etc.: 1914 All-American ring for "Maully," which is either John Maulbetsch's nickname or a cartoon hammer. Bacari Alexander is up for the UW-Green Bay job, which is a pretty good mid-major posting. Various OMG Harbaugh stories on spring from ESPN, MLive, MVictors, etc.
Hello: AFC Ann Arbor. We are getting a minor league soccer team that I am inordinately excited about, and tickets have just gone on sale. I already hate Oakland United FC for having both "United" and "FC" in their name. I bet their crest doesn't even have a tree. Or stripes. I do not know how these tossers deign to call themselves any sort of organization. Down with United Sporting Real FC Oakland Dinamo.
AFCAA has an eight game home schedule over the summer; in year one they're playing at Pioneer. Plenty of current and former Wolverines are on the team, and it sounds like they're importing some food carts (Mark's carts?) for games. I'll be at the home opener May 1st, stop by and say hi.
Jim Harbaugh has the best twitter feed. Tips for identifying good coaching twitter feeds:
GOOD: odd capitalization and grammar, random shoutouts to Cracker Barrel and Judge Judy
BAD: hashtags, motivational sayings, motivational sayings embedded in hashtags
Harbaugh is on the good side of the equation:
Michigan Nicknames Snake-Bubba-Jumbo-Flame-Soup-EasyEd-BigEd-BigHoss-Chunky-SirCharles-Bump & the ultimate nickname that became legendary Bo
— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) March 27, 2015
Amongst many people saying "don't forget X" I declare Derek Moore the winner for reminding Harbaugh that he should not forget the legend of Tony Pape, AKA "Fat Elvis."
Spring Creaning time. A couple days after Stanford Robinson said "I'm not going anywhere" to media in the IU locker room, the university announced his transfer. Today he was followed by freshman wing Max Hoetzel.
This annual exodus has the same impetus all of Tom Crean's other annual exoduses have: someone must leave (or not show up) because Crean drastically oversigned. This year Indiana has zero seniors, a full roster, and two recruits. And they are still recruiting various players for the late period. To their credit, a lot of Indiana fans hate this.
Every coach is going to have some attrition from guys who don't work out. Few sign multiple guys in November knowing that this means someone on the current team is going to be forcibly ejected from the program as a result. And for what? For a ten seed because your incompetent self can't count or recruit a post player.
We poke at Tom Izzo around here because he's easy to poke at, but he is a legitimate coach and seemingly good dude; Crean is another level of detestable. For everybody's sake let's hope that buyout comes down enough to get rid of him soon. The Big Ten is ill-served by his presence at a basketball mecca.
I'm very disappointed in 61 of you. You guys are jerks.
should I quit blogging about Michigan and dedicate myself to UFRing episodes of "Coach"? RT for YES FAV for NO
— mgoblog (@mgoblog) March 27, 2015
Upon further review, there is not enough football in episodes of "Coach" to do this.
I guess this is official now? Or at least official-ish:
Michigan football: Legends jerseys are gone, helmet stickers are back. Imagine Bo and Canham would be pleased by both.
— John U. Bacon (@Johnubacon) March 27, 2015
I'd rather have the inverse but I'm not too bent out of shape about it. I like the clean look the decal-less helmets have and thought the legends jerseys were a good way to remind people that the Wisterts were great and Gerald Ford was an All-American. Hopefully they can do something for the retired numbers other than just put them back in mothballs.
Also semi-official? I can't remember if Wayne Lyons's transfer was already semi-official or has just become slightly more so, but the big news from Mike Zordich's press conference was Zordich accidentally letting the cat out of the bag about Lyons's imminent arrival. Except that Lyons himself said it in February and we already have a Hello post for him.
Spike was hurting. Spike Albrecht was not fully right last year:
Albrecht is wrestling with the decision whether to undergo off-season surgery on both of his ailing hips, procedures that would leave him rehabilitating for "probably four to five months, at least."
"That's a tough situation," Albrecht said. "I don't want to sit out, but I also don't want to go through another season like I went through this year, but if that's the only option and that's the best option, then I'll do it."
Apparently those surgeries have to be scheduled consecutively and involve—bleah—"shaving down an area of hip bone." A 4-5 month recovery period is likely, which would make him whole in August or September. Tough decision to weigh a lack of pain against whatever rustiness getting laid up like that would induce.
Meanwhile, Alejandro Zuniga evaluated Albrecht.
Gordon Bell, 1975. Via Dr. Sap:
Also Ufer calling a pretty spectacular Bell touchdown run against Purdue.
Etc.: Sauce Castillo. Sauce Castillo. Neeeerd baseball hits the Daily. On John Calipari. Tattoos ranked by how bad of an idea they are. Jack Miller's decision to quit football was about concussions a bit, unless it wasn't.
Good Morning (Afternoon in Ann Arbor) MGoBlog Team,
In the spirit of the upcoming holiday, the attached picture was being passed around by the 49ers fans here in my office. One had the insight to share with me.
I want to see a version of this with the MVictors glare photo.
Not at all timely response to Super Bowl question.
You briefly mentioned how you believe Belichick not using a timeout at the end of the Super Bowl was a colossal overlooked mistake, and that the ends don't justify the means. In almost all cases I agree with you on coaches' inability to properly use timeouts (e.g. Hoke giving up a free hail mary). However, in this particular case, I disagree and I think the statistics and "feels" may bear out that Belichick didn't necessarily just get lucky.
Everyone knew that, at some point, Lynch was going to get the ball. With only one timeout left, Belichick knew that Seattle couldn't run it three straight times. In addition, Lynch had not been very good, going only 45% successful in short yardage situations all season, and 1/5(!) at goal to go from the 1. Belichick had to know that, and was potentially making a statistical gamble on being able to stop the run there. There is also something to be said in the "feels" category with putting pressure on the other
team to make a decision they may not otherwise make. It was also made clear by Butler that they were ready for that exact situation. Belichick knew they could defend it. I think even though it may appear that Belichick got lucky, he in fact knew exactly what he was doing. It may look like high risk, but in fact the season statistics and his preparation tell me that he knew the odds were in his favor by letting the clock run and limiting Seattle's choices.
Thanks, and I love the blog as well as discussions like this.
-Kyle (Carolina Blue)
I think that's dubious at best. Seattle snapped the ball on second down with a timeout and 26 seconds after having run the clock down from just under a minute. Seattle has the option to run on either second or third down. By not calling timeout you get to impose that constraint on their playcalling.
But that's all, and that's not much. You cite some stats that have been floating around; those are not serious. (Five attempts? Cumong man.) Football Outsiders' OL rankings have Seattle the #2 team in the league in their "power success" stat, which is defined like so:
Percentage of runs on third or fourth down, two yards or less to go, that achieved a first down or touchdown. Also includes runs on first-and-goal or second-and-goal from the two-yard line or closer.
Lynch and Seattle had in fact been excellent at punching the ball in, and forcing a pass is a good idea. You give up some expectation when you throw on the doorstep of the end zone.
Meanwhile, the Patriots were dead last with an identical rate: 81% of the time Seattle tried a short conversion they got it; 81% of the time the Patriots tried to stop one they failed. Even leaving aside the passing down, 19% squared is about 4%. Without a miracle—the first goal-line interception thrown by an NFL team all year—the Patriots go home losers. How likely is that miracle? Not likely. Russell Wilson had seven interceptions on 495 throws this year.
Your win percentage is unbelievably grim in the situations the Pats put themselves in. But how grim is it
- down three with a minute left with a TO
- on your 20
- with a unanimous first-ballot HOF QB
Not nearly as grim, I think.
[After the JUMP: demoralizing: we're experts]