this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
posse roundup and beatdown
At least there's that. Darren Everson has a great piece on Michigan's recent malaise and the hockey team's bounce-back that won't have much news for anyone who's lived through this year but is a great summary if you need to explain why you're sitting in the bathtub clutching yourself to someone who's not a Michigan fan.
Mary Sue Coleman shows up at the end to provide a throwaway quote, prompting a complaint from Dave Birkett about her tendency to show up in the WSJ but turn down local requests. This is probably because the WSJ asks her questions like "Do you like to win?" and local papers are more likely to ask eleven questions in a row about the threat Demar Dorsey poses to local schoolchildren. You must lie in the bed you have made.
Give me back that filet of goalie. Give me that goalie. If you've been watching the NCAA tournament you, like me, must have the bizarre Filet o' Fish jingle stuck in your head. There is but one thing as persistent this day:
Shawn Hunwick had a decision to make:
Go to Albion and become the school's first goaltender, or ...
Walk-on at Michigan. [ed: this story manages to spread one sentence over three(!) paragraphs, which must be a record.]
For the few moments the blinding television lights remained locked in on him, Shawn Hunwick played it cool.
In almost three years at Michigan, Hunwick played exactly 18 minutes of college hockey. But he never complained, never skipped, and never asked for playing time. He just kept his mouth shut, and did his job.
There is also an article from [NEWSPAPER REDACTED]. It covers exactly the same ground as the 37 other articles about Shawn Hunwick. Give me that fish.
Berenson's locked Hunwick in an electrical closet since the CCHA finals in a desperate attempt to keep his head on straight. We'll see if it works. Hunwick finds the electrical closet roomy, by the way, and thinks it's an honor to be in an electrical closet at Michigan.
Meanwhile, Louie Caporusso on avoiding that Air Force thing again:
But according to Caporusso, the formula for avoiding an early exit like last year is simply “shooting the puck on net with a purpose.”
“If we give him a lot of confidence and start building him up in our head, then it’s only going to make it harder on us,” Caporusso said. “I find if you brainwash yourself to believe that they don’t have a good goalie, you’re better off putting the puck in the net.”
The final countdown. Center Jon Horford just signed on, replacing Ben Cronin's wonky hip with a rail-thin post with some touch near the basket and good passing skills.
I don't want to steal too much of UMHoops's thunder as Michigan approaches what will be a critical couple weeks for the basketball program, but a high level overview: Michigan has two scholarships open and they may fill both of those slots despite the jam that would cause in the class of 2011. The candidates:
- Mount Pleasant SF Trey Zeigler. Ziegler is similar to Manny Harris, but higher rated on average. He is down to a top five of Michigan, Central, State, Arizona State, and UCLA. Complicating factor: his father is the head coach at Central Michigan. Zeigler could sign up to help his dad, whose job security is shaky.
- Detroit Denby SF Isaiah Sykes. Sykes can't shoot but he can get to the rack at will and is in the 6'5" range with long arms and a feverish desire to rebound. He has no offers after a high school career that saw three transfers; he didn't even play the first half of this season.
Michigan will obviously take Zeigler if they can get him. Sykes is the wildcard. Beilein's been to a number of his games recently, spurring both UMHoops and AnnArbor.com to get video and scouting reports on the guy. If Zeigler ends up going elsewhere—the tenuous conventional wisdom is that it's probably CMU or M—I can't imagine Beilein won't offer Sykes and end up with him.
Would Michigan take Sykes if it got Zeigler, though? Maybe. Michigan could free up another scholarship in 2011 for a post if they did not offer Laval Lucas-Perry a fifth year, and it's possible they wouldn't have to do that if someone transferred because of a lack of playing time in the aftermath of Zeigler, Sykes, Hardaway, and Smotrycz (who will push Novak from the four to the two and three) arriving. If I was Beilein I'd make my decision on Sykes independent of Zeigler.
The spring signing period starts in two weeks.
And fin. There was some hubbub in the comments when Michigan State reinstated a number of players who participated in the PREWB. Included were BJ Cunningham and Mark Dell, the highest profile participants not immediately booted. This set Dantonio up for a buffeting.
Why I can't figure. State has lost eight(!) players as a result of the PREWB, and six of them hadn't had previous run-ins with the law. This is not like Glenn Winston's reinstatement. None of the guys who are back on the team got any jail time; just about every program in the country would have done the same thing.
You can hammer Dantonio for two things here: letting Winston back on the team after months in jail after an unprovoked attack on a pair of innocent bystanders, lying about Roderick Jenrette's freshman year suspension. The actual handling of the aftermath here seems appropriate. Both guys who played in the Alamo Bowl, by the way, are gone. That wasn't on Dantonio.
While we're on Michigan State: they've got a goofily named quasi linebacker on their depth chart too. They've got a "STAR" listed and might be moving to a 3-4, or some other defense with three dedicated down lineman and an array of hybrids.
Happy trails. The Blue Gray Sky is packing it in. This site's relationship with those guys fell off a cliff after we did an article exchange before the '05 M-ND game. Mine was a description of my experience after the painful 2002 loss, after which a young child came up to me and literally said "good game, mister" as if I had fallen into Pleasantville. I added in some stuff about Notre Dame's program not being very good, which was basically true, and how this made Michigan's rivalry with them frustrating because they did things like lose two of three to Ty Willingham.
Theirs deployed "Skunkbears" and actually featured these two sentences:
Yost was but the first in a litany of men of low character to hold the reins at UM. ... Gary Moeller was frustrated that he couldn't pick Notre Dame up, drink it, and then drive into a ditch.
It was kind of like punching your brother in the arm and getting a baseball bat to the head in return. Suffice it to say there were no more article exchanges.
Even so, BGS was one of the first blogs to materialize out of the ether and when they weren't dredging up apocryphal stories about people who have been dead for 70 years, they were drafting incredibly research-heavy pieces I was jealous of. It must have been nice to have a blog with eight or so contributors; one of them could just hole up for months and come out with a precise breakdown of formations organized by down and distance. I can't find that in particular, but I did find their "Four Plays" series, which was a 2006 version of Picture Pages on steroids. They were good. They were Notre Dame fans who posted on ND Nation, but they were also good.
Etc.: Dennis Dodd says "if there were ever a coach to root for, it's Rich Rod." Is that a good thing?
Okay, he's enrolled. Now strike! Devin Gardner finally managing his early enrollment has spurred not one but two columns echoing a theme from this blog. It's "please God, no more freshman quarterbacks." Angelique Chengelis:
So former Inkster star Devin Gardner has enrolled at Michigan, and the potentially next great quarterback will participate in spring practice and compete for the starting job this fall.
Operative word: Compete.
And the Daily's Andy Reid:
So, Devin Gardner is officially on campus — but be careful what you wish for, Wolverine fans. He’s not the answer for next season.
I agree with both takes, as is obvious anyone who's been reading this site's annoyingly persistent demand to redshirt Gardner if at all possible. I've read a couple other evaluations of Gardner's recent play that jive with what I though I saw in the later editions of the MGoCreeperVan's Gardner highlight videos: his throwing motion degraded over the course of the year from the very pro-style delivery I saw in Inkster's opener against Pioneer to the shotput pushing motion that was more prevalent in the state championship game. I don't think Gardner got a lot of dedicated QB coaching at Inkster and will probably need a year of constant correction to get his mechanics back to the point they were at when he was the #1 QB in the country to Rivals.
Is it really not that bad? I basically share the same opinion most people seem to have about this Michigan class: it's short on blue chips and—on paper—the worst recruiting class since Kelly Baraka and Reggie Benton were the highlights of the lame 2001 group. In terms of production on the field, Lloyd Carr's last two classes are probably worse for reasons that aren't anyone's fault, but at least when those kids were in high school people thought they were pretty good.
But actually it might not be that big a deal. This was created by a Rivals poster elegantly named "Stinky P1nky" on the 21st. [Update: FWIW, the poster in question first put this chart on The Mainboard.] It is thus a tiny bit dated but the changes since then are small and the resulting chart is an interesting one:
Michigan's class is #11 nationally if you average out the four major services that do these things, though I'm not that familiar with MaxPreps's rankings. (They're probably a little better than that now since the Black commit temporarily bumped them a spot on Scout and Rivals, but then again they'll probably fall by signing day as they're almost full and other teams have more room to add players.) Notre Dame is just behind M and probably dropped after losing a couple of high profile recruits, one of whom is a four-star defensive end from Indiana who goes to a Catholic high school. Harbaugh can recruit a little bit.
This doesn't take class sizes into account very well and thus probably overstates the class quality, but at the very least it's a lot of solid players who will help Michigan solidify the roster, banish walk-ons to the scout team, and put them on a talent footing at or above the Wisconsin-Iowa range in which it's obviously possible to have an excellent team. If and when Michigan gets back there and the maelstrom of negativity surrounding Rodriguez subsides, a recruiting bounce would have them back at their traditional level. And last year's class, the first that Rodriguez was wholly responsible for, certainly indicates that is where Rodriguez would like to go.
The fudge factor. Now to throw some cold water on the above positivity with a seemingly unrelated Notre Dame commitment. A relatively anonymous TE/OT from Kentucky named Tate Nichols is committed to Stanford, but then backs off and switches to Notre Dame. His rankings then:
Two of the three main recruiting sites considered Nichols a tight end recruit and as such didn't slot him very high. Both Scout and Rivals tabbed Nichols as a 2-star tight end recruit with Scout considering him the 52nd overall TE. ESPN did list him as an offensive lineman, giving him 3-stars, a 75 grade rating, and a ranking as the 101st overall offensive tackle recruit.
His rankings now:
Update: These were his rankings on Saturday when he committed. Today, Tuesday morning, Scout has changed him to a 3-star offensive line prospect and the #71 overall OT recruit.
Would this have happened if Nichols switched his commitment to Kentucky? I seriously doubt it. But when it's Notre Dame or Michigan picking up a who-dat type recruit that guy tends to grab stars almost instantly. This year Michigan saw it with Carvin Johnson, Jake Ryan, and, to a lesser extent since he's still two stars on Rivals, Ray Vinopal. All of those guys were unranked or two stars until their Michigan commit prompted a re-evaluation.
That's not to say that the guys who got bumps didn't deserve them, but it's obvious that committing to a primo school causes the sites to re-evaluate your game. San Diego State commits are not afforded this privilege.
Speaking of Jibreel Black. Useful: Touch the Banner has a scouting report in which Brandon Graham gets name-checked. Useless: remember these guys?
Apparently part of the Rodriguez rebuild is getting a couple of defensive linemen whose names combine in a funny way when they're on the bench: Michigan has just recruited guys named "Black" and "Ash." They should go the whole nine yards and invite Ball State running back Brandon Kish to walk on and then have poker pro Tony Ma hang around on the sidelines.
Kramer was defending on the left wing in front of Michigan's bench when Laval Lucas-Perry swung his elbow high, forcing Kramer to bob out of the way.
Seconds later, Michigan called a timeout and Kramer walked toward Purdue's huddle motioning to his arm and patting his elbow. That was likely directed to the officials.
Apparently, Kramer also told coach Matt Painter. Painter -- spouting mad -- then appeared to go toward Michigan's bench. He was held back by official Steve Olson, who had his hand on Painter's chest. Painter appeared to be jawing at Michigan assistant coach John Mahoney. Mahoney came over to Painter and appeared to pat him on the back and then walk away.
And by "incident" we mean "non-incident." Was this on TV? I don't recall this, though I admit that for a good chunk of the second half I was not paying super-close attention. I imagine a gritty gritadillo like Kramer spends a lot of time dodgy elbows that want to go where his craggy, pore-laden gritface happens to be. A little hissy from your coach about not actually getting hit is a little weird even if he got clocked last year. He's Gritopher Gritmer: he likes elbows in the face. Makes him feel alive.
Side note: Mahoney is the assistant who got T-ed up last year. He's yappy.
It's a matter of national security. The Detroit News reports back on their efforts to FOIA something from MSU about the Posse Roundup & Engineer/Woman Beatdown:
Most details of the altercation at the Rather Hall dormitory, however, were blacked out on the document. Officials cited sections of the FOIA law that protect an individual from unwarranted invasion of privacy and legal proceedings in an ongoing criminal investigation as reasons why most of the information was withheld.
Officials also declined to reveal details of six 911 calls made around the time of the incident, video surveillance footage in the dormitory, results of polygraph tests and taped interviews with players.
This is not surprising given the lengths to which universities go to avoid FOIA compliance, and I said earlier that the four additional departures from Michigan State's team seemed like a stiff price to pay. I do wonder if some of the big names returning to the team (Cunningham and Dell, mostly) might be the beneficiaries of a double standard that Michigan State would not like to see in the public eye.
Also: six 911 calls. !!!
Meanwhile, two more Spartans have been charged. They are DT Oren Wilson and perpetually troubled walk-on Myles White. White 1) was involved in the first PREWB, 2) just plead guilty to public urination, and 3) is now involved in PREWB II. Surely this must be the end for him. He's a walk-on. I track because I fret: Myles White is incoming Michigan tailback Austin White's brother.
Wilson started all last year as the NT, FWIW.
Small disaster apparently averted. Depending on what you believe, 2010 hockey recruit Jacob Fallon either got the boot or voluntarily left the NTDP, thus throwing his immediate future in flux and opening up a possibility he would play in the CHL. That is apparently not going to happen. Fallon has latched on with the Indiana Ice of the USHL and will presumably be in Ann Arbor next year unless Dean Lombardi drafts him and then kidnaps his mom.
Good work, Nike. This kind of stuff is why I'm glad Michigan got away from Nike:
Well, damn. BREAKING NEWS(!!!): Brian Kelly is indeed the guy at Notre Dame. Notre Dame fans of the insane variety are hilariously opposed to the move on the grounds that Kelly isn't Bob Stoops, Bill Belichick, or one of the ND Nation moderators; everyone else is terrified that Notre Dame has now acquired a coach with a track record of doing anything at all.
This is probably going to go poorly. Kelly is the most competent coach Notre Dame has hired since Holtz and at the very least should turn Weis's excellent recruiting classes into a genuinely good team in short order. Smart Football says so.
Next year might be meh since his one option at quarterback is going to miss spring practice and large chunks of summer conditioning with an ACL tear, but expecting an implosion similar to the Michigan one is foolhardy: for one he'll have a five-star quarterback throwing to Michael Floyd and plenty of talent on defense if he can get a defensive coordinator to manage it. Something thematically similar to Michigan's 2004 Rose Bowl season might go down. Michigan had to get clutch drives from a freshman quarterback and an onside kick to get to 9-4 that year. A Gator Bowl or something with incredible expectations in 2011 seems the most likely outcome.
This makes the next two years against Notre Dame pivotal for Rich Rodriguez. If Michigan loses to Notre Dame next year against Kelly when he's finally got a quarterback experience edge over someone, anyone, it'll look like a rough year and possibly the end of everything.
There are some minor plusses in the hire: I assume Kelly won't keep Corwin Brown around, which should help Michigan recruit against ND. Also for whatever reason Weis just killed Michigan head-to-head and Kelly can't possibly do better. I've heard conflicting things about what high school coaches in the state think about him, FWIW. I imagine that's something you could say about any coach.
We are so terrible. The basketball… it is not good anymore. I don't really know why, but holy crap:
- Michigan’s defensive rebounding percentage of 60.7% ranks last among all Division 1 major conference teams.
- Michigan’s three point percentage of 28.3% is better than only two major conference teams (Oregon St. and UCLA) yet only two major conference teams (Iowa and Northwestern) shoot more threes than Michigan (3FGA/FGA).
- Michigan is allowing opponents to shoot 52.2% on 2 point field goal attempts, the worst percentage allowed by any major conference program.
Dylan has a few more numbers that look more like Indiana last year than a team with any tourney aspirations. They add up to "ugh."
This season is even worse than what went down in football. Everyone knew this wasn't the #15 team in the country but it shouldn't be a team that will be lucky to make the NIT. (No, seriously. You have to get to .500 and Michigan is going to come out of the nonconference 6-6 unless they beat UConn or Kansas, so then they have to go 9-9 in the Big Ten despite showing no ability to hang with mediocre teams from mid-major-ish conferences.) This is stunning underachievement. And what happens next year when Manny is gone and the only big guys on the roster are Ben Cronin, who may or may not still be broken, Blake McLimans, and Jordan Morgan? Morgan and McLimans are redshirting; Cronin almost literally can't jump.
I know I shouldn't be surprised about anything nasty happening to Michigan sports these days, but seriously… what the hell. There can be no place underachieving expectations across the board like Michigan is these days.
PREWB! Also BREAKING(!!!) is that nine MSU players got tagged with multiple misdemeanor charges based on the video evidence of the frat beat-down. Three more kids ended up suspended, including the other Chris Rucker on the team. Don't recruit guys named Chris Rucker no matter what their middle initial is.
I only mention was seems like a formality because the crack MSU reporters at the Free Press immediately came out with an article arguing that most of the charges would get dropped as various members of the team agree to testify against the ex-members of the team.
Meanwhile, the News gets clarification from Winston's initial victim on what, exactly, happened…
Montgomery, a student at Schoolcraft College, was hanging with friends near the Michigan State campus on Oct. 19, 2008, when Winston approached him and MSU hockey player A.J. Sturges and dropped them both, each with one punch, police said. Montgomery's fractured jaw was wired for six weeks, and Sturges' skull was fractured. …
"I was attacked for no reason. I was not in a fight. I was with a friend, and Glenn Winston came and hit me for no reason at all."
…in a story that has the fantastic lead "Ian Montgomery has an intimate familiarity with Glenn Winston's fist." They also reveal that Jenrette's mysterious redshirt was because of a robbery that happened August 1st of 2008, literally days before Jenrette arrived on Michigan State's campus. Jenrette was already sporting a 2005 offense. Michael Rosenberg's column awaits him.
Again, this is not really about Dantonio, whose public image has taken a hit but will recover in time as long as these things don't keep happening, but the rampant bias at the Free Press that would be funnier every day if it wasn't having a material impact on the local/national perception of Michigan.
Etc.: WVU fans, prompted by bubble pipe professor Matt Zemek's assertion that he'd rather have "integrity and humanity" in the form of Bill Stewart instead of whatever Rodriguez is, debate whether they'd rather have their current coach or our current coach. Opinion is split. CATS 4 GOLD. Sun-Times asserts that Harbaugh actually met with ND officials; tomorrow they announce that Bob Stoops is back in the picture!