"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
recruiting is for gentlemen only
AHHHH PLAY FOR MICHIGAN
Ex-Harbaugh staffer: 'A great white shark, mouth open, staring at you'
That's from a longer profile he wrote in May on the often-inscrutable Harbaugh. I referenced this yesterday, but whenever these things happen I think about a Nietzsche quote despite never having read any Nietzsche. You see, there was this science-fiction Civ game called Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri and when you got one of the techs it always said this at you:
Man is a rope, tied between beast and overman—a rope over an abyss. A dangerous across, a dangerous on-the-way, a dangerous looking-back, a dangerous shuddering and stopping. What is great in man is that he is a bridge and not an end: what can be loved in man is that he is an overture and a going under. I love those who do not know how to live, for they are those who cross over.
-- Friedrich Nietzsche ,"Thus Spoke Zarathustra"
Pretentious! But sometimes Harbaugh does not know how to live, like when he's on a national radio show and the preening show host starts in by asking him if he's ever soft. The vision of masculinity presented by Cowherd is so disorienting to him that his mind goes blank in terror*.
The good news is that Harbaugh can now enact the Thought Control government form. So he's got that going for him.
*[Just as I recoil at the arrogant bro-dom presented by Jim Rome.]
More Harbaugh. Face time in the 1993 Rose Bowl.
Doesn't say much there, either.
Yes, please. The NCAA may be slightly loosening its tie when it comes to the NBA draft:
Under the proposal, which was a coordinated effort by the NCAA, the National Association of Basketball Coaches and the NBA, underclassmen would be allowed to attend the Chicago pre-draft combine in May, get evaluated by team personnel and given a true reading on their draft status. The players would then be able to decide if they wanted to stay in the draft or return to school. They couldn't sign with an agent, though.
The current draft rules don't allow a player to return to college once he officially declares for the NBA draft. The NBA would still have an early entry deadline of late April and an official withdrawal date of 10 days before the draft, as per the collective bargaining agreement. But the NCAA would then have its own withdrawal date moved up from the week after the Final Four to sometime in mid-to-late May.
That last sentence is confusingly worded and should be "moved back". This is progress of a sort—the kind of progress that takes you back to about eight years ago when this was the standard. College coaches hated it because they didn't know who would go and who would stay when the late signing period—which also starts about week after the Final Four—began. So they changed it. Now they might change it back.
Anything that acknowledges the reality of the NBA and NFL is a good change. This one is a bit half-hearted, and it seems like it's flirting with disaster to make this change without delaying the late signing period. Kid signs, other kid decides to return: whoops. You know that's going to happen.
The best solution here is draft and follow.
Exposure to price. When people start talking about the inevitable cable unbundling that is coming, they often make this calculation: if only X percent of people would get ESPN and ESPN costs Y amount of money, then ESPN is going to cost Y * (1 / X) dollars. That's a lot of dollars! Bet you don't want unbundling now! An example:
So you'd think a standalone ESPN app, with all their channels, would cost around the same [as Netflix, Hulu, HBO, etc.]. As Lee Corso would say, not so fast. ESPN's perceived value and what the network actually needs to sustain their business model are vastly different.
One industry source I spoke to believes ESPN would have to charge sports fans at least $30 a month for an a la carte version of the networks to offset lost cable subscriber fees and advertising. MoffettNathanson Research believes Disney would have to charge $36.30 a month for ESPN to achieve the same level of reach it enjoys today.
At this point, we've reached a similar structure to European television. Channels such as Sky Sports, which carries popular properties like the English Premiere League, are not part of the basic service and run at $40 a month for the family of networks. Sky Sports even offers "day passes" for roughly $15. While hardcore American sports fans can justify similar prices here in the States, casual fans will balk and just catch the big event games on over-the-air networks.
But as taxi drivers and music labels and newspapers have found out, the internet tends to erode comfortable perches from which you can rake in piles of dough. ESPN has the advantage of still being a monopoly, but if the product was the only reason you could charge Y dollars you would not be able to get every song ever made for ten dollars a month.
The existence of Sling TV, which has ESPN and ESPN 2 and 18 other channels besides, for 20 bucks, is plenty of evidence that ESPN cannot reach that price point—and probably will not even try. Sky is a very different business model because the thing that is by far their main attraction, soccer, is virtually ad-free. You get some signage in the stadium, shirt sponsors, and halftime when everyone goes to the bathroom and gets a snack. That's it. The prime reason American sports keep spiraling in value (and can no longer fit in their assigned time slots) is that they are much more amenable to commercial breaks. Sky is trying to maximize its revenue; ESPN's attempt to maximize its revenue is going to come in much lower because 1) Americans are going to balk at the 40 dollar price and 2) advertisers want the eyeballs ESPN can deliver so very badly.
ESPN is currently subsidized by a lot of people who do not care about sports. When the internet is television, that goes away—and it does not necessarily get replaced one for one.
This is why adding Maryland and especially Rutgers was folly. In the near future the only people who get the Big Ten Network are going to be people interested in the Big Ten. They will no longer be able to snatch a dollar from the pocket of every cable subscriber in New Jersey who is a Tulane man. This is going to happen in ten years, at which point whatever short-term revenue gain will be spent, Jim Delany will have his bonus, and the Big Ten will be stuck with a couple of teams nobody cares about.
[HT: Get The Picture.]
Sauce relocates. Nik Stauskas is traded to the 76ers for… uh… stuff?
Many in Philadelphia wanted Stauskas last year. Now, 12 months later, Hinkie got him, a 1st rd pick, and 2 pick swaps for basically nothing.
— Derek Bodner (@DerekBodnerNBA) July 2, 2015
Stauskas had a rough first year in the NBA in a terrible situation, but that's awful quick to give up on a guy and dump him with some terrible contracts in exchange for cap space. Like the Pistons giving away a first round pick to be done with Ben Gordon, the main "asset" Sacramento acquired was the ability to not have Carl Landry on their cap any more. So they could go sign more free agents. Someone try to rip the face off the Kings GM just in case it's Joe Dumars.
Only incompetent Germans. Louisville's new helmet is… this…
Which I kind of like for an Arena League team. Of the future. Playing a life and death game against octopus space nazis.
Here is a conveniently-timed article titled "Adidas: Sports Apparel Laughingstock."
The old recruiting ghost story. Willie Williams has been revisited. It is a funny and sad story, one that you've probably heard before. Apropos of little, here is former Florida Gator on his trip to Penn State:
As if that story wasn’t juicy enough, Crowder spoke of his visit to Penn State as a recruit, which was “the worst.”
“They sit me in a room with two bottles of Mad Dog 20/20 Banana Red,” Crowder said. “They say ‘drink these, we’re gonna go out.’ Okay, I get all feeling good. We walk out of the door, go down two doors and go back into an apartment and it’s four big white girls sitting there and me. Big ole white girls. Talkin’ about 250.”
Crowder no doubt said his decision was all about the academics.
Here's this! It is a show featuring a bunch of Michigan guys, one a former walk-on QB under Moeller, and an mgoshirt.
It appears it is still looking for a home. If you are a TV executive, adopt it maybe.
Etc.: Here is a good thing about the buddha-fication of David Foster Wallace. Akron built a stadium. It's not going well. Warde Manuel($) is a name to watch for Hackett replacement. Bring Your Champions, They're Our Meat on the NBA Draft.
thumbs up [Bryan Fuller]
Class size: fishy?
Since the 2016 Michigan recruiting class has already grown beyond the 14 scholarships that are known to be available, do you have a take or any insight as to how far Coach Harbaugh is willing to go with regards to oversigning? Is it simply a matter of players not being offered a 5th year or could we actually see Michigan take a step toward opening the Harbaugh wing of St. Saban's Memorial Hospital?
I have a hard time believing that we could get that draconian with recruiting, but is there a danger that we step too close to the line that coaches like Urban Meyer and Nick Saban crossed a long time ago?
A quick glance at the Depth Chart By Class shows a large number of redshirt juniors who are not currently contributors. At this point many aren't expected to be. Those guys can graduate and either take a fifth year elsewhere or head to the real world without anything about their departure being shady. There are between four and six candidates for the firm handshake on the roster.
Also, I've heard that there were a couple guys who were likely to take medical redshirts of the legit variety. I'm surprised we haven't heard any announcements about that yet—maybe there's enough room for the players in question to see if they can get back to where they need to be this year.
Add those two things together and you have 20 or so spots right now. It's reasonable to expect playing time and other attrition to get Michigan to the 25 they seem to be planning on—most teams in year one of a new coach see attrition like that.
I don't expect this to be a long term trend. Harbaugh's classes at Stanford ended up with 19, 17, 22, and 22 kids. That is a mere 80 in four years. (The transition class between Harbaugh and Shaw was 19, FWIW.) Harbaugh is clearly alarmed at the state of the roster and is trying to get in guys who he thinks are a good fit as quickly as reasonably possible.
It is possible it'll seem shady in February. Right now it looks like a reasonable approach.
Cat fight fix, more attrition stuff.
Ace's Stanford recruiting diagnosis reminded me of JH's public cat fight with Mike Hart and Jamie Morris. I did some digging yesterday on whether those fences were mended and found general statements from Morris about Jim being the right guy for the job before his hire in Dec/Jan, but nothing direct. This scuffle was a huge deal at the time and many wrote off Harbaugh for good. Do you know if this was all swept under the rug or if we've kissed an made up?
I'm not sure if Mike Hart buried the hatchet with Harbaugh. I didn't hear anything about it during the search, and it is possible that he was omitted from the "everyone call Jim Harbaugh" list, whether by accident or on purpose.
I have heard that Harbaugh and Carr had a conversation about a lot of things that did directly address those comments to the satisfaction of both men. Thus Carr's public advocacy of hiring Harbaugh even before that was accomplished. From my impressions of both men I'm guessing they're never going to be best buds; Carr was clearly practical enough to identify the best option for Michigan's coaching search.
Also in regards to Ace's post, it seems like this year will serve as a decent case study for how JH will handle 'crootin. We are taking guys at an astonishing pace this summer, and a class that is estimated to be near the 28 man limit is already filling up. Like most, I found that a bit unsettling and hope the additional public attention at UM curbs this activity (especially if Jimmy's going to cast stones at OSU 'crootin).
As I mentioned above, Harbaugh history in terms of attrition is very conservative. Some of the decommits Ace detailed aren't how I'd want Michigan's coach to go about things, but at least those guys were able to get the picture relatively early and find places.
[After THE JUMP: "his guys," speed, Harbaugh counterfactuals.]
Follow the end of the 2016 line so see where previous classes stood at this point in the process. bigking it makes clickger.
This is gonna be a lot of data and not much analysis that comes from it. Anecdotally, recruiting in the period before this changed dramatically as fans involved themselves in the process. To have a guy like Henne locked up a year out was weird for 2004; Kevin Grady, who pledged to Michigan the summer before his junior season, was unheard of.
The question was has the timeline of committing changed significantly from then to now, or did the thing settle down? I also wanted to see what went on with the other recent transition classes: was 2015 dramatically different from 2011, or 2008?
To answer it I gathered the commitment dates of Michigan freshman recruits since pledging became something reported on the internet (class of 2004). The result was the above chart showing a slightly greater emphasis on getting more commitments around signing day of the last class, and that May-July period between spring and fall practices.
Also under Rodriguez and more so under Hoke, Michigan began taking more guys over a year out from Signing Day. I would expect that to remain thing but not to any great extent. I'll be able to say more once I've gotten the national data to some semblance of sense.
Are they committing earlier to Michigan? On the whole, yes, except for transition classes for obvious reasons.
Taking a mean day is misleading because there are definitely certain periods (summer, near singing day) when commitments bunch. The Greatest February Weekend in the History of February Weekends that built the 2013 class was not repeated, but the 2014 class signed so early that Hoke's last two classes were half-full by now.
You'll note the classes after coaching transitions were also set forward from those a few years out. That is a reflection of the recruiting cycle stretching well beyond a year out. Harbaugh's 2017 class has begun before 6'6 tight ends who camp have ratings—or should—but that isn't a new reality.
Was the 2015 transition class like other transition classes? Your memory is saying "there were never so many decommits" and your memory is correct:
I showed with stars where the last coach retired/was fired/mutually parted ways, and the new one hired. Football seasons began about 175 days out. From there you can see the 2015 class falling apart as the team did, while the greater uncertainty of Rich Rod's 2010 just stagnated the growth of the class. Carr's retirement went relatively smoothly.
The 2015 class was also off to a much stronger start, including 5-stars in George Campbell and Damien Harris over a year before NSD, whereas the 2010 class was built under the shadow of Rosenbergmadeupagate. The 2008 class largely came together during the 2006 season, and in its aftermath.
Within all that you can see how critical a few weeks in winter were. Rodriguez weathered a bit of attrition and finished his class with, if not all he needed (ahem, defensive backs), several players who'd become long-term starters in his system. While we waited for Dave Brandon to get maximum Dave Brandon is Handling This time during The Process, the 2011 class went on a roller-coaster, and Hoke, despite being a fantastic recruiter, was given too little time to add everything he needed.
|Event (days to NSD)||2008
|Coach search begins||Nov 20 (78)||Jan 6 (27)||Dec 2 (64)|
|New coach announced||Dec 17 (51)||Jan 11 (22)||Dec 30 (36)|
On the Data
You can have it here:
A lot of this was from the 247 database, which was from Rivals' database, which was wrong in a lot of spots (for example they give dates they don't know for the 2004 class as 7/8/2003). In the process of tracking down the real dates I asked the guy who covered Mike Hart most closely and got a bonus story for us:
So thanks John L.!
On Wednesday morning, under pressure to do so in time to headline a Signing Day ceremony at his school, Cass Tech running back Mike Weber decided on Ohio State over Michigan by the slimmest of margins. On Thursday, Weber's position coach and lead recruiter for Ohio State left for the Chicago Bears. Weber:
He also removed all references to Ohio State from his profile.
Michigan fans jumped on this because it's in our interest that every recruit and coach of a recruit and parent of a recruit believe Urban Meyer a slimy salesman (he's not). Ohio State fans jumped to defend it by characterizing Drayton's departure as a surprise to everyone including Drayton, and equating it with signing a junior transfer quarterback after Gentry's LOI was in.
When Ohio State does something shady (or not shady but treated as such in the weird morality of college sports), Ohio State fans will be the first to tell you that everybody does it. They're right to a degree, but the degree is the difference between how much heat the Earth radiates into space, and the Sun. Regardless of whether Urban knew Stan Drayton was leaving beforehand, or if Drayton knew he'd get the job until then, what's clear is they didn't let Weber know the coach he was committing to was likely to walk away as soon as they had his signature on the dotted line.
Purposely fraudulent or unbelievably unfortunate timing, the real lesson here is that coaches are free to make the best decision for themselves, and players are manipulated into signing away that liberty.
And for nothing. Signing Day, really, is only the first day of a period that stretches through April that schools may receive official commitments, in the form of a "Letter of Intent." That letter is merely a non-compete agreement in which the school the player signs with provides nothing in return. The scholarship offer is a completely separate deal.
Since Weber already sent in his LOI, his choices are to stay at Ohio State, wait a year for the LOI to expire then transfer and wait another year, or ask Ohio State to release him, in which case
he still has to wait out a year under NCAA transfer rules CORRECTION: would be free to choose any school. Ohio State can hold him to the LOI, or release him only to schools they choose. They can also rip away his scholarship for just about any reason.
The recruits are finally starting to get wise. Roquan Smith is still unlikely to end up at "Michigan University," but he was moments from sending in his LOI when news (that reporters meant to embargo until after Signing Day) broke that his coaches might not be there. Because he waited, he can now take another week to consider his options.
A Florida commit's father yesterday explained why his son is holding off too, tweeting "…Florida making too many coaching changes this is not a game it's my son's life." He followed up in response to angry idiot-who-tweet-at-recruits fans with the central moral question:
It's not, except in the warped morality of the NCAA and its apologists who think "amateurism" means players shouldn't be entitled to the same rights as every other citizen.
Signing Day is a total boondoggle. Recruits who have any sort of leverage should never sign a LOI, and should never feel pressured to commit on Signing Day. They should ask to sign a financial aid agreement only.
Meanwhile the NCAA should look at allowing players to transfer and play immediately if their head coach or primary recruiter leaves the school. It would prevent players from getting bait and switched, give coaches more job security, and ultimately plateau coaching salaries as schools come to value longevity instead of flashiness in their hiring of them.
How Karan Came. Michigan did get a highly rated running back in the class. Brian already linked to it in yesterday's recruiting post but if you missed it, Karan Higdon's coach is a MUST READ for anyone interested in how this process plays out:
I immediately called the Michigan football office and spoke with a secretary. I told her that there was a running back in Sarasota that may be worth a late look and she advised me to send and email with his profile. I sent his recruit profile and his HUDL highlights. I was contacted almost immediately afterwards and spoke with Chris Singletary. The first thing he asked was what type of kid is Karan and what his grades were.
Meta: Cumong! Brian's eye dialect for "come on!" has an origin. That diary is way more investigative and thorough than you thought it was when you saw it floating on the sidebar all week.
It also got me thinking about just how old this site is, and some of the other characters from Brian's section to be immortalized in these pages. Like "UNACCEPTABLE!" guy. And the narratively adorable moppet from the first great MGoBlog game column. That kid is probably in an English lecture right now. Which reminds me: happy 10th birthday, MGoBlog, belatedly (it was December 4).
Softball is Fun and Has a Woodson.
Sierra's gloves are purely hypothetical by now. Photo: The Californian
Softball has been initialized. This year's team will have to overcome the graduation of a great class, but returns shortstop Sierra Romero and three candidates for best pitcher in the nation. South Bend Wolverine has your full preview, to which I'd like to add my take.
A great pitcher pretty much owns in softball, and Michigan is filthy rich in them. The lefty/righty combo of Haylie Wagner and Sara Driesenga could easily be the best duo in the country if both seniors regain their forms after somewhat disappointing (for them) 2014s. Sophomore Megan Betsa is due for a season on par with the best of the Wagner/Driesenga era. They also added the top pitching prospect in the nation in Tera Blanco out of California. Like Driesenga, Blanco is as dangerous at the plate as on the mound.
And there's Romero. As a sophomore, Sierra was one of three finalists for softball's version of the Heisman. Most of that is her Cabreraian bat, which is already bopping out national records. My favorite of those: Career Grand Slams—the NCAA record is nine; half-way through her Michigan career Romero already has seven (tied for third all time with 2005-'08 Wolverine Samantha Findlay).
Last year Sierra also finished tied for seventh all time for walks in a season with 67, 20 of which were intentional (the most you get is about 250 plate appearances so that's quite a lot of walking). Since Michigan graduated her protection and two top-of-the-order bats, we could end up seeing that number skyrocket if Coach Hutch doesn't find some hitters to fill the bases ahead of Romero and clear 'em behind her. If she does, this is a national championship team.
A Special Hell for Terrible Michigan Coaches
There is a place where they man-block with Patrick Omameh, run Denard Robinson under center, and never use counters. In this place they run a 3-3-5 defense that only ever rushes three and tells its middle linebacker to line up a foot in front of the guard whose job it is to put the middle linebacker in that spot. When they punt, and they punt quite often, they only use two gunners, because that's what NFL rules say.
No, this place isn't some nightmare mashup of the worst parts of the last six years of Michigan. It is called San Jose State.
- Offensive coordinator: Al Borges
- Defensive coordinator: Greg Robinson
- Special Teams coordinator: Dan Ferrigno
I know I shouldn't watch. But I have to.
Your Moment of Zen:
FL RB Karan Higdon: flips from Iowa to Michigan
CT TE Chris Clark: inexplicably chooses UCLA
AL CB/QB Keith Washington: flips from Cal to Michigan
MI RB Mike Weber: sticks with OSU
GA LB Roquan Smith: picks UCLA
TN WR Van Jefferson: 1:30? 3:45? Vision quest?
FL DE Shelton Johnson: 3 PM
NY TE/DE Ty Wheatley Jr: 3:15 PM
CA CB Iman Marshall: 4 PM
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Foote in mouth. Larry Foote claimed, forgivably inarticulately, that Michigan's problem is we don't recruit enough kids who are used to a tougher road. I found a site that will take places in a spreadsheet and plot them on a map, and did so with the 2001 (Foote's and my senior year) and 2014 rosters, minus non-Kovacsian walk-ons. Yes there are errors still. Go ahead and zoom in.
Yellow is 2001; blue is 2014. Fullscreen
It sometimes does weird things like put Warren, Michigan, in the Upper Peninsula and I am fixing those one by one as I spot them. Findings:
- Lloyd had four guys from the Memphis area while Hoke did much better in Southwest Ohio. That's where those guys are from.
- Carr was able to penetrate deep into SEC country while Hoke has only managed to pick around the edges.
- Hoke gets more kids out of private schools and magnet schools (e.g. Cass Tech) than Lloyd did. This is because when I was in high school the big prep programs weren't recruiting as much as they do now, so talent wasn't as concentrated.
The differences are minor and speak less to changes in Michigan recruiting than general trends. It all amounts to mostly nothing.
Off the top of my head, the players Michigan has who come from 1% means are Wilton Speight, who's a redshirting freshman right now, and Matt Wile, who burned his redshirt because of Hagerup and waited patiently for three years behind a guy who probably shouldn't have been on the team. Foote's starting QBs were Tom Brady from a nice place in California, and John Navarre from Cudahy, Wisconsin, which is suburban Milwaukee on the Lake Michigan coastline. Meanwhile Devin Gardner went to Inkster, which doesn't even exist anymore. If Foote had been 13 years younger it's likely he'd have been picked up DCD (Mo Ways), OLSM (James Ross) or Cass Tech. Talent comes from all over; Michigan's talent comes from where it used to.
Bye week is wife day, as per Six Zero's family tradition. The espoused among us are encouraged to move back from the football for a moment and pay service to whatever your weird marital tradition might be. If she'd like you to lose an entire Saturday to outlet stores, that's rough, but she's worth it. If your wife would rather just get random butterflies from you and spend Saturday helping you rake leaves, then you're married to the bestest in the westest. Congratulations only me.
[Jump: on the Wisconsin coach we can't steal and the LSU one we probably shouldn't]