recruiting is for gentlemen only
This is the only correct recruiting strategy. [gif by Ace Anbender]
While I write this Michigan’s playing their first two softball games of the season, so excuse me if I get distracted. Freshman Alex Sobczak seems to have won the starting catcher position; so weird not to see Lauren Sweet back there. So far Betsa walked two and struck out three, and Sierra Lawrence reached on an error and Romero’s up.
Lol they walked Romero on 4 pitches. Scaredy-cocks!
Anyway, about all that reader-generated content:
Crootin. For some reason I guess recruiting was on diarists’ minds last week, so we got a lot of articles looking at it from different sides. Alum96 broke up top recruits by the major states that produce them. Among conclusions, Michigan’s home advantage is a lot like that of Clemson, IE we have an okay state but have to share it with another school with recent success. Ohio State, LSU and USC/UCLA have the most local talent with the least competition. Alum also had a primer on interested players for 2017, which has a lot more interesting players in Michigan, and still little interest in Michigan in Ohio.
Speaking of 2017 Alum96’s daily “Swim Lanes” were highly useful contributions during the stretch run (LSA Superstar jumped in to usurp his format once as well). Let’s see that thread go up for next class, man.
[Betsa’s shaky today. Hit a batter with bases loaded, then worked back from a 3-0 count for an inning-ending strikeout.]
Is it being addressed? NOLA Blue suggested an interesting method for analyzing recruiting: line up each position and call them wins or losses, though I couldn’t quite understand how his “eyeball” rating system worked. Anyway it gave me the idea to visualize the classes and STAR ratings I’ve been going on about by position.
Guys are listed by the final position they played (though now I’m wishing I moved Uche to SAM). I probably ought to have broken them out further for positions where you play more than a guy. The red balls are 4.5 or higher, the yellow ones are 3.8 to 4.4 stars, the green ones are that 3.5 to 3.7 range and the blues are the lower 3-stars and 2-stars and such. Ball size is scaled by the actual STAR rating squared.
Champswest also did a crootin comparison diary using total number of 4-stars and above (according to 247’s composite) acquired. The most interesting thing therein was the dichotomy between the Big Ten East (189 4- and 5-stars over the last 4 classes) and Big Ten West (39 total). Remove Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State, and the Big Ten East STILL has three more 4+ stars than the West. Good job, good effort Big Ten West.
Suggestion: Let’s make the B1G West a relegation division. Following last year’s performance Rutgers can move down to the West and Iowa jumps up to the East.
[Hit the jump for Beilein in context. Meanwhile Michigan’s already up 11-2 in the 4th, South Carolina just walked the bases loaded, and guess who’s coming up to bat? Hint: she’s the NCAA record-holder for career grand slams.]
Two quick mailbag questions for you during this recruiting season.
1 - How would you describe Harbaugh's recruiting philosophy?
I think Hoke's was pretty easy to understand. If you got an offer from Hoke, it was a commit-able offer. If you wanted to take visits after accepting an offer, then you were no longer considered committed and they would consider you just a recruit competing for a spot in the class.
Rodriguez was somewhat similar to Harbaugh i think, but there are some subtle differences. Rodriguez would fire off a ton of offers and sort out how "official" they were as they learned more about grades, etc. I think he had less consideration for class distribution by position and that may have gotten him in trouble, but he also chased some of the top players regardless of fit.
Harbaugh seems to be something along the lines of this:
-- An offer is conditional upon certain requirements (curious your opinion on those)
-- If you commit, that doesn't mean that either you or Michigan is married to another. Visits are still allowed and Michigan may still explore options for your spot.
-- Until you sign the LOI or enroll, consider things a soft commitment.
Harbaugh sends out "offers." Hoke did not do that. If you had an offer from Michigan under Hoke you could commit to it. Harbaugh does the thing most people do these days and fires out offers in name only. To date he's been less than circumspect when it comes to allowing kids to commit to those offers (though sometimes that's not his call; some kids announce commitments to uncommitable offers).
A commitment is still mostly a commitment. Of the guys who left Michigan's class only two, Swenson and Weaver, were instances where Michigan flat out didn't want a guy because of their perception of his talent level. It's been more or less directly stated by guys like Steve Wiltfong that other players who decommitted had academic benchmarks they didn't reach or were 100% the player's choice. And Swenson was a unique situation since he was a highly-rated commit who was offered before his sophomore year by Brady Hoke. Michigan evidently made it clear they wanted to see him in action to confirm but didn't make it CLEAR, if you know what I mean. That's an error Harbaugh admitted to and hopefully won't be as much of a thing going forward.
I expect that Michigan will continue to have a few speculative commits who may or may not end up in the class for reasons academic and otherwise. Their offers will continue to keep pace with the state of the art in mangling the English langauge for marketing purposes. Some guys will take those offers. Michigan will make things clear to them, and some of them will end up in the class while others either use their status as a springboard, as Weaver did, or end up where they were going to end up anyway.
[After the JUMP: a graph, 2017 DL worries, 2016 LB worries, and HOW INSANE WAS THIS COACHING HIRE]
Basketball preview here.
Super Saturday. Photos from the doubleheader from the Players' Tribune:
The Manuel UConn tenure. Jeff Jacobs has an exellent, comprehensive rundown of Warde Manuel's tenure at the UConn AD. Some UConn fans blame him for the Huskies getting left behind in the zombie Big East while Louisville got the golden ticket to the ACC; other than that somewhat fanciful complaint his tenure was rock-solid:
There are people who disagree with this, but Manuel handled the Kevin Ollie hiring as full-time coach just about perfectly. Ollie's biggest supporters, some who held their own power, wanted Ollie to get a long-term contract immediately. Manuel wanted to get to know Ollie, wanted to see him in action. Ask yourself this: What defined Ollie? He always had to work the hardest to prove himself on the court and that narrative continued for more than a decade in the NBA. If he was to be a success, the best possible outcome would be for Manuel to wait, like what he saw and give him that long-term deal three to four months into his job. That's what happened.
When Ollie was on his way to winning a national championship in 2014, there was Manuel ahead of the curve to lock in Ollie with a new five-year deal.
UConn's four major sports (football, both basketballs, and hockey) are all on the upswing or maintaining a high level of success. Manuel also pulled UConn out of a Jim Calhoun-generated APR disaster and spearheaded a move to Hockey East.
He's gone as soon as the NFL comes calling. Harbaugh writes an article for the Players' Tribune:
I’ve talked to a lot of people who feel that way about Michigan — and I’ve talked to a lot of other people who feel that way about their college, too. It happens everywhere. You probably feel that way about where you went to college.
But in my unscientific surveying of people I’ve talked to, I feel that it happens the most here at Michigan.
Which is why finally, I moved to Ann Arbor a third time. To be the head football coach.
A lot of people outside of Michigan asked me why I decided to make that third move to Ann Arbor. It’s pretty simple: I love football. I love coaching. I love Michigan. And for me, there’s no better place for those three things than right here in Ann Arbor.
It doesn't hurt that there's no megalomaniacal guy in a fur coat hovering over his shoulder in Ann Arbor.
As a side note, do you know what I see in my head whenever I hear "Players' Tribune"?
This is what I see, except with cards that read "PRESS" sticking out of their hats.
A firm-ish return date. Beilein on Levert's return:
John Beilein to @dandakich , "Caris LeVert has been out 5 weeks, he's getting better, hope to have him back on the court this or next week".
— Producer Kyle (@ProducerKyle) February 1, 2016
It's good to have a timeframe. It's unfortunate that timeframe isn't a little quicker now that Michigan's World Tour Of Bad Big Ten Basketball has concluded.
Death to autobench, in numbers. Tucked away in a piece on Washington having an unprecedented number of guys foul out is this note on the most DQ-averse team in college basketball:
By the way, there has been only one team to avoid a disqualification this season. The last time a Michigan player fouled out was February 17th of last season when the human box-score line-break, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman fouled out against Michigan State. My stance on when to sit players in foul trouble is somewhere between “ignore foul trouble completely” and “always sit guys in the first half that have two fouls”. It’s a very tough problem to study. But it seems to me that if you do subscribe to the latter approach, the fact that none of your players are fouling out is an indication your instincts for loss aversion are too strong.
The fact that Michigan fouls so rarely in the first place makes the autobench even more frustrating in practice. It is what it is; it's a blind spot.
Recruitin' rabblin'. Andy Staples on the decommit thing:
We'll need to hear Michigan's side of the Swenson case before passing judgment, and NCAA rules will keep Wolverines coaches from publicly discussing the specifics of Swenson's recruitment until after he signs. If it turns out Michigan's staff waited until January to tell Swenson—who committed to then-coach Brady Hoke in November 2013—he wasn't wanted, then the Wolverines deserve criticism for being lousy communicators. If Swenson had this knowledge in September or October, he could have reopened his recruitment earlier at a time when other schools would have had more open slots. The well-paid grown-ups here should be held to a higher standard than the high school students, and if Swenson's camp is telling the truth, Michigan's staff might need to learn how and when to break bad news.
It beggars belief that Swenson's camp is telling a full and honest accounting of the story if only because Michigan insiders started chattering about his place in the class months before the actual decommit, first privately and then in public. A final decision may have been delayed; if he didn't know it was because he didn't want to. Either way, Michigan should be explicit about these things much earlier.
The bump. Bill Connelly has an article on the "Bama bump," which is the perception that recruits committed to or recruited by Alabama get rankings boosts. Some services say they peek; others say no way:
To summarize, Luginbill said, "It absolutely exists because of subscription sales." Scout's Brandon Huffman said, "We don't do it, but others might." 247Sports's JC Shurburtt said, "Nah, but they do produce a lot of NFL talent, which matters," which seems like a roundabout way of saying it does kind of exist, only for reasons other than subscription sales.
Only Rivals' Mike Farrell said, "Nope!"
The denials here are odd, since re-evaluating a prospect once you get information like "Nick Saban is a fan" seems, you know, sensible. Connelly is in favor of the bump, and for the most part so am I. And it does exist. In Michigan's case it's usually when they become interested in a lower-rated guy. An unranked or two star player is about 99% likely to work his way up into generic three-star territory by the time Signing Day rolls around.
And for all of Luginbill's protestations, they absolutely do bump guys. When Khaleke Hudson committed to Michigan he was rated a 74 and below guys headed to Georgia Southern and schools of that ilk. Fast forward to today and he's flown up 34 spots. But that's fine! Before the bump Hudson's ranking looked plainly goofy. I think you should be humble enough to take Harbaugh's opinion into account when you rank guys. It's a better system than "did this guy show up to our camp," for sure.
Now, it's possible that Bama sees guys in the manicured regions move up. I don't follow their recruiting closely enough to know. This is not generally the case for Michigan commits, who tend to slide gradually as the recruiting year goes along. When I do job interviews I ask why this is, and I don't think I've heard the correct answer yet*. Michigan commits tend to slide because they stay the same while a select group of recruits below them emerge into big-time prospects. When you're perched in the top 10% of all high school recruits the direction you generally go is down even if you are ranked correctly.
*[It's still useful for hearing a person's ability to reason on the fly.]
Glasgow on Harbaugh. Stay enthusiastic, my friends:
“You know those commercials, The Most Interesting Man In The World? He’s like the most interesting coach in the world,” Glasgow said this week at the Reese’s Senior Bowl.
“He’s a really, really genuine guy and he just really cares about his players. Even though he looks crazy out there on game days and all that stuff, he’s really not like that behind closed doors.”
Only refs and people who drive slowly cause Harbaugh to throw conniption fits. BTW, we already have a "jim harbaugh is the most interesting man in the world" tag.
Jimmy & Johnny. Ann Arbor Pioneer is inducting Jim and John Harbaugh into the Hall of Fame of Purple-Wearing Athlete People on March 11; the eventbrite site just went live yesterday. The Facebook page has been posting vintage photos all week of the Harbros and here's one contest that was over before it began:
Sam & Ira are hosting, and they've invited us.
Michigan replay, 1992. Check the sweater:
Etc.: Former Gilman head coach Biff Poggi is taking another head coaching job in Maryland and thus won't be joining the staff. Carr on the Manuel hire. The year in Harbaugh hijinks. Baumgardner has a long article in which Lorenz and Trieu offer some takes on the class. Why Holtz is going to SOTS.
What was your worst breakup? Answer may include a breakup song.
Take her down to a river.
Seth: I haven't had enough long term relationships to collect the associated bad break. There was a never-was that ended with me taking a very long walk in the wee hours in winter and learning a thing or two about whiskey, but I can't really share it. And my longest relationship before my wife was a most-of-high-school thing that ended amicably.
My best breakup story then is more of an airline story. When my brother met his wife she had a best friend in the same grad program at Michigan whom I dated for a time. The problem was I had this whirlwind trip coming up: Vegas for a trade show-->Paris for 10 days with my parents-->home. The Vegas-Paris leg, because I was a master at flying in my trade show-attending youth, had a 19-hour "layover" in Detroit.
Well you can't really invite a girl you've been dating 6 weeks to Paris (with your folks!)unless you're already of a mind to keep doing so 'till death do you part. On the other hand she was really smart, and had Michigan hockey tickets. But it fell on her "spring" break, so I was really put to a decision here. I did the only thing I could to not end the relationship prematurely without committing fully: nothing.
With no Paris offer forthcoming she committed to flying back home--North Carolina--and got me to commit to driving her. Like an idiot I'm all: okay, I'll get back from this Vegas thing, we'll spend the "layover" together, take a car to the airport at the same time, then have a week apart to figure out our feels.
Here's where this plan went sour: she booked a 3pm flight to NC, and my Paris flight wasn't until 9 (and I wasn't about to leave a car there that whole time). So my glorious layover is now drive home from the airport after getting home on a red-eye, get a few hours of sleep, take the girl to airport, drive home again, then go back to the airport for Paris.
I got home from Las Vegas at about 7am, passed out for five hours, and woke up to find her already dropped off at my place. We hung out a little, I gave her a (very nice) Valentine's Day gift, jumped in the shower at the right time to be ready for the airport run, and when I got out she dumped me.
So you tell me: would you still take her?
[After the jump: more crutin]
Like my friend Captain Foresight said, you should have taken at least a QB in 2012.
It's been four classes since I played the Captain Hindsight game, where we go over a list of Michigan recruits going back as far as I can find crutin information (Lemming and Parade All-Americans and Sandeep's old page), and then pulling from stats and starts and awards and draft position and memory to give each guy a "results" star rating.
But this time instead of just 1-5 stars, I quartered that to fit the same ranking system I came up with last week as a composite rating. That is…
Seth's Rating System:
|Rating||Meaning as recruit||Meaning as player|
|Consensus top 25||Star by end 1st year, generational talent|
|4.75||Top 50ish. 5-star to 3/4 sites||Star by year two, 1st rounder or denard|
|4.50||Top 75ish. 5-star to 2/4 sites||Star by year three or long-term very good|
|4.25||Top 150ish. 5-star to 1 site.||Really good, UFR heroes, senior stars|
|Top 250, nationally ranked.||Very good, all-B1G, draftable|
|3.75||4-star not always ranked||Good, all-B1G upperclassman|
|3.5||High 3-star, some 4th stars||Mostly good, sometimes frustrating|
|3.25||Better than average 3-star||Better than okay, but frustrating|
|Consensus 3-star||Usable as upperclassman starter.|
|2.75||Low 3-stars||Serviceable backup, iffy starter|
|2.5||2-/3-star tweener.||Backup, can play a few series w/o disaster|
|2.25||High 2-star (by pos rank)||Depth, can steal a few snaps w/ him|
|1.75||Below 2-star||Can't play on this level.|
And here's the results of my re-ranking survey. Please (and I'm serious about this) lodge all questions and complaints about rankings in the comments. I plan to take them all into account and adjust. Or if you want to download it and make your own rankings I'd be happy to take that. This is a feels thing so the more input the better our information. That said, unless you think I'm way off with the bulk of guys, please preserve my fragile ego, since I'm putting the sum total of my Michigan fan knowledge into those numbers and would like to continue thinking all that attention over the years hasn't been for naught.
Notes on these: Since this is just judging talent scouting, anyone I could possibly rank (including the transfers) I did so. Those not ranked were injured before we got a chance to see them on the field or compare them with players ahead of them on the depth chart.
Also to handicap things for scouts this is not about who ended up being the best PLAYER but accurately representing a guy's talent and ability to convert it to footballing. This is NOT to say every 5.0 was better than every 4.25, because some truly great players who went on to long NFL careers weren't able to help out until they were upperclassmen. I did it that way because I know the ranking systems themselves judge a player by how college-ready he is, necessarily underrating ceiling. There's no skill that would let you see a 220-pound tight end and predict he'll be the NFL Draft's first OT taken in five years. Long careers therefore can catch up to loftier ones, and the top overall groups are guys who had both.
I'll repeat that just so we can shame the guys who didn't read it in the comments: it's not about who's BEST but how accurately he was scouted.
[After the jump: we compare services, and find fun things like best class ever, most underrated guys, etc.]
You will not be surprised that the Rashad Weaver decommitment set off another media/twitter/message board tempest. The guy who called Kyle Flood "real" two weeks before his grade-fixing scandal came to light has weighed in. Teddy Greenstein has resumed calling Michael Spath a hack so he doesn't have to actually address Michigan's point of view. Lawyers from Alabama have invaded my mentions.
This is not a good state of affairs. It is not the End of Integrity, as the pearl-clutching wing of the fanbase has fretted. The decommits will sign elsewhere; they won't have to transfer or take a medical midway through their careers. Finding yourself with a guy who would be better off elsewhere is inevitable and it's better to rip off the bandaid.
Michigan isn't in this situation because it's evil or untrustworthy, but rather because it's been disorganized and sloppy. There are countless examples just this year of similar decommits that were handled much better, like when Florida commit Isaiah Williams flipped to Washington State in December. Was that a voluntary switch? Not bloody likely. Did it cause a rending of garments and beating of the breast? Not at all.
Michigan took a number of early commits from fringe players, and they did so without checking up on grades. While there have been no complaints from anyone other than Swenson and Weaver, the sheer number of decommits looks bad even if Michigan has valid reasons for consciously uncoupling. There was no reason to take commits from a slew of academically questionable three stars this summer. Michigan gave them a plan to get right and they couldn't get there, which is fine. More or less dropping contact with them is not.
Meanwhile Michigan's two talent-based decommits were given broad hints but not told flat out until they did not want to take those hints. Whether or not this is how it's done elsewhere, that's the equivalent of breaking up with your girlfriend via meaningful eyebrow arcing and the occasional pursed lip. It results in confusion and people buying you gun racks.
Erik Swenson should have been explicitly dumped as soon as he did not show for Michigan's summer camp, and certainly by October, when his midseason senior film arrived in Ann Arbor. Weaver got enough of a message that he started looking around in November; his situation should have been made explicitly clear by midseason at the latest as well.
This is both ethically better and less damaging to the program. A Swenson set loose in October is both more capable of finding an appropriate landing spot and less capable of setting off a media firestorm. If Rashad Weaver simply flips to one of the four schools he visited over the course of the season his decommit is as newsworthy as that of Isaiah Williams, ie, not newsworthy except to Washington State fans.
So. To prevent further outbreaks, pick up the damn phone. By December.