recruiting is for gentlemen only
Braden invited; Magnuson not invited [Patrick Barron]
All the combine folks. 14 Michigan players will participate and even so there are a couple surprising omissions:
— Scott Bell (@sbell021) February 15, 2017
Braden but no Kalis or Magnuson is odd, and I thought Dymonte Thomas would be the kind of guy who could improve his stock significantly with impressive testing numbers.
That's a hell of a lot either way. Michigan's total is just four fewer than the entire Big 12. On the one hand, Michigan did not capitalize on that talent (by an inch, or a negative inch). On the other, Michigan's recruiting edits are going to be straight fire emoji in the immediate aftermath of the draft.
Speaking of the Big 12, Chris Vannini has an interesting article about the long term talent decline in the league. The state of Texas is getting raided hardcore:
The last factor is recruiting, and it doesn’t look better for the future. Only one Big 12 team signed a top-25 class in 247Sports’ rankings earlier this month: Oklahoma at No. 8. The next-closest Power 5 league was the ACC with four top-25 classes.
The league relies on the state of Texas, but Ohio State signed three of the top six players in the state. It was the first time since 2005 that an in-state school didn’t sign a majority share of the top 10 players in the state, as noted by the Dallas Morning News — and the third time since 2000 (the other two were Oklahoma). Only two of the top-10 players stayed in-state, and one of those left the Big 12 by going to Texas A&M.
Tom Herman should start turning that around—recruiting concerns about his finish at Texas should be mitigated by the fact that he landed Ed Oliver and a smattering of other four stars at Houston. It probably won't be enough to get back to parity.
"Offer" versus OFFER, part billion. I'm all for dumping on Nick Saban but this seems like a big bowl of nothing:
"LSU's welcome in my school anytime," Feaster said. "The only school that can't come to Parkway is Alabama. And there's a long story behind that, but it had to do with not being ethical in their recruiting.
"They can't come. Everyone else is 100 percent welcome."
There is a difference between an offer and a committable offer, something he found out the hard way in the recruitment of former LSU quarterback Brandon Harris.
Alabama "offers" Harris, his coach gets persnickety about it, and then Alabama says he has an OFFER, only for that offer to be back to scare-quotes status by june:
"Napier calls me the next day and says, 'Coach, I have some good news for you. Tell Brandon to call me on this phone during this period and I'll put Nick Saban on the phone,"' Feaster said. "We do that and Saban says, 'You have a scholarship at the University of Alabama.' So, they gave him a scholarship offer. It was a committable offer.
"By the time he gets to campus in June -- and I'm not saying Brandon was going to commit to Alabama -- it wasn't an option. Basically what they told him is that we got other guys that are going to come through here, and I promised them a shot. So we have to wait and see then."
As far as malfeasance on the recruiting trail goes, this is small potatoes. Whether or not a kid is a "take" changes constantly for every school, including Michigan. Getting upset because Alabama changed their mind about a kid before he even committed is some special snowflake stuff. (Also that guy lost his job to a Purdue transfer, sooooo...)
MSU update. The gymnastics coach was forcibly retired and now faces three allegations that she downplayed sexual assault reports from Larry Nassar:
The allegation — the third made specifically against Klages — was first made in a court document filed Jan. 27 seeking to add the athlete to the federal lawsuit against Michigan State University, Nassar, USA Gymnastics and Twistars gymnastics club in Dimondale.
Those documents, filed by attorney Jamie White, didn't identify Klages, but said it was "a member of MSU’s coaching staff."
White, the attorney for the gymnast who says Nassar sexually assaulted her during medical appointments, confirmed on Tuesday that it was Klages who spoke to his client's mother.
He also confirmed that it was Klages who told his client's mother that "Nassar’s digital penetrations of (the athlete's) vagina was a proven medical treatment."
If you believe the reports sufficiently to "retire" her you should be firing her for cause.
Michigan State has suspended Curtis Blackwell, a recruiting staffer. They won't say why, but it's not too hard to draw a line between that and this:
Blackwell's suspension comes as a criminal investigation into three Michigan State football players is ongoing. Michigan State announced last week that a member of the football staff also had been suspended pending the completion of that investigation.
The police have requested warrants for the three players in question.
Also Demetrius Cooper was charged with spitting on a parking enforcement officer. Oh and Malik McDowell fell out of Mel Kiper's first round for reasons other than his talent. In a normal year this would be part of the rivalry pointing and laughing. This year not so much. That whole athletic department looks to be in total chaos.
Stop with the video, fergodsakes. Interesting piece on the demise of Scout media, which was accelerated by a push towards making everything a video, even the things that should definitely not be videos:
Advertisers might also have been skittish because of where most of Scout’s traffic came from. Despite a costly thrust into video, part of a massive, costly overhaul of Scout’s CMS, nearly 80 percent of Scout’s traffic comes from visits to its message boards, which are reserved for subscribers. Though the developers team claimed the addition of video in 2015 drove tens of millions of views within six months of its launch, Scout’s traffic was relatively flat or declining year-over-year from 2014 to 2015, according to comScore data.
Almost all of those videos were worthless. They're still doing it. I can't tell you how many Scout tabs I open and then disgustedly close because they're a hundred words trying to induce me to watch a recruit get interviewed for five minutes—a video that would already be autoplaying if I hadn't sought out a Chrome extension to disable said feature. ("Disable HTML 5 Autoplay," FWIW.)
Autoplay video is a scam. Person opens page, video plays, person does not watch video, counts as a hit anyway, publisher tries to leverage those numbers into high CPM video ads that no one will ever watch.
Etc.: Here's a video with athletic directors, including Warde Manuel, discussing a potential student protest. I did not watch it despite having interest in the subject matter, because it is a video.
If you had Teddy Greenstein in the Brings Up Erik Swenson Next pool, collect your winnings. I get annoyed at Greenstein because he puts up a front of objectivity while putting out article after article designed to put Harbaugh in a bad light. See the recent article on refereeing where he asked the Big Ten's head of officials if he was bad at his job, got a "no," and said "well, I guess that wraps it all up, folks!"
Anyway. This one was somewhat spoiled by Harbaugh explaining the situation from his perspective...
"There's a camp in June, and we really want you to come so we can see you.' It ended up, after a couple of conversations, that he wasn't going to come to camp.
"I said: 'We're going to be in Indianapolis in the beginning of June for a satellite camp. It's closer to your home.' He said no. I said, 'We really need to see you for ourselves.' He said, 'Just evaluate my senior tape.' 'OK, that's what we will do.'"
...but Greenstein does his best to frame it anyway.
What happened to Swenson is exceedingly rare: a high school player in good academic standing, who remains loyal to the school to which he verbally committed, getting dumped within weeks of signing day.
There is a term for a school dispatching a player it no longer wants: "processing."
Connecticut coach Randy Edsall got crushed last week by national media figures Paul Finebaum ("total disgrace"), Mike Greenberg ("How you go to sleep at night, I have no idea") and the Washington Post's Sally Jenkins ("No one is more committed to Randy Edsall than Randy Edsall") after his scurrilous actions regarding a high school linebacker from New Jersey named Ryan Dickens.
Contrary to pearl-clutchers in the media, "processing" kids before they can sign is a common practice getting ever more common. That's why there's a term for it. Most of these situations go uncommented upon because the kid and coaches know the score and are just looking for a landing spot. The rare thing is a kid getting pissed off about it in the media.
I think we can safely assume that someone moving down from a Power 5 program to a lower level has been processed, and there have been a number of these this year: CB Nick Roberts and QB Todd Centeio went from P5 programs to the AAC. S Ahman Ross is trying to find a landing spot at Appalachian State or Colorado State. RB Bentavious Thompson looks likely to end up at UCF. FIU is the crystal ball favorite for WR Kevaughn Dingle.
That's five guys not from all of the Power 5 or one P5 conference but one recruiting class: Miami's. Every collection of team-specific recruitniks in America has a subliminal list of a few guys who are technically committed but won't actually be in the class. For Michigan this year they were Carter Dunaway and Chase Lasater; for Ohio State they were Danny Clark, Bruce Judson, and Todd Sibley.
The 24/7 decommitment tracker is missing a pager so it only goes back three days. In those three days (three days!) there are four recruitments that look like processing of some variety:
- WR Warren Jackson decommitted from Arizona and fielded a couple of quick CSU picks.
- LB DeMarco Artis decommitted from FSU and told 247 that it was "unfortunate."
- LB Jabreel Stephens decommitted from Louisville and looks set to pick USF.
- LB Jaquan Henderson flipped from Tennessee to Georgia Tech.
It is exactly one week from signing day.
Even if not all of these are genuine processings that should be sufficient to demonstrate that the practice is not rare, or anything close to it. If Greenstein had done 15 minutes of research he would have reached the same conclusion. You have to wonder why he would not take such a basic step before making an easily-disproved factual assertion.
It is possible that there have been MSU players with these names.
I can't believe this is real but a great friend who is an MSU grad is sure bent out of shape over it:
Love the site and Go Blue,
The worst thing about shirts like this is the five seconds where you think you should get it to troll someone and then remember that the #1 person being trolled in that situation is yourself.
Lessons from decommit central last year
While reading the latest Recruiting Overview I saw you mention forced decommitts. It seemed like a lot of those from last year, except for the most prominent one, were summer camp offers/commits. I am wondering if the coaching staff will lay off those sorts of camp offers this year due to the backlash from last year? Perhaps they will adjust how the offer is made, such as "We like you Mr Under The Radar Recruit and think you could have a potential bright future with our team. Here is an uncommittable offer than could become committable later this year if you keep your grades up/keep getting better on the field/the math at the end of the recruiting cycle works in your favor." Could we see something like this or will offers go flying out every which way again (that's how it appeared from a layman's POV) this summer?
It does appear that Michigan has altered their approach after The Swenson Incident. A number of different recruits have been on commit watch without a payoff: AL S AJ Harris and AL OL Toryque Bateman come to mind. Harris had a huge crystal ball surge for Michigan and a bunch of insiders predicting a commit. He was apparently held off and ended up committing to Ole Miss recently. Bateman came up saying it was 50/50 he would pull the trigger—which is more like 90/10 in recruit-speak—and left without doing so; it now seems like he'll be headed elsewhere. Last year both of those guys might have committed and then been let go late in the cycle.
Michigan does have a few guys they've been less than cautious with and I do expect they'll suffer/encourage decommits over the next six months. The number should be greatly reduced from last year's double-digits.
It's impossible to know exactly what conversations are going on between coaches and "offered" players but I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of Michigan's offers are conditional in some way, whether it's grades or guys higher on Michigan's board going elsewhere. I'd assume Michigan is being a lot more explicit about this, so guys aren't jumping on the future decommit train. Michigan offered MO DE Anthony Payne and FL DE Donovan Winter, sort of. They did so after Corey Malone-Hatcher and Luiji Vilain committed, so I doubt those were actual committable offers; both guys went off the board to other schools in short order.
Michigan is continuing the offer cannon approach. They're being much more clear about which offers are "offers." Probably.
[After the JUMP: a jerk i tell you what]
Jerky tempo response
Media days takes. Harbaugh showed at a place and said things. In response the media writes somewhat overheated things in response, because Harbaugh. The Sporting News refers to Michigan's "magical, millennial, marketable machine" in an alliteration explosion that engulfed their office:
“Harbaugh to my knowledge has taken no classes in marketing, never mentions the word,” Bacon said. “Yet who has marketed Michigan better then he has in the last year and a half? Not everyone likes it, but as far as getting and the name and the flag up the flag pole … Harbaugh has spread the "M" all over America — and to American Samoa — for crying out loud.”
According to Michigan associate athletic director Kurt Svoboda, the university increased its season ticket sales in 2015 to 89,875, the highest total since 2012. Of those, 72,076 were non-student tickets, the highest total since 2009. Student ticket sales increased from 11,597 in 2014 to 17,899 in 2015. …
"You can say he's 52 going on 25 in some ways,” Bacon said. “He's got more energy than almost anybody. He's in a rap video. As a rapper he's an excellent football coach, but you know the kids love it."
Looks like Bacon just put himself on the list of Uptight White People for the 57th time.
Harbaugh's ability to be the center of attention at all times arises naturally from the fact that he's got no filter and genuinely doesn't care what people say about him. So he'll climb a tree or dab for a recruit or schedule a month-long whirlwind of satellite camps, mostly because he wants to do these things, to win at various things of little to no importance. The marketing aspect is a side effect. It's not quite an accident, but it's not the primary thing.
The primary thing:
To that point, Harbaugh said almost every practice is mapped out for the upcoming season, mapped out on his computer. Fall camp will include a lot more four-hour practices, another concept Butt said might be foreign in an age where less contact is encouraged. Butt even told former Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy about those practices this summer.
McElroy’s response? “You lost me at the four-hour practices.”
Harbaugh goes harder and his guys are willing to do the same given his example. Along the way articles are written.
Also this. Harbaugh's just way more interesting than coaches primarily focused on escaping media appearances without saying anything that means anything. Literally. Brian Hamilton:
Around 1:30 p.m. on Monday, James Joseph Harbaugh took the stage and an otherwise lobotomized first day of Big Ten media day festivities got interesting. All he had to do was wear the baseball cap, really: Michigan’s coach later explained his accessorizing was the product of going five weeks without a haircut and his affinity for the skinny ‘M’ logo.
He signed a fan's bicep with a Sharpie, then told the fan to come back for another try Tuesday because he didn't like the way his skin signature looked.
Of his appearance in a recent rap video, Harbaugh insisted that only "uptight white people" didn't like it. He even claimed to have written one of the song's lyrics ("Roughest team in the B-I-G!). At another point, Harbaugh used the word "meritocracy," briefly wondered if he had just invented it, then looked disappointed when he learned it already existed.
He is one of few college football coaches clearly operating his own twitter feed, because he's got something to say on it. Something like "I am Uncle Rico and The Georgia Coach is barking up the wrong tree."
Knock on wood. Harbaugh says Michigan is healthy headed into fall camp:
"There's nothing to report," Harbaugh said of player injuries. "We're pretty darn healthy. We came out of spring ball pretty darn healthy. We didn't get any of the long-term kind, six month injuries. There's always things that people are dealing with and working with. Our goal is to get the healthiest, most in-shape and strongest team we can on August 8th and then we'll take our shot."
Rumors about Chesson's availability have persisted through the offseason; he should be fine:
Asked specifically about All-Big Ten receiver Jehu Chesson, Harbaugh didn't give a definitive answer but did say he thinks he'll be good to go.
"Yes, I believe he will," Harbaugh said.
The only other player who had a long-term injury at the end of spring practice was Moe Ways, who has reportedly been running routes with the QBs for weeks now. Per Webb, Ryan Glasgow put up some impressive bench press numbers himself recently. Since his injury was to his pectoral that is plenty of evidence he's all the way back.
Recruiting is for gentlemen only. James Franklin's comments about negative recruiting from a while back are predictably a hot topic at Big Ten media days, but they're apparently based on an unrepresentative quote:
"All I said was that every kid that we're recruiting is also being recruited by Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Notre Dame and that they don't have the same challenges that we have now," Franklin said. "Then, in a separate quote, I mentioned that right now we're (dealing) with negative recruiting. It was two separate quotes, though, over a 35-minute interview.
"I never said that any of those schools are the ones doing the negative recruiting against us. They're not. There is one other particular school, but I didn't name who that was."
"…although it is blindingly obvious to you and everyone who reads this quote that it is Pitt."
Negative recruiting hubbub is always pretty ridiculous since things as innocuous as pointing out your relatively friendly depth chart will be twisted into "School X is in ISIS" by the time someone mutters about it on the internet. This seems a bit more ridiculous than most.
The Bill C preview. Bill Connelly's big Michigan preview hit SBNation yesterday. Happily, Bill saw through Michigan's roster subterfuge and knows that they get back most of their offense.
S&P+ projects Michigan to win 9.6 games:
If that sounds pessimistic MSU was at 7.8 a few days ago. Combinatorial math is harsh when you add these things up: Michigan has just three games they're not 75%+ to win and yet they're tiny favorites to end up with double digit wins. 9.6 is pretty good in this context.
There are a couple issues of the sort that are inevitable if you have to write 128 of these over the course of the offseason. Connelly strangely tabs the departure of Mario Ojemudia as the beginning of the defense's late slide and worries over the least worrisome bit of the entire team:
Things fell apart for the line right around the time of Mario Ojemudia's injury. There was still play-making potential on the edge, but it seemed to be a tough blow for Michigan's tenuous depth. Ryan Glasgow going down was the knockout punch.
Depth might not be any better this year. When you were only comfortable with seven guys, and two are gone, improvement isn't guaranteed. But when you've got reinforcements like all-world freshman Rashan Gary, it's hard to worry too much.
Ojemudia went down early in the Maryland game, a shutout. The next week they shut out Northwestern, and then they gave up some points. Against MSU and Minnesota they were mostly secondary issues; Rutgers scored just 16 in Glasgow's last game. Ojemudia was playing well but Royce Jenkins-Stone wasn't a huge dropoff. Glasgow was for a ton of reasons.
Anyway. Bryan Mone hype understandably eludes Connelly's take here, as does the somewhat more questionable emergence of Winovich and Marshall.
Peppers scouted. By NFL.com:
He is fluid in his turn, and he has excellent recovery speed down the field. He is instinctive and aware in underneath coverage. He jumped a bubble screen for a near interception in the Minnesota game. He is outstanding as a run defender. He fights through blocks and is a very reliable tackler in space. He shows timing and burst as a blitzer.
Yep. Concerns include an awkwardness in off coverage and a certain grabbiness that he's gotten away with for the most part. It was clear at the beginning of the year that he had a lot of things to work on in coverage; the good news is that he improved a great deal over the course of the year and should continue to do so.
PFF talks Ohio State. Their offense is an enigma now with just a few starters returning and JT Barrett's downfield ability in question:
The passing game is much more of a question mark, as Barrett has not had nearly the same success through the air as he has on the ground. He earned an average passing grade last season after performing marginally better than that in 2014, and he struggled the most on intermediate throws: On passes thrown 10 to 19 yards downfield, Barrett was just 12 of 25 for 211 yards, 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, earning a negative grade in that area of the field.
On the other hand he was their #2 running QB last year behind Houston's Greg Ward. MSU shut down the OSU run game and they foundered, as they did for much of the season. (Remember the NIU game?) Michigan did not do anything of the sort and got ripped. Don Brown versus and Urban Meyer offense is going to be the most intriguing tactical matchup of the season.
Etc.: Tough talk about the ACC Network's ability to get carriage. Ann Arbor is the most educated city in the country by a mile. Ian Boyd on Minnesota's three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust offense. The Black Heart Gold Pants crew is on the move. Barton Simmons catches on to Harbaugh's crazy QB coaching record.
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]