to play football, not to play trumpet
recruiting is for gentlemen only
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.
Michigan's longest-standing commit is no longer one:
— Erik Swenson (@Eiek77) January 20, 2016
While that's a surprise it's less of a surprise since this week people started putting their name next to the assertion that he would not end up in the class. Mike Spath said so in a post on attrition; Wiltfong did the same at 247; Webb concurred. With Northwestern and Nebraska possible landing spots, academics are obviously not a problem.
Swenson committed to Brady Hoke's Michigan sometime during the Truman administration and hasn't wavered or visited elsewhere; like Rashad Weaver and Kiante Enis this appears to be a case where Michigan re-evaluated the players' talent after their senior season and did not like what they saw. Let's talk about how we feel about that, with the caveat that we are working with incomplete information here since neither side is offering much detail on what went down.
Editorial opinion on decommitting guys based on talent
Michigan's suffered a number of decommits this cycle. Some were not Michigan's choice, others are because of academic concerns, and a few look like Michigan straight-up pulling offers from committed recruits because they prefer other players. To date players in the latter category appear to be Enis, Weaver, and Swenson.
This could be anywhere from completely legit (Harbaugh tells them they may have to find another landing spot if things don't work out) to not great (this is not communicated). There's a post on the board from a gentleman claiming to be two degrees of separation from a recruit who consciously uncoupled from Michigan, and it was more or less the former:
He said the coaches meticulously laid out who his competition would be, and explained to him that they weren't done recruiting the position yet. Harbaugh also told him that his scholarship to one of the best academic institutes was absolutely still available to him, but he would need to work his ass off to see any playing time. Said recruit has decided that while academics are important, playing football is his true passion and wants to see the field sooner than later. He would rather fine tune his game on the field and get better.
Despite the parting of ways the recruit seemed fine with the overall result, as he got a ton more interest after "Michigan commit" was appended to his resume.
Enis and Weaver were probably given a heads-up a couple months ago. Enis made an official to Indiana in December; Weaver scheduled an official to Temple in November. In any case they are likely to find schools that are a better fit for them and have fine college careers.
This doesn't really bother me. These days "commit" is used about as accurately as "literally" and Harbaugh has adapted to that situation. If you want to visit, visit. Michigan is going to recruit as if commits don't exist, just like everyone else does. It can be infuriating for players, coaches, and fans as order and structure break down but that's life. I've never really railed about that practice; it's shipping guys out mid-career without a degree, against their will, that rankles. I don't think Michigan will be doing that and certainly hope they never do.
However, Swenson's situation is considerably more sketch. He has not made a peep since his commitment and was tweeting about signing with Michigan as late as January 3rd. Webb says "don't be surprised if a little mudslinging happens." Swenson took the high road, but if someone pops off after a LOI is safely faxed I won't be surprised, nor will I have much to say other than "seems accurate."
If Michigan was going to pull Swenson's scholarship it should have at least warned him about the possibility during the season so he could make a backup plan. That doesn't look like the case and it appears Michigan has pissed some people off. Not a good look.
If he wants to play and does land with the Wildcats or Huskers, he's probably better off. Michigan looked at senior film and decided he would not play.
I wouldn't want to go to a school that thought I wouldn't play and wouldn't tell me that; I would expect them to tell me that. By November at the latest.
This isn't so much a rug being pulled out from under someone as an order for a rug being canceled. Michigan does have to get more organized with this stuff going forward. Setting someone adrift approximately three weeks before Signing Day—the news took a week or two to get out—isn't enough time for them to find the best landing spot.
you, go away
Given the general distaste we Michigan fans have had with the way in which SEC coaches like Les Miles and others oversign and then cut in order to make scholarship numbers work, how can we not be similarly enraged when it looks like we are now engaging in a similar practice? Is the answer HARBAUGH?
Michigan is not yet at the point where they have to tell a freshman who's been on campus for weeks to GTFO. Should they reach that point, or one anywhere near it, then I'll be grousing as well.
They aren't near it. To date they have lost some commits before Signing Day. If those are Michigan's choice that is a recruiting misdemeanor compared to the felony of getting a guy's LOI and putting yourself in a position where someone's gotta go, deserved or not. And in some cases they are not Michigan's choice—reports after Vic Viramontes decommitted were that Michigan was blindsided and disappointed. (The MGoSlack chat was certainly mournful.)
I do think Michigan put themselves in a bad spot by offering a few guys before it was clear whether they had the academics and/or talent to play at Michigan. In the former case, those guys should know the score without anyone having to walk their way through it—if you're not taking officials you have to know you're a long way away.
In the latter case, once that disappointing senior film comes in you can either try to make it work even if you don't believe the player is Michigan-caliber anymore or you can consciously uncouple. I can see how moving on before Signing Day instead of two years into a career nowhere near the field could be better for everyone. Michigan told Matt Falcon they didn't think he could play but had a medical scholarship. That sucked for Falcon but better to find out before you've spent eligibility. The error has been made either way.
Meanwhile, Michigan has limited control of the narrative that gets put out there because they cannot say anything about ongoing recruitments. Reports that Michigan isn't contacting certain players much are probably frustrating to the staff because the reason for that is that they've already told people the deal, as they did with Falcon, but "Michigan commit" looks good on a resume when you're looking for another spot to land. Recruiting sites waited months for Dele Harding to say something about his recruitment and finally just took him off commit lists. That doesn't mean Harding didn't know his status. If you read between the lines you know who isn't likely to be in the class. If you know, they know.
Meanwhile I know that they have told certain players not to commit whereupon those players commit anyway; Michigan shrugs its shoulders at crootin' and keeps going. Carr used to go out of his way to make things clear when such things happened to him (LB [something] Justice and some OL out of Tennessee who I can't remember spring to mind); Harbaugh seems to (accurately) regard the whole edifice as a farce and plays his part with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind.
We'll see what happens on and after Signing Day. I don't think we'll see any more untoward than playing time transfers and guys not being offered fifth years.
[After the JUMP: where to put guys, where to spend scholarships, and the best hockey forwards of the past 15 years.]