is there such a thing as an etsy genuis? if so, this is it.
recruiting might not be so legit sometimes
skill position recruiting under Brady Hoke
Where is the talent?
Hoke's recruiting classes were consistently highly ranked, bringing in 4 and 5 star athletes coveted by other reputable football programs, yet I keep reading that we lag many Big Ten teams in talent. I find it hard to believe Hoke is this bad at talent evaluation and missed on this many athletes. What do you think of the innate talent on the roster? Is this a pure development issue, or was Hoke that unlucky or bad at identifying talent?
Peter from Horsham, PA
It could be there, but concealed by the Hoke chaos.
Last year's D was 14th in yards per play and returns eight or nine starters, depending on how you define the term. The only personnel losses were Raymon Taylor, Frank Clark, Jake Ryan, and Brennen Beyer; Michigan gets Desmond Morgan off an injury redshirt and adds Wayne Lyons.
It didn't feel like that good of a defense, though. Part of that was the quality of competition. Michigan is 41st in FEI despite having shiny regular stats. (MSU is one spot ahead of them in 40th.) Part of that was the offense putting the D out there so often in bad situations that they were going to crack eventually. Many, many games over the past two years have had a similar pattern. The defense scratches and claws to keep Michigan in it and then they collapse in the fourth quarter because they're out of juice.
The other part of that was Michigan going to a man press defense their team simply could not hack. Blake Countess was exposed for half the season before they went back to their old ways. Is that "talent"? In some ways. But Hoke took an All Big Ten sophomore and destroyed him because he couldn't see that he was being put in a terrible situation for his skill set.
Meanwhile on offense… I got nothing. With the exception of projected TE Devin Funchess, Michigan recruited horribly at QB and WR under Hoke. The Chesson/Darboh class was all right, but they appear to have missed on all three guys they took the next year and the jury is very much out on last year's class. QB… I want to throw a rock in Hoke's general direction every time I think about it.
Recruiting very badly at QB is a way to have your recruiting rankings far outstrip your ability to play football. It's only one spot. Michigan's piles of OL are five. Michigan has nothing to show from the Hoke era other than a three star they took early with little competition and Shane Morris, who it is now clear was wildly overrated by the services. Morris is the kind of boom-or-bust guy you can take happily in a Harbaugh context where the roster has five or six or seven QBs on it; he is a disaster waiting to happen if the two guys in front of him are Russell Bellomy and air and the guy behind him is a middling three star. Harbaugh set about fixing that, at least.
Meanwhile the places Hoke did best—the lines—are the ones where you have to wait the longest to get a return on your investment. OL are particularly unpredictable.
And, yes, I do think Hoke was pretty bad at IDing talent. Look at the Dukes/Jones/York WR class, or the performance of the tailbacks he brought in, or the Wangler/Ferns/Furbush/Winovich LB class. Do not get me started on the tailbacks. Look at the decision to move to press man.
Defensive line is an obvious exception, where Michigan's turned two three-star Glenville projects into real players, but that just re-confirms that Hoke was a pretty good DL coach who ended up in way over his head.
Uppity so-and-sos with their thesauri
Excuse me while I correct your nerdom with my (apparently) superior nerdom. Ferret Tecmo Bowl Bo Jackson would not be the correct name. What you are looking for is Ferret Super Tecmo Bowl Bo Jackson. In the first Tecmo Bowl, Bo Jackson was just a man. It is in Super Tecmo Bowl that he became an unstoppable run-circles-around-the-cpu-god. Surely you did not mean to name the ferret after the lesser of the two Bo Jacksons.
Bro. I said I would brook no criticism about my asymptotically perfect ferret names, and yet here you are, brooking your ass off. Well, BEN, clearly "Ferret Super Tecmo Bowl Bo Jackson" is clunky and unwieldy and stupid, as any six-year-old child could see. It is obvious to any Tecmo Bowl connoisseur that we are talking about the destroyer of worlds Bo Jackson, "Super" or not. Humor, prose, and lovemaking are all about omitting unnecessary flourishes. So too are ferret names.
[After the JUMP: Ben gets commuppanced hrrrrrd]
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:
Site note: Be here for the Liveblog tonight. Mods to your stations at 6:45; we'll get started at 7.
I'll make this one quick.
Things to know about basketball
1. The defense has maybe taken a small step forward, and other observations about how basketball is like pro wrestling, from who else?
2. Michigan's offensive deviation isn't very large says LSA; they generally manage to keep their pace and score with relatively stable frequency. Score one against "defense wins championships because it's more consistent."
4. Purdue and Rutgers are not going to be good at it next year. Padog has begun a preview series for next year's conference teams, starting from the bottom. Northwestern is probably next followed by Penn State, but I'm looking forward to an Indiana preview sooner rather than later.
Best of the Board
QB BATTLE: THIS IS KNOWN
For those not still hitting snooze on football right now, BlueMooner went to the private dinner last week with Nussmeier and came back with generalities that amount to Gardner/Morris/Speight are who we thought they were. Also this:
Audience members posed questions about the comparison of recruiting in the SEC versus the B1G; Coach Saban compared to Hoke; and his intent to stay at UM over the long haul. He adroitly dodged those with a splendid sense of humor. The crowd was really enthusiastic about Coach Nussmeier in control of our offense.
You are welcome to read this as "Nussmeier wants to be a head coach someday" and "the SEC cheats more in recruiting." This too is known.
ATTENTION WAL-MART SHOPPERS
There are 394 items on walmart.com licensed from Michigan Wolverines and 369 for Michigan State Spartans. This should be a thing.
This is more of a link but Bacon addressed "Walmart Wolverines" on his blog this week. If you are an alumnus who has a problem with non-alumni rooting for your alma mater then you should read it.
My sense is that is next to none of you, and "Walverines" is a thing mostly generated by Sparties who don't like how people who didn't get into MSU bring up Michigan's marginal academic superiority. So Bacon is addressing the wrong crowd; on the other hand I'm not sure I want to advocate speaking sense to Spartans, because that totally works.
THE END OF COLLEGE SPORTS AND EVERYTHING
The CAPA decision touched off heated debate on the board, so heated that a second thread was warranted to exclude the money part that the Northwestern players aren't talking about. The debate came down to "better helmets and covering medical expenses down the road for athletes is good" versus "but schools that pretend to be D-I won't be able to live that way."
Congrats are due to Justin Dickens, the guy who granted Heiko that interview with Borges and oversaw a dramatic shift in how bloggers are treated relative to other football media. He's not only an MGoBlog reader; he's now Director of Football Operations. This site's had a lot of criticism for Fort Schembechler but I have zero for Justin, who was given the impossible job of keeping both Dave Brandon and Brian Cook happy, and who despite that always made protecting the players his highest priority. I expect he'll succeed; I'm more anxious about who will succeed him.
Your Moment of Zen:
Argh on you, club_med. Yes, I am flattered that you were inspired by my annual FEI-based bowl game watchability article, and I think it's great that you added Sagarin to it. Except now I actually have to find something else to write next Tuesday. Perhaps I'll do senior haikus.
I still can't believe
They pegged you as a safety
Here is your meat: raw.
Sorry Brian. You can do the next USCHO/RPI/Standings poll update from Center Ice. And he can take over LSA's weekly stat wrap, and LSA can take Best & Worst after the bowl game from bronxblue, who can do Inside the Box Score instead of ST3, and we'll send him to cover the press conference, and that'll be how we replace Heiko.
Season of Infinite Pain, Reviewed. "The Year of Infinite Pain" (glossary) was a name Brian came up with for 2005, before he knew what 2008 or 2009 or 2010 or 2013 could be like. Now diary giant Ron Utah is using "The Season of Infinite Pain" to describe this one. Not saying things won't improve, but, you know, that's just a might set up against two rivals who are peaking in a tough division, and a national competitive environment in which a lot of teams wantonly break the rules and ours doesn't. So just in case we need some more names:
- The Autumn of Infinite Pain
- The Time of Infinite Pain
- The Annum of Infinite Pain
- The Age of Infinite Pain
- The Span of Infinite Pain
- The Fiscal Year of Infinite Pain
If we are actually living in the last, here's guessing I don't make it past the 2014 Notre Dame game. If Dantonio and Urban get to 10 wins apiece against us there are several synonyms for "infinite" (eternal, interminable, perpetual, everlasting, boundless, incalculable, supertemporal) that may be substituted in various combinations.
Anyway Ron's wrap starts with the defensive line, which he gave a C+, but I think he's too high on Clark's season, too hard on Washington's (he was injured), and there needs to be more analysis of the heavy (ha!) rotational guys like Henry, Beyer, Ojemudia, Wormley, Heitzman and Pipkins.
Not on the Pistons, that's where. AC1997 is tracking Michigan guys in the NBA, as well as the transfers and dudes playing abroad. I'd love for this to be a regular monthly update for each season in action (so have a hockey one, and a baseball one, and football from August (free agent movement) through the Superbowl.
Etc. A quick statistical preview of Stanford, whom Michigan must beat lest they end the nonconference season without a signature win.
[Jump for Best of the Board and zen.]
Moe (1) and Jabrill (2), via.
In last week's roundtable on the state of the conference I pulled out this table grading the new Big Ten's teams on their 2013 seasons (by Fremeau Efficiency Index) and their futures (by composite 247 score for the 2012-'14 classes):
West | East School FEI Grade Rcrt | School FEI 2013 Rcrt Wisconsin 13th A C+ | OSU 8th A A+ Iowa 30th B C | MSU 9th A B Minnesota 49th C D+ | Michigan 29th B A+ Nebraska 51st C B | Indiana 62nd D+ C NW'ern 60th C- C | PSU 65th D+ B Illinois 75th D C- | Maryland 74th D C+ Purdue 114th F C- | Rutgers 98th E- B- AVG 56th 2.0 2.0 | AVG 49th 2.1 3.0
That's about how I feel: A conference baseline of "C" (ie ranked around 50th) teams with one division recruiting at a "B" level and the other "getting the most out of" C level recruiting.
This I pulled from a spreadsheet of FEI and recruiting data that I'd like to mine further, because if you're looking at a chart it still counts as doing work.
Recruiting = legit, yo/maybe not so legit. So here's a new look at the old stand-by: recruiting on the Y-axis, performance on the X-axis, and a nice, heavy trend line with an R-squared of 0.46 to show an inconvenient-for-narratives correlation. Performance is FEI expressed as a percentile. The composite ranking is a bit more complex: the 2009 (5th year seniors) is weighted at 0.5 the 2010 and 2011 classes at full, the 2012 class at 0.40 and the 2013 at 0.10, which are arbitrary values I assigned based on expectations of how much a class contributes to a given team.
Blicking on it makes it cig.
It says they're correlated, but doesn't necessarily mean one is causing the other. FWIW the r-squared of the Rivals composite determined the same way was .4135; I haven't done Scout or ESPN yet. Look at how the correlation of recruiting %-ile of each class and 2013 performance %-ile changes by year:
|Class||247 R-Squared||Rivals R-Squared|
|2009 (5th yrs)||0.3681||0.3204|
The highest correlation is to the freshman class, and the 3rd-highest is to the class that's not even on campus yet. There's a strong echo effect going on here, wherein the teams that are good today are getting the highest-ranked recruits. The diminishing returns from seniors, I would posit, are because they're the classes hit hardest by attrition, and most likely to have been recruited by a different coach or to a program in very different circumstances.
The other thing that immediately jumped out at me about that chart is look at all the color on top of the black trend line. Those gray dots are mid-major programs, who are largely outperforming expectations from recruiting, versus only one SEC team managing to do so. I bet that's a system bias in the recruiting rankings: there's little to parse between an under-the-radar guy who commits to Purdue versus one going to NIU except one of those is a Big Ten school.
[Jump for MEETING EXPECTATIONS and THE FUTURE]
The most Buckeye. What is the most Ohio State thing? Is it chasing off a touted linebacker recruit with your tilty-head child porn whatnots?
That's pretty Buckeye. Is it getting caught pleasuring yourself in the library by Carl Monday? Is it punching an opposing player because you're mad?
I think the kid who named his tumor "Michigan" is the most Ohio State thing.
Grant Reed is only 12, but the young Ohio State fan has scored a major victory over “Michigan.”
It’s what he named his brain tumor.
According to a report by NBC affiliate WCMH, Reed was recently released from Nationwide Children’s hospital in Columbus, Ohio, after completing chemotherapy in a two-year fight with the brain tumor. Doctors give him a good prognosis.
Congratulations, kid. You are both alive and the most Buckeye, at least until a guy wearing an Andy Katzenmoyer jersey poops on Desmond Howard live on Gameday, then punches out Herbstreit for being a "fake Buckeye."
MOST BUCKEYE RANKINGS
- Naming brain tumor "Michigan"
- "Everybody kills"
- Committing insurance fraud with the vehicle some booster provided you
- Tilty-head child-porn selfie fetish that chases away Alex Anzalone
- Library jackin'
- Dymonte Thomas is totally gonna flip you guys
McGary smash. GRIII and Mitch McGary are at the LeBron Skills academy with about a zillion other dudes both in college and high school, and it sounds like McGary is following up his breakout tournament with consistent, varied production. Sam Webb($):
Mitch McGary – “The Monster” looks like a million bucks – figuratively and literally. The sophomore power forward checked in at a toned 6-10.5, 266-lbs. with an 83.5-inch wingspan. His activity level stayed consistently high at times he seemed to catch his opponents off guard with better than expected lateral agility bounce. … While his overall activity level on both ends continued to stand out, his 11-point barrage over a couple of minutes was the true highlight. The run started off with a pick& roll clinic. On three occasions McGary lost Wilson after setting a solid screen and diving to the basket for a bucket. When Wilson finally decided to stay with him, McGary stuck a three. A couple of possessions later he caught the ball on the right elbow, pivoted to face the rim, then calmly stuck a jumper over Wilson’s outstretched arm.
I be like dang.
BONUS IS MITCH MCGARY STILL MITCH MCGARY CHECK
The only bad mark on McGary’s report card came when he attempted a heat check three toward the end of the game. The big fella dribbled into a jumper a full step beyond the three-point line. It was an air-ball, but after everything else he did in the game, you’ll give him that one.
Yup. Ride the lion, buddy.
For his part, GRIII wasn't standing out like McGary. Low usage from the guy in a camp setting is no surprise since he's so deferential; hopefully in a more regimented team setting he can step up.
The least committed. Rivals article on ever-accelerating pace of non-binding verbal commitments "raises issues," but is mostly notable for the best redefinition of commitment ever. Shea Patterson is a 2016 dual threat QB who just moved to Louisiana, and he is in some sort of relationship with Arizona:
"Right now I am committed to Arizona, and if I don't hear anything from any other school for the next three years I will be happy to go to Arizona, but since we moved things have been different," he said.
Shea Patterson's commitment status is "it's complicated." Tulane, get that letter in the mail and he's yours.
FWIW, decommitments are not actually a problem worth solving. Delaying Signing Day until after coach firing season prevents a lot of guys from being locked into LOIs they don't want to honor, and gives everyone time to find the best place for them to be. Moving up those timelines does nothing but create worse matches between players and programs.
If you do want to help this non-problem be less of an issue to raise, two things: allow earlier official visits, so that more kids can get the lay of the land earlier, and create a non-binding pre-LOI that prevents other coaches from contacting anyone who signs up for it but can be withdrawn at any time by the player.
The dynamic pricing thing. A long time coming and I don't really have an issue with it since it allows Michigan to recoup some money that was otherwise being left on the table without increasing season ticket or student prices. I mean:
“They (the consumers) are going to pay more anyways,” Lawrence said. “It’s just a question of who’s making the money? Is it the school or is it the broker?”
As far as ways to increase revenue go, this one is much better than annoying me with max volume exhortations to rent Michigan Stadium for a wedding. Also, it increases the feasibility of interesting nonconference home and homes because the more attractive the opponent the more ticket revenue acquired.
This, on the other hand…
On Monday, Purdue University announced that it too would use dynamic pricing for football season.
…will result in Purdue tickets being exchanged for pogs.
Etc.: Devin Funchess is on the Mackey watch list. Also on the Mackey watch list: you. I only talk about coaches who coach for Michigan but Rich Rodriguez in a nutshell: "Well, I hear a lot of times people say 'Oh, we gotta have a guy that's a game manager,' and I don't know what that is."
NCAA promises not to send its goons after a current player who joins the O'Bannon lawsuit, because its goons all left to work at Auburn anyway. Both of these teams should be named "Northwestern." Michigan picks up a 2015 forward commit, seems like a second or third liner. Excellent take on the O'Bannon case. Hanging with Trey Burke at the draft. Say bye to Nebraska.