recruiting rankings are a gravely serious matter
Dytarious Johnson is mean
The question we no longer have to answer about basketball
Does it concern you yet that Harbaugh and staff are going after so many 3-star or less recruits (and even unranked ones) rather than shooting for more 4- and 5-star types? Might JH be underestimating his own standing and instead still be in "I'm at Stanford" mentality (i.e., "I need to find the hidden gems because the 5-stars are going to USC, Alabama, and such")?
Thanks for the blog, and give Ace a raise.
Hail to the bloggers,
This is so overblown. Michigan has ten commits. Five of them are composite four-stars (Swenson, Onwenu, Peters, Falcon, and Evans). Of the five who aren't, one committed to Brady Hoke (Harding), one is (probably) a fullback (Reese), and one picked up Nebraska, LSU, and Florida offers after his commitment (Davis). The two other guys are Kiante Enis and Dytarious Johnson. Enis ran for three thousand(!) yards last year and Johnson looks like a BAMF on his Hudl film.
That is not a high flier rate thus far. The two guys who truly qualify are both gentlemen an expert talent evaluator has seen in person.
Meanwhile, here is a list of high four star recruits who Michigan is thought to lead for: NJ WR Ahmir Mitchell, NJ WR Brad Hawkins, PA TE Nasseir Upshur, MD OL Terrance Davis, WI OL Ben Bredeson, MI DE Khalid Kareem, and NJ DE Ron Johnson. They are at or near the top for five star NJ DT Rashan Gary and CA LB Caleb Kelly.
They won't get all those guys; they'll get a healthy chunk, and they'll get involved with more guys down the road. It's not going to be an Alabama class but it should be comfortably top ten.
And that's only half the reason recruiting concern is overblown. The other half:
That class was Andrew Luck and three stars. It followed a class that was all three stars, and ranked ninth in the then Pac-10. Stanford was slightly better than that when those classes bore fruit. Recruiting is important; coaching is more important.
[After the JUMP: Countess impact, concerns that Michigan's skill position players are no better than Iowa's, outrageous afro.]
Recruiting rankings and outperformance
Good afternoon –
Beilein has developed a reputation for being a stellar recruiter. He is now known for uncovering basketball players who were either lightly regarded, lightly recruited, unknown, or young, so that they grew and developed significantly after he recruited them. (Burke, Rahkman, Dawkins, Albrecht, LeVert, and now Moritz Wagner all fall into this category.) I will be interested to see how Harbaugh and his staff correlate to Beilein in this regard. In one sense, every fan wants every recruit who comes in to be a 4 or 5 star rated recruit. But the reality is that the coaches sometimes see things that the rating experts missed. This has been an on-going discussion: how much do stars matter? I think the correlation of Wagner and Kingston Davis committing today brought this topic to my mind.
So, my questions and requests for you:
1) I’d love to see a table showing recruiting ranking vs. actual performance. Who ends up bring in recruits who significantly outperform their ranking, who brings in recruits who perform the way expected, and who brings in recruits who underperform, relative to how they were ranked.
This is too hard to do for basketball since there are very small and wildly varying recruiting classes. Last year Michigan brought in six players; this year it looks like it will be just one. A couple years ago Ohio State's recruiting class was… nobody. The attrition rates are wildly different so recruiting rankings, which always favor volume, are going to be skewed. You can point to anecdotes like Beilein turning fringe top 100 recruits into lottery picks on the regular; I don't think it's possible to do anything systematic with the numbers.
Football does give you a reasonable baseline to work with and this has been done by Ross Benes at Deadspin. You will be unsurprised to find Michigan where it is in a study that covers 2009 to 2013:
I am a bit skeptical about the methodology here, as it doesn't seem to account for the fact that there's nowhere to go but down for the teams at the top of the rankings. (It also doesn't take last year into account, which is why Michigan State isn't in the Wisconsin zone.) But it's still good for comparing you to your peers and the result is undeniable: amongst teams that recruit like Michigan, only Tennessee and maybe UCLA perform worse; Miami is on par.
2) The followup question would be to assess how much of this is attributable to a recruit being ranked accurately and appropriately, and much is attributable to the recruit’s development in college. The knock on Hoke wasn’t recruiting: it was the belief that he didn’t develop players to perform to the best of their capability.
Thanks, best regards, and enjoy the balance of the Spring.
No doubt it is some of both. Recruiting rankings are necessarily ignorant of a number of things that will influence the development of the player—ACL stability for one. But it's clear that some guys are awesome teachers able to improve players and others are guys who clap and shout "let's go." It's nice to see Stanford on the right side of this ledger even after Harbaugh's departure since many of those coaches were his, and he set up the culture that lifted them from the bottom.
I think that perhaps I don't understand what goes into the APR and was hoping you could help me understand. I thought (although it appears incorrectly) that APR measured the percent of a school's players with remaining eligibility that return to school, maintain that eligibility academically, and/or graduate. With 7 Kentucky players declaring for the draft (following several years of many more declaring), it would appear that Kentucky couldn't possibly evade APR penalties because legions of eligible players have not and will not be returning to school. Is there an exception for going pro that I'm unaware of? Is Kentucky's APR really only measured by whether their mop up players stay eligible and graduate, without regard to the majority of the team that goes pro?
That is correct. The APR has a loophole for players who leave school early for pro sports. You don't even have to get drafted to take advantage of it—NCAA-sanctioned UConn men's basketball started digging out with a perfect score this year despite a player leaving for Europe. He signed a contract overseas and left in "good academic standing," so he doesn't hurt UConn's APR.
As a result of that loophole all Kentucky has to do is gin up some Cs for the NCAA minimum progress toward a degree and their APR is untouched. It's probably in fact easier for them to comply with APR stuff because all they have to do is get their kids to go to Easy Class 101. Few end up having to move on to We Kind Of Need You To Pay Attention Now 386.
On the one hand, you need that exception because it's not the school's fault if, say, Nik Stauskas blows up into a top ten pick and wants to go get paid millions of dollars. On the other it does enable the travelling circus that is the current one-and-done system.
Medical hardship logistics
Hey Brian --
Recently there's been significant attention paid to key questions facing Michigan basketball this offseason (Will Levert go pro? Will Jaylen Brown commit? etc.). All of the discussion seems to operate under the premise that either Austin Hatch will continue to take up one of the 13 scholarships the team has to hand out, or the team will place him under "medical hardship." I have two questions.
1) What does this medical hardship entail? Would it be 100% career-ending? Would he no longer be able to practice and play with the team?
A medical hardship allows the school to continue giving the kid a full scholarship. It would end his playing career at Michigan. He could still be affiliated with the team, could still practice (there's no regulations on who you practice with in college; womens' teams will often go up against guys). He could not get in the game. He would be a student manager, basically.
Michigan might be able to get a waiver for senior day.
2) Why has there been no discussion of freeing up Hatch's scholarship to use on, say, Jaylen Brown or Mike Edwards, by making him a walk-on? I'm assuming there are other ways the University can make sure all his tuition bills are paid for. At the very least, paying for Hatch to go to Michigan is worthy of $200K of the millions of dollars the athletic department has gotten from Stephen Ross or Al Glick.
In other words, maybe we don't have to choose between keeping Hatch on the basketball team and bringing in another scholarship player of Jaylen Brown's caliber, should LeVert choose to come back.
Once you've been on scholarship, you count as a scholarship player even if your money supposedly comes from a source than the athletic department.
There are in fact certain things that you can do when you are just a recruit that make you count as a scholarship player, something that football teams have been dancing around of late with this "blueshirt" thing where kids arrive on campus as walk-ons. Those kids can't take officials or they end up counting against the limit of 25 signees annually.
Again, this is a situation where Michigan might be able to get a waiver since it's very high profile. Without that Michigan cannot use Hatch's scholarship without disqualifying him from playing.
Buy it and burn it.
I am so upset about this I had to share...
The above Ebay link is for a new Devin Gardner card with a sick & twisted "variation" of the winged helmet. This just is not right! I don't see how Upper Deck can get away with messing with our helmet design and printing this card.
Is that a sugar cookie made by a deranged aunt on the card? Why is anyone making a Devin Gardner rookie card and is it even slightly possible that any of the bids on this travesty are legitimate? Supposedly this card is up to 16.05 with four different bidders. This makes me want to find a WIRED article about the shady lives of professional EBay sellers or something. I have a million questions.
— A2Forever (@AnnArborRules) April 9, 2015
Gonna go with "no" on this one.
Gentry vs Malzone: FIGHT
Quarterback recruiting policies.
I know that Harbaugh has every right to recruit his own personnel, but considering that Malzone is already on campus, did he just get royally screwed? If he never suits up, can he transfer without having to sit out?
The idea that a quarterback would be screwed over by the addition of another guy at his position in the same class is Hoke-era thinking that should be quickly discarded. Wilton Speight doesn't seem to mind:
Boom!! Loading the stable! #goblue
— Wilton Speight (@WiltonSpeight) January 25, 2015
sent in the immediate aftermath of Gentry's commit
Every other position sees fierce battles; QB should be no different. And even if Malzone is put off by the idea of sharing a spot in the class with Gentry, I think that's more than offset by the idea of getting coached by Harbaugh and Jedd Fisch.
FWIW, Malzone could transfer after his first semester at Michigan. He would have to redshirt and then would be a redshirt freshman wherever he ended up, as Steven Threet was when he fled Paul Johnson's triple option system at Georgia Tech.
The more likely exit scenario for the quarterbacks who find themselves down the depth chart in the midst of cutthroat competition is to get a degree in three years and then transfer with two years to play two. An increasing number of elite QB recruits are throwing themselves in grinders like Michigan's with that idea in their back pocket. If Michigan is going to take two QBs a year that should be part of the pitch: the least you leave here with is a Michigan degree and three years of kickass coaching. Malzone has a head start on that with his early enrollment.
By the way, with reports that elite CA QB KJ Costello is heavily interested in Michigan, this could be the respective first two QB recruiting years of Hoke and Harbaugh:
- Hoke: Russell Bellomy.
- Harbaugh: Malzone, Gentry, DeWeaver, Costello.
That's one three star previously committed to Purdue versus what is probably four four-star recruits. (Hoke did recruit Malzone but Malzone is a block-M true believer who stuck with his plan to enroll early despite Michigan not having a coach at that juncture.) One of the major reasons the Hoke list is so short is that in deference to Shane Morris they didn't take another quarterback in his year… or the year in front of him. That was a disastrous decision. Let's not do that any more.
Harbaugh won't: at Stanford he took an average of two QBs a year.
Two stars bad. More stars good.
@mgoblog with so many high end prospects out there showing interest,why are we pursuing 2 ⭐️players at any position right now?
— Tessmer (@TyTessmer) January 25, 2015
There are only a couple guys on the board who fit that description: recent OH OL commit Nolan Ulizio and as-yet-unoffered FL CB Markel Bush. Everyone else is at least a three star and—unlike many of the transitional Hoke recruits—courted by or committed to high level BCS schools. (Hoke got decommits from Indiana, Vanderbilt, and Minnesota; Harbaugh has flipped guys from Texas, Nebraska, and Wisconsin.) So Harbaugh is already doing well.
As for the two stars, Bush is clearly a backup plan in case they don't get two of the four guys they've offered (Iman Marshall,
Will Lockett, Damon Arnette, and Jarius Adams). Ulizio is an offensive lineman. Offensive linemen are less likely to fulfill recruiting expectations than any other position, and as you say Michigan had opportunities to look at other, more highly-rated guys. They passed. Is that a concern?
…let's cool it on the judgy bits just yet.
[After THE JUMP: Marrow, length of tenure, Dymonte Thomas, sloxen, Gary Danielson email]
It's been 25 years since Seinfeld debuted. This was reason enough for saveferris to create another one of those Big Ten teams are analogous to pop culture thing things. I'm about to do one of those ruin the diary by providing spoilers when I argue with its conclusion things, so if you want to add to the discussion do the OP a favor and say it on his post.
Spoiler section: I'm fine with Michigan as Jerry even though starting these things with the home team as the main protagonist is pretty trite. It sets up the rivalries with Newman and Kenny Bania. Big disagreement: you've got Wisconsin and Iowa mixed up. What school falls ass-backwards into things AND is a hipster doofus AND believes in strange deities?
What school is known for its incredible output of big, gumpy dudes who keep pushing handy relationships that feel really awkward?
Also because they're a mechanic who wants to be noticed. I'd make Rutgers Estelle Constanza and Maryland just Frank. 1) Their only connection to this show is their relationship to George (PSU), who stopped hanging out with them when he discovered his other friends. 2) Between the two of them, Jerry Stiller may not be a Seinfeld star but he's still a valuable onscreen commodity who gave us Festivus and other classic moments, and is only annoying because he talks about money too often, like Maryland; Estelle is just a walking "Joisy" stereotype and calamity.
There's a joke about Northwestern going to Florida in here.
If they lived in the Midwest they'd be married already. I once attended a very hip party in Brooklyn. My best friend's wife is like the pinnacle of Brooklyn cool, and she's also just really awesome, thus she interacts in the highest of hipster-professional circles, and one time I was visiting and tagged along to be this Midwestern object of curiosity among indie film makers, neighborhood magazine editors, and one girl who claimed she did irony as a living. My most successful joke was to remark that we here in the Northwest Territories were ecstatic to learn that flannel was back in style. Then I got into a long conversation on the balcony/fire escape about how we tend to get married by our mid-20's, which is really early to them. Maybe it's because there's nothing else to do. Maybe it's because we like our comfort (flannel, remember) more than the bother of drawing things out.
This is all a lead-up to m1jjb00's finding that only four Midwest recruits in the 247 top 300 are still uncommitted. We have fewer top players than any other region, true, but that doesn't explain why 84% of them are already signed to a school when the next closest region is 69% and the average is 61%. Because y'all got commitment issues. #flannelandproud
Etc. Reordering recruiting rankings by % of 4-stars in the class < giving + credit per player; Michigan's ranked low because we have a 10-man class that would be big at 15, and a lot of teams are already past 20 (Mississippi State is at 27 because Mississippi State is the SEC who's the worst at SEC-ing). See: Jake Ryan as Captain America. Also this wallpaper:
[After the jump: a drone flies over the Big House to annoying music, a small change to the helmet that's destined for a "Michigan to Change Its Helmet" headline as soon as such people catch wind of it, and the true story of O-I-H-O.]
Drake Harris and Chase Winovich
All the three pointers. Hands up! Bad luck. Bad defense. What to do with Stauskas? Hey, they're still pretty good.
Curling digression. Proposal for winter decathlon. Which would be awesome. Downhill, slalom, 500m speed skating, cross-country, etc.
We run down all 16 recruits, hype up the wide receivers, express disappointment that the class did not reach at least 18 guys. What was with Montae Nicholson? Redshirt complainin'. Always redshirt complainin'.
"Across 110th Street."
"Nautical Disaster," The Tragically Hip
The usual links:
Rivals ranks Five-Star Challenge camper Steven Parker 123 spots higher than any other service.
Rivals released their updated 2014 Rivals100 today, and this would've gone without more than a passing mention if not for this tweet that accompanied the release:
— Rivals.com (@Rivals) August 19, 2013
Fans of recruiting often throw out unsubstantiated claims about bias in the player rankings; this "fun fact" from Rivals, though, is just begging for some investigation into potential issues with their rankings. Does Rivals favor recruits who show up to their camps?*
I decided to take a look at the players in the Rivals100 who are listed as participants in the Rivals Five-Star Challenge; they represent 51 of the top 100 prospects on Rivals. My rather unscientific method of looking for potential bias was to look at each Five-Star Challenge participant's ranking on Rivals and compare it to their highest ranking on any of the other three services; if there's consistent bias in the rankings, Rivals should be the high outlier for this specific set of prospects. You can pore over the full (chart?) chart here; below is a summary of what I found:
- 26 of the 51 Five-Star Challenge participants (50.9%) were ranked higher on Rivals than any of the other three recruiting services.
- 11 players from the group were ranked at least 20 spots higher on Rivals than elsewhere, compared to eight whose highest ranking was 20 or more spots above their placement on Rivals.
- Five FSC participants in the Rivals100 were ranked 50+ spots above their next-highest ranking, including significant outliers OK S Steven Parker (#46, 123 spots higher than Scout) and TX OL Demetriux Knox (#35, 92 higher than Scout). Only two such players — AZ OL Casey Tucker (#79 on Rivals, #27 on Scout) and FL LB Kain Daub (#86 Rivals, #24 Scout) — fit the opposite criteria.
- On average, the 51 FSC participants were ranked 5.3 spots higher on Rivals than they were anywhere else; that number would obviously be even higher if we were looking at the industry average instead of the next-highest rank.
Where the numbers get really interesting, however, is when we look at the relationship between Rivals, ESPN, and Under Armour. As of this year, Rivals's recruiting rankings are "presented by Under Armour." Meanwhile, ESPN and Under Armour are still partnered for the Under Armour All-American Game. When I mentioned this potential conflict on Twitter earlier today, our friend TomVH noted that both Rivals and ESPN have input into the Under Armour AA selections:
— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) August 19, 2013
Since Rivals and ESPN both have potential conflicts of interest regarding Under Armour All-American prospects, I revisited my chart and looked for prospects whose highest non-Rivals ranking came from ESPN. Of those prospects, six are committed to the UA game. These are those six players:
|Name||Rivals100 Rank||ESPN Rank||Delta||Highest Non-ESPN Rank||Non-ESPN Delta|
This is, to be sure, a limited sample, but I can't say I'm surprised to see that each player's highest ranking drops — significantly, in the case of the top three players on the chart — when the two services with ties to the Under Armour Game are removed. When running the numbers for the full set of 51 Five-Star Challenge participants and using the highest non-ESPN rank for Under Armour All-Americans, the gap between Rivals and the other services widens significantly — the prospects are ranked an average of 11.1 spots higher on Rivals than the other services.
Rivals received some immediate backlash when they published the tweet at the top of this post; they repeatedly replied to commenters with this explanation when pressed about potential bias in their rankings:
@travatrave It shows how many of the kids we were able to evaluate first hand and in person, no bias at all.
— Rivals.com (@Rivals) August 19, 2013
This isn't an illegitimate explanation; Rivals got the chance to see a large group of top prospects in a setting that no other recruiting outlet was allowed to attend, and that should rightfully lead to some disparity in player rankings — both to the positive and negative. The fact that the Five-Star Challenge participants skew to the positive, however, along with the trend of major outliers among Under Armour All-Americans, suggests that some bias is present when it comes to recruits who participate in a Rivals-sponsored event.
Recruiting rankings, as we well know, are by no means an exact science, and my methodology here is far from ideal. That said, the role of sponsors in recruiting rankings is worth watching with a critical eye.
*Notably, the Rivals Five-Star Challenge is only open to Rivals reporters. No other outlet is allowed to cover it.