to play football, not to play trumpet
recruiting rankings are a gravely serious matter
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.
Last week I put up an attempt at re-grading all the Michigan players dating back to whenever recruiting information can be divined. Somebody asked if I could show the constituent STAR ratings of Michigan's commits and targets.
Answer is here you go. Michigan's 2016 class so far, organized by STAR rating.
Again, this is a bit more precise ranking system than saying a guy is a 4-star to one site and a 5-star to another—it attempts to standardize the actual ratings so, for example a 5.7 (high 3-star) and a 70 (low 3-star) on ESPN won't look like the same thing. More details at this post.
And here's the guys on the board, plus Nate Johnson since he still technically has a signing day announcement:
I highlighted a handful that appeared to disagree with the consensus. Since a lot of those were ESPN I'm taking another look at how I weighted ESPN.
Anything odd other than ESPN rankings? Let's go over the disagreements that were >.5 off the consensus.
Kareem Walker on Scout: Thanks helpful reader. Walker was a 5-star for a long time but his camp outings showed some of the finding a hole problems that plagued past Michigan 5-star running backs. He didn't take a tumble, but most sites dropped him from the low 5-star and #1 back to something closer to where De'Veon Smith wound up. Scout dropped him to the 3rd RB but let him keep his 5th star.
Khaleke Hudson on 247: Did you watch his highlight film? I think this is a classic example of a late-riser. If Penn State was telling him not to commit last summer then I can see why sites had him a low 3-star. Once you're out of the Top 300 or 250 or whatever that site is ranking, I think there's less chance for movement. There's a lot of players to rank and forget. Rivals had him a middling 3-star until their final rankings last week.
Kingston Davis on Scout: They're ranking him as a running back, placing him 95th among them. The rest of the sites appear to have ranked him as a fullback.
Devin Asiasi: At first glance it looks like Rivals is the outlier, but I think that's a fault of my ESPN problem. Really the outlier is 247 as you can see on their own composite score:
Everyone else thinks he's a Top 50-ish and the 3rd or 4th TE in the country. 247 has him behind both of the OSU commits and the rare NJ player Michigan didn't get.
Quinn Nordin to Scout: Scout is the only site that doesn't keep kicker recruits artificially in the low-3's because they're kickers. I guess because #collegekickers.
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.]
Back in the day the recruiting roundups that Ace would put together would show the star ratings from each site of the various Michigan targets. The problem was we kept noticing dramatic differences that weren't really dramatic. For example here's a table of guys given 5-stars by these services since the 2010 class:
Was Scout ludicrously high on M guys, or giving out more 5-stars? Actually they were all ranking not that far from each other, but Michigan just happened to get a lot of the guys in that 4-/5-star margin. It only looks dramatic because there are only five possible rankings.
This was recruiting until 247 introduced their composite rating. That composite is so amazingly useful for most "how good was he as a recruit" questions.
Since forever I've also been maintaining this spreadsheet of data on Michigan players that started as a naming sheet for some iteration of the NCAA game, and just kept gaining columns. My old way of tracking the recruiting ratings on that was to take the stars each service gave out, figuring they all roughly had the same definitions, and average them.
But that was throwing away a ton of information provided by the sites, which typically post national rankings for the top ~250-300 recruits, and in three of their cases have their own more precise star rating systems. For example Rivals's 5-star range includes "6.1" and "6.0", while ESPN (50-95) and 247 (69-102) have numeric scales with the decades roughly coinciding with the next star rating.
They also have position ratings, which don't match up since they split positions differently, but if they can all be turned into percentiles.
So far I've done all but the last bit. Matching table's above. What we end up with is not a composite system like 247's so much as a composite Star Rating system that quadruples the star precision level.
I tried to honor stars and what they mean, but I also took national rankings and position rankings into account when one site's rating spanned multiple ratings of its competitors. So a 5.8 on Rivals will be a 4.00 if he makes the Rivals 250, and a 3.75 if he doesn't. And a 3-star WR on Scout who's ranked just behind the 4-star receivers in the WR rankings is like a 3.5-star.
[After the Jump: charts until I literally break Excel]
I was curious as to how the various recruiting sites made out with their rankings now that all four services have been around long enough. 247 was just starting up in 2011 and had some rankings but not the depth of the other services, which may have helped them since this class was… uh… not good.
No significant differences
Sites were bang on with most of these. Clark was the biggest miss but he was 210 pounds in high school. You can see why that was a miss. Morgan and Rawls probably should have been ranked in the four-star range if we're going on overall ability, even if Rawls didn't make an impact at Michigan. FWIW, I grabbed Morgan as my sleeper of the year. This was the second-best choice behind Clark.
Gol-dang this was a sad recruiting class.
Not Applicable: Antonio Poole redshirted and was struck down by an injury immediately afterwards.
Hayes was kind of a big deal, cracking the Rivals 100 and landing just outside of the Scout and 247 top 100 lists. ESPN had him as a four star but an unranked one, significantly lower than the other services.
Hayes never got much run at Michigan and was the only back to transfer away from Late Fred Jackson and not blow up. He had 52 carries for 204 yards at Southern Miss last year. He was overrated by everyone, some more than others.
2nd (T): Scout, 247
Bryant was an enormous pile-moving guard out of Chicago who fielded intermittent practice hype but could not lock down a starting spot; he eventually had an injury-forced retirement.
Still, in retrospect there was enough of a scouting difference to include him. Rivals rated him a four-star, the #203 player in the country, and as an offensive tackle. All other sites rated him a three-star guard, with ESPN the most skeptical.
1st: Scout, 247, ESPN
Everybody liked Beyer enough to rank him as a four star but there was a decided split. Scout placed him in their top 100. Rivals and 247 both had him around 200th nationally; ESPN ranked him significantly below everyone else.
Beyer went on to have a solid career, one in which he was frequently miscast by his coaches whether by inane choice or necessity. He was a starter, but not a particularly notable one. Unranked four-star seems about right.
2nd(T): Rivals, 247
Jones didn't make it to his first game as a Wolverine, embarking on a vagabond journey unparalleled in the history of Michigan recruits. He never made an impact at Michigan, Oklahoma, Clemson, or Wisconsin.
Scout gave him a fourth star; Rivals and ESPN middling three-star rankings. A nascent 247 did not rank him at all.
2nd: Rivals, ESPN
Michigan actually had to flip Taylor from Indiana after Brady Hoke came aboard; he was slotted in at cornerback and became a three-year starter. He was not drafted and never received any sort of all conference recognition and is thus hard to judge. If you knew what Raymon Taylor's career was going to be like, how would you rate him?
I'm guessing low four star, which is exactly what Rivals said. Scout and 247 said mid-to-high three, which is also an acceptable answer. ESPN was incorrectly harsh, labeling him the #95 ATH in the country.
2nd(T): Scout, 247
The diminutive Hollowell got some run as a nickel corner but was most famous for tweeting in all caps; he was just too small to have major impact. ESPN ranked him the #15 CB in the class and a four star; everyone else said three but there was reasonable spread. Rivals said #25 CB, Scout #40, and 247 didn't give him a positional rating.
I'm punting on Countess. Is he the guy who was All Big Ten as a sophomore playing zone? Or is he the guy who Will Fuller ran away from over and over again? If Michigan had stuck with the coverage Countess ran early in his career he would have seemed like a much better player; alas for his sake, they did not.
He was a four star to everyone with rankings ranging from #133 (Rivals) to outside the top 300 (ESPN), both of which are correct and incorrect.
What have we learned?
Mostly that a post like this isn't interesting when most of the class falls into the generic three-star range. Also that the transitional Hoke/Rodriguez class was incredibly sad.
Points for recruits on which there was sufficient data and difference of opinion to rank:
This is an incredibly small sample size and if you draw conclusions from it the statistics gremlins will spank you in your sleep.
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.]