at least it's not just us?
Two pretty much unrelated things in one post. I blame everything.
Vince Young; Garrett Gilbert
A Braves and Birds post on the recent downfalls of Texas and Florida spurred responses from Blutarsky and Smart Football about the role of various schemes as your talent level waxes and wanes. The B&B theory:
…we can criticize [Texas] for not learning the lesson of the Vince Young era. Apparently, the lesson that Brown took was “recruit five-star quarterbacks from Texas,” when he should have concluded “recruit quarterbacks who can run.” In short, Texas was seduced by the prospect of a local five-star pocket passer and shifted their offense away from what worked for them when they were upsetting USC in the game of the decade.*
One can look at Florida and see the same mistake. Urban Meyer has always won with mobile quarterbacks. … Nevertheless, Meyer was seduced by the same siren that causes Mack Brown to jump off the deck of his ship and swim to his doom. He had a five-star pocket passer – John Brantley – living one hour from campus, so Meyer committed his post-Tebow Gators to Brantley. Meanwhile, Meyer did not offer Denard Robinson a chance to play quarterback in Gainesville.
Brantley and Gilbert imploded, the team went with them, and the guys coordinating them left. Michael goes on to say this is a "cautionary tale" for Brady Hoke, whose most successful prior year was with Nate Davis. Davis is claimed to be mobile.
I'm not in agreement with his police work there. Hoke's offensive coordinator at Ball State was Stan Parrish, not Al Borges, and dubbing Nate Davis "mobile" is stretching the term. Davis averaged 3.7 non-sack carries per game in 2008, i.e. he had some scrambles and QB draws. For his part, Borges had great success with statue Ryan Lindley* (-57 rushing yards this year) at SDSU, Davis-ish scrambler Cade McNown (a couple hundred yards per year) at UCLA, and only-secretly-athletic Jason Campbell (30 rushing yards in 2004) at Auburn.
Michigan's long-term trajectory on offense should not expose them to the same problems Texas and Florida experienced. Hoke is a defensive guy who famously goes sans headset and Borges's successes have come with throwers at QB. That some of the throwers have been able to move a little doesn't make a difference. The offense is still not predicated on the QB's legs; instead the legs are a bonus that keeps some plays alive and gets you some yards on scrambles. In Michigan's case they are moving towards their OC's expertise, not away from it. (At least insofar as Greg Davis had any expertise. He and GERG should start a cover band.)
Variance: super teams hate it.
After passing through Get The Picture's digestive system the above post spurred Smart Football to offer some thoughts on the difference between a pro-style offense that is intent on putting up points and one that's intent on not blowing it:
For the truly elite-level recruiting teams, I think the agnosticism of pro-style treats them well because they basically recruit incredible players and then figure out the system and scheme later. Moreover, spread offenses, option offenses, and really any pass-first offense (including West Coast attacks of which I’d put Georgia in the category) require very good quarterback play. Alabama and LSU are basically designed to win in spite of their quarterbacks; Nick Saban does not want to return an all world defense with a bunch of five-star playmakers and lose because his QB was a junior and had some “growing pains”, which absolutely happens at every level. …
For everyone else having an identity and being somewhat contrarian helps a lot because it allows you to focus your recruiting on guys that can help you, and in many cases it means you don’t have to compete with some other teams for those guys. … Moreover, because you have a system with specific skills required, you can develop those skills. There are many examples, but think about how those Texas Tech teams under Leach always had four guys who could contribute and were open, even against the best Big 12 teams, because they’d worked on those skills every day for two years before they got in the game and had countless reps.
The former is what Ohio State did for years under Tressel, managing games with Krenzel and Boeckman and Zwick and Belissari and even most of the time with Troy Smith and Terrelle Pryor. They massaged enough safe points out of their offense to let the reliably crushing D win games. Sometimes—usually against Michigan—they went full-throttle. This happened when they feared the opponent more than variance.
The latter is why hiring Paul Johnson was a good idea for Georgia Tech but would be a bad one for Georgia, why Leach is a great hire at Washington State, and how Rodriguez made West Virginia into a power with rag-tag recruiting classes and some duct tape.
Michigan was in the former camp, but after Bo they accomplished their goals less successfully than OSU. This goes back to the Mo era, when Michigan would show up for the game with three or four losses and inexplicably beat—often thump—John Cooper's national title contenders. To me, Michigan-OSU in the 90s will forever be a fourth quarter exchange between some ranting Buckeye fan and a snot-nosed teen version of yrs truly:
MAN ADVERTISING BEER ON HAT: You have four losses! We're ranked in the top five! We're a national title contender!
FUTURE BLOGGER: You were.
That was fun as far as it went but playing spoiler ain't no way to live. For Michigan to not be a second banana in the league they either had to
- recruit and execute better
- get an identity that allowed them to perform better than their recruiting rankings
Rodriguez was an attempt to do the latter. Hoke is an attempt to do the former, or at least he seems like it. Borges is a wildcard. Maybe he's content to ramp his offense down into Tressel/Lloydball territory once the defense is truly locked in, but maybe Michigan will morph into a team with an identity on offense, even if that identity is the Boise State and Stanford have used lately.
When to put the toys in the box
There is a point at which it makes sense to trundle through games as safely as possible. That point is when you have the LSU/Alabama/OSU massive talent advantage over all comers. If Hoke's recruiting continues at the level it has, Michigan may achieve that. More realistically, a lack of oversigning and/or culture of rampant barely-punished extra benefits will leave them short of that, leave them in the same 8-10 range they usually inhabited under Carr.
That will mean they'll have to have something to rely on on offense other than don't-screw-it-up-ball if they're going to be nationally relevant more often than they have been in the past 20 years.
The early returns here are inconclusive since Borges is biding his time with Denard while recruiting Shane Morris. But they are encouraging, both when it comes to Hoke's game theory aggression and Borges's tendency to keep the pedal depressed when it makes sense to. Buried deep in his own territory up 17 against a Nebraska team that has struggled to move the ball, he'll run-run-punt; staked to a three point lead against Ohio State second down is for moving chains.
*[Lindley's implosion this year—he's now 80th in passer rating—suggests Borges is a plus playcaller/schemer. SDSU returned much of their offensive line and has Ronnie Hillman; while their WR situation was bound to drag the numbers down it shouldn't have been that severe.]
A standard piece of rivalry whatnot made sublime by the copyright notice in the bottom left corner. The image of Lamarr Woodley hunched over his pirated copy of photoshop using the smudge tool on Tressel's neck is priceless. Don't tell me he just republished it. I don't want to know your lies and terrible mind.
The price of famous. Boy am I glad Burgeoning Wolverine Star was ready to scoff mightily at the latest bit of "but he's really a good guy, seriously" stuff from OSU fans. This one's from Ramzy and details Tressel being really, really nice at a local children's hospital.
Again, that's great and all but the price of being a rich celebrity these days is to do your share of charity work. You can't throw a brick at a former Michigan player or coach without seriously endangering an already-pretty-endangered ten year old in a hospital gown. BWS points out all the large-people-are-nice stuff everywhere:
Rich Rodriguez spent significant time at the U of M Children's hospital, as did a number players from the team. Brock Mealer can nearly walk now because of Rodriguez's generosity. The now-annual Spring Game has become a massive fundraiser for Mott's Children's Hospital.
The NBA has The NBA Cares program. Professional football and hockey players find themselves doing charity work frequently. With stature, money, and influence comes significant responsibilities, one of which is to give back to the community. And given their position as role models--despite what Charles Barkley will have you believe--that means going to hospitals, soup kitchens, and helping the less fortunate. Jim Tressel, in this regard, is not remarkable. He's not unprecedented or special. He's someone doing what he's supposed to do with the influence and money he's earned.
Tressel's not a monster, but he's not any different in this than most rich public figures. Except insofar as other rich public figures don't flaunt the rules of their organizations quite so brazenly.
BWS has evidently Had Enough, as he spent a long time shooting holes in Ramzy's bit. If you're up for some fiskin', recommended.
"He took care of his kids." What do you want, a cookie? Watch this, replacing "black people" with "Buckeyes" and "lawyaz" with "cooler poopers":
Shut up about the damn kids. If the kids learned how to be a man from Tressel, they learned all too well.
Not everywhere. Recruitocosm has an article from a former Texas walk-on describing their practices. Key bit:
If you have a car, the compliance office will have the make, model, and plate number. You have to show how you are making payments or who is making payments. They let you know that if you drive something other than the car you tell them about, it better belong to a family member and if you park it on campus you have to bring it to the attention of the compliance office. God forbid that the UT Parking Nazis give you a parking ticket and it go unpaid before sunset. Got an unpaid ticket? MadDog had a way to remind you to park in your correct spot and that’s AFTER the ticket was paid. If you live off campus, you have to provide your lease at the beginning of each semester and show where the money to pay the rent is coming from.
Every time ANOTHER SEC school gets busted giving cars or cash (or having an agent do it) to a player, they parade the usual suspects (Holtz, Meyer, Saban) onto ESPN where they cry crocodile tears about how HARD it is to keep track of 85 guys and what they do in their off time?
You have 85 players to go with 8 position coaches, 10 S&C coaches, 5 full time academic support personnel, 5 full time athletic trainers, 15 student assistant trainers, 5 guys on the film staff, 10 equipment managers, a recruiting coordinator, and 5 guys in your compliance office devoted to football. You can do the math on player-to-support personnel ratios, but it’s pretty obvious that if the people in a NCAA football program are paying one lick of attention and actually give a rip about playing by the rules, it is IMPOSSIBLE to have a car (worth driving) that people in the program don’t know about. This “open secret” at Ohio State with cars ranging from free to ultimate sweetheart deals is unforgiveable.
There is a level of ignorance coaches can plausibly claim; Pryor's ever-rotating swanky used car is not one of them, neither is Ohio State's 11-day investigation into the tattoo business that did not turn up sketchy dudes named Ellis.
Thank you Pryor clapclapclap, part IV. Meanwhile, Pryor's license is suspended because he has no proof of insurance. Who wants to bet Pryor's never had any insurance—which is expensive for 20-year-olds driving fancy cars—because he's been driving around Auto Direct vehicles since his arrival? I do. This guy does.
Dohrmann also expanded on Pryor's mad equipment loot on a radio blitz yesterday:
He believes that Pryor traded, “more than 20 items, including game-worn shoulder pads, multiple helmets, Nike cleats, jerseys, game pants and more” for tattoos or cash. This, Dohrmann argues, should prove OSU was aware (or should have been aware) of what was going on. How could they not notice how much equipment was going missing?
If true that is another step towards a lack of institutional control charge. Pryor's cars and one SI reporter managing to expand the tattoo business to 28 players when OSU's internal investigation-type substance concluded the six players mentioned in the federal report were the only bad apples take the Buckeyes' issues from a Tressel problem to an OSU problem. Take it from John Cooper:
“Compliance is not doing their job when this kind of stuff happens and they act like they don’t know about it. When I was coaching over there, compliance was around everywhere. It’s almost like they were trying to find us violating a rule.”
That is kind of compliance's purpose.
Is Cooper trying to help there or just so incensed this crap got laid in Tressel's lap when the institution has a responsibility to take care of this stuff before the head coach has an opportunity to "make a mistake*"?
*[This is an Ohio-based idiom that means "continue your decades-long pattern of malfeasance." /themoreyouknow.]
Hat. What does Les Miles think of oversigning?
“I said that there has to be an alligator handler in every class. In fact Troy has got the swamp people. We’ve got to make sure that we keep a quality contingent of free-spirited men around.”
There's some sort of explanation for that, but your life will be a little bit better if you have absolutely no context for that statement.
Truth. Daniel Tosh on Michigan State:
At least those girls got communications PhDs for the video.
Etc.: local woman says she has photos of "shenanigans" going on last December—after the NCAA had suspended various Buckeyes.
One of my favorite hockey bloggers went to England to check out Blackpool's failed attempt to avoid relegation and comes back with a picture of the way English fans see their clubs that contrasts mightily with resigned Americans and their pro leagues. It's a good start if you ever want to explain why college is more important than the pros to you.
Matt Hayes has an interestingly Machiavellian proposal for the BCS: let the Mountain West get an autobid the next two years in near-accordance with their standards (the MWC barely misses on one of the three BCS autobid criteria), then take it away once Utah, BYU, and TCU evaporate.
BWS on the Ray Small trashing. Stop snitching, etc.