really should have used this for the bowl game post
That is a large spread. Michigan is favored by 6.5 against FSU. S&P+ has Michigan by 11.8 and with a 75% shot at victory. Other lines that are already up: Wisconsin –7.5 against WMU and PSU +7 against USC.
S&P+ lines for other Big Ten games:
- OSU-Clemson: OSU by 4.9.
- Wisconsin-WMU: Wisconsin by 8.
- Iowa-Florida: Iowa(!) by 4.6.
- USC-PSU: USC by 3.4.
- Nebraska-Tennessee: Nebraska by 1.1.
- Utah-Indiana: Utah by 1.9.
- Pitt-NW: Pitt by 5.1
- Washington State-Minnesota: WSU by 0.5.
- Maryland-BC: Maryland by 0.1.
- Michigan State-Dignity: Dignity by 35.
I thought a sure consequence of four Big Ten teams getting pulled up into NY6 bowls would be the rest of the conference getting set on fire, but S&P+—which was 56% against the spread this year—thinks almost everything is a tossup at worst. I did not know that the Big Ten would lose the Citrus (which is LSU-Louisville, yes please) if they got the Orange, but they rather sensibly do.
Good to see that the bowl revamp has added flexibility and created a bunch of good matchups.
Cole also plans to return. As of yesterday:
Center Mason Cole, speaking to reporters Sunday evening, suggested that he will return, though the junior was hesitant to commit to anything.
"Not right now," Cole said of thinking about the NFL. "I'm focused on this next game and getting the win. I'll take a look at everything, but as it stands now, I'm definitely leaning towards coming back."
Chris Wormley volunteered a return for Maurice Hurst as well. Both guys will be critical starters on next year's team should they follow through on those statements. (Hurst had previously said he'd be back.)
So we've got that going for us, part zillion. Per PFF Michigan is the best team left out of the playoff and one of the top four overall:
All four of the teams that will be in this year’s playoff rank in the top five of PFF’s cumulative grades for 2016. Alabama ranks first, Washington second, Ohio State fourth and Clemson fifth.
The No. 3 team in the country? The Michigan Wolverines. ...
In particular, when looking at a team that could match up best with top-seeded Alabama, the Wolverines appear to be one of the best candidates. They rank third in PFF’s run-defense grades, second in pass-rush and 12th in coverage – giving them a defense that could go toe-to-toe with Alabama’s and perhaps put enough pressure on Crimson Tide’s freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts (more on him in a bit) to spark an upset.
They seem to think that Clemson should be favored over OSU, with two bullets talking up Deshaun Watson and talking down OSU's pass protection. We've got that going for us, too.
Peppers stock. Also in PFF things, Jabrill Peppers took a tumble in their latest mock draft:
When targeted in coverage this season, he has yielded receptions on 20 of 26 targets and does not have a single pass defended when he is the primary defender (his lone interception against Ohio State was a case of him being in the right place at the right time off a pass tipped in front). He also lacks the size to consistently take on and shed blocks going forward, as the majority of his impact plays this year have come when he has been unblocked.
PFF has always had him in the 10-15 range right next to Lewis and not a top 5 pick, so this isn't a huge tumble. I'm still confused by those pass completion numbers. Namely where any of them came from. I'm sure Peppers has been targeted more than the two times I remember, but 26? I don't know where that comes from.
On the postseason. I've been saying this for ten years and will say it until they destroy the dream by going to 8 teams: a 6-team playoff is the best one available most of the time. Six teams emphasizes the regular season since there are home games and byes up for grabs; it keeps the field sufficiently constricted so that make-weights are extremely unlikely.
This year, I assume that the committee made some changes to the rankings to give the appearance of deliberative thought when there was none. That makes the six-team playoff deeply weird:
1. Alabama vs 4. Washington / 5. Penn State
2. Clemson vs 3. OSU / 6. Michigan
Clemson jumped OSU, and that did not matter. PSU jumped Michigan, and that did not matter. The former was a meaningless admonishment to win your conference; the latter was a meaningless admonishment to win your conference. If Clemson or Washington did not win their title games I wonder if they would have had the cojones to put PSU in over a team with the same record who beat it 49-10.
Anyway, in a six-team world I bet a dollar the committee finagles it such that there is not an immediate rematch of M/OSU—or leaves a third Big Ten team out entirely.
This is bunk. There is an enormous Bloomberg article on officiating out there that I keep seeing, because it purports to show that there is a class of "protected blue bloods" that get favorable calls. Oddly, it leads with Florida State getting hosed against Clemson—which one is the blue blood?—and then hits their thesis statement:
“This is an incestuous situation,” says Rhett Brymer, a business management professor at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He spent more than a year parsing almost 39,000 fouls called in games involving NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision teams in the 2012-2015 seasons. His research finds “ample evidence of biases among conference officials,” including “conference officials showing partiality towards teams with the highest potential to generate revenue for their conference.”
Refs are partial towards teams "with the highest potential to generate revenue." In other words, good teams. They throw fractionally fewer flags on those teams:
Brymer’s data suggest something more insidious. Across the 3,000-odd regular-season and bowl games he studied, a bit less than half of the fouls called were what he terms “discretionary”—holding, pass interference, unsportsmanlike conduct, and personal fouls like roughing the passer. Refs were on average 10 percent less likely to throw discretionary flags on teams that enjoy both strong playoff prospects and winning traditions. Brymer calls these teams “protected flagships.”
There is a less than insidious explanation: avoiding penalties is a skill. Flagship teams are more likely to have firebreathing truckzillas; Purdue is more likely to have a peasant wielding a pitchfork. In such situations the penalty scales are naturally out of balance; news that Purdue gets 14% fewer "discretionary" calls than OSU fails to move hte needle. That seems about right. This is immediately proposed by the NCAA's national coordinator for officiating and then largely ignored.
About 3/4ths of the way through the thing we get the big reveal:
While earning his Ph.D. at Texas A&M, he came to sympathize with Aggie fans who believed that all close calls favored the University of Texas. “I reached a breaking point,” Brymer says. Weary of fans whining about refs without empirical evidence, he decided to see if he could find any. “At least I’m bringing myself peace,” he says.
Yes, but think of all the bloggers you're forcing to write skeptical items in their link roundup pieces.
Prepare to be asked whether you went to Michigan. The Ringer's Kaite Baker got into Michigan football this year, which was fun until it wasn't.
Harbaugh isn’t for everyone, but to me, he’s like a combustible acquaintance: As long as you never get tooclose, you can sit back and just let the theatrics endlessly entertain you.
But it’s possible I’m getting too close. The past few weeks have been a rougher ride, a mere glimpse into the tumultuousness of a typical college football season. Winning the national championship seems like an impossibility: Just getting the chance to try requires a constantly evolving team of near-children remaining close to perfect over the course of a 12- or 13-game season. (NFL teams, meanwhile, can barely squeak past .500 and still win Super Bowls.) Even in a post-BCS world, the scope and sprawl of FBS football means that it will forever be hostage to subjective decisions by conflicted parties.
Having been kicked in all available places, Baker is probably hooked. Welcome! Here is your pillow to scream into.
Maybe he is Mark Ingram except fast. Thomas Rawls blew up:
He carried 15 times for 106 yards (7.1 yards per carry) and two touchdowns as the offense exploded, scoring on eight of 11 possessions. In the first quarter, Rawls found a cutback lane and hurdled into the end zone for an 8-yard score. In the second, he showed his big-play ability by outrunning defenders for a 45-yard touchdown.
On the one hand, Fred Jackson recruited the guy. On the other, he got three carries as a junior and transferred. Mike Cox getting drafted and having a cup of coffee was one thing; Rawls turning into Marshawn Lynch 2.0 is quite another. He's the most successful Michigan NFL running back since at least Tim Biakabutuka and he'll pass the effective but constantly injured Biakabutuka in a year or two if he remains hale.
Etc.: Purdue has apparently hired WKU coach Jeff Brohm, which isn't the worst idea. Here's this Pat Forde article on how Jim Harbaugh fits right in there I forgot to link two weeks ago. ND Nation never stops winning even if the team does. Punt John Punt on the Wilson firing.
Michigan's best offensive recruit of 2011 entered the program as a walk-on. [Barron]
It's that time of the offseason when I go back through the recruiting profiles for the class that just finished its five-year cycle, which brings us to...
Oh no. Ohhhhhhhh no. It's the 2011 hybrid RichRod/Hoke class, an underwhelming group at the time—ranked 26th in the composite—that didn't come close to living up to expectations. I promise this exercise will be less painful next year. Until then, let this serve as a painful reminder of how far the program has come in the last couple years.
This post on the offense will be mercifully short, at least; there were only seven scholarship players on that side of the ball in the class, and two didn't make it through their first fall camp.
Forcier Comparison = Accuracy
Michigan snake-oiled three-star dual-threat quarterback Russell Bellomy from Purdue shortly before signing day. By the time Brian got around to writing up Bellomy's profile, Shane Morris had already committed to the 2013 class, while Devin Gardner was waiting in the wings behind Denard Robinson. Bellomy's profile didn't exactly scream "future starter" regardless of the competition:
So what have they won? A developmental prospect. Bellomy's a bit like Justice Hayes in that he seems like a better fit for the offense Michigan just dumped. That might not be a big deal long term—unlike Hayes, Michigan actually got interested in Bellomy after the transition—but Bellomy is not Chad Henne. He's described as an "efficient spread offense QB" and completed only 58% of his passes on a run-heavy team. He rarely broke the 20 attempt barrier. Opposing coaches($) say stuff like "he was much more effective in the pocket than we expected" and "you have to respect his passing ability as well." He needs work.
Bellomy's YMRMFSPA was "pick a Forcier" due to his mobility and reputation as a "riverboat gambler." The comparison worked in that Bellomy flamed out of the program. You know the story well: Bellomy entered the 2012 Nebraska game over Devin Gardner, then moonlighting at receiver, when Denard Robinson hurt his elbow, had a disastrous three-interception performance, and never saw meaningful time again. He transferred to UT-San Antonio for his senior season, attempted ten passes as their backup quarterback, and left the program only a month into the 2015 season.
[Hit THE JUMP for, well, more pain.]
I'M IN FRANCE. Harbaugh in the city of lights.
Bonjour! Go Blue! pic.twitter.com/EoBL4i5Svh
— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) July 11, 2015
This has no doubt angered many SEC coaches and Frenchmen. The number of people who have pretended not to speak English as Harbaugh increases his volume level to jet-takeoff levels must be truly prodigious. I would watch a reality show of this. "Football Coach Vacations." This is a million dollar idea.
Random. Denard Robinson retweeted this.
— HotNewHipHop (@HotNewHipHop) July 13, 2015
That Wiz Khalifa is a card.
Skate with Jack Johnson. August 1st at the Cube, for charity. MGoBlog not responsible if Jack Johnson turns you into a pylon or a bird or is just so pretty on skates that you forget how to drive. Jeff Moss will be there, too! You can find out if he is a real person or just a floating sack of anger!
TJ Weist, 1992. Via Dr. Sap:
Northwestern, 1981. Via Wolverine Historian:
Also 2002 Minnesota.
…Al? Syracuse used one cadence last year.
Since he was officially named the Syracuse Orange offensive coordinator for 2015, Tim Lester's been a bit of a sharer. We're fine with that since it's nice to actually get updates from the football staff, especially with the honesty and candor he seems to deliver it all.
Sometimes it's a point of debate.
Sometimes it's just a description of the Orange offense, compared to last year.
And others, it's a something that will send you into fits of rage, directly aimed at George McDonald, first and foremost:
If Syracuse tried other cadences, the linemen "wouldn't have been able to stay onside," because reasons. This makes me feel slightly better about Tyus Battle.
…Rich? Let's check in on Kansas.
The Jayhawks would finish 1-11 in 2012, and with the roster ailing, Weis desired a quick-fix strategy for what he once famously called a “pile of crap.” In early 2013, Weis signed 16 junior-college recruits in a 25-man class. If a majority of the players hit, Weis figured, perhaps Kansas could claw to respectability in a year or two.
The move was a massive failure. By last fall, just eight of those players remained in the program. The volume of junior-college players — many of whom were borderline qualifiers and academic risks — weighed down the program. Six of those junior-college recruits — including highly touted players Marquel Combs, Kevin Short and Chris Martin — never played a down. After senior safety Isaiah Johnson transferred to South Carolina in the spring, and defensive lineman Andrew Bolton left the team this month, not one of those 16 junior-college players remains on the roster.
So here we are, two years later, and just five players remain from Kansas’ 2013 recruiting class.
This fall, Kansas has 60 scholarship players. It's a self-imposed punishment twice as bad as anything that happened to USC or Penn State. Charlie Weis is the king of "people in charge of things are just in charge of them for no reason."
More on cable bubbles. The WSJ has an article on ESPN doing something they haven't even had to think about in a long time: belt-tightening. Cord cutting is on in earnest and it's no surprise that the most expensive channel is amongst the most affected:
Only the Weather Channel—which is now completely superfluous thanks to the internet—is suffering more. The WSJ attributes Keith Olbermann's departure to simple finances. It is not hard to trace a line from ESPN's current trend and the long-term contracts they have signed with sports leagues and find a point at which it is impossible for them to make money.
ESPN has lost enough subscribers that they have the contractual right to yank their channels from Dish's $20 Sling service. Meanwhile, they are limited in their ability to move to a Netflix/HBO model since if they introduce a stand-alone service cable providers can sell ESPN a la carte—a disaster for a channel that gets six bucks from my grandmother.
Fred Jackson was right! Sort of! Via Austin Roberts, another running back makes good after he departs Michigan:
Another “real bright spot” was running back Thomas Rawls, a 5-foot-l9, 215-pound undrafted rookie free agent out of Central Michigan.
“I love his style of running,” Carroll said. “He’s really a head-knocker. He really goes after guys and when you guys get to see him put the pads on you’ll see how physical of a runner he is. He had play after play in college of just smacking people and running and breaking tackles and all that. He showed very good feet, he caught the ball well, he’s going to be a very-willing blocker.”
All of those came against Purdue or at CMU. Remember when Michigan's running game was so good it got their running backs drafted too early? Those were different times right there. By the end Jackson was stealing money. And various beverages. Holding him over on coaching staff after coaching staff was a major sign of the complacency that overtook the program over the past decade.
Gary Danielson was not right and has never been right. Gary Danielson is pretty good at looking at one specific play and telling you what happened on it. Once you get any more abstract, he turns into a parody of sports commentary. The latest example is Danielson fretting that the SEC is going to lose its way because it might try to score some points.
“The big advantage the SEC had against other conferences was they were the most physical, NFL-like conference there was,” he said. “If they try to morph too much into becoming a fantasy league, they are going to cede their position as the toughest and best conference in college football.”
"Fantasy league." Gary Danielson saying that after Urban Meyer, who was rather successful in the SEC, blew Alabama to bits with his third string QB is a top ten "Is Gary Danielson Having A Stroke?" moment.
Etc.: Hire a Beilein, you get to play a Beilein. Brandon Graham back in town for a bit. You are on the Butkus watch list. Smart Football made another book, which you should buy. BLOOM COUNTY BACK? The Graham Couch bot is either becoming self-aware or has improved its trolling algorithm. Jim Hackett is the best.
A mea culpa. A couple things on the fight song kerfuffle from yesterday. One: apparently there are people who have escaped Taken memery. (They probably "take walks" and "go outside.") No part of the threat-type substance offered yesterday was serious. I'm not going to poison anyone's search results.
I was just referencing this famous Liam Neeson thing:
As for Weiss, I hopped aboard the outrage express in the manner that the generally loathsome Gawker and Jezebel do for most of their clicks. If I'd thought about this Daily article more I would have realized that this proposal was in no way going anywhere, but I took the cheap, easy route. While the goal of preventing a Michigan version of We Are ND is a laudable one, firing up the internet outragemobile is likely to get out of control and I should know better.
Seriously, though: just stop. Nothing good can come of this quest.
Now, like, call it. One of my top eleven subjects to rant about in recent times has been offenses flinging ineligible guys downfield on pass plays with impunity. Boy does that put a bee up my bonnet. Spielman, too.
It appears the hue and cry has made it to the lawmakers of our sport:
The ineligible downfield rule was shifted from three yards to one yard past the line of scrimmage. National officiating coordinator Rogers Redding said defenses were beginning to read run more frequently because offensive linemen were 3 yards downfield and then the quarterback would pass. “It's going to be easier to officiate,” he said.
Or, like, six yards downfield blocking the people who were supposed to be covering passes. One or three doesn't help much if you're just forgetting to enforce it either way; hopefully this will come with an increased emphasis on calling illegal men downfield.
(One exception: if you're engaged with a guy and just kicking his ass enough to end up downfield that should be let go. Taylor Lewan got a penalty a couple years ago because his pass blocking was too effective.)
Approximate top eleven rant subjects in recent times. Give or take:
- Dave Brandon
- excessive basketball timeouts
- block/charge calls
- Big Ten expansion
- bubble screens
- "but the spread won't work in the Big Ten"
- piped in music
- ineligible men downfield
- Tom Izzo press conferences
- when my wife puts the cheese grater in with the food manipulation devices (tongs, spoons, spatulas, etc) instead of the food reconfiguration devices (juicers, graters, mallets, zesters, etc)
This is not 'Nam, MGoWife.
Nyet. Roquan Smith will announce his decision on Friday, whereupon he won't sign an letter of intent. He'll just sign scholarship papers. Well done, sir. (It seems like it's a foregone conclusion that it's not Michigan, unfortunately.)
Add another to the list? If Justice Hayes goes and rips off 1,500 yards I'm gonna be all like ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Sleeper to keep an eye on: #CMU RB Thomas Rawls. Michigan transfer w/ off-field flags. But quick and physical on the field. Mid-round talent
— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) February 10, 2015
I'm looking forward to a running backs coach with aspirations.
We would like less football, I guess. It's time once again for a college football person to mutter about changing clock rules For The Fans. Larry Scott's turn, as he advocate running the clock after first downs:
"You'll always get traditionalists who won't change it," Scott said. "I don't find it concerning or daunting that there are some that would oppose it. I think the job for commissioners is to take a step back and look at it holistically. The health and welfare of student-athletes is first and fans are a close second in terms of keeping games appealing. Three-and-a-half hours, to me, is too long."
There will always be traditionalists who are your core customers who know you're not seeing increased costs but still soaking fans with higher prices and ever-longer commercial breaks.
Why might games be longer?
The high-pressure, commercialized world of FBS is playing a much longer game than other NCAA divisions. While FBS games averaged 3:23 in 2014, the Football Championship Subdivision was 2:55, Division II was 2:45 and Division III was 2:41.
Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson also favors a running clock after first downs, citing declining attendance. FBS home attendance dropped 4 percent in 2014 for the sport's lowest average since 2000.
"I think our fans are expecting shorter games, and I think when you see attendance is down, we need to address it," Benson said.
Changing the ratio of game to red-hat-on-field the wrong way isn't going to help your attendance, but you don't actually care about that anyway. Just be honest about it. At this point it might be worth looking at some soccer models, which have to deal with an un-interruptible flow of gameplay. I'd rather have a logo next to the score chryon instead of ever-expanding ad time.
Early signing is dumb. Andy Staples addresses it:
I don’t mind an early signing period in theory because the vast majority of recruits know where they want to go, are happy with their decisions and shouldn’t have to wait. But cutting a month off of the process isn’t going to change much. It might be nice if the players who make up their minds really early had a chance to sign before their senior seasons begin, but that isn’t going to happen, either. Athletic directors would hate that since it would make it more difficult to fire a coach if he underperformed. The coach would have the leverage of half a signing class in the barn, and the AD might have to wrestle with double-digit players asking to be released from their National Letters of Intent. This happens all the time in basketball, but it’s different when the coach has 15 players signed instead of three.
Staples advocates a change to the LOI that says "the LOI is a bad thing to sign," so that's not… likely. To reiterate my excellent plan:
The MGo Recruitin' Plan
You can sign a pre-NLI any time.
The pre-NLI guarantees you a scholarship at the school you sign with, allows them to contact you whenever and prohibits other coaches from doing so. You can only take an official visit to the school you sign with.
You can withdraw the pre-NLI at any time.
On Signing Day everyone makes it official.
(Optional but highly desirable) NCAA does away with 85-player cap and allows everyone to sign up to 22-25 players a year, no exceptions. Transfers and JUCOs count.
Changing the cap from a roster limit to a yearly limit instantly does away with any oversigning mutterings since your motivation is to keep players instead of cut them.
(Via Get The Picture.)
Karan Higdon will help you with your homework. Unless you're a fellow athlete, I think that's a violation. Randos welcome though:
"Football comes second to academics and my future after it."
Higdon's a 4.0 student at Riverview. He wants to be an occupational therapist. He's involved in several academic leadership groups at his school, and has been invited to various academic summits, from Washington D.C. to Paris.
If Higdon couldn't run, catch, block or score a touchdown, he'd probably still be headed to college next year with a scholarship in tow.
Academics aren't just part of the deal for Higdon. They're the deal.
I guess he doesn't want an MFA, or he'd be at Iowa. If Fred Jackson was still here he could be a grad transfer and get drafted, maybe.
Etc.: Orson is so fascinated with Tom Crean that he wrote about him. Michigan was the 12th most-watched team in college football last year, which really says something since… uh… you know. NTDP camp thoughts featuring comments on a few Michigan recruits. SBNation has a "Jim Harbaugh is weird" page. Tom Leyden on Bo's passing.
MLive reporter Eric Woodyard has tweeted that Thomas Rawls is transferring to Central Michigan. The writing was on the wall for Rawls after being passed by not only two freshman tailbacks but—at least in the land of depth charts—Drake Johnson. Rawls didn't see a carry after the opener despite the chaos at tailback, and wasn't going to next year. This has likely been in the works for a while, as Michigan started pursuing a tailback in the 2014 recruiting class a couple months ago.
Rawls was a Signing Day add in the Rodriguez/Hoke transitional class with generic three star hype from everyone except Fred Jackson, who made ludicrous comparisons to Mark Ingram because that's what Fred Jackson does.
I'll wait until spring practice is over to update the Attrition Watch fully; for now just know that Rawls is the eighth member of the 21-man 2011 class to depart. With Desmond Morgan, Frank Clark, Blake Countess, Brennen Beyer, and Raymon Taylor looking like starting-quality players, the 2011 outfit is marginally better than 2010. Marginally being your key word there.
Michigan will go into spring with a tentative depth chart like so:
- Derrick Green
- DeVeon Smith
- Justice Hayes
- Drake Johnson
IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE THREE *YARDS* AND A CLOUD OF DUST
Rating: 4 of 5. Yeah, I said it.
|FEATURE BACK||Yr.||SHORT YARDAGE||Yr.||3RD DOWN||YR.|
|Fitzgerald Toussaint||Sr.*||Derrick Green||Fr.||Justice Hayes||So.*|
|De'Veon Smith||Fr.||Thomas Rawls||Jr.||Fitzgerald Toussaint||Sr.*|
|Drake Johnson||Fr.*||De'Veon Smith||Fr.||Drake Johnson||Fr.*|
The Man Comes Around
"In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer that could approach six yards a carry." –Albert Camus
Toussaint rehabbed with a vengeance, and went into spring camp with a vengeance, and hopes to confront the Big Ten in superhero outfit and big guns this fall. His coaches have taken notice. Borges:
"Fitz has got fire in his eyes. I see no signs of any injury ... He is very hungry.
"One thing about running backs, it's not like the lines. You get to see them cut, even if it's not live or not with pads on. His stop and go ability looks to be right back where it was."
Fullback Joe Kerridge looks like a cross between a refrigerator and a bear (more on this in the Tight End And Friends section) and says Toussaint outworked even him over the summer:
"He busted his butt to get back before the start of camp. It seemed like every time I went in this summer to lift or do conditioning, Fitz was already there and he would still be there after I left."
When fall camp launched, the immediate and consistent buzz was that Toussaint was back to his old self—his old-old self. Tellingly, the coaches didn't dance around the topic like they do on most every other personnel battle. First he was back, then he was playing very well, then he was leading, and then it was his job, full stop.
So… what now?
[after THE JUMP: Yeah, what now? Freshmen are large men. A replacement for Vincent Smith, and veterans trying to hold off the youngsters.]