Mike Lantry, 1972
When at West Virginia, the coaching staff had a certain set of players available to them as potential recruits. Because of the limitations inherent in that set of players, they would quite often have to take risks on kids with baggage of one kind or another, or they would simply have to take a flyer on some kids with potential who may have been overlooked. “Talent + issues” or “10% chance of being an overlooked 4-star player” simply equated to being better in the overall analysis than “mediocre but serviceable boy scout.” West Virginia’s set of potential recruits is inherently riskier than, say, USC’s. Another way to put it is USC is looking for ways to pare down their universe of recruits, while West Virginia is looking for ways to expand theirs. In the end, USC’s batch of incoming recruits typically has a smaller zone of variability than West Virginia’s does.
Then WVU clearly made two other decisions to help mitigate the limitations of their recruiting pool.
First, they decided to outwork the other guy, or at the very least not allow the other guy to outwork them. Enter Barwis and the OL running to the line of scrimmage in the 4th quarter, etc. I’m not suggesting this was successful or not, just that they clearly believed it to be something they had to do. When you have less talent overall, or more inherent variability, you have to wring out every last drop of effort.
Second, they implemented a particular specialized offense. The WVU spread is even different than other spreads. Why? I would argue it is another attempt to expand the set of potential recruits. By taking some subset of your 85 scholarships (15? 20?), and making them fit characteristics of players that other teams don’t value, you’ve just dramatically reduced the amount of work you need to do to fill a roster with 85 good athletes.
Let me explain that some more. The slot receiver characteristics seem to be fast, fast, good hands, fast (in that order.) When that is your only criteria, and the offense is designed to make that profile of kid succeed, you don’t need the #3 wide-out in Florida. You can take Rivals’ #93 WR from wherever and you’ve probably filled that need with a 5-star for your system. WVU just made a 5-star recruit from basically nothing, because they changed their objectives and recruited a kid who has a high probability to succeed in that particular role. Now you have just reduced the risk of recruiting failure by looking for something (someone) different than the other guy.
Now, is that philosophy going to beat USC? I don’t know and neither do you, but it beat the snot out of Oklahoma once. The risk of pursuing this strategy is that the system you crafted can be attacked or beaten in some fashion, that is, it is a weaker overall offense than something else. But so far, so good for the spread.
What does that mean for Michigan?
I think the mindset to outwork the other guy is going to be a major factor in the program’s future success. As much as I love the Wolverines, I think we had lost something somewhere and this coaching staff will bring it back. They clearly believe they will, at the very least, not be outworked.
I do not believe they have fully adjusted to their new recruiting reality. This is not to say I think they are doing a bad job, I don’t. But I also don’t think that they realize they can recruit a fast, fast, fast, tall or at least not short slot receiver yet (and lots of other recruiting possibilities as well.) I say this because those philosophies were very deeply ingrained and it is very difficult to change your paradigm that quickly. As they become accustomed to Michigan’s set of potential recruits, they will begin to manage the risk differently. I interpret the commitment of Drew Dileo as the coaching staff not yet properly managing the risk of their new situation. They don’t have to take a flyer on this kind of player, they can get someone more dynamic for that specialized position, or change the position's role in the offense entirely, and they simply haven’t realized that yet. They will.
This post is being removed because the direction the thread is moving is not a good one.
Given the below link, don't be surprised if RichRod is creatively charged with a crime soon.
If M Played West Virginia on Saturday
Note – Since Michigan had a bye and West Virginia lost to Colorado on Thursday night, I thought I’d do a running diary for an imaginary game against the two on Saturday with M playing the part of Colorado. M hosts so I don’t have to make up an entry on how the coaching staff was “shot up like a varmint!”
3:25 – We’re here LIVE! at the Wolvrine32 entertainment industrial complex. Diet coke is in place, hastily made shrine to Stephen Threet is in place, the cat is curiously absent. I’m wearing a #3 jersey, which used to be Marlin Jackson when originally purchased, was Kevin Grady for a brief time, and is now Stevie Brown. Hmmm, the Diet Coke is tasting a little flatter after typing that.
3:31 – Did you know that Rich Rodriguez came to coach here from West Virginia? No way! I only needed ABC to tell me that 5 billion times before it sunk in. On a lighter note, the pan shot of the visiting West Virginia crowd had three Rich Rodriguez dolls hanging in effigy. The Vegas over/under on RR dolls having something done to them in effigy was eight, so we’ll keep our eyes peeled.
3:36 – Erin Andrews just asked Bill Stewart what it would be like to coach against his former boss. “I really wish he’d gone to coach Temple, Erin.” Then he gave her a giant bear-hug. Tarnation!
3:43 – Kickoff. Pat McAfee kicks off to Boubacar Cissoko and my spell checker just lit up like a Christmas tree. M ball on the 17.
3:44 – The Carson Butler Memorial False Start Penalty (and my string of profanities) attracts the cat, who looks on Carson with disapproval. How can you false start when even the defense knows Michigan doesn’t hike until after “getting the clap?” Hee-hee, getting the clap.
3:49 – Major 3rd down pickup by Threet and Hemingway, 23 yards. Threet and Hemingway sounds like a trendy clothing store. RR is still abusing Butler on the bench, state services might be getting involved soon.
3:52 – TD Michigan! Threet and Hemingway again, 38 yard TD pass. Disturbing lack of rushing on this drive, but I’ll take it. Threet looked like a genuine Div-IA QB on this drive, and didn’t fumble which is key.
3:53 – Barwis ran across the field and stared down Coach Stew into the fetal position. It only took .6 seconds. Ewww, he just wet his Depends, then he found the 4th string cornerback and gave him an uncomfortable to watch man-hug. This game is messing with Coach Stew. Of course, all games mess with Coach Stew.
3:59 – Fumble Starks, recovered by Thompson! Michigan is in business on the WFV 28. RR looks so happy, he’s like Joe Biden being told he actually gets to debate Sarah Palin.
4:03 – TD Mich! 14-0. I’m light-headed from the giddiness. Also, WFV had to call a timeout on the extra point because they had *13* guys on the field. Insert “ha-ha WFV can’t count” joke here. Even RR was a little embarrassed for Coach Stew.
4:05 – Pat White assumes control of the team and pronounces himself player-coach. Uncomfortable-to-watch bear/man hugs all around. He then rushes for 44 yards to the Michigan 9. What happened to him throwing more?
4:15 – Pat White rushes for a TD. 14-7, M. I want to be upset, but I keep picturing someone like him in Michigan’s offense in 2 years, and the little thought bubbles over my head have lots of !!!’s.
4:19 – Know what a West Virginian says before he dies? “Hold my beer and check this out.” (Yes, I used this in another diary but it’s still really funny.)
4:21 – 5:00. Nothing interesting happens. Nothing. Well, except Warren actually calls for a fair catch, McGuffie picks up some yards, some WVF guy named “Tito” gets a couple penalties, and Sheridan came in for a series to throw a pick so ugly it made plants die. Nick Sheridan, I banish you. You are banished. Halftime.
5:01 – <<roll scary music>> “Lloyd Carr never used the spread offense. His entire tenure was really Bo Shembechler’s third term. With Lloyd Carr, you’ll get more ‘three yards and a cloud of dust.’ And I hope you like cronyism.” <<happy music!>> “Rich Rodriguez knows how to run a spread offense, and will bring much needed Change to Ann Arbor! He will restore our image in the college football world, and fix what’s wrong with our program. I’m Rich Rodriguez, and I approved this message.”
5:02 – I nominate the Big Ten network’s creepy coaches recruiting you ad as the creepiest piece of work ever. The more I watch it, the more I get the willies. And creepiest performance ever goes to Joe Paterno’s constipated “come to Penn State!” It’s so over-the-top it’s an otherworldly form of creepy. Just buries the needle on the creep-o-meter. Creepy.
5:13 – <<roll scary music>> “Rich Rodriguez is The One? The one with a risky spread offense, maybe. He has only recruited three 4-star athletes in his brief time as a major college head coach, and had a messy divorce from his last position. Even the WFV governor says he ‘wouldn’t be asked back, ever.” <<happy music!>> “Lloyd Carr has the experience, winning a National Championship and five Big Ten titles! His experience, and plan to put Michigan First, will keep Wolverine football on solid footing throughout the college football world. I’m Lloyd Carr and I hate Jim Brandstatter.”
5:16 – Erin Andrews uncovered RR’s notes on what would lead to Nick Sheridan playing in the 2nd half. They are “Threet dead, Threet decapitated, Threet spontaneously combusts”… and that one was scratched off.
5:18 – Does anyone else find the name “Flomax” funny? If that’s the way all drugs were named, do the math and come up with what “Viagra” should be called.
5:20 – Kickoff. It’s returned to the 20, and the Michigan D gives us a three & out. Looks like the cheat sheet provided to Scott Shafer is working like a charm.
5:25 – We see WFV’s three & out and raise them. Ugh, that was some bad offense. My notes for the drive, with apologies to Dr. Seuss: Stink / stank / stunk / punt. Did WFV adjust to us? Is that even possible for them?
5:26 – After a brief discussion with Cat32, we decide we want more Martavious Odoms. Something good almost always comes from him touching the ball. Oh, and we want less fumbles and more Friskies. (Cat32 has a bit of a weight problem.)
5:32 – WFV counters with a four & out. A nice run to start by Noel Divine, but the beer truck was pulled over on the interstate by Officer Ezeh.
5:35 – Erin Andrews interviews the president of West Virginia wandering the stands looking for another nice old man to give millions of dollars too. (Want another eerie parallel for Bobby Williams and Coach Stew? Bobby Williams beat The Old Ball Coach himself in a bowl game, just like Coach Stew beat Bob Stoops. Kind of an oddball highlight of career / lowlight of career situation revisited, eh?)
5:40 – John McCain declared that our offense is fundamentally sound, right before Molk’s fanny tried to take the handoff.
5:48 – White rushes for 39 yards and a TD. Tied up. This sucks worse than losing to a really fat arrogant guy and a QB with girlie hair. OK, not really. Also, Pat White looks like the Tasmanian Devil Tornado when he runs. I really want someone like him now please.
5:50 – Somehow the WFV fans snuck a couch into the Big House and set it on fire. In a touching display, the RR dolls are being thrown into the fire. When I think West Virginia, I think rafting, and then drinking. But after that I think class.
5:55 – 6:37 – Nothing happens again. I mean, really really nothing. No turnovers, nothing interesting of any kind. It’s like watching the Ohio State offense. (McGuffie was used extensively here, and has 160 yards rushing on the day. That snuck up on me. He’s been solid in this game when called upon.)
6:42 – Coach Stew mangles the clock, then he wastes about 30 seconds debating with himself how to continue destroying the clock, then he brings in Donovan McNabb as a consultant on clock management and 2-minute drills, Donovan vomits, then he hires Bob Davie to run things. Strangely none of this works well and WFV doesn't score at the end of the game.
6:49 – We’re headed to overtime! Someone told Coach Stew he still has a chance to win, and he looks happy. Kinda like he just made a poopie. With what I just witnessed from our offense, I don’t feel good about OT. Then again, M is undefeated in OT…
6:53 – WFV forgets how to pass, rushing exclusively down to the Michigan 4 yard line. They attempt a field goal, essentially an extra point, and MISS!! The lack of uncomfortable to watch bear/man hugging for kicker McAfee is staggering right now in it’s breadth and epic nature. I mean, NOBODY is doing any hugging of any kind.
6:58 – Put in field goal position by the rules, we rush a couple times and kick a field goal. Ballgame! Incompetence is defeated! Lopata is a mini-god! Sad Mountaineer fans are rushing to their dial-up internet connections! Michigan has a better record than WFV! Dogs and cats, living together, mass hysteria!!
7:00 – I realize that this game didn’t really happen, and that I didn’t feature Cat32 nearly enough. Sigh. But on the bright side, Michigan State just beat the stuffing out of Notre Dame.
Can someone please explain to me why Bill Stewart was signed to a SIX YEAR CONTRACT??? Forget the loss last week...why??? Am I missing something or is WVU's athletic department just really poorly run. I feel like after only coaching 3 games he should have at least the season to show he can coach....
I was curious if anybody knows how the zone-read handoff actually works. From what I see, the quarterback puts the ball in the running back's chest every time.
How does the running back know whether or not to take it?