Mike Lantry, 1972
This was going to be a comment under the article concerning Beilein's recruiting and Brian's response, but it went too long and I figured it might as well be a diary entry.
While I agree that this David fellow sounds pretty whiny, I do think he points out the one potential failing of Beilein - his system was designed to compensate for the lack of the "big time" star. The heavy reliance on three pointers that is a hallmark of his offense is designed to compensate for the lack of a post threat and/or a dynamic finisher around the basket. Similarly, the 1-3-1 was designed to create turnovers as a way to compensate for little interior defense from a dominant inside presence. And when Beilein was coaching at Canisius, Richmond, and WVU, that focus made sense, as he wasn't going to be able to nab the type of dynamic players teams like UNC, Duke, UConn, and MSU has that can take over a game. Instead, he recruited guys who could play in his system and flourish, trotting out a team that, when playing well, could beat a more talented collection of players.
Unfortunately, and I think this might have been a small component of David's rant, this type of system has a finite level of potential success - something I'll refer to as the Mid-Major Ceiling (MMC). Look at teams like Gonzaga (though their recruiting has gotten better over the years), Xavier, Creighton, and throw WVU into that mix (though they come from a major conference, they would never have succeeded in the Big East simply trying to out-recruit other teams). While they all are/were consistent NCAA teams, none ever made it past the Elite 8 (except George Mason, which was the flukiest of fluky runs), and even getting past the Sweet 16 was a crapshoot. The reason for this, at least in my opinion, was due to the fact that they inevitably ran into a team whose talent was great enough to expose the deficiencies each of those systems was designed to hide. In most instances, what exposed this MMC was a team that possessed a "superstar" or, at the very least, a combination of near-stars that could simply impose his/their will upon the game; basically, the talent beat the system.
Now, as a fan of basketball purity I don't see a major problem with this. I loved when Princeton beat UCLA, not because it was a huge upset, but because it showed that a good team could beat a collection of great players. Similarly, the Pistons in 2004 were great because they played a system that stymied the more talented Lakers. And maybe years ago systems won championships, when you didn't need to have the best players because your 1-5 played better together than anyone else's 1-5. But as much as I hate to say it, basketball has become far more about the dominant player(s) than the system.
Look at this year's NCAA championship - MSU has a huge amount of talent, but UNC was clear and away the most talented team in college basketball all season. Leading up to the final, you kept hearing that MSU could win if they played their "game", the Izzo system of tough defense, offensive rebounding, and opportunistic scoring with guys like Lucas and Morgan attacking the basketball with Suton firing from outside. UNC, by comparison, seemed to run a more fluid, less-defined system, where guys like Lawson, Hansbrough, and Ellington simply took over parts of a game with their superior talent. Well, UNC steamrolled MSU, like they did every other team in the tournament, and they did it by fielding a more talented lineup than anyone else.
And this wasn't a one-time shot - looking at recent NCAA finals participants, most of them sent numerous players to the pros and generally recruited the best talent every year. There's a reason that Duke, UNC, MSU, UConn, Kansas, UCLA, and Memphis (under Cal) are NC contenders every year, and it's not because they run a distinctive style - they trot out All-Americans and future pros and simply out-talent the opposition on most nights. And UM has been on the receiving end of this out-talenting firsthand - see Griffin taking over the game against UM in the second round this year. UM and OU (sans Griffin) were similar teams in terms of talent, and UM's system was better that OU's. But Griffin's talent exposed the chief deficiency of this team (no inside talent/defense), and as a result UM was sent home.
In fact, a good barometer of this phenomena is the Duke-UNC rivalry. Duke out-recruited UNC earlier this decade, and took command of the rivalry for years. Then, once Doherty left and Williams started to out-recruit Duke for key talent, the pendulum swung over and UNC has consistently beaten Duke the past 3-4 years. Now, I don't think that the programs drastically changed their offenses and defenses over those stretches; they simply out-talented each other during their up periods.
So what does this mean for Beilein and recruiting? In my opinion, you need stars in today's NCAA to break the MMC and compete for championships, both in conference and nationally. The concern I have, and I do think some others share, is that UM isn't WVU, Richmond, Gonzaga, Xavier, etc. - the school's name alone gives its coach a chance to recruit kids that would never consider those other program mentioned. UM should be able to recruit top-100 kids on a consistent basis (Amaker showed it was possible even while the team was hopelessly flailing). That said, you need a coach who is willing to do that, to go after some kids who might bolt after 1-2 years and who might not be the best fit for your system.
Listen, I don't want UM to go to the way of Memphis or OSU, with one-and-done super-talents comprising the bulk of the depth chart. At the same time, though, we've seen how far many of these "system" teams can go - the occasional Elite 8, usually at least 1 win in the NCAA tournament but rarely a threat to compete for the NC. And maybe I'm overreacting, and maybe this shows my arrogance, but I think UM can be better than that. This "hey, 9-3 is fine with me" mindset was what permeated the last few years of Carr's tenure (save 2006), and those years were tough to handle as peers (OU, OSU, USC, LSU, UF) rose to greater prominence. That's why Brian's claim that "Michigan will build up a program over Beilein's career and then be in a position to swing for the fences afterwards" troubles me so much. I don't want to leave such a transition to chance, to nabbing that hot coach with the ability to recruit nationally to push this team into the NC conversation. UM can and should be able to enter this conversation NOW, but it is going to take a concerted effort by Beilein and his staff to take some chances and build a team that not only runs his system to a T, but has that player/players who can take over a game or make a big shot when the system breaks down.
Ultimately, I think that Beilein is a great coach and I fully expect him to recruit great players for this program. I think UM will one day soon shatter the MMC and contend nationally, and I will be cheer on the program until my voice goes hoarse. Already he has recruited better players than he usually had at WVU, and this season's success should only help in these efforts. But until we see a consistent uptick in recruiting, these concerns shouldn't be shouted down as alarmist either.
Anyone else getting any schadenfreude out of watching Jim Burr ref the WVU vs. Pitt matchup? announcers, fans and coaches are incredulous.
This is not a rant or a rave about the state of the program just some ramblings on the WVU game.
Friday I suffered through the offensive slugfest that was Pitt vs. West Virginia. I think I watched to simply gain some sort of confidence for our offense next year. Instead I came away less than impressed. I believe WV finished with about 300 total yards and 15 points. I saw many of the same plays that Michigan "tried" to run. Noel Devine and Pat White both RRod system guys couldn't get anything going. The offense was full of short yard dink and dunk plays with the occasional QB scramble for his life that netted a nice gain and if I remember correctly 1 td. I guess my point well I really don't have one I suppose. Did anyone else watch this game? Any impressions for next season. Take it easy on me I'm a long time listner first time caller here. Just looking for some opinions. I'm not bailing out on my team or anything but I would like to get some feedback on what I saw from the WVU offense.
Still must admit it's nice to see notre dame getting blown out.
Eugene Smith will be verbally committing to West Virginia, according to rivals.com.
For those of you who didn't watch the ECU vs WVU game, I can tell you that WVU without all of UM's coaches is NOT even close to the same team you saw destroy OU. ECU manhandled the WVU players in the trenches, and the WVU OL looked like they took the summer off, except for eating pizza. The WVU D got gassed by ECU's RB/WR. The difference from last year to this year was night and day. They will not win the Big East this year. If you get a chance, watch them sometime this year. Their immediate drop-off after RR and friends left is amazing. Brian@AOL has an article siting this amazing turn around as well.
*warning, mild profanity* (won't someone think of the children??)
I'm having flashbacks. I seem to remember just before last year when everyone and their brother was predicting a BCS bowl run for Louisville. And why not??? They had a heisman trophy candidate at QB. Lots of starters returning. Talented recruits were coming in. Oh sure, they lost their coach, but Louisville was a rock of consistency among the mid majors, so there wouldn't be much drop off. RIGHT?
check out CFN's preview for their 2007 season.
The key passage:
"The season will be a
... Louisville goes back to the BCS. 11-1 is also a good goal to shoot
for with an upset to prevent a 9-0 start before dealing with West
Virginia, South Florida and Rutgers. As long as Brohm is healthy and
winging, the offense will be among the best in America. The defense
won’t miss a beat under Kragthorpe and should be among the best in the
Big East. It’s all there for another Big East title, and maybe more."
I mean, they play in the big east, against a bunch of weak teams. They should be favored in most of those games. Right?? How much can losing a coach REALLY matter?
Okay, so most of you know that it mattered a lot. The defense was one of the worst ever, and the team stumbled to 6-6. So why bring this up now? Is it because this year the pundits are making more realistic 7-5ish predictions? Not really. No, this is about West Virginia.
West M'Fing Vahjinya!
So you might have heard that WVU lost its head coach. You might also be aware that it lost 6 other assistant coaches and the entire Strength and Conditioning staff. Now, I'm sure that the people hired to replace them are all fine men and great football coaches, considering I don't know who the fuck any of them are. But I think the mere fact that most of them have never worked together before would make the pundits pause a bit before... are you ready for this... RANKING THEM #6! Which is exactly what the NYtimes did. That's right, the same "rock of journalistic integrity" that said Michigan was #48 this year put WVU a full 2 spots ahead of the rest of the LOLMSM and the coaches who don't bother (for lack of time) to watch film on anyone they're not playing.
The Gray Lady, the self styled 'paper of record' thinks WVU is 42 spots ahead of Michigan this year. And yet I think if the two were to play Michigan would win by about 42 points. Not necessarily because WVU is all that bad, but I've watched John Gruden utterly destroy a far more talented Raiders team because he knew all their weaknesses. But, but, but, . . .
But they play in the big east, against a bunch of weak teams. They should be favored in most of those games. They've got a Heisman candidate at QB. They've got great talent coming in! Losing their head coach shouldn't matter that much? Right?
The parallels are just too many. The one saving grace for WVU is that they had a much better D than UL, and they managed to keep their DC. (oh yeah, and their special teams coach, HAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHHAH). But anyone predicting more than 8 wins for them is stepping out on a long branch, (on a tree that hasn't seen much rain thanks to global warming).
The nytimes says that their worst case scenario is 9-3. I guess that works if you can count losses to colorado, Rutgers, Auburn, Cincinnati, Pitt, and south Florida as 3 losses.
And then there's notre lame
What exactly can we use for a comparison? I mean, how often has a 10-2 team turned into a 3-9 team? How many BCS teams (even if they didn't deserve going to the BCS) turned into un-coalesced shit the next year? The kind of shit you get the next morning when you mix kimchee with tequila. (trust me, don't do it) We're talking about one of the worst offenses in history. IN HISTORY. But at least they've got a lot of starters returning, especially from the WORST OFFENSIVE LINE IN HISTORY. I'm sure they're much better now.
And it's not like they can use Louisville's excuse about a coaching change. This was Charlie Weis in his third year. With 3/5 of the team being his recruits. Now the team is 4/5 his recruits, minus the 20 or so players who transferred in mid season. (LOLMSM: "but michigan had 2 players transfer in the offseason during a coaching change, let's freakout about THAT!")
The NYtimes kind of throws their hands up on this one. They predict anywhere from 3-9 to 10-2. Bold predictions there. Hey, why not just predict 0-12 to 12-0?!? at least then you'd be 100% right. But it's better than CFN which hasn't put up a prediction yet, (4 days before the start of the season). *bunchafuckinggutlessfuckingretardedmoronsdon'tfuckingknowanythingaboutfuckinfootballfgmmngfmfdmm*
The funniest prediction came from cheese slice-I mean charlie weis, (sorry freudian slip) himself. He's predicting at least 9 wins. BWAHAHahahahahahAHAHHAHAHAahahahahAHAHAH!!!!!!
And other racist bastards- I mean notre dame fans, such as Beano 'the hutt' Cook, Lou 'sssthsssthssp' Holtz, and our friendly forum trolls (mostly on mlive, not so bad around here) are making similar, if slightly less insane statements.
GIVE ME A FUCKING BREAK. The best parallel I could find was 1999 penn state went 10-3 and then the next year bombed out at 5-7. There was no coaching change. This was all Joe Pa's work. in 2001 they 'rebounded' to 5-6. They had to replace the 'irreplaceable' kevin thompson with rashard casey. Chafie Fields was replaced by Eddie drummond, yadda yadda, (it's college, you're ALWAYS replacing more than 1/5 of your team.) And eric mccoo was replaced by, oh yeah, eric mccoo. But at least in 2001 they benefited from from all that playing time... oh wait.
The one thing that ND has over that 2001 penn state team is that they're not starting a new QB for the third straight year. Unless Charlie Weis pulls a charlie weis and starts dayne crist causing Casey- I mean Jimmy - I mean Rick, no wait, I do mean Jimmy, JIMMAH! Clausen to transfer to Tennessee after the 2nd game.
But, But, But, The Schedule! It's sooo much easier. Right? Because airforce and navy were such recruiting juggernauts...
But, but, but. They play stanford. That's an autowin right? Stanford, a team that nearly beat them last year, beat USC, and isn't coached by the ugliest narcissist in the world. Someone explain to me the logic behind the idea that ND will improve a lot from year 3 to year 4 of weis, but stanford won't improve much from year 1 to year 2 of harbaugh when stanford has already improved by leaps and bounds from year 0 to year 1 of harbaugh.
Maybe I'm being too harsh, if you guys can find good examples of teams falling off the BCS wagon into a bowl-less season and managed to get back up to snuff the next year without a coaching change...I'd be willing to listen.
But to me, it seems like 'one hit wonders' tend to only go in the positive direction. An 'out of nowhere' bowl run followed by a return to mediocrity is more likely than a winning team tanking it and then getting right back on the horse the next year.
Just to finish that penn state analogy, in 2002 Larry johnson in his third year of active duty and Zack mills in his 2nd led them to a 9-4 record (so some faint hope for ND) but then johnson left and mills couldn't do it by himself as they fell to 3-9 and 4-7 the next two years.
Of course the situations aren't exactly the same, I'm predicting 6 wins for ND, but 3-9 would make me happy. and then I could write a lot of 'told you so' posts like I did this year for predicting an irish 0-8 start last year. (damn you UCLA and your 5th string quarterback)
BUT WHAT ABOUT US?
By now, any racist bastards - i mean ND and WVU fans, reading this are probably saying to themselves, 'so what? your team is going to suck!' to which I reply: No, we won't.
And even if we do, we are being predicted to suck by the LOLMSM. And this post is about unrealistically high predictions. So it doesn't matter.
Yes our O-line is scary, and not in the good way. And I'm confident in saying that if we have any more injuries up front we could easily go 4-8. But rather than write all the arguments again, I'll just point you to my previous post on that subject.
Thank you and goodnight.