spoiler alert: i linked this
So thorough was the coaching incompetence at Michigan the past two seasons that many among us have genuinely become convinced that we don't have good players on our team. On-field ineptitude chipped away at our psychology, making us feel that all things Michigan football were inept. Even in the past glorious days, there are Michigan fans claiming that we don't have good players and that we should temper our expectations for Harbaugh's first years. Maybe by 2017 we will have a competitive team.
We have extremely talented players and can be competitive this next season. The table below shows the total points from the 247 Composite Team Rankings for the 2014, 2013, and 2012 recruiting classes. Players from these classes will be teams' primary contributors during the 2015 season. Total points take into consideration both quality and number of recruits in a class. The "Total" column in the table simply sums the total points from the 2014, 2013, and 2012 classes, resulting in total points over the three-year period. Further, since older players typically contribute more, another column, "Weighted total," gives more weight to 2012 (x2) and 2013 (x1.5) points to privilege talent more likely to contribute next year. Note that the top 50 teams in terms of three-year total points, plus Big Ten and future opponents are included in the table.
Based on recruiting rankings, Michigan has the seventh most talented roster in the nation, ahead of every Big Ten team and every 2015 opponent outside of Ohio State. Using the weighted total, Michigan has the fifth most talented roster in the nation, with a preponderance of talent in the upper classes.
Clearly, recruiting rankings aren't completely accurate predictors of college performance, but Michigan's superiority based on this metric is so vastly beyond every non-Ohio State opponent (Nebraska is next at 27th), that even if there is a margin for error, we should still rest assured that our players have the talent to compete in every game next year.
Now that we have a proven winner, leader, and developer-of-talent at the helm, we can feel good about our odds this next season. The talent is there. These kids came to Michigan with the expectation of being developed, being put in position to succeed, and being great. Get after it, Jim.
In looking at our recruits by position group, it is apparent that some of the wide disparities between the recruiting sites are position group specific.
In other words:
Rivals loves our offensive line haul, 247 does not. Ave position ranking: 18.7 vs. 31.1 (I included Diamond and Garnett)
247 loves our defensive line haul, ESPN does not. Ave position ranking: 15.0 vs 29.8
ESPN loves our secondary haul, Scout does not. Ave position ranking: 23.3 vs 33.5
Everybody really loves our LB haul.
So, rather than choosing to love and hate various recruiting services based on my overall perception of their kindness to this years Michigan recruits, I was wondering if there might be some MGoBloggers with knowledge of the backgrounds of the guys making evaluations.
A little personal history of the guys (i.e. former positions played/coached, at what levels, etc.) and former predictive performance by position group of previous rankings would be hugely helpful to establishing what each recruiting service has as a "specialty."
The article at the link makes 4 points about the hazards of decision-making in football. The study used data from the NFL, but it's definitely relevant to the college game.
In particular, it seems relevant discussion on MGoBlog about:
1. going for it on 4th down (do it!)
2. whether it helps the team to fire the coach (not really, but there needs to be a GERG exception, IMO)
3. winning with someone else's talent (WOO! go Brady, Borges, and Mattison)
Given the responses to my diary post, it is obvious that the good people of the MGoBlog community would like to have a much more detailed discussion of the strength of our opponents in the trenches, and an overall evaluation of their returning talent levels (a granular evaluation of not just how many starters return, but where the talent lies.)
This topic is going to rely heavily on other teams' fans (i.e. our beloved poster Irish.) So hopefully there are still a few of those rational OSU fans left on the board, as well as insightful Nebraska posters, Chicagoans who bleed purple, and fighting Illini. If you follow a team other than Michigan, with the passion of a crazed fan, give us the lowdown here.
To start on Michigan:
Offense was top 5 last year. Transition will not change Denard's impact on the requirement of opposing D's to change their Safety gameplan, pull back the reigns on overly aggressive LBs, etc. The OL is deep, experienced and talented with an athletic TE to complement. If Molk can maintain his health for most of the year, and Lewan can harness his aggression with discipline, this should be one of the top two OL in the conference. WR corps and RB corps are deep; WR may not have a true vertical threat, but Roundtree is reliable and versatile; RB have a grinder in true-soph Hopkins and several speedy backs. Perhaps rational to expect a step back. But this team was poised to become more than "the most dangerous offense between the 20 yard lines." If Denard can make reads with his receivers stacked in the red-zone, this team will take a step forward in scoring (even if total yards fall a bit.) Anything less than a top 10 offense would be a disappointment.
I'll leave the joy of the D to someone else; and of course, flesh out the offense a bit more.