beyond any shadow of a doubt that coaches/coaching matters. If we can be finished hoping an incoming freshman can start, I would really be beside myself.
Dear Diary Predicts the Past III: Linebacker
In 2006, David Harris never came off the field for a single defensive play. Then he (and Prescott Burgess) graduated, and the Ezeh/Mouton era was born.
The cheapest thrill in MGoBlogging from '07 to '10 was making an Obi Ezeh joke. Here was a guy with limited ability who was subject to terrible coaching and forced into the center of Michigan's defense – wearing David Harris's number no less – for four terrible years because until Kenny Demens there was no alternative. Since linebacker mistakes are harder to spot than, say, free safety mistakes, you could get a lot of internet cred by intelligently pointing out the flaws in Ezeh's game.
If you hang around enough program insiders, you already know that in all of the important things in life, Obi Ezeh is a spectacular success. On the overwhelming majority of the plays he was involved in, Obi did something other than fail spectacularly. And then there were those times on the field when he failed, spectacularly.
That it took until midway through his senior year to displace Ezeh says a lot about the depth of Michigan's linebacker recruiting, and probably more about the coaching. Four years ago, was this the future we expected?
|Chris Graham||Sr.||Johnny Thompson||Jr.*||Shawn Crable||Sr.*|
|Jonas Mouton||Fr.*||Obi Ezeh||Fr.*||Marrell Evans||Fr.|
|Brandon Logan||Jr.||Austin Panter||Jr.||Brandon Herron||Fr.|
Incoming: (Marcus Wither-)SPOON!
But that AUGGGHHHH was a long time coming. M had a string of bad linebacker recruiting years that ended up giving playing time to a Sarantos and the vastly overrated McClintock a few years earlier before the enterprise was saved by Burgess moving in from safety and a Grand Rapids 2-star running back emerging as all-world MLB David Harris. By 2007 those guys were gone and it was the undersized seniors Graham and Crable, then hope.
The story of 2007 recruiting, other than "PLZ moar DBs!" was "PLZ moar LBs!" Then the LB haul turned out to be a JUCO junior and two fliers, and two of the freshmen transferred, and crippling fear set in. Little bits of happy flakes like "maybe Chris Graham will have a Bennie Joppru renaissance" and "Obi Ezeh practice hype!" and "Jonas Mouton's recruiting pedigree as a safety" were used to provide the necessary optimism to balance the previews that start with a tiny linebacker with Tyrannosaurus arms, yappy trash-talking spear, and blitz-only knife, and end with one guy down the depth chart with any hope of being good.
Tyranno-arms was Chris Graham, who was terrible as a sophomore, didn't play behind Burgess, and came into his senior year expected to raise even more internet ire. The expectation here was for Mouton's loads of talent to push Graham out of the way.
At MLB, Thompson and Ezeh were in a battle. What little had been seen of Thompson led Brian to conclude he was a guy born a generation too late, the best case scenario a Sam Sword who needs to come off the field on passing downs. Ezeh was our knight in Harris-ian armor:
Nobody's seen redshirt freshman Ezeh in the flesh yet, but the indicators on him are good. For one, he is David Harris: a nothing running back recruit out of Grand Rapids who Michigan unearthed and brought in as a linebacker. He even took the newly hallowed #45 once Harris graduated. In the fall he was moved to middle linebacker to compete with Thompson and Panter so he wouldn't spend his year idling behind Crable. Whenever people try to get you on the field, that's a good sign.
We now know that whenever people try to get you on the field, that could be a good sign for you, or a bad sign for the entire unit.
Crable? Ah, Crable. Expert attacker, not made for regular linebacking duties. The SAM position that kind of became Spur and is now again SAM was exactly what Crable was good at. He essentially made Michigan's defense a 5-2, with Crable serving as a sharp knife to terrify bludgeoning offensive linemen and wreak backfield havoc. When he's not doing this, Michigan would go to the nickel, with Brandon Harrison in for Crable. Brian in the preview:
As a 6'6" linebacker with chicken legs and a high center of gravity, he's not the sort to defeat a block and close out a hole. He doesn't make tackles three yards downfield. It's either in the backfield or after long pursuit.
As for depth and future: negligible or less after Mouton and Ezeh. The team was sucking up the departure of Mixon and Patilla, and Brandon Graham's move to DE, leaving just 9 scholarship players, of whom Mouton was the only consensus 4-star or higher. Logan was already a clear Anton Campbell Memorial Special Teamer. Pessimistic practice reports ruled out any immediate usefulness from Panter. Evans was a 2-star reportedly offered on advice that he had a better work ethic than Brandon Minor, according to Brandon Minor. Herron was an athletic project recruit who looked like a receiver. On July 31, 2007, until help arrived from the 2008 class, the future was Ezeh, Mouton, and bleakness:
Mixon transferred, Patilla is likely gone, and Graham is a defensive end. Mouton (who moved down from safety) and Ezeh are both drawing very positive reviews and are odds-on favorites to start next year, but past that we have only the two freshmen, one of whom was a two-star and the other a three-star regarded as a combine freak who needs a lot of work. Depth is also going to be an issue at linebacker going forward; we need at least three in this class.
As for those 2008 recruits, SPOON! was Rival's 160th overall at the time, and the board was full of linebacker prospects. Taylor Hill, a 3.5-star-ish guy was apparently off to Florida (the RR hire turned him back), but M was in good position for 4-star J.B. Fitzgerald, and Christian Wilson was close to coming in, but as an H-back. Because the offer list was so rich and large and positive feeling-y, in-state Kenny Demens didn't have an offer from Michigan, and insiders expected him to end up at that school people go to when they want to go to Michigan but don't have a letter of acceptance from Michigan.
All told, expectations were for a dark period that hopefully saw Mouton emerge as a killer to cover up deficiencies in the Ezeh/Thompson platoon, while the coaches schemed around the 3rd LB spot with two-LB sets (nickel/5-2) or sets that basically act like two-LB (3-3-5, 4-3 under) until the fruits of the 2008 haul ripened. The 2008 preview gave a kind 2 out of 5 rating because if Ezeh got better (rather than worse) each year, he'd be Schilling minus the recruiting hype. At that point Mouton was beaten for the starting gig by the workmanlike (pre-transfer) Marrell Evans, and Panter was your 2008 starting SLB. By Penn State '08 it was Thompson at SAM, Mouton terrible in coverage but awesome at blitzing, and Ezeh a convenient focal point for power running teams, which the Big Ten has those, and we talking about how we totally called it.
Ultimately this meant 'eh' to mediocre linebacker play for 2007-09, and then something approximating good in 2010 when Mouton and Ezeh are 5th year seniors with loads of experience, and the 2008 guys were upperclassmen.
How Did that Turn Out?
This is a picture taken from Brian's picture pages of Mouton losing contain again. RB#32 will now cut behind LT#77 and probably have enough time to cue a celebratory animation as he waltzes toward the end-zone as you throw your controller and curse the EAsshole who programmed suction blocking.
Then you realize this is real life and you go looking for a coach to throttle.
The depth chart at the beginning of 2007 fall practice tells a story, but the rest of the tale of linebacker in the 2007-10 is the clearest case in M history since DeBordian offensive playcalling in which the coaches failed their players.
Whereas the defensive backfield suffered from a lack of guys, the linebacker corps had a some guys with wildly varying abilities The truth of that statement can be found in the era's picture pages that weren't about bad DB play, bad backup DL play, or some bit of insight into the Offensive Genius of Mr. Rodriguez, from lining up Demens incorrectly to the consistent fundamental mistakes made by experienced 5th year seniors. It can be confirmed by the incredibly short careers of various linebacker coaches in this time:
2007: Steve Szabo – Former LB's coach for Jacksonville Jaguars ('94-'02) and DC for B.C. and Colorado State before that. Michigan's LB coach from 2006-'07, was let go with rest of Carr's staff when RR took over, and joined the Carr's-Michigan-in-Exile project of Ron English down the road in Ypsilanti.
2008-'09: Jay Hopson – A favorite MGoWhipping Boy, this Mississippi import couldn't a.) coach linebackers, or b.) recruit Mississippi. He was the fall-guy for the 2009 defense. Brian on Hopson postmortem:
Now that he's actually gone, it's no sugarcoat time: Hopson failed at all aspects of his job at Michigan. At least Tony Gibson can point to the walk-ons and whatnot when attempting to explain what went wrong with his section of the defense; Hopson had two redshirt juniors with three years of starting experience between them. They went backwards, and the big-time recruit backing them up also proved unready.
Meanwhile, a—possibly the—primary reason Michigan lacks depth on the defensive line and might have to turn down a couple of recruits who want to come was Hopson getting "commitments" from two defensive tackles who eventually went to Arkansas and Texas Tech on signing day.
This makes Rodriguez 0/2 on his new hires since coming to Michigan, with Greg Robinson currently sporting an incomplete. If Rodriguez doesn't make it at Michigan the guys he picked to run his defense will be a primary factor.
If the link to that Christmastime '09 post is purple on your browser, it's because I've linked it several times before thanks to this famous bit of prophesy fulfilled: 2010: GERG – You see a man with fantastically groomed white locks who takes the opportunity afforded by his first linebacker ward performing a linebacker play correctly to rub said linebacker's face with a beaver beanie baby. Throttle this man? Y/N
That's not to say they were working with a roster full of Ray Lewis and Jarret Johnsons (like some people). The transfer bug continued, as Evans and three of the '08 commits (Hill, SPOON!, and former safety Brandon Smith) followed Mixon and Patilla out the door. The recruiting story under Carr was, if you can believe it, even more desperate than the defensive backs, evidence: Panter. But where you can't get away from playing 4 DBs on most downs, you can get away with 2 every-down linebacker-y linebackers if you scheme for it, and that's what Michigan essentially did.
The result: zero depth behind the two summon creatures played above. At various points along the way, tiny walk-on Kevin Leach became a nominal starter, and not because of injuries to guys ahead of him. Suboptimal options J.B. Fitzgerald, Craig Roh, Brandon Herron, Mark Moundros and Brandon Smith were all forced into the lineup in hopes of plugging some of those holes between Adam Patterson and wherever Adam Patterson's shoes were landing. If the Opong-Owusu family had produced any more sons, they probably would have played as well.
The real story of 2007 to 2010 though was Mouton and Ezeh. Mouton came to be known in my (fantasy nerdy) head as the Goblin Sapper, equally liable to cause massive to enemies and his own party. Since the NFL apparently thinks they can make a linebacker out of him, and he was actually getting really good coverage drops whenever he knew to do so, I tend to blame the coaches more than Mouton for his 'define erratic' play. We can only wonder if he would have been our best WLB prospect since Dhani. Ezeh? At this point let's just and wish him luck in everything he does.
That's 2/3 of the tale. The third LB position, strongside, turned out fine. Crable was Crablicious in limited duty for English's nickel-happy '07, and in '08 John Thompson got to do his neaderthalish thing when the occasion called for it (which was basically just Wisconsin and MSU). In 2009 the SAM spot became Spur, a straightforward hybrid position that basically combines Brandon Harrison and Shawn Crable into a player who stays on the field for every down. In '09 it turned out to be Stevie Brown's lifetime calling. In 2010 it was the home of a rotating cast of freshmen: two redshirted Gordons and Carvin Johnson, who were not at all disappointing.
5 Point Scale of Expectation vs. Outcome: 3. We knew things were gonna be Mouton, Ezeh and pray for rain, and only hoped that experience, recruiting, plus a breakout or two from among the 2- and 3-stars, would be able to fix that. Ezeh got a little bit worse every year. Mouton had a major regression as a junior from a promising but mistake-y sophomore year, before getting a bit better as a senior. The recruits came but didn't develop. What really nailed this unit was the coaching, both the effects of changing schemes every year, and the overall poor quality of the Hopson/GERG coaching experience. Heading into 2011, the outlook isn't all that different, depending on your excitement level over Kenny Demens in a sensical defense (Brian: high, Misopogon: medium) and trust that one of the WLB guys will be serviceable (Brian: low, Misopogon: medium). For the future, the "I coached Ray Lewis" pitch seems to be working like free ice cream as Mattison has grabbed first dibs on a loaded regional LB class, and Mark Smith, who has followed Hoke around since '03, would really have to work to match the record incompetence of his last two predecessors.
Next week is the d-line and I promise it won't be this depressing again. Look: Biakabutuka going for 313.
Diaries after the jump.
OSU, Other Scandals: Go!
Thank you EGD. Not nearly enough of you people have yet to read his comparison of the Ohio State scandal to those at Florida State, USC, M Hoops, Bama Recruiting, and Miami (YTM), so I'm borrowing his chart:
Year of Sanctions
Players got $$ and free stuff
School officials got athletes grants illegally
31 (over 3 years)
Boosters paid HS coaches for recruits
21 (over 3 years)
Multiple players got $$ from one booster
4 (over 4 years)
Players in multiple sports got agent
30 (over 3 years)
For each he tells you what happened, the sanctions imposed, the relevance to tatgate, the key differences, and what it means for OSU. Read this Diary of the Week, and speak intelligently when people ask the summer's most burning question.
Returning starters is one of those nebulous metrics that are easy to track but not qualify. JohnnyV123 decided to try that and see if any patterns emerge. I'll let him explain the methodology:
Using Phil Steele's lists of RS I looked at the record for every team in a BCS conference plus Notre Dame in 2008-09, then listed how many starters they would be returning for the 2009-10 season, then added their record for the 2009-10 season, and noted the change in the amount of wins between the two seasons. I repeated that for the 2009-10 season going into the 2010-11 season.
If you play one more game than the previous year and win it, you get half a win, lose and it's minus half. Most relevant for M:
As the number of RS increased more teams did improve but I was surprised to see that not until a team returned 17 starters was it significantly more likely to. In the 15 or 16 RS number it still seemed close to a 50/50 to expect more or less wins.
Michigan returns 20, including the QB (he tracked that too).
Meanwhile our friend turn ferguson (heh heh, it's a funny name), has been goofing around trying to come up with an aggregate recruiting ranking. Part I was nice but Part II is the better and covers the same bases. I'm not in love with his methodology. His is overall ranking, but for those that don't rank there's a lot of normalization. We tried to do something like this last year as part of a greater recruiting database of Michigan offers (one of many dead projects). I'd rather see it converted to a five-point scale (star rating). As a check, look at each player's offers and assign a star value. If it's Bama, USC, M, OSU, every likely school in the region, and several intergalactic space organizations, that's 5 stars, and so on.
Still, let's not underrate. It's a very useful project, and one I hope to see refined and updated throughout the year. Bravo…ahem…Mr. Ferguson.
Fisk This Diary
I am pulling this left. You can thank me later.
I am thinking about starting a new feature called "Fisk this Diary." When somebody writes a Diary that is just plain wrong without being any of the things that get a Diary dumped to the board or worse, I'll call in some ringers and with your help do a fisk job. Reason is totally not to diss the guy who wrote it, but because refuting smart disagreement for me is one of the best ways to learn. This week:
FG kicker? We don't need no stinking FG kicker, by Nonnair
The diary is in two parts. The first part is where he says "Scoring DOES SO matter" with reasoning that basically amounts to "duh!" It is poorly reasoned and well refuted by Brian in Friday's "Ode de la Shotgun," so let's just ignore Part I and focus on the much more interesting title premise.
What Nonnair did here was to look at the situations last year when Michigan probably would have attempted a field goal if they had half-way competent kicker. His point -- which I can't help but point out completely contradicts his Part 1 premise about the 2010 offense not being able to move the ball when it matters -- is that the 2010 offense was so damn good that going for it on 4th down in these 7 situations (all in the 1st half) ended up giving Michigan more points than if they had a poor man's Jason Hanson kicking 7 field goals.
Yeah, first problem right there: 7 trials is not enough sample size to come anywhere close to a conclusion. However it's winking suggestively here that with an awesome offense, the crappy field goal kicking could be a net bonus by forcing Rodriguez out of his shell. Did it work? In those 7 trials, Michigan got the 1st down 5 times. Two of those successes ended in made field goals, and three in touchdowns. The maximum score attainable with 7 field goal attempts is 21 points. Michigan netted 27 points from the drives when they went for it. Better not to have a kicker than a great kicker. Case closed?
All that red in the Michigan zone is value earned by the offense that was lost by the kicker on obvious kicking opportunities. So on the field goals Michigan tried last year, we threw away 16 points, versus the six this study shows M getting back by being forced to do a statistically correct thing that teams don't usually do because their fans don't trust statistics.
If I can make a suggestion, just combine 3rd and 4th down stats for certain yardages to get an approximation of 4th down conversion success rate. Presumably the offense isn't using a 4-down strategy, and the defense is setting up on both downs with the same goal: stop the 1st down. If you wanna get specific, adjust for 3rd and 4th down defensive success rates for each team faced in those situations.
In other diaries that could use a fair amount of fisk, glewe lists some tangible intangibles for having a coach who "gets it," by which I think he just means a coach whose M.O. is all about the tradition and the brand. Marketing the brand is unquestionably something Hoke has done better than Rodriguez. But the diary seems to presume too much in suggesting the kids recruited by a "Tradition" PR campaign are more likely to stick around. Winning and continuity and a million other things prevent attrition. What happens when Mattison's linebackers don't all become Ray Lewis?
A little primer from M-Dog on what to hate about Big Ten schools. Though Nebraska = Slightly Dumber Wisconsin? No way, man. They're a trumped up Iowa. Wisconsin has sailing, and MUCH better bars.
After you've read M-Dog's thing and nodded at the part where Michigan fans are called arrogant (did you even have to look?), check out visiting Spartan intelligentsia WatersDemos's Machiavellian reasoning for why Pryor-type (unjustifiable) vanity is different than (justifiable) hubris. As with Machiavelli, I personally find the concept of a difference between amour propre and amour de soi rather pedantic. It's all arrogance to me.
Brooks took a week off from his Lacrosse Recruiting Analysis to go off on a tangent about how important Canada will be to Michigan's varsity future. It seems the country that invented the sport is prime recruiting ground for M, since most of their population lives as close to Detroit as New York. Their indoor game basically makes them the Floridian speed capital of the sport:
It almost looks like two completely different games. While outdoor lacrosse looks like basketball on a soccer field, box lacrosse is hockey played with the ball in the air rather than a puck on the ground (literally. Check out the goalie pads and how they hold their sticks. Also, feel free to check out any of the inordinate number of fight highlights they offer). You play only play 5v5 in box and on field the size of a hockey rink.
And finally, many simchah's and a big Mazel Tov to the new Mr. and Mrs. GoBlog, thanks to MGoResident Artist Six Zero:
To all of you young gentlemen thinking of tying the knot, your blog will be the ONLY time it is ever referred to with your name before the possessive. Oh, and No Ring, No Bring. Serious.
I think I may have just 'gotten' your avatar. Is that a Lewan-induced dead donkey?
2:46 of the Biakabutuka video....
But i am guessing you are referring to OSU's coach?
(It's just not as funny when you have to explain the joke...)
but am I the only one who saw the beginning of the thread and thought "Magic!!!"
Ok, so I'm married to a hot blonde, I have a job, I run marathons and am in relatively decent shape* . . . but I can't help myself. I absolutely love Magic The Gathering. My name on this site is also my name on MTGO and Xbox Live and I would love duelin' it up with any other member of the Mgo community.
*I mention these things to try to help end, or at least palliate, the MTG stereotype.
Edit: For the record, respectively, Misopogon, there is no fucking way the Ezeh would be GG. That dude could be splashed anywhere. Ezeh, I love you, but you are definitely a Giant Spider without "Reach."
if I wasn't trying to successfully finish med school I would be all.about it. as it stands I'm doing my damndest to not get sucked into a pre-release party...
There is nothing wrong being sucked into a pre-release. I work in oncology as a PA, and I promise, MTG-type thinking helps you deal with pts. Especially the noncompliant ones.
I actually caught a patient surfing the net looking at cards and had a long discussion with him about it (working in Peds) but my boards are aug 2 so I'm waiting until after that to get back at it
Did anybody else have to suppress the urge to curl up in a fetal position while reading the linebacker section? I feel so very cold.
these are outstanding, M. Very high quality writing, humorous, insightful, bold assertions - just great stuff.
Hey, thanks for the feedback (and the rest of this good stuff), Misopogon. I'm hoping to engage you for a second on the aggregate rankings because I very respectfully -- but very completely -- disagree.
The question that you're getting at is whether it's best to use rankings, star ratings, or offer sheets to rank these prospects. My view is that rankings are ideal for the very top prospects (roughly the top 200), but after that, there isn't enough information for the rankings to take you far. For the top 200 guys, I think it's a mistake to use average star ranking or offer sheet. Here's why:
When you move away from rankings, you add arbitrariness and error and lose a lot of useful information. Start with average star ratings. This might be a decent way to rate prospects outside of the top 200-300, but it doesn't give take advantage of the information available for really elite guys. Part of this is because on a site like Rivals, every player from #18 to #311 gets four stars. Rivals obviously thinks much more highly of the #18 player than the #311, and there's no good reason to dump that information. Related to this, the discontinuities are much too sharp. With a ranking system that focuses primarily on average star rating, dropping from the #18 to #311 player in Rivals' rankings wouldn't do anything, but dropping from #311 to #312 would do a lot of damage (dropping from **** to ***). Finally, this is a subtler point, but the stars themselves are arbitrary. Rivals only has 17 five-star players right now, but Scout has 50. With an average star rating system, you'd give Scout's rankings much more weight at the top, since they're throwing around more five stars than Rivals. (I wrote a lot more on this, but it was too long, so I'm happy to elaborate if you're interested.)
Using offer sheets is even more problematic. Two equally regarded recruits could have extremely different offer sheets. This could be because of the timing of when they committed (e.g., early commits are unlikely to grab as many top offers), the area where the prospect lives (e.g., SEC schools might be generally more inclined to offer Southern recruits), perceptions about the recruit's willingness to leave his home state, academic concerns, etc.
So dammit, get off my back. No, just kidding. Like I said in the original diary, there's no perfect way to do this, but I've kicked around a lot of ideas, and I still haven't heard of a better way to rank the top 200. After #200, though, I think it's an open question. My suggestion would be to use average star ratings with ties broken by aggregating whatever additional information is available (e.g., overall/position rankings). Thoughts?
I don't think that much granularity really will make the difference. What does it mean to be the #251 overall or the #291 overall? More precisely, since recruits are ranked by position, does it matter that much if you're the 40th TE or the 45th TE? I would say no.
As an easy rule of thumb, I figure that anybody that makes a 150/250/300 list is heavily scouted and most sites assign them the 5/4 stars. Beyond that, it's hard to tell within the sea of 3 stars who is there on ability and who is there because they didn't camp/late bloomer/play for a small terrible team etc. There is a consensus at the top with the 5 star/high 4 star level (as in, he's really good!), followed by a steep level of variation. This is to be expected, as obviously the rankings are subjective. You don't know why the #20 CB is ranked 200th but the #21 CB is ranked 240th. is that sign of a huge gap in talent? Or is it because the guy who was in charge of scouting the 21st CB didn't speak up, or didn't have enough influence? You're trying to get very granular on a flawed set of data.
To look at the variability, just take your matrix and look at standard deviations.
- For prospects 1-10, the average standard deviation is 6. Not great, but not too bad
- For prospects 1-25, the average standard deviation is 12. (16 for 11-25)
- For prospects 1-50, we're up to 20. (28 for 26-50)
- For prospects 51-100, the average standard deviation is 54 spots.
- For prospects 101-200, the average standard deviation is 83 spots
- For the remaining 20 prospects, the average deviation is 233 spots.
- As a whole, from 101-220, the deviation was at 107.
Taking a quick look at those numbers, there seems to be a consensus among the top 50 or so athletes. I don't feel like running the numbers, but I bet you can find a significant difference within the deviations of players between 1-50 and any other set of 50 players. Once you move past the top 50, the recruiting sites start disagreeing much more on individual placement.
So again, I think we're trying to reinvent the wheel here. Without each scout scouting all 1500 3*+ players, I don't think you're ever going to get a great ranking system beyond player #50 or so.
Some other fun things:
- Dropping ESPN doesn't have a huge impact to variances. They do go down (as to be expected if you remove 25% of a data set), but not to the point where you could really call out ESPN for being too crazy
- Your player with the most disagreement is Kwontie Moore (#218) with a whopping 453 as a standard deviation. Thanks a lot, Scout.
- Your player outside the top 100 that has the lowest deviation is Bralon Addison #111 ranked here. The sites agree, he's somewhere around the #137th best player in the nation. No site has him ranked above #119.
- Meawhile the player in the top 100 that has the most deviation is Travis Blanks, #69 at 95 positons. This is due to two services ranking him in the top 30, one at 124, and 24/7 has him at 215.
- A total of 15 prospects on your list rank better by aggregate than they did on any of the 4 lists.
Lots of fun stuff in here. Thanks for the response.
The one point on which we most clearly agree: these rankings aren't great past #200 (for those last 20 guys or so). Initially, I dropped them and called it a top 200, but I figured that someone would get irritated by that and want to decide for him/herself what to make of the last 20.
More generally, I also agree that there's a decent amount of variation across the sites. I disagree, however, that this is reason to give up on aggregated rankings. The fact that there's variation across the sites is exactly why it's useful to aggregate like this. If there were general agreement, then it wouldn't be hard to figure out who's where. In general, too, we should believe that a recruit who's ranked #251 is more highly regarded than one who's ranked #291. It's true that those are difficult judgments for the sites to make, but on average, I see no reason not to assume that the recruiting service generally likes a player who's ranked a little higher more than one who's ranked a little lower.
On another note, I really like those points at the bottom of your post, and you hit on something that I think is important. You said that 15 recruits ranked better in aggregate than in any individual ranking. Part of the reason that I think this type of aggregation is useful is a trick that numbers play on people. When I look at a recruit who's ranked, say, #95, #100, #100, and #105, I might be tempted to say that he's roughly the 100th most highly regarded recruit. That's not true. He's actually #75. This is hard to see without aggregated rankings.
(I just noticed that you stuck this in the original post, too -- thanks for that -- so I'll post my response there as well.)
You make a good case. I don't suggest getting rid of the prospect rankings actually, just normalizing everything to a 5-star (including all decimals) final score, so that it will quickly jive with readers' understandings. We know what a 4-star is, but not so much the 170th player, you know?
Just normalize the ranks to a 5-point scale and average them together. Here...
[spends entire day screwing with this]
|136||John Michael McGee||OG||TX||4.66||-||4.08||4.16||4.30|
|192||Justin Thomas (Bama)||ATH||AL||4.23||4.11||4.34||4.25||4.23|
|340||Alex De La Torre||ILB||TX||4.20||3.67||-||3.97||3.94|
|392||Ryan Anderson (Bama)||DE||AL||-||3.43||-||4.22||3.83|
|415||Justin Thomas (Texas)||CB||TX||4.10||3.46||-||-||3.78|
|470||Chris Brown (Calif)||RB||CA||3.73||3.51||-||3.80||3.68|
|529||Jay Jay McCullough||ATH||SC||-||3.26||-||3.54||3.40|
Good stuff! Thanks for taking the time.
In general, I like this idea. There might be a way to use this to extend well beyond the top 200, too. Basically, you could have pretty damn accurate aggregated rankings for the top 200 and noisier -- but still meaningful -- rankings after that.
I need to think more about this, though, to figure out how I'd do it. One thing that I think definitely needs work is those missing cells. Take Patrick Destefano, for example. You have him ranked #60 based entirely on his Scout and ESPN rankings. If Rivals and 247 had ranked him much higher than they do -- say #200 overall -- then his ranking actually would plummet in the rankings that you've done above. That seems like a major problem.
There are other subtle issues (e.g., what to do about differences in how many 5, 4, and 3 stars the different sites hand out; whether to call the highest 5-star a 5.5, etc.), but you've given me a lot to kick around here. Much appreciated and I might call for your help again if I get time to dig into this.
E-mail me - misopogon at att dot net - and I'll give you my spreadsheet so you can see how I did it. You can tweak. The adjusted star ratings are all percentiles, so that the top guy is a 5-star, the 250th guy is exactly 4 stars, and the 500th guy is 3.5 stars.
Then I average that ranking number with the site's star level (when there was another scoring procedure, such as with ESPN or Rivals, I used that since it's more accurate).
So the final tallies include rankings and star rating.
My biggest problem here was that 247 only gives you 247 guys, so really it's an average of ESPN, Rivals, and Scout after the 160 or so who are in all of them. It would theoretically be possible to make aggregate rankings like this from the entire database.
Is a long post...
I feel a strange urge to do the bidding of Misopogon...snark rising...
FWIW, Obi is too expensive for a 2/4. When I was playing Magic in HS, Elvish Warriors cost FF and came in at 2/3 with no special abilities. I wouldn't use that card unless it could be summoned for 2F. Jonas Mouton is interesting for Goblin decks though.
"The cheapest thrill in MGoBlogging from '07 to '10 was making an Obi Ezeh joke.""""
Something I will never understand given the protection Rodriguez was given here, including taking down any former player that dared utter an unkind word.
I'm slightly more optimistic about the current linebacker corps, adding in the incomers and competent coaching, and they might not be half awful.
here's to hope!
Please refer to Shawn Crable henceforth as "Shawn Late-Hit Crable."
Thank you. That is all.
OH, AND PLEASE DELIVER A FIERY AND CRUEL DEATH
TO COMCAST FOR THEIR HORRIFIC SPEEDS THIS HOLIDAY.
for my comment box to load! I didn't think it took bandwidth to set off fireworks....
Seperate Note: someone please tell me that Brady Hoke is doing a Matt Foley impression at Mock Rock this year...
You know, while hardly my favorite offensive coordinator, I think you overstate the case when you raise it to the level of incompetence. It was good enough to win a national championship. Was it more conservative than anyone outside of Schembechler Hall would have liked? Sure. But to compare it to a defense ranked in the 100's is ridiculous. What was his lowest ranked offense, 40 or something? Sounds like a dream for our defense at this point. The offensive genius of Rich would have been great if he was our offensive coordinator, and not our head coach. But Mouton is a great example of what incompetent coaching we had on defense. Because there was a talented player (see: NFL) who was clueless out there, as was his less talented teammates. Obi might have been adequate with a sniff of competent coaching. Which DeBord could at least do. He may not have been an offensive innovator or genius, but hardly compares to the malpractice we were subjected to on the other side of the ball the last 3 years.
And I'm not sure a weekly front-page "fisking" of Diaries is really going to be an encouragement for more content.
Very good point on DeBord.
The hatred of DeBord is something I have never understood, and something that, IME, Brian and those that parrot his talking points have wrong.
DeBord was OC for five seasons. During those years, we went to 3 BCS games, and won shares of 3 Big Ten Championships and One National Championship. Rankings for 1997-1999 aren't easily found, but his 2006 offense was 20th nationally (2007 was 58th, which, given partial seasons from Henne and Hart should be looked at as solid). In his offense, Tom Brady set single season passing records in 1998 (and would have in a full year in 1999).
His teams were 4-1 in Bowl games.
5-0 vs PSU
3-1 vs ND
4-1 vs MSU
2-3 vs OSU ( though I am tempted to give him a mulligan for 2007 with an armless Henne and legless Hart). Further, that loss in 2006 can't be put on his shoulders.
In 2006, his offense was equally as effective, per yardage and points rankings, as Offensive Genius Rich Rodriguez's was at Michigan last season.
If this is the measure of incompetence, sign me up.
I'm not even trying to argue in context of the never-ending, ever-tiring "RR VS. HOKE" smackdown. One thing Brian does, that I admire, is nearly always look at a situation critically (at least, for the most part), and I feel like the fact that MGoBoard, for the most part, mindlessly echoes the "Debord was an idiot" mantra is the opposite of that - people read that Brian said it and it must be true. For an otherwise thoughtful poster/diarist (Misopogon) to casually toss DeBord out as an example of Greg Robinson-level failure is perhaps the strongest example of that.
It's one thing to find DeBord's offense aesthetically unpleasant - and I think that's the bulk of the complaint I see. It's another to ignore his results as an OC at Michigan which, it should be said, gave us 3 of our 5 most successful seasons since...1993?
I don't think the problems people had with DeBord were W-L record or ppg, just the general philosophy of operating the offense conservatively when in the lead & VS weaker teams that theoretically lead to tighter games than we maybe should have seen.
I disagree that was the problem that Misopogon had, or he wouldn't be used as an example of incompetence.
Maybe after just watching an offense that ran up and down the field on the weak teams but failed to score on the good teams, Michigan fans will have a new appreciation for DeBord. His offenses tended to make everyone's eyes bleed against the bad teams and then show up spectacularly against the good teams (making everyone rip their hair out about what happened previoiusly.)
I suspect the DeBord dig was a flippant attempt to play to the zeitgeist of mgoblog with regards to DeBord without really meaning to suggest that DeBord was as bad as Robinson. Maybe it missed the mark but I doubt it was meant sincerely.
Your criticism of me is pretty much right on except for the part about parrotting Brian -- I got the "rock, always rock" thing from him, but I was anti-DeBord before I read this blog. Before I had this as my outlet, I used to write long e-mails to friends about Michigan football and several of those were frustration with DeBord. I had one in particular when he was hired back to be Special Teams Coordinator after failing at CMU, and in response to "are we so awesome we can just take someone's head coach as our special teams guy?" and I wrote back a very long "No - they're lining him up as a successor (evidence: recruiting coordinator) and that is a very bad thing."
The incompetence I speak of was mostly in game-day planning and playcalling, which always drove me nuts, even though I was a fan of Pro-Style offense at the time, because I was one of those half-smart fans who thought if only they'd take the shackles off of [Name of Artillary QB] and let him pass more to [Names of Great Receiver Trio] our offense would put games away instead of always keeping it in the air.
What I'm being unfair about here is DeBord did recruit and develop lots of top players in his time. The 1997 offense wasn't all that interesting, but it did its job. After that he had the fruits of a National Championship to run his offense, plus Tom Brady. Did we get Fargas/A-Train/Walker/Henson/Terrell because DeBord could recruit or because we won a Nat Championship? On the other hand the 2000 offensive line didn't just become great because of their names -- DeBord developed them well.
So, yeah, it's unfair to equate him to GERG, even if he did run into 8-man fronts cheating to the side everyone knew we were running to. That was me getting cheap when I wrote "most incompetent since..." and then had to finish that sentence.
Agree 100%. To look at the numbers & results its pretty tough to really criticize Deboring. What you pointed out about his philosophy vs. weaker opponents is also spot on I believe.
I could take a different angle on that though, what does a team learn or improve if they pull out all the stops and light up bowling green for 60pts? I can tell you that they definately give the later opponents the film to study and prepare with. Perhaps, following the logic that in big games, Debord often exceeded expectations with his offensive playcalling was a sign that he was smarter than is given credit for.
I thought part of RRods offensive stalls against the best opponents on our schedule, as well as the later season opponents was because he'd shown them everything against UMass & Bowling Green.
Better coaching and improved depth will improve our LBs over time. I hope the 2011 starters have a great year. I'm optimistic with better coaching!
I hope one of our current RB can play like TD Tim this season!!!! I can't believe the '95 season seemed so long ago!
The past three years defensively have obviously been nightmarish, but with Greg Mattison, who has been everywhere and is now back home, the defense better improve. I just can't take it much longer. One of the x-factors is whether William Campbell lives up to his hype or if he keeps goofing off. If it's the latter, expect teams to push him around and find easy holes to run through. If he lives up to his hype, he and Martin could really be a force to be reckoned with. Recruiting for '12 has been better than anyone has expected, and Hoke, although he doesn't sound smart, gets power football and has had success everywhere he goes. The offense will be great as long as Denard stays healthy, it's up to the defense to win games. It's hard to predict for this year, but I'm going to say 8-4 give or take a couple games.
Not sure if anyone pointed this out already but here's a quick sidenote on Harris vs. Ezeh. I saw both of these guys play in high school and there was a clear difference between the two.
First, Ezeh was primarliy used (or successful) as a FB. He was so strong that he just ran through people but also had enough speed to hit the edges which made him tough to defend. Somewhat like Kevin Grady, but not as good in HS. He played LB, but wasn't spectacular. Actually against my school it was raining and he couldnt get any traction and did nothing because we stuffed the line. Either way...he was more of an offensive than defensive guy.
Next, David Harris was a beast already in HS. Against my team, he had at least 17 tackles and was all over the field. If the QB dropped back, he was there to sack him. He was literally everywhere on the field...we couldn't stop him with 2 or even 3 blockers some times. Now, it's amazing to see just how good he turned out to be, but I was not shocked to see him do well in college.
So...there was a clear difference between the two in high school. David Harris actually didn't even play RB when they played us. Not sure if he was just not rated well as a LB, but from what I saw, the guy was a stud already in HS.
Just thought I'd throw my observations in there...