I did not make this headline up
Dave, in the hopes that you are intellectually honest, I am going to try once and only once to persuade you (like I have a couple others this morning - they failed by the way) and then we'll agree to disagree.
RR made huge mistakes - football mistakes - in his first year. He hired the wrong D coordinator, he ignored how to work with the media, stepped on some traditions, etc. That was unfortunate, but those were football mistakes, and I would be an idiot if I threw him under the bus after one year and when he didn't have his players. I will reserve judgment until he has his system and his players, about two more years, although there will have to be stunning progress this year, and I expect there to be. Yes, I would rather have had Les Miles, but I have RR and so he gets a chance.
RR is a hard ass. Lloyd was like your grandfather. RR runs a spread. Lloyd ran a pro-set. RR is a West Virginia boy. Lloyd is purebread Ann Arbor-style elitest. You couldn't have picked a more stark change from one culture to the next. A rational man expects extreme fallout. Bo lost 65 of 140 players from his first training camp because it was grueling. That's what coined the "Those who stay will be champions" phrase. RR is a workout fanatic and we've lost a lot of players, as expected. Last year was a result of that discord. The interviews for the article are with former players, some transfers, some NFL, all Lloyd guys. The two freshmen had nothing but love for the program and were deceived into talking about hours worked as material for the story.
RR left West Virginia and they were pissed. Thus he shredded documents (later proven untrue) and was Satan. RR arrived in AA a culture shock, hated by the AA elite and the Free Press. The establishment does not like the man. In Columbus, like with this story from the Lantern, they hear of a problem, then go ask the staff what their thoughts are and everyone chuckles and concludes more violations means a more honest staff. How do you think this story would have been spun with the Free Press (Rodriguez Leads the Big 10 in Recruiting Violations: The New Era of Recruiting at All Costs at Michigan).
Despite RR having the highest team GPA on record (strange how that is supposed to be hand-in-hand with these "violations"), despite only ONE of his kids having any disciplinary issues, he is corrupt and evil and so on. The day before he dismissed his one disciplinary problem, spun as pure evil by the Free Press, the Free Press documented how a kid was reinstated with MSU who assaulted a hockey player with nary a bad word. I wonder how the Free Press would have viewed RR reinstating an ex-convict.
Dave, if you can't understand that there is a vendetta in the press against RR, you choose to be blind. That's your choice. You may think RR is a media dud (he is) or that he can't coach (his record speaks otherwise, but perhaps he can't at this level, we'll see), but to think he is corrupt and, for example, OSU is not is to live in a pretend world. If you have any intellectual honesty, you'd acknowledge bullshit when you see it. Don't be mindless.
Before that, I wanted to give a summary of the informal voting that took place in the last thread as it related to the 2002 class (note: it would be helpful if more readers would vote – the number of votes was small, although the justifications were scholarly). Here was the 2002 class career ratings proposed after the McBean Rating definitions were debated:
The following votes were then cast:
Five-Star: Two votes
Four-Star: Three votes
Three-Star: Three votes
Two-Star: Zero votes
Three-Star: Two votes
Two-Star: One vote
Single votes for Bihl as a four-star, Breaston as a four, Tabb as a three and Riley as a three.
All votes are not equal as arguments of varying persuasiveness were offered. In the debate, wolfman81 almost perfectly captured what still remains a point of contention: how to use the NFL draft in our assessment -
Notice that in all of these cases, I consider the college career first. If there is some doubt about what category the player should fit into, only then do I consider the NFL draft. The NFL draft is a tiebreaker, but only when there is a tie to be broken. In my mind, 1st team All-American = 5-star McBean. All-Conference = 4-star McBean. Starter = 3-star McBean. There can be exceptions to this rule (Tom Brady was not All-Conference, but I think he should be 4 star due to his leadership on the field and other intangibles. As he was drafted, the NFL assessment backs this opinion up. The fact that he will likely be a first ballot NFL hall of famer cannot bump him up to the 5-star discussion; at the same time, it does not harm my 4-star rating.) But, I think that this rule sets a minimum standard.
The new 2002 McBean Ratings are as follows with only one change – Harris drops to a four-star. Mark Bihl was pushed hard as a four-star, but his career falls short of making a significant impact, just as Harris clearly falls short of an elite career.
The conclusion one would then draw from this data is that the 2002 class dramatically underperformed. To give you an idea, this would represent a drop in the team rankings (if the rankings were based upon average stars) from 10th to 21st, using an average of the 2002 through 2009 data.
Now, the problems:
- How do we handle the math for players like Dann O’Neill, Quinton McCoy and Taylor Hill? Players who never saw the field and did not stay. My original method counts these players in the Rivals list, but does not count them at all in the McBean list. For example with the 2002 class above, the 21 players in the Rivals list are all counted and the denominator is 21. For the McBean review of their careers, McCoy and Berishaj didn’t have a career at Michigan, so they are not counted and the denominator to determine the average star rating is 19. If we eliminate the two players from the Rivals list, do we fail to take into account the reference point of our evaluation: the quality of the entire incoming class as judged by a recruiting service? Yet, by taking them out of the McBean career list, do we fail to punish the staff for recruiting players who could generally be considered a bust? However, if we rate them a zero or even a two, we ensure that pretty much every class will underperform badly (counting both as a zero, the McBean average would drop to 2.81!). I am both befuddled and in need of a paragraph break.
- Second, the ease with which we rate invisible players as two stars devastates our average rating. We rarely recruit two-star players, yet because every team logically has many anonymous backups (seventeen preliminary McBean two-stars over the first five classes I’ve looked at), we have exceeded a ratings Chandrasekhar Limit and pulling each class down into a black hole of underperformance. Case in point, I offer the 2003 class which, if this class doesn’t qualify as a recruiting success and overperformer, then none will:
EDIT, August 29th, 9:24am: Gentlemen, after reading below and thinking about the problems presented, I feel we made a mistake with the definitions. Any viable Michigan players - this includes backups who do not see the field - should be get three stars. We could use this yardstick: any player who makes the two-deep during his career gets a third star. Also, we should be more generous with four stars for good starters like Bihl and Kraus.
Here's my reason: we must remain connected to our baseline system, Rivals. It is our point of comparison. Without a close connection, we can make no claims about under and overperformance. We recruit many three-stars, and while individually each kid hopes to be the next Pat White, the 30,000 foot reality is that those three-stars, en masse, are destined to be the backups. They are not underperforming, they are performing as expected.
This pushes some - not many and not enough to unbalance the finite four-star numbers - up a notch, because Mark Bihl and Adam Kraus cannot coexist with a three-star backup.
So, I am thinking we need to predominantly loosen our three-star standards to allow us to recognize backups as meeting expectations.
The McBean Definitions discussion was lively.
Only minor changes resulted from the debate:
- I removed the reference to a “five year starter.” Amazing that so many different sets of eyes (except cali4uofm) could miss that, although it was referenced elsewhere.
- I clarified the McBean four-star rating a little bit. The 2002 class has two guys who I initially rated as four stars – Mark Bihl and Rueben Riley – that I have dropped to three stars given that they were undrafted.
Three other issues were discussed:
- brad voiced a concern that if all starters at Michigan get three stars, there is no differentiation between a weak starter and a solid three-star guy like Chris Graham, for example. This is a reasonable observation, because I had Mark Bihl and Rueben Riley rated as four-star starters but backed them down to three (as I considered them borderline four-stars) because they were undrafted. So are both Mark Bihl and Darnell Hood three-star players? That needs to be further debated in this thread.
- There was some debate about punters and kickers, but I think the exception to a punter or kicker as a lower rated player can be handled in the rare event a Space Emperor decides to play ball on our planet.
- The dominant concern was using the NFL to assign career star ratings. SanDiegoWolverine voices this concern:
I don't think the NFL is that relevant in the sense that how our players perform in the NFL shouldn't change our perception of their value/production when they were at Michigan. I'd rather have Rod recruit players that dominate while they are at Michigan and underperform at the NFL than vice versa.
The draft is a national comparison, a national measure of the athletes.
And summarizes, I think correctly:
I agree with BlueBulls that ONLY the draft can inform a McBean rating, and only as a tie-breaker. Steve Breaston is a classic example. Four-star or five? He seems to be on the cusp – look at all the Michigan records and his current value to Arizona – but in the end, he is a four and the draft – 5th round – gives us a valuable assessment tool of his potential (developed at Michigan) at the time his career in college ended. So the NFL draft stays as a tie-breaker, and the final McBean Definitions will be:
"Elite" = 5*
"Significant Impact" = 4*
"Solid" = 3*
I think that you will find that, barring a few exceptions, most of those that get that fifth star will be first-rounders or high second-rounders; the second group will get drafted; and the third group will make up the bulk of the rest of the starters.
Let's begin with the 2002 class. There are some interesting borderline cases in this class. Given the currently assigned career ratings, this class underperformed significantly.
Note: On Monday, I posted Sylvester McMonkey McBean Helps Settle the Pat White Question Once and for All, complete with annoying HTML that I couldn’t edit out of existence without starting over. Won’t make that mistake again. What follows is the digested feedback for improving the McBean Rating System, the purpose of which, to quote myself, is to develop “a collaborative, ongoing post-recruitment rating system that will allow us to determine if, in the Rich Rodriguez era, perfect-fit three-stars are more desirable than random four-stars.” Our goal is to settle the Pat White Question once and for all.
Thanks all for the quality feedback. In the original post, I proposed that players be rated over their career at Michigan using definitions that approximated the spirit of the Rivals star ratings to see if, on average, players exceeded or fell short of expectations. The effort would span the later Carr years and, of course, the Rodriguez era going forward. How players performed relative to expectations would give the mgocommunity interesting information on the ability of a coach’s system to evaluate and develop talent. For more detail, the original post.
We began with these definitions.
These were found to be too loose. SanDiegoWolverine dabbled with the idea of a two-faceted rating system, but my IQ will not permit that level of complexity, so I used the following comments to revise the definitions above.
I'm not sure that there is a 1:1 correlation between the Rivals rankings and the McBean rankings.UMFootballCrazy found some numerical guidelines in Rivals:
Example (5 star): Elite, Dominant player, Complete package. Projects to the highest level. vs. Stud. Multi-year starter. All-something. NFL player.
I'll take "All-Something" to mean First team All conference in a BCS conference. That is 6 conferences x 22 players per all conference team = 132 -- plus kickers -- 5 star players. Does Rivals hand out 100 5 star ratings that often?
Players are also ranked on their quality with a star ranking. A five-star prospect is considered to be one of the nation's top 25-30 players, four star is a top 250-300 or so player, three-stars is a top 750 level player, two stars means the player is a mid-major prospect and one star means the player is not ranked.It seems that unless there is some loyalty to the proportion of star ratings allocated, then the McBean Rating loses its credibility. For example, if we dole out twice as many McBean five stars, is that Michigan developing talent or is that rose-colored glasses? It seems the NFL draft can serve in an advisory capacity, part of a checks and balances system.
UMFootballCrazy develops this:
5 Star *****He has more good stuff, but I steal so much of it down below, that I won't repeat it here.
This is a player who was drafted in the 1st round of the NFL entry draft and is thus regarded as one of the top 32 players in the nation (mirroring Rivals top 25-30 prospects) or baring that was an All-American and/or a 4 or five year starter (i.e. started as a freshman and started virtually every game they played at Michigan) and played at an "elite" level during their playing career.
Nedved963 cautions, however:
[M]oving forward with Rodriguez it's admitted his style is for college, and success in the Pros is not that great a correlation for the skill and effectiveness of Michigan's current players.I think Colin boils it down:
How you determine those expectations could certainly be done incorporating NFL performance.
And I think that is key. We don't want the NFL draft or an NFL career to answer entirely the question as to whether a player fell short of or exceeded expectations at the University of Michigan (i.e., Tom Brady), but it can be a tie-breaker, if you will, a check against overrating our beloved players (Breaston a five-star?) and ensuring proportion to the Rivals system.
As a result, I offer for final review, the new McBean Rating System definitions. I use the Rivals definitions (d'oh!) for the Rivals definitions. Special thanks to UMFootballCrazy as I steal a great deal of his language, but shift the emphasis, using the NFL as sort of a tie-breaker for those players on the cusp in the McBean ratings. However, I move away from UMFootballCrazy's proposed definition for the lower star players because I think there is a potential hazard to mishandling the lower rated players*:
Thanks again. If we settle on these definitions, I will re-rate the 2002 through 2006 classes.
* Again, to quote myself: "To be honest, I think some of the most important rating will take place down at the bottom of the scale. If you look at the classes above, what drags down a class (and gives Lloyd's classes a slight "underperform" grade) is guys ending up as two stars...being "invisible."
That is an area that has more impact on this analysis than whether Breaston gets a fifth. Since Michigan almost never recruits two star position players, is it fair that so many recruits end up as two stars because they can't get on the field?"
Note: This Diary comes with the standard disclaimer that recruiting ratings are subjective, and that this amusing exercise is not intended to answer the fourteen unanswerable questions.
Several mgocolleagues have objected to my disturbing avatar, the congenial visage of Gothmog, the Morgul lieutenant from the Lord of the Rings movies (not, for fellow nerds out there, to be confused with his namesake, Gothmog, the Lord of the Balrogs, from more ancient Tolkien history). I have a potential replacement for this avatar: Sylvester McMonkey McBean of Sneetches fame.
Why McBean? Well, Mr. McBean adds and subtracts stars with his Star On and Star Off machines, which is the exact skill set that we are looking for if we would like to answer the Pat White question once and for all.
Our new coach arrived in Ann Arbor with a reputation for finding diamonds in the rough, and for turning three stars into five stars with one part eye of newt, one part Mike Barwis, and two parts mad offensive genius. Was this by necessity or design? Rich Rodriguez appears to have an aptitude for spotting hidden talent and Mike Barwis is clearly able to turn 45-year-old couch potato fantasy leaguers into Ray Lewis, but are we making lemonade out of lemons? Has Rich simply been forced in the past to settle for a kettleful of lower-rated players and relied on outliers in a normal distribution to produce the occasional Pat White? <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
The debate has intensified since, after a three and nine season, Michigan recruiting has begun to resemble West Virginia recruiting a little too closely for comfort. The optimistic among us believe that Rich Rodriguez can create a juggernaut from three-star players that are a perfect fit for his philosophy and also happen to possess that killer attitude not present in such players as Gabe Watson or Alex Mitchell. Said killer attitude, combined with said killer, Mike Barwis, may be the foundation of Rich McMonkey McBean’s purported eye for diamonds.
How do we move this question from the realm of water cooler optimism to something more analytical? That is the purpose of this post. I am proposing a collaborative, ongoing post-recruitment rating system that will allow us to determine if, in the Rich Rodriguez era, perfect-fit three-stars are more desirable than random four-stars. Of course, we all acknowledge that perfect-fit four-stars (or perfect-fit five-stars, for that matter) are better than perfect-fit three-stars, but all these questions can be addressed with a system that continues to rate recruits after they begin playing football at the University of Michigan
Here’s where the mgocommunity comes in. As the work of one grotesquely deformed orc, this enterprise would hardly be taken seriously. However, if the career ratings that follow the recruitment ratings are the consensus of what can be objectively described as the most sophisticated and knowledgeable football blog community out there, then we might have something. I am not polishing the apple here; anyone who reads the Diaries on a regular basis knows that this is accurate.
The point here is that we want to expose where recruiting ratings were/are wrong. In the 2002 class above, for example, Rivals was slightly wrong about Gabe Watson and very wrong about David Harris. There was no malice or incompetence in their being wrong; they just were off in projecting those players. It is an inexact science. It is also important to note that this uses the recruiting ratings in a specific way: as a college career projection and not a snapshot of their status at the end of their high school career. Only in this way can the information be useful to us.
What now follows is a request for feedback regarding preliminary judgment calls I have made to launch this system. Which needs a name. Perhaps McBean Rating, but I am open to suggestions here.
The definitions are critical. These career ratings must mirror the intent behind the recruiting ratings for our conclusions to be useful. (Note: All recruiting ratings used are from Rivals.)
Question 1: Do you agree with these definitions for the two rating systems? If not, please suggest changes.
Question 2: What should be done about players that leave the team? Consider 2008. Dann O’Neill was a four star player coming in; does he count when he leaves after a year? What about a Justin Feagin, who played a little and was kicked off the team? Clearly, Taylor Hill or Marcus Witherspoon, who never put on a uniform, should not count…but is this so clear? Should there be no penalty for recruiting someone who leaves? Remember, the ranking of the class coming in is based upon Dann O’Neill and Taylor Hill being there.
This is a critical question in my opinion. If we start removing players who don’t play much or at all, then we’ve messed with that cryogenically preserved Team Ranking that is a touchstone in the Pat White debate. <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Michigan has had six players from 2008 leave, including four 4-stars. Newsflash: that drops that class to 15th or 16th, all other classes staying the same. Which, of course, all other classes are not the same. Who the hell knows what Alabama’s ranking after the fact truly is? We obviously can’t re-rank the Rivals rankings; we must work with signing day class.
For purposes of making a start, I have judged that if the player sees the field for more than a cup of coffee, they get a rating. With this model, O’Neill, Wermers, Witherspoon and Hill do not get a rating from McBean, but Feagin and McGuffie do. The star calculation for a class over time, then, compares the final average from Rivals to only the McBean rated players. In the 2002 class above, all 21 players produce an average of 3.52 stars. The McBean average is 3.37 stars using a denominator of 19, not 21. Thoughts?
Question 3: Check my conclusions for lightly used players. This is where the mgocommunity will be critically helpful. I could barely remember some of these players and Googlestalking was marginally productive. For example, did Quinton McCoy and Tom Berishaj in the 2002 class ever play? The greatest inaccuracies will be for those players who played a little, like Feagin, but I don’t remember because it was years ago.
Question 4: If you disagree with my McBean rating for any player, please educate me. I am getting old and my memory is not what it used to be.
Here are the first three classes in which all the players have a final McBean rating (none are playing college ball any longer). It would seem, based on a preliminary review using the tentative rules that Lloyd’s classes underperform slightly. It will be very interesting over time to see how Rich’s classes do.
Here are the next two classes that have incomplete McBean ratings.
I will somehow compile the feedback and present a final McBean Analysis for each “closed” class. As each class becomes closed, I will present the final after feedback. Hopefully, Rich produces guys on the left.
The Alabama recruiting abuses have always deeply troubled me, and I very much enjoy when Brian takes them to task. Despite those efforts, I still think the issue is under-exposed.
Alabama cheats*. Alabama’s cheating is more effective and has far greater impact than any conventional cheating one might consider, such as paying recruits or bribing officials. Alabama is playing with a significantly expanded roster. It would be akin to a 30 man roster for the Red Wings with no salary restrictions on the top end. Or John Beilein being able to work with 17 scholarships for an extended period of time. Those who point out that teams that oversign still have to trim down to the 85 scholarship limit apparently refuse to acknowledge it is the marginal players who will be “trimmed”; the best players will remain. For those who reject the expanded roster analogy, then perhaps it is similar to having a developmental squad from which budding stars can be promoted and to which disappointments can be demoted and eventually “let go.”
I have developed nothing new here, just restated a problem we’ve all discussed before. What is missing is the full impact of oversigning.
As a refresher, here are the last four classes for Alabama and Michigan.
Alabama oversigned by 22 players and Michigan undersigned by 1. I don’t care about any individual stories – players who didn’t make the grade, players who changed their minds, players abducted by Andromedans. Doesn’t matter. The reality is that those stories, those excuses have to be there because of the oversigning. The stories do not create oversigning, oversigning creates the stories.
That is a twenty-three player advantage over the last four years. A whole class, consisting of four 5 star players, ten 4 star players and nine 3 star players.
What would Michigan be like today if they had at their disposal the cream of an additional crop? Let’s put faces and names on such a class. Given that Michigan has only had five 5 star players over the last four years, we’ll need four of those. I drew lots and William Campbell was the odd man out. Next, we need ten 4 star players, or 2.5 per year (to spread the tenure of the players out over the four classes). Since I can’t cut a player in half, I went 3, 2, 3, 2, taking the best and worst 4 star from each class and the middle-ranked 4 star for the classes where an extra player was needed (if an even number, I flipped a coin). I needed nine 3 stars or two per class with one extra coming from the class with the most three stars, again top, bottom and middle when needed.
Here’s your class:
These would be additional players in the system over the last four years. The names are a reference point – envision an identical player of equal skill that would be part of the team. Sort of like the mgoblog YMRMFSPA.
Now, what would having that additional talent do to our two deep?
By my crude analysis, that would be an additional five starters for the 2009 team with three more breaking into the two deep. Feel free to disagree here and suggest other combinations.
I admit I have Mallet-clone starting over Tate. That may produce some debate; however, a highly-rated, five star veteran, even if not a prototype spread QB, surely would get the nod to start this season. Look at the center of the OLine! Schilling, Molk and Boren-clone with Schilling-clone backing up both guard positions. Very nice. I give the Matthews-clone the nod over Hemmingway, but the wisdom of two possession receiver types is open for debate.
On defense, we are a good sight better. If we keep the 3 traditional linemen the same, we now have Graham-clone as the Deathbacker. Is he too big for that role? Then we can move him to DT and have Van Bergen backup, which might bring another clone into service with the LB corps. A DLine of Graham, Martin, Graham-clone is frightening. We have Ezeh-clone backing himself up in the middle, which supplies nice depth. At the corners, we have the two Warrens starting with the two Cissokos backing them up, which, in my opinion, makes for the deepest set of corners in the conference, and one of the top CB groups in the nation. Our nickel and dime packages would be lethal.
No real help at the Safety position because we are drawing on our own history here!
From a distance, on offense I see a powerful, very deep interior OLine to clear the way for Minor Rage, and a veteran QB with an intriguing backup. On defense, I likely see a front four of Graham, Van Bergen, Martin, with Graham-clone at Deathbacker, which is downright fearsome; two players rated as preseason All Big 10 selections in the front four. And I see an all world CB group with four guys who would probably start on any team in the Big 10.
Maybe Alabama is on to something after all.
* As does any team that egregiously oversigns.