spoiler alert: i linked this
For an attosecond, I thought the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire would make good raw material for the following Sparty discussion and a clever title to a diary entry. Then I instantly apologized to my computer screen. Rome fell because it was once great. The Spartan “fall” I am going to discuss is akin to drunk trying to pull himself up only to immediately face plant again.
We have a great pleasure before us, Wolverine fans: years of Sparty anguish.
Here is the Sparty problem in a nutshell: their frame of reference is that failure is an event measured in geological time. What they fail to understand is that Michigan failure will be measured in Planck time. They had an aberrant year or two in the 60s that they ferociously cling to, like an abused Lena clinging insanely to Thomas Covenant after she had grown old. Now, the Sparty faithful see Michigan reeling from the events of last season and, bolstered by an uptick in recruiting that is being hailed in the local press, believe in their heart of hearts that MSU an UM are in the process of trading places and that Michigan's fall will be long and low.
The problem is that they’ve ridden a dinosaur to a horse race. Not the freaky fast, velociraptor type of dinosaur, but a stegosaur, I think. (Given the brain size of the stegosaurus, I think the comparison is a double winner!) It actually is named a Dantoniosaur, and it fundamentally lacks the reflexes necessary to succeed in a Holocene football age. I actually think that Dantonio would have been a damn good coach about 20 years ago. He espouses smashmouth football and power running, but today he is a pale reflection of Jim Tressel; all the stodginess of Tressel without the periodic flash of creativity to keep everyone other than the SEC in a low state of fear. The only solution to his Dantoniosaur-ness is to recruit top ten talent, and that just ain’t gonna happen.
Here’s where Michigan sips from the cup of schadenfreude (it’s a shame such a cool word has become clichéd). The Dantoniosaur should bring enough to the game to stay around for a long time, a la John Cooper. And against Lloyd Carr, I think he would have had success, nipping just enough out of our 2 out of 3 winning rate to irritate. But Rodriguez is a whole different animal, and a warm-blooded one at that. Once he gets his wits and his system and his players fine tuned, cold-blooded MSU will represent at most a speed bump, and those extra four star players that have suddenly appeared in their Christmas stocking will melt away.
Each year, they’ll be good enough to thump the chest a bit. And 4 out of 5 times, RR will go Oklahoma on them. I can’t wait!
The Barking Sphincter has just given voice in his post below to a real, though irrational, voice in all our heads. It is wholly irrational because it draws premature conclusions. It is akin to him noticing a blemish on his skin and fainting in horror because he’s sure it is melanoma. Or declaring a pharmaceutical study with an n of 1 is definitive. His world is possible, yes, but not probable given the track record of the coach in question.
Yet he represents, like a monster-shaped shadow on the wall of our room when we were six, the gibbering irrational terror that Michigan football might not get better very soon. Various posters tried turning on the light to show the Sphincter that the shadow is just the three bags of circus peanuts he was saving for a special occasion, but he squeamishly delights in the thought that the monster is real. That’s his problem.
The evidence has been presented. But there is one additional piece of evidence that I want to offer, and it takes this form: Why is the current recruiting class predictive of peril (if you grant that the class finishes out as it has started)?
I have heard people talking about Penn State and Michigan State and Iowa all being much more fearsome than Michigan this upcoming year. But based on what level of talent? For example, the 2007 Penn State class averaged roughly 5.6 for a Rivals Rating. If Jones, Avery and Williamson (who have no RR now) among our current commits get rated around 5.3 or 5.4, then that will be (roughly) where this Michigan class is. Now, I don’t want to do a Sphincter move and use an n of 1; the previous Penn State class was better. But so was ours.
The point is, many, many teams have been, over the years, highly regarded with the kind of talent we’re bringing in now – old WVU teams, second tier SEC teams, teams like Boise State, Big 10 teams not named OSU and Michigan. You’ll slap me with scheme and GERG being new and freshman QBs…but that’s not my point. My point is simply that this level of talent predicts nothing about a decline or about any inability of Rodriguez to win in the future. .
Would all five stars be better? Of course. But this talent – particularly if it fits the scheme – does not predict bad things.
Let’s take Iowa and make my Title relevant. Iowa coaches, to paraphrase Robert Ludlum in the Matarese Circle, would kill their mothers in front of their priests for a class like we are assembling right now. Not one of their last five classes averages the star ratings that this class is averaging. None come close. And, even though Iowa lost Shonn Green and two OLineman to the NFL, they are routinely picked above Michigan with 8-4 and 9-3 being bandied about. Would you take their players above ours? Ferentz over RRod? I am not being naïve – I am aware of various mitigating factors – all I am suggesting is that this recruiting class predicts absolutely nothing at this point. It certainly does not predict, in my opinion, a weak season in three or four years from now when the meat of this class is on the field.
Disclaimer: This may have been talked about before. And this may be such an old and tired subject, that just seeing the title causes many of you to groan. Then seeing Meeechigan Dan causes even more of you to groan. I will keep it brief; just killing time.
RR appears in our eyes to be Hugh Jackman getting excited about dates with fat girls when he should be holding out for dates with Adriana Lima or Marisa Miller.
I would suggest that Hugh's plan is to never be without a date ever again.
Now that this bad analogy is over, I will translate. I think RR is shooting for a 25 man class, perhaps as high as 28. He wants raw material. Last year, he learned that the danger of only asking Marisa and Adriana out is that if both say no, you are sad and alone. At this stage, I think he is falling back on his tried and true WVU recruiting strategy: finding system guys that are diamonds in the rough and lots of 'em. He knows that, with Michigan gravitas behind these offers, he can stockpile as many as 15 three star system guys while he waits for the supermodels to call him back. He knows there will be attrition and that he can easily accommodate a class of that size without even sniffing Saban territory. He is not going to wait ever again (until success brings 'em a running, like with Texas recruiting, if that ever happens) to fill holes in his roster. Every hole will be filled with guys he feels can contribute before Sentreal or Corey or Gholston pull the trigger.
In other words, last year while basking in the glow that the Michigan name opens all doors, he perhaps said, "Jay, don't offer that guy yet, we're waiting on Pearlie" or "Bruce, let's see if we can get so and so in the fold before you make that trip to Maryland for that one kid."
The danger, of course, if that a position looks filled, maybe someone is scared away. But his advantage is that with the lower-rated guys in the fold first, what stud is going to be scared away?
Finally, I would say that this is not a permanent strategy, but a two-year strategy. To get the roster loaded with bodies while success on the field comes. Once gridiron success is combined with the Michigan name and the recruiting effort of this staff, RR can ease back a little on the system guys.
Am I making lemonade out of lemons?
So here I am watching Pittsburgh play Xavier last night, and I am wondering about the talent I am seeing on the floor. Each position looks very skilled, and I am comparing them in my mind to Novak and Douglass and Lee and Merritt. It seems like no comparison, but Michigan came very close to playing in the Sweet Sixteen, so I ask myself: "Self, is Beilein great, am I underestimating our guys or what?" Don't get me wrong. I LOVE Novak and Douglass and Lee - love those guys who play their hearts out and play smart. I had no skills but played hard and therefore didn't suck at times.
So, what am I looking at (pulled only guys with double digit MINS per game)?
NOTE: Sorry about the readability issue. It looked much better as I laid it out.
NAME PTS RBD AST TO BLK STL MINS
S. Young 18.9 6.2 1.1 2.4 0.8 1.0 31.7
D. Blair 15.6 12.4 1.2 1.2 1.0 1.5 27.1
L. Fields 10.7 2.5 7.5 2.0 0.1 0.8 32.2
J. Dixon 8.5 2.6 2.0 1.0 0.7 1.4 24.7
T. Biggs 6.6 4.3 0.7 1.0 0.5 0.4 24.0
B. Wanamaker 5.8 3.3 2.1 1.7 0.2 0.8 18.7
G. Brown 5.3 3.2 1.3 1.1 0.3 0.5 19.4
NAME PTS RBD AST TO BLK STL MINS
B. Raymond 14.1 4.1 1.4 1.6 0.3 0.5 30.3
D. Brown 13.7 6.1 1.9 1.7 0.9 0.7 29.5
C. Anderson 9.9 5.5 2.5 2.3 0.5 0.7 27.2
J. Love 6.7 5.9 0.5 1.3 1.2 0.4 21.7
D. Jackson 6.6 3.5 2.7 2.0 0.1 1.3 27.1
T. Holloway 5.5 2.0 2.2 1.9 0.1 0.7 21.5
K. Frease 5.4 3.7 0.8 1.7 1.3 0.3 14.6
B. Redford 5.1 0.6 0.6 0.6 0.1 0.3 12.8
J. McLean 4.4 4.4 0.7 1.1 0.7 0.4 14.6
Who are these guys that make up two very good teams and what does it say about Michigan basketball (if anything)?
Their star rankings and year...
NAME STAR YEAR
S. Young **** SR
D. Blair **** SO
L. Fields **** SR
J. Dixon JR
T. Biggs **** SR
B. Wanamaker **** SO
G. Brown **** SO
NAME STAR YEAR
B. Raymond *** SR (2005 commit)
D. Brown *** SR (2005 commit)
C. Anderson JR
J. Love *** JR
D. Jackson **** SO
T. Holloway **** FR
K. Frease **** FR
B. Redford *** FR
J. McLean *** SO
I put the "2005 commit" next to Raymond and Brown because they are showing more eligibility, so I assume redshirts, but something ain't right in the database.
Anyway, there is a lack of five stars - although Pitt is loaded with four stars - and clearly leadership from the 2005 guys. As a formula, it would suggest that Beilein can make serious hay with a steady stream of seniors and maybe a four star guy in every class. Both those things are very likely to happen, as Michigan will clearly go in a different direction than Ohio State...
"The 7-foot freshman [Mullens] announced Thursday he would declare himself available for the NBA draft, the fifth Buckeye's player in the last three seasons to leave after playing one year."
I think the upside for Beilein is scary.