“Hi, my name is Jim Harbaugh. Thanks, Mr. Wahl [Ed. A-Orange Bowl communications director]. Uh, sorry I wasn’t able to get on the call earlier. I was on a plane. Thanks for coming back at this time. If you have any questions, I’d be glad to answer.”
Being at the ‘86 game against FSU in Ann Arbor—I believe that was your senior year—you won by two. I just remember it being probably one of the worst officiated games I ever saw. What do you remember about that ballgame?
“What was the final score? I don’t remember the final score.”
20-18, you won.
“Oh, it was two points? Okay. I just remember how great Deion Sanders was. That was what stood out in my mind. And Coach Bowden, he was really cool. I remember running and scrambling, I scrambled left and went back to the right toward their bench and ended up having—probably ran almost eighty or ninety yards one way to the one side then all the way back to the other side, and I got thrown out of bounds. I just remember him being cool and giving me a smile, a pat on the back, and he said something. But my coach that year, Bo, and Coach Bowden were coaches in the Hula Bowl, so I got to know him a little bit better at that point, too. Those are the two things that stick out most in my mind from that game.”
You would have been in the NFL, but did you watch that ‘91 game?
“Yeah, I remember not seeing the entire game. I do remember watching it. FSU won that one. Back-and-forth, intense game.”
It was 51-31, I think.
We just talked to a few of the players and they were bringing up the Christmas Camp you guys did last year and doing that again this year. Given the fact that you guys were aiming for the playoff spot and came up a little bit short, is there any concern making sure those guys are still motivated and still willing to put in the work here for a few more weeks?
“Um…well, I know I am. I know I’m motivated and ready to put in the work, and looking forward to it.”
[After THE JUMP: Florida State, one last statement on officiating, and great memories of coconuts]
I wanted to get this up ASAP for you guys since it tends to fill up: the Alumni Association of the University of Michigan just finalized this year’s bowl tour, and let us announce it here at the same time so we can fill it with MGoReaders. Deets:
You’ll be gone Wednesday, December 28 - Saturday, December 31, it starts at just under $2k, and they offer both an air-inclusive and land-only options. Pricing (per person) based on double occupancy is $2,949 for the Champions Tour (air) and $2,049 for the Victors Tour (land only). They offer other options for single, triple, quad and child, as listed on their website.
The CHAMPIONS TOUR is everything below (including the charter airplane). The VICTORS TOUR is land-only, and includes everything below except the flight and deluxe motor coach transfers.
- Round-trip charter air service from Detroit to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL)
- Round-trip deluxe motor coach transfers from the airport to your hotel
- Luggage handling and porterage at the airport and at the hotel
- Three nights’ deluxe accommodations
- Welcome reception
- Daily buffet breakfast
- University of Michigan Orange Bowl Pep Rally (tentative)
Plus the complete game-day package:
- Escorted deluxe motor coach transfer to and from the pre-game party and game
- Game ticket
- Pre-game tailgate party
And other goodies:
- Optional tours, outings, and excursions
- Custom Alumni Association souvenir package
- Document packet, official bowl tour name badge, and lanyard
- Alumni Association hosts and escorts
- Dedicated alumni information and hospitality desk at the hotels
Get ye to http://www.umalumni.org/athletics/michigan-bowl-tour-tailgate/orange-bowl/ as soon as possible. Like…yes, let your spouse know you’re doing it first, but harangue until you get an answer. It’s not like you get to see this team again.
Zero surprise here once the championship games fell the way they did. Game is on the 30th, not the 1st, since the 1st is a Sunday this year; it's at 8 PM at whatever they're calling the place the Dolphins and Hurricanes play this week.
FSU is 9-3, 5-3 in the ACC, with wins over Ole Miss (which had a terrible record but was still top 20 to advanced metrics, USF (10-2), Florida, and Miami. They lost to Clemson and UNC narrowly, and Louisville somewhat less narrowly.
S&P+ has them 9th in the country, with the #6 offense and #18 D. An adjusted sack rate of 85th projects to be a problem for the FSU offense against Michigan. On the other hand, monster DE DeMarcus Walker and his 15 sacks rather loom on the other side of the ball. S&P+ has Michigan a 12-point favorite on a neutral field; dunno how neutral the Orange Bowl is given this context.
M's best post defender? It's, uh, in the eye of the beholder. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]
After Wednesday night's Virginia Tech game, I sat in on John Beilein's postgame presser, attempting to fill out my game recap by transcribing quotes as Beilein talked. I stopped dead, however, at this quote, because I had just watched the same game and came away with a very different take:
“Scoring points wasn’t as big as trying to stop them. Right now, Mark [Donnal]’s a better defender. In defense of Moe [Wagner], Moe’s been sick all day, didn’t feel good. He was doing alright taking the ball to the basket."
What follows is a more thorough examination of Michigan's post defense against Virginia Tech than is necessary or easily digestible, but I spent an entire day compiling these numbers and video clips, so you will read this and like it*, dammit.
*you will probably not like it, sorry.
I began by looking at the points per possession numbers on both ends of the court with each center on the floor. The results:
OFFENSE TOTAL: 28 poss, 30 pts (1.07 PPP)
DEFENSE TOTAL: 27 poss, 29 pts (1.07 PPP)
OFFENSE TOTAL: 28 poss, 33 pts (1.18 PPP)
DEFENSE TOTAL: 27 poss, 36 pts (1.33 PPP)
OFFENSE TOTAL: 7 poss, 7 pts (1.00 PPP)
DEFENSE TOTAL: 7 poss, 6 pts (0.86 PPP)
DJ Wilson had two defensive possessions at center: a post stop and two free throws allowed after one of his fouls going for an offensive rebound.
While small sample size caveats abound, this matched the eye test both from this game and this season. The defensive numbers stood up to further scrutiny; the offensive numbers, which surprised me, did not. Non-Donnal Wolverines shot 6-for-13 on three-pointers when he was on the floor; Donnal added a three-point miss himself and didn't assist any of the six makes. Michigan made only 3-of-10 threes when Wagner was out there, and he assisted one of the makes. There wasn't a difference in the quality of the attempts; if M had shot 30% from three with Donnal on the floor like they did with Wagner, Donnal's offensive PPP in this game would've been 0.96.
[Hit THE JUMP for video and analysis, if you dare.]
Apparently the Pac-12 championship is tonight. Is this new? Have I never watched the Pac-12 championship before? I'm very confused. I thought I'd tell you in case you are unprepared for a Friday game.
AL S J'Marick Woods, a wobbler, ceases wobbling:
"It was really hard to make my final decision because I like Arkansas a lot, but I am picking Michigan," said Woods. "I just prayed about it and the Lord showed me signs. I feel good about my future as a Wolverine."
He's an early enrollee so this should be a definitive end to his recruitment. There are two visit weekends before the dead period and afterwards he'll be in Ann Arbor. Kind of get the feeling the Arkansas/Mississippi State dalliances were manufactured to provide his school with an excuse to do some hat stuff.
Keeping Woods is important with Michigan's need at safety and the lack of other names on the board at the spot; Scout makes him sound a lot like Jeremy Clark:
Woods is a defensive back with great length. He is lean and will need to add weight to his frame when he gets to the next level. He could get a look at cornerback, but he is likely a free safety in college. His length is an asset in coverage and recovery.
I'll take another Clark.
All hands to the tweet decryption stations
Michigan's coaches are on the road this week, visiting anyone and everyone they're still recruiting. CA OL Aaron Banks lives in El Cerrito, California, and this may or may not mean anything.
I have an emoji for this.
- Harbaugh finally got his latte after like 15 minutes
- Clash of Royale Strike level up
- Banks is announcing for Michigan on the 9th.
- Harbaugh's making telescopes? And selling them for profit? I guess?
It's times like these I wish Michigan had a TOOT TOOT ALL IN FOR THE GOVERNOR wink wink commit thing, like many schools do. Just a few hours prior to the above tweet, Lorenz reported that Michigan had little idea what Banks would do. Reports that Banks was not a take appear to be incorrect.
FWIW, Brice Marich hears that the in-home with Banks "went excellent and was very informative too."
Dominate the hyphens
Michigan's quest to dominate the state of Hyphen continues unabated after their setback with Brelin Faison-Walden. Next up might be MI DE Deron Irving-Bey, who is set to announce at the Army game. With just two visit weekends left before the dead period and one official visit in the books, some tea-leaf reading is possible:
- His list of six is really a list of four. He's visited Tennessee, plans to visit Maryland this weekend, and has been on the MSU and UM campuses many times for unofficials. Syracuse and Cincinnati are window dressing.
- Webb reports that he'll take an official to Michigan for their huge December 9th weekend. That should be his last in person recruiting contact before his commitment, since the dead period starts the 12th. In a dead period you can only interact on the phone or by text.
While you can't entirely rule MSU out since he's familiar with the program, Michigan is perceived to lead and gets the last crack. Also he has a hyphen in his last name.
Linebacker board static
Sorry for leaving FL LB Jordan Anthony off the recruiting overview post on Wednesday. That was an oversight only; Michigan is still expected to get him. That does rather complicate things in the projected class, which had MS LB Willie Gay on it and then did not when I inserted Anthony.
Despite that omission, Gay remains very high on Michigan. Per Lorenz, Partridge stopped in on Tuesday and Gay said it went "better than I would have ever thought," which is kind of a weird statement and also very encouraging. This is still in "believe it when I see it" territory. If Gay schedules an unofficial back to Ann Arbor, then I will start thinking it's happening. I remember Fletcher Cox and will not discount Mississippi State for an instate kid, ever.
Meanwhile, MI LB Antjuan Simmons decommitted from Ohio State, making that one guy's article about Meyer's recruiting coup look a bit silly. Do not expect Michigan to get involved. Simmons still appears salty about Michigan's lack of enthusiasm early in the process. Even after he started looking around and must have had an inkling that he was not going to end up in Columbus, his twitter feed was... uh... aggressive about Michigan.
This is mostly disappointing because I wanted this screenshot to be a wall of block Ms:
Seven out of eight wouldn't be bad. Webb's hearing Arizona may be Simmons's landing spot, which would be something. Notre Dame is also a strong contender.
NJ LB Drew Singleton will be at The Big Recruiting Weekend.
Rutger is fine, it's just the S that makes it a problem
Webb reports that the parents of TN DT Rutger Reitmaier are in Michigan's corner, and with Oregon in flux they will have a great shot to flip him. Reitmaier's dad has been on campus more than some committed recruits:
The elder Reitmaier made his way to campus for a game weeks before his son came up for an official visit. It gave dad an opportunity to spend some quality one-on-one time with Harbaugh. They built on that when the entire Reitmaier family came up for Rutger's official visit a few weeks ago.
A recent OSU offer may be the main competition if Reitmaier follows through with a visit.
Why the Herbert wobble is a thing
“I want to play right away," he said when asked what he's looking for in a school.
“Miami says I can come in and play right away, Florida says that I can come in and play, and Michigan says that I have to come in and compete with [junior tackle Juwann Bushell-Beatty] and probably another tackle [current Michigan commit Joel Honigford].”
It is unrealistic that Miami and Florida don't have guys at least on JBB's level. If Herbert's takeaway from those two competitors is "I should go to another school," that sounds like the kind of reason that's not the real reason. He's the only guy in the class I think is a serious threat to voluntarily decommit.
Edges of the board still active
Marich also reports that CT CB Brandon Sebastian plans a mid-January official and that AZ S Isaiah Pola-Mao has tentative plans to official at some point during that month as well. That's good timing for Michigan, as a lot of questions about who will and will not be in the class will be resolved by the time either guy gets around to making a decision.
Meanwhile, chaos at Oregon has seen a number of their top prospects decommit or Explore Their Options; delightfully named OL/DL Popo Aumavae is one of them. He's setting up a suite of visits and he'd like Michigan to be one of them.
Obligatory Najee Section
Tom Van Haaren puts a not-at-all-completely-arbitrary chance on CA RB Najee Harris flipping:
Committed to: Alabama
Chance he flips: 50 percent
Toughest competition: Michigan
I like that number. It is a high number. Lorenz reports Harris will follow through on his plan to visit Michigan for The Big Recruiting Weekend. Like Irving-Bey, that should be the last in-person crack anyone gets at him before he enrolls early. (Or commits, in Irving-Bey's case.)
Matt Wenzel interviews MA RB commit AJ Dillon, who missed a chunk of his senior season with a broken leg. He's taking some visits but it doesn't seem like a serious situation:
Dillon, who said he would have considered enrolling early at Michigan but his school doesn't allow it, will take his first of five allotted official visits to Boston College this weekend and then go to Ann Arbor the following week. He's also considering visits to Nebraska and Iowa, but nothing is arranged yet and he's still firmly committed to Michigan, which he's been watching from afar all season.
"I was really impressed with them, they're still doing great."
A Notre Dame visit would be something to watch out for given Dillon's family ties; I doubt that Nebraska, BC, or Iowa have the recruiting mojo to flip Dillon without an external bombshell named Najee.
Happy trails to TX LB Baron Browning, who committed to OSU. GA WR Jeremiah Holloman isn't really a happy trails since Michigan hasn't been on his list since shortly after his decommit almost a year ago, but if you're curious he just committed to Georgia.
Keep an eye on the FAU job. Bruce Feldman reports that Mario Cristobal is a candidate; if he gets it that would greatly aid Michigan's chances with Alex Leatherwood.
Brandon Brown lists the various guys who plan to enroll early. I was not aware of a couple of these names. For the record: JaRaymond Hall, Donovan Jeter, Corey Malone-Hatcher, Ben Mason, Benjamin St-Juste, Jaylen Kelly-Powell, J'Marick Woods, Donovan-Peoples Jones, Ambry Thomas, Tarik Black, Cesar Ruiz, and Najee Harris all plan to enroll early. Michigan should have room since they'll have a ton of guys who want to get done with school this semester so they can prep for the NFL draft.
FWIW, Brown has also dropped a couple hints that Rivals will give Solomon a fifth star when their next re-rank comes out. That would be a second; Scout gave him one after the first few games this year, and reports that CT WR Tarik Black denied that he ever named Alabama his top school.
Jedd Fisch visited FL WR Mike Harley in-home. Harley is a WVU commit who's probably flipping somewhere; Michigan was involved just before he went off the board.
- Speight still hurt in this game
- The officiating, with a lot of examples.
- Harbaugh’s other reason for saying something.
- “Why didn’t we have a 2-point play?” is a terrible take says not happy Brian.
- The NFL will say what you need to know about M’s offensive line.
- Speight’s improvisation was what this offense was living on.
- Craig names the greatest running back of his 3,000 years on this earth
- Leatherwood, Filiaga or Wilson: which does Sam think could start at LT next year?
You can catch the entire episode on Michigan Insider's podcast stream on Audioboom.
THE USUAL LINKS
So the Big Ten writers and coaches held a watered down version of Draftageddon called the “All Big Ten Awards” so we thought we’d chime in. The link has the official release.
Offense MVP: Barkley
Defense MVP: Peppers
Freshman: Mike Weber
Coach: Chryst (coaches), Franklin (media)
QB: Barrett, WR: Austin Carr, TE: Butt, OL: Elflein
DL: Tyquan Lewis, LB: Peppers, DB: Jourdan Lewis
K: Carpenter, P: Johnston, KR: Peppers
[Hit THE JUMP we have another think coming.]
Hello. With the regular season over and basketball in full flower it's time for our annual handoff of recruiting content to some guy named Brian.
Let's play the feud! And by that I mean take a look at the current status of the recruiting class and where it might go. Some of this lives on the usually-pretty-accurate Recruiting Board.
Some months back Sam Webb reported that Michigan expected to take between 28 and 32 kids this cycle. They have 24 spots right now. 28 is easy to get to: we expect Peppers to enter the draft and potential fifth year seniors Wyatt Shallman, Shane Morris, and Scott Sypniewski to depart. Beyond that you're looking at transfers from underclassmen for playing time or other reasons, of which there are always a few.
We don't have definite word that anyone won't be back, but every year you see a handful of transfers from every program in America. Michigan got a number of players a degree in three years so they could have immediate eligibility elsewhere, and I'd bet you see a couple of those. 32 seems right given the number of guys on the roster who have dim prospects for meaningful PT and the way Michigan's recruiting.
Potential sixth years for Drake Johnson and Jeremy Clark are complicating factors; Michigan might need 34 spots for 32 kids. So too are available letters of intent. Michigan can backdate 6 early enrollees, which means they can only sign 31 players. Any extra will have to "blueshirt," which is arriving as a walk-on and immediately getting a scholarship. As always, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
Inevitable Decommit Section
Michigan has 20 commits, leaving approximately 12 spots for additional recruits. In 2016 decommits are as inevitable as someone on twitter saying "lol u mad" ten seconds into a conversation; there will be some turnover. Currently wobbly gentlemen in the class include:
- NM RB O'Maury Samuels, who took an Arizona visit and has consistently expressed an interest in visiting various Big 12 and Pac 12 schools. Arizona probably isn't much of a threat after the year they had. Samuels might be prepping alternate plans in case Michigan does land CA RB Najee Harris, just like...
- MA RB AJ Dillon, who visits BC this weekend. There's also been a moderate amount of Wisconsin chatter that has so far not resulted in a visit. Dillon is coming in for Michigan December 9th recruiting weekend; it would be a surprise if he ended up elsewhere without the Harris bomb dropping.
- AL S J'Marick Woods visited Mississippi State and Arkansas. His final-final decision is Friday. Both Arkansas and MissSt insiders are expressing optimism; guys like Lorenz and Webb don't think there's anything to fret about.
- FL OL Kai-Leon Herbert has visited both Miami and Florida. He plans to go out to Miami and maybe Florida again in January; with teammate FL OL Tedarrell Slaton trending away from M and possibly to one of those two schools this is a situation to keep an eye on.
Those are listed in approximate order of wobbliness.
On top of that, Michigan's been known to have second thoughts about particular recruits and may ship a couple dudes to Pitt. And on top of that, Michigan's clear desire to pack both OL and DL like cordwood may induce some current commits to look to less crowded depth charts.
Expect somewhere between 2 and 65 decommits by signing day. Trust no one!
[After THE JUMP: positional breakdown.]
So the Playoff Committee put Michigan 5th, where the top four get a chance at a national championship and the top(-ish) 12 play in more prestigious bowls in and around New Year’s. Getting into the playoffs requires some help and sympathy. It’s good that two teams above us have a chance to lose, potentially dropping them back. It’s good that we beat teams 6, 7, and 8. It’s bad that two of those could be conference champions, including our own conference.
So where are we going? Probably the Orange, but if you’d like more detail here’s everything I could divine about Michigan’s potential destinations.
What are the Rules?
- The Playoff Committee will decide on 4 teams to compete in the playoff. This year’s playoff games are the Fiesta and Peach Bowls.
- New Years Six obligations are filled in. Unless they’re in the above the B1G and Pac12 Championship Game winners play in the Rose Bowl, the SEC and Big XII winners play in the Sugar, the ACC winner plays in the Orange, and one “Group of Five” (Western Michigan most likely) team gets a spot somewhere between the Rose, Orange, Cotton and Sugar Bowls.
- [UPDATED, h/t user Alton] Bowl contracts are filled in, specifically the Rose Bowl gets a Big Ten and Pac Ten team, and the Sugar Bowl gets an SEC and Big XII team, assigned by the committee.
- At-large teams are filled in, with contracts, rematches, distance, and “most compelling matchups” in mind. For example the Orange Bowl gets first crack at a Big Ten or SEC #2. Unofficially, conference affiliations matter somewhat, e.g. the Rose Bowl would take a Pac#2/B1G#2 matchup and FSU or Louisville would be projected to the Orange.
- Old bowl process takes hold once the New Year’s Six are figured out.
Where’s Michigan in the Playoff Race?
Behind: Alabama regardless, Ohio State, Washington if they win, Clemson if they win.
Worried about getting passed by: Wisconsin or Penn State if they win, Colorado if they win.
Probably not getting passed by: Oklahoma or Oklahoma State as Big XII champ. Florida as SEC Champ. VT as ACC Champ. Washington or Clemson if they lose. Loser of the Big Ten Championship Game. USC, FSU, Louisville, Auburn, Western Michigan, Navy.
— FiveThirtyEight (@FiveThirtyEight) November 30, 2016
With Michigan the 5th team right now however this seems incorrect, particularly in light of Kirby Hocutt saying the committee needed two hours to decide to put Washington over Michigan for the 4th spot. The actual distinction matters little since a conference championship win for Washington would overcome whatever slim margin Michigan is ahead by at the moment.
That appears to put Michigan’s chances entirely dependent on one or two schools above them losing a conference championship game, then riding a head-to-head victory over a conference champ into the top four.
Even a loss to Florida probably doesn’t drop Alabama out of the Top 4, and Ohio State is obviously in before we are. The best, but hardly only shot of Michigan moving up is Colorado beating Washington (a 45% shot according to Bill C.) and Michigan (over the B1G CG winner) taking the Pac 12’s spot. If Virginia Tech upsets Clemson (20%), this also opens the door for Michigan. If both happen, Michigan still needs a head-to-head win to matter more than a B1G or P12 championship.
How the committee rates winning your conference championship game versus head-to-head is a mystery. They said they don’t consider margin of victory, so blowing out Penn State is probably seen the same as a one-score victory over Wisconsin, let alone two last-play losses on the road.
My guess is they’ll let the de jure Big Ten Champion jump definitely-not-Big Ten Champion Michigan, but not Ohio State. Michigan could end up above Colorado if both Washington and Clemson lose, but that’s a scenario with three Big Ten teams in the playoffs. That may be correct, but the committee created to avoid another LSU-Alabama rematch that everybody hates would probably take the B1G and Pac champs and leave Michigan out.
Likelihood of it: 10 percent.
[After THE JUMP: some NY6 destinations and worst case scenario]
A thousand words. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]
This one is going to sting.
Michigan had every opportunity to put Virginia Tech away and get a quality home win only to squander it with poor defense, strange substitutions by John Beilein, and a hideous heroball play by Zak Irvin on the potential game-winning shot.
The first half went about as well as one could ask. The Wolverines jumped out to a quick lead and were up by double digits for most of the opening stanza, exploiting VT's matchup zone—something they'd seen already this season against Howard—for a series of open threes and layups. Irvin was especially hot, pouring in 15 of his game-high 23 in the first half, and solid offensive contributions from Duncan Robinson, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, and Moe Wagner combined with sloppy play from VT to give the Wolverines a nine-point halftime edge.
It was a different story in the second half. The Hokies stopped coughing up the ball, allowing them to attack Robinson and MAAR on the perimeter for blow-by layups and take advantage of Mark Donnal's interior defense seemingly every possession he was on the floor.
"[We were] just doing some strange things on defense, and it really cost us," said John Beilein.
"Sometimes we just lose that edge when you've got to get a stop, we lose that edge to get a stop. We've got to be a better defensive team than that."
Wagner had an efficient outing that left many wanting more. [Campredon]
Even though Wagner clearly outplayed Donnal throughout the game, they each logged 17 minutes, and the difference between the two was stark on both ends. VT's Zach LeDay got most of his 18 points when matched up with Donnal; he found the going tougher against Wagner and, for one possession before he fouled out, DJ Wilson. The Hokies couldn't stop Wagner, who hit 5-of-6 shots—most of them driving layups—for 11 points. Donnal did not score.
Michigan's ball movement petered out in the second half, too, and with it went their hot shooting; they shot only 12-for-30 and 3-for-13 from beyond the arc. Irvin embodied Michigan's struggles. After going 6-for-8 in the first half, making his shots within the confines of the offense, he hit only 4-of-12 in the second, forcing more of his looks. None were worse than his heroball chuck on Michigan's penultimate possession, which badly missed the mark with Michigan down one.
"We were trying to isolate him and they took him away a little bit. We know what to do when they take him away and we didn't do it," Beilein said. "It's that simple. So now we got isolated and we got all gunked up there, we couldn't call timeout, and we got a bad shot."
"I wish we had a timeout to really put something together. They blew it up and we didn't counter well."
After two VT free throws and a deflected inbounds pass, Michigan had one last chance on a sideline inbounds play with 3.7 seconds left. Wagner saved a long toss to Robinson, who got a half-decent look to tie it, but his shot rimmed out as the buzzer sounded.
"It's a great learning curve game for us, and we'll grow from it," Beilein said. "We didn't deserve the win the game the way we played those last ten minutes."