if you seek an image of the most Wisconsin OL ever, enter here
Michigan's new football coaching staff met with the media today prior to the start of spring ball. Here are some excerpts of what they said. Video coming tomorrow.
Head Coach Brady Hoke
I spent much less time with Hoke because we've had chances to hear from him before. The assistants have much more new stuff to say.
"We've talked a lot about 'this is a fresh start' and going back to square one."
The facility upgrades are a lot different than last time Hoke was here. "You look aesthetically at how everything looks, and it's beautiful. It's a sign of the times in college football."
Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison
"We have to take who we have, and make them as good as they can be." Can the team make dramatic improvements on D? "It has to. Michigan forever - and you guys know it longer than I do - Michigan has taken great pride in defense, and will take great pride in defense again." It starts with technique, fundamentals, and stopping the run. Not allowing big plays and great red zone defense are huge.
It was tough to come to Michigan, because the Ravens are a great team, and "probably one of the best franchises in the NFL right now." In the end, he couldn't turn down working with Brady again and coming to Michigan again. He likes working with young guys and teaching the game.
On Hoke: "He's number one a great leader, he's a great person, as far as knowing what has to happen. He loves Michigan. He's always loved Michigan. He has a passion to get Michigan back to where it always was." Mattison and Hoke stayed close even though they weren't on the same staff for several years.
Cameron Gordon will play outside linebacker, because they want to get the guys into the best position they can to make plays. "And then what's the most upside." He has great ability to grow, and has that upside at OLB. "As compared to being a safety, I think he can do that too, but we have other guys that can do that."
"How dangerous? I don't know that, because we haven't hit anybody." Don't know how tough the team is until they have contact practices.
Nobody on the staff is selfish or looking out for their owns goals. "Everybody has Michigan first. It's not about any individual on that team."
Mattison hasn't watched any film on the defense from 2010. The only useful thing would be for individual ability, but he'll learn that through conditioning. "The players we have here are who we have here." Improving the defensive rankings doesn't matter. "I want this defense to be the best they can possibly be... It doesn't matter what the numbers were before. If the numbers were 50 a game and it goes down to 40, that isn't good enough." The bar at Michigan is higher than most places.
The coaches have to invest their own effort for the players to buy in. "Through their effort, they can become 'Michigan football players' again. And they're not far off."
"Very very physical, aggressive defense. A defense that, when somebody comes out on that field, they know their in a war." The other point of pride is having excellent technique.
Young kids are excited to play for a coach who's had Ray Lewis, Haloti Ngata, and Ed Reed play for him. "The good news is, you don't coach these guys any different than you coach them. It's just teaching."
Defensive Line: Jerry Montgomery
"They're going to be a reflection of me. I'm passionate about what I do, they'll feel that passion, and eventually it will rub off." The defensive linemen will play with intensity and "we're going to be the best-coached group on the field." Building a relationship with the players is one of the most important parts of coaching.
There are a lot of different defensive schemes out there, "but at the end of the day, you get to a lot of the same things." Michigan's 4-3 this season won't be worried about confusing the offense or disguising what they're going to get on a given play, unlike some of the other schemes out there. It'll be a lot of "here we are, come at us." Think along the lines of what Iowa does.
"Our goal is to stop the run first. That's priority number one."
The players who are best capable of playing "within the defense" will be the ones who play. If they're All-Americans in another scheme, but can't accept the coaching, they aren't going to play.
Coach Mattison is able to compare linemen to Haloti Ngata, Terrell Suggs, and other great NFL linemen, so they know the bar is set high, and what they're aiming to achieve. "What they're asking is 'how can I be more like him?' Well, I'm going to them them." They'll watch the Ravens film because "we're going to be running that defense. So we've got the luxury of using that film."
"I'd like to rotate a bunch. But we've gotta have the players for us to do that. I won't know until we get deep into spring ball what type of depth we have." They want to keep the linemen fresh as much as possible.
It's exciting to work under Coaches Hoke and Mattison, because they're former D-Line coaches, and it's great to learn under them.
On Mattison: "Regardless of how old he is, he's great with the players, he relates to the players, and he's a great recruiter." He's as energetic as Montgomery, despite the age difference. He has the enthusiasm of a young guy, and cam back to college because he loved recruiting so much.
Offensive Coordinator Al Borges
The installation timeline for the offense isn't set in stone. They'll work on certain things as long as they need for the players to get it.
The important qualities for a quarterback are 1) proper management, and getting the offense into the proper plays, 2) throw accurately, and 3) "when there's breakdowns, particularly in the passing game, can you create?" The third quality separates system QBs from great ones.
There will still be some designed run plays. "He's not gonna rush for 1700 yards, I've already told him that." If he runs for 700 less and makes up for it in passing yards, that's a win. "Denard wants to be a next-level player." He's aware that this coaching staff gives him an opportunity to develop enough to play quarterback at the next level.
Borges has coached guys who can run in the past, but nobody with Denard's running skills. "He definitely has next level skills." As a quarterback? "Possibly." He's about as big as Michael Vick, and a little faster. He just needs to get the passing skills where they need to be.
Devin Gardner has a chance to play. "We have complete respect for what's been accomplished by Denard and anyone else in the lineup. But by the same token, everyone's going to have to prove to us they can play their position." They'll start with the guys that finished last year, but there's no entitlement.
The offense has a zone package, but they're not primarily a zone running team. "We're a combination of zone, gap, and insert schemes." They'll explore more options with what works well in practice. They've gone toward more gap in the past (SDSU) and also more zone (Auburn). All of it is available. The read-option isn't dead, but it's not a priority of this team.
Aaron Wellman, the team's strength coach, is as good as anybody at determining every individual player's maximum efficient weight. If guys can be most efficient a little lighter, so be it.
Running Backs: Fred Jackson
Every player in the running back position group (even Vincent Smith!) will play both running back and a bit of fullback, except John McColgan, who is strictly a fullback. They won't necessarily be doing the traditional Iso blocking, of course. Added versatility will make them all better players.
Running backs in this system have a wider range of responsibilities than the previous system. They have to be able to be pass catchers not just in the flat, but as downfield receivers as well. For the running backs, the spread wasn't that complex an offense. "For this offense, you're involved in every scheme of the protections, you're not free-released as much."
Vincent Smith is excited for the new offense, but he's a little nervous that the new offense has a reputation of favoring bigger backs. "But Vincent Smith for his size, pound for pound, I'd put him up against anybody. He's a tough, tough kid."
On Mike Cox: "He is by far better-suited for this offense. What he has to do to see the field is grasp the offense. I think I've talked about that in the past."
As high school players, Thomas Rawls is very similar to Mark Ingram: "What Mark has done right now, you can't really compare to anything," but they are very similar coming out of high school.
Justice Hayes is versatile enough to play several positions. "He can play running back, he can play receiver, he can play defensive back." For now, he's a running back, but "he can do a lot of things."
Offensive Line: Darrell Funk
It's tough to know what you have at your position group until actual spring practice starts. At offensive line, it's even tougher until you get them in pads. "I'm really excited. Even though we really enjoy recruiting and all those things that come with the job, we're here to coach football."
The biggest key for these guys is to teach them the new system, including the terms, etc. that are different from before. "There'll be some growing pains that way." That doesn't mean it's all about three yards and a cloud of dust - you have to be able to run and pass.
It's not just football that the players need to adjust to: "in the weight room, and in the training, and in the conditioning... doing things like we want to do."
They had to transition the offense from spread to pro-style at San Diego State as well, though that was more of a passing spread. "It ended up being real good in a 2-year period." The Aztecs were a 2-win program the year before this staff came in, so they might start a little further ahead at Michigan.
This group of kids at Michigan is an intelligent and attentive group. "It's mostly older kids in there. The David Molks and some kids who have played a lot of football." They're very willing to learn.
"We don't want guys to put on bad weight... just like every place, there's some guys who need to put on weight and there's a few who probably need to lose a pound or two. At the end of the day, if you can perform what we need done at, say, 290, and you want them to be 300: at the end of the day, production is key."
Left: Yahoo's Charles Robinson. Right: Death.
The Colonel Klink scandal unfolding at Ohio State is interesting from a hur-hur rival perspective, obviously, but I'm also fascinated by the responses across the blogosphere in the 23 hours between Yahoo posting their story and Ohio State's ham-handed press conference*.
This includes mine, essentially "I'm not sure if there's any paper but Yahoo is serious business." Eleven Warriors echoed:
it is highly unlikely that either Charles Robinson or Dan Wetzel would risk their reputations on a piece of investigative journalism that they didn't believe was accurate and authentic. Yahoo! Sports is a legitimate reporting organization, and whatever you think about either Wetzel or Robinson, no editor with a shred of sanity or professionalism would allow such a damning story to go live without at least something behind it. Some OSU fans have pointed out that the story cites only one anonymous source, which is fair criticism, and if that source continues to be unnamed and the only supplier of information to this story, then its credibility should be put in doubt. But keep in mind that Yahoo's track record with regard to investigative sports journalism is anything but shaky, and that it is probable that Wetzel and Robinson have not played every card in their hand.
Dr. Saturday was in the same boat:
Presumably – considering we're working on the word of respected reporters with a pretty good track record when it comes to NCAA scandal – that's a solid source, and presumably there are others leading the reporters to the same conclusion without saying as much outright. Presumably, too, there's more evidence (circumstantial or otherwise) on the way.
EDSBS went farther, into open hostility to anyone who would point at the single anonymous source as a reason to discount the story:
The story by Dan Wetzel uses a single anonymous source, the red flag for stupid people who like to point and say "HURP WHY ANONAMOOSE MEDIA FURRP." An anonymous source is fine, especially because this is Wetzel, who knows his shit and has a long track record of solid reportage. Don't rely on this as a critique unless you're dumb, and if you are please, feel free to get your dumbness all over the place somewhere else.
Wetzel and Robinson's one anonymous source is the moment when the blogosphere's trust in the Yahoo military-investigative complex went from implicit to explicit**. Anywhere else, even most newspapers, and the skepticism would be between substantial and total. Here it was minor, mostly limited to the question of paper. Slow States FTW:
So the winner here is clearly Yahoo! and Wetzel, not only for getting their name all over this one but doing the impossible: proving to the Internet (!) that you can in fact trust them next time they come out with a report based on what would at any Kansas City radio station be hardly worth a retweet.
Yahoo has accomplished what the set out to when they hired Wetzel and Robinson and a few other guys and told them "be NCAA enforcement." Q: is it working financially? We've seen Fanhouse go the wide-and-shallow route and eventually give up, leaving TSN to fire everyone except some overpaid columnists. We've seen Deadspin's mix of terrific and awful work. Lord, have we heard the complaints from newspaper folk about how no one cares about quality and no one pays for investigative work. Yahoo seems to be an encouraging counterpoint to the narrative that says in ten years all newspapers will be TMZ and all restaurants Taco Bell.
I know two things:
- I'll be just as depressed as anyone at a newspaper if it turns out Wetzel and Robinson almost singlehandedly causing Bruce Feldman to title a post "Is College Football Falling Apart?"($) does not work financially. If you can't get paid doing what Yahoo is doing you can't get paid doing any substantive reporting.
- The reasonable response to a Yahoo article linking your school to NCAA wrongdoing is to wet yourself and hide in the corner.
BONUS: Interviewed on Chicago radio, Robinson says Yahoo will break two more stories before football season, one a 6-7 on a ten point scale on which Tressel is an 8, the other a 10. I've got Clemson in the pool.
*[With rhabdogate and the whole Legends/Leaders debacle, this appears to be a Big Ten specialty.]
**[There was one obvious exception of local interest that seemed kinder to ignore, but somehow I find myself called out for not responding to it. So, fine: of late MNB Dave has 1) declared moving The Game was not only not a big deal, but a good thing, 2) declared Michigan's most recent recruiting class "awesome", 3) been the only person on the planet other than Dave Brandon to defend Dave Brandon's process, and 4) called out Robinson and Wetzel as what's wrong with modern-day journalism.
He's either sustained a major brain injury or is—as emailers have taken to suggesting on the regular—started taking idiotic contrarian positions for the attention. Either way I'm past the point where a response would be anything constructive. If you agree with any of the above points we are speaking a different language and interaction is pointless. Maybe if I was a better person I could gently explain the many specific ways in which the above positions are incorrect, but I'm sure halfway through I'd go HULK SMASH and start talking about how people look like horses and should be quarantined on the moon so their disease does not infect the rest of the planet. Since I prefer to restrict my vicious ad hominem attacks to people I haven't met I'm taking mom's advice and not saying anything at all… except when directly called out. So: MNB, for the love of God either get a coherent editorial position or fan out into a half-dozen different blogs so I can better distinguish which things to ts;dr.
You don't care, I know, which is why this is a footnote.]
The mgouniverse is growing restless with a lack of commits in Michigan's class of 2012, so before digging deeper, let's see how some comparable schools stack up.
|National Powers||Big Ten|
|Miami (YTM)||6||Penn State||0|
* Iowa's commit is Mike Orloff,
Within the B1G, Michigan isn't behind the curve at all. Only a few schools have commits, and among them only Ohio State and Nebraska have the same recruiting profile as the Wolverines. Nationally, they're a bit behind, but that seems to happen every year.
They haven't even had a single junior day yet - and started way behind the curve, as an all-new staff - so it's a little early to be worrying too much about a small class. At this time last year, there were only 2 commits (Greg Brown and Delonte Hollowell) that ultimately signed with Michigan, the second of whom committed after a junior day.
On With the Show
Michigan is looking at KY RB Ronjae Morris "pretty hard." Tennessee and UCLA are his top two, and he doesn't yet have a Michigan offer.
Beware with a Bleacher Report link, but CA WR Malik Gilmore appears to have Notre Dame and Michigan atop his list.
Michigan is recruiting ($, info in header) OH OL Caleb Stacey.
NC TE/OL Mark Harrell called his Notre Dame offer "a dream come true" ($, info in header). Early in the process, it seems like every kid is really high on the Irish.
Tom talked to NC OL Brock Stadnik about his recruiting process:
"I was really excited about the Michigan offer because Michigan is pretty huge, and I really liked Jake Long growing up," he said. "As far as visits go, it's tough to get up there right now with school and everything, so I'm not sure when I'll make it up... Michigan is a big offer too because it came from that far away this early. It's exciting to hear my name reaching places like that, and being talked about by those coaches."
Brock has a twin brother, Clayton Stadnik, who is not as highly-coveted a prospect. The two will consider going to school together, but they plan to make individual decisions. Brock will form a top 5 during the summer.
A tidbit on FL OL Avery Young: his brother plays for the Lions, which means he has some family close to Ann Arbor. Still doesn't mention Michigan in the article, of course.
PA OL JJ Denman has a top 5 that includes USC, Notre Dame, Michigan, Penn State, and Boston College.
Stanford leads for CA DT Aziz Shittu ($, info in header).
OH DE Tom Strobel was the focus of last week's recruiting column for the Detroit News by Sam Webb. Scout's Ohio analyst Bill Greene breaks down his game:
"He is a true 6-6, with long arms, and probably weighs 240 pounds. He could probably carry another 30-35 pounds easily on that frame. I think he has the chance to maybe be great someday. I think he's a guy who is kind of growing into his body right now."
...and Strobel talks about himself:
"I've got a really good work ethic," Strobel stated. "I'm always hustling to the ball no matter what. Even if it seems the play is already made, I'm always going to be there right behind the tackle or I'll be making the tackle. I'm always hustling to the ball. I think that's the biggest thing you'll notice -- hustle."
As for recruiting news, Strobel insists that his recent Ohio State offer does not mean an immediate end to his recruitment, though it is a big deal. Michigan and Michigan State will be contenders for his services, and he's academically-focused, which will help the Wolverines. Click through for the whole scoop.
Tom talked to OH DE Ifeadi Odenigbo about where he stands in the recruiting process. Stanford, Ohio State, Northwestern, and Notre Dame make up his current top 4, but he's going to take some visits in june - including to Ann Arbor and East Lansing - before coming up with a firm list of favorites.
Michigan is among the schools showing the most interest in CA LB Scott Starr. He currently holds offers from Colorado and the Arizona schools.
You may recall that OH LB Kaleb Ringer was on Michigan's campus last week. He left town with an offer, and is now having 2-part Michigan dreams ($, info in header). Unless those dreams involve Brady Hoke dressed as the Stay-Puft marshmallow man, that seems like a good thing. Sam rhetorically asks "is Michigan now the team to beat?" in the header, and I think it's safe to answer "yes." This seems like a situation to keep an eye on.
The presence of defensive coordinator Greg Mattison is a big boost to Michigan's chances with FL S Deon Bush ($, info in header).
MI CB LEVITICUS PAYNE is "working to improve." He is starting to get interest from BCS-conference schools, but doesn't mention Michigan.
Tom talked to Good Counsel (MD) assistant coach Kevin McFadden about a number of prospects from 2011 Commit Blake Countess's team, including:
The Michigan coaches have targeted and offered DB Stefon Diggs, RB Wes Brown, DE Ryan Watson, and OL Mike Madaras so far from Good Counsel.
...but net yet a couple more:
"We have a couple other kids Michigan should offer, we have DL Rod Chungong (6'3", 240 lbs), 2013 DB Kendall Fuller (6'0", 175 lbs), and 2013 DB Kirk Garner (5'10", 165 lbs) that will get some looks from Michigan," he said.
I'm not ready to worry about 2013 guys quiiiite yet. McFadden says Countess has been talking up the maize-and-blue to his friends, and that they're serious players:
"These kids are NFL kids, they're good. They're right up there with some of the best kids we've had. They've seen the kids before them, and the appropriate measures they've had to put in place with academics, perseverance, and they've seen the outcome with those other guys."
It's no novelty to see a high school coach say "omg best players I've ever had," so take it with a grain of salt - though Diggs is considered a likely 5-star. GC's head coach talked with Gazette.net about Diggs in particular:
"He's just such a natural talent, not only the speed but the way he understands things; he's just very, very, very smart, football-wise," Milloy said. "Some kids, you have to rep them up, but he just understands what we're trying to do quickly.
In other possible packages, MA LB Camren Williams and CB Armani Reeves have a teammate in QB AJ Doyle who could become a target down the line. Reeves plans to visit Ann Arbor in the next few weeks, and Tom mhad an interview with Williams, wherein he discusses his favorites, visits, and decision timeline.
MI LB Royce Jenkins-Stone has picked up an offer from Miami YTM ($, info in header). A rivals header ($ article) certainly makes it sound like Michigan is slipping as he gets more national interest. He was originally the highest on Michigan of the trio that also includes LB James Ross and CB Terry Richardson, so we'll have to see what transpires.
Though no official junior day has been set, a number of prospects have made or will make their way through ann Arbor early in March. As for recent visits, TX LB Jeremiah Tshimanga didn't make it to A2 this past weekend, but MI DT/DE Matt Godin did. Going forward, a tentative visit list for this weekend:
- IL OL Dan Voltz (possibly not until the following week). His decision isn't far off.
- WI LB Vince Biegel.
- MI LB Royce Jenkins-Stone. This visit isn't definite. As mentioned above, Michigan may have some work to do with RJS.
- OH S Allen Gant will make it to town before the weekend. He's looking for his Michigan offer. Video on Gant:
It looks like every weekend in March will have at least a few visitors, including March 19th:
- OH TE AJ Williams, for whom Michigan is "in the mix." ($, info in header).
- OH DE Pharoah Brown.
The further out we project, the less definite visits become, so stay tuned for the latest updates. Among others planning spring visits are IN TE Pierre Aka, in addition to KY QB Zeke Pike and MI TE/WR Ron Thompson.
CA CB Tee Shepard has committed to Notre Dame. The Army All-American holds a Michigan offer.
CA S Shaquille Thompson committed to Cal ($, info in header).
WEEE OFFER PARADE!
CA OL Erik Magnuson has a Michigan offer. He was also a target of Hoke's staff at SDSU.
He's mentioned in an above section, but MD OL Mike Madaras has received a Michigan offer.
NY DT Jarron Jones has picked up a Michigan offer ($, info in header).
GA DT Jonathan Taylor has a Michigan offer.
GA DE Jarontay Jones has a "home state" that is not in the South ($, info in header). Since the interview is with GBW, dollars to donuts said home state is Michigan. Jones is a recent Michigan offeree. Not content to offer only one Stone Mountain product, the Wolverines sent them to DT Jafar Mann and LB Raphael Kirby as well.
MD DE Brent Wilkerson was offered by Michigan a couple weeks back (of course the article became available for free moments after I published the next Wednesday Recruitin').
“It’s definitely a big offer, I’m really happy that they are willing to offer me a scholarship. I’m very interested. I called their defensive coordinator and defensive line coach. I spoke to the recruiter in my area too, I’m very interested in them and they are after me pretty hard. I plan to get down there to see the place and get to know the coaches.”
His other favorites include LSU, Miami (YTM), and the better half of the Big East. He wants to visit Michigan sometime this summer.
Michigan has offered PA DE Noah Spence. Spence is a likely 5-star, so it was a head-scratcher that he wasn't holding a Michigan offer (until now).
OH DE LaTroy Lewis has received a Michigan offer, and has moved Michigan up his list accordingly ($, info in header).
TX LB Dalton Santos has added a Michigan offer.
CA OL Jordan Simmons is mentored by a former Wolverine ($, info in header), which could help Michigan's chances. GA WR Jaquay Williams also has a Michigan connection ($, info in header). MD CB Kenny Crawley "wants to stay local" ($, info in header). MI WR Tyree Monroe is hearing from Michigan a bit. Rutgers leads for NJ LB Jazzmar Clax. IL DT Vincent Valentine is "building ties" with Michigan's staff ($, info in header). Michigan is not in the top 5 for NJ WR Leonte Carroo.
For the record. Let me know if I've missed anything. Right now it's just on the edge of plausibility that incidents are "isolated," reported solely by lint-brush-wielding madmen. Additions: Luchs/Holmes.
That's a nice car/job/wad of money. Maurice Clarett sits out the season after claiming his expensive dealership car was robbed of over 10k in stuff. Questioned by the NCAA, Clarett refuses to give straight answers to questions 17 times because "half the team would've been suspended, and it would've been worse for everybody."
Clarett also claims his grades were total fiction, he got phantom jobs, that coaches would tell him to talk to certain people who just happened to drop thousands of dollars they didn't care about, that he got free cars and free rent. Ohio State fans discount Clarett as mentally unstable, which he is.
That's a nice tutor. Clarett's grad student tutor confirms the total fiction grades bit of Clarett's story to the New York Times. The internal response was lovely: "Goings attacked the teaching assistant's credibility, saying he found it difficult to believe her because she had a history of psychiatric problems and displayed what he called erratic behavior." Goings calls the tutor a liar and fires her after she meets with him about another player.
That's a nice job. Booster Robert Q Baker gives Troy Smith $500 for a fake job, getting Smith suspended a couple games and himself dissociated from the program. A couple years earlier Chris Gamble also worked for Baker's company.
AJ Hawk is a depression-era farmer. The apartment of AJ Hawk and Nick Mangold is robbed. Items declared missing include $1400 worth of movies, a $500 Gucci watch, and $3000 in cash, presumably kept under the bed and away from those fat cats at National City.
Santonio Holmes is taken care of. Former NFL agent Josh Luchs outed dozens of players in the SI cover story that served as promotion from his upcoming book, but he'd long stopped paying when he visited Santonio Holmes in '05:
"We met [Holmes] outside the football building," Luchs wrote, "and he said, 'Listen, I want to save you the time. We don't need to meet. I've been taking money from [an agent] the last couple years, and he's been taking care of my family too.'"
Tatgate. Five Ohio State players are found to have sold memorabilia in exchange for tattoos. Jim Tressel is given a credible tip about it in April and does nothing.
That's a nice car II. Terrelle Pryor has been pulled over for traffic violations three times in his Ohio State career. All three times he was in a car registered to Auto Direct, a local dealership. The guy running the dealership is named "Kniffin"—not a good sign. He also has signed OSU memorabilia all over his walls.
You can't throw a rock on eBay without hitting an auction for the gold pants charms handed out after Michigan victories from as recently as 2009—which means there's a fair chance the players in question are still on the team.
Between January 1st, 2000, and May 2009 Ohio State reported 375 secondary violations, most of any D-I school.
Via MVictors, the smoking gun:
Prepare for a vacation, Buckeyes. The NCAA has to come down harder on OSU than their limp response, doesn't it? They went through an entire season with four ineligible players, including their quarterback, and knew about it.
BONUS: A note for anyone compiling lists of funny business under Tressel: don't forget that when AJ Hawk's apartment was robbed he claimed three thousand dollars in cash was missing.
Good news for people who like boring news. There is a webcam of Michigan taking down their new scoreboards. You can watch it, or you can look at this picture. They are basically equivalent:
Yes, they left the Big Chill lingo up.
Womp-rats? Yesterday at about 7 PM Yahoo released its latest article that terrifies and thrills, and it's a doozy:
Tressel knew of gear scheme last April
If true, that would expose Ohio State to the worst kind of NCAA justice. Cover-ups are very bad. They got SMU the death penalty and are soon to terminate the job of Bruce Pearl.
Can Yahoo/the NCAA prove it, though? The Robinson/Wetzel piece relies on one anonymous source who said Tressel was "troubled by the information" and promised to investigate. I don't think OSU can reasonably suggest they investigated and found nothing since it didn't take the NCAA long to confirm the story, but previous Yahoo gotchas came with paper trails—as of now there isn't one.
The worst-case scenario here is that this gets rolled into an investigation of Terrelle Pryor's perpetual loaner and it turns out that—surprise—zealous OSU boosters are funneling massive amounts of impermissible benefits to players. It's getting to the point where it's hard to downplay everything that comes to light as an isolated incident, especially when Antonio Pittman tweets that cats have been getting hookups on tats since 2001.
I don't think anyone knows where this is going but if Yahoo can produce paper a major violation, an actual one not about stretching, is in the offing. Eleven Warriors just tweeted that they are hearing Tressel will admit wrongdoing(!) and sanctions/suspensions are "possible."
No serious harm done. According to Mike Spath, Carl Hagelin and Billy Powers expect Louie Caporusso to return for next weekend's CCHA finals at the Joe. Presuming Michigan can get by Bowling Green, by far the worst team in the league this season, without him they won't be short in their quest for a one-seed.
Word. Best NFL draft evaluation ever on one Justin Boren:
Plays angry on the field but his mental makeup is in question after a transfer from Michigan. Day 3 prospect.
Love to bits. The SBN Oilers blog goes off on semi-regular rants about how numbers are just not understood, man, that I love to tiny bits. Their latest is about the Avalanche and their fluky run last year. According to hockey's advanced metrics last year, the Avs were a terrible team. According to the standings midway through the year they were pretty good. They managed to survive a massive late slump to squeeze into the playoffs and fans thought this was sustainable and numbers were stupid. This year they're pretty much the same team except they're not nearly as lucky, so they're just above the Oilers in the standings and fans are discussing whether they should fire the coach they were pumping for the Jack Adams last year.
Avalanche fans are not alone in ignoring, even denying the evidence behind the performance of the team. In an article entitled "When the scientific evidence is unwelcome, people try to reason it away" in The Guardian, author Ben Goldacre explores what happens when people are "...confronted with scientific evidence that challenges their pre-existing view." His conclusion? "Often they will try to ignore it, intimidate it, buy it off, sue it for libel or reason it away." Goldacre references a 1979 paper from Lord, Ross and Lepper. From the paper's abstract:
People who hold strong opinions on complex social issues are likely to examine relevant empirical evidence in a biased manner. They are apt to accept "confirming" evidence at face value while subjecting "disconfirming" evidence to critical evaluation, and, as a result, draw undue support for their initial positions from mixed or random empirical findings.
Goldacre goes on to discuss a second group of people - those who attack the science behind the evidence presented to them.
When presented with unwelcome scientific evidence, it seems, in a desperate attempt to retain some consistency in their world view, people would rather conclude that science in general is broken.
This line of thinking is similar to that used by fans who argue in favor of shot quality. Shot quality has become the great foil used by those arguing against possession metrics as a basis of hockey analytics. The ever-increasing mountain of possession data, evidence and studies means little to the shot quality folks. Arguments abound in favor of shot quality with no evidence to back it up, so lacking so Desjardins challenged the world to prove the existence of shot quality. There were no takers.
When presented with unwelcome scientific evidence, it seems, in a desperate attempt to retain some consistency in their world view, people would rather conclude that science in general is broken.
What's that on the horizon? It's getting closer! It's getting closer very fast!
This is why numbers are important—they at least force you to consider things that conventional wisdom holds are ridiculous, like Derek Jeter being a pretty crappy defensive shortstop. The advanced metrics said the Avs were due to regress badly and they did. This would be just another guy who loves numbers accepting confirming evidence while some other team that defied the numbers would be seized upon by the Joe Morgans of the world as their confirming evidence… except for the fact that you can collect big sets of numbers and show they are accurate more often than not. We had a discussion about this before college football season when I predicted Iowa wouldn't do so hot and Iowa fans were like "numbers are stupid."
The other end of the spectrum from Joe Morgan is David Berri, who's just as wrong as Morgan and relies on a just-as-irrelevant credential ("I was the greatest second baseman of all time"/"I went to Princeton") in his quest to reduce everything in sports to a regression. I'm not arguing for that, either. The numbers gathered by football and basketball box scores are witheringly insufficient to hope to explain anything.
In reality, numbers are insufficient to fully explain anything but baseball for a lot of reasons. Baseball's easier and there are orders of magnitude more data—Pitch FX is insane. But in all sports advanced metrics can at least provide a much better answer for "what," if not how and why. An example: about a week ago LaVall Jordan tweeted that Michigan had the fourth best defense in the Big Ten. That's true on a pure counting number basis but if you do something like divide they were ninth*. That's a huge difference and the tempo-free number is indisputably better. There's a huge difference between talking about why Michigan has an above average defense or why they have a below-average one, and anyone who would prefer to talk about the former is just wasting people's time.
*[The MSU game moved them up to seventh.]
Hardaway explosion. Rod Beard's latest in the News has a wide array of quotes on the emergence of Tim Hardaway Jr. Vitale is involved, but don't let that phase you. Here's the most interesting bit on his recent blowup:
"When he was shooting a lower percentage earlier in the year, I called him in and we just talked a little about getting a better shot than he was taking," Beilein said. "(I told him) you're probably going to take just as many shots, but the ball will come back to you again.
"He did it immediately and his shooting percentage has gone way up."
Beilein has repeatedly praised Hardaway's coachability, which suggests he will continue to improve over the duration of his career at Michigan. Dad is also impressed:
"He's developed very well and the whole team has, from November to today," Tim Sr. said. "You can see a lot of confidence in them and you can see their swagger. They're playing well, they believe in the system and they believe in the coach."
Random offer thought. Michigan continues to litter the nation with offers, but a Q: could this be a more general pattern? The NCAA just implemented a rule that prohibits schools from sending written offers until August. In the past there was the verbal offer, which was more of an indication of interest, and the written offer, which was as close to official as something that says "we can revoke this at any time" gets. Now there are no written offers, nothing to distinguish between the two, and kids who may have waited to declare they had an offer until they had the actual paper in their hands now have nothing else do go on.
In any case, the universal predictions that this rule would lead to confusion and would do nothing to slow down the breakneck pace of recruiting have come true, like it was obvious they would.
Etc.: Posnanski writes something about the "joy of rooting against Lebron" that expands on yesterday's trash-talk assertions. According to Ira at WTKA via Brandon, Michigan's club seats and suites are sold out. Evolving Evan Smotrycz. Big Ten wrestling details.
Kaiwan Lewis (6'2", 230 lbs) is a linebacker prospect out of St. Joseph High School in New Jersey and has started to pick up momentum with his recruitment. With big time offers from all over the country including Arkansas, Cal, LSU, Miami, and South Carolina among others, Lewis is starting to hear more from the Michigan coaches. Here's a look at his film and what he's hearing from the Wolverines.
TOM: Have you heard anything new from the Michigan coaches recently?
KAIWAN: Yes, they really like me. They said they just have to get the head coach to view my film and I may be getting an offer.
TOM: What coach from Michigan has been recruiting you, and is Michigan a school that you want to learn more about?
KAIWAN: Coach Curt Mallory, and yes we'll see what happens.
TOM: I know you have a good amount of offers now, are you pretty open right now, and where are you at in the process?
KAIWAN: Yeah, I'm open. I'm just ready to take visits and cut the schools that I don't talk to. That will make it easier for me because I know I can't get out to every school.
TOM: When are you going to start taking these visits?
KAIWAN: Spring break.
TOM: If Michigan offers are they going to be one of your trips?
KAIWAN: Yes, I believe so. It just depends on how they recruit me because there's so many schools to get to know. I have to go see schools that catch my interest and recruit me like I'm needed or wanted.
TOM: What position is Michigan recruiting you for?
KAIWAN: Middle linebacker. They said they need big fast linebackers.
TOM: I just watched your film, and it looks like you fit that. It seems like you really like to hit.
KAIWAN: Yeah, I guess it just comes with the game. You know if people could hit me like that, or harder, they wouldn't miss the chance so I'm not going to miss mine.
TOM: When do you want to make your final decision, do you know yet?
KAIWAN: I'll wait until national signing day.
fat man in suit takes the money.
Back in the day when the Sporting News was running its own blog and I was writing for it there was a flurry of articles about teams losing absurd amounts of money by participating in bowl games. I compiled them and pointed a finger at the culprit:
The bowls are robbing Peter to pay Peter in the form of ticket guarantees:
To make the bowl berth official, all [Western Michigan] had to do was buy 11,000 tickets to the game against Rice. The Broncos did so, paying $450,000 to the bowl for the tickets.
Go ahead and guess how many tickets Western Michigan sold to last year's Texas Bowl. Too high, too high, too high: 548. Western ended up eating over 400k in ticket expenses and the Texas Bowl got away with a functional payout of less than half of the NCAA's minimum.
As of 2009, MAC bowl games were actually costing the league more money than they brought in. A $2.1 million don't-sue-us payment from the BCS was the only thing keeping them slightly in the black.The problems weren't just on the low end. A couple years ago Virginia Tech, which was going to the Orange Bowl, also ate a spectacular number of overpriced, terrible tickets.
It's March again and FOIA requests have been out for 90 days so it's time for another flurry of articles on the topic. The headliner: Auburn and Oregon lost money on the biggest game of the year. Exclamations. It won't be much of a surprise to find out that UConn took a bath, losing $1.8 million on their Fiesta Bowl trip. They would have turned a significant profit if not for ticket guarantees:
By far the largest expense the university incurred came from absorbed ticket sales. The university sold only 2,771 out of an allotment of 17,500 tickets, resulting in the university absorbing 14,729 tickets worth $2,924,385.
The official figure of 2,771 tickets sold is substantially lower than the previously reported amount of 4,600 tickets sold.
The Fiesta Bowl sold those 17500 tickets at a higher price than the public could get them, and that's not all they were on the hook for:
UConn also has a hotel obligation — a total of 550 rooms at three different hotels ranging in price from $125-225 a night, not including tax, with blocks reserved for either three or seven nights. Additional expenses include a chartered flight and meals for the team, staff and 300-member band, as well as a $100,000 bonus to coach Randy Edsall, and smaller bonuses for assistants, per their contracts, for getting the team to a BCS bowl.
In my previous article on the topic I cited some other schools that had taken losses after hauling around a shogun-worthy entourage, but apparently that's not even WVU's (for example) fault. Once you've got 550 rooms you have to pay for, you might as well bring the band along.
Between the ticket guarantee and the hotel obligation, UConn was doomed to lose a ton of money as soon as they accepted the Fiesta Bowl bid. The Big East as a whole did not, however—that travel allocation from the Big East is only a tiny sliver of the $17.7 million the conference got from the worst playoff on earth. Most of the articles on this topic overlook that. While it's weird that for a lot of schools getting a BCS bid is an invitation to set money on fire, those schools are the sort that get a BCS bid once in a blue moon. The rest of the time they're getting money for nothing and chicks for free. Their net from the system is positive.
So that's annoying but I guess tolerable. Not so much on the lower end where getting your terrible bowl bid is a net loss for you and the conference. While the most recent article flurry focuses on the fake losses at the top of the ladder, it's the bottom where the problem is. There's a point on the bowl ladder at which the game turns from a contributor to college football to a parasite on it. I'm not sure where it is but it's well above the Beef O'Brady's Bowl in St. Petersburg.
The NCAA needs to limit the obligations a bowl can foist on the teams that will host them. This will cause a half-dozen minor bowls to shutter their doors, but everything that goes by the wayside was sucking money out of college football and giving it to the East Nowhere chamber of commerce. They won't be missed even by the schools that used to go to them.
So there's this.
Screening. Very cool article from Mike Rothstein on the increasing use of ball screens and pick-and-roll in college basketball going all the way back to the days when LaVall Jordan was helping run it at Butler. It comes complete with pithy epigram:
The ball screen forces defenses to choose where they want to recover.
John Beilein has started using it frequently, getting Jordan Morgan a wide array of dunks and others various open shots—I wonder if that's Jordan's influence? Here is where we compare and contrast Beilein's program reboot after last season with Rodriguez's defensive flailing. [comparison] [sadness/frustration] [basketball team swept state] [woo]
Literally less than nothing. I was away when SI came out with a story about college football criminals heavy on the research and light on the context. The blogosphere duly blew it up. I'm with Braves & Birds in that I'd rather have a big media organization doing research instead of, you know, not doing it, but I'm also with Orson when he rips it. Two main takeaways:
- Journalists are terrible with numbers. It's appalling. I bet there isn't a journalism program in the country that requires a statistics course. They are the equivalent of dog groomers once you bring out a decimal point.
- Journalists will not stand for doing a lot of research and declaring "nothing to see here."
SI found nothing but still made the monkey dance:
Of those seven percent, "nearly 60 percent…were guilty or paid some penalty". If we assume "nearly 60 percent" means 57% (shockingly, the actual numbers and survey methods aren’t given), then 4% of players on top 25 football teams have been actually convicted of, or plead guilty to, a crime.
The number of average college students with the same criminal record? According to this article from Corvallis, Oregon’s Daily Barometer, 3.45%. That’s right: Your typical college football player is one-half of one percent more likely to have a criminal conviction. To put that in perspective, a team of 85 players has half a person more convicted criminals on it than a sample of 85 students drawn randomly. Hide yo kids, hide yo wife.
"Nothing" is actually generous. Consider that the kids on college football teams are disproportionately male (duh), black (45% as of 2006), and poor (presumably, right?) and that male, black, and/or poor groups tend to have more criminal activity. SI really discovered that putting someone on a college football team is a good way to keep them out of trouble. Which, duh. You're giving them something to lose.
Braves & Birds criticizes a lack of "solutions" in the SI problem, but how do you solve the opposite of a problem? (Other than hire Greg Robinson.)
BONUS: Remember the Free Press going ape that Michigan didn't do a juvenile background check on Demar Dorsey? Yeah…
…when the nut graf of the piece mentions that only two out of 25 programs conduct background checks on their incoming recruits, there's two instances of serious slippage here. First, programs probably don't do them out of negligence and cost, not because they know that juvenile records searches are sketchy business at best. Second, they assume this means anything when they also write this in the middle of the piece:
Nor did SI and CBS News have access to juvenile arrest records for roughly 80 percent of the players in the study.
The issue of background checks for most recruits in most states is dead before you finish the first page of the article.
BTW, Feldman's latest features a bunch of quotes($) from coaches and administrators citing the same problems bloggers did.
The way it had to end. MSU's hockey team did get swept in Fairbanks, ending Rick Comley's career, but it wasn't easy. Both games went to overtime. On Friday Michigan State had a potential game-winner ruled out and suffered a seemingly controversial UAs game winner. This caused an epic fit of bitching on MSU player twitter feeds—Derek Grant hashtagged "awful," "embarrassing," and "disgraceful" in a single tweet—that suggested Comley had complained to his players about the call in the locker room. The disgraceful event: the MSU net lifted up momentarily but was settled on its moorings before the shot was taken.
MSU's season ended the next night with another overtime goal, and thus ends Rick Comley's career. That's karma. This is something beyond it:
Michigan State hockey head coach Rick Comley reportedly was involved in a physical confrontation Friday night in the Carlson Center with Alaska Nanooks fans Robert Downes, a Fairbanks Superior Court judge, and his daughter, attorney Amy Tallerico. …
Downes, during a telephone interview Saturday, said he talked to Comley after the game. “It was a comment on his complaining about every goal that was scored,” Downes said.
The confrontation reportedly turned physical and Tallerico allegedly was struck. Speaking Saturday night, Tallerico said they exchanged shoves. Her father said she filed a complaint with the CCHA.
I'm not inclined to believe a random fan who dispenses frontier justice over Comley—never been anything but stonefaced in my experience—but for Comley to get into a confrontation with a fan in the last weekend of his career is a weird echo of the Kampfer incident that was the beginning of his end. May it haunt his dreams.
Meanwhile. Other than State getting swept it was a bad week for Michigan on the TUC cliff. OSU and NMU both lost, ending their seasons. Michigan's 5-1 record against them is now gone. Compounding matters, NMU's loss against BGSU sends the Falcons to Yost for a second-round series that can't do much to help Michigan. Sweeping gets them .001 for their RPI.
mfan_in_ohio broke down the comparisons in a diary bumped yesterday, but a brief recap:
- Michigan is still the last one-seed but lost a comparison against UNO. That will be tough to get back unless Bemidji State starts winning games.
- Denver lost over the weekend, keeping them behind M. Michigan can probably stay in front of them by doing at least as well as they do but pulling BGSU complicates things. Denver has a much better opponent this weekend and could pass Michigan in RPI if they win the WCHA.
- Any chance of stealing the BC comparison is gone after the Eagles swept UNH.
- Miami will be dangerously close to passing M if they sweep this weekend but since one or the other will have to lose it's kind of a moot point.
- Ferris is safe as a TUC.
- Lake State can become a TUC by beating ND.
In simple terms, if Michigan wins the CCHA they will very probably be the last one-seed. If they don't they'll be a two.
More dudes. A local newspaper article on 2013 commit Tyler Motte lists offer-type substances:
Motte committed recently to the University of Michigan, choosing the Wolverines over Miami (Ohio), Ferris State, Western Michigan, Ohio State and Michigan State.
It's even more difficult to sort fiction from reality when it comes to college hockey offers since their recruiting cycle is so accelerated, but Miami was Motte's "second choice" so that's probably legit. They're a good team to snatch a recruit from. Knock on wood, but Motte does not sound like he'll give the OHL half a thought. Backing that up: his older brother is ticketed for Ferris.
Michigan continued its run of getting commits from kids who will hit campus after the Mayan apocalypse with 2013's Alex Talcott, a teammate of Alex Kile on Honeybaked's U18 midget major team. He had an 0-10-10 line at the recent Select 15 camp and was the seventh-best forward there according to USHR. All they said was "good hands," though. Michigan Hockey Net has a full googlestalk of Talcott waiting for you; FWIW, The Scouting News claims he's an NTDP "cinch."
This is a bit convoluted. But Simmons's latest column on the NFL is a compelling takedown of the sort of shortsighted thinking that plagues NFL owners specifically and, more generally, anyone who is obsessed with getting the highest Financial Oligarch Pacman score at the expense of the future. That people like Daniel Snyder and Dan Gilbert can own incredibly expensive sports franchises is a condemnation of the whole system. If those comic-sans-deploying, Mark-Shapiro-hiring idiots can make billions of dollars just so they can prove their ineptness in games with a score the idea this is a meritocracy is fanciful, isn't it?
Etc.: Yost introduces $38 "all you can eat" seats. Seriously. Red Berenson will be honored by the Blues today. All Big Ten teams from UMHoops; Morris second, Hardaway third, Morgan and Hardaway all-frosh. Kellen Russell wins a Big Ten championship in wrestling. Even tackles can be too tall.
As we're getting closer to spring ball we will start to see more visits being scheduled and more lists being narrowed down. Michigan is firing up visits. Here's a look at some of those trips that have been scheduled and what a few recruits have to say about the Wolverines. As always, you can follow me on twitter for more updates, and feel free to email me at TomVH@MGoBlog.com with any tips or questions.
5'11", 185 lbs.
West Roxbury, Massachusetts
The Massachusetts athlete and teammate of LB Camren Williams has a Michigan offer and plans on taking a visit this month.
I have 12 offers right now, so I'm kind of taking everything in. Michigan is definitely a school I want to see, I think we're going there either March 26th or the 19th. Coach Mallory is the one recruiting me, and they're telling me I could play cornerback. It doesn't matter to me, wherever I can play the fastest.
Reeves is currently playing basketball for his high school, so he hasn't focused too much on the process. He does know what his timeline will look like.
My final decision will probably be no later than December or January, I'm not going to drag it out. I'll visit all the schools that have offered first, then narrow it down. I'm really looking for a school with good academics, good coaching staff, and what the campus around it is like.
So far Armani has been to Rutgers, North Carolina, Wake Forest, and Maryland. Reeves will be visiting Michigan with his teammate Camren Williams, who is also being recruited by Michigan.
Me and Camren are just enjoying the process together. We've been friends since 4th grade so he's like my brother. We don't base everything on going to school together, it's just a blessing to go through it together. Hopefully we can pick the same school.
This upcoming trip to Ann Arbor should make things more clear for the pair. Williams is looking to make his decision in June, so the visit will be crucial for him.
6'2", 277 lbs.
Johnson does not have an offer from Michigan yet, but they have been in constant communication. He has definite interest.
I do think they'll offer me soon, and I know I want to get up there for a visit. I just have to put some dates in order and check my schedule to see when I have off. I think it will be during spring, since I have that time off, either way I will visit [Michigan]. I don't have a top list yet, but they're definitely a school that sticks out to me.
Defensive tackle is going to be a major focus for Michigan. Despite the fact that Johnson doesn't have an offer from Michigan yet, I believe that he could eventually get one. As other DT prospects make their decisions Michigan will have to look to kids like Johnson to try to shore up that hole on the depth chart.
These visit dates seem to be changing every day, so I will update them as I confirm what they are. Some of the recruits weren't positive on the dates, which tells me it might change. Here's a list of visitors that I have confirmed so far in the next coming weeks.
Michigan DT Matt Godin (6'5", 260 lbs) was in Ann Arbor this past weekend for the Michigan vs. MSU basketball game.
Illinois OL Dan Voltz (6'5", 289 lbs) visiting Michigan this weekend. He'll be making his final decision in the next couple months, so this is a big visit. I think Michigan is a little behind right now.
Wisconsin LB Vince Biegel (6'3", 210 lbs) also visiting Ann Arbor this weekend. This date could change, but as of yesterday it was still the right day. Vince has Michigan in his top three with BYU, and Wisconsin. The coaching changes at Wisconsin made him take a step back, so he'll visit Michigan and BYU next, then likely make his decision.
Michigan LB Royce Jenkins-Stone (6'2", 215 lbs) said he thinks he'll be up to Ann Arbor on March 12th, but it sounded like it wasn't set in stone. This one might change.
Ohio TE AJ Williams (6'6", 260 lbs) has a trip planned for March 19th.
Ohio DE Pharaoh Brown (6'6", 220 lbs) also coming up on March 19th.
As mentioned, Mass LB Camren Williams (6'2", 215 lbs) wasn't sure of the exact date, but it's either March 19th or the 25th. I'll confirm with him in the future.
Mass ATH Armani Reeves (5'11", 185 lbs) teammate of Camren Williams, and will be visiting the same time as Williams.
New York DB Wayne Morgan (5'11", 188 lbs) will be visiting on March 25th. Morgan plays quarterback, corner, and free safety for his high school team now. Very versatile, very good athlete.
Indiana TE/DE Pierre Aka (6'4", 250 lbs) is planning a trip on the 25th as well. He thinks Michigan may offer on the visit. If Michigan offered they could hear his decision shortly after.
This is who I've confirmed so far. I'll be spending time this week trying to confirm more, so this list is going to go up from here.
- Mass LB Camren Williams says Michigan is in his top five, and grew up a Michigan fan. Visiting this month.
- The Good Counsel prospects have interest in Michigan, and vice versa.
- Ohio DE Ifeadi Odenigbo will visit Michigan in June, and says that Michigan is not in his top five yet. A visit may change that, but I believe Ohio State and Stanford are the teams to beat.
- Texas LB Jeremiah Tshimanga didn't make it up to Ann Arbor this weekend, but is hoping to make it up soon.
- Kentucky QB Zeke Pike (6'5", 220 lbs) told me that he plans on visiting Michigan sometime this spring. He doesn't have an exact date yet, but he will make it up. Remember that 2011 Michigan signee TE Chris Barnett is friends with Pike, and has been trying to convince him to pick the Wolverines.