landing spot. will be interesting to see how he does.
It is spring, the time of renewal, by which I mean today is the last day you can renew your football season tickets. In order to do this you were supposed to get your "points" by donating earlier—by Jan. 30 even—but like any other money-taking organization, so long as they have inventory and you are willing to give money for that inventory, a deal may be struck. According to MGoSoftball they won't even tell you the minimum donation you need to get the tickets, because then you might not bid too high. This is starting to sound more like buying a car than access to see Michigan play Air Force, UMass, Illinois, MSU, Northwestern, and Iowa.
JeepinBen posted a link to an attendance visualizer for 2006-'11. The money shot:
Things that don't affect attendance: major scandals (OSU), or fleecing your fanbase with mandatory donations (M). Things that kill attendance: major scandals AND fleecing your fanbase with mandatory donations to buy football tickets. Penn State had their scandal at the same time as Ohio State. The "adjusted season ticket pricing guidelines" were instituted in Happy Beaver Valley State College for 2011.
Meanwhile Indiana and Kentucky won't play each other in basketball for the first time since 1969 because Indiana didn't want to turn it into an NBA game and Kentucky was all like "screw you guys, I'm S-E-C!"
SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH THIS GAME
Now I love college football, so much so that I have knee-jerk reaction when somebody says it's barbaric, even if it's a former linebacker. We don't know what caused Junior Seau to commit suicide, or Dave Duerson, or Ray Easterling. What we know is that multiple concussions can create severe, suicidal depression, and when you start going down the list of former football players to commit suicide it's exactly the dudes you remember as your favorite hitters. Football is still the sport that killed participants and will always be about breaking the other guy's will by flinging your body at him. But I'm ready to overreact now.
That Virginia Tech study which came out last year that ranked the helmets on the market based on safety also taught us a lot about helmet design. Last time I had this conversation with someone it was at the plastics show in Orlando with a guy who makes the padding in the helmets. I asked what's holding them back from making a helmet that cuts down on concussions and got two points back: One, there's an aesthetic problem—people have a general idea of what a football player ought to look like, and some of the danger points (like the top of the forehead) when you put more padding over them, make the player wearing the helmet look less dangerous. Two—and this was just anecdotal—the helmets are already ridiculously safer than they were just 10 years ago, but the safer they make the helmets the more recklessly the players will attack each others' heads. He said when he played ball (in the '60s and '70s) they knew their helmets weren't infallible so players held back, even against hated rivals.
Like I said, I'm ready to overreact, but how? I really have no idea. This is cumulative so the NFL is going to feel the brunt of this, but the concussions don't care if the players were paid when they happened. At the very least remember this when you're complaining about how they effectively got rid of kickoff returns this year. They're obviously trying; there's no such thing as an easy fix.
PRACTICE? PRACTICE? PRACTICE!
Thank you Matthew for discovering a bevy of footage from former slot receiver Terrence Robinson. T-Rob was the first
starting slot bug in the Rodriguez era, but injury and dropsies buried him under the thickest part of the depth chart and he ended an unrenewed 5th after last year. He put his practice film on YouTube because what says Michigan 2008-'10 more than a backup slot receiver burning a who's who of terrible defensive backs. Watch as Teric Jones is knocked on his butt by a 5'8 dude, and J.T. Turner stands around then sort of waves at a pass that's going behind him—exactly the way my brother plays EA NCAA defense. Between hilariously bad bites by a clueless Cullen Christian you can also find a bunch of perfect-touch downfield passes by Devin Gardner. Practice hype: not all fairies.
Double-post on this one but we haven't mentioned it yet on the front page that I can tell: the 2nd slot bug of the Rod era—Odoms—has an organization to help the town that gave Michigan its Florida flavor. I'm contacting them about how we might help (and about their spelling of "Vegtable" [sic]). Brandin Hawthorne wears No. 7 because that's the number of their high school teammate who was shot. Vincent Smith is the team's smallest back and yet the best pass blocker among them. There are towns who have done less for us.
Meanwhile in former player charities, Space Emperor Zoltan is still unfamiliar with human humor, and thus has asked his minions of Earth to tweet him a good name for his celebrity karaoke event.
IS THERE A DRAFT IN HERE OR AM I JUST IN KOREA?
Draft-related items littered the board the past few weeks. The coolest is that from blueherron, who created a spreadsheet of Michigan draft picks. The last three years was unsurprisingly our lowest output since the '80s. Rivals did a two-part series comparing their rankings to the draft and got a good discussion going. And brooktrail posted the inevitable discussion of M's next crop.
COACHES TO AISLE MAGNUS
Magnus's program is a little light at defensive tackle, facing a run-heavy schedule, and looking into going with a 3-3-5 to make up for that. Degree of difficulty for snarky responses applies—I'm sure he's already purchased a stuffed beaver. CoachZ's response is enlightening. Coaches: plz write more diaries.
ALL DIARIES ARE TENNIS DIARIES
ETC. Blockhams are trying to help their Sparty brother. You can help Six Zero by suggesting ways for this not to become RCMB-blue. THE_KNOWLEDGE has discovered our WYSIWYG has a feature to make text bigger and wants his own tab.
Special Teams: Bit of a mixed bag, just not in the way you expected.
This is the final edition of the 2011 Preview Review, focusing on special teams and Brian's "stupid predictions"—his term, not mine. Instead of breaking it down in the categories I've used in the two previous posts, I'm just going to go prediction-by-prediction for this one, since there's obviously less to cover here.
First, however... never forget:
This picture, encapsulating the gawd-awfulness of Michigan's 2010 attempts to split the uprights with a football, prefaced the preview section for kickers. The general assumption, given said gawd-awfulness, was that highly-touted freshman Matt Wile would step onto campus and immediately take over the starting job. Instead, three photos of post-shank Brendan Gibbons graced the top of the "kicker" section ("Rating: 2?"), followed by this caption:
WHAT THE BALLS WHY IS THIS MAN'S PICTURE HERE
It was a legitimate question. Gibbons went 1-for-4 in the 2010 regular season, lost his job to Seth Broekhuizen (3-for-9), then put a fitting cap on RichRod's final season by completely biffing a 35-yarder in the Gator Bowl. Optimism, well, was justifiably absent:
The idea of Gibbons hitting the field again gives me hives. At least this time around there's another option, though it's an option that lost out to Brendan Gibbons. Guh.
I always punt on kickers I haven't seen play but the chances Michigan has come up totally incompetent on two straight scholarship guys is low. Either Gibbons has gotten a lot better or they're trying not to put too much on Wile's plate.
So, of course, Gibbons goes out and hits 13 of 17 field goals, then cements himself in Michigan lore by drilling the game-winner in the Sugar Bowl while thinking about brunettes. By midseason, I wasn't even hiding my eyes when Hoke sent out the field goal unit. Gibbons improved dramatically; I won't attempt to figure out why—kickers are weird—but the stark contrast in reactions between Hoke and Rodriguez when the kicking game went to hell isn't a bad place to start.
The aspect of the kicking game that purported to be rock-solid was punting, where Wile was supposed to hold down the fort for four games until Will Hagerup made a grand, Zoltan-esque return from suspension.
If he manages to get through September without immolating his career, Michigan will have one of those punters color commentators call a "weapon" whenever he strolls onto the field. In Hagerup's case this is almost not hyperbolic.
Brian gave the punters a rating of "3, then 5" with the expectation that Hagerup would put behind him the early struggles of his freshman season and punt like the guy who averaged 44 yards per boot in Big Ten play. Instead, he wasn't even the best punter on the team: Wile averaged 42 yards per punt, while Hagerup managed just 36. Hagerup still started for most of the season, but when he shanked punts for 26 and 24 yards in the Sugar Bowl, Wile came on in relief and again performed better. Michigan finished the season 109th in net punting, a bitterly disappointing effort from a unit that was thought to be a strength.
Less surprising were Michigan's struggles in the return game, where Jeremy Gallon's contined presence at punt returner after finding every conceivable way to fumble in 2010 was deemed "inexplicable." There was one mission, and one mission only:
Gallon and the kick returners? Ask again later. I'm not expecting miracles. Just HOLD ON TO THE DAMN BALL.
There were no miracles. Gallon averaged a hair over ten yards per punt return as the Wolverines finished 53rd nationally in that category. Martavious Odoms and Vincent Smith handled most of the kick return duties; both were underwhelming, and Michigan was 117th in the country, averaging just 18.4 yards. Fumbles were notably absent, however, and thus the masses were placated.
Now we delve into the "Heuristics and Stupid Prediction" portion of the preview. Brian again recounted RichRod's "weird evil turnover juju," then predicted that Michigan would experience a much-needed regression to the mean after finishing -10 in turnover margin in 2010, in large part due to a competent defense and experience (say what?) at quarterback.
If Robinson remains healthy Michigan should improve significantly. The defense has to suck less and Robinson's responsibility should improve rapidly relative to players more than a year removed from being novelty freak shows. I'm afraid that Robinson is just a fumble-prone guy—Mike Hart didn't need experience to hold on to the damn ball—but the interception rate should dip considerably.
On the other side of the ball, a defense that rushes more than three players and has Martin, RVB, and Roh should get back to at least average in sacks. The center of the Gaussian distribution here is probably –3 turnovers on the year; even that would be massive improvement.
Robinson's interception rate, unfortunately, did not take a dive, but that didn't stop the Wolverines from vastly exceeding those expectations. Michigan finished +7 on the year, jumping from 109th to 25th in the national rankings.
The part you all want to see, however, is the final, "stupid" prediction. Before the ultimate unveiling, Brian put forth best-case and worst-case scenarios. Your nightmare season:
There's no bottom if Denard and a couple of other key defensive players are hurt. Leaving the worst-worst case out, a relatively healthy Michigan has no business losing to WMU, EMU, Minnesota, or Purdue at home.
San Diego State, Northwestern, Illinois are all losable but Denard should be able to snake at least one of those. 5-7 is the floor.
Obviously, none of that happened, because this website is not devoted to pictures of kittens. As for the best-case season:
The schedule is fairly soft, with no true road games until Michigan State (the game at Northwestern will be at least half M fans) and both Penn State and Wisconsin rotating off. If the offense maintains its current level of productivity and Mattison mediocres the defense real good, the only game that still seems entirely out of reach is Nebraska.
That's not to say Michigan can reasonably expect to win all games in reach. Taking more than two from Notre Dame, Michigan State, Iowa, and the Akron State Golden Bobcats seems to be irrational optimism. 9-3 is about all you can reasonably hope for.
Take out what ended up being overblown faith in Nebraska and understandable skepticism about the defense being anything better than mediocre and this is essentially what happened. Hooray for besting the "best-case" scenario. Less hooray for overrating Iowa and seeing them beat us anyway.
And finally, Brian's actual prediction:
I add it up and I come up with eight wins and change. Assume one irreplaceable player is annihilated and that comes back down to an even 8-4. Unlike last year, when I predicted 7-5 but thought 6-6 was more likely than 8-4, I think Michigan is more likely to surprise to the positive until such time as we have another Woolfolk ankle explosion pity party.
Some commenters have suggested that the exactingly specific predictions in the previous posts today suggest I'd be predicting something better than 8-4, but I think turnovers, while getting much better, will still be in the red. Though the special teams issues can't be as bad they will still be a problem that could kill Michigan in a close game.
Robinson, Martin, Van Bergen, and Demens all survived the season without significant injury; dodging those potential bullets cannot be understated in its significance. Throw in Michigan's turnover reversal, a defense that surprised even the most irrational optimist, and a competent kicking game—plus the implosion in Columbus—and you get a 10-2 regular season, landmark victories over Notre Dame and Ohio State, and a (completely fluky) Sugar Bowl triumph over Virginia Tech.
Please predict 10-2 this time around, Brian. That's how these things work, right?
WR ALERT. Devin Gardner's facebook:
Stop everything you're doing for the next three months and talk about this. Certain packages are likely to include the redzone and third down stuff when Michigan has four WRs on the field. 20-30 catches maybe? Unless an enraged Al Borges refuses to field a leaker?
UPDATE: Michigan says that's not actually Devin Gardner's facebook page. Woo!
Wow. Of all the quotes to put on Joe Paterno's grave, this is the best one:
No idea if that was planned previously and now takes on a vastly sadder meaning in the aftermath or someone in the family calling a ballsy audible. But, yeah.
When Irish legs are drunkenly crane-kicking you. Tommy Rees was at a party in South Bend that was broken up because it's South Bend. City motto: Where Fun Goes to Die. He got some tickets and stuff, but then the crushing weight of life in rural Indiana finally got to him and he went "wwrrroaaaaaAAHHHH" at a cop:
Officers saw five people jumping a fence to run away and they chased them down, catching Rees and Calabrese.
In an attempt to get away, Trent says Rees kneed an officer in the stomach.
Rees got pepper-sprayed—internet, where is the Tommy Rees getting it from Pepper Spray Cop image?—and arrested on various charges including a felony that has a zero point zero percent chance of sticking.
This is par for the Tommy Rees decision-making course. Confronted by police, the options he considered included:
- calmly taking the ticket and going home
- licking Manti Te'o's face just to see what would happen
- detaching his arm, insisting that it was actually Tommy Rees and he was Steve Miller of Steve Miller band
- transferring to any school coached by a non-mauve person
ANSWER KEY: #5: 10 points. #1: 5 points. #2: one point. #4: zero points. #5: you have been eaten by a grue'o.
So he could have done worse. Irish fans are hoping this disqualifies him from starting this fall. Opponents are hoping for his safe, addled return.
BONUS: Carlo Calabrese is as connected as you would expect a guy named "Carlo Calabrese" to be:
At 1 point, (Carlo) Calabrese allegedly told officers, "my people will get you," per police reports.
DOUBLE DRAGON BONUS: Jacobi uses the Furman suspension to troll Notre Dame about their lack of character. Well done. (BR link!)
Give us back our New Year's Day, and do so by taking it away. Remember when New Year's Day was reserved for teams that had won, like, eight games? Yeah, man, back then you really had to eke out a mediocre season to play on January first. No longer:
At the 2010 Outback Bowl, Auburn became the first team in 62 years to play on New Year’s Day with a losing conference record. Five more teams have done that since then: Northwestern, Texas Tech, Michigan, Florida and Ohio State.
In the past five years, 10 of the 27 New Year’s Day bowls featured a team without a winning conference record. That occurred in just six of the 221 New Year’s Day bowls from 1968 to 2007.
Fans have been treated like suckers. The powers-that-be figured by putting something on New Year’s Day — even if it was undeserving teams — you’d keep filling seats, watching on TV and building up ratings for BCS bowls in the coming days.
You can't even blame TV since the Big Ten's desire to cram every game they're in onto New Year's Day means four games I'd watch if given the option are on at the same time. As long as we're banning 6-6 teams from the postseason, let's ban teams with more than three losses from New Year's Day.
The erosion of NYD is a fine example of the stuff that drives me nuts the increasingly short-term thinking plaguing of college athletics: you have an institution that is loved, so you milk it for dollars until you've destroyed the meaning of that institution. Get The Picture:
The thing is, it’s not like that happened in a vacuum. It wasn’t an accident. It’s what TV wanted. And the conference commissioners were more than happy to comply with the request, as long as the checks rolled in. Now the panic has set in as the numbers decline. But who’s to say that the guys who drove the bus into the ditch in the first place are qualified to pilot the tow truck to pull the bowl season out of the ditch? Does anybody really believe they’d place the sanctity of New Year’s Day above a few more dollars?
On the national level this results in Gator Bowls between 7-5 teams on NYD; on the local level it results in the reseating of Crisler with absolutely no consideration given to the guys who have had tickets for the last crappy decade.
Alienating your most loyal fans is rarely a winner unless you're winding down an industry. (See: profitable but debt-laden newspapers slashing content willy-nilly.)
How to do it. I may expand this into a larger post later, but amongst an avalanche of head-nods and "you go girl" exclamations while I read Dan Wetzel's latest article on how to construct playoffs I found myself having a serious disagreement. It's here:
There is no good way to choose the field. None. There has to be a subjective decision made, and no one likes subjective decisions.
The best of a bad situation is to have that subjectivity hashed out in a cool, calm and studied environment and then make the selection process as transparent as possible.
As such, the sport would be best served if it created a single computer formula. People could decide how important strength of schedule (preferably giving extra credence to tough nonconference scheduling) or margin of victory or home-field/road-game criteria should be. They could program the formula accordingly and then test and tweak the next two seasons.
Most importantly, they could offer it up to everyone so that teams can plan ahead, know what they are up against and track the progress as the season goes along.
I'm a math guy, but that's not going to work. There is just not enough data in a 12-game season with very little meaningful overlap between conferences. Adding MOV helps, but not enough. Even computer models that try to take every drive or play into account spit out weird results like Virginia Tech #3 overall in 2009. While any selection mechanism would fall on the descriptive side of the descriptive/predictive rankings divide*, I just don't see a computer ranking ever getting fine enough that it will be right as much as a dedicated selection committee.
You need the committee to override groupthink like "Oregon has more losses than Stanford because it played LSU, so Stanford makes it."
In other playoff ideas, I do like the idea that a conference champ ranked 5 or 6 gets in over someone who didn't win the conference. Without that limitation you get some squirrelly fields. That one seems good to me since it solves that Oregon issue.
*[IE: rankings either describe what you've done—evaluate who's had the best season—or attempt to predict the future by ignoring noisy wins and losses for a more robust underlying model.]
Stop, collaborate, and listen. Joe Stapleton talked with Zak Irvin's AAU coach and came back with some tantalizing tidbits. He's his loaded AAU team's go-to scorer and we also get some additional indication he could be BRJ 3000:
“Defensively, he’s our stopper,” Green said. “We put him on the other team’s best player. So sometimes you’ve got the best offensive guy, he’s going to work, but then he’s got to turn around and play defense against the other team’s best player. He’s capable of doing both.”
When the All-Stars were in zone, Irvin played at the top and was disruptive. His 6-foot-6 frame and long arms made it nearly impossible for smaller guards to get a lob pass over him, and his quickness allowed him to hound the ball without getting taken advantage of.
When the All-Stars were in man-to-man, Irvin guarded the opposing team’s best player and gave them plenty of trouble. Irvin’s combination of size and quickness allowed him to guard post players and wing players equally effectively.
“His best attribute right now is being a lockdown defender,” Green said. “Defensively, he’s always been a lockdown defender and that’s never going to change.”
I love players who can add value without using possessions, whether they're Aaron Craft or Ben Wallace. Irvin is going to use possessions, possibly at a Hardaway rate—in AAU the dude is an aggressive shooter. Add in a lot more value than Hardaway has at the other end of the floor, where he's an indifferent defender, and an inch or two of height and Irvin sounds like a top 50 player easy.
Etc.: Various coaches on playoffs. Considerable speculation that Alabama's projected starting tailback may not be ready for the Jerryworld game. They would plug in a five-star freshman in his stead. You are annihilating the EDSBS fundraiser. Good luck, St. Louis group trying to get a Big 10-SEC bowl game there. Seriously, good luck.
An apparently continuing series on Dave Brandon's remarkably malleable opinions.
Dave Brandon, January 16th($):
"This whole notion of a playoff is ridiculous because I don't care what you come up with, it's not going to be a fair playoff. You've got a bunch of teams that don't play one another and play different competition and in different time zones in different conferences in different stadiums in front of different crowds and different weather and suddenly at some point in the year you are trying to arbitrarily decide which one is better and which one deserves to be in a four-team playoff or a six-team playoff."
Dave Brandon, May 3rd:
"I'm not opposed to 1 vs. 4, 2 vs. 3, plus-one concept," Brandon said. "I don't see it as a true playoff system. It's a clever way to come up with one more football game. I'm not sure I call that a playoff, but if it makes everybody feel better, call it a playoff."
Mmmm, bendy. Dave Brandon's line between playoff and not playoff is 5.87 teams, no fewer, no more.
|Akron, OH – 6'2", 190|
22 in black
|Scout||4*, #19 S, #245 overall|
|Rivals||4*, #12 S, #15 OH|
|ESPN||4*, 80, #13 S, #9 OH|
|24/7||4*, #15 S, #16 OH|
|Other Suitors||Penn State, Notre Dame, Stanford, Michigan State|
|YMRMFSPA||Jamar Adams. I mean it this time.|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Tim. Tom interviews Ricky Powers.|
|Notes||Coach is… former Wolverine Ricky Powers. Early enrolee.|
You may already be familiar with Jarrod Wilson from the spring game and practice videos. He's the guy a second late when a running back breaks past the line, the one who's diving at ankles and not quite making the tackle. That's fine. Wilson was suiting up for Akron Buchtel a few months ago and is still adapting to the speed of the college game. Once he accelerates his thinking he'll be on his feet, bringing people down.
What Michigan has in Wilson is a safety. Not a safety who's probably a linebacker, or a tight end, or a wide receiver, or a gibbering pile of meat that explodes into touchdown confetti whenever play action occurs. A safety. At 6'2", 190 pounds Wilson will fill out to 200 or 210 or maybe 220 and still be the rangy center-field type who can come down and cover a tight end or running back man-to-man. He will not end up at strongside linebacker. He is a safety. Michigan fans have a slight paranoia about this position group.
Don't listen to me, listen to everyone. The recruiting sites seemed to have huddled up on Wilson, agreed to rank him somewhere around the #15 safety in the country, and split up with a "no gibbering pile of touchdown meat" break. After dispersing, they all wrote the same things.
Wilson should emerge as an upper-tier free safety prospect in 2012. …Possesses great size. Tall, well-built with good length and room to fill out. He flashes great range, particularly in deep coverage and good overall speed. Best attribute may be his reads and diagnosing skills. Rarely caught out of position, stays deep as the deepest and expertly splits twins set receivers. Consistently takes direct angles to the ball while keeping the pass in front of him. Times his break accurately and has the range to get over and on the top of deep routes.
The lone downside is a lack of explosive explosiveness. Everything else is there: frame, smarts, range. The scouting report goes on to praise his ability to keep leverage, cover a deep half, be a cover-one safety, etc. For a Michigan fan burned over and over again by alarming safety play, this is catnip. Seriously, if you have insider, just read it, then read it again, and then try really hard not to think about Isaiah Bell.
It's basically the same elsewhere. Trieu praises his closing speed, awareness, and hands, notes his quickness and flexibility are relative downsides, and speaks thusly:
Wilson is a rangy safety with a knack for making big plays. He has good closing speed, ball skills and anticipation. When the ball is in his hands, he's usually a threat to score or have a big return. He's not as good side to side as he is in a straight line.
Bucknuts' Duane Long:
If a college coach came to me and said he played eight in the box alot and needed a centerfielder right in the middle of the field I would suggest Jarrod Wilson. He is fast and very athletic. He reads the game and reacts to the ball as well as any safety in the class. The best cover safety in the class. The best safety in the class on the ball. He needs to be a better tackler. The good news is he is a willing tackler. Never shies away from contact.
Rivals site Ohio Varsity praises($) his "ideal size," "knack for being at the right place at the right time," and says his "reactions are blue chip caliber." Run support is just adequate, man-to-man is something to work on, etc. Bill Greene caught a game and came back saying the same bit about "covering a large area of the field." You get the idea.
FWIW, when he showed at the Best of the Midwest camp last year Josh Helmholdt thought he did okay($):
One of the biggest questions regarding Wilson's game coming into Sunday's event was whether the big safety could handle man-to-man coverage, and he answered that satisfactorily. Wilson flips his hips well and showed the speed necessary to stay with even the smaller receivers. He is still destined for safety in college, but his coverage skills should be no longer in doubt.
He's not a corner; he'll be able to cope unless the defense gets really mixed up.
One area in which his athleticism is not in doubt is getting off the ground. Multiple reports held that he is a Hemingway-esque leaper, with this the most evocative($):
Jarrod Wilson, a 4-star safety prospect from Buchtel High in Akron, Ohio, had his fellow campers buzzing when he leaped so high during the vertical-jump competition that his right hand passed over the top rung of the testing apparatus.
Wilson was credited with a 42-inch leap because the machine was set to record jumps up to 42 inches. After several minutes of discussion, D1 officials reset the apparatus to accommodate higher jumps. Wilson couldn't match his previous magic, however, posting a best of 41 inches on three subsequent jumps.
All that got Wilson every major Midwest offer save Ohio State—who went after some guys who showed at camp instead—plus various distant offers of varying impressiveness: UCLA, WVU, Stanford. (It's always nice to see a Stanford offer, since that means chances of not qualifying are zero.) So: Wilson, a large, rangy safety with an issue or two in run support who is not going in the first round of the draft because he is not an A+ athlete. I'll take two.
We have yet more data on Wilson since he showed up early. Forced into the two deep immediately thanks to Josh Furman's suspension, Wilson was the subject of more chatter than all topics not involving Joe Bolden or Devin Gardner at WR. Jordan Kovacs on his adjustment:
“He’s come in and picked up the defense really, really well. That’s one of the things he’s got the football smarts and as a defensive back you really need that,” Kovacs said. “Don’t get me wrong, there are things he needs to get cleaned up and improved on, but I’m definitely impressed with how much he’s progressed and how good of a ballplayer he is as a senior in high school. He has a lot more time here and I expect big things in the future.”
Kovacs went another step. When asked if he felt Wilson could play in the fall, he said he could see it.
Powers had said something similar($) earlier in the year:
"He's starting to be a student of the game," said Buchtel coach Ricky Powers. "He's coming to watch film and do all those things that need to be done to get him better. He's a smart kid anyway, so it wasn't hard.
"We taught him to understand offenses and what defenses he should be calling what looks they're going to show us and how he can counter those looks with the calls he makes. More classroom work than anything else. The kid has the physical ability to do anything." …
"He's just a smart kid," Powers said. "There's a reason why he's going to Michigan, and he's proven that."
While no one wants to see a freshman starting at safety ever again, Wilson may be able to step in as a sophomore and play beyond his years thanks to his well-oiled thinkin' organ. If pressed into duty this year things could be as un-disastrous as they were when Jamar Adams was.
Long term, there's this feeling. It's not like dread. It's kind of a feeling that you get when the sun's out and it's nice and breezy. No idea what it is, but not dread. Sort of like thinking something might work out in the future. No idea what it is.
Etc.: Smartphone video of his commitment. Not a hat dude. Had a sign. Michigan's hat dude drought continues. Rivals AMP feature on one of his games. Team got blown out 31-6, unfortunately. Won some sort of MVP at something called the "Offense-Defense Bowl." Postgame interview. Monster game to finish his high school career.
He's on the couch. It's quite a couch. It's got plastic all over it.
Magnus is… happy?
I am a huge fan of Wilson's abilities. He has the size, speed, tackling ability, and ballhawking instincts that Michigan teams have been lacking for the last several years. And, perhaps best of all, he's the elusive Michigan-recruited safety who actually looks like a safety and not a linebacker.
Well all right then.
Why Jamar Adams? Adams gets dragged out a lot in YMRMFSPA because comparing incoming recruits to other Michigan safeties over the last decade is a good way to get on an enemies list, but in this case the comparison is pretty tight. Both guys are 6'2". Adams topped out around 215, which is where Wilson will probably end up. Adams was also a high character guy with the smarts not to get annihilated in coverage as a freshman.
While Adams was a generic three-star recruit he outperformed his recruiting ranking and had a quintessential mid-four-star career as a three-year starter who was second-team all conference twice. Adams also lacked the explosive explosivity that makes NFL teams drool, went undrafted, and kicked around NFL practice squads for a bit.
Wilson may have a little bit more upside, athleticism and range; we'll see. No one will be complaining if he's an atom-accurate replica of Adams.
Guru Reliability: High. They're in lockstep, Wilson was healthy, well-scouted, etc. Only some additional camp appearances or an All Star game thing would have helped.
Variance: Very low. Smart kid and good student not likely to have academic issues. Already on campus, picking up praise for his understanding of the defense. Projects to a spot he played in high school. Injury-free so far.
Ceiling: Moderate-plus. Seems like he has a B+/A- ceiling he's likely to reach.
General Excitement Level: After implementing a complex anti-jinx ritual I can say this: high. While Wilson seems to lack the outrageous athleticism that would pop him up into the Dymonte Thomas range, he's got everything else. He's taken the first step towards contributing by showing up and seeming to belong this spring and will be the #1 candidate to step into Jordan Kovacs's unerringly accurate shoes.
I have a lower threshold for "high" at safety than anywhere else, admittedly.
Projection: What it says above: someone's got to replace Jordan Kovacs next year and the bet here is that Wilson is the guy with Marvin Robinson the major threat. If Robinson wins run support will probably be the reason why. I am not putting much emphasis on the distinction between free and strong safety because my guess is that Michigan's safeties get a lot more interchangeable once Kovacs is gone and they don't have a weird player with elite skills and major issues all in one package.
Wilson probably will not redshirt as Michigan tries to get him prepped for major time as a sophomore. Michigan will deploy him on special teams and maybe use him to give the starting safeties a breather if they find themselves in games that aren't particularly hairy.
About 50 minutes. Also, I'm hosting, so you'll have to wait for another time to hear Brian's dulcet tones on the mic.
MORE RECRUITIN'. The top remaining positions of need—and the top targets to fill those needs—are discussed. You should be able to guess my top three Michigan targets without even bothering to listen (but please listen).
THE QUEST FOR THE HOLY RECRUITING GRAIL. Realistic expectations for how each class will fill out are put forth, as are guesses about where they will land in the national team rankings. I try very hard not to scream "eat it suckers we're number one!!!1!" I mostly succeed.
EVERYBODY IN THE CLUB COMMITTIN' EARLY. Why? We have theories.
NON-COMMITTABLE OFFERS AND YOU. Hate to break it to you, but Brady Hoke recruits a lot more like Urban Meyer than Bill O'Brien.
SONGS. Um, Brian chose the songs. Ask him. [ED: There aren't any songs except for the intro and outro since it's just one long segment.]
The usual links:
Unattributed from Colley Matrix computer poll / Archived from MGoBlue.com
Earlier this week Brian discussed the latest iteration of college football's playoff structure. While the commissioners try to get a ratification whip count from the states and techs etc., we're now left with a far narrower scope of playoff possibilities to argue, opine, and get ignored about. The number of teams is probably four. The parameters:
- Site: Current bowls or home games for higher seeds.
- Decision Process: BCS-like system or committee
At the moment I'm much more concerned with the first. Fortunately we have an entire BCS history's worth of trials to test these things. So let's just imagine that a four-team playoff was instituted in 1998 instead of the BCS.
Actually I did something similar last December to decide how big the field should be (answer: six). The point of this exercise is a little different in focusing on a four-team system; hopefully it'll give us a preview of what we're getting into. Perhaps by running through BCS history we can anticipate the kinds of controversies a four-team playoff will generate, and which iniquities of the current system will be eradicated.
Fortune Favors Where the Heart Is
Brian's all for home games and so am I, but that's because I'm a college football fan who likes campuses and pageantry and bands playing associative 19th century marching tunes and sidelines where the subs aren't $3.99 sandwiches. Fortunately money is on the side of home games too. Travel costs are at least halved, yes, but the capacities also increase by an average of 10,000 per game.
I got that number by re-seeding the last 14 years of BCS playoffs as if it was a four-team instead of two-team playoff, and showing the capacities of the home stadia they might have played in versus the bowl games they would have been assigned via a host's tie-in system:
|Year||Game||Game||Venue||Host Capacity||Bowl||Bowl Capacity|
|1998||#1 v #4||Ohio St @ Tennessee||Neyland||102,455||Sugar||76,468|
|1998||#2 v #3||Kansas St @ FSU||Doak Campbell||82,300||Orange||76,500|
|1999||#1 v #4||Alabama @ FSU||Doak Campbell||82,300||Orange||76,500|
|1999||#2 v #3||Nebraska @ Va Tech||Lane Stadium||66,233||Fiesta||73,227|
|2000||#1 v #4||Miami @ Oklahoma *||Gaylord||82,112||Fiesta||73,227|
|2000||#2 v #3||Washington @ FSU †||Doak Campbell||82,300||Orange||76,500|
|2001||#1 v #4||Colorado @ Miami||Dolphin Stadium||76,500||Orange||76,500|
|2001||#2 v #3||Oregon @ Nebraska ‡||Memorial||81,067||Fiesta||73,227|
|2002||#1 v #4||USC @ Miami||Dolphin Stadium||76,500||Orange||76,500|
|2002||#2 v #3||Georgia @ Ohio St||Ohio Stadium||102,329||Rose||94,392|
|2003||#1 v #4||MICH @ Oklahoma§||Gaylord||82,112||Fiesta||73,227|
|2003||#2 v #3||USC @ LSU||Tiger Stadium||99,500||Sugar||76,468|
|2004||#1 v #4||Utah @ USC ‖||LA Coliseum||93,607||Rose||94,392|
|2004||#2 v #3||Auburn @ Oklahoma||Gaylord||82,112||Fiesta||73,227|
|2005||#1 v #4||Ohio St @ USC||LA Coliseum||93,607||Rose||94,392|
|2005||#2 v #3||Penn St @ Texas||Darrell K Royal||100,119||Fiesta||73,227|
|2006||#1 v #4||LSU @ Ohio St||Ohio Stadium||102,329||Rose||94,392|
|2006||#2 v #3||Florida @ MICH ¶||The Big House||109,901||Sugar||76,468|
|2007||#1 v #4||Oklahoma @ Ohio St||Ohio Stadium||102,329||Rose||94,392|
|2007||#2 v #3||Va Tech @ LSU||Tiger Stadium||99,500||Sugar||76,468|
|2008||#1 v #4||Alabama @ Oklahoma||Gaylord||82,112||Fiesta||73,227|
|2008||#2 v #3||Texas @ Florida||The Swamp||88,548||Sugar||76,468|
|2009||#1 v #4||TCU @ Alabama||Bryant-Denny||101,821||Sugar||76,468|
|2009||#2 v #3||Cincinnati @ Texas||Darrell K Royal||100,119||Fiesta||73,227|
|2010||#1 v #4||Stanford @ Auburn||Jordan-Hare||87,451||Sugar||76,468|
|2010||#2 v #3||TCU @ Oregon||Autzen||54,000||Rose||94,392|
|2011||#1 v #4||Stanford @ LSU||Tiger Stadium||99,500||Sugar||76,468|
|2011||#2 v #3||Okla St @ Alabama||Bryant-Denny||101,821||Orange||76,500|
* Miami finished 4th and Washington 3rd in the BCS standing, but I swapped them to avoid an FSU-Miami rematch.
† 10-1 Washington is in over 10-1 VT and 10-1 Oregon State.
‡ Nebraska/Colorado/Oregon is a mess. I figured 2 losses mean Colorado takes the back seat, and Oregon gets screwed by the committee who don't want a game in Eugene if they can avoid it.
§ Another mess. The committee could as easily put USC here to face Michigan.
‖ Texas and Cal were both ranked higher than Utah, but Utah gets nod so that 4/5 undefeated teams are in the playoffs Boise State is out.
¶ I put Michigan as the No. 2 and host since bumping Florida no longer avoids a rematch.
And the numbers:
|% of Games < 80k||21.4%||78.6%|
In 1998 a difference of 10,000 seats might have been made up for by the bowl venues because of their luxury boxes and better concessions, but since then the big-time collegiate venues, i.e. the ones most likely to be ranked in the Top 2 at the end of the regular season, have more than caught up to the pros in every regard except in-stadium advertising (for good reason). Meanwhile the only bowl venue comparable to the homes of D-I power programs is the Rose (a college stadium).
There were some calls I had to make in there, for example LSU won't increase its capacity to 99,500 until 2014 (they're at 93,000 now). And U-Phoenix Stadium was listed at its maximum football capacity to date, not the one they say they can get to with their ultra-hydro-matic seating expansion system™, because if they couldn't whip them out for the Superbowl why would they have them for an NCAA semi-final?
Sanity-checking, I did this initially using real numbers—taking the largest announced capacities for each host's and bowl's venue for that year (example: Neyland Stadium's 107,653 in 1998 is from the '98 Florida game)—and the numbers barely moved. Avg. capacity for home games: 88,489; Avg. capacity for bowls: 77,877. Same difference.
Future-proofing the dolla dolla bill y'all advantage, college football stadiums are growing in capacity while the bowl stadiums aren't.
I emphasize this because the bits of conversation leaking from the commisionerati keep fearing things like Cincinnati (Nippert Stadium: 35,097) finishing in the Top 2. Looking above there are just four games in 28 in which a stadium of under 80,000 capacity would have hosted: Autzen's 54,000 once, Virginia Tech's 66,000 once, and two games at Miami (YTM)'s home, which is the same place they play the Orange Bowl.
This is our concern Lebowski
I don't believe the dreaded small venue is that much of a threat. Paul Brown Stadium is three miles away from Nippert and is tapped often for "big" games like West Virginia and Louisville. TCU is in Fort Worth, spitting distance from JerryWorld. Boise State sneaking in after trouncing the now mid-major Big East is the real concern, but they've been handily kept out of the Top Two so far; if it actually comes down to undefeated Boise getting a home seed, either suck it up and let them have the most important event in Idaho history they deserve after being so good so long, or find a way to slide a 2-loss SEC team ahead of them and ride out the now-standard outrage.
Brian mentioned the bowl games aren't worried about selling out since they sell mostly to scalpers who then assume the risk/reward of the eventual matchup, but this also creates a middle-man scenario. The reason scalpers do this is the market is almost always higher than the face value once the teams are decided, with fans commonly paying three times the initial value. If you want to know how to flow this price variance to the athletic departments instead of the scalpers, just have Dave Brandon give his seminar on Creating the Future™ to ADs; a huge donation to get on the waiting list for season tickets feels like fleecing, but if I'm paying $300 on Stubhub now, why wouldn't I donate $200 to the university to reserve my $100 seat?
There Is a Downside to Home Games
And I just hinted at a big one just now: any controversy a four-team field avoids over a two-team field, it gains back again by having either pollsters, computers, or committees parsing between nearly identical seasons to decide who hosts the #2-#3 game. All it takes is one petulant Dantonio (or Urban Meyer PR campaign, or Fulmer with Heisman envy) to swap Gators in the Big House for Wolverines in the Swamp.
Add that to the fact that you just swapped the "who's in" wrangling from 2-3 to 4-5, and now there's at least two teams every season likely to believe they got screwed. Neutral site games at least neutralize any advantage gained by being #2 rather than #3. Of course it also neutralizes the advantage of being #1 versus #4 (except for a vaguely easier matchup in the first round). There is a possibility of a compromise solution here where #1 plays #4 at home but the 2-3 game goes to a predetermined neutral site. Of course now you're just shifting that argument to 1-2.
Another advantage of using the bowls—to the ADs, not the fans—is that home games at college stadiums invite the nasty beast of student tickets. Students pay more now than they ever did (my senior year was $85) but it's still way less than alumni. Make them buy general admission for a semifinal game and you invite the inevitable Daily column and Diag outrage. Give 'em the student discount and you just wiped out much of your 10,000-toushie advantage. Go to a bowl and the question is moot.
ADDED: I forgot (and meant to) mention that another consideration against home sites is that the teams themselves would probably rather travel. The big schools use their bowl trips and bowl swag to reward the players and recruit new ones. Roy Roundtree (just using him as an e.g. senior everyone likes) would probably take the free trip to Pasadena over another home game in Ann Arbor if you put it to him that way. The big thing the bowls have going for them is that the teams themselves love traveling to the bowls.
What happened: Tennessee came in 12-0 and an obvious No. 1, but there was some debate about who should play them. Florida State, near the peak of their powers, was the most sensible pick. Other claimants included one-loss Kansas State and Ohio State, both behind FSU more for the timing of their one loss than anything else. Tulane went undefeated spread 'n shredding a Conf-USA schedule. Arizona and Wisconsin also went 11-1.
And then we had a big debate about: Mostly that Kansas State wasn't invited to any BCS bowl; they ended up losing to Purdue in the Alamo.
If we had a playoff: Tennessee hosts Ohio State, Kansas State visits Tallahassee, and nobody complains but Tulane. The normal tie-ins for bowls fit just as nicely.
Outcome: Few thought Ohio State or Kansas State were better than Florida State so this works out either way.
What happened: Oklahoma was undefeated and an obvious #1. After that it was an inbred mess of one-loss teams. Florida State's loss was to one-loss Miami (YTM), as was V-Tech's only loss. Miami only lost to Washington, who only lost to Oregon, who had two losses one of which being to Oregon State, who only lost to Washington. FSU got the nod because they're Florida State.
And then we had a big debate about: If only Henson had been healthy all year. And the whole head-to-head-to-head thing.
If we had a playoff game: Well you leave out Oregon State and VT, though everyone but the fans of those teams could be down with that. But now you need to do some fiddling to avoid a rematch in the semifinals. For this reason you want FSU playing Washington, but which one hosts? Probably Florida State, and Miami has to be content with facing Oklahoma when they thought they should be hosts themselves.
Outcome: This illustrates the playoff problem of rematches, which if not controlled by a committee of sorts would become twice as likely now that twice as many teams are in the playoffs.
What happened: Similar situation as the previous year, fewer teams, more debate. Miami was obviously #1 and mentioned among the best teams ever. Nebraska thought they might be in that conversation until losing to Colorado, who went on to win the Big XII championship but had two losses. And then there's Oregon, as justifiable and as ignored in the year-long, racial-overtoned Huskers vs. Canes fest as Joey Harrington's Heisman-level campaign. Nebraska got the nod, and got demolished.
And then we had a big debate about: If you don't even win your conference… Nobody mentioned Oregon, which I thought was very weird and spent most of a night trying to convince the Daily sports editor to back over Colorado.
If we had a playoff game: Hooray they're all in. Again there's the rematch situation that's easily solved by having Colorado be the fourth seed and Oregon visit Nebraska. We all win.
Outcome: Here we see how a neutral site isn't necessarily a home game, since a Miami home game and the Orange Bowl are the same thing. On the other hand you're trading Tempe for Nebraska in early January.
What happened: There were three viable one-loss teams and only two spots. The BCS used computers to judge the strength of a season to make up for pollsters' obsession with shiny things and whatever happened three seconds ago, and this resulted in LSU and Oklahoma playing with USC left out despite being #1 to both polls of people who are easily distracted by Reggie Bush. The AP rebelled and said it would stick with USC if they beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl.
And then we had a big debate about: How computers and statistics and the hard realities of the world around us are not nearly as important to the greater human experience as the world that we perceive, that what makes us human is this capacity for fallibility, that we can make choices of the heart even in the face of concrete logical evidence. If you think otherwise then you're a pointy-eared bastard.
If we had a playoff game: Well there's three one-loss teams and then a whole slew of relatively even two-loss teams. However the 5th ranked one had just lost to the 4th ranked one, which was Michigan. So John Navarre and co. travel to Norman while USC faces LSU.
Outcome: I actually like our chances against Oklahoma. Not love, but like better than USC. Oh right, hypothetical. Well USC going to Baton Rouge instead of staying in L.A. because of a computer would bother them just as much as going to New Orleans instead of the Rose Bowl because of a computer.
What happened: Virtually the same thing, different result. Three undefeated teams on top plus two undefeated mid-majors, and two one-loss teams between them.
And then we had a big debate about: How Auburn could be left out because pollsters don't care about strength of schedule and the computers were neutered.
If we had a playoff game: Well now Auburn is in but who plays USC? Can Mack Brown downvote Cal to get the Longhorns into the playoffs instead of the Rose Bowl? Or do they take the Bears for having lost only to USC (and do they play at USC again, or do we move the #1 seed so now Auburn's playing USC? Or do we take 11-0 Utah and skip the be-loss'ed teams? Then what about Boise State? Eh, screw Boise. Oklahoma gets Utah and Auburn visits USC.
Outcome: This is a classic example of how odd numbers screw with playoffs. A two-team playoff left out Auburn; a four-team playoff now elevates the Texas-Cal dishonesty to playoff proportions. That's why I said they ought to take Utah. What I don't want to see is for the system to force them to take an undefeated 6th seed over a 1-loss four-seed. I'm pretty sure by this point that I'm for a committee, not a ranking system, determining the seeds.
What happened: You already know about [deep echoey voice] FOOTBALL ARMAGEDDON and the result.
And then we had a big debate about: You know that too.
If we had a playoff game: Now the question is which two-loss team between LSU and USC? And down the line there's still one-loss Louisville, one-loss Wisconsin, and undefeated Boise State. This time I invite the Broncos, because there's such a clear line between Michigan's season and LSU's (at this point anyway).
Outcome: Here's the 2 or 3 problem. We know Florida got in when Michigan's prima facie case was far stronger, but that was to avoid a rematch of [deep voice] FOOTBALL ARMAGEDDON. Would they do the same just to avoid a January date in the vicinity of Great Lakes?
What happened: Final BCS Standings: 1. Oklahoma (12-1), 2. Florida (12-1), 3. Texas (11-1), 4. Alabama (12-1), 5. USC (11-1), 6. Utah 12-0, 7. Texas Tech (11-1), 8. Penn State (11-1), 9. Boise State (12-0)
And then we had a big debate about: All of the things.
If we had a playoff game: Half of the things.
Outcome: Expanding to four teams does not guarantee a national champ.
What happened: Five teams finished undefeated, and Florida had only lost to Bama in the SEC championship game. Since only two of the undefeated teams were from real BCS conferences (We had to be reminded multiple times that season that Cincy was in the Big East. q.v.) it was an easy choice.
And then we had a big debate about: How mid-majors who play perfect seasons always get screwed, even after they are careful to add at least one football team to their schedules full of Rocky Mountain mime schools.
If we had a playoff game: Boise still gets left out, Bama and Texas munch on snackycake undefeated teams before the inevitable matchup between them.
Outcome: You got the idea awhile ago. The following year TCU was undefeated and left out of an otherwise obvious matchup of Auburn and Oregon.
What happened: LSU was 13-0, and had already beaten No. 2 Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Okie State and Stanford made one-loss runs that nobody thought were as good as Bama's season. So we played the rematch nobody wanted to see outside the SEC, and horror of horrors the original loser won by enough to win the battle of "my win over you was better than your win over me, let's lolz at everyone else who is puny for not cutting their bad players and replacing them with robots! lolz lolz lolz S-E-C!"
And then we had a big debate about: How we need a playoffs.
If we had a playoff game: For the first time it would have been almost perfect.
Outcome: As with every other BCS season, the perfect system for any given year is the one implemented next year.
1999, 2000, 2002, and 2005 are examples of when a four-team playoff would have overly complicated a relatively simple field of two. This ought to be a greater concern than whether a school that seats 35,000 and doesn't have access to an NFL venue nearby will end up ranked in the Top 2. I believe an option to skip the semifinals in obvious situations would ensure they have the right playoff every year, but that creates its own problems.
Birthday shout-out to my little brother. You're getting MGoShirts again.
Gorilla smash. This blog's readership annihilated the annual EDSBS charity fundraiser last year, bringing hope to refugees and a Bo-themed skin to EDSBS. Michigan coasted past #2 Auburn by a full two grand, and lo, we were amply rewarded.
You can take the opportunity to defend your crown by hitting up the 2012 version; this year the winning team also gets an episode of Shutdown Fullback devoted to it ("in a good way!" Orson says) and a "custom essay focused on doing nothing but denigrating the things the winning school finds deplorable."
Just going to leave this screenshot here now.
Yes, that's real. Or at least it is for me. /shakes fist at google personalization
Unfortunately, only round dollar amounts are available this year so you can't punch in your favorite score from a rivalry game unless you want to go big baller… or commemorate the Yakety Sax game with your 38.00.
Note: make sure to leave the school name in the DESIGNATION line, lest your donation not be credited to the glorious university you owe your lives, fortune, and honor to. If you need further hate to motivate you, that guy whose operative theory about why Brady Hoke will fail is "recruits too many NFL-sized offensive linemen who remind me of a guy who didn't work out for OSU" is suggesting that OSU fans should donate to "embarrass Michigan." Also he has not read the instructions closely enough, the bastard.
The last tie. 1992 OSU:
Reinstated. Josh Furman is back and ready to go. Given the way this worked out, couldn't he have been practicing? He and the team would have benefited and… like… it doesn't sound like anything happened except some yelling into a dorm room (and, of course, the heinous crime against Furman's locks).
Somehow this sums up everything perfectly. SBN headline:
College Football Playoffs: Which 2 Bowls Should Be Added To The BCS?
College football? College football.
The plan. Two and out for Trey Burke is the plan:
Dime: Do you plan on leaving school for the NBA if you have another good year next season?
TB: If I have a great season, and we go far, I probably will lean towards coming out. I can’t really speak on that right now, it’s too early. But I definitely will look into it and my coaches will help me look into it because they understand the type of situation I’m in.
It would be nice to get Michigan's hyped freshman point guard a little time to get his feet wet but I'll take it. Derrick Walton's happy about his choice right now.
The limit. It turns out I've got one when it comes to recruiting, and it's one the premium sites, Tremendous and UMHoops are now exploring on a daily basis. If I see a "2014" or even "2015" in front of a kid's name, I am unmoved unless they seem extremely good and likely to end up at M.
A comprehensive list of 2014 football recruits I am interested in hearing about at this juncture: Malik McDowell. Since some of them are ending up at M it is also interesting to figure out how good the next crop of Cass Tech kids is. IL CB Parrker Westphal just got offers from half the Big Ten and is coached by Todd Howard (yes that Todd Howard), so he's getting there. I may be interested in 2014 Mississippi SG Devin Booker, but am not sure yet.
This will change after football players' junior seasons; in basketball it will change when Beilein can fire out offers in June. Right now it's just all so futuristic, man. Like finding an NCAA tournament loss to a major underdog hits only a pile of scar tissue where your heart used to be, I assume this is an effect of being a hockey fan. When Tristin Llewellyn committed he was supposed to be amazing. This did not happen. Need more data before emotions get all emotional.
Under that limit. I am interested to hear how Michigan's 2013 basketball commits are doing during their AAU season. Zak Irvin's play continues to improve:
Zak Irvin (2013, Wing, Eric Gordon All-Stars – Commit)
Zak Irvin is without a doubt one of the better players in his class. His jumpshot is water and when he gets it going from beyond the arc it’s almost impossible to stop him. His long arms make him a terror at the top of the zone on defense. In man-to-man sets, he was easily the best on-ball defender on his team. Irvin’s team is loaded, with two players headed to Indiana, one to Notre Dame and another to Purdue, but when the Eric Gordon All-Stars needed buckets it seemed like Irvin was the primary option. Irvin’s handle is solid and he looked okay running point guard sporadically, though he had a few turnovers. Two areas of his game to watch are his passing ability and rebounding. He made a concerted effort to rebound all weekend and wound up with 12 in the final game of the day on Saturday. He was also able to find his teammates for easy buckets in the post after using his quickness to get by his defender.
Love the idea that Irvin can be a 6'5" shutdown perimeter defender in the mold of a Bernard Robinson Jr. Michigan hasn't had an elite defender since. Also in that post, Mark Donnal gets in a bunch of foul trouble. UMHoops also has an article on Donnal featuring his relationship with Dan Dakich, who happens to be his AAU coach.
You realize this makes you Mubarak, right? Jim Delany:
Delany defended the Rose Bowl and compared the coming changes in college football to the Arab Spring, the revolts that erupted across the Middle East and North Africa last year.
“Not all change is manageable,” Delany said. “You want to control change. You want evolution, not revolution, because you don’t know what the unintended consequences will be.”
As always, Jim Delany should not say things.
Incoming defenders. The United States of Hockey also scouted the USA U18's defense corps, with all three of Michigan's commits turning in good performances. Trouba:
Jacob Trouba — It is plainly clear why Trouba is getting a lot of Top-10 buzz. He can do a little bit of everything. His pro-ready size and strength are going to be attractive to a lot of teams. He also plays with an edge and had several bone-crushing hits in the tournament. What people often forget is that Trouba is a tremendous skater. He has speed, sure, but there’s more to it than that. He’s able to find seems and turn it up ice quickly. Then there’s his cannon from the point. Trouba’s one goal at the tournament came off a stunning one-timer that required video review because it came right off the back bar in the net so quickly. He posted three points total. Knocks on his offensive upside are overblown, I feel. There are clearly many tools at this defenseman’s disposal. He should go early on Day 1. Committed to the University of Michigan.
Connor Carrick — Playing a strong game at both ends of the ice allowed Carrick to have a lot of success. The offensive-minded defenseman posted four points including a pair of goals. Carrick has good speed and some creativity with the puck. He also has pretty good strength along the walls, which makes up for his lack of height. Carrick also has a good feel for when to jump into plays and often makes good decisions when pinching. If Carrick ever got into trouble, he was able to recover with his feet. There should be a few teams that will be looking to pick up Carrick in the later rounds of the Draft. Committed to the University of Michigan.
Continues to sound like a bigger version of Langlais. Carrick's going to be important next year as Michigan tries to get that third pairing solidified, but if Michigan does hold on to all of their incoming defensemen they'll be in good shape.
Rutledge only got one start, a shutout—all games not against Canada were shutouts—in which he "bailed out" his team more than once. Click through for that report.
Etc.: The Solid Verbal features Dan, Ty, and Andy Staples talkin' playoffs. More Staples on playoffs. MVictors has audio of Willie Heston. If Dave Brandon was at FSU. Jerald Robinson's violence against a parking lot gate gets Michigan one point the Fulmer Cup. A second is added for "admiration."
Note: I'm getting error messages like whoa from 247Sports, so I can't access some of the tabs I had saved for this post. Apologies in advance if something gets left out; if you notice anything glaring that I've overlooked, let me know in the comments (and, if you can, please link to an original source of information).
Recruiting: Now Reaching Ludicrous Speed
"They've gone to plaid!"
I doubt this fact will surprise many Michigan fans, but the pace at which players are committing in the 2013 recruiting cycle appears to be unprecedented. SBNation's Jason Kirk—co-host of the incomparable Shutdown Fullback—took a look at early commitments in the past few years, and even in that short time span there's a very clear trend:
Over the past three years, the nation's top 75 recruiting teams have averaged about three commitments at this point in the year, though that doesn't include decommitments. Right now, they're averaging more than five.
And, of course, the main case in point is Michigan [emphasis mine]:
The big story is the Michigan Wolverines, whose 17 commits make for more than they've had in any combined two years of the Rivals era, and, thus, probably ever. It's noteworthy that Brady Hoke was the Big Ten coach most supportive of Urban Meyer back during Recruit-TakingGate. But almost across the board, schools are getting more and more early commitments.
The Wolverines had six commitments through April 30th for the 2012 class, and just three in 2011.
Kirk doesn't spend much time examining why this is the case, and I don't want to spoil tomorrow's recruiting roundtable podcast (yes, there's a podcast!) in which this very topic is discussed at length. One point I will make, however, is that the greatly increased attention on recruiting from both traditional and non-traditional media has placed enough stress on recruits that I believe many decide to end the process in part to get out of the increasingly-bright spotlight.
That brings me to IL RB Ty Isaac, who had an extensive profile in CSNChicago giving the latest on his recruitment [emphasis mine]:
"I took unofficial visits in March, when it worked out for my parents," he said. "Now my visits are out of the way. Nothing else is planned now. To be honest, I don't know if I will visit any more schools. Some have asked me to visit. But if I don't have any interest, I don't want to waste either side's time. If the schools I have visited, I'd be perfectly fine to go to either one of them."
However, he is sure of one thing at the moment. "I'm not a fan of the recruiting process at all. When I started, like everybody, I was excited. After you get the first couple of offers, you know you will have an opportunity to play at the next level. But now it gets overwhelming. It feels like it never stops," he said.
Isaac's apparent lack of interest in taking visits to new schools bodes well for Michigan. More trips to places like Notre Dame and USC could still be in the cards, but he's already seen those campuses and the Wolverines have remained in a strong position to land him. Also, given his justifiable disdain for the recruiting process, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him wrap things up in the near future—Isaac still maintains no public timetable.
Thomas Firmly Committed, New Offers, Etc.
While OH S Dymonte Thomas has remained steadfast in his insistence that he's firmly committed to Michigan, it's been difficult to keep a lid on discussion that he could still end up joining his cousin Bri'onte Dunn at Ohio State. In a two-part feature($) by GoBlueWolverine's Josh Newkirk, Thomas reiterates that he's "100-percent committed." In addition, we could see Thomas in Ann Arbor pretty soon, which would finally end any rumors about him flipping to the Buckeyes:
Thomas also plans on starting his Michigan career as early as possible. He is currently awaiting the results of his ACT test scores. He said he should receive the results within the next three to five weeks. If he receives passing test scores, Thomas said he will graduate early and enroll at Michigan next January.
Any doubt that Thomas ends up as a Wolverine can probably be dispelled at this point. Ohio State insiders don't like their chances and the Buckeyes continue to target other safeties for the class.
Michigan sent out a few new offers this week, and one is NOTY-worthy: 2013 NY DE Ebenezer Ogundeko is a three-star prospect to every service but Scout (who currently has him unrated), but his recruitment is picking up serious steam, as he received unexpected offers from Michigan, Notre Dame, and Marshall on the same day ($). According to Scout, Ogundeko also holds offers from Alabama, Arizona State, Boise State, Florida, Georgia Tech, and Ohio State, among several others, so he could be a guy who makes a rapid rise up the rankings; those offers aren't the type you'd expect for a guy on the three-star/unranked borderline.
The Wolverines also offered a trio of 2014 prospects. AZ OT Casey Tucker is getting early interest from several of the nation's top programs and could be one of the top linemen in his class. IL CB Parrker Westphal (first name: not a typo) picked up his first two offers from Michigan and West Virginia this week. Tim Sullivan reports on The Fort($) that Michigan has also offered FL DB Javon Harrison, who could play corner or safety at 6'2", 195 pounds.
Quickly: The soft-spoken MD DT Henry Poggi on his Alabama trip ($): "It was good." TomVH reports that Michigan is getting interest from consensus four-star FL S Leon McQuay III, who plans to visit on May 18th ($). VA DE Wyatt Teller is planning a decision in the late spring or early summer, and Michigan is in his tentative top five ($). OH CB Darian Hicks has yet to receive an offer, but says Michigan would be "extremely high on [his] list" if they do ($). Hicks will camp at Michigan this summer. Jerry Montgomery almost certainly had to put up a fight in order to secure Hawaii as part of his recruiting territory. Happy trails to OH WR Rob Wheelwright, who committed to Wisconsin over the weekend.
…says Bill Hancock! But they're doing it anyway.
If Michigan can't host at Michigan Stadium this is the second-best option.
Stewart Mandel is the latest guy to throw his sources in the ring in re: what the exact specifics of the Four-Team Event shall be. His version of reality is this:
Multiple sources with direct knowledge of last week's discussions in South Florida have confirmed to SI.com that the new favored proposal for a four-team playoff within the bowl system would place the two semifinal games at the traditional anchor bowls of the No. 1 and 2 teams' conferences. For example, No. 1 Alabama of the SEC would host the No. 4 team in the Sugar Bowl, while No. 2 USC of the Pac-12 would host the No. 3 team in the Rose Bowl.
This would have blown up the traditional Rose Bowl in five of the last 14 years, six if you want to throw Nebraska's presence as the Big 12 North Division Co-Champion in the mix. That's nearly half the time and is the kind of thing that makes Jim Delany's fists open and close helplessly.
Home sites are still in the running, though:
That said, it's no certainty the conferences will opt for bowl-hosted semifinals. Contrary to some reports, on-campus sites remain "very much alive," according to two sources. One said the commissioners left the meetings split about "60-40" in favor of using bowl sites. They will present all remaining proposals to their respective conference presidents, athletic directors and coaches at league meetings in late May and early June to gauge their preferences before reconvening June 20 in Chicago.
There are five conferences who matter. You can guess the 40% opposed to the bowl sites right now. For a lot of reasons—amongst them a desire to maybe not have to fly across the country to see a bowl-type event and a belief that bowls are institutionalized stealing from unpaid student athletes—I'm with them.
Q: Can Jim Delany actually pull off the home sites plan? He stared down Comcast, won, and got the Big Ten their massive pile of money that no one save Michigan and Ohio State is bothering to use. ("Oh, hai, I'm Tim Beckman. You may remember me from that one screen Eric Page took for 70 yards on Tuesday night, and by 'one' I mean 'six.'")
Here's he's got one ally-type substance in the Pac-12, two conferences content to leave the status quo as is because it's generally beneficial (SEC, Big 12) to them… and then you've got the ACC and maybe Big East.
Does anyone care about the Big East? Unknown. If they did have a vote you'd think they lean towards home games. Home games would be nice in the event one of their teams ever makes it into the top two; perhaps more importantly for them, sucking four teams out of BCS bowls makes it likely even their oft-tattered champion is attractive enough most years.
As for the ACC, they're in an odd spot because two of the teams expected to be relevant here are in Florida. The other is Virginia Tech. The rest of the conference is flung up and down the eastern seaboard, and will be more so when Pitt and Syracuse join. Here, too, you'd think a majority of schools would prefer hypothetically getting a local game instead of being on foreign turf. The conference might not like the idea of seeing their banner teams travel north, but here too the benefits of sucking four teams out of the sexy bowls would seem to be a big draw. The ACC hadn't gotten a second BCS bid in forever before Virginia Tech was selected for the Sugar last year.
Q: Does Delany have the chutzpah to take his ball and go home? Or threaten to? Probably not. If the Big Ten and Pac 12 walk, things will go one of two ways: 1) Delany gets his way, or 2) the league is fffffffffuuuuuuuuuuuuu after having balkanized itself out of a Four Team Event that kinda pretty much is the national title. The Rose Bowl is great, but I don't think the kids are going to be down with that particular sickness. With their hippin' and their hopping, they don't know what the jazz is all about. /shakes fist at lawn
Q: Does this actually make sense for college football? Well, at least they're bidding out the final. They aren't concerned about selling out since it'll quickly turn into a Final Four/Super Bowl type event where it just sells out and then scalpers take on the risks and rewards of properly pricing the thing. So then you've got either a guaranteed sellout in a stadium that averages 80k+ over the years or some version of the current system except that the #2 game matters a lot more and fans are staring down the prospect of back to back trips.
Inevitably the travel will suck money that otherwise could have been given to college football—ticket prices go up, more get sold—and put teams in a spot where they're spending massive amounts of money on the same sorts of scams bowls are currently running. So, no. The whole will suffer to maintain the location bias that the South currently enjoys.
The most confusing thing in all of this is the persistent notion that the bowls have any leverage. Mandel:
An obvious hitch with the anchor-hosting proposal is that based on history, certain bowls would host semifinals far more often than others. For instance, had this concept been in place all along, the Sugar Bowl (SEC) would have hosted six straight semifinals from 2006-11, the Fiesta Bowl (Big 12) five of seven from 2003-09. The ACC, on the other hand, has not produced a No. 1 or 2 team in 12 years, meaning no semis for the Orange Bowl.
The Orange Bowl is upset. So? What is the Orange Bowl going to do, defect to lacrosse? No. They can only steal money from college football. They'll deal.
Q: Strength of schedule! That's not a question, or a thing that will happen. Maybe it will happen…
As for selecting the teams, the commissioners are a ways away from deciding whether to use a revised BCS formula, a selection committee or some combination of both. "The whole topic of selection and who would get in is something that we've really parked for now," said Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott. "We realize that's going to require a whole lot more debate and study." If they do employ a formula, sources said there's a near-universal desire to emphasize strength of schedule. One source said the commissioners also aren't keen on preseason polls, which could signal an end to using the USA Today Coaches' Poll.
…but as soon as this SOS component causes the system to pick someone other than the poll-anointed, it will be declared incorrect and dropped. See: the past.
Q: Will you take it? Yeah. Arguments that moving the line from two to four doesn't reduce controversy have always been ludicrous. Multiple undefeated top five teams have been given zero chance to win a national title in the BCS system. At the very least a four team playoff prevents the Auburn/TCU/Utah/Boise screwjob from ever happening again. Anything is better than what we've got now.
Mandel says he was never a fan of a playoff because it would make the NCAA an "NFL clone," which… 12 of the 32 NFL teams get in the playoffs. An equivalent NCAA playoff drawn from the five major conferences is 24 teams. Anything eight or below maintains almost all of the importance of the regular season to be okay.
Also, in the system Mandel details above the chances Hypothetical Host Big Ten team gets a virtual road game are low. Unless USC finishes in the exact spot to force a matchup, anyone going to that game will be flying. So it could be worse. Could be better. Could be worse.
Q: What happens if the Big 10 and Pac 12 are one-two? Or if there's a repeat of last year, when the top two teams are in the same conference? In the former situation I'd just run a Rose Bowl per normal. In situation two, I don't know, put it in Glendale or something. I'm vaguely hoping that Jerryworld pirates the Big 12 affiliation from Glendale and relegates the Fiesta Bowl to the status of the old Cotton Bowl.