that is nice bonus change
|WHAT||Michigan v. Kansas|
December 19th, 2009
|THE LINE||Michigan +13.5*|
*Lines brought to you by the best sportsbook on the internet.
The Wolverines finally stopped the bleeding on Sunday with a win over Detroit, but the task won't be so simple to duplicate in Lawrence. Traveling to face the number one team on the road is seen by the Wolverines as an opportunity. "I don't think it's different from the UConn trip [last year]," said DeShawn Sims, "We definitely need it. There's not going to be too many opportunities besides the best teams in the Big Ten."
A win Saturday would not only redeem a lackluster non-conference performance from the Wolverines, it would also prove something to the team itself. "It would just show that we've made some adjustments since the early part of the season," said Sims, "We're becoming more comfortable with what we have now, and coach made some great adjustments this week and last week. We're just finally coming along, coming around the corner."
Beilein, whose teams have performed their best when they have a lot of time to prepare for a single game, says he doesn't change anything in the team's preparation: "We do the same thing that we've done for any game we ever play, really. We don't go in there to do anything except to do our best. Whether we're playing one of our early season games or we're playing the #1 team in the country, we just expect to try to play our best."
What, specifically have the Wolverines been working on in practice over the long week? "We've been working on a lot of different things. A lot of man-to-man defense, a lot of boxing out," said Beilein.
The return of a fully healthy Zack Novak, who played against Detroit at less than 100% and missed the Utah game entirely, should be some help to Michigan.
The Jayhawks are the number one team in the nation for a reason. They've run roughshod over every team they've played except for Memphis and, oddly, UCLA. "There's certain times when you'll go into some of these arenas, and I would expect I'll look around and go, 'so this is Kansas,'" said Beilein said. Sims knows the crowd will play a huge factor. "I've seen Kansas on TV and you can definitely hear the crowd through the TV," he said.
The Jayhawks' roster is loaded. Two of the top players in the country, Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich, roam the floor in Lawrence. They get Xavier Henry a lot of good looks, helping him to one of the top eFG% numbers in the nation. "You've got the great combination of inside-outside threats," said Beilien. "You've got Collins, who by by himself can win a game. Aldrich inside, he's just a mountain with really long arms. And now Henry's shooting over 50 percent? He's getting some pretty good looks because he's got a great point guard and a great center." Adding, uh, injury to more injury, guard Brady Morningstar will make his season debut for the Jayhawks after serving a DUI suspension.
For a team struggling like the Wolverines, Kansas will be a difficult matchup. Beilein: "They rebound and they guard and they have assigned tasks and they're just difficult to stop."
If you need an explanation of the stats, check out Ken Pomeroy.
|Michigan v. Kansas: National Ranks|
|Category||Michigan Rank||Kansas Rank||Advantage|
|Mich eFG% v. Kansas Def eFG%||236||2||KKK|
|Mich Def eFG% v. Kansas eFG%||231||6||KKK|
|Mich TO% v. Kansas Def TO%
|Mich Def TO% v. Kansas TO%||36||18||K|
|Mich OReb% v. Kansas DReb%
|Mich DReb% v. Kansas OReb%||319||10||KKKK|
|Mich FTR v. Kansas Opp FTR
|Mich Opp FTR v. Kansas FTR
|Mich AdjO v. Kansas AdjD||156||6||KK|
|Mich AdjD v. Kansas AdjO||153||2||KK|
Difference of more than 10 places in the national rankings get a 1-letter advantage, more than 100 gets a 2-letter advantage, more than 200 gets a 3-letter advantage, etc. I swear I'm not a Klan member.
Commence the fetal position and whimpering. Kansas is better than Michigan at almost everything. The Wolverines might get a couple turnovers, but they haven't had to defend a player like Cole Aldrich yet, and the opponent free throws might be misleading in this instance. Michigan's worst aspect, defensive rebounding, is one place Kansas really excels. This is a major statistical mismatch.
The only way to see Michigan coming away with a win is to make a couple assumptions. 1) Michigan has been playing well below their potential this season (something most observers would agree with). 2) Michigan is capable of turning around and playing well above that potential in a road game against the top team in the country.
Zack Novak thinks that's a possibility, saying "It's gotta bring the best out of you. We're looking forward to the challenge." There's something to be said for a John Beilein-coached team playing very well with a long break between games to rest up (Manny Harris didn't practice on Wednesday, according to Beilein) and prepare a gameplan. Still, the task may be too tall to accomplish.
This is a game that Michigan should be lucky to keep close. If the 3s start falling, like they did in last year's upsets over UCLA and Duke, there's a chance to be within striking distance in the second half. More likely, the team has a couple of those offensive slumps that we've come to know and despise and the Jayhawks capitalize with big runs and an eventual 20-point win.
Also, not Kansas-related, but 2010 MI SG Trey Zeigler talked to WDFN yesterday about various topics, including his recruitment. If Manny leaves following this season, Zeigler becomes a must-land prospect. Duke is getting involved.
In which I defend Notre Dame. Seriously!
Gregg Easterbrook first came in for a lashing around these parts when he claimed Rich Rodriguez had been in contact with Michigan before West Virginia's game against Pitt without a shred of evidence and used this in a tiresome broadside at the idea that a college coach would take a better job. When this was totally disproven by actual court records, Easterbrook—who loves to complain about New York Times errors being on page one and corrections on page 37—did not deign to notice, instead launching tiresome broadside after tiresome broadside at "weasel" coaches.
It's December again and a major program has just hired a coach, so it's time for yet another tiresome broadside:
Charlie Weis and Bobby Bowden had to go -- Notre Dame and Florida State weren't winning every game! Get rid of the bums! All we heard from sports commentators, and from alums and boosters, was get rid of the bums, we gotta win, win, win. Sorry to interject, but why? Why does Notre Dame or Florida State or any university need to win every game? Is it now official that big colleges care more about sports than education?
You'd think a guy like Easterbrook, who is paid to be a political pundit, would have at least a tenuous grasp on economics: Florida State and Notre Dame would like to win because if they do not win they get less money for their athletic departments. If they continue to stick with coaches who are not performing, fan enthusiasm will crater and they'll be faced with the dissolution of a tradition treasured by thousands. Why am I explaining this to you? You understand this because it is obvious. Nevermind. I'll stop treating you like you are a simpleton.
Easterbrook, on the other hand, seems determined to display his ignorance at every opportunity. In previous columns he's claimed Michigan Stadium's renovations are being paid for by "public funds," which if true is only true in an extremely technical sense since the athletic department is and remains self-sufficient*, and that Michigan "surprised" Notre Dame by running the no-huddle style of offense Rich Rodriguez has been deploying for almost a decade at big important newsworthy schools.
In this column his impression of Notre Dame's recruiting under Weis is totally wrong:
Notre Dame was among the few prominent holdouts, insisting its football players be students too. This generated a recruiting disadvantage -- and a recruiting disadvantage caused by high standards, not Weis suddenly forgetting how to coach, is the reason for the recent records of Notre Dame football. Notre Dame alums and boosters should have been proud that high standards keep the school from going 12-0!
According to Rivals, ND's recruiting classes under Weis: 8, 8, 2, 21. (The 2005 class was technically signed by Weis but was almost entirely the (lame) creation of Tyrone Willingham.) Every class at Notre Dame except redshirt seniors and freshmen was part of a top ten recruiting class.
Easterbrook also suggests that the past two decades have seen a "race to the bottom," providing no evidence other than Florida State's recent cheating scandal. He places Nebraska in a list of "academics-first colleges where football players are more likely to attend class"…
…which is a hilarious juxtaposition of concepts. He dubs Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick's desire to not go 6-6 a "bizarre notion." In his attempt to make a case that big time division I-A football can be won by nerds he cites playoffs at lower levels all the way down to Division III and Director's Cup standings heavily biased towards nonrevenue sports. When he returns to the "weasel" coaching meme—which appears to be any coach who takes a job anywhere else and thus includes some 80% of I-A coaches—he cites Brian Kelly "misleading" his players when Kelly, more than any other coach in recent history, was publicly open to a move. He freakin' tweeted about it.
Reality is just something that gets in the way of Easterbrook's arguments.
The worst thing is that buried in yet another Easterbrook-patented tiresome broadside is a concern I share for the players who play college football and end up coming out the other end with little except some memories and a concussion or two. He's not wrong that the way the NCAA is constructed is increasingly silly. Money gets poured in and ends up going to coaches because it can't go to players and has to go somewhere. The result is yet more ridiculous salaries at top schools. The first million-dollar coordinator isn't far off.
But Easterbrook eschews anything resembling a useful suggestion in favor of calling people weasels when they're just acting rationally given the situation. Here's my suggestion to help divert some of the torrent of cash to the players that has more than a snowball's chance in hell of being approved: allow programs to offer players in revenue sports two free additional years of scholarship after their eligibility expires as long as they enroll within five years. At that point it should be clear if you have a serious professional future and those who want to buckle down and make it in the real world will have an opportunity to get a degree that will help them do that.
*(You might note that part of that link is a complaint about the tax-deductibility of athletic department contributions, but that's not the only part that decries "public" funding; the issue is explicitly framed as "and on top of the public funding of the stadium renovations, here's this problem with donations."
As long as I'm in a footnote, let me mention how breathtakingly stupid that argument is: Easterbrook and his emailer are whining about Michigan spending money that will convince extremely rich people to give them more money.)
Quick reminder. If you haven't filled out Toby Hopp's survey about social media in the sports blogosphere, you should even if you never comment/diarize around these parts. It'll help me as I direct the future evolution of the site, and reward/punish the progenitor of the naked man banner, whichever you prefer.
Roundtree, one of about 10 players and staff members to volunteer at The Salvation Army of Washtenaw County’s toy shop for needy families Wednesday, said he hasn’t talked to Smith recently, but Smith missed a team meeting earlier this week and it’s “looking like” he’ll leave.
AA.com even linked it. I feel all legitimate. To restate the previous opinion: losing a highly-rated guy at a position of need is obviously bad. At least we have clarification now that Michigan will be able to bring in a recruit to replace him.
On the other hand. At the same event, Rodriguez cracked the door open for Boubacar Cissoko:
"I'm under the impression he's trying to work his way back," said Wilcher, who speaks to Cissoko a few times each month. "I know he's working hard at school."
Wilcher said Rodriguez should be applauded for at least giving Cissoko an opportunity to potentially rejoin the team.
"I think the most important thing is that Rich Rodriguez has opened up the door to the thought of letting the kid entertain the thought of working his way back," said Wilcher, who played running back for Michigan from 1983-86. "That should be focused on -- how Rich Rodriguez is not going to turn his back, and at least lets you try to crawl back and prove you can get back by going through the proper procedures."
Michigan obviously needs help in the secondary even of the very short and somewhat toasty variety, and if he manages to limp through the rest of this year without getting in a hint of trouble there might be a rewarding comeback story in there. I've gotten a couple of independent, consistent reports that Cissoko's troubles weren't limited to missing class or practice, so he should have a long way to go. I still think he's a longshot to get back on the team and a longer shot to be a contributor, but I'd love to see the guy work through this and stick, if only for his own sake.
Also, Donovan Warren is at least keeping his options open when it comes to a return:
Michigan’s defensive backfield for next year is still in flux. Teammates have raved about freshman Justin Turner, but cornerback Donovan Warren could return after flirting with the NFL. Rodriguez told people last night that Warren is keeping in contact with the coaches while gathering information.
So I'm saying there's a chance.
Kiper == Gladwell. What do you do when Mel Kiper is seemingly wise by rating Zoltan Mesko and Brandon Graham the best available players at their positions but at the same time declaring this:
Redshirt junior guard Steve Schilling is the No. 4 performer in his class at the position, while redshirt junior Obi Ezeh is the No. 5 inside linebacker among those with a year of eligibility remaining.
This isn't even an old rating; Kiper published this list two days ago($). Has anyone ever made it in the NFL after being benched for a walk-on?
Word. A couple of Florida recruits saw a small sports blog dig up photos they posted on MySpace in eighth grade. In one the kid in question is holding a plastic gun and sixteen dollars. In another, he is wearing a bandana and throwing up an ooh scary gang sign. Naturally, this was picked up by the two big sports blogs that strive daily to become Perez Hilton, with Deadspin's Barry Petchesky opining like so:
"Not for nothing have they garnered the "University of Felons" nickname," Deadspin's Barry Petchesky wrote. "I'm not saying a top recruit posing with a gun and $16 is necessarily a crime, but it's not going to change any impressions."
Raise your hand if you thought you were hard in eighth grade. Thought so. SI's Andy Staples does something unusual and fantastic by getting in touch with the two kids to get their side of the story:
Trail said he's heard from plenty of people about the hand gesture in his picture. "That supposed gang sign I'm throwing up? That's where I stay. That's my neighborhood," he said. "I've thrown that up on the field a lot, and no one has said anything." …
Trail said he couldn't believe an adult would scour recruits' social networking pages looking for embarrassing photos. "If you really care about me that much to go on my MySpace to get a picture of me, point blank, get a life," Trail said.
Where is the right place to draw the line here? The City Boyz Inc. social media pictures were newsworthy because they were current photos of Hawkeyes who had just been arrested for credit card fraud doing unsanitary things with large amounts of money. At that point it's reasonable to say "hey, look at this picture of a guy with thousands of dollars in cash." Scouring the internet for pictures of a kid with sixteen dollars and a plastic gun… eh… not so good.
Since I do a lot of media bashing around here, let me praise Andy Staples: he's been consistently useful since his hiring at SI and is a guy I look forward to reading. With Luke Winn diving into Kenpom stats on a regular basis, SI has a great 1-2 punch in college sports.
Etc.: If you have ESPN insider, Bruce Feldman asked me to argue that Notre Dame should have taken a bowl bid this year. Apologies in advance: it's strictly above the belt. Steve Hutchinson and Jake Long make SI's All-Decade team.
The Michigan basketball team has struggled mightily so far this season, especially given the top-15 expectations that were (probably unfairly) heaped on them in the preseason. With two superstars returning and only two walkons, a backup point guard, and a Canadian leaving the team this was supposed to be a tournament team at the very least, and more likely a Sweet 16 squad.
So, uh, what happened?
There are two primary culprits for Michigan's struggles: defense and three-point shooting. Figuring out the defense is a task for another day (and for someone who knows much more about basketball strategy than I do), but shooting is a little simpler. It's also very important for Michigan, since the Wolverines hoist 42.9% of their shots from behind the arc.
There are two primary factors that play into a shot's likelihood of going in. The first is shot selection. If a player manages to shoot only when he is wide open, it's more likely that he will make those shots, no? Last year at Varsity Blue, I UFRed basketball games, and graded shot selection 1-3 based on how open the shooter was. Manny Harris was the only player who was consistently putting up shots from bad positions, and based on purely anecdotal evidence, I'd say that's probably the case again this season.
The second factor that plays a big role in shooting is the ability to actually knock down shots. If you left Ben Wallace wide open at the top of the key on every play, he wouldn't make many shots (and that's why teams do this). The same is not true for, say, Dirk Nowitzki. Talent is not something that varies from game to game. Players go through hot and cold streaks, but Stu Douglass is as good as he is, and isn't likely to get much better or much worse at shooting the three in one offseason. So is there reason to believe that anyone has shot below his ability so far this year? Sounds like time for a—
Chart. Players are sorted by 2008-09 percentage
|Michigan 3-Point Percentages|
|Player||2008-09 %||2009-10 %|
So what does it mean? On the face, it would appear that Michigan lost most of its best shooters, but that isn't actually the case. Puls, Lee, Grady, and Merritt all had few attempts (Manny and the two Indiana guys were the only people to shoot over 100 3-balls, and LLP would have gotten there if he'd played the whole season), so there is something to be said for sample size. The better takeaway is that Only Laval Lucas-Perry and DeShawn Sims are shooting better right now than they did last year, and most guys have seen a precipitous dropoff. It would be nice to get Matt Vogrich more attempts, but his defense has been poor so far this year.
Unless guys are exclusively taking horrible shots this year (and John Beilein said Wednesday that poor shoot selection may play some role in the shooting struggles), the bad shooting is an anomaly. They're sometimes painful to watch, but stick with this team, and things will probably turn around.
I give up. All anyone wants to talk about is potential expansion, so more potential expansion bits.
Inside info! Someone close to the Rutgers athletic department says that RU will push hard for Big Ten entrance. Not like that is surprising, but there you go.
No, just no. Sorry, Teddy Greenstein, but…
Don't discount this: the Big 14.
I am discounting it. It is now 100% off for a limited time only, and by "limited time only" I mean "forever." Just because some guy in the Big Ten office says "anything is possible" does not mean that we shouldn't be shocked if a conference that's attempted to expand three times in the last fifteen years only to come up empty all of a sudden adds three teams to become an unwieldy beast of a conference in which you only play about half the teams every year.
Fourteen is ridiculous. The WAC was sixteen for a while until it exploded because at that point you're not a conference but a Thomas Jefferson-style loose confederation. Where is the common sense? Where is it? Is it in Russia? No.
Lloyd != Bo. This is not exactly "to hell with Notre Dame":
"I'd love to see Notre Dame join the Big Ten," Carr said. "I think certainly it would be a great thing for the Big Ten, and I think it would be great for Notre Dame.
"But, of course, they're fighting a lot of tradition there (at Notre Dame)," which has resisted overtures from the Big Ten previously, Carr added.
This, of course, is not happening. Notre Dame people believe that the Big Ten's only desire when it comes to engulfing Notre Dame is to destroy the university and therefore the very soul of America itself, and in this they are correct.
Also no just no. Sporting News colleague Dan Shanoff is a nice man who has a bad habit of coming up with an off-the-wall idea and posting it without running it through even the most cursory sanity check. Witness his suggestion that Navy should be the 12th Big Ten team:
*Academic credentials are impeccable.
*Football program is solid.
*Triple-option is "3 Yards/Cloud" 2.0
*Can keep trad'l games w/ Army, AFA, ND.
*Better than Notre Dame.
*Nearly beat Ohio State this season.
*Non-competitive recruiting strategy.
*But expands B10 footprint in the East.
*Feds could use the BCS bowl revenue.
*It is entirely uncontroversial.
Wrong, debatable, irrelevant, irrelevant, wrong, tiny sample size, irrelevant, wrong, irrelevant, irrelevant. The Big Ten is not a charity. Navy is not an AAU member, does not have any national TV cachet, would not be a compelling reason for local cable operators to carry the Big Ten Network because no one in DC is going to have a riot as long as the Army game is on CBS.
Simply comparing Navy to Pitt and finding that Pitt was better in literally every way other than supporting the troops—why does the Big Ten hate America?—would have shot this down before it worked its way onto the internet and sat there being embarrassing, like if the GEICO money was made out of shots of you picking your nose when you were six.
Yes, yes, Terrance Cody's gravitational pull makes everything revolve around the SEC. Braves & Birds tends to see things through two lenses: World War II and SEC superiority. So in retrospect this was obvious:
I have no doubt that this move is motivated by a major case of SEC envy. Barry Alvarez was probably sitting on his couch for the first weekends of the past two Decembers, watching the #1 and #2 teams in the country play each other in the Georgia Dome and thinking to himself "man, we need something like that." However, what the Big Ten needs is not the game in early December; what it needs is teams of the quality of Florida and Alabama. …
And so, to come full circle, the Big Ten right now reminds me of the Third Reich in the summer of 1944. Germany was about to get hammered in the East by Operation Bagration and in the West by Operation Cobra. Faced with major issue, Hitler decided that the way to win the war was by firing a bevy of V-2 rockets at London. His decision was a classic case of praying for some sort of saving throw the the dice when faced with basic shortcomings.
Did Clay Travis steal B&B's login information? The Big Ten has looked at expansion every five years since Penn State joined; were those all motivated by jealousy of the SEC, too? Did the Big Ten come off championships in 1997 and 2002 only to think to itself "that god damned SEC" and look at expanding the following year? How many rhetorical questions can I stick in one paragraph? Five?
I blame Joe Paterno for this annoying meme floating around. Here's his quote from March:
We go into hiding for six weeks," Paterno said, referring to the hiatus between the end of the Big Ten regular season and the BCS bowls. The other major FBS conferences play into the first weekend of December.
"Everybody else is playing playoffs on television," Paterno said. "You never see a Big Ten team mentioned. So I think that's a handicap."
People forget that Paterno is an 81-year old man who has little say over his own football team, let alone the conference it is in. The Big Ten is pushing its schedule later in 2010. Which is next year. To get increased exposure late in the season, all the Big Ten has to do is play.
This has nothing to do with the SEC except insofar as everything designed to get money is part of the arms race and the only conference that even competes with Big Ten is the SEC. They'll do it if they think it's a good idea; they won't if they don't. The big difference this time around is that Notre Dame seems permanently off the table and Pitt has built itself into an attractive basketball power with accompanying decent football program. B&B then goes off on the league's mediocre coaching as if expansion and hiring Danny Hope are in any way dependent. They are not linked.
Yes, expansion is an attempt to make the league better on and off the field. I can't fathom why this has anything to do with the SEC except insofar as everyone who lives in the South is legally obligated to assume everything is because of the SEC. Clay Travis is writing up a column right now about how the New York Times is holding up health care reform by wasting their time on recruiting hostesses.
I really, really, really don’t look forward to 18+ months of mindless speculation over Big 11 expansion.
…which I think we can all agree with. But then it appears that what Pitt Blather wants is speculation about Big East expansion that includes adding Villanova, a I-AA team, and Charlotte, a nonexistent team, instead of Memphis, a team with a billion dollars from FedEx guy.
Welcome. Now give us money. I don't actually know about this but I thought it was interesting. Smart Football's Chris Brown asks about a potential holdup with Team 12 (and team 13, and 14, and 52):
Someone sent me a question regarding whether a new Big 10 member could afford to join, and you seemed like the guy to mention it to.
The concern was whether any potential new Big 10 school could afford to "buy-in" to the BTN. Specifically, he said: "News Corp paid $66M to Big Ten for BTN in '07. Rough numbers put the value today at ~$400M. What school has ~$40M for buy-in?"
According to wikipedia, the member schools own 51% and Fox/News Corp owns 49%. The buy-in would not necessarily be 1/10 the value of the overall entity; it just needs to buy enough shares or units to have 1/12 of the 51%. I don't know how it is structured, but I bet the member schools jointly own an entity which itself owns 51% of the joint BTN venture with News Corp. That way a new school could just buy the units from the other schools, or they could issue new units, such that each school would then own 1/12 of the member schools' portion of the entity. Make sense? If you assume BTN really is worth $400m, that means that a new school would just have to buy 1/12 of the 51%, which comes out to around $17m.
But again, how do we know what the BTN is worth? Mandel threw some revenue figures together but those seem pretty darn loose. And in any event the biggest factor would be what kind of growth rate do you see from the Big 10 Network. I think we both agree the business model is fluctuating.
Finally, my friend made the point that he didn't think a school had that much money. I don't see why an athletic department couldn't borrow that money and then pay it down with future revenues; any school but Notre Dame would undoubtedly have their overall sports revenues increase.
Any thoughts on this? Specifically, whether buying into the BTN would be any kind of hurdle for a new member school? Also let me know if I'm looking at the structure wrong. I don't have any firm info and am just going off some stuff I saw online.
That would depend on how much the school in question brings to the table. If Notre Dame got really drunk and decided to sign up I doubt the Big Ten would push the issue much since adding them to the network would be a big win. Pitt or Rutgers or whoever might be asked to pay for their slice of the pie.
I don't think that would be a major hurdle since you're really cutting the school in on something with excellent growth potential; the school in question could justify buying in with a section of their general fund since it's an investment that should grow in value.
For the record. One man's list of the five most insane schools proposed for Big Ten expansion:
5. Iowa State. Yes, their athletic programs are that historically bad that a land-grant university in the geographic footprint makes this list.
At this rate by the end of these 18 months I'm going to be guest-posting trash talk about Iowa State on BHGP.
4. Toronto. Only mentioned because it's in the AAU and Toronto is so starved for entertainment that they'll sell out MLS games. Problems: the pilot program for NCAA induction of a few Universities only applies to D-II and will get a few schools out West in within ten years, Toronto doesn't play American football, and Michigan State would have to forfeit all its games there because Canada wouldn't let them into the country.
3. Navy. Previously discussed.
2. Cornell. Cornell is an Ivy-league school without a I-A football program. And yet…
1. Rice. It's got all the downsides of Texas combined with all the downsides of Iowa State. Its only asset is that its band integrated e^x during the Rice-Michigan game a while back just so they could spell "sex" in front of 110,000 people.
According to a text he sent to Tom VanHaaren, FL DT Richard Ash has committed to Michigan. Ash is a Pahokee kid, the fourth to sign on with Michigan in three years, and either a three-tech DT (ie: Ryan Van Bergen) or a strongside defensive end.
Early in the recruiting year he had a ton of tres impressive offers—Florida, Miami, USC—but his options dwindled as those schools filled up. He committed to West Virginia just a couple weeks ago, but that was always shaky and Doc Holliday's departure to become Marshall's head coach was the final nail in their coffin.
More informative update on its way.
Defensive tackle lovers, rejoice! Michigan has extended the Pahokee pipeline into the Class of 2010 (Martavious Odoms was the '08 representative, and Vincent Smith and Brandin Hawthorne hailed from the Muck in the 2009 class) by convincing FL DT Richard Ash to switch his commitment from West Virginia to the Wolverines.
|3*, #48 DT||4*, #24 DT||3*, 77, #52 DT|
The three sites don't quite agree on what they think of Ash's ability, and Rivals is definitely the outlier, as they give him 4 stars and say he's the 24th-best DT in the class. ESPN's evaluation:
Ash moves around the defensive line in high school and at this point he is a bit of a 'tweener between the tackle and end spot. He could start off in college as a defensive end, but in the long run we think he projects as a defensive tackle or...
Not too much evaluation of his ability, but rather just his eventual position. Scout lets Richard talk about his strengths and weaknesses:
“I’m quick off the ball. I have a good first step and have great hands. I use them good and have great technique. I like to play quick and fast.
“I want to run better and get faster in the forty. I’d like to be more explosive because that would help me get more sacks.”
So he's quick (understandable for a smaller DT), and claims to have good technique. He needs to get into better shape, from the sounds of things. Not sure how he can reconcile "I am quick" with "I need to get more explosive," but whateva. His coach, the improbably-named Blaze Thompson, praises his work ethic and athleticism.
Long story short: He's a moderate prospect with more upside (he's only played football since 9th grade) than immediate potential.
Update: duplicate effort here, but I've got some other quotes to throw in:
Ash was an obvious D-I prospect early; when he showed up at the Miami Nike camp Rivals' Barry Every praised his "great body structure and really long arms," calling him "easily the best-looking interior defensive lineman physically in the camp."
In June, the Miami Herald ranked him a meh 90th in the state, saying:
90. Richard Ash, DT, 6-3, 265, Pahokee: After a solid junior season, this gifted athlete continues to make a lasting impression this spring. Talking with college coaches, they just love his quickness, strength and knowledge of the game. Plays the run very well and knows how to penetrate the backfield. Has steadily become a major force for one of the premier teams in the state of Florida.
The Orlando Sentinel, on the other hand, had him the third best defensive lineman in the state and declared his "great speed" made him "special."
Ash went to Florida's camp and didn't do so well. This is from SoFlaFootball's Luke Stampini:
No one seems to know for sure [about Ash and UF], a lot of speculation. Some say UF has cooled on him, but I can't find a straight answer.
He came to UF's camp out of shape and tested poorly in the 40 and vert. He performed well in 1-on-1's, but certainly not to the level of Ronald Powell (All-World DE from Cali).
This is a theory that one Richard Ash also supports:
"I've been hearing things that Florida doesn't want me after I tested at camp because of my 40 and my vertical," Ash told GatorBait.net. "I did good in the one-on-ones but I guess the 40 and vertical lowered me on Florida's scale. … They didn't like me as much after camp. That's what I've been hearing."
Somewhat oddly, the USC offer came after the meh camp performances. Later, Stampini would follow up on that in response to a West Virginia fan:
I doubt [WVU pulled its offer]. Florida did for some reason (most believe poor 40 and vert at camp), but UF has had some screwy recruitments that I think will come back and haunt them.
Then FSU came out and said they dropped Richard as well, but it was interesting timing coming a day after Richard basically said he would not be going to FSU in an interview.
LSU and USC Trojans appear to want Ash to commit, and I thought WVU was in Ash's top 4 with USF also.
One defensive coach I've talked to loves the fact Ash has a good frame to add weight, long arms, moves very well for his size, is 16 yrs old still, and is from Pahokee. He feels he can take those characteristics, coach him up a couple years and have an All-Conference caliber player.
And a final scouting report from Stampini:
Well Florida and FSU offered him. UF really wanted him to commit early, but he went and worked out at their camp tested poorly, performed average and the Gators dropped him. Before that Ash did an article stating he wasn't going to FSU (for whatever reason he never liked them) and the next day it comes out FSU was no longer recruiting him.
Now Ash has all the physical tools to be extremely good, but it his motivation has come into question. If someone can get in his head to work hard, get in shape, go all out every snap, he could get paid to play the game. Sometimes lighting a fire under someones rear is easier said than done though. Another issue with Ash (and most of those Pahokee lineman) is his play did not improve from his JR year to SR year like most prospects.
So… yeah, the rollercoaster was understandable.
At one point Ash's offer list stacked up with anyone's. As early as May, when his stock was "exploding," he had 14 offers, some of them major. In June, Florida had offered and led. In early July, USC offered and moved into the lead. Plus when he committed the first time around he mentioned offers from Michigan, LSU, Ole Miss, Oklahoma State, Tennessee, South Carolina, and UCLA plus a bunch of others. An absolute ton of schools were after this guy.
The weird bit is that when Ash committed these were the schools in his final five other than West Virginia:
The 6-foot-4, 265-pound defensive tackle also listed USC, Rutgers, Minnesota and South Florida as three schools he was seriously interested in.
What a bizarre list. USC plus three schools that are Lilliputian recruiters relative to the Trojans. And no Michigan, the school he would commit to in two weeks.
So what happened? It appeared a bunch of schools cooled off on Ash after some uninspiring camp performances. By September, Ash was reporting that USC offer but mentioning that he hadn't heard from them in a while. Florida turned off their interest more explicitly, as Stampini detailed above.
The UCLA interest was sincere and persistent, as he went on an official there. LSU brought him in for the Florida game, too, and West Virginia and Michigan were both hot after him. So not everyone was turned off, just the two programs who can basically pick and choose perfect prospects all day.
His high school stats weren't explosive but this is a defensive tackle. Junior:
Ash had 80 tackles, seven for loss, four sacks, and one interception.
FAKE 40 TIME
All three recruiting sites have Ash listed in the 4.85 to 4.9 range, so there's some internal consistency at least. That's a believable time for a defensive end, but since Ash is expected to move to tackle, and admits he wants to work on his speed, it's worthy of two FAKEs out of five.
Ash is a defensive tackle, and therefore doesn't have any fil... wha? Here's the Richard Ash highlight reel:
There are also some impressive senior highlights, but I can't embed them.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Ash is not an immediate-impact type, and with Michigan's current depth on the defensive line, he won't be pushed into duty as a true freshman. A redshirt is in order to bulk up for the defensive tackle position or get into shape to be a big defensive end for 3-man fronts. Whichever position the coaches decide to let him play, he'll need a year under the strength and conditioning program to be ready to make contributions.
Ash is a boom-or-bust prospect. The up-and-down recruiting saga indicates a player with outstanding natural talent but some motivation and work ethic issues that USC and Florida don't have to take chances on. Thus the offers that ended up retracted. (The Florida State issue just appeared to be Ash not having much interest.)
Hopefully at Michigan he'll be more boom than bust, as he'll be around three other Pahokee kids who seem to be extremely hard workers—Odoms, at least, works like a dog on the field—and under the tutelage of Mike Barwis. If you end up at Michigan, you're going to end up working hard. He's also young for his grade, as Stampini mentions above, which gives him yet more upside. There's always a chance any prospect washes out entirely and Ash is farther away from his ceiling than really high-level prospects, but that ceiling appears to be about the same. If he puts in the work, he can be an all-conference player.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan now has two three-tech defensive tackles (ie, RVBs) committed with OH DT Terrance Talbott the other. That meets a major need since Van Bergen is coming up on his junior year and the only other player on the depth chart is fifth-year senior Greg Banks. Assuming that these guys don't decommit a la Dequinta Jones and Pearlie Graves last year, Michigan will have filled that spot with a couple of slightly undersized guys who will probably take a redshirt—Banks gives Michigan that luxury—and then start a long war to be the nominal starter once Van Bergen graduates.
Since MI DT Jonathan Hankins plays the nose, he is still an option.
Etc.: Maybe Ash ended up not committing to USC because he watched The Day After Tomorrow too much?
“I was worried cause they say they have earthquakes, mudslides and wildfires.”
How do any of those differed from riding out a hurricane in Florida?
“Oh, see that’s something I’m used to, I ain’t ever experienced an earthquake,” said a laughing Ash.
Christmas is in nine days and you haven't purchased an MGoShirt for your fish, you terrible person, you. Imagine how cold your fish are going to be on Christmas morning when you gather around the tree to open your presents or flop around in an terrifying, airless, alien environment. As the light dims in their eyes all they will be able to think about is how their death could express disdain for the state of Ohio…
…IN FABULOUS AMERICAN APPAREL!!!
Woo! The following shirts are now available in luxuriously soft, eco-friendly, creepily-modeled American Apparel sizes from XXL to XS:
Still in effect: free shipping on orders over $50 and 20% off all this month. Hail and Biff eating the mascots are also available as hoodies. Consume!
Short Update this week, as the recruiting class is getting wrapped up in short order. All updates can be found on the Michigan Football Recruiting Board. Next week's update will probably be of the "class overview" variety. After that, the focus is very likely to shift to the 2011 class.
One Of The Best Defense... Plays
For those who live under a rock, the heading references the gentlelady from Florida.
MD LB Josh Furman will announce his decision this Saturday at the Maryland Crab Bowl. He went on the local television sets to talk about the bowl itself, as well as his college decision and the extraordinary season he had at Old Mill this year. Furman's decision, between UM and Virginia Tech, is expected to go in favor of the Wolverines. He announces on the 19th.
Although FL DT Richard Ash committed to West Virginia just a couple weeks ago, he visited Michigan the weekend of the 4th, and now Sam Webb has said on WTKA that he has a "strong gut feeling" that Ash will switch that commitment to the Wolverines. For those who don't regularly listen to the Recruiting Roundup (and I know it's become a lot more difficult since the WTKA website has been having technical issues for a couple weeks now), that means Sam has been told that this will happen, and it's not merely a guess.
Michigan will receive a visit from FL CB/S Rashad Knight later this winter ($, info in header). Knight was originally slated to visit for the Ohio State game, but missed his flight.
A commitment from Ash coupled with the presumed silent commitments from Grimes, Murphy, and Furman would bring Michigan to 27 members of the class, leaving one slot open for any of the various players listing Michigan—CA S Sean Parker, CA LB Tony Jefferson, MI DT Jonathan Hankins, TX DT "Big Tex" Beachum, etc—unless there's a decommitment or a kid who is far enough away from qualifying that Michigan pulls a scholarship offer. Of those players, Hankins has seems the most likely but is currently rotating like a pulsar, having declared Florida his leader and then suggesting that commitments to Michigan and then Ohio State were imminent.
Jefferson is supposed to be a package deal with CA WR Kenny Stills and has dropped Florida, leaving both players considering Oklahoma and Michigan, with Oklahoma the favorite. No one really knows what Parker's up to.
#Michigan commit Carvin Johnson told me LSU has not offered, and an offer from them would not change his commitment to Michigan.
Though Carvin's Rummel team failed to take home the State Championship this weekend, he was still named the game's MVP.
In other "committed safety championship game" news, Ray Vinopal comes in for some high praise from the coach of Columbus St. Francis DeSales, which dropped the Ohio State Championship to Vinopal's Cardinal Mooney team:
"Playing for Mooney, you know you're going to see kids that are disciplined, smart and technically sound, but you add in this kid's abilities and you really have something special," said Wiggins, who coached U-M's Patrick Omameh.
"You want to talk about a kid that can flat out run, though - Vinopal was probably the fastest kid we played against all season, and we had a very competitive schedule.
This goes right along with everything we've heard about Vinopal: well-coached, mentally ready to play the game. However, it also touts something that isn't usually praised, which is Vinopal's physical ability. Braylon Heard, Cardinal Mooney's feature back, is a West Virginia commit oft-praised for his speed, and DeSales also played a number of other guys with HIGHLY ACCURATE and not at all FAKE 40 times in the 4.4 range on Rivals. Very interesting point there, if it's not just lip service from Wiggins (which it may very well be). So far in this article we are seriously lacking white guy adjectives, though, right?
"He's tough and gritty - just a tremendous player."
Ah, that's more like it.
NC LB Kris Frost, a likely 4-star prospect in the 2011 class, is hearing from Michigan already.
"He's an energy ball," Butler quarterback Christian LeMay said. "He's always ready to play, ready to practice. I can't say enough about him. He's a piece of the heart of this team. He leads our defense."
I've added Frost to the 2011 Michigan Football Recruiting Board. (He's pictured at right, courtesy the Charlotte Observer's David T. Foster).
NY QB Ashton Broyld is getting attention from some schools as a linebacker, but he wants to play QB in college. Michigan is one of the schools that's talking to him (he was a 2009 summer camper), and he might be a good prospect for Michigan, if they can't get a top-top guy (i.e. Frost's teammate Lemay). That would give them a QB in the 2001 class, but leave open the door for an elite 2012 guy. For a little more on Broyld, check out his junior highlight film.
Is Michigan back in the game for OH S Latwan Anderson? I'll believe it when he visits. Michigan is showing interest in FL LB Darrin Kitchens. If that interest continues, I'll add him to the board next week. AnnArbor.com fluff on WI P Commit Will Hagerup. More talking about early enrollees. The list is no different than last time we talked about it. Everyone at the Shrine Bowl seems to think SC QB commit Conelius Jones is destined for wideout in college.
The lamentation of your women.
via user chunkums
He loves it. The lamentation.
All American. I'm pleasantly surprised that both recruiting networks named Brandon Graham to their All-America teams after he was snubbed by the first of the infinite lists that came out—FWAA or something. Graham and Zoltan the Inconceivable also feature on the AP's second team, which is nice. Zoltan got the second team nod at Scout, too.
This Drew Butler kid who stole first team honors and the Ray Guy award… well… probably deserved it. Before you stone me to death—a fate I willingly accept for such heresy—please let me note that Butler averaged almost 49(!) yards a kick and Georgia led the country with a 42.8 yard net average.
Expansion bits. Various notes and errata on possible expansion:
- Sentiment is running strongly against a move to the Big Ten at Syracuse blog Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician with 56% opposed to a move versus just 19% in favor. In the comments the most commonly cited reason is John Boeheim, who is credited with assembling the Big East with his bare hands and would instantly quit if he had to play in a different sandbox.
- BHGP points out that the BFD with the CIC is post-grad Research I stuff, not necessarily undergraduate education, which Big Ten schools are supposed to look at as a necessary evil.
- Missouri's chancellor said MU would "listen" to the Big Ten should it come calling, so they will at least flirt with a Big 12 departure.
The useful comment thread from the Grid of Judgment has these additional bits of information:
- Pitt's got a monster endowment: $2.334 billion, according to unnecessarily precise poster Don. That's more than anyone in the league except Northwestern and Michigan.
- Multiple posters suggest that Nebraska is seriously pissed off you guys about Texas's reign as supreme unquestioned ruler of the Big 12 and could really give a crap about the rest of the league save for Colorado. Oklahoma already rotates off their schedule.
- Rutgers is apparently a mediocre school on the decline, which explains why there are so many kids from Jersey at Michigan.
And any thread on expansion comes with an increasingly preposterous series of candidate schools that make sense in no way whatsoever: Texas A&M, TCU, Toronto, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Auburn, Rice—seriously, someone suggested Rice—etc.
Virginia Tech seems plausible at first blush but after UVA fought tooth and nail to get them into the ACC lest the governor get out his pimp hand a jump to the Big Ten seems wildly improbable. They would probably be more willing to jump than any other ACC team since they could give a crap about basketball and don't have longstanding rivalries with anyone in the league. Last time I brought this up I mentioned Boston College as a crazy off-board option, and I guess they remain one. They bring a huge market with them but one that is slightly busy with other things, and they don't fit the Big Ten's huge public research university model. They would get tripped up by the Research One thing.
Pitt still looks like the strongest candidate by far. For people wondering about money, remember that Pitt can be slightly less marketable than the Big Ten average—which I don't think they are given their currently monstrous basketball program—and still be a major asset because of the championship game and increased profitability from the Big Ten Network.
As far as divisions go, there's no way to make them work geographically without turning into a version of the Big 12 on steroids by chucking Penn State, Michigan, and Ohio State into the same division. You also can't keep all the rivalries together if Pitt is indeed the pick. You try to split this into six team divisions:
Can't be done without murdering one traditional rivalry or the entire point of putting Pitt in the conference. Missouri is much easier, since you just throw them in with Illinois and Northwestern and put them in the Michigan pod.
I'd prefer an expanded status quo with a ninth conference game, guaranteed rivalry pairs, and a couple byes but apparently you have to have two divisions to have a title game, which is inane but true.
Heismens of all varieties. So the actual Heisman went to a good running back on an undefeated team instead of, you know, the best player in the country. Or even the best running back. A lot of this can be ascribed to the Heisman's bloated list of voters and their lack of accountability. I mean, seriously, here's a guy with a Heisman vote whose ballot read Ingram, Tebow, McCoy:
I never saw Gerhart play an entire game (we work all day Saturday and Saturday night) and only saw a few minutes of Suh’s game against Texas. I refused to vote for somebody based on highlights.
I'm impressed that this guy managed to spin his ignorance into a principled stance against voting "based on highlights" instead of taking a principled stand against voting based on the three football games he saw this year.
So hurrah for the Sports Blog Heisman coming out approximately correct by handing Toby Gerhart the trophy over Ndamukong Suh by one point. Here's guessing that everyone who voted saw Gerhart and Suh for at least one game. Not that bloggers are perfect. A few years ago when Rakes of Mallow was running its now-defunct version of the same thing, the winner was Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan, which ugh.
Of course. Here's Fielding Yost curling in a silly hat:
Etc.: Corwin Brown is out at Notre Dame. If there is an opening on the coaching staff, could he fill it? He doesn't coach LBs, unfortunately, but has slayed on the recruiting trail. Wonk asks "What Happened to Michigan?"
Schools that have been brought up at one time or another but are not worth a fuller discussion for various reasons.
Schools that would say no
Texas. Blame those Texas newspaper articles describing UT's flirtation with the Big Ten after the SWC exploded, but Texas comes up whenever this topic does. Despite the travel involved the Big Ten would do that in a heartbeat; Texas is a fantastic school that opens up copious television markets and is a national power in both football and basketball.
Texas would not, though. They are the master and commander of an entire conference with weak revenue sharing relative to the Big Ten. They have longstanding rivalries with virtually everyone in the Big 12 South. And their nationally competitive baseball program would be badly hurt by joining what's basically a mid-major conference.
Nebraska. Massive football tradition and geographically somewhat feasible but there's no way the Cornhuskers would give up a 100 years of rivalries for the Big Ten. Have no links to anyone in the conference.
Notre Dame. If the Big Ten is doing this when Notre Dame's NBC contract has six years to run, the Irish are not in the mix.
Schools that don't offer enough
Iowa State. Why on earth would anyone want Iowa State in their conference? No TV market and no success in either major sport. If Iowa doesn't want them, and I'm sure they don't, why would anyone else?
West Virginia. Tier III institution would probably get rejected by the presidents. Good programs in football and basketball but brings zero recruiting base and zero television market. If the only considerations were on-field performance they'd be the obvious #1 choice but all their peripherals are poor.
Cincinnati. Legitimate traditional basketball power (two national titles in the 60s to go with the Huggins era) and nouveau riche football school, but probably destined for a major drop with Brian Kelly out the door. Academically, a non-starter: it's a tier III commuter school.
Louisville. Geographically and athletically plausible but a tier III institution.
Rutgers. Hypothetically brings New Jersey and New York markets into play, except few really care about Rutgers when they're not good and they've rarely been good. Very rarely. Basketball program a nonentity; football was a nationwide punchline until the arrival of Greg Schiano, at which point they've had one standout year and a bunch of middling ones that end in nondescript bowl games.
Missouri. Geographically adjacent and has longstanding, if on-and-off, rivalry with Illinois. Good, not great, state school that would be the worst-ranked school in the league but not by much, especially after a post-CIC bump. Brings a new, large TV market into play. Also brings Don Draper with it.
Negatives: neither football or basketball is the sort of program that brings any wow factor, though the football program is a solid and developing one under Gary Pinkel. And Mizzou has been in the Big 8/12 since its inception. Fevered rivalry with Kansas and the sort of non-rivalry with Nebraska that saw Mizzou on the end of dozens of heinous beatings to the point where if Pinkel hadn't run up the score in the final year of Callahan he would have taken he would have taken heat for it.
Would Mizzou go? I mentioned them on the radio yesterday, at which point someone who grew up in the area called in to cast doubt on the possibility the Tigers would even consider leaving the Big 12. He certainly knows better than I do. On the other hand, some Mizzou folks have started a pro-Big Ten blog and the Rock M Nation thread discussing BHGP's discussion of a potential move is split down the middle. The local paper's Mizzou beatwriter, however, is adamant:
RT @Kevin_Baum What's your take on mizzou's chances of joining the big 10? ... To quote Dean Wormer, Zero Point Zero
I don't know. I expect that Mizzou would at least flirt with the Big Ten in an effort to get the Big 12's revenue sharing increased.
Pitt. Obvious natural rivalry with Penn State that makes the Nittany Lions less of an odd duck in the league both geographically and culturally. Brings another TV market, though Pittsburgh is an area that already gets the BTN. Rich tradition in football and has been intermittently decent over the last decade; basketball program has recently built itself into a national power but has little in the way of history.
Scholastically Pitt would be an average Big Ten team, which is very strong relative to other serious candidates. And there's no question whether they would jump or not: Pitt would kill to get in the Big Ten. They'd get to play Penn State, they'd get a ton more football revenue, the basketball would be fine, and they could play WVU out of conference.
Negatives: they play in a sterile NFL stadium that's usually half-empty, though a Big Ten fan with road-trip inclinations could view that as a positive. And adding Mizzou or Syracuse or whatever puts another state in the BTN footprint; Pittsburgh doesn't. And you could see this hurting Big Ten schools' Pittsburgh-area recruiting. Now players in the area can pick between the Big Ten or staying close to home; in the future they can have both.
Syracuse. Geographically somewhat awkward; football program has totally imploded since Paul Pasqualoni fell off. On the other hand, an excellent school (almost exactly on par with Pitt) with a powerhouse basketball program. Their location is a blessing and a curse: it's far away but also makes the Big Ten considerably more important in New York (state, not City).
Syracuse might like it in the Big East enough to shoot down an overture, though. They're decidedly more eastern than a lot of Big East schools.
Grid! Grid of judgment!
A legend: teams are graded on a 3 point scale, where 0 is
uncatchable a factor so poor it disqualifies the program in question, 1 is is an active detriment, 2 is "meh", and 3 is a positive. The "average" column does not include "willingness," since it's an attempt to judge the attractiveness of the teams only.
"Other sports" rankings derived from Director's Cup standings.
Your winners amongst the even distantly feasible: Pitt and Missouri, and Missouri is only distantly feasible. Both are clearly poor options relative to Notre Dame, but that ain't happening. Your projected 12th Big Ten school: Pitt.