1. The Four Factors
|Expected Pts||Conversion Rate||Bonus Yds/Play||Red Zone|
*TD’s are treated as 7 points regardless of PAT outcome
So Michigan had the field position for 35 points…and scored 10. Only 11 times this season has an offense left more than 25 points on the table in a game. With over 6 touchdowns worth of points left on the field, #M00N was the third worst game of the year in terms of points scored versus field position. Clemson-Louisville was slightly ahead and Saturday’s lead-in game of Penn State versus Indiana was the worst of the year at 43.5 points below expected.
|Expected Pts||Conversion Rate||Bonus Yds/Play||Red Zone|
|Offense||26.0 (78/11)||59% (108/12)||2.0 (121/13)||4.7 (91/10)|
|Defense||26.2 (45/5)||63% (18/6)||1.7 (13/3)||4.2 (10/1)|
(National Rank/B1G Rank)
Saturday’s game pushed Michigan to roughly neutral on field position for the year. The 2010 vs 2014 season mirror image continues in earnest. The offense can’t convert 60% of it’s first downs, is bottom ten in explosive plays is an absolutely anemic unit. The defense has struggled against the better teams, but is still top 20 in conversion rate and has done very well in limiting big plays and red zone scoring.
If you are wondering how Michigan isn’t last in Bonus Yards in the Big Ten, despite being in the bottom 8, we have our opponents from Saturday to thank. Northwestern is second worst nationally, behind only Wake Forest which is threatening to set records for their lack of explosiveness.
2. Individual Performances
Devin Gardner: –9.8, –26% on 28 plays
Drake Johnson: –0.8, –2% on 10 plays
De’Veon Smith: +1.2, +13% on 18 plays
Devin Funchess: –3.3, –7% on 7 plays
The –9.8 for Gardner is before the opponent adjustment pushes it down another point. Gardner’s 3 lowest rated games of his career are Northwestern, Utah and Michigan State from this season. It’s like he was on a Saw movie and said if you don’t want to be killed by your offensive line, you have to fight to survive by starting over in a new system in which you will fail miserably. I am thankful Devin has fought to survive, but I can’t believe what he’s become.
In terms of the running backs, I don’t know what to say at this point. The statement from Hoke saying he is going with a hot hand is just silly. Hot hand is a pretty controversial concept to prove over large stretches, to think that one RB is performing better than another based on a handful of carries that are largely dependent on the guys in front is just silliness. This football season, man.
3. Game Chart
6. +12.7% Michigan stuffs Northwestern on second and goal (late Q4)
5. +13.1% Northwestern’s 4th down pass falls incomplete (mid Q3)
4. +14.9% Jehu Chesson recovers the muffed punt (mid Q3)
3. –20.5% Raymon Taylor’s pass interference gives Northwestern a 1st and Goal (late Q4)
2. –21.0% Devin Gardner is intercepted (-5.2%) and returned 79 yards (-15.8%) (late Q3)
1. +40.8% Frank Clark Shuts down the two point conversion (late Q4)
Michigan’s best play on offense was the 16 yard completion to Jake Butt on the final field goal drive, worth about 5.5%. No rush or pass play made the top 6 for anything good that happened to either offense. Raymon Taylor PI was the closest thing.
4. Dumb Punt of the Week
Since I have been slacking the last few weeks we’re going to go back a bit to pick what may be the dumbest punt of all time, at least in the first quarter.
Arkansas has a hard luck season, they are in the loaded SEC West and haven’t won an SEC game in over two years. So far this season they lost then #6 Texas A&M in overtime and then #7 Alabama by 1 after a blocked PAT. So with a shot at the #1 team in the country in Mississippi State, they would pull out all the stops to get the win, right? It was early and Arkansas had a 3-0 lead and was driving. After getting the ball down to the MSU 32 yardline, the Razorbacks faced a 4th and 1. Obviously since this is DPotW, you know what happens next.
Arkansas would go on to lose 17-10; I’m sure they would love to have another possession with less than 40 yards to go to have a shot at OT, but that went out the door with the punt team. Since 2003, the only case I can find of a more egregious punt was in 2009 UConn punted on 4th and 1 from the Ohio 31.
Submissions are no closed, Dumb Punt of the Year voting is now closed.
As you may have heard, Michigan may be looking for a new head coach and there is message board rumblings that it could be Jim Harbaugh. Not that he needs much introduction but I did want to put together a couple of quick graphics on how his Stanford teams performed.
Team Performance: Stanford vs Michigan
Harbaugh years in yellow, y-axis is opponent adjusted points versus average.
You can’t get a much more dramatic change than Stanford experienced in the four years under Harbaugh. They went from the bottom of the Power 5 and nearly 9 points below average prior to him joining to over 15 points above average in his final season, with improvement demonstrated in each and every season. He even left the program in strong hands with Offensive Coordinator David Shaw taking the reigns and keeping results at a still high level. From an on-field perspective, it doesn’t get any better than this. Took a program not doing well, consistently improved them, built up a strong staff that could continue at a high level after he left, but still demonstrating that he added some value while on the sideline.
On a side note, that blue line should silence any remaining voices about the viability of Hoke’s retention, independent of season outcome. That is four consecutive years of production decline, going to take some pretty amazing performances for 2014 to even end close to 2013, which obviously wasn’t great.
Recruiting Performance: Stanford versus Michigan
Stanford is a tough place to recruit at a high level and Michigan has traditionally operated at a different tier than Stanford. Harbaugh wasn’t able to turn around recruiting momentum immediately the way a James Franklin type would, but you can see by the 2009-2010 results that once the wins started coming, Harbaugh was able to raise the Cardinal recruiting profile, which has remained high in his absence. Based on this limited evidence, it would appear that Harbaugh is likely not an elite recruiter, but one more than capable of recruiting at a high level.
Basketball season will be more fun than football!
|WHAT||Michigan vs. Hillsdale|
|WHERE||Crisler Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan|
|WHEN||2 pm Eastern, Saturday|
|LINE||No line, you degenerates; Hillsdale is D-II|
THE SEASON PREVIEW
Hillsdale plays in the GLIAC, a D-II conference that also includes Michigan's exhibition opponent, Wayne State. The Chargers return two starters from a squad that finished 18-9 last season, and they have a huge hole to fill with the graduation of record-setting forward Tim Dezelski, who averaged 23 points and 10 rebounds in 2013-14.
Now the go-to guy is 6'7" junior forward Kyle Cooper, who averaged 14 and 6; his statistical profile suggests he's more dangerous inside the arc than outside, but he can stretch the floor a bit. 5'8" point guard Zach Miller is the other returning starter, and shooting guard Darius Ware returns to action this season after missing all of 2013-14 with an injury—he started 25 games the season prior and is described on the team's site as an athletic player with a decent mid-range game.
Michigan's young bigs could get tested by seven-foot center Jason Pretzer, though Pretzer hasn't produced much during his first three years in the program. For a more complete preview of Hillsdale, check out their official site. For our purposes, this is D-II cannon fodder.
Not yet, stat-heads. Due to Hillsdale's D-II status, KenPom doesn't even have them in his database, and he gives Michigan a full 100% chance to win this game. I'm not one to argue with him.
Secondary rebounding. Michigan's centers might have their hands full with a true seven-footer, and even if they're able to overcome that disadvantage with their decided edge in pure talent, the Wolverines will need the non-bigs to step it up on the boards in order to replace the excellent rebounding production of last year's now-departed bigs. Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton have already displayed both willingness and ability to get involved on the boards; this year, it's Zak Irvin's turn to step it up in that regard, and he did so in the exhibition against Wayne State. It'd be nice to see that continue against a slightly (slightly) better opponent.
Who are the shooters? John Beilein is going to start the season playing all the freshmen, but he's unlikely to keep it that way as the season wears on, and a major determining factor for which guys stay in the rotation will be their ability to force opponents to respect their shot. Spreading the floor and knocking down shots will be huge for determining if Mark Donnal and Aubrey Dawkins are worth playing over other options; same goes for MAAR, whose jumper has looked a bit iffy in the early going, but it's possible he can make up for that with his ballhandling and knack for getting to the line.
Get penetration. The Wolverines were productive in their exhibition against Wayne State, but outside of LeVert there wasn't much in the way of creating baskets off the dribble, at least in the halfcourt. Walton has a juicy matchup against a much smaller point guard that I'd like to see him exploit, and it'd be great to see Kam Chatman and DJ Wilson look to create when they get the right matchup themselves. If Zak Irvin starts blowing by defenders, you're allowed to get pretty excited, as well, competition be damned.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by lots. (Seriously, there's no line on KemPom, so this is the best I can do.)
UMHoops preview. Maize n Brew preview. For the love of all things sacred and holy read Brendan F. Quinn's masterful feature on John Beilein already:
"I remember John just being the nicest guy you'd ever want to meet," says Bob Narrish, a teammate. "Charismatic. Everybody liked him. The girls liked him. He had that long flowing blond hair. A good looking guy."
Perched like two old crows on a set of three-row bleachers in the same gym some 40-odd years later, Betchel turns to Narrish and, looking around, says, "When you were on the end of that bench with ol' John, while Baker was running around all crazy, would you have thought (Beilein) would end up being one of the best coaches in the game of basketball?"
"Nah, probably not," Narrish says. "Probably a teacher."
The Daily's preseason coverage is up to its usual lofty standard. Daniel Feldman's look back at Stu Douglass's program-altering game-winner against MSU in 2011 is well worth a read:
“What sticks out the most from that game was the silence from the crowd after the shot,” Douglass said. “The energy of the building was immediately gone. That possession was so charged up and loud, and once the shot went in, it was immediately flat. You could feel the disappointment of their fans.
“Not many things beat hearing the silence of an opposing crowd that hates you.”
Stu's troll game remains on point. Meanwhile, DJ Wilson's taste in film is impeccable, and somebody please feed Ricky Doyle.
Tim Miles remains a wonderfully charismatic lunatic.
Foote in mouth. Larry Foote claimed, forgivably inarticulately, that Michigan's problem is we don't recruit enough kids who are used to a tougher road. I found a site that will take places in a spreadsheet and plot them on a map, and did so with the 2001 (Foote's and my senior year) and 2014 rosters, minus non-Kovacsian walk-ons. Yes there are errors still. Go ahead and zoom in.
Yellow is 2001; blue is 2014. Fullscreen
It sometimes does weird things like put Warren, Michigan, in the Upper Peninsula and I am fixing those one by one as I spot them. Findings:
- Lloyd had four guys from the Memphis area while Hoke did much better in Southwest Ohio. That's where those guys are from.
- Carr was able to penetrate deep into SEC country while Hoke has only managed to pick around the edges.
- Hoke gets more kids out of private schools and magnet schools (e.g. Cass Tech) than Lloyd did. This is because when I was in high school the big prep programs weren't recruiting as much as they do now, so talent wasn't as concentrated.
The differences are minor and speak less to changes in Michigan recruiting than general trends. It all amounts to mostly nothing.
Off the top of my head, the players Michigan has who come from 1% means are Wilton Speight, who's a redshirting freshman right now, and Matt Wile, who burned his redshirt because of Hagerup and waited patiently for three years behind a guy who probably shouldn't have been on the team. Foote's starting QBs were Tom Brady from a nice place in California, and John Navarre from Cudahy, Wisconsin, which is suburban Milwaukee on the Lake Michigan coastline. Meanwhile Devin Gardner went to Inkster, which doesn't even exist anymore. If Foote had been 13 years younger it's likely he'd have been picked up DCD (Mo Ways), OLSM (James Ross) or Cass Tech. Talent comes from all over; Michigan's talent comes from where it used to.
Bye week is wife day, as per Six Zero's family tradition. The espoused among us are encouraged to move back from the football for a moment and pay service to whatever your weird marital tradition might be. If she'd like you to lose an entire Saturday to outlet stores, that's rough, but she's worth it. If your wife would rather just get random butterflies from you and spend Saturday helping you rake leaves, then you're married to the bestest in the westest. Congratulations only me.
[Jump: on the Wisconsin coach we can't steal and the LSU one we probably shouldn't]
Mailbag: Retaining Mattison, Coach Before AD, Hackett Long-Term, Braxton Transfer, Schlissel Concerns(?)
Left: via Eric DeBoer. Right: ICE ICE BABY TOO COLD
It seems very clear that Hoke is gone at this point. Is there a scenario in which we could fire Hoke, but keep Mattison at DC? This is a top 25 team with a competent offense. I actually like Nuss too as I believe the playcalling has been good and Gardner just isn't executing, but he also seems as good as gone right?
It's rare for assistant coaches to be kept on after a head coaching change. OSU kept Luke Fickell, but they've devolved his responsibility repeatedly and their defense is not up to par with their offense. You get the sense he's mostly around for recruiting. Other than that I can't recall a coordinator-level assistant who survived their head man getting axed.
Making an exception for Mattison depends on a lot of things. For one, is he pissed off enough that he just retires? Mattison's pressers have been feisty, full-throated defenses of Brady Hoke over the last couple months. It's clear Hoke commands seriously loyalty from him, and it was expected he'd be retiring in the somewhat near future anyway. He would take some convincing to stay, and making that pitch is a delicate thing I'm not sure certain targets *cough*HARBAUGH*cough* would be good at.
Meanwhile, there's the question of how good this defense actually is. Yeah, they're seventh nationally in yards per game and 12th in yards per play. They've also faced a selection of completely horrible offenses. Yards per play rankings of Michigan power 5 opponents, out of 128:
- NORTHWESTERN: 125th
- PENN STATE: 121st
- UTAH: 89th
- MINNESOTA: 68th
- INDIANA: 57th, but most of that is w/ Sudfeld
- RUTGERS: 50th
- NOTRE DAME: 38th
- MICHIGAN STATE: 12th
There are two teams in there that are better than average and if you take Indiana's QB situation into account (Indiana has averaged barely 200 yards a game since Diamont took over) there are three of the very worst teams in the country. #91 Maryland and… uh… #11 Ohio State are pending.
That plus Michigan's notoriously slow tempo means the advanced stats have a very different perspective on Michigan than raw ones. FEI has Michigan 35th(!) in the country, which is barely average in a schedule adjusted system. Michigan is 31st in S&P.
It's not hard to see why. They gave up 400 yards to Gary Nova, got plastered by David Cobb, and folded on the second drive in East Lansing against the one legitimately good offense they faced. The man press misstep was costly, and I don't have a lot of hope Michigan is going to throttle Ohio State.
So. Given that and the likelihood Mattison's going to call it quits sooner rather than later anyway, I wouldn't put a high priority on retaining him. It might be different if there was a guy on staff that looked like an heir apparent, but Mark Smith keeps getting bounced to other roles, Roy Manning is probably still too young, and Kurt Mallory was interviewing at I-AA schools last summer.
I don't see anyone sticking around after the transition except Manning, who's established himself a great recruiter and can go back to his natural LB spot. I still think Nussmeier's track record is an excellent one, especially in QB development, but it's going to be a hard sell to retain him after this year's performance.
[After the JUMP: AD hiring stuff, prez stuff.]
Ah, the bye week. Sometimes it interrupts the flow of an exciting football season. And sometimes it mercifully ends the eye-bleeding and cow-rubbing for seven extra merciful days. But either way, the bye week is not simply a void on the calendar. No, no. You are not so lucky. The bye week is the Britta filter of your social life. It catches all of the stuff you’ve been avoiding or putting off. It is your March 31st.
So today, we preview some of your most likely opponents for the weekend. Odds are, you'll be facing at least one or two of these this weekend, so you may as well be prepared.
About Last Week:
Football. Which was somehow worse than this week’s opponents.
The Road Ahead:
Recap: A familiar rival. You have taken on this opponent in bits and pieces over previous weekends, but you didn’t get out there until 11:00 and then you came back in for a drink and the noon games had kicked off and then the Michigan game was on at 3:30 and then DAMN too dark to get back out there. Unfortunately, this has left you in a precarious state in which you still need to rake about 80% of the leaves, and you should probably mow the thing before winter, and your dream of turning that weedy dirt patch in the corner of the yard into, you know, grass, has hopelessly stalled for the second straight season.
This opponent is as frightening as: A standard MAC opponent. It probably won’t be pretty, and you may be left with the impression that you are half-assing it, but you can usually get enough done such as not to embarrass yourself too badly in front of your neighbors. Fear Level = 4
You should worry about: It is supposed to snow. And soon. So if you don’t score early in this one, there’s a decent chance nature will run out the clock.
You can sleep soundly about: It is supposed to snow. And soon. So if you fall behind in this one, who the hell cares it’ll be covered in snow and you won’t have to worry about it until like April. Polar Vortex FTW.
Current Line: Lawn -3
Pile of Papers on the Little Table
Recap: It started innocently enough. There was the renewal notice for Cat Fancy and the coupon for the restaurant you never visit but might visit some time because you have a coupon. So you put them on that little table in the corner of the kitchen or on the desk in the den so you could take care of them later. And now, four months later, the pile has become The Pile. You know there are some medical bills in there, and something sticking out of the pile (like three inches from the top) says “Second Notice.” The pile is a combination of the vital stuff you can’t lose and stuff you probably should have thrown away months ago. Somewhere in there is your passport, your Social Security card, and a spare checkbook. The pile is starting to lean precariously.
The preferred offensive strategy is to isolate the various elements and attack them piecemeal. Sort the pile into three separate groups: stuff you need to do right now, stuff you can throw away, and stuff that can wait but you probably shouldn’t throw away. Put that last subset in a nice neat pile, and put it somewhere where you will remember to take care of it soon. Like the little table in the corner of the kitchen.
This team is as frightening as: Michigan State. You know going in that you are going to face some matchup problems that you can’t solve. At some point, you have to acknowledge that defeat is inevitable, and that your opponent’s superiority is unlikely to lessen any time soon. Fear Level = 8
You should worry about: Seriously, one of these days they are going to shut off one of your services for non-payment. It might be your electricity. It might be Cat Fancy.
You can sleep soundly about: If it ever comes down to it, you know EXACTLY where all of your important stuff is. Is there anything so wrong with having all of your important papers in one place?
Current Line: Pile -7 (and the O/U of remaining pile height at the end of the weekend: 4 inches)
[AFTER THE JUMP – More stuff that is more fun than watching football]
[Note: Jamie's got an Odds On Favorites post to accompany this but life intervened and it's part-done. Putting this up now so you have time to pick your teams before tomorrow's games. OOF will be posted separately.]
THIS WEEK'S GAME: COLLEGE. BASKETBALL. EMPHATIC PERIOD.
Our coach is awesome. Our conference is the best. We have some really good, future pro players. This probably won't make you depressed.
MGo's fantasy sports partner Draft Kings is starting their college hoops games this week, and though Michigan plays its opener Saturday there's a bunch of names you should know well in the Friday pool.
Also it's the season opener so having watched basketball last year makes you smart. There's some pretty good deals on the board: Amile Jefferson (130.1 ORtG last year) and Quinn Cook (120.2) are playing Presbyterian, and come at $5,500 and $6,200, respectively. Rakeem Christmas (125.7) is missing his setup man but at $3,700 he's a pretty good fill for when you're over budget. If you're of the belief that MSU's offense has to go through Brenden Dawson early on, $7,200 is reasonable.
- $3,000 prize pool.
- $2 entry fee. FREE entry with first deposit.
- $450 1st Place prize.
- Top 400 are paid.
- Starts on Friday, November, 14th at 6:00 EST.
- Salary Cap Style Drafting. $50,000 to select 8 spots.
- Roster Format: 3 G, 3 F, 2 UTIL.
- First time depositors at DraftKings receive a 100% bonus up to $600
Hillsdale (with an 's' so not like the Back to the Future II/III housing development) is a small, DII private school nestled in rural south-central Michigan. If you take Michigan Avenue out of Ypsi and stay on it past the cottage lakes and US 127, you'll find the turn-off for it. It's small, expensive, teaches a classical liberal education (you learn Greek and stuff), and has a deep political party alignment that dates back to abolitionism. Average GPA and test scores of incoming freshmen are on par with Michigan. Things they're proud of: never accepting a tax dollar, sending a greater percentage of their student body to the Civil War than everyone but West Point, sending a desegregated ROTC unit to WWI, graduation rates (96%) that even Schlissel would be impressed with, and a popular publication (2.7 million readers) that gets quoted a lot on internet message boards.
You probably know them from that school with the 18-year-old mayor whom this was based on:
How This Works:
- Readers predict the final score of a designated game by placing a guess in the comments, preferably in the format of [M score][hyphen][Opp score], for example "41-30" or "35-31 Michigan", or "28-24 Go Blue", or "38-34 Gardner FTW!" or "38-0" etc.
- The three guys who read this part holler at people who post in a different format
- First person (by timestamp) to post a particular score has it.
- If you got it right, I contact you for an address by your MGoBlog account email, and you give me some time to get that to you.
- If nobody got it right we push it to next week or let it go.
- Brian voices displeasure at the puns in the headlines.
About Last Time:
I stopped doing these after September because football got depressing. You know what's not depressing?
This Week's Game:
Hillsdale at Michigan in a competition of basketball prowess, Crisler Arena, 2pm Saturday.
And on the Line:
Two tickets to the Maryland game. The football game. Sorry if that's depressing.
Fine print: One entry per user. First user to choose a set of scores wins, determined by the timestamp of your entry (for my ease I prefer if you don't post it as a reply to another person's score--if you do it won't help or hurt you). Deadline for entries is 24 hours before the start of the game. MGoEmployees and Moderators exempt from winning. The algorithm is going to downvote anyone who mentions politics in this thread. No, pointing out that a school is bent toward a political party when that school advertises that fact as its main selling point is not politics. The algorithm tried to be cool by not pointing out that pretty much every bit of material Hillsdale puts out to promote their school also tacitly rips on Michigan in some way. This is not the algorithm. It gave up on being that long ago.
Our latest thing/apology cycle comes courtesy of the president, who told a large faculty meeting that he didn't really get it when it came to sports.
"We admit students who aren’t as qualified, and it’s probably the kids that we admit that can’t honestly, even with lots of help, do the amount of work and the quality of work it takes to make progression from year to year,” he said. “These past two years have gotten better, but before that, the graduation rates were terrible, with football somewhere in the 50s and 60s when our total six-year rate at the University is somewhere near 90 percent, so that’s a challenge.”
Schlissel said an individual’s academic deficiencies are often overlooked to fill competitive rosters.
And that's fine. It's fine that he said it, fine that people reacted to it, and fine that the next day the university issued the lawyered-up CYA statements that large organizations always do when someone does something remotely controversial.
The main disconnect here is the opposite of the "muggles" thing. Muggles supposes that student-athletes are a breed apart when I guarantee 99% of them would self-destruct in EECS 100, let alone that f-ing networks class. That's fine. Guys like that one hockey player in my EECS 380 are true marvels. That kind of dude is not nor should be required for universities to feel good about their big ol' sports programs.
Sports are a valid pursuit for someone in college. They are hard as hell.
College sport is a weird enterprise where people are admitted to a University because they have a particular skill, are expected to hone that skill upwards of 40 hours a week, and also get a meaningful degree in something totally unrelated. I do not think I would have done well at football practice after yet another f-ing night spent trying to convince the automated grader that I had in fact replicated TCP/IP precisely.
We have a model for this: music. Applicants to Michigan's School of Music have to submit a headshot, a resume, a "repertoire list", and submit to an audition. Also this:
Pre-screening recordings, portfolio, video interview, studio teacher preference, and/or writing samples required by your Department
SAT scores are not really that important. Music gets lumped in as an acceptable academic pursuit; sports do not. Music people get to go music and then get a liberal arts degree around it; sports for credit is ludicrous.
Why? Tradition and momentum. Sports started out as an extracurricular thing and the history of the NCAA has been a futile attempt to keep it from moving to its rightful place. I mean, scholarships used to be controversial.
The unfortunate thing is that football's towering media profile blots out the various other extracurricular-type activities that fulfill the same purpose. Poke a newspaper sports section in this country and you will find Daily grads crawling all over its staff. When I was in school some friends and I started the Every Three Weekly, and contemporary alums from that include this guy who writes movies and this lady who writes for Modern Family. They did not get their jobs by having a shiny GPA.
There are a number of professions out there in which chops are everything. These often follow models that boil down to "show me." Football is one of these things, along with any creative pursuit you care to name. A degree in it is a valid idea, and erases a bunch of the supposed hypocrisy that comes along with the model. You know, the stuff that causes some yob at the WSJ to lead off with this:
Who believes in the myth of big-time college sports anymore? The polite fantasy of the student-athlete playing gratefully for pride and tuition has been stripped away by an overwhelming financial reality that became too big and rich to ignore. The hypocrisies can be seen from outer space, and public opinion—not to mention the courts—are catching up.
The force of my eye-rolling threatens to detach my optic nerves. Over the past few years I have met many former players, and they are universally impressive. From Vincent Smith to Marlin Jackson to Brandon Williams to Todd Howard, all of these guys got out of the University of Michigan what they put into it: a ton. I bet some of them didn't pay too much attention to their grades because that is a reasonable thing to do when you are doing something as demanding as football. People do not have infinite reserves of energy, and their grades won't matter—even if they end up in something else. For history majors, GPA is a demonstration of effort. For athletes, that's assumed.
Universities would be better off saying "yes, this is weird but it is valid" instead of clutching their pearls. Michigan needs to take kids and prepare them for existence outside the university; in my experience they are terrific at this.
Let them graduate in their field, with a liberal arts distribution attached. Test them when they arrive and when they leave to make sure you're doing a good job of educating them. I'd much rather be affiliated with a university that takes kids with some academic questions and turns them into the guys I've met than one that snootily says "not you" because of things outside that kid's control.
We're in a brief dead period for basketball recruiting, which seems like an ideal time to check in on the latest developments. I'm keeping the focus on the 2015 and 2016 classes for now; Michigan is still in the early stages of reaching out to 2017 recruits, and there's plenty to cover in the '15 and '16 classes, anyway.
2015: Dozier to SC, M Interested In German Prospect
After Michigan took transfer Duncan Robinson, it appeared they were all but done with the 2015 class, but the coaching staff is still pursuing a few talented prospects, including a couple players who've only emerged on M's radar in recent weeks. Michigan won't land anyone during the early signing period, which began yesterday and runs through the 19th, but they're in on a few players that could sign in the second period (April 15-May 20).
First, let's take one target off the board: PG PJ Dozier ended up surprising many with his decision yesterday, but it wasn't the surprise Michigan fans hoped for—instead of choosing Louisville, as expected, Dozier decided to stay in his home state and play for South Carolina. Happy trails to the young man.
Even operating under the unlikely assumption that no underclassman leaves the program after this season, Michigan has an open scholarship to work with for 2015-16, and they're focusing on a handful of top targets.
One of them just the radar: Berlin (GER) forward Moritz Wagner, whose highlights grace the top of this post—the 6'9" forward very much has the look of a classic Beilein big. Beilein flew to Germany recently to personally invite Wagner to campus; if he visited, he'd presumably get an offer. Duke and UConn have also reportedly shown interest, and Wagner also will have the option of going the professional route, per UMHoops:
“To study has always been my goal and that is parallel to the sport in the United States at the best,” Wagner recently told Berliner-Zeitung (translated). “On the other hand, it was always my dream to become a professional. Because the temptation is great, tackling issues. This is both cool.”
Wagner was born April 26th, 1997 and would be a member of the 2015 class. He recently told BZ-Berlin that he will make a decision on his future, signing professionally in Germany or attending college in the United States, after the season. He has reportedly been offered a four-year contract by Alba Berlin.
Obviously, this is a wait-and-see situation.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the recruiting outlook, including Michigan getting into the mix for the nation's #2 overall prospect.]
ON HAVING THINGS. I don't have anything. Nobody has much. This appears to be because the Schlissel quote about how the AD search would get underway in a couple weeks was accurate, and of course the coaching search consists of "we still have a coach" and "HARBAUGH."
Have heard that Harbaugh is very interested, no foolies. Again. But you know how much that means.
ON THINGS SAID BY SAM WEBB ON THE RADIO. There have been a number of threads about what Sam's saying that are a bit panicked. This is seemingly because the panicky people tend to be the ones running to post the threads about the slight possibility something seemingly bad might happen.
I have not gotten any vibes to get panicked about from him. I've actually urged him to be more explicit about his thoughts, and Sam says "THAT'S WHAT I'M DOING!" and kind of vibrates in frustration. So. Either the situation has changed from what some were panicking about or these threads are wildly inaccurate, because we just had our WTKA roundtable and Sam asserted that:
- Hoke has no chance unless he wins out.
- Even that is no guarantee.
- Hackett is likely to be around for the coaching search in the event Michigan does, say, get beat by 20 by OSU.
If you don't like #3, okay. But at this point the chance that there's a chance Hoke returns is slim indeed. And given the timing here if your top priority is a new coach that's fine. Hackett can make a reasonable decision and then go search.
I guess I have to talk about this pipedream
ON STOOOOOOOOPS. Fresh off an emasculating blowout at the hands of Baylor comes Bob Stoops, who's an indisputably really good coach in a weird Lloyd Carr holding pattern: he wins, a lot. He frustrates his own fans more than he probably should. Carr let teams hang around and reaped the occasional whirlwind; Stoops gets blown out a shocking amount for a guy who wins 11 games a year.
Still, you're probably all like "Bob Stoops? The persistent ND fever dream? Why not just bring up ESPN goblin John Gruden?"
Hey, I'm with you. But Dan Wetzel's urging it:
The odds of San Francisco 49ers coach, and Michigan alum, Jim Harbaugh returning to college look longer each week. The perception around the NFL is that if he's let go by San Francisco, a shot with another franchise (New York Jets? Oakland? Miami? A new L.A. team?), featuring more control and money, seems far more likely.
If so, Michigan should try to convince Bob Stoops not just how he'd be great for Michigan, but how Michigan would be great for him.
There is nothing in this article resembling concrete information; it's just a "hey, do this" thing. Okay, I guess, we would look into doing that before heading down the list but a move like that is just about unprecedented in the last 20 years of college football. Oh, and Stoops just signed a contract that pushes him to around $5 million annually. Michigan would have to match that and pay a hefty buyout just for starters. Doesn't seem at all likely.
There is a little bit more substance to Travis Haney's ESPN piece:
“I think it’s very real,” one coach said when I asked him generally about OU's staleness. “Fans get spoiled. A lot of coaches move on to keep it new, keep energy high. Look at Urban [Meyer].”
Maybe it was just a contract leverage play, which worked, but I believed some coaches when they told me Stoops had genuine interest last winter in the Cleveland Browns job.
“I think he’s looking for other options,” a coach said Saturday.
Stoops is 54, FWIW. I got dollars to donuts less than nothing comes of this chatter.
ON PATTING PEOPLE ON THE HEAD AND SAYING "THAT'S NICE." Mike Shanahan could be convinced to take the Michigan or Florida jobs. Mike Shanahan, who is 62 and has not been in college since 1983. Thank you for your interest, Mike Shanahan.
But he's a young 62!
Shut up, bolded alter ego.
ON ROTE NON-DENIAL DENIALS. Brad Bates was asked the inevitable question and said this:
“It really doesn’t distract me at all,” Bates said “I love it here at Boston College, my values align with the institutional mission and we’ve really enjoyed living in New England, one of the greatest cities in the world. It hasn’t been a distraction at all.”
When asked if he knows if UM has been contacting candidates or has even contacted him, he elected not to directly comment.
“There’s no value of me commenting on other institutions and their processes,” Bates said. “I love it here at Boston College, my values align with this institution and I hope to be here a long time.”
"…unless I am offered the Michigan AD job, whereupon I will leave so quickly my clothes will hang in the air for a comical moment before collapsing in an empty heap."
The Detroit News headlines this "plans to stay as Boston College AD," which is not at all what that passage says unless you are unfamiliar with rote non-denial denials. Also in this vein:
Sources: UConn AD Warde Manuel has no plans to go anywhere. // He's been on a list of potential candidates for the Michigan AD job.
— Mark J. Burns (@markjburns88) November 7, 2014
Burns is a former Daily guy so he's probably got a good connect. But, as always, sources say things they don't 100% know or mean. I've heard he'd also leave an empty pile of laundry if offered the job.