Well, yeah, obviously this was going to happen. Joe Schad:
Kelly, for his part, went on the Dan Patrick Show and didn't exactly douse the rumors:
Patrick: Have you been offered a contract extension by Cincinnati?
Kelly: We are working on one right now.
Patrick: So there's a chance you could sign the contract extension and put an end to the Notre Dame rumors.
Kelly: Absolutely. There's absolutely a chance of that. And I think there's a chance that I could look at another job. I haven't made that decision yet and I'll do that after today. Today is our team meeting with our players and then I've got a couple of days until our banquet and I want to be able to sit down and figure out what the best course of action is.
Bob Stoops this is not. More:
Patrick: By next Saturday, will I know what your future is?
Kelly: Yes you will.
Yeah… so I guess our best spin on this is that it is possible for really good college head coaches to implode spectacularly when they move jobs. I mean, just look at… aw, hamburgers. That's our head coach.
Is there anything good to take out of this?
"I laugh when I hear it," Gilyard said earlier this month. "Fans ask me all the time, 'Is Coach Kelly going to Notre Dame or Michigan or some bigger place?' Ain't UC big enough? We're in a BCS conference, and we're winning. I think it's a perfect fit for Brian Kelly.
"We had another coach [Dantonio] who looked us straight in the face and said he wasn't leaving. We remember that."
Anyone feel better? Not really? Dangit.
Update: Clausen and Golden Tate are going to the NFL thanks to advice from Weis, so at least there's that.
So your favorite former collegiate head coach, the guy in charge of your favorite team, one of college football's top coaches, and a guy with a meathead haircut all found themselves on the receiving end of various kinds of unfair, incorrect, or nasty-but-deserved media attention. A confusing allegorical play in four mostly unrelated acts:
It's Just A Flesh Wound
Last week on The Sporting Blog I called Bob-Stoops-to-Notre-Dame an "unkillable zombie rumor" after Stoops had to make four progressively more emphatic announcements that he wasn't going to make an unprecedented leap from a program he built into a national power to one that's been no more successful than Purdue over the last 15 years.
It has now graduated to Black Knight status, though:
Saturday's edition of the Chicago Sun Times reported that multiple sources told the newspaper on Friday that "Stoops hasn't said 'no' to Notre Dame."
This was an interesting take on the words "I will be at Oklahoma. Any reporting to the contrary is completely unfounded." Technically, the words "wild elephants could not drag me to South Bend" are not in that statement. That, however, doesn't make it any less definitive. "I will be at Oklahoma." End of story. Unless you're the Sun-Times and you're bound and determined to keep after the dumb rumor you're almost singlehandedly responsible for perpetrating in the mainstream media.
Bob Stoops on saying no to Notre Dame:
"For the third, and hopefully final time, let me again state that I will continue to be the coach at Oklahoma. I appreciate the history and tradition of Notre Dame. I also appreciate the history and tradition of Oklahoma, and I have been part of building that tradition here.
"I work for a wonderful president (David Boren) and athletic director (Joe Castiglione), who have created an incredible work environment at OU. There haven't been any plans for a meeting or negotiations with Notre Dame and there will not be. Any reporting to that fact is completely erroneous. I will not be the next coach at Notre Dame."
This is how plains Indians must have felt after the United States broke yet another treaty with them, right?
Checking Is For Commies
Fake email that started minor Bielema-to-ND meme that would probably still be going on if ND sites hadn't posted the reveal.
All right, lolmsm and all that. But Stoops isn't the only guy batting away meritless rumors about his involvement with Notre Dame:
UW athletic director Barry Alvarez, who's with the team in Hawaii, said Friday morning that he has no knowledge of any interest on Notre Dame's part in speaking with Bielema.
"I haven't heard anything," Alvarez said when reached on his cell phone. "He hasn't said anything to me, and nobody's called me for permission."
Bret Bielema? No offense to a guy coming off a bounce-back year any Michigan fan would kill to have, but NDNation would have a meetup just to kill and eat each other if Bielema became head coach there. And, lo, the faintly plausible rumor was created whole cloth by one guy emailing a disreputable web site that just posts whatever crap someone sends in:
2. Friend composes a very short, but specific email: I used to work in the athletic department at Notre Dame (a lie), and I have heard that Jack Swarbrick is interested in Bret Bielema, the head coach at the University of Wisconsin. This was at 6:56pm last evening. The email is sent from a free gmail account. There is no other email sent from friend, no attempt to "sell" the rumor beyond the initial communication, and nothing else to back up his credibility.
3. Meanwhile, friend has another buddy randomly tweet a few times about the Bielema rumors, and goes to bed.
4. FootballCoachScoop does not reply to the email. FootballCoachScoop does not ask any followup questions. FootballCoachScoop, to friend's knowledge, makes no attempt to verify emailer's bona fides in any way.
5. The next morning, FootballCoachScoop runs the rumor almost verbatim. Friend chuckles and shares the development with a few friends.
This expands, getting picked up by "the Examiner," which is like a Bleacher Report that people haven't figured out is almost always garbage yet, then hit rumor first, accuracy later College Football Talk—an offshoot of Mike Florio's Pro Football Talk—and poor Rittenberg's Big Ten blog before the hoax was widely known. (BGS had actually already posted it.)
Your blogger has a couple emails in his inbox that might be innocent but look pretty hoax-y declaring that Rich Rodriguez will be fired the Monday after the Ohio State game, by the way.
This Direct Quote Is Out Of Context
Meanwhile, Charlie Weis ceased speaking to the media in the final days of his regime. I get this. If I was a head coach who knew his head would be on a platter in a matter of weeks, I wouldn't waste my time with a bunch of tedious questions about what went wrong. I might even call a special press event type substance with five hand-picked media members, and I might even go all FootballCoachScoop on tales of Pete Carroll's mysterious grad student affair:
Q: Is it frustrating to Pete Carroll, for example, portrayed in one way...
CW: Let me ask you this question: You guys know about things that go on in different places. Was I living with a grad student in Malibu, or was I living with my wife in my house? You could bet that if I were living with a grad student here in South Bend, it would be national news. He's doing it in Malibu and it's not national news. What's the difference? I don't understand. Why is it okay for one guy to do things like that, but for for me, I'm scrutinized when I swear. I'm sorry for swearing; absolve my sins.
At this point I would diverge, though, since attempting to take something off the internet is pointless and once you say stuff it's impossible, and a little dishonest, to try to take it back. Weis said it and he meant it and if it was supposed to be off the record that's only 5% less of a nasty move. He's then put this thing in the heads of five people off the record and set Pete Carroll's Grad Student on the same path as Rich Rodriguez's Impregnated Cheerleader, a zombie meme that lives in dark corners and emerges every time School X has a problem with Coach Y.
This One Really Is Out Of Context
I didn't mention the "Rich Rodriguez doesn't care about black people" moment from the bust in anticipation that a fuller picture of the comments would come out. WTKA's Ira Weintraub mentioned via email that Rodriguez's faux pas was a reference to an earlier speech by a regent. And lo, Dave Birkett provides:
Regent White talked earlier about, uh, it’s really kind of ironic that the New Orleans Saints overcome the hurricane a few years back. And I used to live in New Orleans, coached there for a couple years (at Tulane), and I know how devastated that city (was) and how they overcome and rebuilt their stadium, rebuilt their program from the ground up. And we’ve had a few hurricanes of our own. And we had a big hurricane in August and it kind of hit us like a ton of bricks. But you had 120 young men and a bunch of people on staff say this is not going to tear our program apart. In fact, it’ll do just the opposite, bring us together.
So, yeah, I wish Michigan had a coach that didn't misuse the world "ironic" and am pretty sure at some point in his life Rich Rodriguez has used the word "literal" to emphasize a literally untrue assertion. But Rodriguez is making a nod at one of the regents' Michael Scott impersonation and then riffing on it extemporaneously in a fashion that probably seemed unwise to him as the words were coming out of his mouth. (This has happened to me, plenty.) No one bothered to mention it except one of the two freakin' guys who wrote the piece Rodriguez is referring to, and that guy removed important context that would have taken one sentence to provide. Too good to clarify, I guess.
As for how much this matters, TSB colleague Andy Hutchins provides the right comparison:
These comments may actually match Nick Saban's penchant for grabbing Pearl Harbor and September 11th as metaphors for tragedy, what with Rodriguez talking about the human cost of Katrina purely in the prism of football, but it's less outrageous than it is ineloquent.
What difference does it make? It makes none.
I don't really have one. I just had all this media stuff in my open tabs.
I do think there's some common theme here about partial information being evil: Stoops rumors are utterly baseless but go out of control so much that Stoops has to issue five separate denials of varying strengths, Bielema is momentarily implicated in the ND coaching search and only the hoax reveal keeps him from being hounded further, Weis throws a nasty rumor into the pool that will stick with Carroll forever, and Rodriguez's comments are removed from their context by a guy with a stake in public opinion of Rodriguez. In the one instance where the comments are a full transcript of the words spoken, the speaker's problem is that his comments were not elided from the record and leaked as a whisper campaign.
I guess the thrust is this: I don't believe Weis's retraction for a second because his response to it was to have the offending passage excised from the Rivals transcript instead of demanding that the context be irrefutably provided by one of the guys who was taping the conversation. The evidence is there. Release it. Similarly, Rodriguez's inelegant statement was made to look worse by the omission of information. The Sun-Times failed to clarify just why they thought Bob Stoops was going to be Notre Dame's next head coach at any point; by now they owe the public a detailed explanation of why they kept beating the drum long after any sane organization would have stopped. And Coach Scoop Unsubstantiated Football Site just posts unconfirmed stuff without any attempt to confirm or clarify the origins of the rumors, and doesn't even respond when hoaxed.
Because they're just "rumors," right? You can term whatever you want a rumor and be free from judgment when that rumor fails to come true.
My advice to internet publishers is be as honest and transparent as possible, and people will give you the benefit of the doubt as long as you show good judgment over the long haul. This philosophy has been in place at MGoBlog for as long as it's been around. The first bit of news the site ever originated was a report that Morgan Trent had broken his hand and would miss the Minnesota game in 2006, which Rivals snarkily dismissed in premium content, causing me to post a retraction. When several people reiterated that no, seriously, Morgan Trent's hand was broken, I posted the chain of events and provided enough information for readers to judge for themselves with some guidance—I believe me. Morgan Trent's hand was indeed broken, and I've tried to follow that template ever since. That managed to get this site through the coaching search and Sam McGuffie's Cuban Transfer Crisis stronger. I don't think you can say that about the Sun-Times above.
My advice to consumers of information on the internet is to look for this sort of transparency in the things you trust, and look dimly on anyone who would misrepresent information, intentionally or not, and refuse to apologize or clarify when called on it.
|Last week's ballot|
As someone who's a huge fan of the little guy, I really wanted to get TCU or Cincinnati ahead of Texas, but the more I looked at their resumes, the less I could justify it. Both might an equal say among their top group of wins, but the 'Horns have so much more depth in their schedule that the end carries them through (5th best win for Texas: Nebraska. 5th best win for TCU: Colorado State?). In fact, there might be an argument for moving Cincinnati ahead of TCU, but not Texas.
Other than that, everything is pretty straightforward. USC drops completely out from #16, but they probably should have been lower last week anyway. Stanford probably shouldn't have dropped, but again, they were probably overrated by me last week.
There are a couple big movers who didn't play, but their jumps were more based on teams ahead of them losing (and a closer look at the resumes by me) than anything else, so I don't feel too bad about it.
Where did I go wrong? Let me know in the comments.
This has been the hot rumor the past couple days and TomVH has confirmed that redshirt freshman safety/LB Brandon Smith has received transfer papers and is looking to move on. Hurray.
Smith was a top-100 "athlete" in the hybrid Rodriguez/Carr class who technically committed after the transition had been announced but, like JT Floyd, was a Carr recruit all the way who was just stringing out his commitment for reasons unknown. So this could be a "Carr guy" moving on to a place he'd rather be. In any case it's the departure of one of the most highly rated players in a class entering its third year at a position, be it linebacker or safety, of desperate need.
Smith didn't seem to be working out, as he was too big and slow for safety and spent his game as a quasi—linebacker starter on skates, but there's zero upside here. He could have put on 20-30 pounds easily—his "frame" was a reason he was rated so highly—and eventually turned into a contributor at linebacker. At the very least he would have been a relatively veteran body on a defense that needs every last potential contributor. BONUS: Michigan can't even add anyone to replace him because of a mysterious but apparently real oversigning change that prevents Big Ten teams from backdating players who enroll early*. DOUBLE BONUS: Before the season I took a look at Michigan's APR and concluded that sanctions resulting from transfers were unlikely, but the attrition has continued at a pace that makes me nervous.
*(Which will definitely help the struggling conference compete nationally.)
Michigan 67, Arkansas Pine Bluff 53
Michigan 4-3 (0-0 Big Ten)
Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims must be secret identities of each other or something, because it seems impossible for them to show up at the same time. Today, they took turns with Sims dominating the first half and Harris taking over after the break. Manny may look like the star, since the Wolverines only outscored the Golden Lions in the second frame, but both played a big role.
The defense played a big part as well, sparking much of the second-half offense, and limiting Pine Bluff to just 21 second-half points. "Our offense, I feel, kinda came out of our defense. We got some turnovers, and we got them started. We've just gotta keep pressing, and eventually they're gonna wear down," said Stu Douglass.
The shooting is still awful, with the team making only a quarter of their threes, and finishing with an overall field goal percentage of 42.9%. The reason had very little to do with the shots that were available, either. Running the offense, there were a number of open looks, but the shooters couldn't knock them down. Last year showed that these guys can shoot the ball, and hopefully the slump can end sooner rather than later.
- The rotation is still really thin. I would have liked to see more than 7 guys play double-digit minutes (Douglass and Gibson were the only bench players to earn the distinction). A lack of depth will really hurt this team once Big Ten play rolls around.
- Anthony Wright was... Anthony Wright-y. He was 0-5 from the floor, and looked poor on defense. This time, I guess he had a pretty good excuse, as he missed practice this week for the birth of his daughter.
- LLP was in foul trouble for a while, but I thought he played really well when he was in. A couple big shots started the game, and he looked really active on defense.
- The team still looked like they were suffering through mental lapses and a lack of focus at times. Fortunately, Arkansas Pine Bluff is not a team that's going to make them pay too badly.
- Stu Douglass had some pretty good passes, including a superfluous behind-the-back to Manny on a fastbreak. It was encouraging to see him capable of distributing the ball.
- Shooters passed on a number of open looks. It's not too serious an issue, but I hope it's not a lack of confidence. The only way to break their shooting slump is to keep shooting.
"CJ and David were two great leaders, and for us to fulfill what they did for the team, we have to do collectively." Deshawn Sims, on filling the leadership void on the team.
"Coach said we would play from the inside out today, and we were able to execute the gameplan, and it worked for us in the first half." Deshawn Sims.
"The urgency has to be different from here on out. We can't control the wins and losses, but we definitely control the effort and urgency." Deshawn Sims.
"We were a lot more focused in the second half, especially defensively." Stu Douglass
"Just keep shooting. I feel like I've been talking about it enough, and it's getting a little old. I'm a little upset with myself - I'm very upset with myself." Stu Douglass, on the shooting slump.
"We're trying to go back to the basics now, just hitting the open guy when he's open. We've pretty much restarted. Getting the fundamentals down again, that's what we're working on." Zack Novak
"There were times last year, in the middle of the year, where we didn't look very good either. The last three games, we didn't really look like us, but chemsitry-wise, I think this team could be really good." Zack Novak
"I was trying to be more aggressive, but at the same time I was trying to look for my teammates." Manny Harris, on coming out big after a weak first half.
"It's going to get better. It's still kinda sore, but I can play on it." Manny Harris on his hamstring.
"We'll work it out. It's just how the game's going right now. The good part is we were able to get the win." Manny Harris, on being out of sync with Deshawn Sims.
The Wolverines travel to Utah on Wednesday. The game can be seen at 9:00 Eastern on CBS College Sports.
GBW is reporting that OH S Ray Vinopal has committed to Michigan($). Either that or they just like posting stories titled simply "Ray Vinopal!" Informative update coming.
GURU RATINGS & CHATTER
|2*, #144 S||2*, NR||2*, 68, #254 ATH|
All right… yeah. So Vinopal is a "sleeper" if you want to be kind or a "MAC prospect" if you're not a Michigan fan. But hey, he's basically Ted Ginn!
I saw Vinopal take an end around for a touchdown against MY Irish (St. Vincent St. Mary). The kid is ridiculously fast. He's one of those kids who you get into school and worry about a position later.
I hate to throw the comparison out there, but he reminds me of a shorter Ted Ginn.
Doesn't have the same top end speed IMO, but a very very good football player.
Oh. So, like, a slow Ted Ginn. More, because as long as we're taking a comment from a random Notre Dame message board it might as well be the whole thing:
People forget Ginn was a top cornerback coming out of high school, and switched to WR as a freshman. I could see the same thing with Ray. People will look at his size and say corner, but I think he'd be deadly in the slot and as a returner.
ESPN, for its part, does not reference Ted Ginn in its evaluation of the #254 "athlete" in the country:
Lacks desired length and height as a high-point safety as well. He is an active run defender who will come down and fill hard; provides good secondary support. Shows adequate closing burst and makes solid contact as a tackler with better-than-adequate pop. Overall underneath range and speed is good but he does not fill with great downhill burst and sharp angles; loses outside leverage on the ball at times. … Lacks quick diagnosing and reaction skills which is a concern. Not a guy who projects well playing down over the top of slots in man coverage schemes and feel he could struggle mirroring/breaking down on quicker skill players in space.
That is Jordan Kovacs. I don't know, maybe this evaluation was pre-senior season and he got a lot better, warranting the interest from major programs this fall, but that's the least enthusiastic ESPN scouting report this guy has ever seen.
They aren't encouraging, as Vinopal was a sleeper going into his senior season and despite "interest" from a number of local power programs it doesn't appear that any other than Michigan pulled the trigger. So, the teams beaten out: Bowling Green, Kent State, and Air Force.
For what it's worth, Vinopal claimed that Notre Dame—where he visited for the USC game—and Pitt were considering him after his strong senior year. Wisconsin also might have offered in July or something, but it's unclear.
No senior stats yet but here's his junior year:
After intercepting two passes his sophomore season, the 5-foot-11 and 185-pound Vinopal had another interception his junior season and had three games in which he made over 10 tackles. Vinopal also rushed for 1,112 yards and scored 12 times.
FAKE 40 TIME
How about a spectacularly FAKE combine from Vinopal's freshman year?
Also deserving special mention was freshman ATH Ray Vinopal of Cardinal Mooney in Ohio. At 5-foot-9 ½ and 178-pounds, he had a 28.5-inch vertical, 9-foot broad, 4.45 shuttle, 4.56 40, and 30 reps at 135-pounds.
4.56 40 as a freshman gets four FAKES out of five.
Vinopal is the guy running around with a huge arrow over his head:
And some pass coverage:
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Well… if you care about recruiting rankings, Vinopal is clearly the least exciting recruit in the class. That ESPN evaluation checks off all the things you don't want to hear about a recruit: small, slow, confused, etc. And on film he really does look like Kovacs. But there's a reason I don't watch recruiting film: I am a blogger. Obviously Michigan and a couple other schools looking at Vinopal thought there was something there, but recruiting rankings are meaningful things and a Brandent Englemon is a best-case scenario here.
That said, sometimes guys fall through the cracks and a lot of successful defenses are built from parts like Tyler Sash and whoever Wisconsin's running out there these days. The odds are against Vinopal, but that's not a guarantee.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
You can write off the renewed Oh S LaTwan Anderson interest: with Vinopal's addition, Michigan has six defensive backs in this class and is primed to add a seventh in FL CB Tony Grimes. More likely, Marvin Robinson will find himself at linebacker before long.
More interesting is the scholarship situation: Vinopal is the 23rd commitment and three guys are expected to commit sooner or later, pushing Michigan over 25 and necessitating someone coming in on a grayshirt if there is no attrition. Vinopal may be that grayshirt candidate, come to think of it. It's clear that Michigan will sign 28 this year with three guys aware that they are candidates to grayshirt if everyone gets in. Vinopal and the two guys currently unqualified are the most likely.
Etc.: Photo gallery of a Mooney blowout has several pictures of Vinopal.
|WHAT||#36/31 Michigan v. Arkansas Pine Bluff|
|WHERE||Ann Arbor, MI|
|WHEN||2:00 PM EST
December 5th, 2009
|THE LINE||No line, junkie|
*Line provided by online sports betting site Sportsbetting.com.
The Wolverines are officially slumping. They have 3 losses in 3 games, at least one of them to inferior competition. The shooting has been bad, the defense has been terrible, and nothing has seemed to go right for the Wolverines.
Last year, they were a much better squad with more space between games, and the hectic travel schedule from the weekend may have given them less time to prepare for Boston College than they would have liked. A pair of off days, both at home, may give the team a little time to recharge the battery, and Pine Bluff isn't exactly Boston College in terms of talent.
DeShawn Sims and the snipers for Michigan really need to get going in this contest, and it might not be too difficult to do. As we'll see in a moment, this is a really bad defensive team.
Arkansas Pine Bluff
The Golden Lions had opened their season with 5 consecutive losses, all of them coming on the road. In fact, they don't play a home game until their 15th contest of the season(!). Colorado and Denver took down Pine Bluff on a road trip through the Centennial State, and the Golden Lions have also fallen in El Paso, Akron, and Tempe.
Guards Savalance Townsend and Terrence Calvin lead Pine Bluff in scoring, and Calvin, a senior point guard, is also the assist leader. 6-8 post man Lebaron Weathers is the key inside presence, tied for third in points per game and leading the Golden Lions in rebounding. Fellow senior Tyree Glass stands 6-7, and gets the third most minutes of any Golden Lion (behind only the two guards).
It's far enough into the year that tempo-free stats might mean something, so here's the first tempo-free breakdown of the season. If you need an explanation of the stats, check out Ken Pomeroy.
|Michigan v. Arkansas Pine Bluff: National Ranks|
|Category||Michigan Rank||Pine Bluff Rank||Advantage|
|Mich eFG% v. PB Def eFG%||260||337||M|
|Mich Def eFG% v. PB eFG%||232||254||M|
|Mich TO% v. PB Def TO%||2||328||MMMM|
|Mich Def TO% v. PB TO%||41||313||MMM|
|Mich OReb% v. PB DReb%||242||1||PPP|
|Mich DReb% v. PB OReb%||326||81||PPP|
|Mich FTR v. PB Opp FTR||295||342||M|
|Mich Opp FTR v. PB FTR||10||133||MM|
|Mich AdjO v. PB AdjD||157||215||M|
|Mich AdjD v. PB AdjO||111||225||MM|
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.
So, Pine Bluff is kind of horrible, and they've been horrible against competition that isn't very good itself. The only thing that the Golden Lions are pretty good at is rebounding the ball. This should be highly effective against Michigan, of course, as the Wolverines aren't really known for crashing the boards. Michigan has a huge advantage in nearly every single other category, and if this game is even close, it might be an omen for a long season.
This game may not be the one that gets DeShawn Sims really rolling, as the Golden Lions have multiple players with decent enough size. However, if Michigan chooses to play two big men at once, they'll probably be able to overpower the overmatched Golden Lions. That should open up the three point line, as should the mere fact that the Lions have already given up 30% 3-point shooting to opponents, playing less talented teams than Michigan.
This looks like the type of game that is frustratingly close for a few minutes, before the Wolverines really start to pull away.
On Jared Odrick's odd Big Ten DPOY victory:
Conferences, be they high school or college, have stupid political bylaws that determine all-conference teams (i.e. conference champs get to name 3 players to 1st team, 2 players to second team). The head scratchers like "Odrick: B11DPOTY" are usually negotiated settlements between coaches/SIDs (if you put my player up or vote for my player, i'll vote for yours) or actually written into the bylaws (i.e. your team is first in points against, you get to name B11DPOTY). Normally, those types of things result in a clear shake out. Sometimes when the margins are not obvious or the bylaws don't work out nice...the solutions are political (AKA stupid looking).
P.S. Is there hope for the defense to get better next year? Do you think Lloyd realized how bad the defense was going to be? and got out?
Odrick was just named first-team All America, too. Brandon Graham got jacked, not that there's any surprise in that.
As to the PS questions: yes, but not very good, probably yes he realized things weren't going to go swimmingly once he left, and no, that had nothing to do with his departure.
It seems as though most of the time Denard is in at quarterback, he is deployed in an otherwise empty backfield. This means that he either passes (infrequently) or runs. Any thoughts on why there is rarely a running back in the backfield with him. This means a read option is out the window. You would think that with his speed that this might be an effective attack. Is he having trouble making the reads in practice?
Two possibilities: Denard can't make the reads, or Michigan thinks he'll be more effective with the field more spread out. I don't get it, personally: Rodriguez broke out the zone read with Pat White early in his career.
That lack of zone read, more than anything else, makes me think Robinson is eventually destined to move to a Percy Harvin-esque slash WR/RB role. He's not running a run-crazy version of the base offense, he's running a no-decision, extremely predictable high school offense. Is there any way he advances enough without the benefit of a redshirt year to pass up Forcier or even Gardner, who's plenty familiar with the zone read in high school?
I think the answer to Denard Robinson is to give him a QB package but start the transition in earnest this offseason. Next year it's Tate and you try to redshirt Gardner, using Robinson as an all-purpose player.
Can we/should we take some comfort in looking at Oklahoma this year? They have an entrenched, top-tier coach, who is indisputably good at coaching in a big time conference. I haven’t looked at their roster, but I think its safe to assume they don’t have Michigan’s youth and under-scholarship issues. They were number two preseason, and when their quarterback goes down and have to play a freshmen, they’re 7-5.
(This email started under the premise that OU finished 6-6, which made the comparison better. I just realized that they finished 7-5, and literally crushed almost all the opponents in victory, and were close in every loss.)
Still, is the comparison valid? Take a national title contender, and put in a freshmen qb, and you are now a middling 7-5. Michigan has only freshmen qbs and 10 other glaring problems and ends up 5-7. Isn’t this actually par or slightly above? This whole thing is a full year longer than everyone expected. Last year was a black hole and this past season was year 1.
Well… no. As the emailer noted, despite their crappy record Oklahoma is an entirely different level from Michigan this year. Their peripheral stats show a team that's snakebit. Michigan's show a team that's just bad. We don't need to hack down to complicated statistical measures to do so:
|Pass Efficiency Defense||10||75|
Oklahoma's nonconference schedule included Miami (That Miami) and BYU, a Baby Seal U—Matt Guiterrez alma mater Idaho State—and bad CUSA team Tulsa, so the overall schedule is probably about as challenging as Michigan's. And there is no comparison. Michigan is better at three things: net punting, rushing offense, and kickoff returns. They are vastly worse in all of the big categories.
This is the flipside of pointing to Georgia Tech and declaring that it's easy to show up and contend for a conference championship in year two. Record isn't everything. Michigan's peripherals this year were really, really terrible; they indicate a team that is going to have to put in yet more time rebuilding. Oklahoma's probably going to leap back to BCS quality next year.
Comparisons to other programs who have struggled through mediocre years or other coaches who have struggled through an opening two seasons as poor as that of Rodriguez don't strike me as relevant. Michigan is in the midst of a unique, wrenching transition from 40 years of one thing to something almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea. They started a walk-on quarterback. Three walk-ons played extensively on defense this year, one of them a freshman starter at safety. There are no meaningful comparisons; we just have to grit our teeth and hope it works out.
I agree with the timeline proposed by the emailer: Michigan is a full year behind schedule because of a combination of things. After the Utah game I said the program was under construction and would be finished in 2010; now that is fanciful. Obviously.
The delightful news keeps coming:
Warren, a third-year junior who led Michigan with 4 interceptions this year, has filed paperwork to ask the NFL's underclass advisory committee for his draft status.
He said Thursday their input will play into his decision, but turning pro is "just something that I believe it's just for me."
"I'm definitely, I'd have to say heavily, I like the chances of me coming out," Warren said at Michigan's annual football bust.
BONUS: Vincent Smith's ACL was torn against Ohio State. He'll miss spring practice and may be touchy going into the fall according to someone close to the situation.