"Rodrick Williams Jr.'s 10-month old, 2-foot-long savannah monitor named "Kill" gets the RB some strange looks when they go for walks together."
Daniel Easterly is a tall, skinny defender at recent Michigan feeder Cass Tech who could play anywhere from safety to defensive end (or
"spinner" DEATHBACKER). Check this highlight video, which claims Easterly to be a "SS/LB/WR/DE/CB":
Easterly is made by RONCO. He slices, dices, chops, grates, minces, juices and mops! Stop having a boring tuna. Stop having a boring life!
Uh… anyway: Easterly's one of a couple instate recruits who's racked up an impressive set of offers (Illinois, Wisconsin, State, Purdue, Louisville) recently, and while Michigan hasn't joined that list yet there have been rumors they're on the verge. Tom VanHaaren interviewed Easterly a few days ago; the results start now:
TOM: How’s your recruitment going so far?
DANIEL: It’s going good. A lot of schools have contacted me, and they want to come see me at school. It’s really enjoyable to know that you’re wanted. I just got offered from MSU last Saturday. I think I’m up to 6 or 7 offers now. I’m still waiting on Michigan, but that will come soon. I keep in regular contact with them, and I went up there for the spring game. They really want me, but Coach Rod wants to see me at a camp, and then he’ll offer. I’ll go to their camp, and a whole bunch of other ones too. I think the most recent one is the Nike camp.
TOM: You’re a part of the Cass Tech family. Has it helped you having your teammates already go through the process?
DANIEL: Yea, it’s a great thing to have more than one person go to Michigan, and get recruited. All the guys go to Michigan, and Dior likes Michigan, so it’s pretty cool to have them there. They know what they’re looking for, which helps me.
TOM: What has been some of the advice they’ve given you? Are they trying to persuade you to choose Michigan as well?
DANIEL: They told me to wait out for it. Thomas and Teric waited, and showed it all out at camp. They’ve been telling me for awhile that I’ll be a big time player, and just be patient. Big Will is a lifetime friend, and a big time influence in my life. It has really helped to have someone like him there for me. They’re definitely trying to get me up to Michigan. I’m just waiting for that offer, so I have more time to look into them, and find out more about them to make my decision. The sooner I get offered, the sooner I can find out more about Michigan.
TOM: Will that be important to you, playing with your former teammates?
DANIEL: The fact that my teammates are there is very important, but I’m looking for a school that fits me. A school that I know I would fit in perfectly with. My friends that go to Michigan will play a big part in it, but it all comes out to what I think in the end.
TOM: Have you and Dior been trying to visit some of the same schools?
DANIEL: Most definitely. We’re going to take visits together. We’ve been school together since 10th grade, so we do a lot of things together.
TOM: Tell me about you as a football player. What are your strengths?
DANIEL: I think my biggest strength is that I’m an aggressive player. I love contact, that’s my favorite part of the game, that’s what I live for. Hitting is the best part of the game. I need to work on my back pedaling though. Most of the time I’m coming down hill anyway, but I would still like to work on that.
TOM: You’re 6’4 and you play safety, among other positions. What are college coaches recruiting you as?
DANIEL: I’m 6’5 now. I’m getting recruited as a linebacker, safety, wide receiver, and I’ve been offered as a corner too. I think I’m an all around athlete.
TOM: You could probably be built into a couple different spots, what position do you want to play?
DANIEL: I would choose safety or linebacker. Linebacker, because there’s more contact, safety there’s more speed, but I definitely want to play defense.
TOM: What schools are showing the most interest right now?
DANIEL: The schools that offered me are showing the most, obviously. Michigan, USC, Alabama, Florida, Miami, ND, Louisville are showing interest without offers still. Iowa and Purdue are supposed to be offering soon.
TOM: What schools are you most interested in?
DANIEL: The schools that have offered me. I can only be interested in the schools that have offered me; because there’s not a 100% chance I can go to the ones that haven’t offered me. I’m looking into those schools because they said they wanted me. Michigan though, is one of my top schools that hasn’t offered me. Everything about Michigan is great.
TOM: When do you want to get your decision out of the way?
DANIEL: Probably before my senior season. I was also thinking about after, because I want to get my parents involved.
Nehlen talkin'. Don Nehlen, former Bo assistant and the retired West Virginia head coach who told Rich Rodriguez to leap at the Michigan job, is old enough that he can say whatever he wants in public. The result is of interest:
I thought they'd do a little better last year, but I don't know enough about what he had to work with. But in talking to some of my Michigan people, they tell me the cupboard was really bare. They'd lost almost their entire offensive football team and the kids they had coming back went pro, they had no quarterback that had ever played ... couldn't run Rich's offense.
I think Rich will improve this year some, not as much as people want him to, but I think he'll improve. But he'll be playing a freshman quarterback (Tate Forcier) again and that's not good ... I guess the kid's a good athlete. Then I think after this year, they'll start to be very competitive.
Plenty more at the link, including a discussion of Nehlen joining Bo's staff.
REPORTER: It looked like Terrelle threw the ball with voracity and conviction today, how did you think he played?
Moohaha. I kept reading though, and… uh… this is a joke, right?
REPORTER: The decision not to play Terrelle in the fourth quarter, was that a no-brainer? He played so well and you don't want to get him hurt? I know he initially was going to play the fourth quarter, can you talk about that decision?
COACH TRESSEL: He was ejected, right, Doug?
DOUG WORTHINGTON: Sure was.
COACH TRESSEL: He was talking trash and he got ejected, right?
REPORTER: Nothing to do with injury or anything like that? You didn't want to prevent injuries or anything like that?
COACH TRESSEL: He was ejected.
REPORTER: By you?
COACH TRESSEL: Yeah.
REPORTER: You tossed him?
COACH TRESSEL: Tossed him. Tired of his stuff.
Um, I know I just talked trash about Pryor talking trash in a scrimmage but this seems terribly implausible, especially with Doug Worthington playing Ed McMahon (Ha HA! Yes sir!). On the other hand, Tressel and light-hearted go together like jello and broken glass, and REPORTER seems to be taking it seriously. Did Terrelle Pryor really get booted from OSU's spring game? WTF is going on?
No you are dumb. I was tempted to make some snarky comment about Terrence Moore's final column for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, headed by this sentiment:
“My objective was to get people to think, not to agree or disagree, just to get people to think.”
I don't read Moore's work except when various bloggers, most prominently Braves and Birds and EDSBS, link to the columns that are even more epically inane than I gather the bulk of his oeuvre is. That sentiment caused the telltale eye twitch that precedes a flamethrowing 800 word post in which I call someone horseface that I feel dirty about afterwards, but I managed to click the little red X on the tab and move on with life. Fortunately for JUSTICE, the JCCW did not:
Trust me, Terence Moore: it was never your job to make me think. It was your job to explain why I should think the same way you think. Forgive me, but I think the inability to understand the difference between those two objectives--why the first gets you only halfway to where you need to be, why not risking being right can only result in being wrong--goes a long way towards explaining why neither Terence Moore nor tons of other former sports columnists have their job at all anymore.
Ah but if the last part were only true. Let us join together in this, beatwriters: it's a damn crime that Moore got a buyout from the AJC and just slides over to AOL to spew his brand of thoughtless enraging pap for money more rightly allotted to someone, anyone, who will report on anything whatsoever.
This seems like a good time. There was some discussion of this in the comments section already, but I hadn't mentioned it at large: AOL and yrs truly have parted ways. This won't come as a shock to anyone who saw the steadily slowing feed on the sidebar, now removed, or noticed that sometimes the very headlines therein would change without so much as a by-your-leave.
There was a sea change at AOL once some deranged suit decided to bring in sad stripper types to be "Fantasy Sports Girls" and Alana, AKA Miss Gossip, fled from her post as general guru in charge. Alana was of the internet; her replacements were not. Things got corporate. I had a viewpoint as to which way the Fanhouse should go—more Oops Pow Surprise!—that lost out to a more sanitized one. Then my posts started getting edited after the fact without anyone so much as mentioning it to me, which severely depressed my motivation to post further.
From there things took their natural course. Check that link above on Moore moving to AOL: they've hired nine people, only one of whom (Clay Travis) has any profile in the blogosphere. The rest are former newspaper droids. I no longer fit with your Mariottis and Terrence Moores. Thus: this.
I'm grateful that AOL really helped bridge the gap between my engineering job and the point at which the blog became a self-sustaining enterprise. Mostly I'm grateful to Jamie Mottram—now the architect behind Yahoo's excellent series of sport-specific blogs of which you are probably most familiar with Dr. Saturday—who hired me in the first place. But now it's over.
How about a guy in a goofy cape signing "I Know It's Over"? That will help everything:
I've gotten a couple questions about the fate of This Week In Schadenfreude: I'm looking for a home for it. Will inform when there is news.
Eh, not so much. I didn't even post about how dividing is chicken soup for the soul this month but yet I've been roped in. A January post discusses the annual, annoying use of raw counting numbers to assess each conference's performance in the NFL draft, and is cited by SMQB in support of his annoyance at same. But Dawg Sports says NSFMF:
For the most part, schools are competing against their own, so the total number of top-tier athletes in any conference in any year is going to be the same, regardless of whether that league has ten teams or twelve. Having more teams spreads the wealth around but does not increase the wealth where the finite resource of athletic talent is concerned. If Vanderbilt withdrew from the S.E.C., essentially all it would cost the conference in raw N.F.L. numbers is Jay Cutler, yet it would have a major impact on the math on a per capita basis.
The raw numbers tell us all we need to know. Division skews the data by using Mississippi State to inflate artificially the denominator by including an integer that is without value in setting the numerator.
Wait… what? I'm not exactly sure what Kyle's getting at her e. Let's go back to first principles: the main reason this conference superiority argument is important is because we have a system that whittles the playoff to two teams before a game is played. Schedule strength is important. People use overall conference strength as a proxy for figuring out how good your claim to enter this playoff is, and they use the number of NFL draft picks as a (bad) proxy for figuring out overall conference strength. Mississippi State or Vanderbilt only "artificially inflate the denominator" if you don't play Mississippi State or Vanderbilt, which Georgia totally does:
Sat, Oct 17
at Nashville, Tenn.
So like WTF? That argument is nonsense.
Etc.: If you think my posts about the direction media is going are offtopic, check out Texas blog Barking Carnival's review of the 1974 Russian avant-scifi movie Solaris.* It's late April! Run for your lives!
*(which I have seen, though the cut I saw was on TV so there was no hour of random footage; I've also seen the Soderberg version and read the book because Stanislaw Lem is awesome when he is not making me nauseous by describing brain surgery in excruciating detail. So yeah that popping up on a Texas sports blog was kind of a "whoah" moment.)
Can you comment further about the lack of scheduling significant conference games. Is this a RichRod issue, or Bill Martin's doing? Back when I was in school we consistently played Notre Dame along with one other BCS school - UCLA, Washington, Virginia, Colorado, etc. Even the road games would be nice for alumni who no longer live the Midwest and want to make a trip. Now with the news of Michigan St. scheduling Alabama and West Virginia, do you think this will light a fire and help this awful situation. Thanks,
It's not a Rodriguez thing. As noted earlier, Michigan hasn't played a nonconference road game outside of South Bend since 2003, and the respectable opponents other than Notre Dame since have been accidents: Michigan's return game for the Oregon series was put off a few years because Michigan wanted to lighten its schedule in a year when they had, like, three(!) actual opponents in the noncon, and Utah may have finished #2 but remains a Mountain West team that didn't seem like it would be a juggernaut when Martin put them on the schedule.
Michigan's schedule softening is not new, nor is it unique. Just look at That Object You Could Describe As A School If You Were Being Charitable Down South: USC or Texas and a rotating selection of MAC schools and instate I-AA programs.
As for the State scheduling thing putting pressure on Michigan to man up… probably not going to happen as long as Michigan Stadium seats 110,000 and everywhere else doesn't. (Also, two of those years Michigan State is on a break with ND and needs a replacement.) Teams these days don't want to fall behind the financial eight-ball, or something, and schedule as weakly as possible because everyone else does. Bill Martin:
"I don't particularly like (scheduling FCS schools), but in order for us to have 25 sports and have this broad-base program, you've got to bring in the revenues," Michigan athletic director Bill Martin said. "If you were to play home and home with all these others schools, you wouldn't have this revenue. We need those home-game revenues."
I buy this zero percent since a huge chunk—probably 100% of it—of the increased revenue either goes towards paying coaches ever-increasing sums of money or building ever more opulent opium dens for the players to lounge in after practice. From a 2007 post that somehow didn't make it over to the new site:
One might be forgiven for thinking that the NCAA has ceased to be an actual regulatory organization and is instead a highly complex scheme for funneling money into Nick Saban's Scrooge McDuck vault, where he puts on an old-fashioned unitard bathing suit and gleefully leaps into his piles of gold coins. And it's not just Saban. This relatively ancient Bloomberg article from March 2005 takes a look at the increase in NCAA coaching salaries across the board from '97 to '03 and finds that average compensation went up 89 percent in just six years. This is before the twelfth game. (Though it's noted that there were some twelfth games in there. That was a calendar quirk and not permanent policy, however.) This is before 3-2-5e. This before Superfluous BCS Bowl and The Two Teams With Six Wins Each bowls. This includes the obscurest coaches you can think of, like Romanian Buffalo Polo.
Eighty-nine percent in six years.
This trend has slowed in no way whatsoever. This Dispatch article came out two weeks ago and details shockingly opulent salaries for even the most obscure sports, with lacrosse coaches raking in 200k and the average Big Ten baseball coach—the Big Ten is a mid-major in baseball—bringing in over 150k. Your average Big Ten field hockey, softball, and rowing(!) coaches are making 92k, 111k, and 79k.
Transport isn't getting more expensive. The athletes are getting paid the same amount they always were. The costs of running a college athletics program have changed in no fundamental way. "We need more money" is always relative to the other people who have just finished their Vegas casino/study hall. It's about priorities, not necessity. Let's not pretend otherwise.
Use this clip as a metaphor. The Red Wings are economic inevitability, the Park County Pee Wee Hockey Team is Michigan's athletic department, and we… we are Nelson:
No hope. No hope. (eeeeee)
With rumblings from spring practice that the offensive line is much improved; I can’t help but think this will have a positive impact on our thin defensive corps this fall (obvious quarterback play/health notwithstanding). It seems that all of the three and out series, and quick turnovers, caused our defense to be on the field an inordinate amount of time last year, especially in the first half of games. Is there any data out there that supports this (time of possession, number of plays etc.) for Michigan last year, and is there general statistical tracking regarding won/lost record and the time that defenses spend on the field?
Thanks for any response
Ooooh. I was with you until you got to "time." Time of possession is this blog's most loathed stat. But your larger point is well taken. The fundamental unit of a football game is widely believed to be the play. The emphasis of the statistically inclined rests on yards per carry or per attempt. Football Outsider's big stat, DVOA, is a per-play stat.
All of this is well and good but I've always felt that the fundamental unit of the football game is the possession and that defenses and offenses should be rated based on their possession efficiency: you moved the ball from the 30 to the opponent's 37 and got a 54 yard field goal. Congratulations. You moved the ball from your ten to the opponent's ten and got a chip shot field goal. Bigger congratulations, but not nearly as much as you would get for sticking it in the endzone. DVOA sort of does this by evaluating each play by how it effects the probabilistic outcome of the drive. A two yard run on first down has negative value because second and eight two yards closer to the line is a less likely situation to score from than first and ten. The focus on per-play metrics tends to blur out a huge factor in the outcome of a football game: where and when your possessions start.
|-30||New Mexico St.|
|-16||San Jose St.|
Blah blah blah. To your point: yes, Michigan's defense suffering a wholesale, historic collapse in the same year the offense suffered a wholesale, historic collapse and kick returners came down with a severe allergy to leather is no coincidence. (Zoltan playing out of his mind mitigated that somewhat.) I know this in my heart, and I could prove it to you with numbers except the database I maintained is out of date.
HOWEVA, there's one big, broad stroke that indicates your instinct is correct: Michigan finished 67th in yards allowed and 84th in scoring defense, which is an indicator they were put in poor field position repeatedly and faced a lot of drives against. That gap is significant but not as huge as some other teams experienced. See the table at right: "Delta" is the difference between a team's rank in total defense minus its rank in scoring defense. The top (bottom?) 20 teams are listed. Michigan finishes 17th.
Unsurprisingly, Kevin Craft and The Interception Machines finish first, which is an excellent sanity check for what the stat means, as did flailing offenses at LSU, Mississippi State, Toledo (uh…), and Michigan. On average the teams at right finished 71st in total offense,—60th would be the expected number for a truly random sampling— which suggests there is a correlation between having a defense that gives up more points than it does yards and having a crappy offense. Even more strikingly, the teams at right collectively finished 92nd(!!!) in turnover margin, which is a huge outlier amongst a set of 20 D-I teams. There is an extremely strong correlation between horrible turnover numbers and this stat. (Which, like ok duh.)
Bad offense and bad turnover numbers yield big gaps between a team's yardage defense and its scoring defense: teams don't have to go as far to score. Michigan was 109th in total offense and 104th in turnover margin. Should those numbers bounce up towards average the defense will move with them without lifting a finger.
Will they? Well, it would be hard for them not to.
I'm really excited about next years basketball season. I purchased season tickets already, and i read an article that said that over 1,000 students have also, and they plan on the number to be even higher as the year goes on. One concern i have though, is the size of our student section, its roughly 500 students and one side of the court, and then about 90 more behind the band, but not close to the court. Now i have also been to a MSU basketball game this season where they boast a student with the same amount of rows as us, but fully surrounding the court, and roughly 1100+ students. I am just wondering if the AD has any intention on changing this, and trying to get a lot more students next to the court. This would be very important because i feel that a student section is key to getting a teams momentum going.
So, I committed something approximating an act of journalism here, emailing SID Bruce Madej about this. I asked if there were plans to expand the bleacher section if demand warranted, or if there were options other than that. His response:
There is discussion on a number of fronts and yes, the talk has been to get the students down into the action when the numbers and participation increases. But it is still in the discussion stage. Can something happen quickly, possibly for 2009-10? I do not know. But it would not be with bleachers, it would be with the current seats
The early ticket application in the football season ticket mailing will help the department get a better idea of what to expect and then what to do for the upcoming season. Remember, when we do build the new practice area, there will be some changes in the southeast corner of the lower bowl.
I asked if it would be "fair to say" expanded seating in the lower bowl next year was unrealistic, and he said no, they were considering expanded student seating there. The implication was that more bleachers next year was unrealistic—though it is a possibility they're discusssing. I'd think you'll see students wrapping around the court in the endzone areas in actual bucket seats. So… they're thinking about it, and seem to have the atmosphere inside Crisler in mind. Who wants some FREEE PIZZZA?
Pushback from the Michigan athletic department on the UMass thing:
"That's not true -- not even close," Draper said. "We're talking to them, (but) not for that date."
Michigan, he said, intends to make the season opener the "dedication" game for the stadium, which is currently under construction, adding suites and a new press box.
"We're trying to do something special," said Draper, who indicated Michigan is talking to a "couple teams" for that day.
Since Michigan hasn't played a nonconference game on the road outside of South Bend since 2003 and teams you could designate "special" would probably demand a return game, I can't imagine what that would be. Western and Eastern… at the same time?
This doesn't change the fact that scheduling UMass would be totally lame, but at least there's the hint of an outline of an actual BCS opponent in Draper's words. Now watch them schedule Ohio Wesleyan.
Update 4/21: Linked to articles on SC QB Cornelius Jones, OL Brent Benedict, FL RB Cassius McDowell, SC S Bashaud Breeland, FL S Marvin Robinson (w/ mention of FL RB Roy Finch), PA CB Brandon Ifill, FL WR Kenny Shaw (second), QBs Munchie Legaux and Barry Brunetti, MN OL Seantrel Henderson.
Removed IN OL James Hurst(UNC), OH LB Scott McVey(OSU), SC OL AJ Cann (not in top seven).
As always, some links via Varsity Blue.
Editorial Opinion: Recruiting board lives here.
No real surprises: Hurst never showed much interest in Michigan, McVey was ticketed to OSU from the start, and Cann's from SC so it can't be that surprising Michigan isn't strong with him. There were some flimsy rumors Cann was interested in M, I guess. As far as drops from the board go, none of the above are surprising or particularly meaningful.
Soon to be in this section, though is, SC S Bashaud Breeland, who has a top three of South Carolina, Clemson, and Virginia Tech. Slouching towards board removal, he.
Hello? Or no?
TOM: So are you officially committed, or just high on Michigan?
TRAVIS: I'm committed. I talked to Coach Rodriguez today, and told him the news. They just told me to call him back after the spring. He wants me to make sure that I made the right decision, and not make a bad move.
So… uh. What is this? Neither Scout or Rivals considers Williams committed yet, so I'll go with them and leave him uncommitted on the board. And what's going on with Michigan telling Williams to wait? They brought him up, offered him, and then said "wait just a second" when he was ready to accept the offer. Two possibilities:
- They're a little leery of kids they haven't built a relationship with yet jumping on an offer because it looks like a nice offer. Williams is expected to get an array of offers in the near future, any of which could look more attractive if he wants to stay closer to home.
- This is a slow-play and Michigan might try to gently disengage itself if the bigger fish on the corner board land in the boat. Williams' other offers are Kansas State, Indiana, and Miami of Ohio (Not That Miami of Ohio).
Either way, this is sort of what I was talking about earlier: Michigan's offering a bunch of kids but it doesn't seem like they mean it with all of them, which will lead to more uncomfortable situations like this in the future.
As to Williams himself: yes, those other offers and his lack of a ranking aren't terribly exciting. We'll see if this supposed offer wave comes in and who's on it. A debate about Rodriguez's recruiting style and the large number of commitments without serious offers other than Michigan is outside the scope of this post, but will probably get addressed sometime soon.
Sticking With It
“The Michigan visit was real exciting,” said Wilson. “I was real happy and glad to be up there, to see the Big House, meet all the coaches, and talk to the players.”
…hey, that sounds pretty good still. Wilson plans on taking officials to Stanford—who mom would like to get a look—Tennessee, and M with the final two slots undecided. Miami (That Miami) is also a main contender since he's from, you know, Miami. He doesn't need to take an official to a local school. Wilson has backed off the "Michigan leads" talk for now.
Please Stick With It
This is something I overlooked in last week's roundup, but hey this is good($):
Dallas (Tex.) Skyline running back Tony Drake made a quick decision for Michigan after receiving his first offer of the process from the Wolverines last month. Now, Drake's teammate at Skyline, four-star linebacker Corey Nelson, is also professing strong interest in Michigan.
Headline of that article states Nelson "has Michigan at the top." This is good since Nelson is currently Rivals' #24 player in the class of 2010. If he holds that spot he'd be a five star by year's end. (He isn't now because Rivals usually starts the list of five stars smaller and expands it as the year goes by.)
Caveats apply: long way out, guys shift all the time, lead without a visit is particularly flimsy, etc. Still a good spot to be in with Nelson.
Michigan's maintaining its lead for SC QB/ATH Cornelius Jones:
“I had just got back to playing football and trying to learn everything that I thought it was something good, but I didn’t know how big at the time,” he said. “I realized after getting back into (the game) that it would be an honor to play in that jersey. I mean they’ve had national championships and Heisman trophy winners.”
At this point I think Jones isn't a true QB recruit, but an ATH recruit who will be given a shot at QB who could end up anywhere from WR to DB to LB.
Michigan's also on top for FL RB Cassius McDowell:
"Michigan is my No. 1 school right now. Everybody else is even. I would like to follow my teammate. I like the cold weather and the spread offense."
McDowell is from Deerfield Beach, where Michigan scooped the package of Denard Robinson and Adrian Witty last year. He's just picked up a South Carolina offer, too.
FL WR Kenny Shaw, a now-former teammate of Ricardo Miller, maintained Michigan as his early leader before flipping over to become a strong Florida State lean at the same time he blew up at a bunch of camps and combines and the like. His situation is not promising unless you're a Florida State fan:
Shaw visited FSU unofficially last month, and wanted to pull the trigger then.
"Honestly the reason was my parents," Shaw said. "They wanted me to wait it out, take my visits over the summer, and then make a decision after my senior year."
I guess that gives Michigan time to get him up for a visit or even an official, at which point Miller can hypnotize him and implant "Bobby Bowden will kill your NFL aspirations* and possibly dribble on you" in his subconscious mind; other than that there doesn't seem to be much chance.
*(kidding, Seminole fans!)
Meanwhile, PA CB Brandon Ifill, teammate of lock-o-licious PA CB Cullen Christian, has a leader:
"I really liked Maryland," Ifill said. "I was really impressed with what I saw. I was impressed with the coaching staff and the campus. Right now my favorite would probably be Maryland."
Michigan is still in it, though, as an earlier article indicates:
Ifill says Pitt and Michigan are next on his list, right behind Maryland.
"I haven't been to Michigan yet," he said. "I want to try to get up there in the summer."
Michigan's got upward mobility what with being in the top three without a visit, especially with Christian's evident enthusiasm for winged helmets. 50-50 Michigan surges into a lead if he takes that visit; Michigan's in pretty decent position with him still.
FL S commit Marvin Robinson attended a combine and showed well:
Michigan commit Marvin Robinson (Winter Haven, Fla./Lake Region) stood out with the defensive backs. He is a physically imposing and athletic safety prospect. He showed good ball skills and moved well. On film, he displays a good feel for the game. In talking with Robinson after the camp, he said he still wants improve on his ability to read plays.
(That article also mentions FL RB Roy Finch as the best back at the camp. Michigan shot him an offer, but that's all we know about him at this point.) There were premium reports to the same effect, but with added stuff that says "future linebacker" if you squint hard and read between the lines. Some of the folks at Tomahawk Nation also took in the festivities and were kind enough to email impressions: outstanding athlete probably ticketed for linebacker. Think Mouton.
MONDAY MONDAY MONDAY! This is probably going to be way less blood-spattered than the average person who might care about this would like, but it should be entertaining anyway: I'll be on Bacon's show on WTKA this afternoon… with Jim Carty! Carty's on at the beginning of the 4PM hour and I'll be joining him midway through. You can probably guess the topic: the dissolution of the Ann Arbor News. No, I'm not planning on getting into a really complicated discussion about the academics investigation that 15 minutes on a radio show can't do justice.
(One of these days, I promise, I will be on the radio to talk about football. Again, it's April.)
Christening. It looks like Michigan's going to open up their spectacular new renovated stadium next year with a terrific game against traditional power Massachusetts:
According to a source, it was Michigan that approached UMass about the game, which would be played at Michigan Stadium, which holds 106,201 for football.
“We’d like to, we want to, and we’re looking into it,” said UMass spokesman Jason Yellin.
Lame. Might as well get the yearly complaint out of the way: this is the worst thing about college football. Bill Martin's decision to extend the ND series until the sun expands was fine as long as Michigan would occasionally schedule an interesting second game, but that looks like it's never going to happen. When is Michigan going to agree to any series against an opponent respectable enough to demand a return game, even if it's a 2-for-1 situation? It doesn't have to be USC, but this is awful.
Two changes that will never get made that would improve things immeasurably: banning I-AA games and instituting a maximum of seven home games (or a minimum of five true road games, which would prevent things like Michigan vs New Mexico State at Ford Field from evading the directive). Since exactly zero people in the NCAA's hierarchy care about the people who pay for the entire enterprise, this will never happen.
Leaving as fast as possible in as many ways as possible. Lane Kiffin caused defections at Tennessee are up to a spectacular nine now, which is a lot more folk a lot faster than Rodriguez "ran off," to use the parlance of people who don't know what they're talking about. The latest is QB BJ Coleman, who actually appears to have gotten run off:
“It’s the best move for me,” Coleman told The Free-Press. “What changed my mind is, after this spring, I don’t see myself getting a fair shake. Based on conversations with coaches and things that happened this spring, I feel the staff has goals that do not include me."
This brings Tennessee down to two scholarship quarterbacks, one of whom is terrible senior Jonathan Crompton. And yet Kiffin said no thanks to the two committed quarterbacks he inherited from Fulmer, including top-100 guy Tajh Boyd. Relevance to Michigan? Slight. I guess he's taking a lot of heat that might otherwise be directed at Rodriguez.
Despite the irrelevance, the mention is because he's instantly the most fascinating head coach in college football. He committed yet another stupid, minor recruiting violation recently, by the way. Of course he did. This could go towards Spurrier direction or John L Smith; I have no idea which it will be.
Smotcyz! Smotycrz! Smotycz! Smotrycz! There's an inside view into my Smotrycz spelling process for you. I plan on charging 9.95 a month for things like that soon*, so soak it up now while it's free.
Anyway, Michigan's most recent commit had another AAU weekend and there were a couple reports. This is from NBE:
Good height, but needs to get physically stronger before the Big 10. His size and skill away from the basket makes it look like he was made for John Beilein’s system and he should get the most of his strengths at Michigan. Showed ability to slash to the basket, but needs to finish more often once in the paint, as evidenced by failing to convert on an easy lay-up. Added strength will help.
Kind of sounds like Deshawn Sims, no? Smotrycz is taller but probably not as athletic. Meanwhile at NERR:
Evan Smotrycz was the catalyst as the Michigan bound forward really brought his game to another level. Not only was he making shots from the perimeter, but he also showed a much improved dribble drive game, as he was able to break his man down with a right to left cross-over on more than one occasion. But it wasn’t just his ability to score off the dribble that was so impressive as he also passed the ball tremendously well, acting as a facilitator in the second half with his ability to create open looks for his teammates.
Evan Smotrycz picked up right where he left off a day earlier as he was outstanding for the second consecutive day, making shots, breaking people down off the dribble, and passing the ball very well. It was his consistent excellence throughout the course of the weekend that helped propel the Rivals all the way to the finals before finally losing to a New Jersey Celtics team that featured top 50 junior Kyrie Irving and the nation’s top sophomore Michael Gilchrist.
I'm getting a little skeptical of these reports from NERR because identical ones are showing up at Scott Hazelton's site. Hazelton runs a basketball school/camp sort of business and Smotrycz is a protégé. The glowing reports might not be 100% fair and balanced, then. Might want to scale those down to places where Smotrycz is not a titan astride basketball.
That's not to say the last two weeks haven't been very good for public perception of Smotrycz's game: every national pundit who's offered an opinion has been extremely positive, and most have brought him up apropos of nothing except his ability to ball.
In other basketball recruiting. UMHoops has a wider roundup for those interested, with the most important development being the apparent cooling off between NY PF Will Regan and Michigan. Regan's latest top five doesn't include Michigan. With Michigan still hot on the heels of Trey Zeigler and in need of another point guard after Kelvin Grady's transfer, both open slots in this class are probably going to guards or wings, which Regan is not.
Grady's transfer brings the 2010 class to at least three spots. I've suggested in the past that Michigan might take four depending on the NBA status of Manny Harris and the fifth year status of Anthony Wright, but it's been pointed out to me that Michigan would then be approaching the loaded instate class of 2011 with just one open slot unless there was unexpected attrition. That's something they probably won't want to do unless the hypothetical 2010 player they're taking is freakin' awesome.
More media machinating. So: a kind mention from John Bacon on his weekly NPR commentary (transcript here) amidst his take on the Ann Arbor News is going kaput. Carty takes issue with some of the numbers:
I'm a little skeptical that, as John claims, more people read MGoBlog during football season than purchase the Ann Arbor News (this is a metrics issue, not a shot at MGoBlog, but a question about the difficulty of measuring individual Internet visitors, vs. the 250,000-plus people a week who you know bought the News, because you have their money).
Carty's right as to the difficulty of measuring the relative readership across mediums. My stats are public in two flavors:
- Sitemeter, which measures pageviews and visits, and
- Quantcast, which does an awful lot of complicated stuff to come up with some demographic numbers.
The upshot, as far as I can tell: the blog does about 2 million pageviews a month now. By traditional internet accounting these hits come from about 110,000 monthly uniques, but Quantcast thinks that's about 2x too generous as far as the number of actual people who check the site. The Ann Arbor News has a circulation of about 45k, which by standard industry math corresponds to sixty trillion readers. So… draw your own conclusions. The mere fact that it's plausible is probably more interesting than the current winner.
More JMFC, and friends. To hockey recruiting now: Jack Campbell was interviewed by the Wolverine, and certainly sounds like a guy who will end up on campus by his scouting reports on teammates current and future:
Merrill - absolute stud. Enough said. Next JMFJ.
This is a man who is into Michigan hockey. The second, premium section of the interview($) contains another statement similar to the one discussed earlier, where Campbell professes his loyalty for Michigan before mentioning the dark possibility that the team that drafts him will be really into Sutter brothers and want him elsewhere. Chances of a defection remain slim but nonzero.
Elsewhere, 2010 D Kevin Clare was the subject of an extensive Red Line Report profile. After JMFJ2.0 and Adam Clendening were called up to the U18 team, Clare was handed increased responsibility on both ends of the ice and responded:
“With the departure of those two skilled players, Kevin has completely stepped up his game and shown to everybody that he has a lot more to his game than just being a hard-nosed, tough defenseman,” remarked U-17 assistant coach John Wroblewski. “He is exceptional with the puck, cool under pressure and can handle the power play very well.” …
“We look at him to be one of the harder players, to set the tone physically and to make sure that the opponent knew when he was on the ice,” Wroblewski said. “The biggest thing with Kevin is lately he has shown such a great ability to go back for pucks and just read the situation on the breakout. As a defenseman, it is invaluable to have that knowledge and presence back there.
“On the opposite end of the puck, he has shown an absolute knack for knowing when to step up into the play and delivering pucks to the net. That has made him a great asset on the power play as well as 5-on-5.”
Cool biographical tidbit: Clare's father is Irish, as in from-Ireland Irish, and played Gaelic football, but didn't want Clare to get into it because there's no professional opportunities.
I wonder how many more times they're going to announce this:
"In order to address the speculation around DeShawn and Manny's future we are announcing that both these young men have decided to continue their respective educational paths here at the University of Michigan," Beilein said in a statement. "Since the completion of our season we have gathered enough information for everyone to feel good about this decision. I am anxious to see their continued growth and I am excited to coach these two, as well as the rest of the team next season."
Probably zero since the deadline is in two days, but this is like the third time they've done it so there's still hope.
2010 uber-goalie commit Jack Campbell in the Free Press:
“I’ll be a high-end pick in the 2010 (NHL) draft. It really depends on what the NHL team wants me to do. The only thing I can say is I’m loyal to Michigan. I want to be in a Michigan jersey.”
The Daily's Nicole Auerbach, perhaps prompted by the article's attention-grabbing "Campbell could play at Michigan or in OHL" headline:
So what does this kind of a comment mean? It could just be a kid in the spotlight who isn’t sure what to do yet. It could be an indication that Campbell might not stick around all four years at Michigan. Or it could be his way of saying he’s excited about Michigan (maybe not).
This guy's response: Campbell wants to play at Michigan unless some NHL team really wants him to sign right away. This would, presumably, rule out an OHL defection unless the drafting team is just really insanely pro-CHL and also wanted to get their relationship with Campbell off on the wrong foot. There is only one precedent for a Michigan player getting signed by an NHL team and shipped to Canadian juniors, and that's Trevor Lewis, a late first-rounder a couple years ago who the Kings signed immediately. Lewis was rumored to be academically ineligible, FWIW, something that cost Michigan a couple of kids in the late 90s.
So while Campbell could be signed and shipped, I'd worry more if a statement like that came from Merrill or Moffatt. High draft pick skaters are occasionally signed immediately and put in the NHL. Not so with goalies. Goalies develop more slowly and last a lot longer. For example, Al Montoya was the fifth pick in the draft and didn't sign until after his junior year, though he probably could have (and should have) gone after two. While I'm not expecting Campbell gets a degree from Michigan without correspondence courses, I'll take two years from Campbell happily.
Bonus: NHL teams now have a strong incentive to not play their prospects in their 18 and 19 year old seasons because that starts their free agency clock sooner. The team that drafts Campbell will have the choice of developing him on Michigan's dime or theirs; I'm betting they'll pick Michigan unless it's the goddamn Kings.
Also from the Free Press article:
"For me, playing near my hometown of Port Huron was a big thing, so my family who supported me all these years could see me play. I was a State fan growing up. My dad attended Michigan State and my cousin, Marshall Campbell, played football there."
Ouch. Thank you Comley clap clap clapclapclap. If Campbell matriculates and gets drafted as high as it appears he will, that would make two high first-rounders at Michigan with fathers who attended State. (JMFJ is the other.)
I'd love to get all up on my high horse about this undeniably douchy move by Thad Matta…
When Cameron Wright got off the phone with Ohio State men's basketball coach Thad Matta on Tuesday night, the junior guard from Benedictine knew he was not going to fulfill his dream of playing basketball for the Buckeyes. …
While recruits in football and basketball backing out of non-binding oral commitments isn't unusual, this wasn't a case of a kid changing his mind. Ever since OSU assistant John Groce, the primary recruiter for Wright, left to become the head coach at Ohio last June, Wright said contact from the Buckeyes had been sparse, and the call from Matta on Tuesday led to the final parting.
"I was definitely going to stick with Ohio State," said Wright.
…except I'm pretty sure Michigan did something subtler but similar with DeWayne Peace and Jordan Barnes, football recruits of yesteryear who decommitted in a fashion something less than voluntary. Peace had a conversation like this at some point:
Michigan: We'd like you to play defensive back.
Peace: Didn't I tell you I wanted to be a receiver?
Peace: Excuse me, I have to call Kansas.
Barnes, meanwhile, cited a wholesale lack of contact from the Michigan staff when he decommitted.* (He would later end up at Oklahoma State.) In both these cases Michigan didn't actually call up and say "you can't come here anymore," which makes their actions fractionally less douchy than those of Matta, but it's basically the same thing: whoops, can I have that scholarship back?
This might not be a trend yet, but it will be one soon, and then it will just be a fact of life. It's inevitable what with recruiting schedules moving so far forward, especially in basketball. Wright committed a year and a half ago(!). In the interim he went from highly touted to anonymous three-star. If you're a Michigan basketball fan you're probably thinking "I sort of wish Amaker had the balls to do that with Jerrett Smith," which assumes that Amaker would actually have replaced Smith with someone better but whatever. I feel you.
What's inevitable is also totally unfortunate, though. Wright's depressed final quote isn't going to be showing up in any annoying commercials starring violin-playing Asian soccer virtuosos:
"At the end of the day, it's all a business."
I thought the entire point was that it wasn't, in fact, a business. Upon this rests the entire near-fiction, not to mention the NCAA's tax-exempt status: that, in the end, the best interests of the student-athlete are paramount. That once you tell this Wright kid he can play basketball at Ohio State, he gets to unless he fails social studies six times or gets so high he can touch the sun.
As a fan I'd meet this news with two different emotions. One: hurray, it's more likely the team will be good. Two: boo, it's going to be harder to cheer for them when the ghost of Cameron Wright is sitting next to the walk-ons in a Cleveland State jersey. Everyone has a different balance there; mine slants heavily towards #2.
So it's good to be a fan of a university that did not actually run Jerrett Smith off, at least not before he got to campus. Smith's now a bench player at Grand Valley State after being booted for failing to meet standards set by Beilein. This also happened to Kendrick Price. Their removal from the team was not voluntary, but that seems fine as long as the standards are uniform and don't include things like "be useful on the court." Given the continued presence of Anthony Wright (before the Oklahoma game, at least), it's safe to say this isn't one of the standards.
Rodriguez's dance with the decommits hews closer to a line I'm uncomfortable with but still ends up on the right side of the line. If you don't think a kid can contribute or doesn't fit in your offense, it's best to tell them and let them make up their own mind. It's better to find out Michigan thinks you're a defensive back before signing day, after all, and unless you're being dishonest about that—which we'll never have any way of knowing—that's probably a net benefit. Peace is now a receiver at a place he'd rather be.
Barnes' case is murkier but there, too, Michigan let the guy make up his own mind. They helped along by making him feel unwanted, and while I'd prefer it if Michigan waited long enough to make sure they really wanted everyone they offered that kind of scrupulousness would put them behind the eight-ball, and as long as you don't actually yank the offer the kid's making a choice.
Do I have a larger point here? This is where the larger point goes. I don't know. I was just going to turn this into a UV bit and then it ended up pushing 1000 words, so you've read to the end and I should have a point.
I guess it's this: I don't want Michigan to be the sort of program that can pull what Matta just did. While I'm fine up to a point with the occasional moral compromise required to stay atop the shifting sands of Lemming-era recruiting, Rodriguez's tendency to shotgun offers out and let God sort 'em out later seems like a strategy that will lead to more uncomfortable situations not unlike a middle school dance: one party is desperately trying to extricate themselves from a situation they didn't think through before they checked the box that said "yes I like you."
*(I can no longer find a link for this, unfortunately. I have referenced it before, though. At the time of the decommit there was an Indy Star article that was pretty blunt about it.)
|Orland Park, Illinois - 6'6" 272
|Scout||4*, #10 OT, #135 overall|
|Rivals||4*, #18 OT, #221 overall|
|ESPN||77, #42 OT|
|Others||#171 to Takkle|
|Other Suitors||Notre Dame, Penn State, Miami|
|June commit article.|
|Notes||Little brother is an OL prospect in class of 2010.|
Michigan didn't need a huge offensive line class one year after taking six big uglies and graduating zero, but you never want fewer than three and you always want quality. Michigan picked up three four-stars: check. Michael Schofield was the first. Schofield holds the record for most unexpectedly annoying name to google because he shares a name with some character on "Prison Break," but the assembled intel follows. Warning: this stuff is always sparser for offensive linemen, whose skills remain arcane to all but a select few.
Schofield's rankings are all over the board, with ESPN saying "meh," Rivals saying "hey, pretty good," and Scout very enthusiastic indeed. Scout's rating was a huge late change, too, as when Schofield committed they had him an anonymous three star. Then Schofield attended a high school all star game in Hawaii (good choice, that) and seriously outperformed then five-star Morgan Moses($). Scout shot him up to the #10 tackle in the country.
College coaches didnt wait that long, as by June Schofield had picked up offers from Michigan, Penn State, Notre Dame, Miami (That Miami), Oregon, and a dozen others.
Here's a backhanded compliment from Tom Lemming:
“He’s the first good catch for Michigan out of Chicago in some time,” recruiting analyst Tom Lemming said. “In one or two years, he can really develop into an All-American. He has a lot of potential.” …
… it wasn’t his makeup [uh? –ed] that caught the attention of recruiters, rather it was his feet.
“When you watch him on film, he can really move,” Lemming said. “He can slide and mirror.”
Michigan's offensive scheme prizes agility in its linemen. This would seem to be a good fit, especially because this seems insane for a guy who's now 6'6", 275:
In his first two years at Sandburg, Schofield ran the 110 high hurdles for the Eagles’ track team, winning a conference title his freshman year and finishing second his sophomore season. He also moved up to the varsity team for the state tournament during his sophomore year, finishing sixth in sectionals.
“[College recruiters] like hearing he ran track his freshman and sophomore years,” said Sandburg football coach Dave Wierzal, who also coaches Schofield in track. “After his sophomore year, he continued to fill out and grew taller. He turned out to be really something to get excited about.”
Lemming also adds he has "perfect size" for left tackle.
While there has been some buzz that Quinton Washington could step right onto the field this fall*, this is Rodriguez on Schofield at the signing day press conference:
”Very aggresive, physical player. … He’ll grow into the type of player that we want. … The foundation that we’re building up front is key to our offense.”
That says redshirt. This Rivals AMP piece echoes the above, emphasizing his mobility, upside, and need to see a college strength and conditioning program:
Especially impressive when double team blocking or down blocking on the of tackle play. Could come out of his stance lower with more knee bend but does a great job of hand control. Really works his hands into the frame of the defender and doesn't allow defensive man to spin out of the block. Moves feet well and gets great knock back off the line of scrimmage. Runs well for a large lineman; gives effort downfield to get the extra block. Has even showed the ability to cover punts. Pass protection is sound; sets back and, as in the run game, has active hands in stopping and controlling the pass rusher. Has a tendency to over extend at times allowing defender the opportunity to go underneath.
Pretty positive and then… eh… 77. I think a large portion of the difference here is ESPN's tendency to fire and forget on a scouting report; it seems like there's a lot more movement on Rivals and Scout and Schofield was a guy who didn't start rising nationally until he hit the camp circuit hard in the summer between his junior and senior years. Both Rivals and Scout evaluations are based on tape and in-person sessions, with Rivals being the first to rate him highly and Scout coming around later; ESPN's ranking seems like it's based on old information.
In any case, Schofield is highly-rated by two of the three scouting services, seems a good fit for the offense, and has a lot of nice offers. The chance of success here is high.
Why Jeff Backus? Well, I dunno. There aren't many differences between the playing styles of offensive linemen that filter down to the layman's level. So that's just a shot in the dark, really.
Guru Reliability: Moderate; big spread in the rankings here.
General Excitement Level: As high as it gets for non-slam dunk offensive linemen. Schofield is a highly-rated kid with a lot of nice offers who seems to fit the offense precisely, but offensive linemen are hard to project.
Projection: Obvious redshirt and then a candidate to start at left tackle as a freshman; more realistically will probably have to wait until his sophomore year.
*(This is doubtful given the excellent depth on the interior created by Steve Schilling's move and Washington's lack of an early enrollment, but the possibility has been thrown out there. That gives an indication of readiness, if nothing else.)