no, YOU'RE off topic
There's also a Blade article, but it doesn't contain any new information. Good summary, though.
Editorial Opinion: Hey, Marcus Witherspoon: welcome back. Michigan retains the services of the four-star OLB from New Jersey and now has four solid linebacker commits. Witherspoon was profiled back when he committed, FWIW. A couple other commits are visiting elsewhere but only Christian Wilson seems like a serious threat to depart. Witherspoon re-committed, MI DT Mike Martin canceled his ND visit, and everyone else has publicly reinforced their verbal.
A couple players -- JB Fitzgerald and Brandon Moore -- are visiting elsewhere, always an uncomfortable thing, but seem likely to stick. Fitzgerald was at Rutgers this weekend with Witherspoon and FL QB Justin Feagin; Moore took a flier trip to Miami. He did cancel a planned trip to Florida; the situation seems similar to that of current freshman Martell Webb, who took a Very Serious And Listening Intensive Visit to Miami right before signing day that had nothing to do with South Beach.
SC WR Jaron Brown's visit seemed to go well:
"Right now, I have a slight lean toward USC," Brown said before heading to Ann Arbor.
But upon his return, Brown planned to break out his notebook, weigh the pros and cons, and make a choice.
"I just want to sit around and pray about it," he said.
Brown visited Clemson and had them in the lead, visited South Carolina and had them in the lead, and now maintains no leaders after visiting Michigan. You can spin that in a hopeful or less-than- direction depending on your wont; I've bumped Brown up from red to yellow.
And, of course, Pryor. Pryor was talking about visiting Oregon or LSU or any number of other schools in the interregnum between now and signing day. Those plans are now somewhere between unlikely and off the table:
The nation's top prospect, quarterback Terrelle Pryor of Jeannette, Pa., has yet to schedule another official visit, his mentor, Charlie Batch, told The Dispatch.
"He wants to, but at this point he doesn't know exactly how that is going to happen, or whether it is going to happen at all," said Batch, a backup quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
As predicted, it looks like this will come down to Michigan and Ohio State. OSU insiders and message boards remain supremely confident; Michigan equivalents are cautious.
Pryor's recruiting diary with the Post-Gazette contains some interesting information points:
- He is unlikely to play basketball in college.
- A "reporter dude from Detroit" called his high school and "flipped out on our principal, the secretary, everyone" because Pryor wouldn't talk to him.
- This on M:
I feel better about Michigan since I went there. I took [Steelers backup quarterback] Charlie Batch with me. He's helping me through this whole process. We got every single detail about what they're going to do with me in their offense. I got a good feel for things and a good look at Coach [Rich] Rodriguez.
Charlie hit him with the questions about how they're going use me. He asked if they were going to make me a quarterback or am I going to be running all the time? They'll probably use me like they used Pat White at West Virginia, but I would be throwing more. They said they'd teach me some techniques, and I'll be throwing that thing a lot. But they'll use my athleticism on some plays, too.
So there you go. Clear as day.
Bits and such. Varsity Blue has a scholarship count with 26 available slots; mine is stuck on 24 but I haven't given it a through once-over in a while and theirs looks right to me. Michigan's taken all the attrition they need for a class of 25. Now we just need bodies.
About the bodies: I currently have M at 16 commits, but the current board 1) does not include PA HB Christian Wilson as a commit and 2) doesn't have longsnapper George Morales on it at all. Morales is listed as a commit by both Rivals and Scout... are we really giving a long snapper a scholarship? Has anyone ever heard of such a thing?
Anyway, depending on the status of the above two kids we have somewhere between nine and seven slots to fill in nine days. I don't see how we get to twenty-five with the guys currently on the radar screen.
- TN CB JT Floyd
- TX WR Terrence Robinson
- MI DE Nick Perry
- SC WR Jaron Brown
- FL QB Justin Feagin
- FL QB BJ Daniels
- OH RB/WR Michael Shaw
- PA QB Terrelle Pryor
- MS S Charles Mitchell
- FL WR Martavious Odoms
- FL OT Rhonne Sanderson
- OH OT Patrick Omameh
That looks like five or six guys to me.
We're... #1. As you might expect when you're 22-2-0, Michigan is atop every poll of significance (PWR, RPI) and insignificance (those voted on by hoo-mans, KRACH). The RPI gap is fairly sizable but not impenetrable, as Miami is hot on Michigan's heels and the two Colorado schools in the WCHA have fought through brutal schedules. Each is about 2 hundredths behind.
However, North Dakota, the current 5th place team, is almost 5 hundredths behind, which is about equal to the gap between NoDak and #18 Minnesota-Duluth. That's a long way back and the PWR is mostly an RPI-correction mechanism, one that Michigan has a huge number of advantages in with winning records against the WCHA and HE.
The upshot: barring a total collapse down the stretch, Michigan has locked in a one-seed.
HOWEVA, there's still a lot to play for. Banners are always nice, and staying in the top two is important because two autobids go to the CHA and Atlantic Hockey winners. These two teams are invariably seeded #15 and #16. While a small conference autobid foe is not a guaranteed win by any means -- ask Minnesota about that -- the last two teams in are always a considerable step down in talent from #14.
Current bracketology is totally meaningless, but FWIW the prevailing scenario has this as the Madison regional:
9. Boston College
Boston College is an unpleasant prospect in the second round, but if they keep playing at the level they have been they'll move on up and out of Michigan's way.
Madison is the closest regional to Michigan this year, which is really frustrating. Michigan should be submitting bids every year for wherever: Yost, The Palace, Fort Wayne, Kalamazoo... anywhere. There's no CCHA regional this year at all, which is outrageous. At least Madison in its current incarnation would be slightly pro-Michigan (and mostly empty).
However, Wisconsin is one of four WCHA teams currently lurking just outside the tourney. If they make it, they'll be placed in Madison and Michigan will either be playing a bunch of Eastern teams out east or Wisconsin in Madsion. Congratulations, #1 seed.
Every year the NCAA screws something or another up and ends up with a largely abandoned regional, and now that the tournament is at 16 teams there's little reward for picking up that precious top seed. One-and-done hockey is such a random way to decide things that top seed should be given as many benefits as they can. Isn't it time for home regionals? Attendance problems: solved.
Patchwork. (HA!) Max Pacioretty should be back this weekend:
"It looks better every day. It looks good. I'm optimistic that he'll be ready to play," Berenson said after practice on Wednesday afternoon.
"He brings a physical game and good puck touches. His passing is excellent. He's a threat to score. As you've seen, he's one of our more physical forwards. He gives that line some real stature as far as being able to contribute offensively."
"It's feeling much better," Pacioretty continued. "I haven't had much contact in practice so I can't tell if it's really ready to go through a game yet, but it's definitely an improvement from last week."
That's good. I like Tim Miller and all, but Pacioretty is a clear upgrade.
Well, which is it? TJ Hensick was passed over for the Hobey Baker award last year in favor of North Dakota's Ryan Duncan, a sophomore who scored 12 fewer points than him despite playing in two extra games. Compounding the insult was Hensick's exclusion from the "Hobey Hat Trick". The other two finalists were Air Force's Eric Ehn -- the hockey equivalent of inviting Colt Brennan to the Heisman ceremony -- and Notre Dame goalie David Brown. (Since LSSU's Jeff Jakatis was inexplicably passed over, Brown was a deserving-ish candidate on a very strong Notre Dame team, but that's neither here nor there.)
The general defense for this was that the Hobey Baker award "isn't just about statistics". O RLY?
|Year||Player||Pos||Pts||Scoring Rank (PPG)|
|2006||Matt Carle||D||11-42-53||10th (T-1st amongst D)|
|2002||Jordan Leopold||D||20-28-48||28th (1st amongst D)|
In Carle's winning year the other defender who had that many points 1) only played 33 games and 2) played in Atlantic Hockey. In Lessard's winning year everyone in front of him played at least four fewer games than he did; in terms of raw points he was the nation's top performer.
In 2001, Ryan Miller's sick 1.32 GAA and .950 save percentage won; College Hockey Stats only goes back to that season. However, IIRC, Chris Drury, Jason Krog, and Brendan Morrison were all the nation's leading scorers the years they won; only BC defenseman Mike Mottau stands out as a Hobey winner without preposterous statistics, and even he put up 6-37-43.
In the decade before TJ Hensick was passed over every forward who got the Hobey Baker led the nation in points. When defensemen won it, with one exception, it was because they had extraordinary offensive seasons for defensemen. When a goalie won it, it was because he had extraordinary statistics.
TJ came along and he was short and had a rep for selfishness and got a ten minute misconduct in Michigan's loss to North Dakota and then all of a sudden it was just about the statistics despite the copious evidence that, yes, it was basically just all about the statistics. Then they gave it to a sophomore who wasn't even the best player on his line. (That would be Jonathan Toews, now in the NHL. Toews was injured for a significant portion of last year, during which period Duncan's productivity fell dramatically.) It was a travesty.
That travesty was justified because the Hobey "wasn't just about the statistics," right? So how irritating is stuff like this from Elliot Olshansky*?
So here we are, talking about Gerbe in the Hobey race, and obviously, there are some people who are very unhappy about it, largely because they really can't stand Gerbe.
Well, guess what? It really doesn't matter.
To his credit, a large reason Olshanksy thinks it doesn't matter is because Porter, as the nation's leading scorer and captain of a 22-2-0 team with one, count 'em -- everybody now, even Ohio State fans can get to one --, one other senior, is the appropriate choice. This isn't really about Porter. It's about Hensick, because people's personal feelings damn sure mattered last year
Hensick was widely regarded as a lock for the top three and a very strong contender just two weeks before his infamous misconduct (because we all know that the standard of refereeing in college hockey is just killer.) Then he said the wrong thing and the wrong time and was dropped from consideration.
As Olshansky noted when the "Hat Trick" was announced:
I'm just as surprised by Hensick's exclusion as I am by Ehn's inclusion. Really, when do you see a senior who's leading the nation in scoring wind up out of the Hat Trick? I guess the 10-minute misconduct that kept him out of action down the stretch in the North Dakota game really hurt him. I don't know if he'd have won if not for that, but I have to imagine it kept him out of the top three.
Hensick got a misconduct for talking to a referee and the fancypants Hobey committee decided he was no longer suitable for its award. If they don't turn their nose up at a guy who was suspended for a series of unsportsmanlike acts that culminated in the butt-ending of an opposing player, they'll be a bigger joke than the Heisman. The Hobey committee established that last year; to go back would be the rankest sort of hypocrisy.
In other news, I am still really, really mad about Hensick getting shafted last year.
*(Would like to make it clear here that I don't mean to rip on Olshansky, who was confused and maybe a little upset about the Hensick exclusion a year ago; this makes his position on Gerbe consistent.)
Ah, right. State comes to town Friday for what should be a racuous Yost crowd on par with some of the late 90s ones; Michigan will visit the Morgue on Saturday. State has a shiny record and high ranking, but there's one ugly series of numbers that points out some hollowness in their achievements: 1-5-3, State's record against TUCs.* Their schedule rank is 26th, worse than Michigan's 22nd. They've had some embarrassing losses, foremost among them getting swept at the GLI. They appear good, but not great.
MSU has no standouts but does have a number of quality forwards spread across two scoring lines: Bryan Lerg, Justin Abdelkader, Tim Kennedy, Matt Schepke, Tim Crowder, etc. They've got a ton of guys around 20 points; Kennedy leads the team with 27. Midget superman Jeff Lerg continues to play well in goal with a .922 save percentage and a 2.28 GAA.
Michigan faces a couple of difficulties against State: Lerg (goalie version) is quick as hell from side to side, which makes Michigan's favored power play tactic of one-time bombs less effective than normal, and the diffuse nature of MSU scoring makes it difficult to throw Mark Mitera on the ice and direct him to destroy all chances. (Also: frankly, Mitera had an off weekend against ND.) I'm less concerned about the freshman somehow not being prepared for a game of this magnitude after the 2-0 clawback against Notre Dame in a frenzied Yost; this will be something new for them but not that new.
I think a split is likely with a Michigan sweep far more probable than vice-versa.
*(TUC == Team Under Consideration == the top 25 teams in RPI.
I have been really cranky for like a solid week or two around these parts, and it culminates today. I promise to spend the weekend repeating SERENITY NOW and will come back slightly more well adjusted.
Whee! I'm late on this, but Chad Henne had a disturbing quote at the Senior Bowl (where he did very well, by all accounts):
"I think it's going to be a lot different," he said. "(Rodriguez) is bringing the whole spread offense, and a lot of the quarterbacks are looking elsewhere.
"Ryan Mallett already transferred and two of the other quarterbacks are staying for spring ball to see what happens. It's definitely a change at the quarterback position, and we'll see how it works in the Big 10."
There are only two other quarterbacks on scholarship, those being David Cone and Steven Threet. Cone was a complete flyer taken the year before Mallett's recruitment -- ran mostly veer option in HS despite being as nimble as John Navarre -- who was apparently behind walk-on Nick Sheridan this year; suffice it to say that flyer didn't exactly work out.
Threet, on the other hand, was a well-regarded QB prospect (#9 QB to Rivals and a Rivals 250 member) who won the Georgia Tech backup job before transferring to Michigan in the fall. Even if Michigan reels in Pryor, he might be preferred in certain situations. If they don't he's the presumptive favorite to start this fall.
Olden Days. More from Wolverine Historian and Bob Ufer, this the 1969 Ohio State game:
There's also a reel of Tom Harmon highlights and a recap of the 2002 Washington game:
I particularly like the Washington clips because they tell the story of the game well. Wolverine Historian is a hero striding among us, but sometimes it's a little weird watching a bunch of highlights from a tight game and only seeing the good things.
Casualty? ND DT Pat Kuntz, who for some reason ND fans are all agush about -- he got destroyed by Justin Boren, thus paving the way for unmet expectations the rest of the year -- is leaving Notre Dame temporarily:
The 6-foot-3, 285-pound junior, speaking from his home in Indianapolis, would not elaborate further on why he was not at school. Because of privacy laws, the university could not comment on Kuntz's status other than to say he is not enrolled, said Brian Hardin, director of football media relations.
Kuntz is enrolled at "Ivy Tech" in Indianapolis, a college so fake-sounding it could be in one of those Allstate commercials, for "personal reasons" BGS suggests boil down to "somehow not able to maintain eligibility at freakin' Notre Dame." No doubt the sociology is even more remedial at Ivy Tech.
Also gonzo is Derrell Hand, who you may remember from his hilarious (because his name is hand, see!) solicitation arrest last offseason. He has a spinal condition and can no longer play. Interesting factoid about Hand: way back when Marques Slocum was in high school, he and Hand were teammates who played right next to each other on what must have been an amazing high school line. Both have met internet infamy, Hand with his arrest and Slocum with the whole fuck lion thing.
Notre Dame's troubles should marginally aid a questionable Michigan line's performance in the Notre Dame game. Sophomore Ian Williams will be the NT, career disappointment Justin Brown one DE, and either Kuntz or someone hastily switched to the position at the other DE. The other option is that some of those freshmen will hit the field right away.
BGS also mentions that sophomore-to-be Bartley Webb is leaving due to a medical issue; about all you need to know about him is that he hardly played on last year's abomination of a line... so, yeah.
While we're on the topic of Notre Dame, Deadspin's been giddy about reports that Dana Jacobsen, a Michigan alum, got blotto at a roast for Mike & Mike and said intemperate things. An anonymous tipster unfamiliar with the proper use of the shift key says these things were said:
f... Notre dame"
and - the step-aside-because-lightning-is-about-to-strike... "f.... Jesus."
Several reports are now contradicting that last one, leaving the only confirmed Jacobsen comments to be directly anti-ND ones. Then there are reports contradictory to the contradictory reports.
Do I care? Not really. Is this a wonderful opportunity to scour ND Nation for insanity? Absolutely. The Nation sees this as blatant anti-Catholic discrimination. And there can be only one force behind it:
A typical filthy lewd hateful product of a hateful bigoted corrupt school - it is no mistake their tradition was founded by virtual Klansman hillbilly Fielding Yost - the tradition continues. People will attempt to sluff off what jacobson said as the ravings of the drunkard - actually they reflect the deep-seated animus and hate inculcated by Michigan as an institution toward the small Catholic school to the South. The hate speech she brought out of the closet reflects the true and inherent hate that school has and has always fostered toward ND. Anyone who has seen how Notre Dame people are treated when we play there knows that what Jacobson said is not something small or isolated.
It was a valiant effort by West Virginia's fanbase, but nothing can match NDNation for pure derangement. (There are outposts of sanity in the like solid week of conversation about something Jacobsen may or may not have said at a roast, -- a roast, people -- but right: solid week of conversation about it.)
Etc.: You've no doubt seen these, but testy emails to and fro between Rodriguez's agent and various AD honchos detail the deteriorating relationship between the two parties. As mentioned, the only way Rodriguez was going to end up leaving was because of severe personal acrimony between the two parties. Yes, WVU fans, Rodriguez's agent comes off like a jerk.
Update 1/25: Added FL QB BJ Daniels, FL WR Martavious Odoms, OH OT Patrick Omameh. Linked to articles on FL QB Justin Feagin, MI DE Nick Perry, SC CB JT Floyd. There's also an extensive piece on Big Ten recruiting classes at ESPN; though ESPN's proven itself useless in the prediction business, their opinions on recruits' talent are an interesting data point.
Removed PA WR Vaughn Carraway (dropped us).
Editorial Opinion: This is why SC CB JT Floyd sports a blue smiley on the recruiting board:
"I would definitely say Michigan fans will be happy, but I'm going to leave it at that," Floyd said after returning home. "I want to talk it over with my parents first, take this last visit (to Tennessee) and get everything squared away."
The UT visit is a downer, but that's as close as you can come to committing without actually committing. Since he's already very familiar with UT -- he committed to them as a junior, remember -- it's unlikely anything they can show him will sway his opinion.
One more for the "eeee Barwis" pile from Floyd:
"Just the vibe of the football players, I think they're excited about the new change," said Floyd. "Everybody's real anxious to get to work, and that strength and conditioning coach â€” he's one of the best in the nation. The players gravitate to him. I think the Michigan football program is definitely moving in a positive direction."
That same article is kind of a recruiting roundup piece with quotes from Brandon Moore...
Moore, like Cissoko and Martin, has already committed to the Wolverines. He said he came away very excited about his future in Ann Arbor.
"They told me about how they use the tight end," he explained. "They told me he'll be flexed out sometimes, he'll be like the H-back position sometimes. They said that's how they're going to use me, in a position like that. It's kind of like the thing that I was doing at my high school."
The fans were real nice and the players I met seemed cool. I don't remember a whole lot of names, but they were nice. And Coach (Rich) Rodriguez has brought his entire staff with him from West Virginia, so nothing is going to change. That's the offense he wants to run, and he'd like me to run it."
...that aren't exactly chock full of news.
MI DE Nick Perry told the Detroit News what he told USC's Scout site over the weekend:
"I just liked the environment, the surroundings," Perry said of USC. "I was around good people there -- the players, the coaches. Yes, I feel I could fit in. The need for defensive ends is great there. They want me to come in and compete (for the position) right away.
"I'm not going to commit until signing day. They wanted me to, but they're not pressuring me."
Perry is really, really wrong about USC's "need for defensive ends" -- in this class and the last USC already has six commits at the position, including five-star Everson Griffen and four other four-stars -- but Pete Carroll has the super power mushroom version of whatever weird mind control juju Ron Zook is working. Perry will visit this weekend, at which point we'll have a pretty good idea whether or not the USC buzz was temporary and if Michigan can land him.
Quarterback continues to see names emerge, mostly in Florida. Two kids who would like to play quarterback but are mostly getting defensive back offers appear interested in Michigan but wary of a potential Pryor commitment. Justin Feagin, mentioned previously, is an under the radar sort who gets highly positive reviews from locals. He appears a realistic sort:
At first I had to tell Mom that everyone wasn't telling the truth," Feagin said with a laugh. "I mean, there are things that any coach will say to get you on campus and onto the football field. You have to know which ones are sincere and, of course, those who are just saying things to make it all sound good."
This is going to be a pretty stupid statement, but I like the kid's quotes a lot:
"The experience is demanding," Feagin said. "But I wouldn't change what I'm going through right now with anyone. This is the most exciting time of my life."
He sounds like the type of guy who works like a dog. As mentioned: stupid generalization.
BJ Daniels is the other name out there, and he seems like more of a thrower:
This season, the Lincoln coaching staff scrapped the more conventional offense of years' past for a spread attack designed to utilize Daniels' skills as a runner and a passer.
It turned out to be a pretty good idea.
Daniels tallied 3,456 total yards (2,552 passing, 904 rushing) by himself in leading Lincoln to a 10-2 record. ..."This year I wanted to focus more on passing," Daniels said. "I didn't want to take off running as much, unless it was third or fourth down and we needed a first down.
"Passing is something that I wanted to do. Running is something that I can do. It's just an extra thing."
This highlight video shows a guy who scrambles around with an intent to pass:
He's got some shake, too:
Daniels is a four-star outside of the top 250 to Rivals and is most heavily considering Mem
phis and South Florida because he really wants to play quarterback. Michigan would seem a slam dunk over those two programs, especially with Matt Grothe returning for his junior year at USF, but the threat of Pryor looms large. Hopefully he'll wait to see what happens with him; I doubt USF can seriously pass up a guy like him if he wants to wait until Signing Day.
And then, right, Pryor. There are four articles above if you're interested, but only one says anything that isn't MOTS. It's from the Cleveland Plain-Dealer and the interesting passage goes like so:
A source close to Pryor said Wednesday that Batch has become the point person in Pryor's recruitment and that other connections from the Jeannette business community, like DeNunzio, are not involved. That's why, the source said, Tressel recently called Batch and asked him to come with Pryor to Columbus, though Pryor already made his official visit to Ohio State on Nov. 2.
It was unknown whether a second Ohio State trip will take place.
Pryor doesn't live with either of his parents, instead residing in Jeannette with his godfather, Willie Burns. Pryor said of Batch in his newspaper diary, "I trust him a lot. When I go on these visits, I think he'll know who's telling the truth just by sitting there and listening."
I'd like to emphasize the following is all speculative; given Pryor's public indecision speculation is all we have to go on.
"DeNunzio" above is a 78-year-old restaurant owner in Jeannette who was a prominent banker in town for 45 years; reading between the lines on "other connections from the Jeannette business community" is not hard to do. This falls into Ray Reitz's line about Pryor's "friends" needing to understand that Pryor must do what's best for him -- presumably to take the open starting job at a school guaranteed to run the offense Pryor was born to operate.
Batch has been at the head of the Pryor recruitment for a couple weeks now and hasn't met Jim Tressel; this worries Tressel and pleases me. I'm not exactly optimistic but maybe I'm less pessimistic now, especially since Pryor intends to take a couple more official visits.
OSU fans are, as you might expect, displeased with the Pryor items over the last couple days:
Leading the charge in trying to unravel something is MGoBlog, which is really a shame, because Brian has spent the better part of the past two weeks railing against the "jihad" WVU has launched against Rodriguez.
Two major differences: I am not a member of the Michigan athletic department with a credulous reporter in hand, and I am not making obviously false statements like "it's like nothing ever existed." I am making a fairly logical leap from "OSU fans are basically Alabamans" and "OSU coaches are having dinner with a guy who lets Pryor borrow his Corvette" to "something fishy is going on." Point the second has been covered over the past couple days and has been confirmed by Jeanette locals, OSU's Scout site, and Scout guru Bob Lichtenfels.
Point the first: Basically Alabama. Ohio State boosters are awesome. Local dealerships are exceptionally generous with their test-drive programs:
Clarett sat out the 2003 season after he was charged with misdemeanor falsification for filing a police report claiming that more than $10,000 in clothing, CDs, cash and stereo equipment was stolen from a car he borrowed from a local dealership. He later pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.
Ohio State suspended Clarett for misleading investigators, and for receiving special benefits worth thousands of dollars from a family friend.
"Family friend" indeed. A poor kid from Youngstown in his first year in Columbus just happens to have a close personal friend who owns a car dealership.
You can find super-awesome jobs:
During his sophomore season, after he claimed the starting quarterback job and beat Michigan â€” a feat that cinches your celebrity in Columbus â€” he walked into a local health-care provider looking for a summer job and came out carrying an envelope with $500 in it. The cash was given to him by an Ohio State season-ticket holder named Robert Q. Baker, who bragged to co-workers that he owned Smith.
You can find a place to live:
Salyers claims the Roslovics reneged on a verbal agreement, allegedly orchestrated by then Ohio State assistant coach Paul Biancardi, to pay her $1,000 a month plus reimburse expenses if she would provide for Savovic during his time at Ohio State. In depositions, Salyers describes how over a four-year period she became a surrogate mother to Savovic, giving him food, shelter, clothing, transportation, spending money and other expenses.
(It should be noted, given the OSU denials later in that article, that Savovic was later declared ineligible and OSU was forced to vacate the games he played.)
There's a pattern of behavior here even if you don't include the documentation of widespread academic fraud in the New York Times, the Maurice Clarett ESPN the Magazine story, and the $3000 AJ Hawk just happened to have lying around. (I know Hawk looks like a caveman, but he's probably heard of a bank.) It involves Ohio State fans with lots of money ignoring NCAA regulations. Sure, all these things could be a completely innocent athletic department beset on all sides by those who would destroy it without cause. Occam's razor says otherwise.
(No doubt this assertion will draw "OMG Ed Martin" responses from the yokel crowd. 1) Ed Martin is not a pattern, he's a dead guy. 2) Martin was a Detroit numbers-runner looking to ingratiate himself with local basketball talent and maybe launder a few hundred grand or so, not a super-enthusiastic booster. Until Martin was provided gratis Final Four tickets he had no connection with the program. You are comparing one outlier with no real interest in Michigan's athletic program except as the most conveniently local source of potential NBA players to a pattern of malfeasance; you are stupid.)
Ohio State fans saying "I'm shocked, shocked!" when the pristine reputation of their athletic department is brought into question is somewhere between comical and infuriating. Please. Just because you've managed to rationalize it away doesn't mean everyone else has to.
Does it matter in the long run? Likely no. The NCAA has all the investigative might of Inspector Clouseau. The appearance of funny stuff will remain but an appearance.
The bigger issue here is Pryor's eligibility. Michigan fans remember the glorious three-month period when Kevin Gaines wasn't a psychopath, Jamal Crawford was eligible, and Michigan basketball looked like it was on the upswing under Brian Ellerbe of all people, and cringe. This is what happened to young Jamal:
Jamal Crawford is a rookie with the Chicago Bulls and making a lot of money. But Crawford still wishes he was playing basketball at Michigan.
"I miss college a lot," he said. "I live in a college area now because I like to be around college kids."
Crawford felt trapped last year when he decided to leave Michigan following his freshman season.
He already had served an eight-game suspension for one mistake -- sending the NBA a letter that said he intended to enter the 1999 draft before he enrolled in college. He had missed six other games and was ordered to repay $15,000 in benefits to a Seattle businessman, whom he had lived with for three years during high school. The NCAA later said he could give $11,300 to the charity of his choice. If he didn't pay, Crawford would lose his eligibility.
The infinite kindness of the NCAA: instead of paying the Seattle businessman 15 grand you don't have, you can give Jerry's Kids 11 grand you don't have. Crawford entered the draft, blew up at a pre-draft camp, and was picked 8th overall as Michigan fans clutched their head between their knees in a futile attempt to keep it from exploding.
Crawford was a nice kid with a lack of foresight who got offered stuff and, as most people would, accepted. Pryor's been offered stuff and has evidently accepted. How much stuff and how much of a paper trail there is will determine if the NCAA comes knocking.
It would be just like Angry Michigan Safety Hating God to allow Pryor to commit to Michigan, start six games his freshman year, and then have the NCAA pull a Crawford; this is kind of what I expect to happen because recent experience has taught me that this is what I should expect.
It's all in order! We are very organized! All of the organs! A key point in this shredding kerfuffle is the credibility of West Virginia University as a place more organized than a ferret kegger. If Rich Rodriguez is the human being in this commercial:
Then we can safely assume WVU has no idea what it's doing and, in lieu of any better ideas, is just flinging poo.
It started with a phone call from a newspaper reporter in October seeking to verify the academic credentials of Gov. Joe Manchin III's daughter Heather Bresch. But in less than three months, the inquiry has mushroomed into a controversy that risks casting a shadow of cronyism over this state's flagship university.
Officials at the college, West Virginia University, have been accused of rewriting records last fall to document that Ms. Bresch had earned an executive master of business administration degree in 1998. An investigation by The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette concluded that she had completed only 22 of the required 48 credit hours.
Manchin, of course, is the governor who's made three or four public comments implying that Rodriguez has been "corrupted by high priced agents" and the like.
West Virginia University athletic department officials acknowledged Tuesday that they used money from a WVU Foundation account set aside for football recruiting expenses to manage other costs in the athletic department.
However, WVU Athletic Director Ed Pastilong and Associate Athletic Director for Finance and Administration Russ Sharp contend they did nothing wrong by taking money from the 1100 Club to pay other bills.
Former Coach Rich Rodriguez grew frustrated at the way the account was used and was dissatisfied that he was never able to control it, a source said.
This "1100 Club" business seems completely petty (basically, WVU spent money allocated for recruiting flights on other football expenses) but the way it was handled -- badly -- is further evidence that WVU's athletic program is, as we speak, blasting "Come On, Feel The Noise" and partying wildly about Rodriguez's departure.
On one side, we have a highly competent football coach capable of driving an ill-funded and talent-deprived football program into the top five. On the other are the guys who managed to screw it up. Their credibility is not exactly off the charts.
Word. Bill Stewart:
"He's the football coach at Michigan and I'm the football coach at West Virginia and that's what we need to be doing,'' Stewart told the Gazette late Tuesday night. "The wounds need to heal. We need to go on.'' ...
"Who is any of this helping? It's certainly not helping West Virginia University or Michigan. It's not helping Billy Stewart or Rich Rodriguez,'' Stewart said. "I understand there are issues and a lot of them have to be dealt with. But hasn't it just all gotten ridiculous? How did we get to this point?''
I'm with him. Let WVU and Rodriguez settle their lawsuit on page six, and let's just get on with it. Promised "bombshells" should be quietly filed without comment in whatever court has the case, and both parties should vow to never speak of the other again.
In that spirit... this feature's brief lifespan has expired. Assumptions going forward: the shredding thing was much ado about precisely nothing, Rodriguez is neither Satan or Carr, and no one should particularly care about the outcome of the WVU-Rodriguez lawsuit. Occasional links might make their way into UV or on the sidebar; from now on this is all sideshow.
Holly got the color wrong yesterday:
Obviously the first thing that leaps to mind is "OMG photoshop," but that doesn't look photshopped to me. Nor does it look recent, given those "leaf" things on the trees. Perhaps he was just borrowing it, but, dude... that ain't legal, either. Unless you're a star running back in Columbus.
Scout guru Bob Lichtenfels attempts to explain ($), but mostly just confirms the veracity of the above photo and makes it worse:
I believe from what I have heard that is Sarniac's Corvette. TP borrowed it for prom or homecoming and will give it to him as a graduation present. That photo is old news
Sure, Bob, that photo is old news. The idea that a fellow who's buddy-buddy with the OSU coaches is going to give Terrelle Pryor a Corvette... new news? Is this kid even eligible?
Maybe this is why Charlie Batch is involved, and why Jeanette's high school coach has been saying things like
"Terrelle is the person that must make the decision, no one else" Batch said. "He's the person who has to be happy where he'll spend the next three or four years. His friends have to realize that."
Do any of Pryor's friends own glass factories?
Update 1/22: Removed OH WR DJ Woods (Cinci), TX S Keanon Cooper. Noted potential USC lead for Nick Perry. Added FL OL Rhonne Sanderson, MS S Charles Mitchell, OH RB Michael Shaw. Downgraded Christian Wilson and Marcus Witherspoon to yellow.
Editorial Opinion: It's not going great at the moment. DJ Woods picked Cincinnati -- probably the first time anyone's picked UC over Michigan like ever -- and a couple recruits are wavering.
NJ LB Marcus Witherspoon has officially re-opened his recruiting:
What's new in the recruiting war for South Jersey's best football prospect, Holy Spirit High linebacker/defensive end Marcus Witherspoon?
Witherspoon said early last night that he would attend Michigan, Tennessee or Rutgers.
Yes, Rutgers is a late entry in the recruiting picture.
"Right now, I'm not sure what I'm going to do," he said. "All I can say is, I will sign on Feb. 6," the first day recruits can sign binding letters of intent.
This one is up in the air; I kind of expect he'll go elsewhere. It's rare that a kid recommits to a school after publicly decommitting. (Visiting elsewhere is another matter.) (HT: The Diag.)
"My top three is USC, Michigan and Miami. Right now USC is at the top," Perry said.
An instate player declaring anyone other than Michigan his leader is bad, but it's nice that Michigan State is slipping out of the picture. If Perry stays close to home it will be Michigan. Perry has a tendency to go on a visit, drop some quotes that suggest the school he's just visited is going to be the choice, then repeat the process with another school. Michigan has him in this weekend, then he'll make a trip to Miami.
Yesterday Rivals' Mike Farrell reported that PA HB Christian Wilson was under no circumstances going to Michigan. His mom contradicts that, but also makes it sound unlikely Wilson ends up on campus:
Christian has told no one he was not attending MI. I personally didn't appreciate the comment of slandering my son (I think he said any kid) if he would choose not to attend MI. He doesn't deserve that. He is a 17 year old that just had the rug pulled out from under him. He was in love with the former staff and Coach Carr. lets face it, RR is a total 180 when it comes to his style of coaching.
He has always been a solid commit and was real concerned with the coaching changes. He is not a full back or a TE and at this point, the TE recruits are being told they could play H-Back and they just recruited another running back.
What is he to think. He is still waiting to hear from RR.
There's more in this vein. It appears that Michigan and Wilson are headed for a mutual parting of the ways.
Oh, and right, the bolded line above. Does Wilson's mom mean that Michigan's received a commitment from another tailback here or just that they've sent out some offers (which they have)? The way it's phrased it seems like the former. There's been some buzz that Trotwood-Madison RB Michael Shaw, a teammate of Brandon Moore and a visitor last weekend, was very much in play for Michigan. No other tailbacks have visited recently, AFAIK.
FL OT Rhonne Sanderson is and up-and-coming name who just visited Michigan State. He's got Florida State on tap this weekend, then a visit back around these parts:
Sanderson said that Michigan has offered him a visit for Feb. 2nd, one week after he's scheduled to go to Florida State. Sanderson, a Times first-team all county lineman, said the Wolverines will likely offer him on his trip, like the rival Spartans did last weekend.
And, just like that, Michigan has made Sanderson's "top-three" - which includes FSU and MSU - pretty formidable.
"I like it a lot," Sanderson said of Michigan. "A lot of big-time offensive linemen come out of there. They're kind of like a powerhouse with a lot of history and tradition."
If Florida State offers it'll be tough to reel him in.
I count 23 scholarships available and 15 commits; if Rodriguez is going to get to 25 he's going to have to start racking up some dudes quick.
Ted Sarniak is a businessman who lives in Jeanette, Pennsylvania. He owns a glass factory:
"Jeannette Specialty Glass is the longest-running glass company in the city," Howard says. The factory has been in existence since 1904. Ted and Kathleen Sarniak have owned the facility since April 1976.
"It was founded by a family named Crock, and the factory stayed in that family until we purchased it," Ted Sarniak says. "It was previously known as Jeannette Shade and Novelty. As we got into making more items, we changed the name to Jeannette Specialty Glass."
His glass and glass-type things have been touched by the stars:
"We've made sinks for most of the major hotels in Las Vegas, for Ringo Starr and Celine Dion," Ted Sarniak says. "Our line of gourmet dinnerware and serving bowls will be used in upscale restaurants and homes all over the world."
The investigation began in April when Peck received a complaint that Sarniak bribed police to avoid arrest. Sarniak crashed his car into the utility pole at the corner of Lowry Avenue and Division Street following the Jeannette-Central Catholic football game.
When patrolman Justin Scalzo arrived, he "found Sarniak uncooperative, smelling of alcohol, glass in his hair and a damaged windshield," according to Peck.
Sarniak was taken to Mercy Jeannette Hospital for treatment of a head injury but refused to allow medical personnel to draw his blood to determine his alcohol level. In Pennsylvania, a reading of .08 meets the legal presumption of intoxication. Refusal to submit to a blood test or Breathalyzer carries an automatic one-year license suspension, Peck said.
After the incident, Peck said Sarniak contacted another Jeannette patrolman, Keith Rosky, and told Rosky he had only two drinks that night and was not drunk. Peck said Sarniak did not ask Rosky for any favors, but Rosky mentioned the conversation to Scalzo and asked him not to charge Sarniak with drunken driving.
He is very generous to people in the community, and likes football:
Sarniak regularly has given gifts to city police officers, Peck said. Rosky and other officers have received Steeler football tickets from Sarniak.
"Although there was no direct link between the gift of the tickets and the intervention of Officer Rosky in the incident, one would be naive to believe that such gifts were not helpful in Mr. Sarniak receiving a willing ear from Officer Rosky," Peck said.
A smooth mover, Ted Sarniak is probably the richest man in Jeanette, Pennsylvania.
Why is he meeting with Ohio State coaches?
"It's crazy and it's going to get worse as it gets closer," Reitz said. "It's like playing poker: Everybody wants to have the last trump card."
Last week, OSU's coaches made an appearance and had a Thursday night dinner with someone close to Pryor believed to be Ted Sarniak, a Jeannette businessman. The following day, the 6-6, 225-pound Pryor headed to Ann Arbor for his second official visit.
And why has that Scout article, emailed to me by four different people in the span of ten minutes last night, been changed to read like this?
Last week, OSU's coaches made an appearance and the following day, the 6-6, 225-pound Pryor headed to Ann Arbor for his second official visit.
Scratch a message board remotely connected with recruiting and you will encounter a vast network of rumors about Sarniak, Pryor, and Ohio State: Pryor has a new Corvette and worked at Sarniak's factory this summer. Sarniak has a business in Dublin, Ohio, that's doing quite well. OSU coaches and Sarniak had dinner before Pryor's trip to Michigan. None can be proven, and all seem like sour grapes from schools not likely to end up with Pryor on their team.
But... yeah, Maurice Clarett was driving around an SUV he didn't own and Troy Smith was suspended for taking money from a booster and Jim O'Brien bought a bunch of Yugoslavians or something. Ohio State fans are an enthusiastic bunch, aren't they?
Just a quick point/question about Shafer's "success" against the run: do we know if Shafer's defenses are actually successful in stopping the run, or are the numbers against the run artificially inflated as a result of how well his teams do in sacks (because sacks count as negative rushing yards)?For example, in 2007, Stanford was 77th in run defense, and 11th in sacks. That seems to indicate that his run defense was really, really crappy, but would up with a not-that-crappy 77th because they did so well in sacks.Any thoughts?- Scott
That had not occurred to us, dude. Scott's got a good point here: Shafer's aforementioned predilection for blitzing then, now, and in the future has led to a lot of sacks, some wildly variable pass efficiency metrics, and probably-overrated run defenses.
How big of an effect can this be? Let's take the most extreme example, Shafer's 2006 Western Michigan defense. That year the Broncos finished #1 in sacks and #6 in rush defense. How much of an impact did the sacks have? Quite a bit. WMU yielded 1316 rushing yards that year, but the NCAA only records 989 in its official record books because of WMU's 46 sacks.
Strip the sack yardage out and WMU falls all the way to... 18th. Which isn't actually that far to fall, and we've let everyone else keep their sack yardage. (This was also a fun exercise for Michigan fans in the midst of 2006: strip all Michigan's sack yardage and yup, they're still the best rush D in the country by a mile.) If we give WMU that year's NCAA average for sack yardage, they shoot right back up to #6 in the country, although #7 Florida gets a lot closer. WMU's in a unique spot here where they're 100-some yards in front of their nearest competitor; in a normal year they'd get knocked back a few slots.
Yes, Shafer's sack happy ways do have a distorting effect on the rush D, but it appears to be a marginal one. Unfortunately, since the NCAA only has sack data for the last three years we don't have enough data to perform a conclusive study.
More on Shafer from a guy who's watched him for a year:
My name's Daniel Novinson, I'm a longtime reader, first-time caller. I'm a lifelong Michigan resident (Farmington Hills) and fan, but right now am out in California finishing my senior year at Stanford. They've let me serve as the lead football and basketball beat writer at the Stanford Daily for three years now, so I figured I'd be in as good a position as anyone to comment a little bit on Shafer.
I think the best thing about Shafer is that he shuttles plays to his best players. Stanford had one safety (Bo McNally) and one linebacker (Clinton Snyder) who were light years better than any of our other defenders, and actually were decent in absolute terms (they're marginal All Pac-10-level guys) and Shafer exploited the hell out of it. Schematically, I don't know how in the world he did it, but they were always the ones sent on blitzes, they were always in the position to make the key open-field tackles or picks, and our Todd Howard-equivalents always seemed to be safely hidden 40 yards off-ball. That's a big part of how we forced four USC interceptions and held them to a season-low 23, or held Cal to 13 in our upset. (That, and luck. A lot of luck.)
I talked to one of our defensive players tonight. He was visibly bummed and said Shafer was a good X and Os guy who knew his stuff and got his guys to play hard. He also said the players found out the same way we did â€“ reading it online this morning, before a hastily-called team meeting confirmed the news this afternoon. That leads me to speculate that Shafer must have moved pretty quickly after Rodriguez called â€“ think he's pretty excited to be in Ann Arbor?
I want to challenge two of your interpretations of Stanford's defensive statistics under Shafer. First, you kind of shrugged your shoulders and said "Meh, the numbers were only slightly up this year from last," which I think sells Shafer vastly short. We lost our best two or three players from the 2006-07 defense (including a third-round draft pick, which don't grow on trees out here) and were starting seven, let me repeat, seven underclassmen on defense this year, so for the numbers to improve slightly is incredible. Also, the offense has been consistently awful, especially in the running game, for the entirety of my four years here, so the defense is on the field longer than almost any other, which also depresses the defensive numbers.
Second, you mention, rightfully, that he blitzed a lot at Stanford, but that's partially out of necessity: he knew that our secondary is awful and was going to get torched if the opposing quarterback had time, no matter how many guys were back there. At Michigan, we should have the players, so while he'll still bring it more than the old staff, I wouldn't assume it will be every single down.
We went from the worst combination of basketball and football coaches, given our prestige as a program, to one of the best in the country. But still, let's face it, we're going to take a major step back next year. We lose, I believe, the school's all-time leading passer, all-time leading (and, in my opinion, best-ever) rusher, best-ever lineman, at the most important position no less, our top two receivers and the returning defensive talent is not where it used to be a few years ago (though count me a huge Warren fan.)
Beilein's been a great coach his whole life and didn't suddenly forget everything once he got here, yet we're losing to Harvard and Central Michigan. So I'm expecting the same thing with Rodriguez, especially if a big change is strength and conditioning. That especially is going to take time to reap dividends, and in the short term, switching training regimens probably sets us back. And, despite all the hubbabulu over a guy who runs on opponents helmets (McGuffie) and a guy we might not even get (Pryor), this recruiting class is nothing special.
The positive notes on Shafer are accepted for the record.
Some responses to the "Debbie Downer" portion of the post, as Daniel referred to it: there is a comparison to be made between the basketball and football programs but I think that's going a bit too far. The basketball team currently has two upperclassmen; said upperclassmen are role players if you're being kind. The rest of the roster is a mishmash of questionable recruits and like two guys anyone had any expectations for. The football team's talent level is nowhere near as depressed as the basketball team's, and comparing Carr to Amaker... well... no. The football team is not coming from the very depths of incompetence and does not have to learn everything from scratch.
First let me say you have a really good and informative blog about UM. I started reading it when I thought you guys were going to take our coach. My email is to give you maybe a little different perspective on your new coach. I work in
I always liked Tulane and was shocked the Rich wasn't hired when Tommy Bowden left. He was on the search committee for a new coach, so I asked him why they didn't hire Rich? His response was that Rich was an excellent football coach, but every once in a while, just did someone stupid and illogical. There were some others small things, but basically they just didn't feel comfortable about the guy. My boss still follows Rich (they are friends) and when this happened, his first response was, "he's not a
Michigan football, as you know, is what most programs strive to be. You run a good clean program with an exc
ellent reputation and win lots of football games. Lloyd Carr was a very good coach and probably knew it was time for him to leave. I may be wrong, but unless winning is everything, you guys may have happened on the wrong coach. I truly hope not.
Also, I bet you guys wanted the football program going in a different direction, you didn't expect all this hullabaloo. [It's the "multivariate spellings of hullabaloo" mailbag -ed]
Good luck and I hope it all gets down to football soon.
FWIW. The "occasionally does something stupid and illogical" thing would be a character flaw that fits in with a couple of the minor faux pas Rodriguez has committed.
Surely the NCAA can't continue to keep National Signing Day in early
February. Ever since (ironically) Tommy Bowden left Tulane before its
bowl game in 1999, we've had to deal with a string of high-profile
coaches leave one school for another, angering fans of said programs and
further reducing bowl games to consolation contests. Teams who do not
make bowl games and fire their coach or, like in Michigan's case, have
retiring coaches on the way out, do not have anybody to look after but
themselves as soon as the regular season is over. Once the bowls were
reserved as rewards for a good season; now they are extra days of
practice so a team can build toward next year.
Why should Michigan, Houston or SMU worry about other programs when they
have themselves to look after, when next year is the most important?
Michigan nabbed Rodriguez from West Virginia, who was in preparations for
a BCS bowl - this didn't matter to Michigan, because it had recruits to
get for 2008. Quiet, dead period or not, there's recruiting to be done,
and nobody wants to lose a step. This trend has gotten worse and worse
over the last few years and will continue to get worse unless the NCAA
moves Signing Day back until at least March or April. That way, bowl
games will be played without interim coaches and the tension between
schools, such as U-M and WVU, will be considerably less because they
wouldn't need to keep looking over their shoulders and worry about their
coach leaving during the season. There's such a long 'offseason' in
college football. Why cram everything into December?
That's an interesting idea, but I'm not sure it would actually work. Schools would still fire coaches in the interim between the regular season's end and the bowl game, and would still frantically search for their saviors in the meantime. Perhaps a recruiting day three months from signing day is less valuable than a recruiting day one month from signing day, but it's still valuable and sitting around without a head coach is still throwing those days away.
Rodriguez from a WVU perspective:
It's odd that I care so much about West Virginia sports: essentially, I'm rooting for (a) 100 college kids I'll never meet and (b)blue and gold laundry. But I grew up in the Mountain State, and WVU football is the easiest way to start off a conversation with half of the people most dear to me, so care I do.
I was bummed about Rodriguez's relocation to A2--for about a week. After that, I had holidays to navigate, a bowl trip to drink through, and work to get back to.You and Mandel have pretty much correctly estimated the "jihad" perpetuated by the jilted WVU folks; I only harbor two Rod-related grudges:
- He took the U-M job, notified the WVU team, and resigned (kind of a bush move to do it through a GA, but I don't think I would seek out the partner I hate the most upon quitting my firm, so whatever) on 12/16. The next morning he was introduced in the Junge Center as the new U-M coach. Cool; it's just that he resigned effective 1/3/08. It took two more days for him to amend his resignation to become effective at 12:00:01 AM 12/19. Perhaps he had no intention for the post-Fiesta Bowl resignation date to handcuff the WVU team or program, but the seeming motive is that Rodriguez wished to be asked to leave WVU before actually resigning, so that WVU could get on with the bowl preparation and overt search for a successor, and so that Rodriguez would have a little extra ammo for the buyout contest. Thank goodness he had a change of heart (or was coaxed by someone at U-M...or something) and just got out of the way, but to start out with the 1/3/08 resignation date was something south of honorable.
- He left right after the stomach-punch Pitt game means the era during which WVU football reached its zenith--forget that Beilein's boys concurrently produced the best WVU basketball run since Jerry West--is punctuated by a mustard-colored, catastrophic loss. It's a bitch that we remember and place so much stock in the beginnings and ends of things; I hate remembering the Rod era by the Pitt game instead of by the teary-eyed phone call with my dad after the Sugar Bowl.With that said, the WVU AD should just try to recover as much of the buyout as possible and move on. I harbor only a sliver of resentment toward Michigan, but I'm just rooting for Pryor to go to the University of AnywherebutMichigan; I figure that's a fair thing to root for.Your blog is fantastic; I wish I had become interested under different circumstances.Josh Ellison
Josh has a point here with the resignation date. Though this space defends him regularly, he's not totally clean in this ugly divorce. Calling Pryor was a little iffy, and the resignation date thing was also a bit disingenuous. Michigan did not hire a perfect angel. They hired a kick-ass football coach who happens to be holding a major grudge against the West Virginia athletic department.
As far as the Pitt thing... sure. The 'Bama flirtation, the Pitt loss, and the Beilein hiring set the table for an unprecedented wave of anger from West Virginia. Youtube is full of seriously pissed off now 'Eers burning things, asserting that Rodriguez is a pedophile, and the like. This says more about West Virginia than it does Rodriguez.