this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
It is for quiz. Clay Travis throws down the gauntlet to blog-bashers in his latest CBS Sportsline piece:
Five bloggers that have agreed to participate will take on a team of five of the most talented, educated and intelligent mainstream sportswriters that are willing to compete against them. Hopefully the roster will feature at least a few of the recent blogger insulters (Bob Costas, Buzz Bissinger, Rick Reilly, Michael Wilbon) you name the mainstream media members who are willing and there's a blogging team ready to play them for charity.
And, as a bonus, we'll let the captain of the mainstream media team select a charity they would like to raise money for. So, for example, if he's willing to participate, we would be happy to send all the proceeds to fund more of Reilly's mosquito nets in Africa. In fact it would be ideal if Reilly, given his frequent and vituperative criticism of sports bloggers and his new boffo column deal, was willing to put together his own team. Even if Reilly's not a member of the mainstream media we'll be willing to let him join.
There's more, including a brief section on yrs truly, one of the distinguished panelists. If anyone who's taken a shot at blogs is reading this, 1) your father was a hamster and your mother smells of elderberries and 2) seriously, step up to the plate. Money goes to a good cause and I can't answer any questions except those about my mother's basement. (Example Q: who did you cut open during the Great Lego Battle of Thanksgiving 2005? A: Tom.) You will wipe the floor with us. I can barely spell.
O ZOMBIE RLY? Penn State fans are super-excited that they've raided Maryland something wicked in this recruiting cycle, but, uh...
|Eric Shrive||OL||6-7||285||5.1||6.0||Scranton, PA|
|Darrell Givens||DB||6-0||170||4.46||5.8||Indian Head, MD|
|Sean Stanley||DE||6-2||250||4.7||5.8||Gaithersburg, MD|
|Brandon Felder||WR||6-2||167||4.43||5.7||Oxon Hill, MD|
|Ty Howle||OL||6-2||290||-||5.7||Bunn, NC|
|Derrick Thomas||DB||6-0||176||4.49||5.7||Greenbelt, MD|
|Mark Arcidiacono||OL||6-4||289||-||5.5||Philadelphia, PA|
|Stephon Morris||DB||5-8||172||4.48||5.5||Greenbelt, MD|
|Stephen Obeng-Agyapong||DB||5-10||174||4.5||5.5||Bronx, NY|
|Malcolm Willis||DB||5-11||201||4.64||5.5||Indian Head, MD|
|Curtis Drake||QB||6-0||175||4.49||-||Philadelphia, PA|
|Frank Figueroa||OL||6-4||282||5.2||-||Alexandria, VA|
...is this recruiting to be excited about? Dominating Maryland football recruiting is like doing a killer job finding hockey players in Ohio.
Shrive's their only top 100 recruit and of their 12 commits only three have four stars. This looks exactly like 2008, when they had one non-linebacker pick up four stars, or 2005, when the Justin King-Derrick Williams duo overshadowed a class long on signees (19) but short on talent (only four of them got more than three stars. Penn State has gone back to its recruiting style from the early portion of the decade, when they would lock up a host of marginal prospects -- "QB" recruit Curtis Drake's only other offer was from Northwestern -- early.
You can get away with that stuff here and there when you uncover a diamond in the rough -- talented if somewhat asshatted DT Chris Baker was a two-star, Braylon Edwards, all those anonymous guys from Ohio State's secondary -- but in general you either recruit like a national contender or you don't, and Penn State isn't.
If you believe recruiting rankings matter (and you should), Penn State's lining itself up for more of the same. This is a complete list of offensive skill position players with more than three stars acquired since 2006:
Chris Bell(off the team after machete incident)
- Pat Devlin
- Andrew Quarless (hanging by a thread, their Carson Butler)
- Brent Carter
- Brandon Beachum
Michael Shaw(snake oil enthusiast)
That's one QB, one TE, and two RBs in three and a half classes; Michigan has locked down that many four star skill position recruits in the 2009 class. I think I might harp on this a bit more than I should, but this article in the Inquirer set me off. It unrealistically portrays everything as hunky-dory in Penn State land, when I, and most other Michigan fans, would be freaking out given the last four years of results on the field and in the star realm. Hell, I'm still a little freaked out about this year's class, and it features seven four-stars amongst nine recruits so far.
Ohio State? Killing it. They are not going away, not like you expected them to.
Assistant to the. Fluff on Mike Debord has this paragraph embedded:
DeBord was a candidate to replace Lloyd Carr as the head coach at the University of Michigan, and when that did not pan out, he opted to take a job as assistant offensive line coach for the Seattle Seahawks.
I was also a candidate to replace Lloyd Carr but opted to not wear pants.
I drive a Benzing. Spectacularly named new MLive author "Philip Zaroo" provides a post detailing John Beilein's latest appearance on WTKA:
"Robin would only be an emergency center/big man type of kid," Beilein said. "He's a straight-out forward. He could play either the three or the four at 6-10 1/2.
The comparison always made is Dirk Nowitski, so expect him to hang out on the perimeter a bunch. Most expect Benzing will have to sit out 2008 after playing on a professional team (but not getting paid) in Germany.
Dude. Sporting News is re
launching, and amongst their new contributors:
Lloyd Carr and the Legends Football Coaching Association
See a different game with Michigan's Lloyd Carr, UCLA's Terry Donahue, Alabama's Gene Stallings and dozens of famous college football contributors.
Hopefully he writes a media-crit column.
Etc: UMTailgate takes a look back at Moellergate; Tim from VB 1) fell four stories, 2) isn't dead, 3) has a broken spine. But he's answering mailbag questions. Hardcore. (FYI: this QB we've offered is 2010.) Michigan has not one top 25 vote across ten preseason polls.
West F-ing Virginia fans turn out to be as socially maladjusted as Arkansas fans, but in doing so they provide some useful information for Michigan fans wondering about the composition of the new staff.
This purports to be a picture of Rodriguez, his wife and family, and a couple assistants boarding a plane for Ann Arbor (or Toledo or wherever). Obviously you can't make anything out in this picture and it could be of anyone anywhere, but this one definitely features Rodriguez's wife. These guys were at the airport as Rodriguez "snuck out of town" like "a snake in the night" by taking a plane. It must have been an invisible cobra plane.
Anyway, the two assistants (drumroll)... defensive backs coach/recruiting coordinator Tony Gibson and offensive coordinator Calvin Magee (bios), which implies those two guys will be following RichRod to Ann Arbor. Which would mean that our current staffers in those positions will not be retained. Which is, depending on the position we are talking about, either mostly indifferent or totally awesome.
Bonus! I kind of hate quoting Anchorman -- played -- but there is only one possible response to these guys, who actually yelled stuff at Rodriguez as he left:
We did the O-H-I-O chant.
Asked him how it felt to betray the state. Told him he might have been born here, but he's not a Mountaineer.
Asked him how he would manage to be successful if he can't continue to live off of White's juke moves.
Told him he was outcoached by Wanstedt, the worst coach in football history.
More "living off of juke moves" comments.
Stuff like that.
ps. It will all be in the Dominion Post tomorrow.
And that is, of course, "you stay classy, Morgantown." Even more hilarious is the guy's signature picture, no doubt chosen to express a preference for a new coach:
|Head Coach, Ball State|
|DL coach @ Michigan||1995-2002|
|DL coach @ Oregon State||1989-1994|
|LB Coach @ Toledo||1987-1988|
|DL Coach @ WMU||1984-1986|
|Four-year letterman and captain at Ball State as a defensive lineman.|
For those of you who are not Jason Whitlock and thus know nothing about the Ball State football program, like all red-blooded Americans should, Brady Hoke is its head coach. In five years on the job, Hoke is 22-36 and has one winning season, this year's 7-5 campaign that will end when Rutgers houses the Cardinals in the International Bowl. Hoke's main accomplishments to date are
- being the first coach to torch Johnny Sears and one of dozens to hang close with Michigan despite a massive talent deficit,
- nearly beating the worst Nebraska team ever, and
- being good friends with Lloyd Carr.
There isn't a power program in the country that could make Brady Hoke's candidacy for their head coaching job seem like anything other than a PR move designed to help a friend of the program... but remember the boats. The goddamn boats. Anything is possible.
Ball State's Stassen numbers for the decade preceding Hoke's arrival:
|68||San Diego State||0.45690|
Hoke's winning percentage? 38%. And he did not take over a program in disarray. Ball State had disastrous years in 1998 and 1999, going a combined 1-21, but recovered from the tailspin to go 16-18 the three years before Hoke arrived.
Hoke promptly put up records of 4-8, 2-9, 4-7, and 5-7 before his "breakthrough" 2007, when he finally got the program back to the level it was at when he arrived. Historically, Ball State has been one of the better programs in the MAC, their overall record above distorted by those two bombs; other than that the last time they won fewer than five games was 1987. The evidence suggests Hoke is outclassed in the MAC.
So let's make him Michigan's head coach!
Xs and Os Proficiency: Hoke has never been a coordinator on any level.
Recruiting: A N/A. It's Ball State.
Potential Catches: Potential "catches"? The whole damn thing is one big catch! Even in the realm of people who Michigan would approach after getting turned down by everyone -- EVERYONE -- there are vastly preferable candidates: Ron English. Mike Trgovic. Glen Mason. Jon Chait. Me. The Golden Retriever from "Air Bud: Golden Receiver." Mussolini, who is dead. Dick Vitale. Sigourney Weaver. Richard Nixon's penis. Sigourney Weaver's penis. All of these people and organs don't have a track record that suggests they are a below average MAC coach. It is in this way they are superior to Brady Hoke.
Relative Compensation: Hoke makes 170k per year, the third lowest in D-I. We'll probably offer him $120k.
Would He Take The Job? Yes.
Overall Attractiveness: Awful. Awful, awful, awful. The worst possible candidate. The mere idea this guy -- who's never even been a coordinator anywhere and has his MAC team performing at a level well below the program's historical baseline -- could get the job is infuriating. Only at Michigan could this happen, and if it does I guarantee you that Bo is going to haunt the mofo that signs the contract.
Better that Debord? No. Absolutely not better than Debord. The functional equivalent of Debord and a guy who would either keep Captain Failure or bring in Stan Parrish. If Hoke is hired there will be a riot, and with good reason.
Wait. Michigan's official contact with Miles will wait until after the SEC championship game:
"Bill Martin called (LSU AD Skip Bertman) today and asked permission to talk to Coach Miles," Vincent said. "Bertman asked that (the Wolverines) wait until after the SEC championship game. They agreed to that."
That might make a lot of people's hypothetical Monday-Tuesday timeline difficult, if it meant anything. It likely does not. Bertman has a realistic perspective on the situation:
"I don't think anyone would try to speak to Les before the SEC title game, but that doesn't mean they couldn't speak to his agent (George Bass) before the game or at any time," Bertman said by telephone from his home. "There's no reason Bill or anyone else can't use headhunters to speak to Les' agent, but I would not assume that Bill would speak to Les himself without our permission. That doesn't mean he can't speak to other people."
Realistically, at this point Michigan could have hammered out every last detail through intermediaries and this would be a formality. I believe this is the case, as taking the formal step of asking for permission to contact is a public event that can create a PR backlash if the coach in question turns it down.
Bertman's sticking with his promise to let Miles coach LSU in its bowl game, by the way.
Where's the talent? Blue takes on the "Miles is winning with Saban's recruits" argument effectively. Killer graph:
There are some holes in the methodology here, IMO. Recruiting ratings are fallible for a lot of reasons. From a high level perspective each recruit can be viewed as a weighted lottery ticket.
You cash in the best ticket and start him; the others languish. If there's a three star in the starting lineup for LSU he may have beaten out really highly rated guys and is likely to have high value. A three star who starts for Michigan State is probably beating out Jon "Samurai" Misch and is probably not very good at all. The entire roster should be considered.
Also, youth was not taken into account. Steve Schilling might be a five star but he's still a freshman.
Still, the Blue post rhetorically dissects the "it's Saban!" argument with considerable skill. It's worth checking out. My biggest problem with that particular meme is it ignores the Weis effect. Simply stated, the Weis effect: "If Charlie Weis was in charge of developing these players, would they be 'talented'?" Miles has been the head coach at LSU for three years now, which means that even if most of his starters are Saban's recruits, they're Miles' players. And many of them have developed into sure-thing NFL first-rounders despite being meh recruits: Ali Highsmith was a three star. Player development exists, and some coaches are better at it than others.
I mean, God, look at Ohio State's starting defense this year. Laurinaitis and Jenkins were three stars, both starting safeties two-star nobodies, the defensive tackles were pretty meh recruits IIRC, and Larry Grant was an unregarded JUCO transfer. Only the defensive ends and Marcus Freeman were real blue-chip recruits. Every year I write an Ohio State preview and Ohio State fans read it and say "that's pretty good, but you rely way too heavily on recruiting rankings"; this is because I try to use consistent heuristics across the entire conference, one of which is recruiting rankings, and no school in the country defies those as frequently and dramatically as Ohio State.
Great, it's noon and I need some whiskey. Thanks, Tressel.
And the winner in the rinky-dink bowl contest is... not the Outback, which took Wisconsin. Illinois is a lock for the Citrus unless they get drafted by a desperate BCS -- unlikely unless Hawaii coughs it up against Washington. Michigan is fighting with Penn State for either the Alamo Bowl or the "Champs Sports" Bowl, something never before considered by this blog and henceforth referred to as the "Citrus Junior" in a futile protest against title sponsors.
Which should you prefer? That depends. The Alamo usually features the #4 team in the Big 12 but this year the league will certainly get two BCS bids, leaving Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, and Kansas to other destinations. The leftovers: Texas Tech. Sweet Jesus. The Citrus Junior features the #4 ACC team, which will be Clemson or Virginia. Since my concern is just to win the damn game, I would prefer the Citrus Junior, especially if Virginia is the opponent. No offense to the Hoos, but if there's a team out there with a flattering record relative to its expected Pythagorean record, it's Virginia.
No, I can't let this go. DeBord:
"I don't think there's any doubt I learned a lot," DeBord said of the CMU experience. "In every position I've had, I learned a lot. ... We were able to take that program from day one and improve it all the way through to where now they're competing for championships. I feel good for all that."
CMU's record in four-year blocks from twenty years ago to today:
Mike Debord presided over the worst four-year stretch in Central Michigan's history at a program with a history of success in the MAC. He was placed in a position where success was eminently possible against a set of coaches that, while good, are not generally of the caliber found in BCS conferences. He failed totally. In no way can you describe his tenure at Central Michigan as anything other than a complete debacle; the culture Brian Kelly walked into was the one where six guys got in serious trouble for a murder charge and Kelly, in an attempt to defend his players, said something unwise about a "culture of violence" said players were raised in.
Right, this thing. NDNation swiped an enormous post from an Iowa board about the Michigan situation that many people have forwarded to me as something of interest. It is of interest, as I believe the story relayed in it is mostly accurate from what other people have told me: Ferentz was the strongly preferred choice of Carr once it became clear that the captain of SS Spectacular Failure was not a viable option and that the animosity between Carr and Miles was real and lingering.
After this is all done I'll put together what I think happened behind the scenes -- totally speculative, of course.