Brian,It's probably too early to have much of a take on 2009 recruiting at this point but MSU's two recent RB "commitments" got me to thinking... For as long as I can recall, UM has dominated in-state recruiting. In the past it hadn't been that big a deal because the state would produce about one bigtime recruit each year and maybe a couple other decent ones if we were lucky. Here's how I remember it off the top of my head (UM commits in bold, others in red):98 Drew Henson99 TJ Duckett00 Charles Rogers01 Ernest Shazor; other notable - Kelly Baraka02 Gabe Watson; other notable - Drew Stanton (was he in this class?)03 LaMarr Woodley; other notables - Doug Van Dyke (Purdue), Jake Long, Jim Presley04 Will Johnson; other (sort of) notables - Morgan Trent,
Roger Allison, Alex Mitchell [correction, Mitchell was the top prospect in the state. Allison was like 8 or 9. -ed]05 Kevin Grady; other notables - Terrance Taylor, Antonio Bass06 Brandon Graham07 Ronald Johnson (USC); other notables - Dionte Allen (FSU), Joseph Barksdale (LSU)08 Nick Perry (USC); other notables - Boubacar Cissoko, Dann O'Neill09 William Campbell...Basically, that's major pwnage from 98 until 06 (Duckett was an MSU legacy and Rogers was from Saginaw, and a shady prima donna). But in more recent years, as the State of Michigan has been producing more topflight talent, UM's grip on in-state recruiting has loosened. Normally this would only be mildly bothersome and written off as aberrational (such were my thoughts in 07 and w/re: Perry this year).But with the coaching/offensive philosophy change, I wonder what's going to happen as we move forward. Simply put, certain offensive players won't want to go to UM anymore -- e.g. dropback passers, certain WRs, and bigger RBs like Edwin Baker and Larry Caper in the 09 class. Maybe that's not such a big deal. A quick look back shows that the only guys UM would have missed out on over the last decade or so are Henson, Duckett, Grady, and Johnson, two of whom they lost anyway. And indeed, the biggest fish of 09 has already committed to UM (though he's a defensive player). But here's what I worry about:UM used to offer every in-state player who was any good, regardless of position. With the spread, however, more thought is put into personnel that "fits" the offense. That's fine, but it's my belief that such emphasis on fit will eventually hurt UM's place in the in-state recruiting. Obviously, MSU will never surpass UM in the long run but now there is much more opportunity for them to gain momentum in any one year.Look at this year -- they already have commitments from two of the (arguably) best players in the state. It doesn't matter that UM didn't really want those guys because it sets up the illusion that "something special" is happening at MSU. Such an attitude is completely unfounded but could spread to other recruits. Then, all of a sudden, guys who should be UM locks might [stupidly] start looking at MSU as a viable option. And if MSU is able to get something going, then what stops other (read: better) schools from getting in there too. Just look at what USC has done the last few years. Frankly, I am uncomfortable with other programs thinking they can come in and try to get recruits that in the past would have been Blue all the way. I prefer the old design, where MSU knew its place and was content with nothing better than UM's scraps; and where other schools knew not to bother because all of the bluechippers were pegged for UM.Anyway, that's a super long email. I'm actually not too panicked about any of this because it's probably not a huge deal. But I just wanted to see if someone else had an opinion on these concerns. What do you think?Best,Mark BilskiUM '01
Mark points out one of the hidden costs of moving to the spread offense: a partial withdrawal of the boot Michigan placed firmly upon State's neck after the Charles Rogers class. The instate dynamic now returns to something like the days when John L Smith was running his crazy, sometimes crazily effective, spread offense and Michigan was running the pro-style attack it adopted in the late 80s. Certain players who were Not A Fit for Michigan but pretty good prospects in their own right found an attractive instate option under the mad hatter. Similarly, State now has free reign to nail down Michigan's new Not A Fit prospects -- quarterbacks with a tendency to chew their cud, Caulcrick/Hunt style mashers, and uninterestingly slow tight ends -- without interference from big brother. Call this the "Better Fit Effect."
How big of an effect is it? Eh... the results of Michigan State's better-fit haul under JLS: QB Keith Nichol, a top 100 QB who liked the idea of being the next Stanton and committed to MSU his junior year. (JLS would be fired before Nichol signed his LOI; he decommitted and went to Oklahoma.) That's, like, a guy in four years. Off the top of my head I can't think of a single other player State picked up because of the divide in offensive philosophy. Heck, Antonio Bass was a top 50 recruit who wanted to play quarterback and he still chose Michigan.
Michigan State's already got at least one guy from the BFE this year: the instate QB named Maxwell, a true water buffalo sort. If Carr and Co. were still around Maxwell might be holding out for a camp offer or something; with Rodriguez he knows the chances of picking up an offer are none and none. Depending on what you believe about Larry Caper and Michigan's Jonas-Gray-like interest in him, he might be a second.
So at most it appears to be a couple kids here and there. Defenders and offensive linemen won't care. Fast little bastard wide receivers and dual-threat QBs will pick Michigan if Michigan is interested. Traditional wide receivers will probably be unaffected. Running backs will split based on perceived fit and opportunity. Michigan's ceded the lumbering sorts that make a power running game go. Okay.
The instate recruiting swing because of a better offense never materialized under JLS despite the same split between offensive philosophies, and it won't happen under Dantonio -- or if it does, it won't be because of the spread and shred.
There's another salutary factor here: the past three years have provided an unheard of bumper crop of recruits. Michigan has the two top-rated backs in-state (for the moment, at least) and Michigan doesn't even have to leave the State to find the guy who turned in the fastest 40 time at the Army All-American combine. That would be Will Campbell's Cass Tech teammate Teric Jones.
This is the third year in a row that Michigan will be pursuing a half-dozen plan A recruits within state borders. That's a remarkable turnaround from the 2006 class when Michigan had little interest
in anyone other than Brandon Graham until they turned up a few prospects at summer camp, or the 2005 class when Michigan swept the three top-100 guys and then grabbed Chris McLaurin and Carson Butler as late sleeper sorts, or 2004, when Michigan again swept the top three and then got picky because future immortals Carl Grimes, Dwayne Holmes, and Justin Hoskins were the next three kids in the rankings. In the past it was extremely important for Michigan to lock down the two or three real in-state blue chips; now they can miss a few and still find the 6 or so kids instate they usually do.
That's the long way of saying I'm not particularly concerned. State's exploited a one-time window provided by the staff switchover to good effect; now that a young, energetic, and exciting Michigan staff is building relationships in the state things should return to normal.
I know I wrote to you about our gymnastics team once before. At the risk of being terribly annoying, I have to try just one more time because I think this is worth mentioning. Our gymnasts continue on undefeated, even after facing the #1 team in the country last Saturday.
"The University of Georgia women's gymnastics team came into Michigan's Crisler Arena on Friday night as the three-time defending NCAA champion and the No. 1-ranked team in the GymInfo national poll. The Bulldogs went home with a 197.6-196.95 loss to the No. 4 Wolverines." mlive.com
I am a recent alumnus of the University of Michigan. I was raised in the Wolverine tradition of academic and athletic excellence. I have extreme pride in not only our football program, but in all Michigan sports. This gymnastics team is no exception. They are OUTSTANDING this season and have been outstanding for as long as I can remember. Since I am also a Pats fan, I'm a little wary of planning a parade while my team is 15-0, but isn't that an amazing accomplishment? I can only hope the best is yet to come at the Big Ten and NCAA Championships. Let's give these fine young ladies the recognition they deserve.
Indeed, it is. I linked the gymnastic team's accomplishments in the sidebar but they deserve a broader hearing. Heck, their fans are getting harassed for being too rowdy when they go on the road (for a given definition of "rowdy"); non-student basketball fans could learn a thing or two from them.
Their next home meet is at 6:00 next weekend, the 22nd. This is an unfortunate overlap with what will hopefully be the hockey team's shot at the CCHA playoff crown, but the Big Ten championships are the next weekend at 2. Bound to be less depressing than the basketball team.
This next one is a reference to the home video footage of the 1959 OSU game posted in this space a couple weeks ago. I wondered what the students were assembling with their placards; I got a pretty cool reminiscence of Michigan football of old:
The "Polarbear" 1959 Michigan-Ohio State footage brought back some pleasant memories. That game was during my junior year. I was in the student section on November 21st, 1959, hoping for but not really expecting a Michigan win. In those years Michigan had sunk to a second-tier B10 program. In the late 50s and early 60s, Wisconsin (B10 Champion in '59), Iowa (B10 co-Champion 1960), and Minnesota (NC 1960) were among the first-tier teams. In 1959 M finished 4-5, but the Buckeyes did even worse, at 3-5-1.
Anyway, a couple things still stand out about that game, which the Wolverines won 23-14. First, the limited substitution rule was in effect, which meant that many of the team members were two-way players. Michigan QB Stan Noskin played safety when M went on defense. During that '59 game Stan intercepted a pass in the end zone that was otherwise a sure Buckeye TD. It was a game-changing play: maybe not quite up to Charles Woodson standards, but it went a long way toward preserving the Michigan victory.
Second, before each game the stadium staff would set up wooden folding chairs along both sidelines. I don't remember who was supposed to sit in them, but there they were, neatly lined up on either side of the player's benches. At one point during that '59 game Woody, clad as always in his white short-sleeved shirt and his blue cap, became so frustrated with what was occurring on the field that he picked up one of those folding chairs and flung it about 15 yards down the eastern sideline, toward the north end zone. Fortunately no one was injured.
As far as what the card section was supposed to display in that film, I can't help much. I recall that the efforts to organize and to implement the card section were at best only partially successful. Few students were really interested in holding up cards during the game when they could be drinking and socializing. In 1959 the rules regarding what liquid refreshment one could bring into the stadium were lax to nonexistent. Beer-filled coolers were not uncommon; some students would even bring gin and vermouth into the stadium and enjoy a martini or two during the game. It was a different time.
There's also this:
The placards were done by the students in the Card Section. Ran from about the 20-30 yard line. If you were a Freshman ( as I was that year), it got you seats on the 20 as opposed to behind the goal post. You flashed cards during half time. I do not remember when they stopped but I was in it for 3 years. As I recall, we won that game in Bump Elliott's first year. It went down hill for the team after that until the 1964 team that went to the Rose Bowl and if not for a 1 point loss to Purdue ( Bob Griese), we would have won the National Championship.
The general conclusion is "who knows what's on the damn flashcards? Let's have a martini." Word.
Brian (or whoever reads this email),
My name is Josh and I was one of the OSU students up in section 47 and the one who actually started the chant. Indeed, we were chanting Tres-sel and had no idea that what we were saying would be misheard as ass-hole. Only later when an employee, not an usher, came running up the steps to our section did we realize what had happened. He asked us what we chanted because they all thought we were chanting ass-hole on the court. Frankly, we were shocked. We quickly apologized and said we chanting Tres-sel and made it clear that we would never chant ass-hole.
We can't speak for other Ohio State fans just as you can't speak for other Michigan fans, but I would like to assure you that we would never dishonor Mr. Rodriguez or any other staff/faculty/student with that type of a chant (though some of the commenters on the article would not be quick to believe).
I hope you can understand that we were only trying to rekindle the spirit of our Rivalry, the best in college sports, not to trash talk your new coach. We hope that Mr. Rodriguez can throw more fire into the Rivalry and make our future games more enjoyable for both sides. Trust me, while a victory over you guys in football is awesome, the dominance that Tressel has had these past couple of years has really taken the edge off the Rivalry. I think my favorite game, as a Senior at OSU, was the game two years ago in the Big House. Our Rivalry needs more games like that. I am sick and tired of hearing how the SEC has better rivalry games than we do, and we are glad at least you were able to take care of an SEC team in your postseason, while of late we have been less than stellar...but we are improving.
On a funny side note, we had ushers up in the section threatening to throw us out. Obviously we weren't and we weren't jeering them. But they did say that you guys don't do anything like that at our stadium, which we were quick to remind him that there are students/fans that do worse to us. But, we never swore at them or did anything to offend them except remind them of our rights to free speech.
To conclude, I hope that this email clears up the confusion of what happened at the game yesterday, and so you at least know that there are indeed classy Buckeye fans that do want our Rivalry to be the best it has ever been. Congratulations for winning yesterday and we look forward to seeing you guys in the Big Ten Tournament and at the Shoe next year. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to email me back. I've always believed that we can be rivals on the field but work together off the field to better one another.
Go Bucks........and *cringe* Go Blue
I've gotten a couple other emails to this effect, though none quite so restrained, and must conclude that they're telling the truth and that they weren't chanting "asshole," for what that's worth. It's still rude to scream throughout someone's speech and the idea that the rivalry needs to be "rekindled" a year after a #1-#2 game is pretty laughable. I wouldn't have attempted to compare Michigan fans' dastardly tendency to invade Columbus and get harassed and physically threatened with their actions, either. But FWIW.
On the topic of Vijay's nonbinding LOI idea:
I see one problem with the NBLOI idea you discussed - Roundtree would still be at Purdue. It sounds like he never would have left unless he had known Michigan was interested. He couldn't have learned that under an NBLOI, because Rod couldn't talk to him.
Maybe, maybe not. In our hypothetical world where the NBLOI is an option, it's just an option. Roundtree might have "committed" to Purdue without signing the NBLOI. And even if he had, Michigan could communicate their interest through Roundtree's coach, and at that point Roundtree could ask for the NBLOI to be rescindent. Joe Tiller would then get to offer that Ball State kid.
If that sounds like it kind of defeats the purpose of the NBLOI... well, sort of. There still couldn't be direct contact if the player had signed and the kid couldn't go on a campus visit. Someone like Michael Shaw would either have not signed in the first place or signed, then repealed his NBLOI; either would be a clear signal to Penn State that Shaw's "commitment" was not particularly strong. Despite the tussle with BSD after Signing Day, I do sympathize Penn State and Purdue's positions here, especially Purdue's. (Penn State should have seen the Shaw thing coming, and indeed most PSU fans were fretting about a potential defection for a couple weeks before it actually happened; the Roundtree thing was much more sudden.) The NBLOI and the mechanisms would put some actual teeth behind the idea of a "commitment," would save coaches and players time, annoyance, and effort, and would create even more jobs in the ever-expanding NCAA bureaucracy. Everyone wins.
Hearing rumors about a damaging article that he [Carty and the AANews] is about to publish about athletic department violations...any comments on this?
I haven't heard anything specific that hasn't been batted around on message boards, but there's enough independent smoke out there that, yes, there's something nasty coming down the pipe from the Ann Arbor News. There appear to be two camps of panickers:
- Aieeee! Florida State!
- This is going to be embarrassing, but that's all.
I don't know which side to believe but lean towards the latter out of simple disbelief that anyone in the Michigan program would have the sort of underhanded dealings that the FSU people did.
If I had to guess, I would say that the big reveal is going to be something like the recent USC and Auburn quasi-scandals where kids finagled their way into easy classes and/or abused "independent study" with cooperative professors without the cooperation of the athletic department. In the Auburn case they had someone rat out a professor whose independent "study" classes were wholly fictional; here I've heard different versions of the severity involved. One skeptical take from a message board I frequent that jives with other things I've heard:
The gist of it is that Carty's jihad against the general studies program has led nowhere. It's a real program with lots of non-athletes (as well as athletes) in it. But lots and lots of FOIA requests led to something that is somewhat troubling (although not out of compliance).
It turns out that a bunch of athletes have enrolled in independent study courses over the summer. These are legitimate courses, but arranged one-on-one with faculty members. Turns out there were a bunch of them in Psychology and the Ed School over the past few years, many supervised by just a few faculty.
It appears that the work was actually done, and non-athletes did similar work. But it's not too difficult to portray this as a scandal, which it appears that Mr. Disingenuous is trying very hard to do. Not making a lot of progress, but this will be the basis of his bid for immortality and a ticket to a real newspaper.
Remember, there do not appear to be violations here. It's not an Auburn situation where kids got grades for no work.
If all they've got is "isn't it suspicious, hmmmmmmmm" but the kids have actually done the work required of them this will be a big dud, albeit an irritating one that will work its way into the "scUM" lore of PSU, MSU, OSU, and ND message boards.
There is the separate question "should athletes be taking independent study classes en masse," the answer to which is definitely "no." But that's life when you have players spending something like 40 hours a week year-round on their chosen sport.
This is the first year I've really followed recruiting much, so maybe this is an old issue. But, what is the deal with Charlie Batch serving as a "recruiting mentor" to Pryor? Granted, it seems like a great idea - had anyone beyond a few local DIIIs had any interest in me in high school, I'll bet such a mentor would have been a godsend. That said, is it legal? Is he a sort of "agent"? I'd be suspicious if I were the NCAA, unless of course this was something approved fifteen years ago that I've never heard of.
Batch's involvement with Pryor is totally on the up-and-up. This comes up in hockey all the time, as most of the top prospects have "family advisors" that are basically agents without the contracts. As long as the prospect doesn't sign with the agent in question (or take eligibility-crushing gifts/payments from him, cough cough Reggie Bush cough), the NCAA can't really do anything. Each recruit is allowed to bring one other person with him on an official visit and get that person's airfare/other stuff paid for; Batch is occupying that slot for Pryor.
Of course... the Batch thing is pretty weird in another way. Pryor has two parents, neither of whom he lives with, and the ol' live-in godparent. None of these people are going on Pryor's trips with him -- though now it seems that the only trip Pryor will go on with Batch is the M one, so "trips" is something of a misnomer.
Speaking of that Pryor guy...
Let me get this out of the way upfront - I am a die-hard OSU fan. Also, let me make it clear I am not writing to say 'ZOMG ED MARTIN.' In fact, for the purposes of this email, let's assume Pryor did take a Corvette/gifts/money from an OSU booster.
I am writing more about your presentation of the situation. You have sources, you stand by them, and are right more often than not. Thinking about the Lloyd Carr situation, you were famously referred to as 'not exactly a rock of journalistic credibility', when in fact, that's exactly what you were. You called it before anyone else that I know of. And wrote a long post about how you were right, and did the right thing. (It's not a rumor.)
My point is this; you of all people should know that blogs struggle to be taken seriously in this day and age as a real news source, yet people like us do use them as a source for news. When you write something like the Carr article, backed up with sources and stick to your guns, you give blogs credibility.
When you write something like the Pryor piece...you fall back into what the New York Times and every other major outlet sees when they see the word 'blog'. Innuendo about Pryor - which could be far more damaging to his career than your leaking Carr's retirement was to his - is out of line. Have sources (and for God's sake, not a Scout article). Back it up. Be the 'rock of journalistic credibilty' that you claim to want to be. OR be a blog like Perez Hilton.
But you can't have it both ways.
Thank you for a great site, and wherever pryor goes, I wish him the best. Especially when he's tooling around Columbus in a sweet '99 Corvette that I'm not sure he can even fit in. (kidding - I have no inside sources...)
Perez Hilton? Ouch.
Ben has some salient points, and many OSU fans have emailed to suggest that the infamous Sarniak meeting could have been to warn him off some potential eligibility-compromising behavior and not an opportunity to sit around twirling their mustaches and laugh evilly about their diabolical plot to abduct poor innocent Terrelle Pryor. There's nothing here approaching proof of anything except questionable choice in tuxedos.
Am I a bitter Michigan fan spinning fantasies about OSU to make myself feel better when Pryor commits to OSU? Well, yeah, sorta. Except for the "fantasies" part. OSU fans will no doubt disagree but from this perspective it looks like there are three iron-clad cases of Ohio State boosters flouting NCAA regulations in just the last few years. As any hacky features writer knows, three is a trend.
It's terribly frustrating to see that trend get established and for OSU to catch nothing from the NCAA, especially when Michigan's basketball program was pretty much obliterated for the same see-no-evil approach to people outside the program providing extra benefits.
As far as Pryor goes... well, there is a lot of evidently weird stuff going on. The quotes from his coach are unusual. Bringing Batch in is weird. His living situation is weird. His relationship with Sarniak is weird. Sarniak's brief cameo in that Scout article is weird. And the rumors flying around are crazy. It's worth commenting on, isn't it? I guess you can be upset that I'm implicating OSU in potential wrongdoing, but I hope I've made clear that it's only one guy's opinion and that guy has no pretense of being a neutral party. Thus the trim colors, you know.
One more extremely useful item:
Brian,The Corvette in the picture you posted is at best a 2004 model (C5). All of the 2005 and later models (C6) have a sleeker body design and standard headlights (the older models had the flip-up lights). So if I am TP, unless I am into "vintage" Corvettes from 2004, I would be offended by someone giving/loaning me a Corvette--as a bribe or not--that was not a current model or a classic from the 60's. FWIW, a used 2004 Corvette with a soft top (as it appears) would probably Blue Book for about $35,000, slightly less than $60,000 you'd have to drop for a brand new 2008 convertible.Regards,Erik
He's offended! He's coming to Michigan! Word.
Given that we have about 7-9 unused scholarships right now, what's your opinion on how to use them? Let's assume we only fill 3-4 of them with guys that Michigan normally recruits. Would you sign some lower level talent to fill the spots or save those spots for next year?
My guess is that if you can target a position of need (LB, OL, S) you take a flyer on some guys and see if Rodriguez and Barwis can turn them into something. How would YOU handle this recruiting class in the final two weeks? I'm particularly interested in QB. I REALLY hope we sign someone other than Pryor and don't bank our entire QB situation on Threat and the hope of Pryor. We should do whatever we can to lock up one of these two FL quarterbacks or get a JUCO or something. I'm worried that there isn't enough talk out there about us targeting other QB.
If the staff can find a guy who they believe has a chance to contribute, they should take him. Brandent Englemon was a two-star afterthought Michigan yoinked from Kentucky on signing day who turned into a solid player and multi-year starter. You don't bank scholarships just to bank them.
But does Rodriguez have guys in mind who would jump at the late offer? I don't know. He and the staff are beating the bushes for uncommitted guys who he thinks can help out, turning up two-star running backs from Mississippi and small-school quarterbacks in Florida. I expect we'll find a few more names emerge in this last week before signing day, but a 25-man class looks unlikely. That's fine. 23 or 24 and an open scholarship isn't going to kill Michigan.
One odd item: if the chances of getting to 25 are so remote, what is the deal with Michigan's lukewarm pursuit of commit Christian Wilson? Even if he's not an ideal fit with the spread he's a four star athlete who at least has a shot at being a Big Ten level performer. He has a better than zero percent chance of being a contributor; if he decommits Michigan is likely to replace him with nobody. Weird.
Re: QBs. As noted, Michigan is pursuing BJ Daniels and Justin Feagin from Florida and seems in good position for both. Both have a couple of meh schools as their other finalists a
nd then big flashing offers from a Michigan program with a gaping void at QB. There is no way one doesn't take a shot at it.
I don't know what will happen with Pryor, and neither do either of Michgian's QB targets, but the situation with both is this: Michigan can take silent commitments from them with the understanding they might choose to sign elsewhere should Pryor commit, and the silent commits can rest assured the likes of Memphis and Syracuse and USF and Rutgers are not going to turn them down for a lack of room on signing day. I kind of expect both to end up at Michigan if Pryor does not. The temptation of the job is just too great.
The last mailbag had a bit on Scott Shafer's run defense and the possible distorting effects of lots of sacks. A reader points out one stellar performance that can't be put on the pass rush:
Quick note from a WMU alum about the impact of sack yardage on Western's 06 rush defense. I think you are correct in noting that WMUs pass rush was a significant element in their final NCAA ranking. I would note that Western turned in a few games where you could infer that Shafer schemed well against the run. The best example being their win over Northern Illinois.Holding Garrett Wolfe to 25 yards on 18 carries isn't a small feat.
No, especially since that was the year he was a fringe Heisman candidate. Wolfe led the country with 1,928 rushing yards.
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.
I need some positive encouragement from the you about the football team in 2008. While I think Rodriguez is a GREAT coach and can do amazing things for Michigan, my concern with his hiring was always the transition. While I'm excited about the new era of Michigan football, I need someone to convince me that we're not going to go 6-6 next year. My big fear is a John Beilein-like transition period. Here's the parallel:
1. New coach comes in with a radically different philosophy
2. A large and talented senior class leaves the roster inexperienced (Hart, Henne, Long, Kraus, Crable, Adams, Englemon) vs. (Sims, Petway, Harris, Abram)
3. A collection of other experienced contributors leaves by choice or otherwise (Manningham, Arrington, Mallet....others?) vs. (Baker, Morris, Price, Smith)
4. The team is now composed of talented but inexperienced players who are not a great fit for the type of scheme the coach wants
5. The coach somewhat writes off the season while he pushes his system in place
Now, I certainly realize that the basketball team was not in great shape regardless of the transition and that losing 8 contributors from basketball is far more drastic than losing 10 from football. However, the similarities are starting to worry me. Everyone will now assume that we're getting Pryor - but what if we don't? Tell me why we can win 8 or 9 games....or can we?
-Adam R Cole
Uh, well... next year looks pretty rough to me and your basketball analogy is terrifying. I hate your analogy so much.
The upside: even with the departures of Manningham and Arrington, that's only eleven contributors departing. Michigan was pretty young this year and returns its entire defensive line plus its top three corners.
The downside: Freshman quarterback of some variety, entirely new offensive system, one returning WR with appreciable experience, and wholly new safeties. Ugly kicker: More attrition is on its way, as Rodriguez has repeatedly stated he expects to sign a full class of 25 players. Ugly kicker x2: road games against Penn State and Ohio State and, uh, I guess Notre Dame. Who will still probably be bad, but... yeah. So will we, in all likelihood.
I'm not expecting anything great.
so, we know that coach rodriguez (i cannot do coach rod sounds like a bad porn moniker) wants a full recruiting class of 25, but i am curious as to what you are hearing vis a vis antonio bass.
the kid will likely never play again, but he has worked his ass off (from the little i read) and stayed in school. is there any chance that the road to 25 recruits will come on the back of guys like bass?
i think coach is a good honorable man, and denying a 'ship to someone like that would have profound affects, not mainly upon his psyche, but his life options as right now the UM degree, along with his perseverance, are two things that can greatly aid his future. it would also seemingly send the wrong message to players. no?
thought you might look into/weigh in on this.
Players who cannot continue because of medical hardship can be removed from the team but keep their scholarship without occupying one of the 85 slots. When Zia Combs was forced to retire because of a neck injury, he remained on scholarship. If Bass does not return, and despite hopeful noises from his father whenever they ask him about it that seems exceedingly likely, he will still be able to get his degree.
brain, [WORD -ed]
i was reading "West Fin'Jihad: Day II" today and i finally reached the
doesn't it seem like WVU must have some good reasons to be *this* pissed at
RR? i mean, coaches leave schools all the time and very rarely is the venom
this poisonous...and in this case from the university itself, not just the
now, i know one might say, "yeah WVU has 4 million reasons to be mad at RR"
but this seems over the top.
put that together with the comments from the crazy NC State player who used
to go to WVU about RR.
point is, are you at all worried that RR might be, well, someone who we will
be cursing in 4 years with adjectives like dirty, selfish, slimy, etc.?
(Nick refers to this post from Scout's message boards by one Sean Berton, late of WVU and NC State.) I don't lend Berton's post much credence, since he transferred immediately upon Rodriguez's arrival and has no personal knowledge of the guy except a couple meetings, during which he found Rodriguez to be the worst person ever... possibly because Berton was not wanted by the new staff. Berton compares and contrasts Rodriguez to Nehlen, painting the latter a saint and the former a devil, without mentioning that Nehlen was and is one of Rodriguez's biggest supporters. Sour grapes from a guy in no position to make credible accusations.
As to your larger point: there is obviously extreme animosity between Rodriguez and the WVU athletic department that goes both ways. WVU is bitter, suing Rodriguez pre-emptively and releasing this likely-spurious shredding garbage. Today WVU papers are filled with the shocking revelation that Rodriguez called Michigan recruits after being announced as Michigan's head coach. Rodriguez has made some relatively mild public comments about being disappointed in the reaction of his home state and made a dark comment about stuff "coming out" that was tinged with bitterness; he's also either enlisted WVU booster Ken Kendrick to tell his side of the story or, at the very least, not politely asked him to shut up. His quotes in the Blade today are the topper.
This is an ugly public spat on both sides. He and Ed Pastilong hate each others' guts, and their uneasy truce finally blew up in the aftermath of the Pitt loss. That's the only way, IMO, that Rodriguez was ever going to leave WVU: if he found the working environment intolerable. Now each has found their nemesis in the other.
What does this say about Rodriguez? Well, not everyone gets along with him. He can probably be a bit of a dick from time to time. And Ed Pastilong is his antipode. It doesn't mean much else. For all the talk about Rodriguez's horrible ethics, WVU hasn't had a hint of scandal in his tenure there. His major sin appears to be making do with a cast of dodgy characters like Pacman Jones, et cetera, because of the limitations imposed on him by West Virginia's status as a state entirely devoid of football talent.
Though Jones and Chris Henry have proven themselves to be world-class jackasses, many other people in the WVU program have not. Pat White's a legendarily nice guy. Owen Schmitt is 250 pounds of awesome. WVU didn't score at all in the 2006 Fulmer Cup and had but 9 points in 2007, six less than Michigan. (I wonder if EDSBS ever anticipated the day when the Fulmer Cup would be used in a serious discussion of disciplinary issues. ) Nine points in the last two years is well within the bounds of reason.
Rich Rodriguez has a bad reputation, but for what?
One thing that might cause Michigan to regret the hiring of Rodriguez might be wild success followed by a big-bucks NFL departure. (I'll believe Michigan is not a terminal college job when I see it.) Personally, this would be okay with me since Rodriguez's name is built entirely around his NFL-unfriendly offense. Teams would be leery until he had a Spurrier-like run of ownage, and if Rodriguez does that... uh... okay.
Would such a departure be "selfish"? I guess in a technical sense, yes
. He would be doing something he wanted to do. But not really.
More in this vein:
For a guy who likes to come off like a real hard driving, critical blogger you either are displaying some incredible naivete or are just wearing maize-and-blue glasses regarding the destruction of records.
Rodriguez did do something in his office to some materials. Even the most venomous West Virginia, Rodriguez-hating fan can't make up all the details that have been provided.
At the very least what Rodriguez is accused of doing is petty and vindicative. Why in the world would he want to destroy player records? Was there something to hide? Or was he just pissed off at the nasty response to his leaving W. Va.?
At the very most Rodriguez performed a criminal act, ridding himself of personnel records, all of which are confidential and none of which he had a right to destroy. He works at a public university and I very seriously doubt that a UM coach, who if he/she had done the same thing would feel a nasty outcry.
I was a Rodriguez fan long before that eventful Friday afternoon when The Sporting News reported that Martin and Campbell were interviewing Rodriguez for the job.
His hiring sent me into an orgasmic ecstacy. I guess all orgasms are ecstatic.
This one was particularly powerful.
The fact is that at least some of the accusations will turn up to be true. Depending on how much is proven perhaps Fred Jackson will have "interim head coach" added to his resume.
Marvin and I are operating with different assumptions. His assumption is that there is enough smoke to assume Rodriguez did something wrong. My assumption is that Rodriguez has pissed off a group of people like no coach ever did before and they're out for blood. In clear terms: nothing the West Virginia athletic department claims can be trusted. Everyone from the governor on down is pissed and trying to nail Rodriguez on anything they possibly can. Witness the Rodriguez-phones-M-recruits thing from today.
If you're inclined to think Rodriguez is equally unreliable on this matter, fine. That leaves this situation at a he-said-they-said stalemate. Of the two scenarios -- Sacred Single Hard Copy and Insane Rednecks -- which seems more plausible? I know which one I've got.
I'm a Notre Dame fan, but my wife's family has a lot of Michigan grads. (We are both from Michigan.) I've drawn my 11-year old brother-in-law to give a Christmas gift to and I am thinking of buying him a DVD about Michigan football. I've seen one called Michigan Football Memories that looks pretty good. I was wondering if there are other DVDs you or other Michigan fans can recommend.
Thanks in advance for any help.
I'm useless here. Perhaps commenters can offer some suggestions?
Now on to the usual: soup recipes.
Pat Forde reported this morning on ESPN2's First Take show this morning that Michigan should "rebuild bridges" and pursue Jim Harbaugh. I have been rather surprised that there has not been more talk about Harbaugh being a candidate, despite the comments that he made about Michigan's admissions policy earlier this year. In my opinion, Harbaugh would be an outstanding hire, and he would bring passion, intensity, and offensive ingenuity back to Michigan football. Have you heard any whispering about Harbaugh's name being mentioned, and wouldn't both the "Miles" and "Anti-Miles" camps endorse his hire?
IMO, Jim Grobe would be a terrible hire and set UM's recruiting efforts back five years.
More on Grobe later. First: Harbaugh. There's no way. Even leaving aside the blowup this summer, his first year at Stanford he was 4-8. That's not terrible considering Stanford was historically awful a year ago, but it's not good either. Yes, they beat USC, but they also lost to Notre Dame. His youth, NFL and Michigan pedigree, and promising initial returns as a coach don't go far enough to offset his tendency to shove his foot in his mouth and lack of proven ability.
And then there's the fiasco -- we do have a lot of those, don't we -- this summer. If Miles has problems getting the job because he's done wrong by the program in the opinion of key decisionmakers because he privately told some recruits Carr would be retiring, how on Earth is a guy who publicly shamed the program going to work his way into the discussion? I mean, Miles is best-case scenario goes as far as potential hires and they managed to screw it up based on years-old animosity. Harbaugh's offense is much more recent, more public, and more flagrant, and he'd be a total flier of a pick. There's no way.
Meanwhile, many took issue with my dismissal of Grobe. Jeff Brock of State Fans Nation writes:
I wanted to respectfully submit that I think that you are way off in your judgement of Jim Grobe as a coach and wanted to encourage you to take a quick step back and maybe refresh your thoughts.
Remember...I am NOT a Wake Forest fan. I just represent a school with SIGNIFICANTLY more resources, more talent and more support than Wake Forest but who loses to this guy every year.
Grobe may not be flashy or have the pizzazz of some names (nor is he an attention whore)...but I promise you - as someone who has to compete against the guy - there are few football coaches in America better than this guy...and maybe even fewer with the integrity and standards of this guy.
You commented that he "Runs a crazy offensive system that may or may not translate to higher levels with (possibly) better talent. A huge, huge risk to anyone who has performance foremost on their mind. Obviously, this is not the case here."
I hold a different opinion that your conclusions in this statement are in stark contrast to the actual facts. I've got a few rebuttals if you would allow:
* Instead of running a 'crazy offense', Grobe runs an extremely effective and efficient offensive system that wins football games no matter whom the opponent. Isn't that they goal. I haven't seen much 'crazy' about it other than how he takes players that FSU, Clemson, VPI, UNC and NC State didn't want and then turns around and beats those very teams with lesser players.
* Additionally, don't confuse these 'lesser players' as an example of how he 'can't recruit'. The guy doesn't recruit top talent because he is at Wake Forest...not because he 'can't' recruit.
* Grobe won an ACC Championship at Wake Forest in a year that he beat Florida State 30-0 IN Tallahassee. I can't begin to explain how amazing that is. Wake has one of the five SMALLEST enrollments in division one football. They play in a glorified high school stadium with a fanbase that looks like they are preparing for a J Crew photo shoot. And, it isn't as though he took over something that was decent and made it better. The program he inherited from Jim Caldwell was on par with Duke it was so bad. Yet Grobe immediately became competitive and now is winning championships with some of the smallest resources in the country.
* "Translate to Higher Levels"? The ACC may not be the top football league in America the last two years...but it certainly is a 'higher level'. Over the last three years the ACC has put more players into the NFL than the Big Ten and two years ago the league set a college football record with more first round draft picks than any conference in football history. An ACC vs Big Ten comparison is irrelevant to the conversation. What is relevant is that you don't get much 'higher level' than a competitive landscape with the most NFL talent in America. Therefore, Grobe's performance ALREADY 'translates to a higher level'. You just need to acknowledge it.
* No offense...but you may be a tad biased as it relates to this 'higher level' thing. Friggin Duke hasn't won an ACC football game in 4 years yet beat the Big Ten's bowl-bound Northwestern AT Northwestern this year. The same FSU team whom Wake beat 30-0 last year played Florida a helluva lot closer than Ohio State did last year. Didn't that same OSU team beat Michigan in a game that was played at this so-called "higher level"?
I think that you get my points...and, I hope that the fact that I am not even a Wake fan exemplifies how respected that Grobe is for both his performance and his behavior.
I hope that you didn't read any of my comments as critical. I just had a few minutes this afternoon and thought that you may be interested in a different perspective.
Thank you very much for your time.
Responses point by point:
- Jeff's right that a "crazy offense" based entirely around misdirection is not a negative. This blog has complained about a lack of cleverness from the Michigan coaching staff for years.
But while Grobe does well with what he has his offenses have never been actually good. Total offense in the Grobe era: 98 (this year), 96 (2006), 68 (etc), 76, 76, 24, 51. Disturbingly, Grobe's offense seems stuck in a multi-year decline perhaps for the same reasons Michigan's zone running game imploded this year: once they've seen it it's just not that imposing. It would be nice if Grobe had one year in the past five in which his offense was even average despite the Wake talent gap.
Wake has to be the first 11-game winner to be actually outgained on average over the entire season (323-307). Duke drove 60-plus yards on its first possession and missed a field goal, then drove 60-plus yards on its last possession a
nd had the winning kick blocked. UConn dominated statistically, completely shut down Wake's offense (the Deacs had 209 total yards) but gave up two "cheap" touchdowns, on an 86-yard interception return and a one-play, six-yard drive after a last gasp fourth down attempt. The margin in the N.C. State win was a Wolfpack fumble that somehow rolled 20 yards into the end zone for a safety, but it also required each of three 50-plus-yard field goals by Sam Swank and a failed two-point conversion to tie in the dying minutes. North Carolina allowed a blocked punt in the first quarter and was looking for the tying touchdown at the Wake 12 with seconds remaining before being â€“ surprise! It was Joe Dailey â€“ intercepted.
When Wake's fortunes returned from the Robert Varkonyi stratosphere, so did their results. Credit is due Grobe for keeping Wake competitive, defying SMQB's grim "Wake is a textbook first-to-worst candidate" summation, but Wake 2006 was a very fortunate team in a very, very bad conference. As a testament to coaching skills go it's not a stirring one.
A common meme on Michigan message boards is that Grobe is the football equivalent of Beilein. Even if this didn't sell Beilein -- way more successful and consistent at West Virginia than Grobe has been at Wake -- short, Beilein is a good hire for a Michigan basketball program that hasn't been to the tournament in a decade. The Michigan football program is not the Michigan basketball program.
Grobe appears to be an excellent coach but, like Paul Johnson, a very poor fit for Michigan. He's an enormous risk; if Michigan is going to take an enormous risk it makes sense to do so with a guy who's young. Grobe either has five bad years or ten good ones. Someone like Kelly could have five bad years or twenty-five good ones.
A dissenting opinion from a Michigan fan:
MOTS: my objection remains the overrating of Grobe based on one year when Smiling Demon Deacon Loving God transported a team that was outgained on average in its conference games to the BCS. Many people will look at that and declare Wake "found a way to win" ex post facto; to me that's a ton of luck. 50-yard field goals and defensive touchdowns do not a program make except maybe Virginia Tech.
Grobe, IMO, is just as big a risk as any of the hot young guys out there but has a far smaller upside and would be a questionable hire at best.
Who would I hire?
1. If you were the Athletic Director the day Carr stepped down, how would you have proceeded, and who do you think you would have hired? Why?
2. If you took over as AD now (Petrino is at Arkansas, etc.), what do you do? Who would you pursue as you first, second, etc. choice? Again, why?
Just a thought.
Well, we don't really know what went on inside the AD. So we'll have to make some initial assumptions:
- There are two major factions inside the athletic department with goals as close to polar opposites as you can get. One wants change, the other hates it.
- The first group pushes Miles, the second group Ferentz and Hoke and Grobe.
- You are trying to make both sides happy.
Uh... does not compute. You cannot do both of these. Martin's first error: trying to do both of these. Okay, I'll talk to Miles indirectly but I'll make sure LSU gets the first a
nd so far only move. Okay, I'll call Miles with Mary Sue and talk but after being publicly shamed. Okay, we'll offer the job to him sorta but he has to keep some assistants and can't get enough money for others and he'll report to Carr. (Previous sentence speculative.) Meanwhile in between we'll dance the safety dance with Ferentz.
The way the search has been handled indicates Martin and I have very different ideas about what needs changing in the football program. Martin: the nameplate on the coaches' door. Me: nearly everything. So this is in no way feasible if I am playing Bill Martin. But if I'm playing me...
1. Put Carr on a boat to China. Have a nice vacation. See you in February. Carr is way too close to the situation and has too many animosities with key players to be a close advisor. He is also deeply invested in that perpetuating his culture thing; we want to change it and he'll be really annoying to be around.
2. Fire Mike Debord.
3. Re-hire Mike Debord.
4. Fire Mike Debord again. He symbolizes everything that's wrong with the program: cronyism, incompetence, entitlement, more incompetence, sloth, and guys who look like Gomer Pyle. This wouldn't do anything productive, but neither did hiring him after his CMU debacle.
5. Hire a search firm. It's mindboggling Michigan didn't do this. You haven't looked for a football coach in 40 years. It's time to bring in consultants.
6. Call Miles, Tedford, Schiano, Stoops, Meyer, Spurrier. Gauge interest. The latter three will laugh in your face and hang up, but whatever. Maybe Spurrier's having a pissy day.
7. If any of the above agree to come, give them total control of the program and get out of the way. I do not think Michigan offered Schiano or Miles this. A tipster indicates the offers had some riders: keep at least a few assistants, one of whom will act as a liaison (read: snitch) to Lloyd Carr, assistant AD in charge of football operations.
8. Oh, and if there isn't enough money to pay for coordinators... raise ticket prices two dollars and shower John Tenuta in golden honey.
9. Hire Brian Kelly otherwise.
As for what I'd do now: if Martin has been deposed by a pitchfork-toting mob presumably Michigan would have the flexibility to pursue Miles again. I would go for Tedford first -- I still think he's the best option -- and if that got shot down I would go hat in hand back to Les, making it very clear he can choose not to retain any and pay his coordinators whatever the hell he wants to. Assuming Les and Tedford are off the table... well. Damn. It's at this point your outside search firm comes in. Past those two guys the track records get thin and you're basing your decision on something other than onfield performance.
At this point you look for someone relatively young, like 40-something, and take a major risk. If Kelly's problems are minor he's the top candidate. (No, I do not care if the head coach is kind of a dick.) English would get a serious look with the proviso that a big-deal OC is brought in. Petersen from Boise State becomes viable, as do NFL coordinators du jour. At no time do the words "Brady Hoke" ever threaten to assemble.