"Jim's a tough guy and you can see his personality is all over this football team," Fitzgerald said.
That's what I'm saying. Pierre Woods' final season in a Michigan uniform remains a mystery to everyone, including his current coach. Asked about the difference between third-round pick Shawn Crable, now a Patriot, and undrafted Pierre Woods, Bill Belicheck seemed as befuddled as us:
BB: Woods was one of the top players in the country as a sophomore. He didn't play as a senior. You'd have to ask Michigan why they didn't play him, or maybe they thought they had better players. I don't know. That's a question they'd have to answer. Athletically, he was an astounding player as a sophomore. I think he got some... the same thing as a junior and then he didn't play much as a senior.
This is a semi-accurate recollection. Woods (68 tackles, 13 TFL, 7 sacks) was possibly the best player on Michigan's defense and an All Big Ten performer his sophomore year. But whatever off-field issues he had started then and his playing time was severely curtailed as a junior, only playing in nine games and seeing his stats dip to 22 tackles and 2 TFLs with no sacks. It was more of the same as a senior, only more maddening: just nine games played and 24 tackles but 9 TFLs and 2.5 sacks; when injuries to Woodley and Biggs left Michigan no other choice but to play Woods extensively against Iowa he had 4 tackles, 2 TFL, a sack, and a pass breakup along with a ton of other pressure. No reasonable observer could have thought Woods wasn't worth starting, if not on the defensive line -- where Pat Massey was busy moonwalking as Alan Branch played out of position at DE -- then at linebacker where Michigan's starters on the outside were the horrible sophomore versions of Chris Graham, Prescott Burgess, and Shawn Crable.
We don't know exactly what his problems were. Carr probably stretched his boundaries to the limit to keep him on the team and, in that, did him a big favor. But if he's on the team, and he's better than the other people who are on the team, what was the point of not starting him?
Belicheck went on to compare the situation to that of Tom Brady, but this is more of the same inaccurate legend-making that had him "not even a starter" in college. Brady had just under 80% of Michigan's passing attempts his senior year and while it's true Michigan played Henson from time to time, 30 of Henson's 90 attempts came in blowouts against Rice, Purdue, and Northwestern and another 28(!), oddly, came in a narrow road win over Syracuse in which Brady only had 10 attempts. I don't remember that at all; all I remember from that game was Michigan playing a frustrating, disjointed game and CBS providing the worst camerawork I've ever seen. Anyway, outside of that Syracuse game Henson had about 30 meaningful attempts. Which is kinda weird, sure.
!!!!! A lot of weird stuff went down at the draft this weekend. I'm not so arrogant to assume I know better than NFL people unless we're talking about Matt Ryan, but of the Michigan draftees only three didn't surprise me with their placement: Long, Henne, and Crable. I guess Manningham's slide is understandable with his status as this year's Wonderlic booby prize and obvious fondness for weed.
But things I just don't understand:
- Arrington going so low. Rangy, sure handed, and seemingly fast enough, I thought he was a little less proven than Avant and would be a third or fourth round pick when he declared; it quickly became clear that this was overrating him.
- Ditto Hart. He ran slow, as anyone on the planet could have told you would happen. Injury issues, etc; still thought he was a third-fourth round sort.
- Jamar Adams is undrafted. Ryan "Yards After" Mundy goes in the sixth round. Barwis be praised.
The Mundy thing is what really gets me. He was so bad that -- in my speculative opinion -- Michigan cut him loose after his fourth year in the program, which is unprecedented for a kid who's seen extensive time as a starter. Mundy squeezes himself into a rapidly-closing loophole and manages to transfer to West Virginia without penalty, where he becomes a decent starter on a good defense and is drafted. To play in the NFL. You know, the professional football thingy. If you could have bet on that last year, what would the odds have been?
Our dearest friend. A former NFL scout on new Arizona Cardinal FA Anthony Morelli:
"He has all the tools you look for in a QB; an athletic body, very strong throwing arm and far better movement then I had expected, but is acutely undercoached and unprepared for the job of being a professional QB."
"Acutely undercoached"... does anything sum up Penn State better than those two words?
Gentlemen. Hey, guess what?
Melvin Fellows had been the most prominent Ohio high school football player in the Class of 2009 to escape the grasp of Ohio State coach Jim Tressel, but with a phone call over his lunch break today, Fellows changed all that.
The Garfield Heights defensive end informed Tressel that he was switching his oral commitment from Illinois to the Buckeyes, delivering a blow to the Illini and bringing OSU's growing class to 12 pledges.
Joe Tiller's full of crap.
Also full of crap, the Columbus Dispatch, which claimed Lloyd Carr facilitated Justin Boren's transfer to OSU:
"That's a lie," Carr said through school spokesman Bruce Madej.
One bit of good news:
Muskegon High School coach Tony Annese said Tuesday afternoon that his former player had decided to return to Michigan for his senior season.
"I had lunch with him and we really talked about getting a degree," Annese said. "And he said that's what he wanted to do."
The only player rumored to be an early-entry candidate we've yet to hear from is Tim Jamison, though he's expected to stay.
This conclusion was forgone but not official:
ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Mario Manningham confirmed Monday he will skip his senior season at Michigan to enter the NFL draft.
"It was a hard decision, but after discussing it with my family it was the right one for me to make right now," Manningham said in an interview with The Associated Press while driving home to Ohio. "I've heard I will be drafted in the first round because of the lack of depth at wide receiver."
Let us remember the good times:
Right... UFR. Uh. Well, it's like this: without the obvious deadline of next week's game it turns out it's a lot easier to procrastinate on these things. I'm working on it but it's gonna be a bit late.
Happy Trails, Pt II. Rodriguez went to the Indiana game last night -- soon you will wise to the ways of hockey, RR -- and spoke briefly to reporters there. The bluntness from the Rome interview was not, er, blunted. On Mallett:
"He's not playing for Michigan," Rodriguez said . "I'm concerned with whose [sic] playing for Michigan. That's my concern."
Rodriguez also said that Arrington's departure is official and that Manningham didn't attend today's introductory team meeting; he's also unlikely to return. Terrelle Pryor, come on down. Also plz some other people.
Shooting Blue perused the audio available on Rivals and notes a few other newsbits: Hopson has officially been hired, but not necessarily as the defensive coordinator. Rodriguez still has to hire one more guy on that side of the ball, and that guy could be the DC. Michigan expects to field a full class of 25; some of the attrition will be medical. And Michigan will be looking for wideouts and quarterbacks in quantity.
Happy Trails? Terrance Taylor is also considering the NFL:
Muskegon coach Tony Annese said Monday that he had spoken with Taylor the previous evening and that the player had not received a report from the NFL advisory committee about his possible draft position. Annese said Taylor would not reach a decision until after he heard from the NFL.
Hopefully said report is unsatisfactory. No offense, Terrance.
Right. An official release from Michigan has the following persons in the following places:
Name â€¢ Position
Calvin Magee â€¢ Associate Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator
Tony Dews â€¢ Wide Receivers
Greg Frey â€¢ Offensive Line
Tony Gibson â€¢ Secondary
Jay Hopson â€¢ TBA; Defensive Assistant
Fred Jackson â€¢ Running Backs
Rod Smith â€¢ Quarterbacks
Bruce Tall â€¢ TBA; Defensive Assistant
Tall and Hopson are TBA with one more defensive assistant to come; though Tall did safeties for the past few years at WVU before that he did the defensive line for a couple seasons at WMU and was a DC/LB coach for nine years at Harvard and Northeastern. He could well end up the LB coach. Heck, he might have been an LB coach at WVU: the official release says he was WVU's "spur and bandit" safeties coach; those two guys are the LB/DB hybrids that often stick their nose in the box.
We should know who the final piece of the puzzle is by the weekend, according to Rodriguez. Also note that Gibson's been relieved of his duties as recruiting coordinator. Michigan has a standalone recruiting coordinator in Chris Singletary, who was retained along with most of the administrative staff. WVU's refusal to provide this sort of administrative support was one of the cited factors in Rodriguez' departure.
Word. Jim Carty's piece on Jay Bilas' obsession with Michigan is worth a read. I probably would have gone more ad hominem on Bilas, whose latest petulant outburst about the Michigan program is the second-stupidest one yet (#1 remains the suggestion that Martin should be fired for getting rid of Tommy Amaker after a mere six years), but it's rare to see a newspaper columnist bring it hard against another member of the media. This blog, on the other hand, does it all the time. So this means more coming from the Ann Arbor News:
Given that, it's probably time for someone at ESPN to suggest to Bilas that - after calling for athletic director Bill Martin's firing and now ripping a first-year coach who's in the midst of a rebuilding job - its time to leave the Wolverines alone for a while.
And time for Michigan fans to turn somewhere else for serious analysis of their basketball program.
As mentioned, word. Bilas' breathtaking lack of professionalism about this Amaker situation has permanently killed his credibility with anyone who watched Amaker's teams flail about, turn the ball over 20 times a game, and never make the NCAA tournament. Bilas -- so eager to jump all over Beilein half a year into his tenure -- apparently expected Michigan's Methuselan patience with Amaker to extend a full decade, because there's no freakin' way this team was going to the NCAA even if John Wooden was coaching them. It was fire him now or waste a year and fire him then. Or, I guess, never fire him ever because Jay Bilas once spooned with him after a Final Four game.
Heavens to Betsy. The Chicago Tribune has the most shocking news of the year:
Big Ten Network President Mark Silverman said Monday he was "cautiously optimistic" an agreement could be reached with Comcast, the largest cable distributor in the area. The parties began having "productive conversations" in December, Silverman said.
Sure, the year is only nine days old, but... !!!
The standoff here was more about tiers than cost according to the BTN, though when I talked to a Comcast VP this summer I managed to get an approximate "We would pay X to have the BTN on expanded basic" figure out of him: a quarter. That, like the BTN's widely cited (and apparently either fictional or outdated) $1.10 asking price, was likely a negotiating position and not a realistic assessment of what they would pay to get it on the basic tier. Assuming the final numbers become public here, it'll be interesting to see what the final negotiated price is. Also interesting: actually getting the BTN.
Etc.: Lloyd's cousin reflects on his career.
Rich Rodriguez was on Jim Rome this afternoon, and the news was attrition-errific. First the receivers:
"I've talked to Adrian since the bowl game a little bit and I think he's leaning toward coming out," Rodriguez said on the show. "I don't think he's made the announcement yet. I have not seen Mario, and I don't think he's back in Ann Arbor yet, so indications are that he may be coming out, as well. I want to wish them the best. I didn't know them very well. I've watched them play, and they're great players, and obviously for selfish reasons I'd like to have them come back, but if they feel that's what's best for their careers, they've got to do that, and we'll be OK as well."
"I believe he's going to transfer," Rodriguez said. "He has not told me specifically and he's told other folks in the program. I talked to him a couple times, again, before the bowl game and once after the bowl game and gave him our spiel. But, again, if he chooses to leave, he's going to make a choice that's best for him, and we'll be OK."
"I talked to him and all the quarterbacks about how our system can adapt to the quarterback because we've had throwing quarterbacks in this system that have had great careers and gone on to the NFL and all that," Rodriguez said. "But I did it a couple times (with Mallett.) I recruited him once, I recruited him twice and after the third call, I'm thinking okay, three calls is enough for me. It's a great institution and if somebody doesn't want to be here that's already here, you wish them well and move on."
I... wow. Both of those quotes are blunt as hell. The very idea that Carr would 1) deign to appear on Jim Rome and 2) actually give substantive answers to somewhat delicate things like "Will Player X leave early/transfer?" is refreshing from the point of view of the information-starved Michigan fan.
Update: Apparently Carr made a yearly appearance on Rome; 1) above withdrawn.
Manningham's grandfather has a "we're still undecided and waiting on the NFL's evaluation" quote in the same article, but I'm with Rodriguez here. Rivals has a fuller transcript; Rodriguez again repeats that he expects to sign a full 25.
Ain't believing this until January 16th, but Manningham's grandfather says MM is likely to return:
''We're 85 to 90 percent sure (that he'll) return to Michigan, unless something spectacular happens,'' Simpson said. ''He has every intention to return for his senior year unless something spectacular happens.''
"Spectacular"? The only thing that could be construed as spectacular that might occur would be a highly positive response from the NFL's draft advisory panel. Like this:
''If someone comes to you and says that you're a first-round draft choice, that weighs a lot,'' Simpson said. ''No one has said that to us, yet.''
Is Manningham a first-rounder? That seems a silly question to ask for a guy who caught 72 passes for 1100-some yards this year, but he's not exactly Braylon Edwards-sized and has reputedly had some maturity issues. Maybe he'll get a second-round grade and return to prove the haterzzzz wrong?
No, probably not.
Update: Right, forgot. FWIW: a previously-reliable insider says both Manningham and Arrington are likely to depart, and this info came yesterday. Maybe grandfather isn't in the loop.
Update II: Hey, GBN's latest draft board has Manningham #36. (Jake Long #3, Shawn Crable #44, Mike Hart #55, Chad Henne #73, and Jamar Adams #113 FWIW. Also: remember Jason Jones, the Eastern Michigan DT who had a disturbing field day against us? Legit NFL prospect who checks in at #96.)