Unverified Voracity Humps The Shark

Unverified Voracity Humps The Shark

Submitted by Brian on June 5th, 2017 at 12:44 PM


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Jim McElwain, right. Used vacuum salesman, left.

Oh, man, this one's a doozy. I stopped calling people "horseface" around the time that Dennis Dodd toned it down sufficiently to blend in with the great mass of lukewarm take columnists. There has been a long hiatus from "look at this crazy thing Dennis Dodd wrote," then. That détente can last no longer after this:

"I think its an indictment upon society to be honest with you," he said during the SEC spring meetings here at the Hilton Sandestin.

Of course it is. The man who has won consecutive SEC East titles -- a family man with a couple of national championship rings -- suddenly found himself disproving a negative.

" … It effects family, it effects my employer because of something that is totally not true or has any basis," McElwain continued. "I will say this: At least it [looked like] me and not someone else in our program. I'll take [the hits]."

When Naked Shark Guy hit CFB twitter his vague resemblance to Jim McElwain was a covfefe: a short-lived, timeline-intensive twitter joke that burns itself out in a day or so. Nobody ever seriously thought that Naked Shark Guy was McElwain—his hair is too curly and his teeth insufficiently alarming. And yet here's this Dennis Dodd column that takes McElwain's strained protestations with the seriousness of a threat on the Queen's life:

McElwain, 55, is a stand-up guy like most coaches in his position. He's used to putting out fires, making snap decisions, taking blame when it is fair. But in the blink of moment, he became a social media victim.

The photo, of course, was not of McElwain. One report said had he had been "vindicated." Of what? Vindication is defined as, "clearing someone of blame or suspicion."

Except there was no blame to clear, no crime committed. The only connection was our brains seeing a resemblance and somehow believing McElwain was capable of such a pose. 

Unfortunately, the default setting on the Twitterverse was that had to be Florida's coach. Right?

No, you complete ninny, no. Dodd manages to get so upset about people making jokes about someone who nobody thinks is humping a shark that he self-refutes:

What's the big deal jumping to conclusions about a shark, a boat and a coach?

Common human decency, for one thing. When it was determined the man on the shark was reportedly a former NYPD officer, one wag wrote, "We finally have proof of what appears to be McElwain's innocence."

What about assuming his innocence instead of what looked like a badly Photoshopped pic? Instead, that indicted society McElwain spoke of took it way too far.

The whole thing is a magnificent edifice of farts based on a deliberate misunderstanding of jokes on twitter. Spurred by McElwain, certainly. His reaction to the situation improves my opinion of Michigan's chances this fall—this is not the reaction of the sharpest knife in the drawer…

"Ultimately, what do you want me to say?" McElwain said. "It's not me. I felt bad for my family and the university because … really?

"Here I am getting some real bad personal attacks. How ridiculous is that?"

…but there is some water too silly to carry. Or at least there should be.

Follow Harbaugh around and he gives you news. Jim Harbaugh can be odd and standoffish at press conferences—or even entirely absent, as he was after the spring game—but if you travel a long distance to be where he is, he spits out newsbits like mad. Satellite camp season is an opportunity to do this, and sure enough we've got some extra insight into next year's team.

We've mentioned walk-on slot receiver Nate Schoenle as a potential contributor; Harbaugh offers up some additional information on him:

"Nate Schoenle -- he continues to grade out as the top guy right now," Harbaugh said. "The competition is really going to rage on."

Harbaugh further confirmed that Ben Mason was a fullback and Brad Hawkins was maybe probably definitely going to play defense. On Hawkins:

"Brad Hawkins could be a safety." …

"What's transpired though: Don Brown got to him," Harbaugh mused. "Don Brown said that he talked to Brad and Brad wanted to play safety. I accuse Don Brown of some recruiting going on there. We haven't investigated the whole thing yet. But I think it's a little of both."

The WR flood and relative dearth of safeties always made that move likely, especially after Michigan realized it wasn't going to cram its class full with other guys and circled back on Oliver Martin. It's official enough that we've moved him to safety on the Depth Chart By Class.

FWIW, Hawkins did play both ways in high school, making 53 tackles as a senior at Camden.

Finally, Harbaugh announced that Grant Perry had rejoined the team:

"He's back working out with the team," Harbaugh told reporters following a coaches' satellite camp at John Carroll University, according to the Detroit Free Press.

He has a court date July 17th. I'd imagine that will be some sort of plea or diversion.

Two conferences with a scheduling agreement. The current state of the 14-team, 8-game SEC:

To be fair to Alabama, Nick Saban appears to be the only coach in the league who actually wants to go to nine games. (Because playing Tennessee is basically the same as playing Chattanooga to Bama.) That is still mindblowing. The problem is extensive and has no solutions. Auburn's trying to find one by moving to the East, where Alabama would not be a perpetual roadblock to the championship game, and that causes more problems than it solves.

The Big Ten going to 14 was immensely dumb but at least they didn't compound that error by continuing to have eight-game conference seasons with protected crossover games.

Real Housecoaches Of Destin. Meanwhile in the SEC, everyone is livid with the new, very boring recruiting rules, and they've got laughably flimsy reasons why!

Bielema said it wasn’t smart to host official visits during the spring of a prospect’s junior year, which is arguably the most important one academically.

They've got an astounding lack of perspective!

"I think it's reckless, really," Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze said.

They haven't yet muzzled their commissioner!

"I just fail to see how those things are the right decisions for football overall," Sankey said. "Those are the things that I'm not sure we got right."

They have even more flimsy reasons!

"December is a pretty busy time in the world of college football from a hiring standpoint," Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin said. "And you're now going to introduce that in the middle of young people making decisions? Plus you're pushing up the evaluation process, which I can't see how that's good for the young person or for the team."

Would Bret Bielema allow a recruit to visit Arkansas unofficially during the new official window? Dozens do annually. Do SEC coaches offer and accept commitments from kids two or three years out from this December signing window? Dozens annually. Does Greg Sankey interpret "football overall" as "the SEC"? Absolutely.

It's nice to see Waffle House Nation splutter about rule changes they don't like instead of rules Jim Harbaugh isn't breaking for a change.

Last one out of East Lansing please conclude the investigation. MSU has lost another couple members of the secondary:

Sophomore safety Kenney Lyke told ESPN on Saturday that he planned to transfer to Mississippi Delta Community College in hopes of eventually landing at an SEC school in the future. A day earlier, Michigan State confirmed that redshirt sophomore Kaleel Gaines was also leaving the program.

Rumor has it that several more folks are on their way out. There are the three players under sexual assault investigation and a couple more potential academic casualties. There's a real possibility MSU goes into this year with 75 scholarship players, the last eight or so freshman who MSU picked off from the likes of Temple in their late scramble to fill their class. Prospects for a bounce-back are dim.

Zaire incoming. The SEC did tweak their transfer rule so that former ND QB Malik Zaire could land at UF; he duly announced that was his destination shortly after. This is of interest to Georgia blog Get The Picture for obvious reasons, so Mr. Blutarsky took a look at Zaire's relatively brief on-field history:

He was spectacular in that Texas game, no doubt, finishing with a passer rating over 250.  It was all downhill from there, though, as he only threw one more pass in all of 2016 than he did against the Longhorns, on his way to posting a 106.73 passer rating as the back up.

He does bring something to the position that Florida’s lacked under McElwain:  mobility. …

if Zaire is supposed to usher in a new era, there isn’t a lot of time to restructure the offense to tailor it to his strengths, or, alternatively, for Zaire to learn Nussmeier’s system.  None of which is to say it’s not useful to sign an experienced quarterback.  Before Zaire’s arrival, Florida was looking at a choice of Luke Del Rio, himself a transfer, recovering from an injury that caused him to miss half the regular season, and redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks, who had a nice spring game, and… did I mention he had a nice spring game?

This would terrify me if it was ten years ago, when Michigan was still deep in their total inability to defend a mobile quarterback. It's still unsettling: first game with ten new starters, one returning starter is not a great space player. Don Brown has shifted Michigan to a 4-2-5 featuring a bullet LB in Devin Bush, though. Hopefully those issues will be mitigated even when Michigan's defense isn't the overwhelming unit they were a year ago.

I'll take it. Chris Dilks profiles Joshua Norris, NHL draft hopeful, and comes out with an encouraging comp:

As a player comparison, Norris reminds me a lot of JT Compher. Both are super-competitive two-way centers. Compher was ranked right around the same range for the NHL Draft(he ended up going 35th overall in 2012) after putting up similar numbers with the NTDP. Compher blew up offensively in his junior season at Michigan, thanks in part to some great linemates, but still projects as more of a solid role player at the NHL level. The same is likely true for Norris. He projects as a nice player at the NHL level, especially if he can remain at the center position, but one that probably tops out as a second or third line player, rather than a true star.

Adding a Compher-alike to any team would improve it, and Michigan more than most after last year's disaster. FWIW, Norris just competed at the NHL draft combine and killed it:

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I don't think the combine is a big deal for draft position but that should at least indicate that Norris is ready to make an immediate impact.

Etc.: NCAA rules kill Sound Mind, Sound Body. Signs you may be in the middle of a Florida football season.

Unverified Voracity Misses Wilford Brimley

Unverified Voracity Misses Wilford Brimley

Submitted by Brian on June 7th, 2016 at 1:28 PM

Tiller-YEAH

Tiller was always good for some anonymous snark

I always miss Joe Tiller when these get published. ESPN does the anonymous coach quote article, and while some of it is of little utility…

Coach, can you talk about Indiana's tempo?

"They're unique in our league in that they're going to try to get 100 plays in a game and just literally outscore you." -- Big Ten defensive coach [who all Big Ten fans reading this article hope is not employed by their program]

…there are a couple interesting bits about Michigan. This isn't a huge surprise since the last coach was Brady Hoke:

"This coaching staff knows how to mask things. It's a lot more double-team, a lot more movement, a lot more point-of-attack doubles and down blocks. They're a team that embraces the 4- and 5-yard play, and not a lot of people in college football do that anymore." -- Big Ten defensive coach

It's still good to hear that Michigan's offense is reputed to be tricky. There is exactly zero chance opponents thought Michigan's offense was difficult to prep for under Carr or Hoke.

Another coach says the linebackers were the weakest part of Michigan's defense a year ago "but with the guys they have up front, if they're healthy, you can get away with whatever at linebacker." Our theory that Michigan could put out a lawn chair at LB and be okay if Glasgow is around: endorsed.

Yet more satellite camp stuff. It is insane how much people continue to talk about this. There are slightly more important things going on in college football at the moment, but there is just a nonstop train of satellite camp takes. Which, again, are about people showing up on a football field and doing football-related activities in full view of the world. And yet. Anyway here's the whatnot.

Jon Solomon stops by one of the satellite camps in Baltimore, discovering that the people who attend them are in favor of them:

I spoke to a couple dozen parents and players over a span of about five hours and this was the resounding message: Thank you for coming, Jim Harbaugh.

"It's huge -- huge -- to have this in inner city Baltimore," said Christopher Braswell, who took his 14-year-old son out of school -- almost all of the middle-schoolers played hooky -- to the middle school camp. "It gives kids a sense that someone's out there who cares about them. These guys come from Michigan. It's 10 bucks, so they're not making any money off it. A lot of people can't afford more. Bring your kid here to interact with college coaches and high school coaches. Black, white, they're just out there having fun. What's wrong with that?"

This is somewhat tautological, yes. People doing thing like thing. Thing is harmless to everything except Hugh Freeze's free time. Turns out you have to explain tautological things to lizard people sometimes.

Solomon's article is long and manages to blow up some arguments against the camps along the way. Greg Sankey:

In Baltimore:

The middle school camp in the morning is largely about teaching and drills, all without pads and helmets, just like the high school session. These middle schoolers are too far away from college for serious consideration of recruiting them just yet.

Also, Gene Wojciechowski drew either the short or long straw, depending on your perspective, and took in Michigan's Australian satellite camp:

I'm eagerly awaiting the first statement from Sankey that has any relationship to reality. Meanwhile Kirk Herbstreit says Michigan doesn't "need to do it." This is true. Michigan is doing it anyway.

Also, Harbaugh addresses the tucked-in jersey thing:

"I'm a tuck-in guy," Harbaugh explained, tugging at his belt. "In football, the advantage of tucking in your jersey is big. It's harder to grab the jersey when it's tucked in. When it's untucked, they can grab it, they can sling you, they can swing you, so I always like to tuck in it, and I like the sight lines better of a tucked-in shirt. Football is a game of sight lines -- a very symmetrical field with lines and hashes and dimensions. Sight lines are important."

He's thought long and hard about this.

And then this thing. I was maybe going to fisk that article about "absolute power" from a week ago but I've decided it's just too bad to go over in detail. Wendell Barnhouse, who used to have a job with the Star-Telegram and then the Big 12 but is currently writing for a site I've never heard of, put a bunch of words on paper he has to immediately refute because this is his thesis:

Now here is where this column will anger the thousands of Michigan fans, alums and Jim Harbaugh cultists. Harbaugh is corrupting his absolute power absolutely.

You have read the previous sentence, probably twice, trying to figure out if there is any meaning encapsulated in it. There is not. The Lord Acton quote this dude is trying to reference is about power corrupting individuals that hold it. Barnhouse is stating that Harbaugh is… corrupting power? Which is not a thing?

Barnhouse's point is that what Harbaugh is doing is "about optics" and it's bad for the NCAA, which who cares, and then he comes back around to be like BANG BAYLOR. Sorry. "BANG" "BAYLOR":

Harbaugh is engaged in “wretched excess” disguised as “outworking other coaching staffs.” Staging 38 satellite camps in 30 days might be more about carpet-bombing the “Michigan brand” more so than landing five-star recruits.

And it’s also about Jim Harbaugh having the all-encompassing power to do what he wants. There are numerous examples, including a recent one, that illustrates the danger that lurks.

This draws about 35 different false equivalencies and amply demonstrates why Barnhouse is no longer employed as a writer: he's bad at writing.

Harbaugh already had an opportunity to start off his career in corruption last year and passed. Logan Tuley-Tillman, who had a good shot at being the starting left tackle this year, was booted from the team the instant Harbaugh found out he'd done something seriously wrong.

Etc.: A three-part oral history on a basketball season that ended with a loss in the NIT final. Rutgers? Rutgers. Nitpickers gonna nitpick. ESPN's Where In The World Is Jim Harbaugh is entertaining. Scott Steiner on Harbaugh.

Unverified Voracity Has Yet More Hot Takes To Deal With

Unverified Voracity Has Yet More Hot Takes To Deal With

Submitted by Brian on April 14th, 2016 at 1:14 PM

Just another day in the life.

lake-invaders_0One of our photographers wrote a book. You've probably seen Bill Rapai's hockey photos around these parts. If you like those you'll no doubt love his new book, which is about invasive species in the Great Lakes. For some reason it has a picture of an SEC coach reacting to Harbaugh's latest antics on the cover. Bill on the contents:

It’s called Lake Invaders: Invasive species and the battle for the future of the Great Lakes and it explains how these little beasties got here, the damage they are doing, how they might be controlled, and why you should care. (Yes, you should care.) There’s even a chapter on everybody’s favorite invasives, the Asian carps.

It's available on Amazon for anyone who's interested.

DRAKE JOHNSON GOT RUN OVER BY A FORKLIFT!? Yes. He is apparently fine afterwards, if 1) very bruised up and 2) understandably pissed off.

Do not run people over in forklifts, people. I shouldn't have to tell you this.

Tick tock the hot takes don't stop. All it took was for Jim Harbaugh to say some pointedly critical, but true, things for people to lose their minds about the dude. NJ.com columnist Steve Politi has been a reliable source of humor ever since that "Jim Harbaugh may be flashy, but Kyle Flood is real" column, and he is undeterred by being as wrong as humanly possible about that. His reaction to Man Invited To Give Speech may even top his earlier opus:

Steve Politi, a columnist for The Star-Ledger and NJ.com, said Paramus Catholic should be ashamed for having Harbaugh give the speech. …

"The big problem here is Paramus Catholic president Jim Vail who, in announcing his decision to give an out-of-state football coach a free infomercial at his school, called Harbaugh a great leader and educator. Come on, Harbaugh speaking to your students is as much a recruiting advantage for your football program as it is for Harbaugh at Michigan."

I love all these accusations that PEOPLE might be DOING THEIR JOBS WELL. While there's no doubt an element of publicity and recruiting on both ends, Jim Harbaugh is also a very interesting and successful person who might want to give people some guidance. And he's sure as hell going to be more interesting than whoever my high school graduation speaker was. I have no idea if there even was one. Chris Ash is openly envious, and he's real, so…

This undercurrent of "wait a second… wait just a minute here! I see what you're doing! You are trying to make your football team good!" is a never-ending source of entertaining spittle these days. Remember that Alabama dude who clutched his pearls and fell over because Michigan's satellite camp at Prattville was really about recruiting? This is just the latest episode. Here's Mike Florio accusing Harbaugh of the blazingly obvious:

If we’re going to pull back the curtain on why the SEC and ACC coaches wanted to keep Harbaugh out of their backyards, it’s only fair to pull back the curtain on why Harbaugh wants to frolic in them. Although Rosenberg does his best to defend the satellite camp process by baking the concept into the apple pie of American dream chasing, it’s obvious that the camps had become at least in part a pretext for recruiting the best players in a setting that, from the perspective of a high school kid, doesn’t feel like recruiting. It all leads to a more organic, authentic, and visceral bond.

That's the point! Also it is good! We have reached the point in this dumb conversation where people are accusing Jim Harbaugh of trying to have a real relationship with the people he recruits. I feel like I am going crazy here.

Yes, e-goons of the world, people have motives. When they pursue those motives within the rules and without negatively impacting anyone, pointing at them and screaming "YOU ARE PURSUING YOUR GOALS" is literally the dumbest argument possible.

I mean, yeah, get on Harbaugh for the various decommits last year. That's a legit criticism. This stuff is moron central.

Shots fired. I assume you've all seen the Harbombing of the satellite camp decision in SI. While Harbaugh talking to a dude who tried to sabotage the program with bogus allegations of NCAA violations is a frequent irritation, I'll take it as long as he's willing to say the things that are true in public:

Says Harbaugh: "You've got a guy sitting in a big house, making $5 million a year, saying he does not want to sacrifice his time. That is not a kindred spirit to me. What most of these coaches are saying is they don't want to work harder."

Hugh Freeze responded to this with the time-tested retort of the smarmy gasbag: muh families.

"I'll never apologize for wanting to be a father and a husband," Freeze said when asked about vacation time. "I miss enough volleyball games (and other things), that is a priority for me. ... I think we work very hard, I don't think working hard is an issue. If you're asking me if I want to add more nights away from my wife and kids, I do not. That window is closing for me to be a husband and a father and I think the kids that play in our system need to see me in that role an awful lot."

When someone talks about being a family man in this way they are always attempting to shut down criticism by being holier than thou. See: Dave Brandon's "this hurts my family" talk on his last-ditch media spree after the Shane Morris incident. It also blows by a point: if you don't want to do them, don't do them. Nobody's making you. You are in fact making the demands.

Freeze then doubled down on the smarm by criticizing Harbaugh for being right, but in public:

Along with being recursively hypocritical, this is an admission that Harbaugh is correct but also mean. I like mean.

Elsewhere in shots fired. High school coaches are just as fired up about the ban:

"Realistically, I shouldn't have been surprised." said John Ford, the head coach at Roswell High School, which is located north of Atlanta. "The NCAA works in opposition to what benefits young kids and student athletes. They work to protect the few as opposed to protecting and promoting the many. The hypocrisy is pretty well known."  …

"I've been doing this for 15 years and I know it's really, really helpful for kids at these camps," [Toby] Foreman said. "It makes it extremely difficult, and I personally don't think the NCAA has kids interests at heart. You're almost punishing people for being proactive. Go out and recruit harder. Quit being lazy."

I wonder if the pushback on this is going to be sufficient to torpedo the rule change here. These days a lawsuit-stricken NCAA is very sensitive about public relations, and there are a ton of people on the warpath about this. It is really rare to see guys with skin in the game come out with these kind of statements, and the condemnation for the rule change has been near-universal. The only people sticking up for it are guys like Tony Barnhart who are more or less bought and paid for by the SEC and a less-than-lucid Dennis Dodd.

Tommy Tuberville, for one, thinks that the ban will not stand.

Elsewhere in how Freeze gets work done. Interesting little glimpse inside the sausage factory Freeze is running at Ole Miss from a doofus with money:

An Ocean Springs businessman claimed to have offered his guest house to unnamed college football players rent-free, only to later amend his story. But a source with knowledge of the situation said Scott Walker’s neighbors were told by the renters they paid for a two-night stay at his home last weekend.

Renting his home on a short-term basis would be a violation of local ordinances, and when first contacted by the Mississippi Press Walker said it was “four university players” who were “absolutely not paying” to stay in his guest house.

That raised red flags, because a booster (Walker is an Ole Miss grad and fan) offering free or reduced rent is a clear-cut NCAA violation.

Ole Miss cheats. Hardcore, all the time. That's how a nobody high school coach with one year at Arkansas State who arrives at a school with a fanbase that mostly still wants a plantation owner as their mascot and zero success in the past 50 years starts recruiting five-stars. I'm resigned to the fact that this will happen forever, and that the correct solution is to let people pay the players without repercussions.

But you run the cheatingest program in the country and you get sanctimonious about your free time? Harbaugh's just trying to level the playing field out a little bit here. Freeze can take his vacations and come back knowing that an Ole Miss offer has thousands of dollars behind it that a Michigan one doesn't.

That solution could be on the horizon. Via Get the Picture, this is a potentially huge move towards an Olympic model of amateurism:

Big East commissioner Val Ackerman told SI Now’s Maggie Gray on Friday that the NCAA is reconsidering allowing student athletes to sign endorsement deals.

Under the current rules, student athletes may not be paid for the use of their image or likeness or they would forfeit their amateur status and their collegiate eligibility could be affected. When Gray asked Ackerman why students shouldn’t be able to capitalize on the value they bring to their university, Ackerman responded that the NCAA is considering changing that rule.

“That’s one that’s actually under consideration I believe by the NCAA,” Ackerman said. “It’s actually a time right now where student athlete interests are being closely examined. I don’t have an answer for you on that one today but I will say that and a number of other topics are under review, and I think rightly by the NCAA and it’s very possible that over the course of the next year or two as these these ideas work their way through the legislative system you could see changes.”

In the next year or two! As always I will remind you that even if you don't like the idea of players getting paid directly by the university, opening up outside compensation is a very good thing when you command a money cannon like Michigan does.

Warde Manuel sticks up for his guy. Good to see that Manuel isn't shying away from the fight either:

“People say this is Jim Harbaugh, he wants to do it this way,” Manuel told the Free Press today. “No. This is a rule that has been allowable for a long time. With all due respect to … questions about not being able to recruit (during the NCAA quiet period), all that stuff was there before, and people did it. Now it’s no good? Some kind of way, it’s bad for the game? It’s crazy.”

That is direct and devoid of hand-waving CYA business speak, so bully for that.

Elsewhere in laziness. Iowa DE Drew Ott will not get a fifth year after a midseason injury. That's not much of a surprise since he played in six games a year ago and the NCAA does not budge on injury redshirts if you've played more than 30% of a season. The timing of the announcement, however, has irritated many since Ott cannot enter the NFL draft proper and will have to go the supplemental route. Why did this come so late? It's not on the NCAA:

In fairness to the NCAA, it does seem like the lengthiest delays in this entire ordeal were not their end -- it sounds like Ott's case wasn't even sent to the NCAA bodies that rule on this matter until late February.  His case was with Big Ten authorities until that point.  What took the Big Ten so long?  Good question -- and one that neither Ott nor Kirk Ferentz had an answer for during their press conference earlier today.  So perhaps our ire at the glacial pace of the decision-making in this situation should be directed at Jim Delany & Co. rather than the NCAA folks.

That is especially odd since Mario Ojemudia suffered a similarly ill-timed injury and found out he would not get an exception in December.

It'll be interesting to see what happens with MSU's attempt to get sixth years for three players, all of whom appear to have taken voluntary redshirts. MSU keeps telling people they'll be back but the NCAA is very strict about sixth years; going to be tough to come up with sufficient documentation about an injury when these guys have bios declaring they were scout team player of the week.

Etc.: FFS just fire Butch Jones already. Willie Henry getting talked up as a second rounder now. Cut off one of Harbaugh's heads and he grows two more.

Mailbag: Offense Year One, Harbaugh Goes To 11, Official Star Wars Take

Mailbag: Offense Year One, Harbaugh Goes To 11, Official Star Wars Take

Submitted by Brian on February 24th, 2016 at 4:21 PM

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Offense impressions, year one

Brian,

I attended the DC event you did over the summer where you talked about what to expect from a Harbaugh offense. Now that there is a season's worth of data, do you have any plans to revisit and do a compare and contrast on that? I'm curious what new wrinkles can be attributed to Fisch, opponent specific stuff, or just flat out integrating plays he likes, as a way of understanding how he evolves his approach.

Thanks,
Dave

That's a conversation for next year. It will be interesting to see how Michigan's philosophy changes going forward; right now I the only things I have to compare it to are NFL offenses in a vastly different competitive environment and a five-year-old Stanford team with a largely different braintrust.

Meanwhile it'll probably take another year before the Death Star is even vaguely operational. You could see the outlines of the things Harbaugh wants to do, but it's always much easier to see what the shape of a thing is when it works as intended. Michigan's ground game didn't do that enough to get a feel for the shape of he whole thing.

One thing that did stand out was the week-to-week diversity of formations and plays. Michigan had a T-formation package last seen in college football decades ago; they had a week where they ran a handful of zone read; they fiddled with some diamond formations. While the wrinkles didn't always add up to much in year one, they do speak to Harbaugh's philosophy: he wants to constantly show you things that make you uncomfortable and get you to bust a run fit.

It's mostly the same for the offensive line. They get a call and they execute the call. Those calls are almost always standard power, inside zone, or outside zone. The only things that Michigan did that they didn't do much under previous staffs were quick trap pulls.

Harbaugh puts a bunch of window dressing around it and uses his blocky/catchy types to spring the surprises. Going forward I am guessing you are going to see a high priority put on RB/TE/FB types who are highly intelligent, because the bulk of the week-to-week changes are on them. I think that's a major reason Michigan's PWO class is heavy on high-academic blocky/catchy types—there might be an Owen Marecic lurking in there.

[After THE JUMP: extensive takes on the envelope pushing and overall grades for Hoke]

Unverified Voracity Thinks Of The Children

Unverified Voracity Thinks Of The Children

Submitted by Brian on February 10th, 2016 at 12:26 PM

Crootin'. Here's a 35-minute video breakdown of the recruiting class from Scout.

Helen Lovejoy, commissioner. Obviously the SEC was going to get fusty about Michigan's plan to practice at IMG over spring break. They did not do so in a way that came off at all plausibly. Shot:

“Our primary reaction [is] that, in the face of the time-demand conversations, we've got one program taking what has been 'free time' away,” Sankey said. “Let's draw a line and say, ‘That's not appropriate.'"

Chaser:

“The net of that is to say the Southeastern Conference is not going to be outpaced in recruiting,” Sankey said. “If the national approach is that we want to have more aggressive summer camps and coaches touring around all summer, then we will not only engage in that behavior, we will certainly engage in that behavior more actively -- probably more effectively than others.”

Shorter Greg Sakey: we are concerned about the kids, but if we don't get our way screw the kids. Par for the course amongst lizard people. This is of course a conference that's completely fine with a baseball schedule that sees Northern teams literally spend a month straight in the South, but don't screw with a man's right to go to South Padre, brah.

Meanwhile, try not to burst out laughing at this one:

Sankey is also concerned Michigan would be at a “site full of prospects run by a business enterprise that has a lot of interests -- but one of those is sports agents. It seems like very much the wrong tone.”

The "wrong tone," says the comissioner of the League of Extraordinary Bagmen. I'm all for people getting whatever money they can out of college athletics but to turn around and wave the rulebook at Michigan's face while crapping on it daily is hypocrisy worthy of… well… a high-ranking NCAA official. I cannot top reality there.

Hello: Bush the Elder? Buzz has been building that Michigan would fill one of its open recruiting/analyst spots with Devin Bush Sr, who built the Flanagan program from nothing into a state champion. That had been constrained to subscription sites until this article:

Multiple sources have told the Miami Herald on Tuesday that Flanagan coach Devin Bush is on the verge of joining the staff at Michigan where three of his Falcons -- son and linebacker Devin Bush Jr. and safeties Devin Gil and Josh Metellus -- have signed.

An announcement is expected next week. Bush is obviously a natural for the spot Chris Partridge vacated when he got bumped up to linebackers coach. The two guys have very similar backgrounds. Both were/are HS head coaches who made previously lagging programs into powers by getting gents to transfer. Partridge was interviewed by the WSJ a few days ago, providing some insight into why his hire was so successful for Michigan's New Jersey recruiting efforts:

How much does your New Jersey background help you land recruits from there?

Shoot, some of these kids I’ve seen play football since the fifth and sixth grade. I know them, I know the guys that have coached them their whole lives, I know similarities in the styles that they play, you know people that know their families. Of course, it gives you an advantage because you’re just so familiar and because they feel comfortable. And ultimately, they know that I’m watching out for them.

Hopefully Bush can have a similar impact in a bigger pond.

Meanwhile Flanagan is set to replace Bush with Pretty Much Devin Bush. DC Stanford Samuels, another Florida State legacy whose son is a major recruit, is expected to get a promotion.

Oversigning, the coda. The oversigning thing doesn't get brought up anymore because people mad about it more or less won. Get The Picture has a list of SEC signees per team before and after the Houston Nutt cap was implemented that shows a big dropoff for the worst offenders:

SEC Average Signing Class Numbers
Team Average Class 2007-11 Average Class 2012-16 Difference
Auburn 30.2 24.2 -6.0
Ole Miss 28.0 24.0 -4.0
Mississippi State 28.0 23.6 -4.4
Alabama 27.2 25.8 -1.4
LSU 26.8 24.4 -2.4
Arkansas 26.6 23.8 -2.8
Kentucky 26.0 25.6 -0.4
South Carolina 25.6 24.4 -1.2
Florida 24.2 24.4 +0.2
Tennessee 24.2 25.4 +1.2
Missouri* 24.2 22.4 -1.8
Texas A&M* 23.8 24.2 +0.4
Georgia 20.8 24.6 +3.8
Vanderbilt 20.2 22.0 +1.8

(He's using that to show that Georgia is now fighting with both arms instead of one.) Even if the LOIs foregone were mostly sign-and-place type deals where a guy who's going to JUCO signs a letter of intent for funsies that's still an improvement since no longer is that guy restricted if he does get eligible—and he isn't signed with a team that doesn't even want him to qualify.

The NCAA should still move to a yearly cap with no limit on overall scholarships to remove the incentive to get rid of a guy entirely.

I thought this was the entire point of dodgeball. If this was the standard for psychologizing folks in my time, whole dang middle school would have been in a line going out the door of the psychologist's office:

Dude didn't dodge the ball. That's the name of the game, man. Can't hold Harbaugh accountable for that unless you're the SEC commissioner.

I want to see his review of Infinite Jest. Harbaugh went on a media tour at the Super Bowl, the highlight of which was this:

"You look like a writer!" Harbaugh says with enthusiasm as we shake hands.

Harbaugh saw a movie about a writer recently, on a flight a couple months back. It was calledThe End of the Tour. He loved it, loved the dialogue. And now he has just one question.

"Was that a real person, David Foster Wallace?"

I don't expect or even want my football coach to know the answer to that question because I expect that people who know the answer to that question are bad coaches. But I do think he should start with a Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again because it is the most accessible writing DFW did and that he'll probably think "oh, the NFL" after seeing the title.

Etc.: Shoe not effective when used as gun. Michigan is 6th in the post Signing Day S&P rankings. Austin Davis is tall. Children are not. Harbaugh has no unfinished business in the NFL. Wheatley in the Players' Tribune.