Unverified Voracity Remembers Cajun Brady Hoke

Unverified Voracity Remembers Cajun Brady Hoke

Submitted by Brian on June 20th, 2017 at 2:42 PM

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[Bryan Fuller]

Naturally. If Harbaugh can't do camps he's going to do something:

Jim Harbaugh takes on clerk role in Genesee Probate Court

This will result in lawyers dorkin' out:

Flint Attorney Rick Hetherington, who appeared on a child support motion, on the way out asked: "Excuse me judge, but for clarification, I was wondering ... who has it better than us?"

Before the judge could respond, Harbaugh replied,

"I know the answer to that...Nobody!"

There's a 50% chance that guy has a username.

On the Go Blue Guarantee. Michigan has declared that instate students with family incomes of less than 65k a year will no longer pay tuition. This is a good thing. Maybe it's less of a "whoah" moment than it first appears since Michigan was already paying the bulk of costs for students in this income bracket, but taking it to zero means something. It also drops out a bunch of paperwork:

"The 'Go Blue Guarantee' cuts through the complexities of financial aid to help us reach talented students from all communities in our state. I have always believed that talent is ubiquitous in our society, but opportunity most certainly is not. The 'Go Blue Guarantee' helps us ensure wider opportunity."

I have Read The Comments on this, unfortunately, and one of the most common attempted gotchas is weeping for the family making 66k. They're not exactly boned by this move:

Tuition slides up gradually as income increases. As it would in any non-insane system. Concerns about families making twice the state median having problems shouldering their burden should be mitigated by the existence of 529 plans, which allow folks who have money to invest—ie, 120k-per-year households—to grow that money tax-free. You have to have a plan, but you can afford to have one at that point.

As state appropriations have shrunk as a portion of Michigan's budget, Michigan has responded by continually increasing costs for the wealthy. They've also tried to up their appeal to that segment of the population. If anything it's worked too well; Michigan's ability to enroll lower-income students has fallen off a cliff. This will help. It is unlikely to have a huge impact since ability to meet admissions standards is highly correlated with family income.

There's not much of a sports angle here unless Michigan starts covering large chunks of living costs as well. Those are estimated at about 15k annually and are covered by an athletic scholarship elsewhere. Since the sort of families covered by the guarantee are also the ones for whom 15k is a huge deal, this does not get Michigan a bunch of free scholarships for instate kids. If Michigan manages to extend this to room and board, then you might see a notably improved class of walk-on. Until then hold your birdman dot gifs about gaming the system.

Athletic budget notes. Michigan continues to live in the black after late Brandon shenanigans, projecting a two million dollar surplus this year. Athletic department budgets being what they are, a tiny profit is all that will ever be allowed. This helps schools cry poor when amateurism is questioned. Michigan can't quite disguise why a good year for the AD is always a 1% profit margin, because the way they make this happen is a PR boon:

Included in the department's projections is an increase in transfers to the university from $3.825 million in FY17 to $7.875 million in FY18.

Does the athletic department need to double the amount of money they transfer back to the general fund? No. Does the general fund need a four million dollar drop in a swimming pool of funding? No.

Michigan's also setting aside four million dollars into its deferred maintenance fund. They need to do this for major renovations—they cannot soak taxpayers by issuing bonds like pro teams—but that is also money that exits that they expensed away with some handwaving. Michigan expects to make at least 14 million dollars profit in 17-18.

That's due in no small part to this:

Conference distributions are projected to increase to $51.1 million in FY18 from $36.3 million in FY17 due mostly to a new conference media rights agreement.

You might be able to pay the players now instead of coming up with increasingly transparent ways of laundering the money.

Get hype for Gary. Peppers kind of talk about Mr. Gary from Don Brown:

Brown was asked Saturday after Michigan’s high school football camps how good Gary, a defensive end, can be.

“Best I’ve ever seen,” Brown said. “Best I’ve ever seen combining speed, strength, change of direction, and the mental curve. He’s unbelievable. The sky is the limit.

“The good thing is I think he understands that there’s a lot on his shoulders.”

It is rare to hear that kind of thing from a coach, and it portends good things.

Other minor roster notes from recent coach availabilities: Grant Perry won't play until his court issue is resolved and Grant Newsome is still expected to redshirt.

It's a contract. The NCPA, an NCAA union with the minor problem of not having any officially-designated employees to unionize, is doing what it can in the current regulatory environment. They've introduced a binding contract that they say is kosher with the NCAA that covers various aspects of the player-school relationship not covered by the LOI. Highlights:

According to the contract document obtained by CBS Sports, the CAP Agreement can be used instead of the National Letter of Intent or with the NLI. Either way, it would cover several areas the letter of intent doesn't. …

A school could be bound to an all-encompassing transfer release for a prospect before enrollment. The document asks if an institution "agrees"  or "does not agree" "to comply with any request for transfer" and "to not restrict the ability" of a player to transfer to any other school. …

A school could not "cancel, reduce or fail to renew financial aid … due to injury or athletic performance." …

A player could negotiate the cost of a remaining scholarship to complete a degree at some point in the future should he/she leave early for a professional draft.

These things rarely get off the ground, unfortunately. High level players are deciding between competing under-the-table offers that supersede the relatively minor concerns this contract can cover, especially in basketball.

(Also, since I just rolled my eyes at Dennis Dodd I should point out that this is a good and interesting piece he got first.)

Da Coach D. I forgot that LSU hired Cajun Brady Hoke after running Les Miles out of town, and have been momentarily boggled by this once again. LSU has all the money in the world, and they hired an interim coach whose previous experience was crashing and burning at Ole Miss. Anyway, Orgeron is using the NCAA's new camp rules to shut the rest of the country out of Louisiana. Michigan canceled a scheduled camp of their own, but that pales in comparison to the hoops Texas has been trying to jump through:

This marks the third announced camp in Louisiana that Texas was scheduled to take part in. And it’s the third camp that LSU has worked hard behind the scenes to prevent from happening. In a phone interview earlier on Tuesday, the local high school coach who initially helped facilitate the field for the Baton Rouge camp expressed pessimism about it happening. “We're in LSU's backyard,” said Mike Roach, the coach at Madison Prep in Baton Rouge and the father of Texas player Malcolm Roach. “Louisiana home cooking may have played a part in it.”​ Roach, who initially tried to help facilitate the camp, declined to go into details on what LSU may have done to attempt to prevent the camp from being held at Memorial Stadium. But his comments proved to be prescient.

After camps affiliated with Texas got canceled at Louisiana College and Southeastern Louisiana in the past few weeks, Mumme acknowledged on Tuesday afternoon there was still a chance LSU or political officials in the state would attempt to thwart Texas’s presence. “Oh yeah,” Mumme said. “But it’s only a day away now. I don’t think there’s a lot they can do. The only thing that can kill it is if it rains.”

He was wrong.

A silly waste of time on their part, and one that does nothing to help anyone. It sucks most of all for the mid-level kids who might catch on at Cornell or Belhaven or wherever if they can just get in front of some coaches; top-level guys don't need and rarely work out at these satellite camps.

But Orgeron's mostly notable for being unintelligible, so that fits.

Somebody did it for me. Many thanks to the Crimson Quarry, which donned its fisking hat in response to this:

This saves me a couple hours of brow-furrowed typing. For real:

[Politi:] Big Ten rival Michigan

[CQ]: Ahh of course, that famous Rutger rival Michigan, against whom the games are always close.

This is a thing a person said and was paid for.

I do have assorted comments about the Rutgers thing three years in that will not reference the Politi column:

  • The huge uptick in dough raked in by the league is approximately zero percent Rutgers's doing. Rutgers was useful to Delany as he attempted to expand the Big Ten Network's footprint. The 15-million-dollar uplift this year is because of the Big Ten's new national contracts with FOX and ESPN. The Michigan-OSU game, which is on FOX for the first time this year, is a bigger reason for the uplift than every game Rutgers plays in every sport.
  • Rutgers is probably worth it in this brief window when they don't get a a full share and cable cutting has not been epidemic, which is all Jim Delany cares about since he's old and will never have any legacy other than dollar bills.
  • We should kick Rutgers out the instant they're supposed to get a full share.

Matt Brown addresses the elephant in the room for fans: we get zilch from the Big Ten's constant dollar chasing. We get less than that.

Does the difference between $51 million in conference payouts and $43 million in conference payouts change the fan experience, or even the trajectory of football or basketball programs in a meaningful way? It’s very hard to argue it does, especially if you’re a fan of an already rich program, like say, Ohio State.

Nobody gets a bowl invitation because they got the biggest conference check. There is no trophy for it. It’s a meaningless thing to brag about.

But the addition of Rutgers does impact the fan experience and day to day performance of football and basketball programs. It means fewer games between traditional opponents for your favorite teams. It means an RPI anchor in basketball and baseball. It means an expensive road trip. And it means a lot of unwatchable games.

Again, we should kick 'em out in three years just for the fun of it.

Oh okay. Sympathy for John Calipari is still reading zero:

"They need more inventory for their own network so you just play more league games and then you have more inventory for your network to put on," Calipari said via teleconference Tuesday. "Hopefully in our case in this league (the Southeastern Conference) we stay where we are and if we don't, we'll make it work."

"What you do is, you take away some of those kind of games that have been good to us," Calipari said. "North Carolina, for example: If they go to 20 games we won't have any more series with North Carolina, so I'm not for it."

Calipari cancelled the UK-Indiana rivalry because Indiana refused to play at a neutral site. He can pound rocks.

Some hockey recruiting stuff. Bob MacKenzie's annual poll of NHL scouts and GMs in the run-up to the draft is out. Incoming freshman Josh Norris is a late first round pick at #23; rising sophomore Luke Martin is #69, nicely slotted into the early third round. Michigan also picked up its first new commit of the Pearson era when Phillipe Lapointe jumped on board a couple days ago. Phillipe is former Red Wing Martin Lapointe's son

Etc.: Muckalt hire official. Hooray for (potential) (slight) changes in municipal bonds that would (hypothetically) make it tougher for billionaires to get public money for stadiums. All hail the double team.  Second string OSU TE out for season.

Oklahoma State's mascot is stranger than fiction. As college and NFL OL play diverges, busts become more common. Should be sent to all linemen considering M. Paris, London, and Normandy Beach on the docket next year. Obamas invited to be honorary captains. DJ made a good decision.

Unverified Voracity Sticks Around

Unverified Voracity Sticks Around

Submitted by Brian on June 15th, 2017 at 12:28 PM

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Harbaugh goes to Washington. I would have enjoyed the look on his face if a senator asked him to stick to sports:

"Many of you are probably wondering why a football coach is speaking at an event like this. I may be a football coach, but I am an American first and foremost -- and all Americans should care about equal access to justice," Harbaugh said. "To me, it's not just about Michigan -- go blue -- it's about 'go red, white and blue.'

"The issue is about fairness, fundamental fairness. As I see it, if you have money, you have access to justice. If you don't have money, you have less access to justice. That's not the way it should work."

Harbaugh, who says he's always been a fan of lawyers -- from several of his personal friends to the famous "Judge Judy" -- said he became involved with LSC after attending a forum that showed him how many Americans are "left out" of the justice system due to their inability to afford proper legal representation.

Jim Harbaugh has to be the only guy on the planet who can say "I've always been a fan of lawyers" with seeming sincerity.

Bakich stays. Erik Bakich led Michigan to the NCAA tournament for the second time in three years and got 11 Wolverines drafted this offseason, a program record. This got him an interview at South Carolina and a job offer from Stanford. He turned the latter down:

I'm not a baseball guy but the impression I get is that this is somewhere between a surprise and a shock. Zach Shaw has a post at 24/7 with some details:

1) This can be considered a huge win for Michigan: As blunt as it sounds, I liken Michigan baseball to a BYU or Minnesota football. It has some history to it, but generally a fringe top-25 finish and semi-regular postseason play is probably the highest realistic expectation thanks to geography, scholarships and other factors. Anything above that should be seen as truly special.

In baseball, out-of-state recruiting is extremely tough at Michigan; thanks to the low scholarship limit (12.5 scholarships for a 33-man roster, per the NCAA) teams often use a half-scholarship option. But if a player from, for example, Georgia is offered a half-scholarship to Michigan (cost of attending would be about $23,000), it would much cheaper for him to walk-on at Georgia (about $12,000). ….

Factor in the fact that few elite players come from the state of Michigan, and the Wolverines are at a huge disadvantage. Somehow, Bakich bucked that trend, pulling in top-25 classes every year (depending on the site, of course, but even being in the ballpark is unprecedented territory) and consequently a top-25 team this past year. The team went from 22 wins pre-Bakich to 29, 32, 39, 36, 42 in his first five seasons.

Simply put, if you luck into a coach like that — let alone one that isn't even 40 years old — keeping him away from more established programs with more baseball success (and money) is an exception, not a rule.

The general reaction to the Kendall Rogers tweet asserting that Bakich turned down Stanford is "WTF?!" Suffice it to say that this is a weird one. But a good one. (Also Big Ten baseball should leave the NCAA and play through the summer with full rides for all, but I say that every time baseball comes up.)

Bombs away. Oh look, Don Brown:

The other teams on that list are desperately undermanned outfits blitzing out of desperation. Michigan is the only team that is actually good at D.

Prelude to an 18-team conference. The Big Ten is thinking about extending the conference schedule to 20 games. That barely dents the huge imbalanced schedule issues going to 14 imposed: you'd still play half the league once annually instead of twice. That might create enough room to protect rivalries like Indiana-Purdue and Michigan State-Common Human Decency, and therefore slightly juice TV revenues. There might be other reasons to do it but none that the front office gives a good goddang about.

The real solution is to add one game, not two, and play it Scottish Premiere League style:

Alternative: 19 game conference schedule.

PHASE 1: round robin.
PHASE 2: line is drawn between 7th and 8th teams in the league. Mini-leagues subsequently play round-robin. Rutgers is relegated to the Big East every year.

PROS: Absolutely fair. Winner is undisputed. Makes Big Ten title a huge important deal. Final six games for teams that make upper half would be knock-down drag out brutal free-for-all for league title. Would give top teams impregnable schedule strength. You could televise the schedule draw with Ronaldo and Messi in suits.

CONS: May cost league NCAA bids if the best team in the bottom half can't get any marquee wins in the last six games or the worst team in the top half just gets blitzed. Bottom half is just kind of sadly playing out the string. Uncertainty about final three home games may impact ticket sales negatively. Extremely distant possibility that the 8th best team 13 games in can climb all the way to the top.

In conclusion, anything that amps up the value of the regular season is good. Play For Stuff.

Or you could fix 2/9ths of the problem.

Rome costs. To the university, zero. To the anonymous donor, 800k. Manuel did a good job pre-empting complaints that this was a waste of money:

“It will be about $5,000 to $6,000 a person, so it was a great investment. It was just terrific. We pay them through an educational experience like Michigan does all the time. I don’t think about it in terms of paying our athletes but if people want to say we should give something to our students of value, I can’t think of a better way to invest in them for their lifetime and their experience.”

Manuel said the donor still does not want to be identified. Donors often make large contributions to athletics, and the donor can specify where the money should go or it’s used at the discretion of the department.

“We utilized the money he gave us,” Manuel said. “It was an unrestricted donation.”

Big time athletic programs spend a lot of money on diamond waterfalls and the like; this was much more educational and directly beneficial to players. Michigan shouldn't apologize for offering them whatever they can. They're not.

The loophole. You can't hire a football coach associated with a prospect, at least not if you want to recruit that high school for four years. (Two prior to the hire, two after.) But you can hire a dude's dad. I'm not trying to imply MSU did anything shady here because the dude in question is clearly qualified, but they signed Cody White this year; the year before they hired his dad as a staffer. Sheldon, the elder White, is coming off two decades for the Lions and is thus 100% qualified to join a trainwreck. It did jump out at me when MSU shook up its staff.

So. Actual football coaches cannot get entry level jobs because it might taint recruiting. But stuff like Ole Miss hiring Shea Patterson's brother or Tennessee hiring Trey Smith's sister(!) is still fine and dandy per NCAA rules. I'm not surprised, but I feel like I should be.

Etc.: Jordan Morgan back in the area after a 3-year Euroleague stint. This quiz is absurd but it only wants you to get five right. I got 9.5, because this is my job. I am angry at myself for knowing where Pop Evil hails from.

Harbaugh still not a fan of playing on Friday. VICE on amateurism. Spoiler: still a scam. Ian Boyd ranks college DCs; Don Brown comes in second to Brent Venables.

Rome Wrap: Feelingsball, Offense

Rome Wrap: Feelingsball, Offense

Submitted by Brian on May 1st, 2017 at 1:34 PM

One of the nice things about Michigan dragging reporters a long distance is that Harbaugh has pity on them and opens practice. Last year the IMG trip saw three or four practices open to the public, and the just-concluded Rome trip finished with three as well. The first day in Rome was just shells and a walk-through since the team had downshifted from full-on padded practices after the spring game, but there's a fair amount of useful intel coming out of the latter two.

Feelingsball section

It would be hard for a trip to Rome to not look pretty cool for the croots; Michigan really hammered it home with all-access media coverage and an itinerary that ranged from seeing the sites to drinking out of public fountains...

...to paintball (in khakis, naturally)...

...to hanging with the Pope...

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...to coach-versus-coach gladiatorial contests:

It looked better than any vacation I've ever taken by an order of magnitude.

All of this was documented by Michigan's own social media team and a legion of reporters, with an embedded ESPN guy.

Quite a turnaround in public relations skills from the last regime, and all of it pushed by a guy who is also the football coach.

This no doubt had various SEC coaches seething in rage and there will be a proposal to ban or limit such things as soon as possible. Michigan chose wisely by going to the center of Western Civilization(tm) and meeting the freakin' Pope, but no educational argument is going to withstand the white-hot fury of a bunch of dudes who can't imagine why you'd ever go anywhere but Waffle House.

That would be sad, since this seemed like a life-enhancing experience in a way a week in central Florida is not.

Most of the players had never been overseas.

Senior fullback Khalid Hill, a Detroit native who attended East English Village, said his biggest takeaway from the trip was the learning experience.

“Coming over here, learning different things, seeing different things, it’s amazing,” Hill said. “It’s something you don’t usually get a chance to do. I can go back home and say, ‘Man, I’m a kid from Detroit that got a chance to come over here and play and practice.’

“Not too many kids from Detroit can say that, even kids from Michigan. To do that is amazing. I love the experience of my last spring ball.”

We'll see what happens, but when the NCAA's official site is promoting your trip...

ncaa

...you might have a shot. This is supposedly part of the NCAA's core mission.

Harbaugh’s motivation for the trip was to, as he has said on multiple occasions, put the student back in student-athlete. He has seen college football become a 12-month a year sport, and wanted the players to have some breathing room in May.

Many of the players are venturing off on backpacking trips for a few days before returning home, while others are leaving for three-week study-abroad programs.

Michigan plans to go to South Africa next year; let's hope they get to go.

Football section

Not enough data to go position by position but some additional practice buzz from folks who were in Rome mixed in with some standard insidery takes follow. There wasn't much on either line because of the nature of the practices, in which a lot of 7-on-7 was played while the linemen did drills.  7-on-7 is a lot more immediately comprehensible than line drills and thus understandably drew the bulk of attention from observers.

Nick Baumgardner's headliner was WR Tarik Black, who showed he can run a lot more than fade routes:

He caught a crossing route over the middle that was thrown high and behind him, with a defender on his hip, where it was simply all hands. The ball looked like a sure incompletion -- and in a live setting, maybe worse. But he was able to time his leap right, reach back and just glide through the catch. He has a unique ability to make difficult receptions look relatively easy.

For a first-year receiver, this seems rare. I've seen so many freshman receivers get into a camp -- whether it be in the spring or the fall -- and just look lost with their fundamentals. Black is not one of those guys.

Baumgardner threw in another Black mention in a subsequent article to emphasize his take, and Black also led Sam Webb's practice take roundup. Good news with a "right, still a freshman" twist:

Tarik Black looked impressive once again. At this point the coaches are really working him hard on route precision. Rounding off routes... standing up at the top of routes... things that he will improve upon in time. He's trying to learn the playbook while working on those things, so it's going to take some time. But he's too good right now to not see the field. He'll play. A lot.

Players ranked in Black's range are even less likely to be year one contributors than five-stars that hit at only a 33% rate (in year one), but enrolling early and impressing are big steps. One insider report has Black, not Donovan Peoples-Jones, starting next to Crawford if the season started today. It does not, and DPJ was limited for much of the spring with a series of minor injuries so he is a candidate to surge back into the lead. Black's prominence is worse news for Drake Harris and Moe Ways, neither of whom generated any spring buzz.

Quarterback is in a bit of a weird spot where... well, here's Sam describing the situation in an extensive board Q&A:

If you're asking me if what I've seen is further confirmation that Brandon is the most talented quarterback on the roster, my answer would be yes. No one is disputing that.  I don't think the quarterbacks themselves would dispute that.

Despite that everyone has Wilton Speight the clear leader for the job, as rising juniors who finished in a dead heat for second in the Big Ten in passer rating tend to be. A couple of turnovers he coughed up while playing with a busted collarbone and a big-time spring game from Brandon Peters have everyone and their mother clamoring for the backup. The many upward pointing arrows on various parts of Peters's profile don't mean he's a favorite, or even particularly likely, to wrest the job away this fall. If Speight struggles or get hurt, I don't expect last year's Indiana game.

As far as the projected starter goes, he was locked in on Friday for the second practice:

On Friday, though, he was dealing.

Once Michigan cranked up the intensity of practice and got a little bit more live, Speight seemed to settle right into a groove and made some really, really impressive throws.

He hit a 25-yard corner route to a receiver in stride -- inside an air-tight window -- on an absolutely beautiful throw.

Pep Hamilton thought so, too.

"That's what we gotta do," Hamilton belted, pumping his fist into the air and slapping Speight on the back after the throw.

From there, he was on the money the rest of the day.

This is both a reminder that the spring game is a weak indicator and a throwback to last year, when Speight had spurts where he looked like the best QB in the country... and spurts where he looked like Michigan's biggest problem. I may be thinking of several deep balls that landed about four yards too long one night in Iowa City.

My operative theory last year was that the Harbaugh-ized version of Speight is a very, very good QB but he reverted to previous bad habits too often. If that is the case and the guy who is spooky accurate goes from 40 of snaps to 70% this year Michigan will have a hell of a passing game. Don't write off Speight yet.

Finally in passing game notes: Ian Bunting is still the expected starter as an inline TE, with Tyrone Wheatley's blocking still inconsistent.

Interestingly, Zach Gentry was mentioned as the starting FLEX, which is probably good news. Nick Eubanks has looked impressive this spring, so Gentry potentially forcing his way onto the field says good things about his ability to deliver matchup problems to opposing defenses.  He's not far off Mike Gesicki, the Penn State tight end. Gesicki is the only football player in history worse at TE blocking than Devin Funchess, but 48 catches for 679 is outstanding receiving output.

Offensive line is status quo: Cole/Bredeson/Kugler/Onwenu/Runyan, with JBB held out of contact in Rome. Per Baumgardner, Bredeson did take some tackle snaps but his impression was that Michigan was relatively set with that line, give or take a freshman at right tackle. Per Webb there's good news and bad news here, with Cole "going toe to toe with Rashan Gary" and Ben Bredeson improving a great deal. On the downside, Mike Onwenu's weight is still an issue and Michigan is insisting he get down to 360.

I have a dollar on Andrew Stueber as the opening day RT, FWIW.

Unverified Voracity Hires Guys On The Spot

Unverified Voracity Hires Guys On The Spot

Submitted by Brian on March 30th, 2017 at 1:49 PM

The first of more than a few planeteam retrospectives. From BTN:

From the blog world, Hoover Street Rag probably has an aero engineer on staff and so has all the details of what exactly happened with that plane:

The MD-83 turning onto Runway 23L at Willow Run International Airport (KYIP) would never be able to takeoff, but no one on board knew that. The right elevator was jammed in the down position, and the pilots had no chance of ever being able to raise the nose enough to lift off.

Designing and flying a safe airplane is about delicately balancing huge forces. Gravity's remorseless tug must be balanced by lift; thrust is balanced by drag. If you do this right, you get steady level flight. To turn, you have to slightly perturb this arrangement. The ailerons on the wings bank the airplane (this is called the roll axis). The rudder rotates the plane left or right (yaw). The elevator, meanwhile, rotates the nose up or down (pitch).

The tail (or the empennage, if you want to sound fancy) on most conventional airplanes consists of a vertical stabilizer, sticking up like a shark fin and housing the rudder, while the horizontal stabilizer sprouts from either side of the tail, each containing half the elevator.

And Holdin' The Rope:

After 20 minutes, Michigan trailed by two -- but it felt like it should have been much more.

After 40 minutes, Michigan lost by one -- but it felt like it should have been much less, another outcome, a different narrative track.

Various Harbaugh stories, as per usual. David Lombardi's article on Stanford assistant Tsuyoshi Kawata is interesting on its own; it will be of special interest to Michigan folks because of Harbaugh doing Harbaugh things:

Kawata could barely speak English, but he was looking for an entry point into coaching in the United States.

Kawata had thought about what he was going to say to Harbaugh before he entered his office. He told Harbaugh that he was a major influence in his football education, and that he remembered him as "Captain Comeback" from watching his games in Japan on grainy television broadcasts.

"I told him that story to make his mood better," Kawata said with a laugh.

"Do you love football?" Harbaugh asked.

"Yes, Coach, absolutely," Kawata replied.

"Come and join us," Harbaugh said.

...

"It was one of those deals where, all of a sudden, Jim hired him and didn't tell anybody," said Shaw, who was Stanford's offensive coordinator at the time. "So [Kawata] walked out onto the field, and it was like, 'Who is this guy? He's on the field? He's got a clipboard?'"

"Hired" in this context means "gave an unpaid internship to," but I enjoy the idea of coaches showing up at practice not knowing if there's going to be a mysterious new guy.

Also in Harbaugh is this story his brother told Peter King:

Last Memorial Day we did vacation together. My wife and I have a cottage up north in Michigan on Lake Huron. We get Jim to drive up with the kids and all that, and we have a basketball hoop in the front yard in the driveway, and we were going to play a little game with the kids, and we just started shooting around, and next thing you know it was a 4-on-4 game.

It was Jack, who is two-and-a-half, Addy, who is six, Katie, who is four-and-a-half or five at the time, Allison who is 13 or 14 and she is a little basketball player, and Jim and me and Sarah, my wife. We're playing, and you can picture the kind of game it is, right? Allison happens to hit a couple jumpers and we're playing to seven, and we're up maybe 5-1. Next thing you know, Jim starts going over the top of Allison for rebounds, he's boxing her out 10 feet away from the basket.

Next thing you know, it's 5-5 and Jim has made all the shots for his team of course. I'm like, you know, maybe Addy would like to touch the ball? Maybe Katie or Jack could dribble a little bit now and then? It goes 6-6 and a long rebound comes out the side, he goes and gets it. I see Allison happens to be over there, so I see him going to the basket, he's going to take Allison to the hole, you know, he's about 6'3", 235, so I'm going to go cut him off. I get him with my right arm bar across his chest and I'm trying to body check him into the pricker bushes behind the driveway, and he just powers his way to the basket, lays one over the top, a reverse layup off the board, and all he could talk about is how he won.

He picks up Jack and says, 'Doesn't it feel great, Jack, to win? Doesn't it feel great to win?' An hour later we were crossing paths in the backyard to go get a soda or something, and he looks me right in the eye and he says, ‘Hey John, have you won anything yet?’”

This isn't even surprising, down to the wicked burn he delivers his relatively normal brother. Relatively normal brother is a long-time NFL coach, which has a 100% derangement rate, and yet.

Theory of Kalis confirmed. PFF is revealing various draft grades they have, and while Michigan is going to have a bunch of guys picked it looks like OL won't be among them. The only one of Michigan's three graduates to even make their charts is Kalis, and he sticks out like a red, red thumb in  their guard listings:

2017-G-Class-Rank

Kalis is the guy with the most red on his profile. He's relatively good at screen blocks and getting plus run blocks; he's bad to terrible at everything else. That fits with the Theory of Kalis: physically talented but error-prone.

Also worth noting: the guy on the line above him who's got a very draftable grade and a lot of green on his row is Kyle Bosch. Glad to see he bounced back after personal issues caused him to leave Michigan. Also, ugh that only increases curse level of the already-thoroughly-cursed 2013 OL recruiting class.

Hockey coaching name. Providence's Nate Leaman has turned two schools with little history of hockey success into powers. He's in Hockey East and he's taken the Friars to the tourney four straight years. Big talk that he's not available:

There aren't many jobs in the NCAA that could be better than his current situation. And there's reason to believe that any interview and offer from another program would be matched by Providence in a second.

Asked recently about the terms of Leaman's contract, Providence athletic director Bob Driscoll joked that it's a lifetime contract. To wit: Leaman will be the head coach of the Providence College Friars as long as he wants to be.

"I would never hold him back in something he wants to do," Driscoll said. "But my assumption is that he's very happy here. I believe he'll be here for a very long time."

We'll see if Michigan even pokes around with him.

Etc.: Ball control isn't really a thing in football. DJ Wilson profiled by Draft Express. PFF scouts Darboh. Rashan Gary buzz? If I must.

Unverified Voracity Is A Mythical Creature

Unverified Voracity Is A Mythical Creature

Submitted by Brian on March 29th, 2017 at 1:14 PM

31961156616_b46b5da78b_z

"Access to the legal system requires money; also that was holding." [Fuller]

The most interesting man in the world. Jim Harbaugh is (probably) the only football coach in history to land a Politico interview and come off more educated on the topic of said interview than most elected officials:

Politico: What was the response to the tweet when you sent it out?

Harbaugh: Mostly positive, varying to some degree of people’s awareness. There's issues that people just don't understand. One of the biggest issues that got me most fired up is how fines and fees are being used to punish the poor. I've learned how the devastating effect it can have on lives of low income Americans. I mean across the country 48 states have increased civil court fees since 2010 and they're using those fees to pay for government services and not just courts but roads and generating millions and in some states billions of dollars.

But basically the crux of it is when people can't afford to pay a fine or a fee for things like a speeding ticket or municipal violation then they get additional fees. Late fees can start piling up and these fees can double, triple, quadruple the total amount due and if somebody has an inability to pay that fine that can quickly snowball into a driver's license suspension or driver time. People aren't even able to go to work. So you can't pay a fine or a fee and then you lose your driver's license. You're not able to get to a job, and a lot of people, I mean, they’ve got to work.

Also Harbaugh quotes the Federalist Papers in this interview. It is quite an object, the interview.

C8F3nEIXgAAABFt

Bamba (center) yukking it up with fellow BOYCOTT THIS COMPANY

A version of reality including this guy would be nice. Brendan Quinn hits up the [Boycott This Company Until There Is At Least One Ugly Person In Any Of Their Commercials Ever] All-American Game, to focus on the guy Michigan is recruiting: Mo Bamba. Nobody thinks Michigan is actually going to get this dude but MAYBE:

"There's a significant difference between greed and hunger," he said. "When you're greedy, you just want things. That's your only need. But when you're hungry for things, it's a mixture of need and want, which is more logical to me."

Bamba is a different cat, it appears, and hopefully that will take him to Michigan instead of the one-and-done factories down south. I mean, it's not going to. But maybe! But no.

If he did do the thing he isn't going to do that would be kind of good though?

With my own eyes, I saw Bamba grab a rebound near the shot clock during Tuesday's practice. I mean, I think I saw it. Watching Bamba can sometimes feel like bearing witness to Paul Bunyan swing an ax. The facial expressions of the NBA scouts sitting baseline told the story of this young man's mythology. After watching Bamba stretch, a veteran sportswriter covering the event approached me to say: "He's got joints I don't have."

Bamba sees himself as a stretch four and if there's anyone on the planet who can effectively sell his development of enormous inside-outside guys it's John Beilein. Dude has two 6'10"+ potential first round picks* collectively shooting 38% from three on his roster. Neither was as highly recruited as Bamba, to say the least.

Yes, this section has been a waste of time. Unless! But no.

*[2018 please]

Chris Collins might not be nice, but it's the system that rewards him. It wouldn't be worth mentioning except for the fact that so many people went to Medill and enjoyed telling us about pristine Northwestern being everything that's right with college athletics, usually two seconds after they slammed Jim Harbaugh. But since they exist and they did:

On February 3, 2015, the Northwestern men's basketball team somberly walked to the visiting locker room of the Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska, after a 16-point loss to the Cornhuskers.

The team, now 1-8 in the Big Ten, sat down to meet, as it always does after games. Coach Chris Collins, then in his second season at Northwestern, turned to freshman point guard Johnnie Vassar.

According to Vassar and another person who was present, Collins yelled, "Johnnie, you fucking suck."

By any reasonable standard, Vassar had little to do with Northwestern's struggles. A seldom-used reserve, he had played one garbage-time minute against the Huskers. Yet, according to Vassar and another person who was present, Collins continued to berate the backup guard.

That's VICE's Kevin Trahan at the beginning of a lengthy article describing the lengths Collins took to get Vassar off his team, which took some doing in the era of four-year guaranteed scholarships but was nonetheless accomplished. It was accomplished by forcing Vassar into a demeaning "internship" that was mostly janitorial work and then juking timecards to boot him. One catch, via a D-I compliance officer:

"You can't push them off to another obligation," the official said. "There's nowhere in the NCAA manual that says anything about that. If they say, 'you need to do 40 community service hours,' no, you don't. It doesn't say anything about that." Another NCAA Division I school compliance official confirmed that analysis to VICE Sports.

Northwestern booted Vassar off the team after a year and then did whatever they had to in order to get his scholarship available again. Chris Collins seems like an incredible dick in the process. And not even a competent one:

One card spells Vassar's name wong; one has only another person's name on it (with that person's name crossed out); one says "Johnnie V" and has another crossed-out name; one is blank; and three have Vassar's name spelled correctly, but in handwriting that appears to be different than Vassar's.

None of this is news; what is news is that Vassar refused to suck it up and go quietly despite it being much, much easier to take the hint and move on. I admire that bullheadedness. Someone's gotta be Curt Flood.

The Vassar story once again exposes how the NCAA's terrible incentives force players and coaches into adversarial relationships annually. You should not be surprised if dicks like Chris Collins do well in a system that is set up to reward dick behavior. It forced John Beilein into similar last year when he no doubt encouraged Aubrey Dawkins and Ricky Doyle to find greener pastures.

A solution to Vassar's problem should be easy: allow him to keep his scholarship without impacting how many scholarship kids Northwestern can recruit. That costs money, and that's historically been a stumbling block because the SWAC and Colonial type schools without any outnumber those in power conferences; with autonomy there should be nothing stopping the Power 5 from allowing someone cut from a team to continue on scholarship, medical hardship or no.

Speaking of non-Bamba options and transfers. Per Some Guy, Michigan is on Washington PF Noah Dickerson's list of potential destinations as he transfers away from Washington.

Dickerson doesn't look like a great fit: he's not a stretch four in any way—he is 1/10 on threes in his career and his 68% FT rate last year does not suggest he's a butterfly waiting inside a pupa—and would likely have to play the 5 at Michigan, where he'd join Teske and Davis as 5-only contemporaries.

OTOH, he drew a buttload of fouls and was an excellent rebounder and interior scorer. The most fun thing about him is wondering how you have the #1 pick in the NBA draft and a dude with an 115 ORTG on average usage who pulls down rebounds at an 11%/23% rate and go 9-22. Lorenzo Romar, man.

Exit Melo Trimble. The Maryland guard is headed for the NBA draft and will hire an agent, figuring that another year under Mark Turgeon isn't going to get him solidly in the first round. The locals are a little cheesed off:

With 1,658 career points to his name, he would've had a chance to chase the No. 1 spot on the school's career scoring list next season, but he'll pursue a professional career rather than local immortality.

He probably figures that when you lose in the first round as a six seed in the NBA nobody gets on your case.

Etc.: Where Peppers fits in the NFL. Charges coming for MSU higher ups because of Larry Nassar? Don't click here unless you know karate.

Thursday Recruitin' Names Favorite Saints

Thursday Recruitin' Names Favorite Saints

Submitted by Brian on February 23rd, 2017 at 12:19 PM

Game on in-state

Hutchinson vs 5* 2019 MI OL Devontae Dobbs

Michigan of course picked up a commitment from MI DE Aidan Hutchinson a couple days ago. I was chatting off air with Sam Webb today and we settled on Ryan Van Bergen with a bit more edge rush as a comparable for Hutchinson, FWIW. As a bonus, Harbaugh story:

Harbaugh paid a visit to Divine Child last month and was greeted by school pastor James Bilot.

“The priest meets him when he walked in and Harbaugh said, ‘Give me your top three,’” Hutchinson said, laughing. “The priest didn’t know what he was talking about. ‘Give me your top three saints. You’ve got to have a top three!’ My son’s school was like, ‘Whaaat?’”

I hope Harbaugh has a board on which he has his top saints ranked that he regularly rearranges. Tough day for St. Francis of Assisi, but St. Thomas More is really picking it up lately, etc.

Hutchinson, the #4 player in Michigan per the composite, is a legacy widely expected to end up in Ann Arbor; the rest of the instate crop is far less locked in to any particular school. Of the top ten in state, two are committed to ND already and #8 Jason Whittaker is headed to Northwestern; aside from Hutchinson everyone else is open.

That includes Traverse City West OL Ryan Hayes, who just picked up a Michigan offer and plans a visit next month. Trieu describes him as "Jake Fisher 2.0," referring to the instate lineman who decommitted from Michigan after Rich Rodriguez was fired and went on to have a successful career at Oregon. Fisher was a second round draft pick a couple years back. Per Trieu, Greg Frey recruited both Fisher and Hayes's older brother Connor, who ended up at Pitt. The younger Hayes is up to the #2 player in the state after a significant bump from 24/7.

#1, OL Marquan McCall, was widely regarded a Michigan lean but recently Lorenz said he might not be as high on Michigan's board as that would imply and there might not be room for him in a tight class. #5, OL Tyrone Sampson, is a legit four star but there is one complicating factor. Trieu:

Strong, great balance and base and technically very sound. True center and a potentially elite one.

Michigan took #1 C Cesar Ruiz last year. One or the other could play guard but if Sampson believes his best spot is C Michigan is not likely to be the destination. They haven't offered yet in any case.

File under crootin

GA OL Jalil Irvin, who was briefly a commit, took an unofficial to Ann Arbor and returned saying very positive things:

“I love Michigan after today,” Irvin, a former Michigan commit, said. “Just the campus, coaches, academics, and everything.”

Meanwhile, IN OL Emil Ekiyor, who is currently a commit, has visited multiple schools recently. A trip to Indiana is decidedly unthreatening:

"My main priority right now is Michigan. I'll look at other schools, but I'm pretty focused on them."

Going down to Tallahassee is considerably more alarming, especially considering his recent trip there was his second. That it's part of a southern swing through Georgia, Alabama, and the Noles is... not better, but not worse. Ekiyor, FWIW:

"Just exploring, making sure I am making the right decision," Ekiyor said. "But I am locked into Michigan right now. Nothing has changed with that. I'm just looking."

"I'm locked in ... I'm just looking" is a hefty slab of grade A crootin for you right there. Ekiyor decommit DEFCON is currently at 3, and will move up to 2 if he camps at FSU, like he told 24/7 he was "thinking about."

On the other hand, 4* GA LB Otis Reese seems totally solid. He's planning an April unofficial and Lorenz reports that Michigan has not let their pursuit flag despite the fact he is committed.

Large class complaints will be minimal this year

Per Lorenz, Michigan is currently done(!) at DE and LB with one guy at each spot (Hutchinson and GA LB Otis Reese), and there's some circumstantial evidence to back that up from 4* CA DE Jeremiah Martin, a weakside type:

“(I’m) not really (hearing from them),” said Martin. It just same with some other offers like offered then don't really communicate. I mean mail that's about it.”

Martin still wants to visit but feels like the interest is more on his end than theirs at the moment.

That seems a bit shortsighted to me since there's always attrition even when you don't want there to be attrition (see: Asiasi, Devin). But the depth chart is pretty stocked at both spots now, which was emphatically not the case a year ago.

Anyway: any class with just two guys at DE/LB is going to be pretty small. Especially if they're not going to push for FL DE Nik Bonnito as a result, as Lorenz asserts.

Obligatory Faalele section

FL OL Daniel Faalele checked in at 6'8", 400 pounds at the Orlando Nike Camp. Apparently Mike Onwenu convinced them to get bigger scales at these things. This news was the impetus for that rarest of birds: a Good Tweet.

Extremely grudging 2019 stuff

MI OL Devontae Dobbs is an early five star on 24/7 and continues tracking that direction after an impressive Elite Big Man camp:

Trieu asserts that he's "a blue chipper without a doubt."

FL LB Anthony Solomon took an unofficial last week and returned saying Michigan was his new leader, displacing Alabama. Solomon is at St. Thomas Aquinas, which is now Harbaugh's favorite saint. STA sends a lot of guys to ND and various northern schools, so it's not out of the question Michigan hangs on. Solomon told Sam Webb that he's very close with Devin Bush—"their family and my family grew up together"—and that can't hurt.

Another recent visitor who Michigan leads for is KY DE Stephon Herron Jr, per Lorenz. Here is the default sentence about vague leaders two years out.

Etc.

Brice Marich reports that Michigan is keeping tabs on 3* MI OL Michael Furtney. 4* IL OL Verdis Brown was "super excited" to get a Michigan offer, has vague visit plan. 3* AL DT Timaje Porter very much wants a Michigan offer. Michigan offers GA ATH Quindarious Monday, and yes I just mentioned this because of the name.

Unverified Voracity Underestimated The Power Of The Mississippi State Legislature

Unverified Voracity Underestimated The Power Of The Mississippi State Legislature

Submitted by Brian on January 19th, 2017 at 2:42 PM

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[Eric Upchurch]

Going to be a dodgy year on the OL. Steve Lorenz reports that Grant Newsome has a "minimal" chance of playing in 2017. That is not good. If that's the case you just about have to slide Ben Bredeson outside and run with something like Bredeson/Kugler/Cole/Onwenu/Somebody.

You'd think the leader to be Somebody would be redshirt sophomore-to-be Nolan Ulizio. Ulizio didn't look particularly good when he got in this fall; I've heard that he had mono and was down to 260 at one point. He bounced back during the fall but only to 280. He could surge forward once he gets to the right weight.

A bountiful draft. The NFL's website names Michigan the team poised to send the most talent to the NFL draft:

Early rounds: EDGE Taco Charlton, CB Jourdan Lewis, S Jabrill Peppers, DE Chris Wormley
Middle rounds: TE Jake Butt (injury), WR Amara Darboh, OT Erik Magnuson, RB De'Veon Smith
Late rounds: OG Ben Braden, WR Jehu Chesson, LB Ben Gedeon, DT Ryan Glasgow, S Delano Hill, OG Kyle Kalis, CB Channing Stribling, S Dymonte Thomas

I'd be surprised if Braden and Kalis got picked but everyone else has a real shot of going off the board. Charlton appears to be surging up draft boards to the point where debatably silly things are being said about him:

This is a draft with Myles Garrett in it, so that's a thing.

Harbaugh stories. Chase Goodbread collects them from Michigan players at the Shrine game:

"One time, he told us as a kid he got hit by a mail truck and was in a cast, and was still playing football with it. Then they had to rebreak it -- I can't remember if it was his foot or his arm -- because he kept playing on it and made it worse. I mean, who gets hit by a mail truck? It could only be you, coach Harbaugh." - DB Dymonte Thomas

Screaming works? 538 tracks penalties by which sideline they're thrown on and the results are not encouraging if you're the kind of person who believes people are in charge of things for a reason:

lopez-sideline-1

lopez-sideline-2

This is NFL data and so not directly applicable to college, but you'd think college refs would be even more susceptible to these sorts of things since they're drawn from a wider pool and are probably less capable on average than NFL refs.

So: the defense gets called for "aggressive" penalties ("unnecessary roughness, personal fouls, unsportsmanlike conduct, and horse-collar tackles" per the article) 30-40% more often when there are people complaining nearby.

Meanwhile the holding graph is very strange since the effect inverses once you approach the goal line. The only mechanism there is revenge(!) as side judges who are now far away from the screaming maniacs exact their price. Maybe it evens out for holding.

Not that anyone calls holding anymore. This was one of the main takeaways from the Film Room broadcast of the national title game: Alabama scores thanks to an edge block on which a defender is yanked to the ground; someone exclaims that is a hold; the assembled coaches all laugh about the fact that nobody calls holding any more.

Tracing Michigan's ground game issues. De'Veon Smith is performing impressively at the Shrine game practices:

One of the best players at the East-West Shrine this week has been Michigan running back De'Veon, Smith and he had a tremendous practice on Wednesday. ... Both his route and the blocking earned Smith some a lot of praise from the coaching staff. In the team scrimmage, he also broke off a few chunk runs, weaving his way through defenders with quickness, balance, and vision.

Scouting sources told WalterFootball.com that Smith could be the best offensive prospect on the East team, and he has had a tremendous week to help his draft stock.

Also:

It would be nice if Michigan's problems were because of Smith since he's out the door and Michigan has a number of guys who look like viable replacements; I don't think that's the case, and his rising draft stock concurs. Michigan has a major build job on the offensive line to undertake. Related: TTB has a breakdown of the guys who Michigan recruited and their destinies.

I guess this is fine. Football is set to get a slightly early signing period:

The Division I Football Oversight Committee is moving forward with a proposal that would open a 72-hour signing period for high school recruits in December. The timeframe would correspond with the current December signing time for junior college recruits.

But the committee isn’t recommending an early-signing time for recruits in June.

That "early" period is still after everyone's season, so most of the coaching changes will have already transpired. I didn't like the rumored June signing period since it was inane to lock guys in before they could take official visits and before the firing season.

While the June date didn't make it, an artifact of those earlier discussions may have wormed its way through anyway:

As part of the committee’s proposal, rules on official visits for recruits would also be modified. Recruits would be allowed to take official visits from April-June of their junior years, two months earlier than initially proposed.

That's good for Michigan, which will be able to get early-deciding kids on campus more easily now.

Midterm CSB rankings. Michigan-relevant players ranked by the NHL's central scouting board:

  • F Josh Norris: #46
  • D Luke Martin: #67

...and that's it. Mike Pastujov, who was hyped as a potential first-rounder, is not on the list. The cavalry is not coming next year.

Shooting a gun with no bullets in it. There is a Mississippi state senator who thinks he has a magic wand:

Mississippi Rep. Trey Lamar (R-Senatobia) has proposed a new House Bill that would surely benefit Ole Miss’ current recruiting woes: The National Collegiate Athletic Association Fairness in F.A.C.T Investigation Act of 2017.

Lamar, a former Rebels walk-on running back from the early 2000s, is pushing a bill giving the NCAA one year to complete its investigation once it notifies a school of possible rules violations, according to a report from WCBI News.

NCAA: "Or what?"
TREY LAMAR:  "Or I shall name a bill at you a second time!"

This is not how state government works, Trey Lamar. FWIW, various coaches at AFCA project that Ole Miss will find out their fate in 2-3 months, and that it will not be pretty. Or it will, because NCAA.

Etc.: Fired Alabama DL coach Bo Davis talks to AL.com, attempts to spin a tale about how his firing was for one violation of the bump rule, cumong man. Analyst Rick Finotti gets the head job at DIII John Carroll. Dumb, but important. The playoff is good. Willis Ward and the track captaincy. Recruiting rankings are getting better because of Hudl. Yost, 1946.

Tuesday Recruitin' Is Dropping Bananas

Tuesday Recruitin' Is Dropping Bananas

Submitted by Brian on January 17th, 2017 at 12:33 PM

Offseason Harbaugh is a go

The long desert before football season resumes is among us, so it's time for Jim Harbaugh Antics to provide us succor. Here he is with a small child in a tiger-themed go-kart:

Yeah, that's the stuff.

As Webb mentions above, this was part of Harbaugh's in-home visit with 5* GA DT Aubrey Solomon. It appears to have gone well:

“Just finished such an awesome in home visit where we bowled, raced cars & finished a pre-k project celebrating 100 days of school for Lee County Pre-K, Solomon’s mother Sabrina Caldwell told The Michigan Insider. “He brought his daughter and it was the best visit ever.”

Or very well:

To say Jim Harbaugh and Chris Partridge crushed their in-home visit with five-star defensive tackle Aubrey Solomon may be an understatement.

That's what 247Sports was told Tuesday morning.

Yep, Harbaugh brought his daughter on a recruiting visit, which is no doubt causing the inmates of the RCMB to splutter in impotent rage. (Also targets of their impotent rage: women, people who don't drink Faygo, algebra.) Webb says he doesn't have a gut feeling on Solomon, but that he fits many of the criteria. It's usually a good sign when Webb starts getting a ton from the parents.

A couple of 247 guys have joined Barton Simmons with Michigan predictions, and they're both guys covering UGA. Both flipped from Alabama predictions, and while opinion on Solomon has blown like the wind since his decommit there's not much time for things to swing back—Solomon now says he's done with visits after he heads out to USC. Rusty Mansell, one of the Georgia guys who CBed Solomon to Michigan, is hearing that Nick Saban and Kirby Smart might not even get in-homes. That would be game over.

Solomon is obviously the top target left on Michigan's board and would almost certainly be in the two deep as a freshman; as the First Look post from last week noted, Michigan's interior line depth is nonexistent.

The other major targets

Georgia is buzzing for 4* AL WR Nico Collins, which would be deeply irritating after they swooped on Isaiah Wilson out of nowhere. At least Alabama is "no longer considered a factor" for Collins, per Lorenz. Webb says it's "become more of a toss up" since Fisch departed; Pep Hamilton will have to build a relationship in a short period of time. He still gives Michigan the edge.

Wiltfong reports that Michigan is getting back in the game with IA WR Oliver Martin, who most were projecting in this class until Brad Hawkins suddenly re-emerged. Martin has two officials left and Michigan could get one of them—his October visit was an unofficial. Wiltfong is still riding with ND.

4.5* MS LB Willie Gay fielded an in-home visit from Chris Partridge on Thursday that didn't generate much content in the aftermath. Mississippi State firing its defensive coordinator probably doesn't help the Bulldogs, but LSU is looming.

Lorenz reports that *4.5 UT DT Jay Tufele is now expected by most to stick close to home. Michigan isn't expecting much there.

Wobblers still wobbling

4* FL OL commit Kai-Leon Herbert took a visit to Auburn this weekend, and had a very crootin' quote in the aftermath:

"I'm definitely going to commit before National Singing Day or re-afffirm my commitment if I happen to choose Michigan," Herbert said. "I'm not that guy who does the hats."

Herbert is more of a Walking Dead parody video kind of guy. Herbert's commit is obviously butter soft at this point, potentially opening the door for Thorpe. Lorenz reports that Michigan is going to try to solidify him with an in-home after he visits Miami and UF the next two weekends; he doesn't see it happening.

4* NM RB commit O'Maury Samuels is the recruit most affected by Ty Wheatley's departure and has been somewhat soft for several months now. Michigan has an official remaining, which is good, and Sameul's father told Webb that there's only one other school in contention:

“I think (Arizona is the only other school being considered).  I think he narrowed it down to Michigan and Arizona.  There were other schools, but it’s Michigan and Arizona. If I had to bet on it.”

Much easier fending off one school, especially one coming off a tough year, than a full-court press from most of the SEC. Webb says it's "not a slam dunk"; Isaiah Hole reported that Samuels is "fully expected to qualify and to be part of the class."

2.5* GA RB commit Kurt Taylor landed a Michigan State offer and says he'll officially visit MSU on the 27th.

Weird guys watch

Happy trails to 3* CT CB Brandon Sebastian, who abruptly cancelled his upcoming visit and is now set to stick with BC. Brice Marich says it was a "mutual" decision—unlikely. This is made even weirder by another weird thing: 4* ND commit Elijah Hicks decommitted from ND... so he could immediately enroll at Cal, which did not have a head coach at that juncture.

Michigan now has zero realistic targets* at defensive back. Reports that Michigan is getting back in with IA WR Oliver Martin may not be entirely Collins related; it's possible the fifth DB is going to be a wide receiver they convert, probably NJ WR Brad Hawkins.

*[Definition of "realistic target": someone who has been on campus or scheduled a visit.]

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Brooks

4* VA LB Ellis Brooks tells Rivals he will "probably" take a visit next weekend; he's currently at LSU and Oregon is on the docket this weekend. Michigan bumped ND, so there's that. Brooks is a big dude at 240; any Michigan pursuit should not be interpreted as pessimism regarding Gay. Brooks just took an official to Northwestern, so he's got a super weird top five: NW, Oregon, LSU, Michigan, and Maryland.

A couple of OL prospects now seem like somewhat reasonable possibilities. Bradon Justice reports that 4* PA OL CJ Thorpe will take an official next week. This space has mentioned Thorpe in passing after Michigan started poking around, but this is is the first indication this pursuit is anything serious. Thorpe is a legacy—thus that quote from his dad about how Urban Meyer can't recruit him—but a late January visit is always a threat.

Clemson OL Jake Fruhmorgen is transferring; Michigan and Florida are the schools most prominently mentioned for him at this early stage. Fruhmorgen played in 11 games as a true freshman and started the first eight games of Clemson's national championship season before getting knocked out with a shoulder injury. PFF reports that he didn't grade out well, but he's a true sophomore who has eight starts; probably some potential there.

Lorenz reports that Michigan is interested enough to check him out; in his opinion Michigan was second for Fruhmorgen during his initial recruitment. He'd have to sit out next year and then would have two to play; if Michigan has some extra spots, as it looks like they might, Fruhmorgen would be an opportunity to patch some holes in the upperclass OL.

Finally, Marich reports that Michigan has been in contact with 4* TN RB Cordarrian Richardson, a Clemson decommit. Jay Harbaugh is going to make an in-home with him, no doubt in the hopes of securing an official from him. Richardson has just three crystal balls, two of which are foggy—this is a potential Alpaca Out Of Nowhere recruitment if things go well.

Rivals finalizes top 100

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Ruiz is the top rated center in a minute

The post-All Star rankings are generally the last ones, and Rivals is first out of the gate with a finalized top 100. Michigan commits:

  • #12 Donovan Peoples-Jones
  • #26 Jordan Anthony
  • #41 Cesar Ruiz (up from 77)
  • #52 Drew Singleton
  • #74 Luiji Vilain (up from 181)
  • #76 Tarik Black

Dylan McCaffrey was the only dropper; he's now outside the top 100 after being #52. TTB points out that everyone except McCaffrey took big upward leaps since the initial Rivals 100 for this class, so maybe not so much with the tinfoil hats this year.

User Indonacious collected relevant scouting. On Ruiz:

“The rare polished high school center, Ruiz is a natural fit for the position. He shined at this year's Under Armour All-America Game, where he displayed impressive extension and solid power. The fact that he's spent his high school career snapping the ball from the center spot is a bonus for Michigan, which could use him at both guard and center early in his time in Ann Arbor.” – Rob Cassidy, Rivals.com Southeast Recruiting Analyst

And Vilain:

“Vilain will be a great pass rusher at Michigan, but at the Under Armour All-America Game he showed that he's not a one-trick pony. He played with more power than ever before and had lots of success in practices. Vilain's presence in the backfield during the game showed he will have success against elite competition.” - Friedman

Etc.

Lorenz reports that Michigan is really high on OH DT commit James Hudson. Same.

2018 stuff

Names to keep an eye out for:

Michigan will be heavy after tight ends in 2018 after taking a pass on the position this year.

Unverified Voracity Ain't No Jive Turkey

Unverified Voracity Ain't No Jive Turkey

Submitted by Brian on December 14th, 2016 at 4:03 PM

31272450610_5c33c73861_z

[Bill Rapai]

Bust items. Michigan's annual football bust was last night. The most important thing arising from it was either Harbaugh emphatically stating he was not leaving Michigan and that three "jive turkeys" were spreading rumors to damage the program...

...or this photobomb.

Better men than me will have to parse a winner between those two items. I mean.

Split those hairs, if you will.

Other bits and pieces:

  • John O'Korn's status is up in the air: you "may see him back here next year."
  • Also in fifth year limbo: Wyatt Shallman, Patrick Kugler, David Dawson. We've been assuming Shallman gets a firm handshake since RB and FB are both full of guys and he hasn't been able to stay healthy. Michigan will probably need the OL depth Kugler and Dawson provide. It wouldn't be much of a surprise to see one or both start, but last year Michigan went into spring camp over 85 and without various exits the axe could have fallen on a guy like Matt Godin.
  • Maurice Hurst was not present—some guys had class commitments—and Harbaugh urged people to @ him to encourage him to return. Hurst's publicly stated he is leaning towards a return. Obviously that decision is not made yet.
  • Harbaugh further stumped for a sixth year for Jeremy Clark.

It is possible to take recruiting rankings too seriously. We take them seriously around here, but not this seriously:

FSU has the talent advantage in the game at every position except the offensive line.

That's a Tallahassee Democrat article titled "It's Experience versus Talent" in the Orange Bowl, which, uh

Because of the Michigan offensive line, the Michigan offense has a higher average recruiting ranking than the Seminoles despite the Seminoles having the edge at the skill positions and quarterback.

So not really. Also Michigan's defense has a walk-on at nose tackle... a walk-on who will be a mid-round draft pick. The moral of the article is that the recruiting rankings are close to a wash and Michigan is a bunch older, which helps explain why Michigan is a touchdown favorite.

Harbaugh's fourth down decisions analyzed. Long piece on Harbaugh's punt or go-for-it decision from Big House Analytics finds that somewhere between 60 and 80 percent of the time Harbaugh agrees with math dorks:

Ultimately, we have a 77.8% “success rate” here, if you will — out of Michigan’s 45 non-garbage-time punts and their nine non-garbage-time fourth-down conversion attempts, Harbaugh’s decision to punt or go was Romer-approved or at least defensible given the complexion of the game (in my opinion) 77.8% of the time. If you want to go by the book (meaning the punts I deemed as defensible but not Romer-approved counting against our success rate instead of for it), our score is 59.3%.

This analysis doesn't get into anything team specific, so Michigan's iffy running game and killer defense don't factor in. Both of those argue for a more conservative tack. Only a couple of Harbaugh's decisions stood out to me as poor: punting on fourth and five from the OSU 36 early was pretty bad. On the other hand, that set up a first half where OSU was constantly pinned back and Michigan eventually cracked their D for a TD. It was very Ten Year War, and you could see why people tended to play that way back in the day.

Meanwhile on that FSU OL. Sometime OL starter Wilson Bell was arrested for failure to appear after a hit-and-run on property. No word yet on whether that affects his availability for the bowl game. I'd guess that it doesn't since no announcement has been made yet.

Hitching your revenue model to the cable bundle was foolish. It's going to take some time, but not as much as some people thought it would. ESPN is already becoming a bit of a boat anchor for Disney:

ESPN was thrust into the spotlight in November when the ratings company Nielsen predicted the sports juggernaut would lose 621,000 cable subscribers that month. Nielsen estimated the sports network would lose another 555,000 subscribers in December.

The staggering losses have led to calls by analysts for Disney to spin off or sell the beleaguered network, which has lost 9 million subscribers in three years, according to company filings.

The cable bundle is going to dissolve. That is inevitable. I sure as hell wouldn't have cable if I didn't watch sports, and about 100% of people younger than me have the same opinion. Since sports is by far the most expensive thing in the cable bundle, grandmas who just want to watch HGTV will bolt and we'll be the only ones left. At that point you don't get to put your hand in New York's pocket just because you added Rutgers, and then Rutgers is a barnacle on the Big Ten.

Maybe they can just eject them like the Big East ejected Temple? That's the ticket?

Draft split. Todd McShay's first mock draft has Peppers 4th; he fell out of PFF's first round mock. I'd split the difference there: Peppers obviously has some things to work on, but no athlete as outrageous as he is will fall to the second round.

McShay also has Taco Charlton(24th) and Jourdan Lewis(28th) in his first round. Hopefully Charlton does go in the first round, because then I will be less peeved about his lack of a redshirt. Also he deserves it.

Also of note for Michigan fans: McShay has OSU CB Marshon Lattimore and UW OT Ryan Ramczyk in his first round. Both guys could return to school; Michigan would obviously prefer it if they did not.

Russell Wilson part 2? 247 reports that Wisconsin is looking like the landing spot for ND grad transfer QB Malik Zaire. Zaire has about 100 career attempts to his name over the last three years and brings Devin Gardner-esque athleticism. He's not a slam dunk, but he's looked better than Alex Hornibrook. Would give Wisconsin another element.

The life of an analyst. Fascinating article on the guys who get their foot in the door for Bill Belichick:

Daboll was well prepared. He had spent two years as a grad assistant at Michigan State under Saban, so could speak semi-comfortably about scheme, self-scout, all that. Then Scarnecchia asked him about salary.

What do you think you should make?

Daboll had researched this, too. He had made calls to colleagues, and had dug up salary surveys from the NFL Coaches Association. He believed the average annual salary was around $65,000. He also thought, having worked for Saban, that he was a tad better than average.

"So I say 70," Daboll recalled. "And Brad Seely leans over and says, 'Would you take 15?' I go, 'Yessir.'"

NFL teams lowballing QC types like they're newspapers out here. Article also has a bunch of details on what breaking into football coaching is actually like. It is a ton of yes/no game charting.

Etc.: Carol Hutchins wins the inaugural Pat Summitt award. Well deserved. Minnesota suspends ten(!) players indefinitely. They decline to say why because of "privacy restrictions relating to student educational data," which tells you why. [UPDATE: Nevermind. Very bad.]

Peppers and mom in NYC. Some Don Brown twist stuff. Will Lockwood will be out for some time thanks to an obvious boarding incident that went uncalled but still separated his shoulder. "Christmas camp." Sounds fun!

This Week’s Obsession: The Red Cedar Survey

This Week’s Obsession: The Red Cedar Survey

Submitted by Seth on October 27th, 2016 at 3:41 PM

MGoReader GameBoy discovered a thread on the Red Cedar Message Board ($) where the denizens of the afore mentioned troll kingdom were given the opportunity to ask a (probably apparently not fake; sorry Dizzo) Wolverine some questions. Some are good questions, some are, well, we’re talking about the kind of wretches who hoot at the cleverness of adding “sc” to “UM” because then it’s like they’re saying algae instead of the University of Michigan. Get it? Algae is gross, right?*

They’re not great questions—consider the source—but since it’s rivalry week we decided we might as well try to give some full answers. MGoStaff were invited to answer what they pleased. The names and mangling of our common language have not been changed, because nobody here is innocent.

*[MGoReaders: Nobody wants to read about your world-changing research on the emissions-controlling properties of algaeforms ].

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1. DantIzzoNio: Will Jeem go for two after every score?

Seth: Only if the chart says so.

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2. Is Wilton Speight good?

Seth: Ask again later. We've got two good games and a handful of various shades of iffy. My guess is he started taking hits and lost his mechanics, but used the bye week to shore some of that back up. Harbaugh has an extraordinary track record with quarterbacks so he'll get what he can out of Speight, which is probably a poor man's Ben Roethlisberger when's all said and done. Sophomore year Navarre is a present comparison, or for a Spartan example, Ryan Van Dyke. You can win with those guys, but you don't win BECAUSE of those guys.

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3. Will your punter wear Stickum?

Seth: Hard to tell, we rarely punt anymore.

[After the jump, we take some of these seriously.]