Preview 2009: Quarterbacks

Preview 2009: Quarterbacks

Submitted by Brian on September 1st, 2009 at 3:55 PM

Part two of the all-singing all-dancing season preview. Previously: The Story, 2009.

LON HORWEDEL,THE ANN ARBOR NEWS 
Incoming freshman Michigan quarterback Tate Forcier throws on the run while doing quarterback passing drills during Saturday, March 21st's practice at UM's practice field outside of Schembechler Hall.Rating: 2.

QB Yr.
Tate Forcier Fr.
Denard Robinson Fr.
Nick Sheridan Jr.*

Once upon a time, the Edmonton Oilers—of whom I am a fan mostly because of Mike Comrie and Chris Chelios, but that's another post—did something right. At the advent of the salary cap era in the NHL they traded an array of prospects and spare parts to Saint Louis for Chris Freakin' Pronger and signed him to a five-year deal. They surrounded Pronger with an array of steady old hands and overachievers and then set about deploying the NHL's best defenseman en route to the Oilers' traditional position when the trade deadline rolls around: on the fringes of the playoffs, unsure whether to buy or sell. Ah, the Oilers.

They bought, shipping a first-round pick and conditional third-rounder to the Minnesota Wild for elderly platoon goaltender Dwayne Roloson, who was not and is not Marty Brodeur.  A meaningless move and wild overpayment? Maybe for anyone else in the NHL.

You see, Rudy, the Oilers' goalies were Ty Conklin and Jussi Markkannen. They were not good. They were goalie DEATH, in fact:

When looking at save percentage relative to league, I use something I call relative save percentage. … I’ve got the numbers for every team since 1987-88; that’s 435 teams in all. Guess how many of those teams have put up a relative save percentage worse than the Oilers' 982.

17.

17!!

Oilers blogger Mudcrutch—the statistically inclined fellow above—ended that pre-trade post above by muttering that it was "depressing to think how good this team could be with half-decent goaltending." When Roloson came in, he whipped out the Godfather references and declared the new guy would make the Oilers 12 goals better over the remainder of the regular season, a "ridiculous number."

He was right. The Oilers made the playoffs, charged through the Western Conference, and made the Stanley Cup finals. There they fell in seven games after Roloson was injured in game one, leaving Ty Conklin to commit one of the all-time worst gaffes in Stanley Cup history and be exiled from Canada forever. Conklin is currently a hobo living in Venezuela and definitely didn't latch onto the best organization in professional sports; Pronger would demand a trade ten seconds after the season ended. Edmonton's team has an average age of 12 and hasn't sniffed the second round since. But for one shining moment, a league-average goalie made all the difference.

I think you see where I'm going with this.

---------------------

Nobody held out much hope last year when Rodriguez's top two options post-Mallett were a walk-on who was honorable mention All-Conference in high school and a guy who got beat out by a walk-on who was honorable mention All-Conference in high school. But even what little hopes were proffered (Sheridan "could be a non-liability who successfully keeps the heat off the other skill position players," said this blog) turned out to be wildly optimistic.

Nick Sheridan and Steven Threet set the bar for quarterback futility so high (low?) they shattered this blog's horrible-quarterbacking touchstone from years past: 1993. Brian Griese and Scott Dreisbach played Sheridan and Threet, respectively, en route to this:

Name Att Comp Int Comp % Yds YPC YPA TD
Brian Griese 238 127 10 53.4 1577 12.4 6.6 13
S Dreisbach 106 56 3 52.8 850 15.2 8.0 3

Those numbers are ugly. They are also vastly better than what Michigan endured last year. I'll spare you the full horror show and just highlight the most important number, yards per attempt. Griese and Dreisbach averaged 7.1 YPA between them. Threet and Sheridan? 5.1. Even Tacopants—Jason Avant's eleven-foot-tall imaginary friend—was discouraged:

Dude, Tacopants is going to catch 400 balls this year.

No, because even he’s watching these sail over his head, and he can be whatever height he wants to be because he is made of dreams and snails and puppy dog tails.

So, yes, Michigan is staring down the barrel of a depth chart that features true freshmen at spots one and two, and people are pretty sanguine about that. Let's just embed this artifact one more time to reinforce why:

Tate Forcier, spring game, 11/14 for 130-ish yards, fifty more on the ground, five total touchdowns, complete failure to heave looping balls that nestle gently between the numbers of opposing defensive backs. Forcier was the easy winner of "Most Encouraging Development" after the spring game. You've heard, seen, and possibly cleaned up after it all before.

Normally this would be the section of the preview that discussed Forcier's performance to date, or in the event of a new starter, summarized the behind-the-scenes fawning and tried to take it down to a reasonable level. But every iota of information we have on Forcier's been hashed and rehashed in this space already. The executive summary:

Tate Forcier is the one who didn't get away, the one who was planning on committing even when Kevin Newsome and Shavodrick Beaver hadn't twirled their mustaches in dastardly fashion and tied Michigan football's hopes to the train tracks before effecting their getaways. His brother is my favorite Michigan player of all time who never played. He is a relentlessly trained quarterback prodigy ready to step in on day one—which was a month ago—and challenge Steven Threet for the starting job. God help us if he flames out.

Here's the world's most succinct scouting report($), via a story title from the Nebraska Rivals site: Forcier Equals Accuracy.

Two thousand other words await you at the link if you're interested in a recap and haven't already committed them to memory. (Which bad form, MGoReader, bad form. Downvote yourself in your heart.)

Forcier has been shaped to be a quarterback since he was a wee tyke. The younger sibling of two Division I recruits (who, it must be said, never actually played), Forcier is the smallest, most consistently drilled, and best mechanically. He's had college-level coaching for years on end now and should be considerably more prepared to play than your average freshman quarterback.

Since we have a general idea of what to expect in Forcier's specific case relative to other freshmen, let's examine what other freshmen thrust into the spotlight tend to do. Doctor Saturday's spent a lot of time this offseason pondering the direction of the Michigan program, and in one post he surveyed the brief, undistinguished recent history of true freshman quarterbacks. Stolen table coming atcha:

froshqbs-ugh

If you scanned that like I did your first reaction was "holy hell, Threet & Sheridan's YPA was well worse than everyone on this list except Jimmah." And yes, it's true. Taken as an aggregate, this random sampling of who-dats and future stars comes out to 6.7, a little worse than Dreisbach-Griese and vastly better than Threetsheridammit.

The upshot: freshman quarterbacks suck, but on average they suck far less than Michigan's two-headed monster of yesteryear. An average-for-a-freshman performance from Forcier will be a huge step forward for the offense.

Note also the tendency of spread—or at least mobile—quarterbacks to cluster at opposite ends of the spectrum. The #1, 2, 3, and 5 quarterbacks were all spread-ish, mobile-ish types. So were the worst, fourth-worst, and eh, maybe fifth-worst. In conjunction with Rodriguez's success with relatively inexperienced quarterbacks (Rasheed Marshall and Pat White at West Virginia) this looks like something of a theory: spread offenses lend themselves to early success as long as you have one-and-a-half talents. Williams, Ball, and Freeman did not. Williams and Ball couldn't throw worth a damn and Freeman was a Spread In Name Only quarterback shoehorned into a spread offense despite his inability to run.

But maybe as long as you're a polished, super-accurate short passer (Leak) or thrilling athlete (Pryor, Griffin), you can get away with your half-skill well enough. (Not having taken in much of a horrible Pac-10 team, I'm not exactly sure where Tuitama fits.) If spread quarterbacks are either surprisingly good for freshmen or horrible, the horrible ones tend to be undercoached, sushi-raw fast guys with the accuracy of a tommy gunner on amphetamines.

This is the precise opposite of Tate Forcier, long may he remain unbroken and functional.

Backups and whatnot

denard-robinson-action

Everyone's hoping that incoming freshman Denard Robinson earns the out-and-out backup spot by the Big Ten schedule because the alternatives are Sheridan, about whom scroll up to the Conklin/Markkannen analogy, and David "Coner" Cone.  Since Robinson just arrived a few weeks ago and didn't get the spring exposure Forcier did I've got nothing more to offer on him other than what got dumped out in his recruiting profile and what's been said about his crazy ninja speed by coaches and teammates.. The executive-executive summary: Pat White. Except maybe… faster?

Offensive coordinator Calvin Magee said Robinson is bigger than Pat White was when he came to West Virginia as a freshman, and quarterbacks coach Rod Smith said Robinson's speed compares favorably to White's.

“I don’t want to blow him up, but he’s fast," Smith said. "He’s fast. It’s fun to watch because when he breaks through - and I love Pat to death, but I’m not so sure this kid - he’s fast. They’re close."

His high school coach gets misty:

"Oh my god, Michigan is going to get an explosive, explosive quarterback," Taylor said. "He's a leader, he pushes his will to win on others. I've never seen a kid so competitive."

Stevie Brown on Michigan's jackrabbit:

“I remember one time Denard (Robinson) broke. When Denard opens up and runs there is nobody that is catching him. He hit a little seam, we lost contain on him and I think he probably hit 80 yards and it felt like five seconds.”

Question: Nobody in the Big Ten is catching him?

"I can't say that. I don’t really know how fast everybody is, but I doubt it.”

He is made of dilithium, and reports from practice are surprised at how accurate his arm is on short stuff.

Robinson will probably work his way into the offense in a version of the Feagin package from last year—ESPN will dub it the "Wild Dawg"—except he's actually capable of throwing so defenses will have to respect that.

I'd been hoping Forcier puts a stranglehold on the job and Robinson would end up redshirting in 2010 before emerging as a hyper-fast skill position player or cornerback, but given all the practice buzz you have to keep him around at QB until such time as he doesn't provide an element of explosiveness far beyond the alternatives. IE: Devin Gardner starts, which is still very much up in the air. This year he's the only thing standing between Michigan and…

Nick Sheridan. I nicknamed him DEATH just in time for the Minnesota game, where he proceeded to play sort of like a good, if physically deficient, Division I quarterback. It couldn't last, though, and Sheridan finished the year by going 8 of 29 against Northwestern and 8 of 24 against Ohio State. Across both games he totaled 148 yards. No offense to his work ethic or general standing as a person, but if he sees the field it's time to cower.

I know, I know, I know. He will probably play against Western and he's listed amongst the great wide ORs on the quarterback depth chart. But I refer you to the stats above and this blog's pre-jihad obsession with debunking the idea he will start. I won't belabor it further.

And this is probably the last time I'll get to use a sentence that's sat untouched in this preview since he matriculated, so prepare to shed a single tear: if David Cone sees the field something has gone very wrong.

Mailbag!

Mailbag!

Submitted by Brian on August 25th, 2009 at 2:06 PM

Brian - I had two questions:

1) Come opening day, do you think the fans will boo Sheridan if and when he walks onto the field (assuming the game close)?  Also, do you think RR will take this into account in his decision when allocating playing time among the QBs?

The second question is much easier to answer: no, Rodriguez isn't taking the opinion of random fans just asking for an empty water bottle to zing over their heads into account. If he is we have bigger problems than the potential a walk-on starts this year. As far as whether a hypothetical Nick Sheridan start will cause boos to rain down… I don't know. I wish I could dismiss that out of hand but after last year I can't. I don't think it would happen right away, but if Sheridan starts and they go three-and-out a few times Michigan Stadium will be 100% discontent and 30-40% booing vociferously.

However, I still think that's highly unlikely and made more so by the recent burst of Denard Robinson hype that sees folks tagging posts "not denard" when they aren't about Denard.

2) I'm not sure if this has been talked about in the blog at all but is there any concern that RR doesn't have much of a coaching tree underneath him despite being a HC for a decent amount of time?  Meaning, is he just surrounding himself with friends who will remain loyal rather than talented coaches that aspire to move up the coaching ladder and can get the best out of their players.  I say this because of the "fundamentals" issue you had with the Purdue UFR from last year when our corners were opening their hips towards the sidelines and basically giving up 15 yards at a clip when you mentioned that they were "coached" to do this.

-Jim Dudnick

BBA '01

I don't think Rodriguez has had much of an opportunity to grow a coaching tree. He spent seven years at West Virginia but the bulk of that time WVU was not the sort of power program that has its assistants picked off. Even when it was people were understandably waiting to see whether the spread 'n' shred was just a flash in the pan. There were only a couple years in which members of Rodriguez's staff were seriously considered for jobs. At that point Butch Jones did land the Central Michigan job. And I guess Bill Stewart is technically another branch, if one likely to be short-lived.

The circumstances conspired against Rodriguez: his teams ran an exotic base defense headed by a guy who liked West Virginia so much he stayed there when Rodriguez left. Calvin Magee is an offensive coordinator under a head coach who is widely known as an offensive innovator and playcaller. Also, he's only been an offensive coordinator for four years. If he got hired during his tenure at West Virginia whoever picked him up would be taking a huge chance on a guy without much of a track record.

Usually coaching trees sprout up from coaches in the midst of long tenures at power programs; Rodriguez will probably have one at some point. Just not yet.

Hello Brian,

I am FINALLY getting to travel up (yes I live in the horrible state below Michigan) for a game (the Indiana game to be exact) and I am wondering if you could give me any help on where would be my best bet for parking and/or what to expect in general. I have waited over 20 years to make it to a game at the Big House and instead of being completely stoked now I'm busy concerning myself with parking, the trip, etc. Any help you can offer would be extremely appreciated. I've googled it and found out that all the parking lots near the stadium are permit parking only so I'm just trying to figure out where my best option is.

Tim Garven

I'm not the best person to ask because I just go to the same place I always go, but whenever I go on the road I find the best idea is to just suck it up and give someone some money. You'll find that every lawn within a mile of the stadium will allow you to park on it for a nominal fee, and usually this will provide ample tailgating space for your needs. If you're just a small group and don't mind shelling out $40, the golf course is widely regarded as one of the nicest tailgating spaces in the Big Ten.

Head to the stadium an hour before the game to catch the warmups and band; you can bring in bottled water; you are advised to hit the bathroom beforehand.

As for postgame activities: there's not much close to the stadium. If you've got your car somewhere you can leave it your best bet is to walk to main street and head north, whereupon you will strike the restaurant/bar heart of Ann Arbor. Suggestions: Prickly Pear and Middle Kingdom, which are just north of William. If you go to Prickly Pear be advised that though buffalo meat sounds like a good idea, it's not. If you're staying overnight go to Angelo's in the morning and get something with hollandaise on it.

Let's Debunk Sheridan Mailbag!

Let's Debunk Sheridan Mailbag!

Submitted by Brian on August 19th, 2009 at 11:30 AM

nick-sheridan-northwestern penn-state-hockey chad-henne-m

no, no, maybe

Brian,

1. Does the CCHA rejecting Alabama's bid start to pave the way for Penn State to go varsity?

Probably not. All the reasons Penn State varsity hockey was unlikely the last time this blog addressed the topic still apply minus one: no conference to go to. Now Penn State could slot into UNO's spot in the CCHA and play a bunch a games against Big Ten teams and Notre Dame, which would put their program on decent footing financially. The CCHA, meanwhile, would be much more likely to accept a name school like Penn State.

That's a big hurdle gone and improves the chances of Penn State varsity hockey from 0% to something nonzero. But the rest of the pile of reasons it's not likely to happen—expense, Title IX, likely doormat status at the start—still apply. We can also toss "endowment-crushing economic collapse" on the heap now.

There is one wild scenario in which I could see some movement: the Big Ten Network wants content on Friday and Saturday nights and thinks that the CCHA with Penn State would be enough of a financial draw that they chip in.

[Side note/question: the CCHA's persistent attachment to Fox Sports Net is weird, since FSN craps all over college hockey whenever they've got a Wings game from 1985 to replay. I can only assume there's a contract that doesn't expire quite yet, because the BTN would be a natural fit for the league. Every team not in Alaska is in the footprint, and nothing else ever happens on Friday night.

Also, the glorious high definition of last year's BTN-broadcast Ohio State game left me crippled the next time I tried to squint at a Fox Sports' two-pixels-a-second stuff. Complicating factor: Fox is 49% owner of the BTN.]

2. Back in 2004, what (if any) were the reports out of practice in terms of the quarterback situation? I don't think it even occurred to me before he took the field that Henne might be the starter for the first game. All of the praise heaped on Tate so far made me want to check for a comparison.

-Brian DeHaven

Unfortunately, this blog started up just before the Rose Bowl that season and I can't go back and tell you definitively. What I remember (and this may be wrong; commenters are encouraged to provide their own take in the comments) is that Henne was recognized as an incredibly advanced high school quarterback and there was considerable uncertainty as to whether Gutierrez or Henne would get the job.

However, Henne was a surprise starter. I remember the muttering in the pregame warmups as it became clear that Gutierrez wasn't throwing and Henne was running the first-team offense. It was clear Gutierrez was injured and IIRC the base assumption was that Henne only had the job until such time as the real starter got healthy. This was not a correct assumption.

Hey Brian,

 

Just wondering, how many scholarships we have next year?  I thought I heard we had 20, but then we had a whole slew of kids leave the program.  Don’t we get those scholarships back?  Shouldn’t we be thrilled when these kids leave the program when they can’t play for us anyway?

I just looked on Rivals and it says we have 18 kids committed.  If we still stand at 20, that means we’ve pretty much hitched our wagon to these 3 star kids (who are probably better than that, based on their fit in our schemes) instead of waiting until some of the bigger name kids commit in Feb.

Do we have more than 20 scholarships?

Thanks for the help!

Aarronn

Yes, Aarronn—last name Herrmann FTW?—Michigan gets those scholarships back. Did you miss the constant bitching about this fact re: Alabama? This blog's current count stands at 20 but that's under the following assumptions:

  • Moundros and Kelvin Grady on scholarship until they graduate.
  • Morales and Sheridan are not.
  • All fifth-year players return.
  • No one leaves for the draft.
  • There's no other attrition.

Some of those are highly likely to be faulty: Bryan Wright and the Coner are not going to get fifth years unless they have incriminating photos of the coaching staff. And there's six months between now and signing day; it's likely a couple players leave the team for reasons of playing time, academics, or injury. (I had a dream last night that three more players left the team, FWIW, but I think they were all Marell Evans again.)

That will push Michigan's class to 23, 25, or even more. Add in a decommit or two and Michigan's still got a ways to go before its class is complete.

You're not wrong about hitching the wagon to three stars, though. This class is going to lag behind the average Michigan class, as discussed earlier. As long as Michigan fills their open scholarship and retains this class, though, it'll be a minor hindrance unless it happens again next year.

Brian,

One thing I have noticed is that you freak out at the possibility of Nick Sheridan starting the season opener or any other game during the rest of his time at Michigan.  My question is, Would it be all that bad if he did win the starting job come September 5th?  Now before you wonder where I have been for the last 18 months, hear me out.  If Sheridan has improved immensely during the spring, summer, and first few days of preseason and he outright beats both Forcier and Robinson, shouldn't that be encouraging?  Now we do have 2 or 3 legitimate QB options.  Wouldn't it be a good thing if Magee and Rodriguez could open up a majority of the playbook to a junior who actually has game experience and has started a D1 game?
 
I was at the spring game and was able to see Forcier and I have been keeping up on what his teammates have been saying about him and I am very excited and I am trusting this year will be much better than last.  However, they are saying good things about Sheridan as well.  I think it would be great if Forcier was slowly worked into more and more snaps during games and by Eastern or Indiana, he's the starter.
 
I guess I just won't be surprised if Sheridan or Forcier starts vs. Western.
Your further thoughts and reasoning behind not wanting Sheridan to ever play again except in mop-up duty.
Thanks,
Adam

I don't mean to slam Sheridan, who's just a guy put in an impossible position trying to make the best of everything. And I don't mean to slam Adam, who seems like a perfectly nice, if insanely optimistic, guy.

That said: were you under a rock last year? Do you remember what happened? I hate Godwin's law right now. I mean, what is your instant reaction to this AnnArbor.com video headline:

Michigan quarterback Nick Sheridan discusses - rather, avoids discussing - what he brings to the table

I know what it is. I know it in my bones. I know it in the bones of my bones. If you try to tell me it's not the cheap, obvious joke I will call you a liar.

I know you specifically disclaimed this sort of response, but… you're not allowed to do that. It is the correct, inevitable response. If Rodriguez chooses to play Sheridan at any point when Forcier is still mobile, that's either a huge failing in judgment or recruiting.

A brief recap of last year: 46% completion rate, 4.5 YPC, 2 TDs, 5 INTs. That's far, far worse than any true freshman starter in recent college football history save Jimmy Clausen, and Sheridan was a redshirt sophomore. He's a walk-on with zero recruiting profile with no indication he's got any upside. Why would he improve "immensely"? Why wouldn't Tate Forcier improve at a similar rate? Why isn't Forcier obviously ahead where Sheridan was last year given their vastly divergent spring games*? What part of the playbook can Sheridan, who's slower and has a weaker arm than Forcier, run that someone else can't?

Even immense improvement would only get Sheridan to the level of your average freshman quarterback. And even if that happens and it's close between Forcier, who should be better than your average freshman just because he's been bred to be a QB, and Sheridan—doubtful—you'd have to be nuts to go with a redshirt junior over a true freshman.  You'd have to be triple nuts to go with a redshirt junior who completed 16 of 49 for under 150 yards in the last two games of the year and was clearly, totally inadequate in the process. You'd have to be sextuple nuts to go with him a year after you picked him over a superior quarterback based on practice performance that turned out to be a mirage.

Sheridan was asked if he felt he was being written off, and responded like so:

“No,” Sheridan said. “Not at all. Nope.”

Well… I'm writing him off.  I am Time Warner. Sheridan is AOL. If he proves me wrong, well, fine. I suggest you join me in the most obscure country ending in –stan we can find.

But he definitely won't. Absolutely. I'm positive about this. Stop suggesting otherwise. Football coaches have to take team morale into account when they craft their public statements and have to keep their hotshot freshmen on their toes to keep them focused. That doesn't mean we have to believe them.

*(By this I mean Forcier's 10/13 + 50 yards rushing + 5 TDs in 2009 versus Nick Sheridan's interception-fest in 2008.)

Presser Notes 8/18

Presser Notes 8/18

Submitted by Tim on August 18th, 2009 at 11:44 AM

Injuries:

Ricky Barnum and Thomas Gordon have minor ankle injuries, Mark Moundros has a minor foot injury, and Donovan Warren has a minor knee injury. Walk-on Zach Johnson is also slightly dinged up.

Fitzgerald Toussaint is out for 2-3 weeks with a shoulder injury. With the running back depth the team has, he might end up redshirting unless he can make some serious strides when he is back healthy.

UConn:

The UConn series was officially announced, and the 2013 game in Hartford will be Michigan's first on the East coast since traveling to Boston College in 1995. Playing in front of 40,000 fans is not as exciting about playing in front of 110,000, but Rodriguez doesn't worry about how many people attend away games. This will be a good opportunity for Michigan fans in New England to see the team in person. If the return game is moved to another venue (Foxboro was mentioned), Michigan wouldn't have the say, that would be on UConn.

QBs We Have:

The young guys are still learning the Michigan offense. Then next phases are learning what defenses will do, then knowing how to counter the things the defense will do. Denard and Tate aren't flustered, despite their inexperience, though Sheridan is the seasoned vet of the group. Talking to Sheridan, he says he's fully healthy from the broken leg. He's up to 220 lbs, and says he's a whole new player from last year, making quicker & better decisions.

QBs We Don't Have:

  • Jason Forcier will not be playing for Michigan, as the grad school and eligibility things didn't work out. Though Rodriguez would let him be around the program, it's likely that Jason is ready to move on from the football chapter of his life.
  • Greg Paulus has been named the starter at Syracuse, which doesn't surprise Rodriguez. He's a great athlete and person, and he's very intelligent as well. Rich wouldn't be surprised to see Paulus have great success.

Ryan Van Bergen Notes:

Says he's 6-6, up to 275lbs. He plays inside, also learning some 5-technique. The defensive line likes GERG - he's a front 7 coach, and he teaches players why they're doing certain things, rather than just saying "Do it because I'm the coach." Van Bergen also said there is a marked difference in guys going harder during practice this year. The offensive line is a good example, as they've been staying after practice to fine-tune things.

Other Stuff:

  • GERG will be on the field for games, and Gibson moves up to the box to make room for that.
  • The changes to the roughing the punter rule will not have a huge effect on Michigan's punting game, as most of their roll punts are still kicked inside the tackle box.
  • Justin Turner is practicing in pads, but he's slightly behind in his conditioning.
  • There won't be as much DL depth as RR would like this year, but there are only about 2 senior starters on defense, so it will improve next year.
  • The corners look good with Warren, Cissoko, and Floyd, but they need a fourth to step up.

Unverified Voracity Doesn't Talk Much

Unverified Voracity Doesn't Talk Much

Submitted by Brian on August 10th, 2009 at 11:49 AM

Hopefully more zany Michigan-related stories come up. LSUFreek on the Armanti Edwards lawnmower incident:

Lawnmower_Man_Caught

It's the kittens that make it.

Meanwhile, Justin Feagin's planned transfer to Appalachian State is off. App St cites "academic concerns" and, you know, an attempted cocaine deal as reasons. Hopefully the academic concerns are just "you blew a scholarship because tried to broker a cocaine deal for a few hundred bucks and therefore can't be the sharpest tool in the shed" instead of an 0-for-2 APR departure.

UFER. It's less than a month before the season and I haven't heard a grown man lose his mind yet. Lame. Also fixed:

That comes complete with a frighteningly accurate reproduction of the play in NCAA that I thought would be lame going in but turned out to be dorkily impressive. Let's reproduce the :01 Manningham touchdown next.

Somewhere, Lloyd cackles over a snifter of brandy. Braylon Edwards has imbibed some terminology:

"The Browns and I are on the same page, and my team is on the same page," Edwards said. "I've never made any contract [demands], so I don't know where that would come from. That's just more rumors and hearsay to spark up more controversy."

It is very important to be on the same page, which Braylon Edwards is. Also he had one of the worst "catch percentages" in the league last year, which will surprise no one who watched Braylon on a regular basis but also includes passes to Tacopants and given the Browns' QB situation might not be his fault after all.

Aerials. Basketball? Why not?

bbscatter

That is a scatter plot comparing minutes returning to last year's Pomeroy ranking and is used as a rough estimate via which to predict the Big Ten by The Only Colors.  Limitations are acknowledged. For one: the chart doesn't take the fact that the vast majority of Michigan's lost minutes are two walk-ons and one guy buried on the bench when the season ended, or that OSU's recruiting class this year does not exist.

A couple of takeaways despite that: holy god Iowa is going to be bad, and if Robbie Hummel's back cooperates Purdue is your tentative conference favorite.

Back from the old testament. When Carcajous Attack(!) channels the departed spirit of Autumn Thunder with some charmingly horrible photoshop:

Laws of Mozes

That's Dan Mozes, four-year WVU starter, Rimington award winner, and newest Barwis acolyte, as Moses, prophet of the Israelites. Mozes on Barwis:

"Mike gave me the fundamentals to get bigger and stronger," said Mozes. "He gave me the strength to do all that stuff. Coming out of high school nobody wanted me, and I had that chip on my shoulder. That's really the first thing you need to have. People always want to throw in external motivation, pep talks and stuff like that, but you have to be motivated from your own heart. That's one thing I had. Mike gave me the tools."

Barwis on Mozes:

"He's a tremendous strength coach. He has a great ability to show kids how to do things and explain why we do things and how it relates to football. He's a high-energy, explosive and passionate guy, and his work ethic is outstanding. Dan Mozes is what Dan Mozes is, and he's going to be that way in any job that he chooses. If he wanted to be a typist, he'd be the best damn typist around, because he goes as hard as he can."

We can add this to the pile of former Rodriguez players who don't hate the warped beings they were tricked into becoming, yes?

Slipup? This is old, but it sat in my inbox for a while and no one else mentioned it, so here's Rich Rodriguez talking about a year two turnaround:

"But it’s a different scenario," Rodriguez said. "The biggest difference is I had a quarterback that was my starter the first year, Rasheed Marshall, who had gotten hurt but he had at least started some games and he came back and was very talented and fit the system."

Is this a giveaway as to Nick Sheridan's chances at the starting job? Rodriguez does have a quarterback who was a starter his first year. You can parse that statement many ways, but most of them point towards freshmen. That's not exactly a surprise, of course, but FWIW.

Etc.: Wolverines come in #1 on a list of "Animal Mascots Ranked by Uniqueness, Cage-Fighting Skills, and Eco-Friendliness," which is pretty much awesome. Yrs truly is e-nterviewed about Michigan's upcoming season on Blog Ten. The O-Zone's Michigan preview comes in at 5-7 but seems more positive than that through the bulk of it.

Unverified Voracity Checks Out The Dames

Unverified Voracity Checks Out The Dames

Submitted by Brian on July 16th, 2009 at 2:57 PM

YEAH WE ARE VIRILE BY PROXY WOO

tom-harmon-pimping

Pimpin' is easy for Tom Harmon, but I'm guessing it was considerably more difficult for Pat Watts and a couple other guys from the 1975 team. 1975 was not a pretty year for anything.

Stuck in. You know, Nick Sheridan's taken a lot of stick—some of it from this blog—for being the guy who was holding the hot potato when the quarterback carousel stopped and that's one hell of a mixed metaphor but there you go. And he's been discarded as a viable starting option this year by everyone—including this blog. Despite this, he keeps on working:

"Because I wasn't heavily recruited, because I wasn't given a scholarship out of high school, they assume I just stumbled into this opportunity," Sheridan said, his voice rising as he defended his position on the team. "People said that all the time, 'You just want to be a coach, right? So football isn't that important to you.'

"Being the quarterback here is the most important thing to me. Going through an experience here with the Michigan program will serve me well in the future, when I want to be a coach. It's not an ulterior motive for me to want to be on the team."

That's from an excellent Chengelis article on Sheridan that paints him as CJ Lee in pads.

(But, no, I still don't see him as a viable starting option.)

Yeah, nevermind that. Remember a few weeks ago when Leonardo Dicaprio sported a Michigan hat whilst courtside at a Lakers game? Did it mean anything? Is Dicaprio a Michigan fan? Does he even know he's wearing a Michigan hat?

Answers:

leo-500x504

No, no, and no, given the West Virginia hat he's sporting now and the… er… discontent between the two fanbases. Further evidence of Dicaprio's indifference: before the Michigan/West Virginia swing he was rocking an FAU Owls hat, which… really?

Also: yes, that's the lunkhead brother from My Name Is Earl.

It could be big. Manny Harris came away from the That Guy Dunks On LeBron Academy hauling a sack of effusive praise behind him. One evaluation:

One of the most athletic players in attendance, Manny Harris showed a lightning quick first step and terrific leaping ability. While Harris’ narrow frame and poor wingspan aren’t going to help him out much on the defensive side of the ball, he did show the ability to make tough shots, which he seems to settle for quite often. An extremely talented scorer regardless, Harris is likely to emerge as one of the top players in the Big 10 this year, even if his NBA potential is still a matter of debate.

Another from Slam:

-DeShawn Sims and Manny Harris both look really good this week. No doubt Michigan fans would like to see them look really good a little more consistently. Having seen their squad on both side of 20-point spreads against my Nittany Lions last year, I can vouch for the inconsistency.

If Zach Gibson can take the Graham Brown/Chris Young memorial Gumpy White Post Senior Leap and Darius Morris can provide a secondary threat to create and score, Michigan will be in business next year. Challenge for the Big Ten title business? Maybe if they're lucky and healthy.

(HT: UMHoops.)

Coyotes of the distant, distant future. Phoenix loves them some Michigan players, having drafted Chad Kolarik, Kevin Porter, Chris Summers, and incoming freshman Chris Brown and traded for goalie Al Montoya. They also love leaving their kids in school, which you go 'Yotes. They recently had a prospects camp attended by both Summers and Brown. The Coyotes' GM on Summers:

Maloney said he thinks at least six of the defensemen at the camp will reach the NHL some day, including Chris Summers, who will return to the University of Michigan for his senior season in the fall.

“He may be the best skating defenseman in college hockey and he plays with an edge,” Maloney said. “He’ll be with us at the end of this year for sure. He’s a guy that we’ll be excited to add.”

"With us"? As in "with us in Phoenix?" Eh… probably not unless the Coyotes are eliminated from playoff contention and just playing out the string. Nevertheless, commendation for his talent.

Maloney on Brown—the article is a profile so there's considerably more at the link:

“Chris comes to us as advertised,” Maloney said last week. “You know you watch him and when you first see him he looks a little rough skill-wise, but then you see him play and he’s very strong with the stick and has a heavy shot. What impresses me is he just goes to the net. He’s run over the goalies four or five times here and I think that’s just Chris. He charges the net and we really don’t have anybody like him in our prospect system, you know, a guy that just charges the net hard and then might stay around and have a conversation about it if anybody wants to talk about it… he’s still young and he’s evolving, but I’ve really liked what I’ve seen of Chris at this camp.”

Brown sounds like a fan favorite in the making, and a guy that opponents love to hate. Think Ryznar or Nystrom, but hopefully with a little more offensive pop.

Etc.: EDSBS has a better version of ND's annual t-shirt; Maize 'n' Brew sees my Wermers post and raises by a couple thousand words. Mark Messner thinks Scott Shafer should have gotten more time.

Unverified Voracity Is Generally Petrified

Unverified Voracity Is Generally Petrified

Submitted by Brian on March 27th, 2009 at 12:31 PM

The ding: minor. Sheridan's injury won't last much past spring:

Nick Sheridan has suffered a non-displaced fracture of his leg that will not require surgery. He will be out 4-6 weeks, and will be back with the team in time for summer workouts.

React to that as you will. I have absolutely no emotion relating to that news.

Drop the puck. Yost Built has ten things about Air Force for you before today's 3PM puck drop. As always, I'm petrified. There is nothing more terrifying that single-elimination playoff hockey, and nothing more shattering than that moment when the knife twists and the wrong red light comes on.

Happy thoughts!

That's a lot of hamburgers. The Frozen Four is coming to Ford Field next year, which is a lot of seating for a college hockey game even if they, as planned, cut the stadium in half and put up temporary bleachers. They have changed the plan:

The NCAA announced today that the rink for college hockey's championship event will be in the middle of Ford Field next April, just like the basketball court will be in a couple of weeks.

There had been talk of putting the rink in an end zone and curtaining off part of the stadium because of crowd-size and viewing concerns.

Uh… thumbs down. Are you really going to get 70,000 people at the Frozen Four next year? In Detroit? Very unlikely even if Michigan makes it. This seems likely to be a debacle that makes the committee avoid Detroit for future events. Hurrah.

Adios. Toney Clemons' departure was handled with slightly more class than that of Mr. Plow:

"I was recruited in to play in coach (Lloyd) Carr's more pro style offense and that was an offense that allowed me to utilize my talents, using my size and speed combination to stretch the field, run precise routes and make plays down field in the passing game," Clemons said. "The offensive concepts were very different than the ones that coach Rod (is) running now and that was a system that I feel I could go into and thrive in. I gave this new system a chance thinking that I could switch lanes and use my athleticism to excel in the system but it just didn't work out for me, I just had a feeling that I wasn't what they were looking for."

By all accounts, Clemons was an outstanding kid—Breaston's cousin, so not surprising—and someone with talent in the right system. Hopefully he lands somewhere he can use that talent.

Sucker bets. Bruce Feldman checks in with Vegas to see if there's been any recent movement in the BCS championship lines. He finds one particular team surging:

Apparently, there's some enthusiasm for Michigan in Year 2 under Rich Rodriguez. The Wolverines went from being a 200-1 shot to win the 2010 BCS title game (on Feb. 3) to a 100-1 shot as of March 24.

Feldman cites the usual jump Rodriguez teams in year two, the six redshirted offensive linemen, and the Tate/Robinson combo at QB as reasons this might have happened. But all these things were true on February 3rd except maybe Robinson. I credit (blame?) drunk Michigan fans in Vegas after the Clemson game.

Here's an education, sort of. The Globe and Mail took a look at the CHL's education packages, getting some quotes along the way from Red Berenson:

“I think what's happened is that the Canadian Hockey League has done a good job of contaminating these kids in terms of their eligibility,” said Berenson, a Regina native and former NHLer who has coached in the NCAA for 25 years. “They're drafting these kids at 14 out in Alberta and B.C. and 15 in Ontario, so they draft them and get them excited about playing in the O [OHL] or the Dub [the WHL] and they bring them up and play them in a game and they're done. Once they've played a game, they've lost their [NCAA] eligibility.

“They can tell the kids they're getting everything they're getting in the U.S., but they rarely do.”

This is correct: junior players can get scholarships but only one year for each year they play in junior. Even sketchier, as soon as you sign an AHL or professional contract the money is gone. Heck, if you sign an ECHL contract you have one year and then the money is gone. Only 32% of CHL players end up getting anything at all.

Junior advocates will tell you this is still a good bet for future stars, and it may be for the tip of the pyramid, the top-ten picks who aren't long for any junior league. But once you take the numbers and start creating league equivalencies, 1) the USHL has the same quality of play as any of the Canadian junior leagues, and 2) college hockey is considerably tougher. The case that waiting for college hockey will delay your development has been blown up by the move of the USHL to tier one and the corresponding increase in quality of play. Junior now provides zero advantages unless you just don't want an education, which the CHL is happy to not supply.

Elsewhere in the hockey blogosphere, Tom Benjamin says Berenson is "full of shit" and proceeds to completely misinterpret the above quote:

Every young player knows that if he plays a game of Major Junior he loses his chance at an NCAA scholarship. This rule has not changed in recent years and therfore this rule does not explain why fewer and fewer Canadians are opting for the NCAA. It is happening because the CHL offers better opportunities - a faster route to the NHL and the scholarship program - now.

Berenson's not saying the kids don't know they'll lose their eligibility, he's saying the CHL teams are getting kids to play in a game or two when they're too young to have any idea whether or not it's a good idea, when they're really vulnerable to the far-off and unlikely dream of making the NHL. Mudcrutch has an excellent rejoinder, and Benjamin gets pwned in his own comments:

It’s also worth noting that the CHL’s scholarship program is a lot less financially generous than is a full ride NCAA scholarship. The fact that the “full ride” in the OHL is limited to first round picks from the Midget draft is outrageous - no wonder guys like Berenson are miffed. If it is about education, then you extend the offer to all players, not just an elite few whom you are concerned might bolt for greener pastures. It also takes at least four years to get a degree, not two or three, and the fact is that the CHL is usually only paying for two years for many of the players.

Junior is a scam, man.

Unverified Voracity Visits The Glue Factory

Unverified Voracity Visits The Glue Factory

Submitted by Brian on March 26th, 2009 at 12:11 PM

Hopefully irrelevant. Normally the first-string quarterback going down with an injury rumored to be a broken leg—it's "serious" according to the Free Press—is time for PANIC(!). But when it's Nick Sheridan in question… eh. I wasn't planning on seeing Sheridan under center this year except in trauma-induced flashbacks, and I don't think losing some practice time is going to seriously impact his performance unless he gets bitten by a radioactive spider in his downtime.

However, the mere reminder that weird injuries happen is an ominous reminder of what coule happen once Forcier's spindly physique hits the field. All hail quick rhythm passing and a much improved offensive line.

The least correct thing. If you ever need a scale on which to measure truth and need labels for the extremes of that scale, "Mel Kiper's opinion of Carson Butler" should be the label for the bad end:

"Butler is going to block and get the job done there," Kiper said. "(Teams want) a guy who can block. You have to secure the edge. These 3-4 teams you're going up against, you have to be able to handle, (and) you handle with a blocking tight end. Carson Butler as a late-round pick for those types of teams would have some value."

WTF. No, wait. Mere letters are insufficient. I need a panda for this.

wtf

Kiper is now dead to me. In Mel Kiper's world, Carson Butler is useful as a blocker, Michigan State wide receivers can go a week without one of them ending up in prison, and candy tastes like ashes. I've always thought Kiper was sort of useful, but how can anyone take him seriously after that? Or after "Curtis Painter is a top-ten draft pick"?

Fourth-liners. The Daily reports that Ben Winnett is questionable for the weekend and the Scooter Vaughn experiment is unlikely to be repeated, leaving Luke Glendening, Danny Fardig, and Brandon Naurato on Michigan's fourth line.

Impact of this on Michigan's chances in the tourney: minimal. I did like Winnett more than the options to replace him, but that may have been residual prejudice about his NHL draft slot (too high, apparently) rather than anything that happened on the ice. Naurato's actually scoring at a higher clip.

(HT: Michigan Sports Center.)

Call for assistance. User Bleedin9Blue is embarking on a study of recruiting rankings and requires some extra hands. If you've got some statistical or database know-how and are interested in such a project, I'm sure he'd appreciate any assistance.

Twitterin'. Where Pete Carroll goes recruits and coaches follow, so Rich Rodriguez is now extraordinarily boring on Twitter. Check it:

Good work done at practice today. Watching film with the Coaches. Go Blue!

7:03 PM Mar 24th from TwitterBerry

That's pretty much the extent of things: we practiced today, I am doing something, I occasionally capitalize something strangely, "Go Blue!" I count two posts without exclamation points so far, and no revealing personal details like "boy I miss OMC." As far as comedy value goes he's got nothing on Tim Brewster, who twitters like someone making fun of Tim Brewster:

JUST OFF THE FIELD FROM PRACTICE #1....GUYS SHOWED GREAT ATTITUDE AND EFFORT TODAY!

EACH GUY CONTROLS WHAT HE BRINGS TO THE TABLE EACH DAY ATTITUDE, EFFORT, TOUGHNESS AND PASSION NOT TAUGHT BUT BROUGHT!

WINNING ON AND OFF THE FIELD EACH AND EVERY DAY IS WHAT CREATES A CHAMPION!

TRY FIGHT BEST WIN indeed.

You can thank the NCAA for your insight into Pete Carroll's musical taste and Tim Brewster's FIGHTBRAIN: by shutting down texting they've sent coaches scrambling for another avenue via which to communicate with recruits. Twitter's broadcast nature means it should remain legit, and coaches' neverending desire to  get a leg up on their competitors should keep the erratically spelled tweets flowing forevermore.

It's been a long time. It's time to remind you again what a weird, insecure hunchback of a man Charlie Weis is:

"My intent is to coach the game from the field That is my intent. Okay? As (Bill) Parcells said years ago, I reserve the right to change my mind, but that is my intent. I talked to people at the collegiate level and pro level, from Andy Reid right on down. By a very, very large majority, almost everyone I talked to were overwhelming thinking I was thinking way outside the box."

This passage is much, much funnier if you pretend Charlie Weis talks like Truman Capote.

That is all.

Etc.: Dhani Jones paints; the 2002-2003 class will help the graduation numbers considerably; Carty enraged by selection of some guy that knows Hagen to head academics stuff in the athletic department; back and forth in the comments is pretty interesting.

Picture Pages: Bubble Screen Professor

Picture Pages: Bubble Screen Professor

Submitted by Brian on November 14th, 2008 at 11:31 AM

The bubble screen is a staple of the spread 'n' shred. It's tough to defend without committing a player that would otherwise be in the box to the slot receiver, and if you've got the right zippy dwarf running it it can break big.

Theoretically, it should be an easy throw, but it requires precise timing and location. If you're off by a couple feet on a longer ball you might take the receiver off his feet but you've still picked up eight, ten, fifteen yards. If you're errant on the bubble screen you'll slow the receiver and wreck the play. Or you could, like, throw it backwards and provide a free turnover to an opponent.

Since that last horrible example has actually occurred this year, this will be no surprise: Michigan's quarterbacks have been pretty iffy on them all year. However, Nick Sheridan had a couple beauties against Minnesota. Here's the purtiest:

good-bubble-1

Minnesota lines up in a 3-4 with a linebacker or safety sort lined up over Clemons. The outside coverage is offering eight-yard cushions; this is a pre-snap setup that looks perfect for the bubble. (It's markedly different than Illinois' approach.) Especially when…

good-bubble-2

…the guy covering the slot blitzes. Michigan gives the dive fake, then Sheridan pulls up for the bubble. Note the position of Clemons at the moment. He's four yards behind the line of scrimmage. He will give another yards as he searches for depth, then run forward to a designated spot.

good-bubble-3

Here Clemons has acquired the ball. You can see the setup downfield, with the outside receivers blocking the two defenders and a safety attempting to close it down from the outside. The key here is the timing of the pass and its location: Clemons catches this in stride, facing downfield.  There is no delay between the catch and run. This has not frequently been the case this year.

good-bubble-4

Excellent blocks from the two receivers and a not-quite-quick-enough reaction from the safety provide…

good-bubble-5

…a first down. Clemons will use his momentum to get ten more.

Here's the video:

Here's a similar play against a defense that's basically the same except the opposition defensive backs are offering less cushion:

In UFR I said this one "isn't as upfield as it should be," and you see Odoms has to turn his body upfield a bit to catch a ball slightly behind him. I think I overstated my criticism a little bit on review (review-review, actually); this one also sees Odoms catch the ball basically in stride.

A couple notes:

  • I can't find where I read this, but IIRC when you see Michigan give a handoff fake before the bubble screen, that's a read. When it's a presnap call they just throw it.
  • I'm not sure if different defensive alignments call for different sorts of throws and may be partly responsible for the QBs not throwing these "right" much of the year. But I kind of doubt it; even this well-timed bubble is caught four yards behind the LOS.
  • This is the kind of thing I thought we would be surprised we missed without Henne. (We all knew we'd miss, say, laser post passes to Adrian Arrington.)

I Make Big

I Make Big

Submitted by Brian on November 10th, 2008 at 12:33 PM

11/8/08 – Michigan 29, Minnesota 6 – 3-7, 2-4 Big Ten 

 Michigan wide receiver Greg Mathews (13) makes a one handed catch during the 1st quater of the Michigan - Minnesota college football game at Metro Dome on Nov. 8, 2008 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Michigan SCORE (RODRIGO GAYA/Daily).

(via Rodrigo Gaya and the Daily)

Football is the strangest sport.

Baseball and basketball and hockey are too transparently random to be strange. Sometimes you just lose despite largely outplaying the other team; that's not strange, it's just puck luck or hot shooting or whatever baseball equivalent you'd like to offer. You hit the ball hard and it goes into someone's mitt. You toss rubber at the goalie and hope. You engage in a series of independent random trials worth two or three points. In all these activities the chance is right on the surface.

Football, though… in football inexplicable things happen on a regular basis and they're all gussied up to look like Flat Out Heart. You might think that, eventually, close observers would figure out this tendency and start saying things like "watch for the inexplicable thing!" but no, not really.

This is of some comfort to me in a season where the only thing more reliable than Michigan's ineptitude is this blog's ability to incorrectly forecast future events.

To be fair, if you had collected everyone on the planet who thought Nick Sheridan would lead Michigan to victory over a 7-2 team, no matter how fraudulent, and put them in a room that room would contain Nick Sheridan's mother, that one guy on the message board with the annoying, unkillable optimism, and a bushman who speaks one of those clicky languages and erroneously believes there to be free sandwiches because of a mindboggling linguistic coincidence.

Then at some point during Michigan's opening field goal fiesta Sheridan scrambled out of the pocket and threw across his body. I guarantee you every single Michigan fan watching the game thought this was a horrible idea and that in approximately two seconds Minnesota would be running the other way with the ball. Somewhere, a Michigan fan stuck at a wedding had an eerie feeling of deep foreboding as the Michigan fanbase's collective brainwave screamed "nooooooooo" in slow-motion.

Complete, first down, eventual scoring drive, final yardage for 435, final yardage against 188, 29-6 victory.

What?

---------------------

Back in the day when computer cases came bolted on with a dozen tiny screws and floppy disks were floppy, if you wanted to have decent sound you had to buy your sound card separately. My friends did this, and it was there they met Dr. Sbaitso. Dr. Sbaitso was a weird little AI program that would converse with you that Creative Labs shipped with their soundcards to show off their speech software.  It was the early '90s. It was free software. If you swore at it, it would complain that that kind of talk would give it a parity error. You can imagine the hilarity.

Though I never interacted with him myself, for years after conversations would occasionally take abrupt detours into Sbaitso lingo. The thing that lingers in my head to this day is this:

NOT ENOUGH DATA SO I MAKE BIG

This was inevitably followed by some sort of fooshing noise that indicated great expansion.

----------------------

Over the past five weeks as Michigan slid from 2-2 to 2-7 and victory became a thing once remembered, everybody wanted someone's blood. It didn't matter who you are, you wanted to bash someone with a brick. For some, it's Rodriguez or Martin or Shafer. For others (Wolverine Liberation Army most prominently), it's anyone who would come on the internet and say something rashly dumb. For me, it's the media that took the opportunity to lay the foundation for Rodriguez's premature firing.

Scorn, condescension, and mockery are the only things coming from Detroit columnists not named Wojo these days, as they rush to be the first to pile dirt on Rich Rodriguez's grave (but, of course, only after telling you that's it's far too early judge).

Look at this from the Detroit News in the aftermath of the Purdue game:

But what should be as distressing to Michigan's football camp as this incomprehensible string of losses -- five in a row -- is Rodriguez's attitude.

"I know what's going on," he said Saturday, as if he is aware of deficiencies no one else seems to recognize

Does he really believe that?

I find it amazing that Lynn Henning finds it possible to condescend to someone who's proven over the last twenty-five years that he's one of the best football coaches in the profession. After all, Lynn Henning has proven over the past twenty five years that he is Lynn Henning.

And then, of course, the Worst Columnist On The Planet*:

They're [Michigan fans] spoiled. They're arrogant. They feel entitled. They took 9-3 seasons with annual losses to Ohio State for granted, lusting for their program's rightful destiny. And they will demand significant improvement from Rodriguez in his second season or he will face a BCS-or-else ultimatum in his third year.

Saban's quick Alabama transformation just made it harder for every other coach.

This is so obviously retarded in a thousand different ways (for one: Saban has a senior multi-year starter at QB) that it hardly warrants a response. But there is one thing that is dangerous here: the suggestion that Rodriguez should be on a short leash.

In a word, no. 

Rocky Top Talk, a fine Tennessee blog, was kind enough to have me on their latest podcast, whereupon we talked about coaching changes and the creepy similarity of the two programs* and, uh, how Alabama fans hate me. At some point Joel asked for advice, which was kind of odd but he asked. In response, I asked what the talent level looked like and he said the general opinion was that next year would actually be a step back. Then I noted that last year Tennessee had one of the most disappointing recruiting classes in the nation and that this year's class would likely be substandard what with the coaching change and all and advised patience. Sustained, gritted-teeth patience.

Because without patience you acquire unreasonable demands like "take a 3-7 team to the BCS in two years with a (probably) true sophomore quarterback or we fire you, confirm every stupid thing the media has incorrectly said about the Michigan fanbase, and start all over with someone definitely less proven as a successful head coach than Rich Rodriguez."

Screw that. Screw Sharp and all his ilk at the Detroit papers ready to leap upon the carcass of Michigan football because they're too stupid and shortsighted to do anything else.

------------------

Nick Sheridan was nicknamed DEATH up until the moment he threw that "nooooo" pass across his body. I had too little data, but I made big.

Michigan fans assumed this all-singing-all-dancing-all-freshman offense would be basically as effective as other crappy offenses from Michigan teams past. They had too little data, and they made big.

The Detroit media would like to assure you that it's way too early to judge Rich Rodriguez but my god what a horrible coach who is mostly at fault  for Michigan's failure to acquire a chintzy bowl bid. They had too little data, and they made big. (They will continue to do this.)

Now Tennessee and Washington and Clemson and maybe Auburn and a bunch of other teams will be scouring the nation for coaches upon there is precious little data, because the ones on which there is much data are already out of reach. If Michigan goes searching again prematurely they will not find a guy with a proven record of success like Rodriguez. They will not find a coach with two BCS bowl wins to his name. They are wishing and hoping.

We got extraordinarily lucky; there is enough data to justify Rodriguez the five years coaches all used to get, and we should give it to him. 

*(if you absolutely must see the entire thing I will link it (nofollowed) but I urge you to not click here: .)

**(No, seriously. I always thought Tennessee, a traditional power with an awesome fight song that operates at a recruiting disadvantage because its home state is talent-deficient relative to its peers and has a national championship from about a decade ago, was pretty similar to Michigan. Then Joel from RTT was talking with me and mentioned that Tennessee had been coached by a total of two guys over the last 32 years (16 years each for Majors and Fulmer) and I was like… whoah.)

BULLETS!

  • This is already way too long!