WTKA Roundtable 12/13/2018: Change Alone Endures

WTKA Roundtable 12/13/2018: Change Alone Endures Comment Count

Seth December 14th, 2018 at 7:33 AM

Things discussed

  • Florida's same things are exactly the opposite: mitigated the pass pro problem, up and down season
  • McElwain leaves and Michigan's receiver recruiting ticks up
  • Who's playing? Gary's out. Bush might not but he's the heart of the defense. The corners don't have enough tape. Other guys weighing their options: Metellus, Hudson.
  • Stueber was alright vs OSU, the TEs were not
  • More Florida: they will blitz and get after you up front
  • Caller: Does Saban just enjoy tormenting Harbaugh? Addressing crootin cynicism
    -Malik McDowell's mom was right about Michigan State
    -Craig's theory: Tyrell Pryor strung Michigan along to make it harder for Rodriguez to sign a 2008 QB
    -Aubrey Solomon: Committed to Michigan the day after the "FU" video
    -Daxton Hill committed at the trough of the season. When the dust settles, Sam will lay out the timeline but he isn't going to make things more difficult for Michigan in an ongoing recruitment
  • Don Brown: $2 million. Pay the players. Big XII has interest in him of course. We're paying Pep Hamilton $1.45 million (highest-paid OC?)
  • Sam goes through Michigan's real time playcalling, which is weird and leads to fighting the clock
  • Developing the short game, and the Evans game
  • Promise next time will be basketball

You can catch the entire episode on Michigan Insider's podcast stream on Podbean.

Segment two is here. Segment three is here.


I wrote it down while writing about the Lions


Dear Diary Lost to a Toilet, Deserves Another Shot

Dear Diary Lost to a Toilet, Deserves Another Shot Comment Count

Seth November 29th, 2018 at 5:04 PM


ANN ARBOR: Bars of Gold/Wear Your Rattiest-Ass Michigan Gear, This Saturday, Blind Pig, 9pm. Bear vs. Shark was one of my favorite bands in college. It turns out they're big MGoBlog fans and have another band—Bars of Gold—that's in town and headlining at the Pig this Saturday night. It would have been an empty room if things had gone according to plan last weekend. Now, dressing like a zombie and going to a rock concert feels like just the thing. They'd like fellow MGoBlog readers to show out, and are inviting you to Come in your rattiest, most outdated, or most embarrassing Michigan gear. A free t-shirt will be given out to whoever apparently needs one most. Door is $10.

CHICAGO, soon: Early bird deadline for the March 2 Go Blue Gala is this Saturday. Also they asked me who you might like as an honored guest or panelist. You tell me. 

WRITE MORE: Everyone's got their coping method for dealing with The Loss. Mine is to get handy, dadding about all the house-breaks that accumulate when you combine a half-a-century-old building with a rock-solid excuse like "I'll get to it after football season." The nice thing about puttering is I can screw up royally and nobody is going to hold me accountable. Like yesterday I took a mostly functioning (refilling too slowly) toilet, broke the part I probably just needed to clean out, broke the top of the tank, and sliced open my middle finger on razor chunk of it. One trip to urgent care, seven stitches, a Home Depot run, and about the cost of a new toilet later and we've got a working potty with no top, and not a single person in my household who thinks less of me for it. I've got cred, you see. You shoulda seen this house when we bought it.

Anyway it hurts too much to type this week—especially anything with an 8, I, K, or comma—but it's also why we should be doubly impressed with the members of the MGoCommunity who gave us free content.

PASS MORE: Of all the autopsies submitted this week Ron Utah's I thought was the most relevant and hit the right level of criticism:

This leads to one of the glaring problems: usage.  Michigan's inflated S&P+ rating reflects the passing offense's effectiveness when a pass was simply unexpected.  And who could blame opponents for not expecting a pass when Michigan ran the ball on 519 of its 829 plays?  Almost two-thirds (62.6%) of our plays were hand-offs this season.  Again, contrast that with Alabama running 57.7% of the time, despite being in blowout win mode more often.  In fact, 'Bama averaged just 30:13 of possession because they were scoring so fast.   Michigan averaged almost 35 minutes of possession each game.  We just didn't throw the ball much.

CHEAT MORE?: The title—"Michigan is Good, But Not Elite, and Won't be Elite Without Different (Worse) Institutional Standards"—is the most controversial line in jcorquian's forest-view take on Michigan's slip on the way to elite season. While certainly not to the degree as some schools, I take issue with the assumption that Michigan is squeaky clean. With the SEC powers we're talking about a vast difference in institutional corruption and scale, but probably not non-existence.

StephenRKass also contributed a board post that should have been a diary on the subject, after talking to an NFL agent who'd know.

In our discussion, he shared that a huge number of highly rated players, including several prominent guys currently on Michigan's team, receive compensation. From his perspective, basically every kid who is from a low income family and is ranked more or less in the top 100 prospects, probably in the top 200 or 300 prospects, is currently receiving compensation. He also believes that given the ridiculous amounts of money involved, this makes sense.

I know some players got some extra benefits—a handshake here, a free milkshake over there—under Lloyd's eye when I was in school (I was on the Daily and worked at a pizza joint), and while I don't know of any particulars today—that being something they keep out of earshot from sports journalists as you might imagine—I doubt things have changed. Michigan fans shouldn't advocate for Michigan to do the illegal thing that we're bad at. We should be advocating for the thing that should be legal to be legal, not just because yay capitalism, but because Michigan would be the most advantaged school in the country.


REVENGE MORE? Brian linked Best and Worst already right? If he didn't, and you haven't already, read bronxblue's maybe best work yet.

But sports have always occupied a particularly comfortable niche for this sermonizing. We joke about cheering for clothes, but it's pretty on the mark to say that sports give you color-coded heroes and villains upon which we shower praise and scorn. It removes the humanity from the equation and replaces it with a Pavlovian response to a name and a uniform. And when it's just laundry, it's soooo easy to then douse your fandom with the gasoline of class-ism, provincialism, and moral relativism that turns normal, semi-intelligent people into, well, cheap-seat NFL fans. And I'm as guilty as anyone - I still find myself occasionally getting really mad at college students who attend other schools than a college I graduated from damn near 20 years ago

BO MORE? The last 40 years (since Woody was fired) of Michigan football show this season was pretty much in line with a standard year of Late Bo or early Mo. I would take it back another decade, since 1969 was the revamp. Bo got the first upset and his program got better after that, but Ohio State got the lead early in the 10-year war. The 1970 game was a 20-9 blowout loss. 1971 was Touchdown Billy Taylor. 1972 was the year Michigan kept scoring from the 1 and the refs refused to call anything that didn't go >2 yards past the line a touchdown. 1973 was the tie that precipitated that awful vote to send OSU to the Rose Bowl, meaning that tie ended up having all the effect of another loss. 1974 was the Lantry kick that was good and called wide. And 1975 was another OSU victory. After seven years Bo was 2-4-1 against Ohio State. You know how it ended.

While we're on the history of The Game, Swayze Howell Sheen gave a charty one that looks pretty good and I haven't read because I didn't get to it before…that…and haven't had will to since.

CHUCK LESS? A non-hateable Buckeye recounts what it was like to live in the 1985-2001 period. I think we've been repaid for that and more.

Best of the Board

What would you change about college football? From time to time I'm reminded you how all the moderation and community-building we put into the board can be rewarded with—and I kid you not—a thread with a good debate about ideas from a wide spectrum of thought. I rarely click past page 1 these days and I'm glad this time I did so because things start getting threaded about how to separate Power 5 from Group of 5 without telling them.

All-B1G: Diagonal Blue compiled a list of all the all-conference winners since Harbaugh arrived.

MGoBlog 3.0: We've got points working. Sticky thread is being watched—I hope to have a grander update on the site in a week or so. Short version is we didn't want to roll out any big fixes during the season but we'll have a few soon, including the big one I wanted.

Etc. Hockey thoughts. UMProud rewrote the lyrics to a Simon & Garfunkel song. I lol'd at this after I clicked expecting to have to delete it. Previews were much more correct than the way things were last week. Not as bad as it looks. Turkey Day thanks from the mods. Some recruiting tidbits from Sam.


Unverified Voracity Gets Invited

Unverified Voracity Gets Invited Comment Count

Brian February 16th, 2017 at 12:40 PM


Braden invited; Magnuson not invited [Patrick Barron]

All the combine folks. 14 Michigan players will participate and even so there are a couple surprising omissions:

Braden but no Kalis or Magnuson is odd, and I thought Dymonte Thomas would be the kind of guy who could improve his stock significantly with impressive testing numbers.

That's a hell of a lot either way. Michigan's total is just four fewer than the entire Big 12. On the one hand, Michigan did not capitalize on that talent (by an inch, or a negative inch). On the other, Michigan's recruiting edits are going to be straight fire emoji in the immediate aftermath of the draft.

Speaking of the Big 12, Chris Vannini has an interesting article about the long term talent decline in the league. The state of Texas is getting raided hardcore:

The last factor is recruiting, and it doesn’t look better for the future. Only one Big 12 team signed a top-25 class in 247Sports’ rankings earlier this month: Oklahoma at No. 8. The next-closest Power 5 league was the ACC with four top-25 classes.

The league relies on the state of Texas, but Ohio State signed three of the top six players in the state. It was the first time since 2005 that an in-state school didn’t sign a majority share of the top 10 players in the state, as noted by the Dallas Morning News — and the third time since 2000 (the other two were Oklahoma). Only two of the top-10 players stayed in-state, and one of those left the Big 12 by going to Texas A&M.

Tom Herman should start turning that around—recruiting concerns about his finish at Texas should be mitigated by the fact that he landed Ed Oliver and a smattering of other four stars at Houston. It probably won't be enough to get back to parity.

"Offer" versus OFFER, part billion. I'm all for dumping on Nick Saban but this seems like a big bowl of nothing:

"LSU's welcome in my school anytime," Feaster said. "The only school that can't come to Parkway is Alabama. And there's a long story behind that, but it had to do with not being ethical in their recruiting.

"They can't come. Everyone else is 100 percent welcome."

The reason?

There is a difference between an offer and a committable offer, something he found out the hard way in the recruitment of former LSU quarterback Brandon Harris.

Alabama "offers" Harris, his coach gets persnickety about it, and then Alabama says he has an OFFER, only for that offer to be back to scare-quotes status by june:

"Napier calls me the next day and says, 'Coach, I have some good news for you. Tell Brandon to call me on this phone during this period and I'll put Nick Saban on the phone,"' Feaster said. "We do that and Saban says, 'You have a scholarship at the University of Alabama.' So, they gave him a scholarship offer. It was a committable offer.

"By the time he gets to campus in June -- and I'm not saying Brandon was going to commit to Alabama -- it wasn't an option. Basically what they told him is that we got other guys that are going to come through here, and I promised them a shot. So we have to wait and see then."

As far as malfeasance on the recruiting trail goes, this is small potatoes. Whether or not a kid is a "take" changes constantly for every school, including Michigan. Getting upset because Alabama changed their mind about a kid before he even committed is some special snowflake stuff. (Also that guy lost his job to a Purdue transfer, sooooo...)

MSU update. The gymnastics coach was forcibly retired and now faces three allegations that she downplayed sexual assault reports from Larry Nassar:

The allegation — the third made specifically against Klages — was first made in a court document filed Jan. 27 seeking to add the athlete to the federal lawsuit against Michigan State University, Nassar, USA Gymnastics and Twistars gymnastics club in Dimondale.

Those documents, filed by attorney Jamie White, didn't identify Klages, but said it was "a member of MSU’s coaching staff."

White, the attorney for the gymnast who says Nassar sexually assaulted her during medical appointments, confirmed on Tuesday that it was Klages who spoke to his client's mother.

He also confirmed that it was Klages who told his client's mother that "Nassar’s digital penetrations of (the athlete's) vagina was a proven medical treatment."

If you believe the reports sufficiently to "retire" her you should be firing her for cause.

Michigan State has suspended Curtis Blackwell, a recruiting staffer. They won't say why, but it's not too hard to draw a line between that and this:

Blackwell's suspension comes as a criminal investigation into three Michigan State football players is ongoing. Michigan State announced last week that a member of the football staff also had been suspended pending the completion of that investigation.

The police have requested warrants for the three players in question.

Also Demetrius Cooper was charged with spitting on a parking enforcement officer. Oh and Malik McDowell fell out of Mel Kiper's first round for reasons other than his talent. In a normal year this would be part of the rivalry pointing and laughing. This year not so much. That whole athletic department looks to be in total chaos.

Stop with the video, fergodsakes. Interesting piece on the demise of Scout media, which was accelerated by a push towards making everything a video, even the things that should definitely not be videos:

Advertisers might also have been skittish because of where most of Scout’s traffic came from. Despite a costly thrust into video, part of a massive, costly overhaul of Scout’s CMS, nearly 80 percent of Scout’s traffic comes from visits to its message boards, which are reserved for subscribers. Though the developers team claimed the addition of video in 2015 drove tens of millions of views within six months of its launch, Scout’s traffic was relatively flat or declining year-over-year from 2014 to 2015, according to comScore data.

Almost all of those videos were worthless. They're still doing it. I can't tell you how many Scout tabs I open and then disgustedly close because they're a hundred words trying to induce me to watch a recruit get interviewed for five minutes—a video that would already be autoplaying if I hadn't sought out a Chrome extension to disable said feature. ("Disable HTML 5 Autoplay," FWIW.)

Autoplay video is a scam. Person opens page, video plays, person does not watch video, counts as a hit anyway, publisher tries to leverage those numbers into high CPM video ads that no one will ever watch.

Etc.: Here's a video with athletic directors, including Warde Manuel, discussing a potential student protest. I did not watch it despite having interest in the subject matter, because it is a video.


Processing Is Not Rare

Processing Is Not Rare Comment Count

Brian January 25th, 2017 at 2:06 PM


If you had Teddy Greenstein in the Brings Up Erik Swenson Next pool, collect your winnings. I get annoyed at Greenstein because he puts up a front of objectivity while putting out article after article designed to put Harbaugh in a bad light. See the recent article on refereeing where he asked the Big Ten's head of officials if he was bad at his job, got a "no," and said "well, I guess that wraps it all up, folks!"

Anyway. This one was somewhat spoiled by Harbaugh explaining the situation from his perspective...

"There's a camp in June, and we really want you to come so we can see you.' It ended up, after a couple of conversations, that he wasn't going to come to camp.

"I said: 'We're going to be in Indianapolis in the beginning of June for a satellite camp. It's closer to your home.' He said no. I said, 'We really need to see you for ourselves.' He said, 'Just evaluate my senior tape.' 'OK, that's what we will do.'"

...but Greenstein does his best to frame it anyway.

What happened to Swenson is exceedingly rare: a high school player in good academic standing, who remains loyal to the school to which he verbally committed, getting dumped within weeks of signing day.

There is a term for a school dispatching a player it no longer wants: "processing."

Connecticut coach Randy Edsall got crushed last week by national media figures Paul Finebaum ("total disgrace"), Mike Greenberg ("How you go to sleep at night, I have no idea") and the Washington Post's Sally Jenkins ("No one is more committed to Randy Edsall than Randy Edsall") after his scurrilous actions regarding a high school linebacker from New Jersey named Ryan Dickens.

Contrary to pearl-clutchers in the media, "processing" kids before they can sign is a common practice getting ever more common. That's why there's a term for it. Most of these situations go uncommented upon because the kid and coaches know the score and are just looking for a landing spot. The rare thing is a kid getting pissed off about it in the media.

I think we can safely assume that someone moving down from a Power 5 program to a lower level has been processed, and there have been a number of these this year: CB Nick Roberts and QB Todd Centeio went from P5 programs to the AAC. S Ahman Ross is trying to find a landing spot at Appalachian State or Colorado State. RB Bentavious Thompson looks likely to end up at UCF. FIU is the crystal ball favorite for WR Kevaughn Dingle.

That's five guys not from all of the Power 5 or one P5 conference but one recruiting class: Miami's. Every collection of team-specific recruitniks in America has a subliminal list of a few guys who are technically committed but won't actually be in the class. For Michigan this year they were Carter Dunaway and Chase Lasater; for Ohio State they were Danny Clark, Bruce Judson, and Todd Sibley.

The 24/7 decommitment tracker is missing a pager so it only goes back three days. In those three days (three days!) there are four recruitments that look like processing of some variety:

  • WR Warren Jackson decommitted from Arizona and fielded a couple of quick CSU picks.
  • LB DeMarco Artis decommitted from FSU and told 247 that it was "unfortunate."
  • LB Jabreel Stephens decommitted from Louisville and looks set to pick USF.
  • LB Jaquan Henderson flipped from Tennessee to Georgia Tech.

It is exactly one week from signing day.

Even if not all of these are genuine processings that should be sufficient to demonstrate that the practice is not rare, or anything close to it. If Greenstein had done 15 minutes of research he would have reached the same conclusion. You have to wonder why he would not take such a basic step before making an easily-disproved factual assertion.


Mailbag: Wardrobe Malfunction, Offer Clarity, I Am Not Craig From Being John Malkovich

Mailbag: Wardrobe Malfunction, Offer Clarity, I Am Not Craig From Being John Malkovich Comment Count

Brian August 22nd, 2016 at 1:39 PM

It is possible that there have been MSU players with these names.

I can't believe this is real but a great friend who is an MSU grad is sure bent out of shape over it:


Love the site and Go Blue,


The worst thing about shirts like this is the five seconds where you think you should get it to troll someone and then remember that the #1 person being trolled in that situation is yourself.

Lessons from decommit central last year

While reading the latest Recruiting Overview I saw you mention forced decommitts. It seemed like a lot of those from last year, except for the most prominent one, were summer camp offers/commits. I am wondering if the coaching staff will lay off those sorts of camp offers this year due to the backlash from last year? Perhaps they will adjust how the offer is made, such as "We like you Mr Under The Radar Recruit and think you could have a potential bright future with our team. Here is an uncommittable offer than could become committable later this year if you keep your grades up/keep getting better on the field/the math at the end of the recruiting cycle works in your favor." Could we see something like this or will offers go flying out every which way again (that's how it appeared from a layman's POV) this summer?


It does appear that Michigan has altered their approach after The Swenson Incident. A number of different recruits have been on commit watch without a payoff: AL S AJ Harris and AL OL Toryque Bateman come to mind. Harris had a huge crystal ball surge for Michigan and a bunch of insiders predicting a commit. He was apparently held off and ended up committing to Ole Miss recently. Bateman came up saying it was 50/50 he would pull the trigger—which is more like 90/10 in recruit-speak—and left without doing so; it now seems like he'll be headed elsewhere. Last year both of those guys might have committed and then been let go late in the cycle.

Michigan does have a few guys they've been less than cautious with and I do expect they'll suffer/encourage decommits over the next six months. The number should be greatly reduced from last year's double-digits.

It's impossible to know exactly what conversations are going on between coaches and "offered" players but I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of Michigan's offers are conditional in some way, whether it's grades or guys higher on Michigan's board going elsewhere. I'd assume Michigan is being a lot more explicit about this, so guys aren't jumping on the future decommit train. Michigan offered MO DE Anthony Payne and FL DE Donovan Winter, sort of. They did so after Corey Malone-Hatcher and Luiji Vilain committed, so I doubt those were actual committable offers; both guys went off the board to other schools in short order. 

Michigan is continuing the offer cannon approach. They're being much more clear about which offers are "offers." Probably.

[After the JUMP: a jerk i tell you what]

Jerky tempo response


Unverified Voracity Is About Media Day

Unverified Voracity Is About Media Day Comment Count

Brian July 27th, 2016 at 12:24 PM


[Patrick Barron]

Media days takes. Harbaugh showed at a place and said things. In response the media writes somewhat overheated things in response, because Harbaugh. The Sporting News refers to Michigan's "magical, millennial, marketable machine" in an alliteration explosion that engulfed their office:

“Harbaugh to my knowledge has taken no classes in marketing, never mentions the word,” Bacon said. “Yet who has marketed Michigan better then he has in the last year and a half? Not everyone likes it, but as far as getting and the name and the flag up the flag pole … Harbaugh has spread the "M" all over America — and to American Samoa — for crying out loud.”

According to Michigan associate athletic director Kurt Svoboda, the university increased its season ticket sales in 2015 to 89,875, the highest total since 2012. Of those, 72,076 were non-student tickets, the highest total since 2009. Student ticket sales increased from 11,597 in 2014 to 17,899 in 2015. …

"You can say he's 52 going on 25 in some ways,” Bacon said. “He's got more energy than almost anybody. He's in a rap video. As a rapper he's an excellent football coach, but you know the kids love it."

Looks like Bacon just put himself on the list of Uptight White People for the 57th time.

Harbaugh's ability to be the center of attention at all times arises naturally from the fact that he's got no filter and genuinely doesn't care what people say about him. So he'll climb a tree or dab for a recruit or schedule a month-long whirlwind of satellite camps, mostly because he wants to do these things, to win at various things of little to no importance. The marketing aspect is a side effect. It's not quite an accident, but it's not the primary thing.

The primary thing:

To that point, Harbaugh said almost every practice is mapped out for the upcoming season, mapped out on his computer. Fall camp will include a lot more four-hour practices, another concept Butt said might be foreign in an age where less contact is encouraged. Butt even told former Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy about those practices this summer.

McElroy’s response? “You lost me at the four-hour practices.”

Harbaugh goes harder and his guys are willing to do the same given his example. Along the way articles are written.

Also this. Harbaugh's just way more interesting than coaches primarily focused on escaping media appearances without saying anything that means anything. Literally. Brian Hamilton:

Around 1:30 p.m. on Monday, James Joseph Harbaugh took the stage and an otherwise lobotomized first day of Big Ten media day festivities got interesting. All he had to do was wear the baseball cap, really: Michigan’s coach later explained his accessorizing was the product of going five weeks without a haircut and his affinity for the skinny ‘M’ logo.

Brian Bennett:

He signed a fan's bicep with a Sharpie, then told the fan to come back for another try Tuesday because he didn't like the way his skin signature looked.

Of his appearance in a recent rap video, Harbaugh insisted that only "uptight white people" didn't like it. He even claimed to have written one of the song's lyrics ("Roughest team in the B-I-G!). At another point, Harbaugh used the word "meritocracy," briefly wondered if he had just invented it, then looked disappointed when he learned it already existed.

He is one of few college football coaches clearly operating his own twitter feed, because he's got something to say on it. Something like "I am Uncle Rico and The Georgia Coach is barking up the wrong tree."

Knock on wood. Harbaugh says Michigan is healthy headed into fall camp:

"There's nothing to report," Harbaugh said of player injuries. "We're pretty darn healthy. We came out of spring ball pretty darn healthy. We didn't get any of the long-term kind, six month injuries. There's always things that people are dealing with and working with. Our goal is to get the healthiest, most in-shape and strongest team we can on August 8th and then we'll take our shot."

Rumors about Chesson's availability have persisted through the offseason; he should be fine:

Asked specifically about All-Big Ten receiver Jehu Chesson, Harbaugh didn't give a definitive answer but did say he thinks he'll be good to go.

"Yes, I believe he will," Harbaugh said.

The only other player who had a long-term injury at the end of spring practice was Moe Ways, who has reportedly been running routes with the QBs for weeks now. Per Webb, Ryan Glasgow put up some impressive bench press numbers himself recently. Since his injury was to his pectoral that is plenty of evidence he's all the way back.

Recruiting is for gentlemen only. James Franklin's comments about negative recruiting from a while back are predictably a hot topic at Big Ten media days, but they're apparently based on an unrepresentative quote:

"All I said was that every kid that we're recruiting is also being recruited by Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Notre Dame and that they don't have the same challenges that we have now," Franklin said. "Then, in a separate quote, I mentioned that right now we're (dealing) with negative recruiting. It was two separate quotes, though, over a 35-minute interview.

"I never said that any of those schools are the ones doing the negative recruiting against us. They're not. There is one other particular school, but I didn't name who that was."

"…although it is blindingly obvious to you and everyone who reads this quote that it is Pitt."

Negative recruiting hubbub is always pretty ridiculous since things as innocuous as pointing out your relatively friendly depth chart will be twisted into "School X is in ISIS" by the time someone mutters about it on the internet. This seems a bit more ridiculous than most.

The Bill C preview. Bill Connelly's big Michigan preview hit SBNation yesterday. Happily, Bill saw through Michigan's roster subterfuge and knows that they get back most of their offense.

S&P+ projects Michigan to win 9.6 games:


If that sounds pessimistic MSU was at 7.8 a few days ago. Combinatorial math is harsh when you add these things up: Michigan has just three games they're not 75%+ to win and yet they're tiny favorites to end up with double digit wins. 9.6 is pretty good in this context.

There are a couple issues of the sort that are inevitable if you have to write 128 of these over the course of the offseason. Connelly strangely tabs the departure of Mario Ojemudia as the beginning of the defense's late slide and worries over the least worrisome bit of the entire team:

Things fell apart for the line right around the time of Mario Ojemudia's injury. There was still play-making potential on the edge, but it seemed to be a tough blow for Michigan's tenuous depth. Ryan Glasgow going down was the knockout punch.

Depth might not be any better this year. When you were only comfortable with seven guys, and two are gone, improvement isn't guaranteed. But when you've got reinforcements like all-world freshman Rashan Gary, it's hard to worry too much.

Ojemudia went down early in the Maryland game, a shutout. The next week they shut out Northwestern, and then they gave up some points. Against MSU and Minnesota they were mostly secondary issues; Rutgers scored just 16 in Glasgow's last game. Ojemudia was playing well but Royce Jenkins-Stone wasn't a huge dropoff. Glasgow was for a ton of reasons.

Anyway. Bryan Mone hype understandably eludes Connelly's take here, as does the somewhat more questionable emergence of Winovich and Marshall.

Peppers scouted. By NFL.com:

He is fluid in his turn, and he has excellent recovery speed down the field. He is instinctive and aware in underneath coverage. He jumped a bubble screen for a near interception in the Minnesota game. He is outstanding as a run defender. He fights through blocks and is a very reliable tackler in space. He shows timing and burst as a blitzer.

Yep. Concerns include an awkwardness in off coverage and a certain grabbiness that he's gotten away with for the most part. It was clear at the beginning of the year that he had a lot of things to work on in coverage; the good news is that he improved a great deal over the course of the year and should continue to do so.

PFF talks Ohio State. Their offense is an enigma now with just a few starters returning and JT Barrett's downfield ability in question:

The passing game is much more of a question mark, as Barrett has not had nearly the same success through the air as he has on the ground. He earned an average passing grade last season after performing marginally better than that in 2014, and he struggled the most on intermediate throws: On passes thrown 10 to 19 yards downfield, Barrett was just 12 of 25 for 211 yards, 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, earning a negative grade in that area of the field.

On the other hand he was their #2 running QB last year behind Houston's Greg Ward. MSU shut down the OSU run game and they foundered, as they did for much of the season. (Remember the NIU game?) Michigan did not do anything of the sort and got ripped. Don Brown versus and Urban Meyer offense is going to be the most intriguing tactical matchup of the season.

Etc.: Tough talk about the ACC Network's ability to get carriage. Ann Arbor is the most educated city in the country by a mile. Ian Boyd on Minnesota's three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust offense. The Black Heart Gold Pants crew is on the move. Barton Simmons catches on to Harbaugh's crazy QB coaching record.


Dear Diary Proves Existence of Harbaugh

Dear Diary Proves Existence of Harbaugh Comment Count

Seth February 12th, 2016 at 3:38 PM

This is the only correct recruiting strategy. [gif by Ace Anbender]

While I write this Michigan’s playing their first two softball games of the season, so excuse me if I get distracted. Freshman Alex Sobczak seems to have won the starting catcher position; so weird not to see Lauren Sweet back there. So far Betsa walked two and struck out three, and Sierra Lawrence reached on an error and Romero’s up.

Lol they walked Romero on 4 pitches. Scaredy-cocks!

Anyway, about all that reader-generated content:

Crootin. For some reason I guess recruiting was on diarists’ minds last week, so we got a lot of articles looking at it from different sides. Alum96 broke up top recruits by the major states that produce them. Among conclusions, Michigan’s home advantage is a lot like that of Clemson, IE we have an okay state but have to share it with another school with recent success. Ohio State, LSU and USC/UCLA have the most local talent with the least competition. Alum also had a primer on interested players for 2017, which has a lot more interesting players in Michigan, and still little interest in Michigan in Ohio.

Speaking of 2017 Alum96’s daily “Swim Lanes” were highly useful contributions during the stretch run (LSA Superstar jumped in to usurp his format once as well). Let’s see that thread go up for next class, man.

[Betsa’s shaky today. Hit a batter with bases loaded, then worked back from a 3-0 count for an inning-ending strikeout.]

Is it being addressed? NOLA Blue suggested an interesting method for analyzing recruiting: line up each position and call them wins or losses, though I couldn’t quite understand how his “eyeball” rating system worked. Anyway it gave me the idea to visualize the classes and STAR ratings I’ve been going on about by position.


Guys are listed by the final position they played (though now I’m wishing I moved Uche to SAM). I probably ought to have broken them out further for positions where you play more than a guy. The red balls are 4.5 or higher, the yellow ones are 3.8 to 4.4 stars, the green ones are that 3.5 to 3.7 range and the blues are the lower 3-stars and 2-stars and such. Ball size is scaled by the actual STAR rating squared.

Champswest also did a crootin comparison diary using total number of 4-stars and above (according to 247’s composite) acquired. The most interesting thing therein was the dichotomy between the Big Ten East (189 4- and 5-stars over the last 4 classes) and Big Ten West (39 total). Remove Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State, and the Big Ten East STILL has three more 4+ stars than the West. Good job, good effort Big Ten West.

Suggestion: Let’s make the B1G West a relegation division. Following last year’s performance Rutgers can move down to the West and Iowa jumps up to the East.

[Hit the jump for Beilein in context. Meanwhile Michigan’s already up 11-2 in the 4th, South Carolina just walked the bases loaded, and guess who’s coming up to bat? Hint: she’s the NCAA record-holder for career grand slams.]


Mailbag: Crootin Philosophies, Insane Post-Michigan Hires, 2017 DL, 2016 LB

Mailbag: Crootin Philosophies, Insane Post-Michigan Hires, 2017 DL, 2016 LB Comment Count

Brian February 12th, 2016 at 2:28 PM

Crootin philosophies


[Bryan Fuller]

Brian -

Two quick mailbag questions for you during this recruiting season. 

1 - How would you describe Harbaugh's recruiting philosophy? 

I think Hoke's was pretty easy to understand.  If you got an offer from Hoke, it was a commit-able offer.  If you wanted to take visits after accepting an offer, then you were no longer considered committed and they would consider you just a recruit competing for a spot in the class. 

Rodriguez was somewhat similar to Harbaugh i think, but there are some subtle differences.  Rodriguez would fire off a ton of offers and sort out how "official" they were as they learned more about grades, etc.  I think he had less consideration for class distribution by position and that may have gotten him in trouble, but he also chased some of the top players regardless of fit. 

Harbaugh seems to be something along the lines of this:

-- An offer is conditional upon certain requirements (curious your opinion on those)

-- If you commit, that doesn't mean that either you or Michigan is married to another.  Visits are still allowed and Michigan may still explore options for your spot.

-- Until you sign the LOI or enroll, consider things a soft commitment. 

Harbaugh sends out "offers." Hoke did not do that. If you had an offer from Michigan under Hoke you could commit to it. Harbaugh does the thing most people do these days and fires out offers in name only. To date he's been less than circumspect when it comes to allowing kids to commit to those offers (though sometimes that's not his call; some kids announce commitments to uncommitable offers).

A commitment is still mostly a commitment. Of the guys who left Michigan's class only two, Swenson and Weaver, were instances where Michigan flat out didn't want a guy because of their perception of his talent level. It's been more or less directly stated by guys like Steve Wiltfong that other players who decommitted had academic benchmarks they didn't reach or were 100% the player's choice. And Swenson was a unique situation since he was a highly-rated commit who was offered before his sophomore year by Brady Hoke. Michigan evidently made it clear they wanted to see him in action to confirm but didn't make it CLEAR, if you know what I mean. That's an error Harbaugh admitted to and hopefully won't be as much of a thing going forward.

I expect that Michigan will continue to have a few speculative commits who may or may not end up in the class for reasons academic and otherwise. Their offers will continue to keep pace with the state of the art in mangling the English langauge for marketing purposes. Some guys will take those offers. Michigan will make things clear to them, and some of them will end up in the class while others either use their status as a springboard, as Weaver did, or end up where they were going to end up anyway.

[After the JUMP: a graph, 2017 DL worries, 2016 LB worries, and HOW INSANE WAS THIS COACHING HIRE]


Unverified Voracity Wants A Player Haters' Tribune

Unverified Voracity Wants A Player Haters' Tribune Comment Count

Brian February 2nd, 2016 at 5:21 PM

Basketball preview here.

Super Saturday. Photos from the doubleheader from the Players' Tribune:


The Manuel UConn tenure. Jeff Jacobs has an exellent, comprehensive rundown of Warde Manuel's tenure at the UConn AD. Some UConn fans blame him for the Huskies getting left behind in the zombie Big East while Louisville got the golden ticket to the ACC; other than that somewhat fanciful complaint his tenure was rock-solid:

There are people who disagree with this, but Manuel handled the Kevin Ollie hiring as full-time coach just about perfectly. Ollie's biggest supporters, some who held their own power, wanted Ollie to get a long-term contract immediately. Manuel wanted to get to know Ollie, wanted to see him in action. Ask yourself this: What defined Ollie? He always had to work the hardest to prove himself on the court and that narrative continued for more than a decade in the NBA. If he was to be a success, the best possible outcome would be for Manuel to wait, like what he saw and give him that long-term deal three to four months into his job. That's what happened.

When Ollie was on his way to winning a national championship in 2014, there was Manuel ahead of the curve to lock in Ollie with a new five-year deal.

UConn's four major sports (football, both basketballs, and hockey) are all on the upswing or maintaining a high level of success. Manuel also pulled UConn out of a Jim Calhoun-generated APR disaster and spearheaded a move to Hockey East.

He's gone as soon as the NFL comes calling. Harbaugh writes an article for the Players' Tribune:

I’ve talked to a lot of people who feel that way about Michigan — and I’ve talked to a lot of other people who feel that way about their college, too. It happens everywhere. You probably feel that way about where you went to college.

But in my unscientific surveying of people I’ve talked to, I feel that it happens the most here at Michigan.

Which is why finally, I moved to Ann Arbor a third time. To be the head football coach.

A lot of people outside of Michigan asked me why I decided to make that third move to Ann Arbor. It’s pretty simple: I love football. I love coaching. I love Michigan. And for me, there’s no better place for those three things than right here in Ann Arbor.

It doesn't hurt that there's no megalomaniacal guy in a fur coat hovering over his shoulder in Ann Arbor.

As a side note, do you know what I see in my head whenever I hear "Players' Tribune"?


This is what I see, except with cards that read "PRESS" sticking out of their hats.

A firm-ish return date. Beilein on Levert's return:

It's good to have a timeframe. It's unfortunate that timeframe isn't a little quicker now that Michigan's World Tour Of Bad Big Ten Basketball has concluded.

Death to autobench, in numbers. Tucked away in a piece on Washington having an unprecedented number of guys foul out is this note on the most DQ-averse team in college basketball:

By the way, there has been only one team to avoid a disqualification this season. The last time a Michigan player fouled out was February 17th of last season when the human box-score line-break, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman fouled out against Michigan State. My stance on when to sit players in foul trouble is somewhere between “ignore foul trouble completely” and “always sit guys in the first half that have two fouls”. It’s a very tough problem to study. But it seems to me that if you do subscribe to the latter approach, the fact that none of your players are fouling out is an indication your instincts for loss aversion are too strong.

The fact that Michigan fouls so rarely in the first place makes the autobench even more frustrating in practice. It is what it is; it's a blind spot.

Recruitin' rabblin'. Andy Staples on the decommit thing:

We'll need to hear Michigan's side of the Swenson case before passing judgment, and NCAA rules will keep Wolverines coaches from publicly discussing the specifics of Swenson's recruitment until after he signs. If it turns out Michigan's staff waited until January to tell Swenson—who committed to then-coach Brady Hoke in November 2013—he wasn't wanted, then the Wolverines deserve criticism for being lousy communicators. If Swenson had this knowledge in September or October, he could have reopened his recruitment earlier at a time when other schools would have had more open slots. The well-paid grown-ups here should be held to a higher standard than the high school students, and if Swenson's camp is telling the truth, Michigan's staff might need to learn how and when to break bad news.

It beggars belief that Swenson's camp is telling a full and honest accounting of the story if only because Michigan insiders started chattering about his place in the class months before the actual decommit, first privately and then in public. A final decision may have been delayed; if he didn't know it was because he didn't want to. Either way, Michigan should be explicit about these things much earlier.

The bump. Bill Connelly has an article on the "Bama bump," which is the perception that recruits committed to or recruited by Alabama get rankings boosts. Some services say  they peek; others say no way:

To summarize, Luginbill said, "It absolutely exists because of subscription sales." Scout's Brandon Huffman said, "We don't do it, but others might." 247Sports's JC Shurburtt said, "Nah, but they do produce a lot of NFL talent, which matters," which seems like a roundabout way of saying it does kind of exist, only for reasons other than subscription sales.

Only Rivals' Mike Farrell said, "Nope!"

The denials here are odd, since re-evaluating a prospect once you get information like "Nick Saban is a fan" seems, you know, sensible. Connelly is in favor of the bump, and for the most part so am I. And it does exist. In Michigan's case it's usually when they become interested in a lower-rated guy. An unranked or two star player is about 99% likely to work his way up into generic three-star territory by the time Signing Day rolls around.

And for all of Luginbill's protestations, they absolutely do bump guys. When Khaleke Hudson committed to Michigan he was rated a 74 and below guys headed to Georgia Southern and schools of that ilk. Fast forward to today and he's flown up 34 spots. But that's fine! Before the bump Hudson's ranking looked plainly goofy. I think you should be humble enough to take Harbaugh's opinion into account when you rank guys. It's a better system than "did this guy show up to our camp," for sure.

Now, it's possible that Bama sees guys in the manicured regions move up. I don't follow their recruiting closely enough to know. This is not generally the case for Michigan commits, who tend to slide gradually as the recruiting year goes along. When I do job interviews I ask why this is, and I don't think I've heard the correct answer yet*. Michigan commits tend to slide because they stay the same while a select group of recruits below them emerge into big-time prospects. When you're perched in the top 10% of all high school recruits the direction you generally go is down even if you are ranked correctly.

*[It's still useful for hearing a person's ability to reason on the fly.]

Glasgow on Harbaugh. Stay enthusiastic, my friends:

“You know those commercials, The Most Interesting Man In The World? He’s like the most interesting coach in the world,” Glasgow said this week at the Reese’s Senior Bowl.

“He’s a really, really genuine guy and he just really cares about his players. Even though he looks crazy out there on game days and all that stuff, he’s really not like that behind closed doors.”

Only refs and people who drive slowly cause Harbaugh to throw conniption fits. BTW, we already have a "jim harbaugh is the most interesting man in the world" tag.

Jimmy & Johnny. Ann Arbor Pioneer is inducting Jim and John Harbaugh into the Hall of Fame of Purple-Wearing Athlete People on March 11; the eventbrite site just went live yesterday. The Facebook page has been posting vintage photos all week of the Harbros and here's one contest that was over before it began:

Sam & Ira are hosting, and they've invited us. 

Michigan replay, 1992. Check the sweater:

Etc.: Former Gilman head coach Biff Poggi is taking another head coaching job in Maryland and thus won't be joining the staff. Carr on the Manuel hire. The year in Harbaugh hijinks. Baumgardner has a long article in which Lorenz and Trieu offer some takes on the class. Why Holtz is going to SOTS.

Jedd Fisch gets a nice extension. Michigan expects to have a night game this year.


This Week's Obsession: Your Worst Breakup

This Week's Obsession: Your Worst Breakup Comment Count

Seth January 28th, 2016 at 12:08 PM

The Question:

What was your worst breakup? Answer may include a breakup song.


The Reponses:

Take her down to a river.

Seth: I haven't had enough long term relationships to collect the associated bad break. There was a never-was that ended with me taking a very long walk in the wee hours in winter and learning a thing or two about whiskey, but I can't really share it. And my longest relationship before my wife was a most-of-high-school thing that ended amicably.

My best breakup story then is more of an airline story. When my brother met his wife she had a best friend in the same grad program at Michigan whom I dated for a time. The problem was I had this whirlwind trip coming up: Vegas for a trade show-->Paris for 10 days with my parents-->home. The Vegas-Paris leg, because I was a master at flying in my trade show-attending youth, had a 19-hour "layover" in Detroit.

Well you can't really invite a girl you've been dating 6 weeks to Paris (with your folks!)unless you're already of a mind to keep doing so 'till death do you part. On the other hand she was really smart, and had Michigan hockey tickets. But it fell on her "spring" break, so I was really put to a decision here. I did the only thing I could to not end the relationship prematurely without committing fully: nothing.

With no Paris offer forthcoming she committed to flying back home--North Carolina--and got me to commit to driving her. Like an idiot I'm all: okay, I'll get back from this Vegas thing, we'll spend the "layover" together, take a car to the airport at the same time, then have a week apart to figure out our feels.

Here's where this plan went sour: she booked a 3pm flight to NC, and my Paris flight wasn't until 9 (and I wasn't about to leave a car there that whole time). So my glorious layover is now drive home from the airport after getting home on a red-eye, get a few hours of sleep, take the girl to airport, drive home again, then go back to the airport for Paris.

I got home from Las Vegas at about 7am, passed out for five hours, and woke up to find her already dropped off at my place. We hung out a little, I gave her a (very nice) Valentine's Day gift, jumped in the shower at the right time to be ready for the airport run, and when I got out she dumped me.

So you tell me: would you still take her?


[After the jump: more crutin]