How 'Bama was 'Bama recruiting when McElwain coached there and how good was his offense with that level of talent? How does that compare to Michigan's talent-level? There's plenty of hand-waiving going on, so I thought I'd look into it.
- Use Wiki to find the 2008-2011 'Bama offense starters.
- Use the 247 Composite to check 'Bama starters' rating and create an average.
- Evaluate the talent level in light of OFEI Rank (link).
- Compare this information to Michigan's probable starters and their 247 rating.
Chart: 'Bama Starters and 247 Ranking + OFEI Rank
|2008 Starters||2008 Composite Rating||2009 Starters||2009 Composite Rating||2010 Starters||2010 Composite Rating||2011 Starters||2011 Composite Rating|
|Mike McCoy, WR||3||Brad Smelley, FB||3||Preston Dial, FB||3||Brad Smelley, FB||3|
|Marquis Maze, WR||3||Marquis Maze, WR||3||Marquis Maze, WR||3||Marquis Maze, WR||3|
|Andre Smith, LT||5||James Carpenter, LT||4||James Carpenter, LT||4||Barrett Jones, LT||4|
|Mike Johnson, LG||4||Mike Johnson, LG||4||Chance Warmack, LG||3||Chance Warmack, LG||3|
|Antoine Caldwell, C||3||William Vlachos, C||4||William Vlachos, C||4||William Vlachos, C||4|
|Marlon Davis, RG||3||Barrett Jones, RG||4||Barrett Jones, RG||4||Anthony Steen, RG||3|
|Drew Davis, RT||2||Drew Davis, RT||2||D.J. Fluker, RT||5||D.J. Fluker, RT||5|
|Nick Walker, TE||4||Colin Peek, TE||3||Michael Williams, TE||4||Michael Williams, TE||4|
|Julio Jones, WR||5||Julio Jones, WR||5||Julio Jones, WR||5||DeAndrew White, WR||4|
|John Parker Wilson, QB||3||Greg McElroy, QB||3||Greg McElroy, QB||3||AJ McCarron, QB||4|
|Glen Coffee, RB||3||Mark Ingram, RB||4||Mark Ingram, RB||4||Trent Richardson, RB||5|
Chart: What of Michigan?
|2017 Predicted Starters||2017 Composite Rating|
|Kekoa Crawford, WR||4|
|Ben Mason, FB||3|
|Nolan Ulizio, LT||3|
|Ben Bredeson, LG||4|
|Cesar Ruiz, C||4|
|Michael Onwenu, RG||4|
|Juwann Bushell-Beatty, RT||4|
|Zach Gentry, TE||4|
|Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR||5|
|Shea Patterson, QB||5|
|Karan Higdon, RB||3|
On its face, it looks like McElwain accomplished some impressive things at 'Bama with less talent than Michigan has presently, at least based on ratings. Year one of McElwain was especially impressive because 'Bama's OFEI ranking was 67th when he came in. Also, especially if Patterson starts, Michigan would have the same number of 5-star starters as 'Bama's teams did during McElwain's tenure (though none at OT). Finally, I think Michigan of present and 'Bama during McElwain have similar quality defenses.
- Only looking at starters
- Not sure if a starter at 'Bama during that stretch is like a Mattison starter--i.e., guys who rotate a great deal
- Only looking at recruiting rankings as a proxy for talent
Maybe McElwain isn't so bad? I know this is looking at data from a long time ago, but he seemed to do a great deal with less talent than he'll have at Michigan. Also, I was very conservative about Michigan's talent pool (no Black listed, for example), so I may even be understating that talent edge.
On the other hand, any improvements in talent really depends on what was a 'starter' at 'Bama. I'm not sure about that. Also, this was years ago, and perhaps arguments can be made about the game passing McElwain by. There's also something to be said of integrating his concepts into Michigan's current system, and whether there will be a transition cost associated with that.