Stock Up/Stock Down - Big Ten Football Programs

Submitted by Vacuous Truth on January 17th, 2019 at 2:32 PM

I was wondering which, if any, B10 football programs appear better positioned today than they appeared to be one year ago and thought I'd share my findings. I was going to just do a board post but it got awfully long and there aren't so many diaries these days anyhow.

My objective "anchor", so to speak, was naturally Bill C.'s S&P+ rankings.  I'll sprinkle in some use of the 24/7 composite national rankings & some subjective thoughts when it's time to make a call. 

OK, let's see how the B10 fared on the field and beyond in 2018 (warning: the theme was disappointment). Rankings via preseason S&P+: 

1. OSU: S&P rating moved -7 points; S&P+ rank fell from national #1 (preseason) to #5 (final). Unexpectedly lost an all-time great Head Coach in his 50's; replaced him with a 1st time HC. Recruiting class (a small one, admittedly) is currently #13 after two straight #2 finishes. They arguably (probably?) still have the highest stock in the B10, but the only reasonable conclusion (BPONE be damned) is their stock is Down compared to a year ago today.

2. PSU: -4, #7 to #14. Bit of a disappointing season on the field, largely due to a precipitous offensive fall, despite a returning Sr. QB, in the first year w/o Moorehead. Recruiting is steady, but they've lost, i believe, 5 underclassmen to the draft and another 5 to the portal, 3-4 of whom were expected to contribute. I don't think it's unfair to conclude their stock is a bit Down.

3. Michigan: 0, #10 to #6. Despite what your soul tells you the team was about as good as expected this year. We're optimistic about the coaching changes but check back later. Losing Solomon, Gentry & Long but keeping Hill, Hudson, Patterson, et. al. feels like a push. The one needle-mover is recruiting: a year ago M was in striking out each at-bat en route to a #22 national finish; today we're #8 and proved able to close the deal on a high 5* this homer will call it a slight Stock UP.

4. Wisconsin: -4, #11 to #21. Disappointing season but not terrible; recruiting (#26) is a notch better than the ~40 from the past two years. Their biggest problem is an ascendant Nebraska but we'll call this Even 

5. MSU: -8, #13 to #33. Second-most disappointing on-field season in the conference; the big 3 of the East seem to have distanced themselves; the attempt to fix a miserable offense involved coaching shakeups (smart!) which consisted entirely of job swaps (uhh?); recruiting continues to hover around #30. I'm so sad to say their stock is Down

6. Iowa: +4, #35 to #22, The rare Big Ten team that was better than expected this season. Recruiting has remained consistent around #40. If only b/c they were better than expected in a conference that was mostly disappointing, i'll give them a slight stock Up. 

7. Northwestern: -8, #37 to #79, So, the Wildcats were actually far worse than predicted. Several of their division rivals are on the rise. They lose their NFL-ish QB. Recruiting remains around #50. But i just can't bring myself to say NW is in worse shape after a division title than they were a year ago so it has to be Even. 

8. Indiana: -5, #49 to #83 - They were surprisingly awful this year, sure, but recruiting is up to #41 (despite a small class) after being down in the 60s two years ago. And they seem to have tightened their grip on the "5th best program in the division" honor thanks mostly to the I-95 idiots. Even

9. Purdue: +1, #51 to #52 - They were about as average as expected but recruiting class is #24 after being #51, and #72 before that. But that's burying the lede - by some miracle or witchcraft they fended off Louisville for Brohm and are, imo, going to become a true division contender for as long as he sticks around. Big time Up. 

10. Nebraska: +1, #61 to #56 - this is what we expected right? They were bad this year, they're recruiting pretty well, Frost (hired Dec '17, ftr) is probably going to have them contending for the division as soon as 2019. Even

11. Maryland: +1, #71 to #71 - A year ago we didn't know just how vile Durkin was, so while it's good he's gone, by the rules their stock is Down.

12. Minnesota: +6, #76 to #49 - Boat's being rowed! They were the B10's biggest overperformer, recruiting looks fine, stock is Up.

13. Rutgers: -9 (!!!), #94 to #116  ...  see below

14. Illinois: -3, #100 to #105 - When you begin at the extremes (e.g. in preliminary rankings) you're more likely to move towards the center, not due to your own quality, but simply due to the sheer number of alternatives on one side and lack thereof on the other (see: OSU's "disappointing" #5 finish). Against all odds, both of the Big Ten's embarrassments managed to descend deeper than the bottom of the basement. Both continue to get worse at recruiting (from 40's in 2017 to 50's last year to 60's now); both decided to delay their inevitable coaching change one more year. It's morbidly impressive to realize both stocks are Down.


In Conclusion: 4 Ups vs 6 Downs isn't good but it's not as bad as i expected, especially considering just 2 teams outperformed expectations by a FG-to-TD margin, whereas 4 were a TD + worse than expected, and another 4 were 4-6 points below expectations. Recruiting is part of the reason - I have 5 teams on the upswing in that regard vs 2-4 on the slide. The East looks set to remain a 3.5 horse race for a while to come, while the West's depth seems poised to turn it into an average (or better?) P5 division by ~2020. 


The Maizer

January 17th, 2019 at 3:38 PM ^

I know AP poll is largely meaningless, but Wisconsin started the season ranked #4 and even had a first place vote. Expectations were big and they were considered a complete lock to win the West. Hard to imagine that level of optimism for them headed into the 2019 season so I'd say their stock is down.


January 17th, 2019 at 4:35 PM ^

Michigan stock is up from the previous year but I’d say going into this next year slightly down, defense lost too much and I don’t see them as a playoff contender at all, I don’t have enough faith in the offense to carry the 2019 team 

neg away 


January 17th, 2019 at 7:29 PM ^

You don't see us as a playoff contender? I understand if you say Michigan won't make the playoffs, though thats debatable, or if you said they aren't a contender to win the NC (Clemson is gonna be really good). However, saying they won't even be a contender to make the playoff seems absurd.

What does it take for us to be a contender? Basically, we need to lose 1 or fewer games next year. Who is a real threat to beat us next year (by that I mean, who has more than say a 20% chance to beat us)? In my opinion, that list is at most 4 teams. Wisconsin, Notre Dame, Penn State, and Ohio State would all have a realistic expectation to beat us next year. However, I'd say we'd be clear favorites over Penn State and Wisconsin. So, if we can beat the teams we're supposed to beat, we'd probably go into the Ohio State game with a place in the Big Ten title game and the playoff on the line. That would make us contenders, would it not? 


January 17th, 2019 at 10:43 PM ^

You shouldn't expect to get negged for your opinion as long as you aren't acting like a douche towards players, coaches, other posters, etc.

I agree with your view of the defense, although for slightly different reasons.  In my view the lack of playmakers at the DT position and replacing arguably one of the greatest linebackers ever to play at Michigan will be a challenge.  I think the corners and safeties will be really good.

I am optimistic about the offense, given all of the playmakers, but I understand your sentiment.


January 17th, 2019 at 6:04 PM ^

Nebraska should be considered stock UP, IMO.  They're past their nadir and the first year of a new coach and QB; improved during the season, and have been recruiting well. 


January 17th, 2019 at 8:09 PM ^

Michigan's stock is not up. It's even at best. The little uptick in recruiting doesn't make up for getting absolutely blasted off the field in their last two games. They finished the year looking like they don't have the answers to compete with good teams yet again.


January 18th, 2019 at 2:21 PM ^

I hear what you are saying, but in the last game, they got blasted off the field without pretty much half of their starters; Higdon, JBB, Gary, Bush, Wino (injured), etc.  It was pretty obvious that the team didn't give a crap about that game.

As for OSU, yes, we got toasted.  OSU is a really good team with a crap ton of talent. We were not well prepared and we paid the price.  Terrible coaching, terrible result.  But one game, even the most important one, does not mean that the wheels have fallen off.  


January 18th, 2019 at 3:26 PM ^

He's not saying the wheels have come off, he's saying even at best.  This is a reasonable take.  They didn't seem to have answers to two really good teams.  Harbaugh seemed to recognize this and is making staff changes to correct it. 

I'd say that's a reason for stock up, the coaching changes and an offensive philosophy that recognizes the need to score constantly.  Must find a left tackle though. 


January 17th, 2019 at 10:55 PM ^

Call me a homer, but why Penn St above Michigan? Lots of turnover, They’re gonna start a 5th year senior QB and Barkley or Sanders aren’t walking back through that proverbial door, I see a significant drop off coming this year.

That said, I think we’re treading water in second.  Lost a ton on defense, offense should improve but I just don’t see a “stock up” analysis given that we’re talking about needing 11 wins with half of our d starters returning.  Hope I’m wrong...

Iowa down, maybe even, but not up, they lost quite a bit.

Nebraska way up, they finished the year strong, year 2 for Frost and Martinez should build off that.

Rutgers belongs last until they can beat Kansas.

And Fuck Sparty... their stock is down for eternity.

Vacuous Truth

January 18th, 2019 at 11:09 AM ^

The order was purely by preseason s&p+ rank - by season's end we were #2 in the B10.

As for the what you said about M (and Iowa and Neb) i agree we may not be as good next year. Yet still, i'm more optimistic about the program's future *today* than i was a year ago at this time. Know what i mean? More of a long term view than year-to-year


January 18th, 2019 at 5:43 PM ^

Got it, I misunderstood the part about the ranking system.  I agree long term looks promising, the difficulty in my mind (theoretically) is that we’re reloading our defense this year, next year it’ll be the offense replacing 3 maybe 4 OL, a QB RB and 1-2 WRs, then back to the defense (probably?).  Seems like our recruiting classes are unbalanced based on needs, hopefully we can get more balance going forward.

I think Nebraska will be the class of the West starting in 2 years.


January 18th, 2019 at 2:12 PM ^

Here's the reasons to be "stock up" on Michigan:

1.  Offense:

QB - 2nd year of Shea > 1st year of Shea.  Also, he should be better protected as the line improves (see below) and will be playing in what I expect to be a better overall offensive game plan #speedinspace

WR - 3rd year DPJ, Nico, Black, Martin + 2nd year Bell  > last year versions of same players.  Also, #speedinspace

OL - Sr. Ruiz and Onweno > junior Ruiz / Onweno; Runkon = same as last year.  As for JBB, Mayfield has a higher ceiling.  While JPP was very good last year, he didn't play against OSU or in the Bowl.  So, when comparing possible improvement, it's really 2018 Steuber vs either 2019 Steuber or Mayfield.  That's another improvement.  Overall, the line improves.

FB - another year of growth and anger for Mason, so improvement

TE - while we lose Gentry, he was not enough of an impact player that McKeon, Eubanks or one of the younger guys can't fill the the role.  This is a wash.

RB - this is the only area of decline, since Higdon has a really good season.  That said, against better competition, he didn't do that much, and RB is the one spot that a younger guy can step in early.  If Charbonnet is able to step in and split carries with Evans, this could end up being a wash.

2.  Defense

Everyone expects a massive step back.  I am not so sure about that.  Why?

CB - we return Long and Hill.  While we lose Watson, against teams like OSU, he got toasted.  I think that a junior version of Ambry Thomas could be an improvement, especially in terms of athleticism and speed.

Safety - while we lose Kinnel, we return Metellus and all of the backups, and we add, oh yeah, the number 1 safety in the 2019 class.  True freshman hiccups aside, I expect Dax to step in and more than fill Kinnel's role.  And again, we are adding athleticism and team speed.

LB - this is a massive loss.  Bush is one of the best M linebackers EVER.  No way to sugar coat this.  I think that some group of Ross, Anthony and Gill will be good, but we will feel the loss of Bush.

DT - we lose Solomon, Marshal and Mone, but if we are being honest, none of them did much, especially against better OL.  Solomon showed definite potential, but because of injury, he never made much of an impact.  The returning crew of Dwumfour, Kemp, and Jeter should be able to replicate the production of this year's crew, and perhaps someone like Mazi or Hinton can step in and be an instant impact guy.  Either way, even if this unit is meh, so was last year, so it's not a huge loss.

Viper - Thank you for coming back, Khaleke.

DE - aside from LB (Bush), this is the spot that everyone points to as the reason that our D is going to step back.  I am going to disagree.  Here's why.  We lose Gary and Wino.  Both were good to great players.  However, against the lower-tiered competition, we would be just fine with Uche, Paye, Hutchinson an Luiji.  Against OSU and in the Bowl, largely because of injury, Gary and Wino were ineffective.  Meaning, that while the players stepping in for them are not necessarily as good, the dropoff from injured Gary / Wino to whomever plays may not be steep.  

So, overall, we improve at QB, WR, OL, somewhat FB, and possibly safety, and the only areas of definite decline are LB, to some extent DE and possibly RB.  

I know, BPONE, but I am actually really positive on next year's team.


tl;dr - we're gonna be fine


February 2nd, 2019 at 12:07 PM ^

With Gattis, I'll bet the Ferrari gets let out around the block, but I'll buy-in fully when I see it on the freeway.

Also, I firmly believe Shea has a ceiling against good competition, or that Pep/Harbaugh has broken his playmaking ability. I know the second one is irrational, but I definitely envision a scenario where "don't take a chance - it might be an INT" has been drilled into him. But yeah, it's probably the ceiling.

So between those two points, our offense will sputter. It's a miracle we haven't seen WR transfers.

9-3 / 10-2 regular season next year. Magic 8-ball says bowl outcome does not look good.


January 18th, 2019 at 5:49 PM ^

Good diary - I view the concept slightly differently, I'd view the question as "if these schools were stock and I already had some of their stock, would I buy more today or sell today from the POV of looking to be ahead 12 months from now?"

The thing that strikes me is that among the "higher premium B1G stocks", there's not many where I would buy.

I'd be selling all of OSU, PSU, MSU, Wisconsin and Iowa.  I'd be holding Michigan and Northwestern. I'd be buying Nebraska.

Nature does tend to abhor a vacuum, so maybe someone else comes on.  A case can be made for Purdue, Maryland, Minnesota and Illinois all being buys.  But I doubt their "stock price" rises to "B1G Title contender" levels either. 

Overall, I'm inclined to think it will be another rough 1-2 years for the B1G when benchmarking teams vs. the elite from other conferences. 

Vacuous Truth

January 21st, 2019 at 12:18 PM ^

I like this line of thinking about this exercise. The essential difference is you're comparing your current opinion of each program to what we perceive to be the theoretical "market's" opinion. Whereas i just compare my current opinion to my opinion 1 year ago. 

My only disagreement with your conclusions is: I think (maybe i'm wrong) the "market" would think very highly of Nebraska's stock, even if they haven't done anything yet. I bet they'd have the highest stock price in the West, and would be 4th in the conference but not far behind M and PSU. If that were the case, would it still be a "buy"?





January 19th, 2019 at 7:45 AM ^

M's rating looks good to me.


if JH really has found modern (tempo) Jesus, i am very optimistic about the future

i like the younger coaches, if we can hold them and establish a little stability recruiting might really be good.

i've accepted that JH is eccentric and  that he is hard to work for.   i think this is somewhat mitigated by his love of football and willingness to help others advance in the profession.

next year's schedule is very hard.  




January 19th, 2019 at 10:15 AM ^

BPONE view: sorry, I'm not buying the suggestion M stock is even. Yes, 10-3 is about what reasonable people expected before the ND game, and the 2019 recruiting class is better than 2018's. But...we seem to have persistent coaching issues that take two seasons to resolve, and get replaced by other issues when they are finally fixed. It's a nice 2019 recruiting class, but they are unlikely to contribute this year. Meanwhile, the consequences of a disappointing 2018 class are about to assert the 3 year ripple in our performance, as we all know so well from the last decade of Michigan football.

I'm not saying anyone is, or should be, on the hot seat. However, I am coming to terms with the possibility we may not be a true football blue blood anymore.

Vacuous Truth

January 21st, 2019 at 12:22 PM ^

Hard to refute the idea that the coaching instability is probably a bad sign. I think that, on a case by case basis, you could look at the OC change and the DL coach change as net positives, and Washington was never going to stay at M over OSU, and on and on. But that may be missing the forest for the trees - the fact that we've had to push out an OC-ish figure twice in two years, the fact that we seem to lose a couple position coaches each offseason (not always to promotions either)...these are probably not good signs on the whole, even if each particular "tree" is defensible. 

The Pharaoh of Filth

January 21st, 2019 at 1:08 PM ^

Michigan is the ultimate "buy stock for the future" investment. Bought (Company X) and 50 bucks forty years ago; today it's worth 75 bucks. Increase in value only because it increases in value--the things that make Michigan Michigan are decidedly NOT wonder years (and NC's) or even consistently challenging for the championships--just being a steady 9.3 up and 3.3 down for 40 years. 110,000 butts in the seats, on television, selling millions in merchandise, and everyone knows about the fight song and the Helmet.

Other than that? Nothing. But a good, steady value, fun to watch most of the time, just not gonna get rich off them. Even had a market crash in there, now back up to historic levels of steady slightly better than mediocre.

Ohio State--not going anywhere. They'll be a high value forever because, as we saw even with Cooper, they still challenge for the Big Games even if they lose to a 7-4 Michigan team. They keep on keeping on, and until they crash, you cannot assume they will.

Wisconsin--a recent player on the market, but I see them going the same direction for years to come. They know who they are, and they do what they do, and they are comfortable with it. Great buy--see Michigan--only getting better returns because they never panic and they are steadier, now. They DO have great years in there--years they are happy as hell to go 13-1 and win a NYD bowl, and they do that fairly often! BUY, especially now as their stock, in this "What have you done for me in the last 5 minutes" world, is slightly down.

Penn State: Stay away. Too volatile. Shooting up, jumping off the ledge--all in one day. All the potential in the world, but the HC's success really depends on a star player or three AND good coordinators--not always going to pan out year in and year out. The Brazil of the college football stock market.

Nothworstern: A sleeper, steady stock that should be in everyone's portfolio. It's not just Fitzgerald--by my recollection they've had three good coaches in a row: Barnett, Walker, and now Fitzgerald. I think of Barnett and Walker as the Founding Fathers of what is going on now. Fitzgerald is 87-65 since 2006 who would have thunk that? Good buy, and again, have them in your portfolio as long as Fitz is there.

Michigan State: The MOST interesting stock option of all, and harder to predict than anyone except maybe Iowa. Hell, put Iowa in this category. As long as they have the coaches they do, and you just simply expect modest returns (8-4)--keep them in your portfolio. When these two coaches hang it up, package them and SELL SELL SELL.

Nebraska: BUY NOW. That's all I can say. Frost has a SYSTEM and he will recruit to it, and Nebraska will give him what he wants. If his coaches flail, they will be gone. He already has probably the best QB in the B1G for the next two years, and they showed tremendous improvement. They did get a little unlucky in a coupl losses--those losses won't happen again, so BUY BUY BUY!!

The rest? Penny stocks, who cares


February 12th, 2019 at 10:37 AM ^

I would say about even heading into next season. The offense may be better and there could be slight set back in the defense. I'm a bit worried that our opponents know how to play against our D with quick slant passes. I just hope Jim opens up the offense next season. I'm thinking a 9-3 season with wins against MSU and OSU at home! We will probably lose on the road to PSU and PSU may win the east next season.