WTKA MGoBlog Roundtable

Submitted by Shop Smart Sho… on February 9th, 2018 at 11:16 AM

Just in case people wanted to listen to it before/if it gets put on the main page.


See if you can identify the exact moment where Brian strokes out because Ed and Craig have no clue what they're blathering on about.



February 9th, 2018 at 11:23 AM ^

Harbaugh appears willing to die on Mt Drevno for reasons beyond my comprehension. Never thought I'd see the day when he, of all people, would make job performance second to friendships. Baffling.


February 9th, 2018 at 11:31 AM ^

And it flies in the face of what I think a lot of people expected about Harbaugh when he was hired. I think most people assumed he'd be the kind of head coach who would cut ties with underperforming assistants. At least I did.

I'm very confused about what's going on with our offensive coaching staff. Given Frey's exit, the Enos saga, and Pep and Drevno remaining, it all feels like mismanagement. It's just not what I expected from Harbaugh.

Hopefully perforance improves this year and I'm proven wrong. I just don't see how it will.


February 9th, 2018 at 12:10 PM ^

After reading some of the more informed people on this blog with regards to OL player development (i.e. former football coaches etc), it sounds as though Drevno has actually objectively performed quite well.  Perhaps not perfect, but not the shitstorm most (including Brian) think on this blog.


February 9th, 2018 at 1:15 PM ^

Yeah, what gets me is this argument that the offensive line is garbage. It was bad at pass protection this year. It was actually pretty good at run blocking, and has trended up. In fact, once they ditched Frey's zone blocking they were gashing people consistently. But that half of offensive line play doesn't matter to people.

Brian is entitled to his opinion. But listening to the podcast, it did come across as a bit reactionary for the sake of it. It just strikes me as short-sighted to assume a staff that succeeded everywhere else, including the first two years at Michigan, suddenly are all terrible and should be fired because the youngest team in the country cycled through three 3 QBs due to injury or ineffectiveness and didn't play great on offense.


February 9th, 2018 at 1:36 PM ^

Losing Wheatley hurt a lot.  I'm not so sure about Fisch as a recruiter, but he's a good coordinator.

Pep was an NFL guy.  I have no idea how he is as a recruiter.  My guess is not great.  But he was part of some good staffs at Stanford and it's hard to imagine he suddenly forgot how to do his job.  He's also only been there a year, and 2018 recruiting started off down.  You can see it in this site's overviews to start the year.

Michigan whiffed on some guys, but it didn't seem like they were in on a lot as well.  I have no idea why, but Hamilton was only hired in January of 2017 and my guess is he didn't play a huge role in this cycle regardless.

I fully assume Harbaugh realizes this year was down across the board.  But the one consistent issue with Michigan since Carr left has been instability.  It's ping-ponging from offensive and defensive philosophies, coaches, etc.  I don't blame Harbaugh for tinkering at the edges but believing that his system will win out in the end and that there will be some rough patches in the process.  2018 is obviously a big year for the team in terms of development, and I'm willing to give the coaching staff some leeway as a result.

The Mad Hatter

February 9th, 2018 at 2:17 PM ^

And I think your point about instability can't be overstated.

We have the best DC available, and a DL coach who's a damn good DC in his own right, so that side of the ball is set.

What I would like to see is Harbaugh hire a single OC and give him command of the offense,  no more of this OC triumvirate (although that seemed to work OK in 2015 and 2016).  Or for Harbaugh to take direct command of the offense, which is what I think he did for The Game.

And recruiting really does need to improve.  Michigan should always have top 10 classes.


February 9th, 2018 at 2:57 PM ^

I think recruiting will improve; for any number of reasons it's been a down 2018 since the jump.

I agree about the OC issues, and I'd add in having Drevno coach the guards and center and Frey the tackles (or however they broke that up) was also weird and shouldn't be repeated.

I think this team will be better offensively next year, and with it the team will play and look better.  But like, I don't expect them to win the conference title as it stands right now.  That apparently will label me a loser to some, but apparently 5 of the top 12 teams in the country play in this conference.  That's going to make it a pretty tough slog for anyone.


February 9th, 2018 at 5:54 PM ^

I think the chemistry changed with the loss of Fisch and the addition of pep. But man, I really want to see Harbaugh take over.

My hope in the back of my mind is that drev and pep are staying because drev will handle ol and pep will handle wR and Harbaugh runs the OL


February 9th, 2018 at 1:27 PM ^

The OL was good at run blocking by the end of the year.

The runnings backs had GREAT stats in the OSU game.

Did the QBs suck?  Yeah, for the most part they did.  Was the OL suck at pass blocking?  Not quite, but it was bad.

Do teams have down years?  Yeah, unless you are Alabama under Saban or OSU under Meyer, or are on a roll (like USC once was or Clemson right now), teams have down years.

So, the end is not nigh.  I think we win between 9 and 11 games in 2018 and in the off chance that we go 8-5 next year, 2019 is still looking like a 11 win season.


February 9th, 2018 at 2:26 PM ^

The play on the field speaks for itself, but if you listen to folks like Space Coyote, Magnus etal. talk about the nuances that go into the development of OL, there some encouraging signs.  These are things that do not immediately show-up on stats or on field performance, but if I read between the lines, these are expected to pay dividends in the coming seasons.

Again, I'm no expert, but I'm open to listening to those who are.


February 9th, 2018 at 2:21 PM ^

I mean it was literally the biggest complain 49er fans had and it was with Roman. It’s completely in line with his reputation that he values loyalty too much. It’s also the biggest problem ravens fans have with John harbaugh so it seems to be a family trait


February 10th, 2018 at 5:25 PM ^

Length, as well as $.

Looks like he took the administrative side of things too lightly, rewarding friends like a kid in a candy store and not thinking out the consequences, if they didn't pan out in the college game.

In his entire career, Drevno had only been an OC for 2/3 years at San Diego State and that was 12 years ago.

Not to mention expecting 18/20 year olds to master a pro playbook.

It's called "on the job training" and I think he would do it differently the next time around.



February 9th, 2018 at 11:25 AM ^

Is it because Ed and Craig “have no clue” or is it simply because they disagree with him?  I listen to this weekly and enjoy the segment, including contributions from Brian, Ed, Craig, Sam, and Ira.  However, Brian often seems very dismissive and condescending when anyone disagrees with him.  This includes Sam when talking about recruiting….many may think Sam “blows sunshine” but I’m certain that he knows far more about recruiting than anyone else on the roundtable.  

Shop Smart Sho…

February 9th, 2018 at 11:28 AM ^

Ed and Craig have gone on and on about recruiting rankings not really mattering for as long as I've listened to them on that show.  It doesn't seem to matter to them that the facts in no way back up their argument. Which is really strange when it comes from Ed, because his only expertise is dealing with data. He doesn't really seem to know all that much more about football than the dedicated readers of this blog.


February 9th, 2018 at 11:38 AM ^

I don't think you are accurately describing Ed and Craig's opinions on the mattter.  It seemed to me that they all implied that higher recruits generally do better.  Now, they all didn't stomp their feet and talk over the others with "Blah, blah, blah, no 5* offensive tackles!"  I thought Craig had a good take on recruiting...are the coachs selecting 3* players based upon thier needs and own evaluation, or are they "thowing darts" and taking these guys because that's all they can get?  Seems like a reasonable question that won't be answered for some time.  I know it doesn't fit the doom and gloom mood many have, but reason should win out over emotion.


February 9th, 2018 at 12:45 PM ^

...UM1944, for more accurately characterizing my POV. I have never said recruiting ratings are meaningless or not relevant or without predictive value. To the contrary, I think they are relevant and do have predictive value. That said, most of the good college players in any year will not be 5 or 4 star guys since, plainly, there are only about 300 such guys in any year. Plus, some high percentage of these guys crap out. Half or more. 

If you take a random group of four stars, they will outperform a random group of 3 stars. But who says a coach is stuck with random choices? The question is "how good are the coaches at evaluating and projecitng talent" because there are plenty of guys who are 3 stars who will  out perform 5 stars. After the fact, if you let me choose from among 5 star guys and 3 star guys, I can construct a team of 3 stars who will run the 5 stars off the field.

So, if you believe that JH has a limited abilty or an average ability to discern, well, this class is worthy of concern. I looked at some tape of the lower rated guys, however, and I had a hard time seeing them as much or any different than some higher rated guys at their positions.Now, I am no coach or talent evaluator. But JH and his staff should be. Or mght be well better than average. Let's hope so.

I wrote about this extensively in The Search for the Unified Field Theory (Football Version). Forgive me for mentioning this, since I do get about $ 2 per book of royalties on that (maybe $ 100-$200 per year) and I prefer not to talk about anything in which I have a financial interest, regardless of how nominal. But in that book I provide some data and examples and a fuller argument on point.

Thanks, again.
















February 9th, 2018 at 1:40 PM ^

about what signing 3-stars can mean. Just as a fr' instance, I'd place a much larger amount of faith in 3-stars signed by MSU or Wisconsin than 3-stars signed by Illinois, or Kansas, or Kentucky.

Michigan Arrogance

February 9th, 2018 at 4:30 PM ^

I'd agree with all of this Craig, but I think there's something that you're missing: did M go after a 3-start right away, based on in-person and/or camp performance or did they strike out on some higher rated 4-5* player and then settle on the 3*?

The WR (who seems like a 2 star/VERY late bloomer due to playing basketball almost exclusively) doesn't bother me. That's a kid the coaches seemed to have ID'd and gone after in a targeted fasion.

Many of the other guys however, well they seem to be guys that maybe they had hoped to get someone else but obvisously didn't.


This all comes with a big caveate that I dodn't follow recruiting to an extent that I know every pathway of every target M had in 2018. 


February 9th, 2018 at 8:05 PM ^

...and thank you.

Plainly, anyone can "pick" a three star team that will demolish a 5 star team with after-the-fact knowledge. So, the question is, is there some coach who has the ability to do this before the fact? Certainly, no. But what if there is a coach who has some success rate beyond what the recruting services provide? What if, say, Jim Harbaugh or Mark Dantonio is better at evaluating talent than, say Rivals? And what if, as some coaches have suggested [Brad Lawig, IIRC] it is possible for coaches to jake the system by turning 3 star guys into 5 star guys, and minimizing the potentials of others?

Certainly, this particular playing field has frictions---but there is no doubt that a person with perfect knowlege would (easily) beat the services. So, what about well less than perfect knowledge but still better than the services? Shouldn't we assume, after all, that Jim Harbaugh might be a better evaluator of future success than many of the guys who do this for the services?


February 9th, 2018 at 1:09 PM ^

...thanks for remembering that occasionally I have said something that actually made sense. Or came to frution. I will be the first to concede that I have also said stuff that was idiotic or just plain wrong. Predicting the future is a treacherous matter.I hope I am 55% to date, but concede it might be 45%

Here's one prediction I made a few years back. That UM fans might eventually regret the hiring of Jim Harbaugh because I saw his offense being one that would be hard to sustain; that most HS teams were running spreads and it was a lot easier to find "Denards" than "Tom Bradys." I said Tom Herman would be a better choice; that I felt he had a better opportunity to run an offense that would be routinely good; sustainable..

Now, this prediction was roundly decried by Brian, Sam and Ed. And why not?Off air, at least, they said I was a dope.  My opinion seemed contrarian just to that end. But it wasn't intended that way. I preferred Tom Herman. I thought he was UM's best alternative at that moment.

I sure as hell hope Harbaugh works out. Certainly, he has brought great defense to Ann Arbor. I am hopeful about offense, but worried. Let's see what we see in the spring.

Thanks for listening to us. I can't tell you how much I appreciate all persons who listen, even those who might not care much for me. 

NYC Fan3

February 9th, 2018 at 1:39 PM ^

Hey Craig!  Good to see you interacting with the board.  

Brian, Ace, Seth should join in sometime.  Would be interesting to hear why the folks that earn a living off of this blog never grace the message board and interact with users.

State of the football program sucks right now, but i still enjoy getting on here when i can and reading what other fans have to say.



February 9th, 2018 at 11:11 PM ^

..it is a privilege and that's no BS. I get the chance to talk to a lot Michigan fans with Brian, Sam and Ed. What other UM fan wouldn't jump at the opportuniy---getting up at 3 AM or otherwise.I am blessed. 

But I appreciate the empathy.

yossarians tree

February 9th, 2018 at 1:25 PM ^

I agree that Brian had "a bad game" this week. He sounded like a very condescending old-guard elitist Michigan fan who sits on his hands at the 50 yard line. He also sounded under the weather so maybe that had something to do with it. The other guys are able to be critical without sounding morose and petulant. It seemed unusual because I usually find Brian and Ace to be the voice of reason in opposition to the bridge-jumpers.


February 9th, 2018 at 1:51 PM ^

I suspect Brian is suffering from sleep deprivation which would not be surprising given he's sick and has a very small kid at home.

It's also possible he's simply burned out on the whole blog thing. That wouldn't surprise me at all. Something that starts out as a labor of love can lose its luster quickly when it becomes a job. Among other things, it's clear that he's frustrated with dealing with dumb hot takes constantly.

I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure Brian was single when he started MGoBlog over a decade ago, and now he's married with a kid, with all the responsibilities and pressures inherent in those things. The person he is now might be very different from the single guy he was 12 years ago, and MGoBlog is a vastly different place than it was back then, too.

Maybe he's Dr. Frankenstein who's grown sick and damn tired of trying to keep his monster from breaking loose and rampaging through the University of Michigan fandom countryside.



February 9th, 2018 at 1:42 PM ^

Yeah, the assumption is always that Brian is right and everyone else is wrong.  I personally find Ed tough to listen to at times because his analysis can be hand-waving, but Brian has and is wrong at times, or at least no more informed than anyone else.  He goes from loving to hating something on a dime, like any other fan, and at times he will doggedly hold onto a belief despite evidence to the contrary.  He has, for example, consistently overrated the basketball team for years, even when people point out otherwise.  He harps about RPI when there is empirical evidence that while it matters somewhat to seeding, it isn't some dispositive fact that your number equals where you wind up.

I like Brian, obviously.  But he can be wrong.  Craig is a smart guy, and Ed has his system that works for him and isn't terrible.  I am wrong all the time, and if I was on the radio I'd say wrong things as well.  But the assumption that because Brian is mad and other people are mad means he's right doesn't hold water.


February 9th, 2018 at 3:39 PM ^

Almost by definition, big fans of that band are into mood swings and can be real morose. Morrissey isn't called "The Pope of Mope" for nothing.

Combine that with being a big fan of UM *plus* having the success of the team be important for his livlihood (which now includes a kid) --- that's a recipe for some serious ups & downs.


February 9th, 2018 at 11:29 AM ^

A lot of us are pretty gloomy. I tend toward optimism and on general principle I think the team has potential to be really good this fall but there's a really bad taste in my mouth right now. The bowl collapse, the total disaster that was recruiting this year, the staffing issues, things don't look sunny at the moment.

rob f

February 10th, 2018 at 12:05 PM ^

you and numerous others are calling our 2018 recruiting, I look at it differently: the only part I consider to be a disaster are the results earlier this week on the traditional NSD.

I think it's entirely possible that we end up with an overall very well-constructed and very productive class when graded a few years down the road on results rather than potential.

I also think it's entirely possible that Harbaugh and staff have to study their approach to the period between early signing day (ESD) and NSD, as they obviously got outworked/outflanked by the Sabans, Meyers, Smarts, Frosts and Franklins, not to also mentioned a certain purple-faced goblin in South Bend. IMO, no matter how well you did on ESD, what you do between then and February with the small pool of remaining recruiting prospects can make or break the perception of your class.

I remain of the opinion, and strongly so, that calling the '18 class a "disaster" is unfair to each and every one of those young Michigan Men. While I'm confident that you personally didn't in any way mean it as a slight to these commits, when looked at as a whole, so many of our fan base proclaiming "disaster" is not a good look to the team, the new commits, and kids being recruited to the next couple classes.


February 9th, 2018 at 11:33 AM ^

the 2016 Michigan football team had the HIGHEST SCORING OFFENSE since Yost's 1904 team. 

Then in 2017 the offense fall off a cliff due to a putrid PASSING game.

The problem is Hamilton, not Drevno.



February 9th, 2018 at 11:59 AM ^

Or this was a young team, and the most expierenced and important skill position player, the QB, got hurt. I like that Harbaugh chose continuity over reactive firings. This is a good coaching staff all the way around. 


Also losing Chesson, and Darboh, and then Black, who looked like the most polished of the young WRs, hurt the passing game tremendously. No coach is going to look good with the options out there last year. There is some talent at WR after this last class, but they were inexpierenced in 2017, and inexpierenced WRs coupled with a first year QB is a recipe for what exactly happened in the passing game. They'll be markedly better this year.