Mailbag: Crootin Like Les(?), Too Many WRs, Onwenu Location, Best Recent Hockey Dudes Comment Count

Brian January 15th, 2016 at 12:18 PM


you, go away


Given the general distaste we Michigan fans have had with the way in which SEC coaches like Les Miles and others oversign and then cut in order to make scholarship numbers work, how can we not be similarly enraged when it looks like we are now engaging in a similar practice? Is the answer HARBAUGH?


Michigan is not yet at the point where they have to tell a freshman who's been on campus for weeks to GTFO. Should they reach that point, or one anywhere near it, then I'll be grousing as well.

They aren't near it. To date they have lost some commits before Signing Day. If those are Michigan's choice that is a recruiting misdemeanor compared to the felony of getting a guy's LOI and putting yourself in a position where someone's gotta go, deserved or not. And in some cases they are not Michigan's choice—reports after Vic Viramontes decommitted were that Michigan was blindsided and disappointed. (The MGoSlack chat was certainly mournful.)

I do think Michigan put themselves in a bad spot by offering a few guys before it was clear whether they had the academics and/or talent to play at Michigan. In the former case, those guys should know the score without anyone having to walk their way through it—if you're not taking officials you have to know you're a long way away.

In the latter case, once that disappointing senior film comes in you can either try to make it work even if you don't believe the player is Michigan-caliber anymore or you can consciously uncouple. I can see how moving on before Signing Day instead of two years into a career nowhere near the field could be better for everyone. Michigan told Matt Falcon they didn't think he could play but had a medical scholarship. That sucked for Falcon but better to find out before you've spent eligibility. The error has been made either way.

Meanwhile, Michigan has limited control of the narrative that gets put out there because they cannot say anything about ongoing recruitments. Reports that Michigan isn't contacting certain players much are probably frustrating to the staff because the reason for that is that they've already told people the deal, as they did with Falcon, but "Michigan commit" looks good on a resume when you're looking for another spot to land. Recruiting sites waited months for Dele Harding to say something about his recruitment and finally just took him off commit lists. That doesn't mean Harding didn't know his status. If you read between the lines you know who isn't likely to be in the class. If you know, they know.

Meanwhile I know that they have told certain players not to commit whereupon those players commit anyway; Michigan shrugs its shoulders at crootin' and keeps going. Carr used to go out of his way to make things clear when such things happened to him (LB [something] Justice and some OL out of Tennessee who I can't remember spring to mind); Harbaugh seems to (accurately) regard the whole edifice as a farce and plays his part with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind.

We'll see what happens on and after Signing Day. I don't think we'll see any more untoward than playing time transfers and guys not being offered fifth years.

[After the JUMP: where to put guys, where to spend scholarships, and the best hockey forwards of the past 15 years.]

Recruiting position sense

Brian -

Given the chaos outlined in your Recruiting post today it is probably foolish to speculate about anything related to the class size or makeup before signing day.  But I'm still going to ask the question anyway:

What is your opinion on the fact that Michigan is recruiting so many receivers in this class when the depth issue at other positions (LB, WDE) is more dire? 

Right now there are 5 receivers in the class and two more possible/probably candidates to join them.  The easy answer is that some will switch to DB, but they have 3 DBs already in the class and Long/Hill are probably additions.  This is magnified by the fact that Harbaugh typically uses just 2 receivers at a time and at most 3.  I know that our top two WR leave after next year and no one else has distinguished themselves, but it seems like an imbalance in this class when every spot in the 28 is valuable. 

Chicago, IL

Usually when Michigan's coaches are recruiting in a way that doesn't' seem to make numerical sense it's because they're taking unannounced attrition into account. I wouldn't be surprised if that was the case here.

Also, Michigan's numbers at linebacker are actually reasonable. They're currently slated to have 10 on the roster next year and are looking to add one or two more. (The problem is that past Gedeon we have no idea if any of them can actually play.) They're currently at 12 wide receiver/slot types and may add two more. That's a little bit of overkill (LB and WR are both spots where Michigan needs 2.5 starters) but since a number of the wide receivers have been recruited as athletes who might flip to defensive back it's not drastic.

It's actually DB that needs numbers. Michigan loses five defensive backs after 2016 (Lewis, Clark, Stribling, Thomas, and Hill) and Jabrill Peppers has a first round draft spot waiting for him whenever he wants it. If Peppers goes Michigan has just nine players, a number of them marginal, for 4.5 starting spots. If Michigan wants to avoid playing true freshmen next year they need to add a bunch of dudes now. Hill and Long should be just the tip of the iceberg, and the numbers at wide receiver are the bit lurking under the water.

Glasgows? Why? And who does number two work for?

Two questions:

1.  What is the back story to all of the Glasgows being walk-ons?  Not recruited out of HS by UM?  I saw that their mom is a surgeon – didn’t need UM scholarships to come here?  Just curious

2.  AD Hackett has said that their was a clear choice #2 for HC if hiring Harbaugh didn’t work out and John Bacon indicated that he knew who the #2 choice was as well – any idea who it was?  Pro coach?


1. Glasgows did not play football until very late in high school because their parents weren't keen on the idea. This SI article has the full story. They didn't have big offers.

2. I have not heard that specifically, and I'm surprised Bacon would have as well. The coaching search was so laser-focused on Harbaugh that other candidates were mostly fever-dreams (CUTCLIFFE TURNS DOWN MICHIGAN) or speculative backup plans. I think Hackett knew he was getting Harbaugh relatively early in the process and just had to not screw it up, making #2 a distant consideration.

I hope it was Tom Herman though.

Recruiting coordinator gigs and their attractiveness

Hi MGoStaff,

With all of the talk recently about Bush potentially having the opportunity to move from high profile college head coach to a recruiting coordinator position on Michigan’s staff, could you elaborate as to why an individual would want to do so from a “no brainer” perspective?

More specifically, the things that come to mind are:

1. Would a HS HC candidate really want to give up your involvement in the X’s and O’s (or on field coaching), a potential area of interest with current head coaches?

2. Would a HS HC candidate want the change in lifestyle that recruiting requires?

3. Is the jump in salary meaningful from high profile HS HC to D1 Recruiting Coordinator? Illinois coaching staff member, Ryan Cubit, is making a hair over $80k per USA Today (LINK). Do D1 recruiting coordinators actually earn salaries comparable to full time (e.g. “officially staffed”) coaches?  This article citing Houston area head coach salaries (LINK) are pressing, or surpassing, six-figures annually. I’m sure Florida, and others like Ohio and California, are in the same ballpark as Texas.

With many of these high school coaches now getting TV time for themselves or their teams on ESPN, apparel deals for their team with major suppliers (Nike, et al.), and the runway that much more promising career-wise leaving that behind for a recruiting coordinator role in D1 now versus an on-field coaching role later (or even staying as HC at a prominent HS)?


Illinois coaching staff member Ryan Cubit is maybe not the best example. Cubit is Bill Cubit's son and probably comes cheap as a result. Meanwhile USA Today's assistant coach salary database shows that 457 D-I assistants are making 200k+ and 760 are making 100k+. Recruiting coordinator is not a full assistant job but Partridge made as much as Ryan Cubit did in his first year at Michigan and is obviously in line for a significant bump now.

So, yes, being a college staffer, even a non-coaching one, is much closer to the on-ramp to serious money than being a high school coach. The salary pools are going up as fast or faster in college than they are at high schools, and big high school programs are often built with… yep, recruiting. Both Partridge and Devin Bush Sr built their programs by convincing players to transfer high schools.

Maybe there are some high schools that could keep coaches away from some college programs. Michigan is not one of those college programs.

Onwenu as a nose tackle?

what are the chances michael onwenu plays at NT rather than OG?  michigan never seems to have enough NTs on the roster, we don't have any NT commits this year, and we have commits from three other OLs, about as many as we should take in an average year. onwenu seems like he's the perfect size for an NT; he's the anti-pat massey.


My initial instinct was similar. I saw "360" next to Onwenu's height and mentally filed him as a NT. While I still think that's a possibility if needs demand it, as Onwenu's high school career has drawn to a close it's clear guard is the first option.

As a guard Onwenu brings a unique combination of agility and power. As a nose tackle Onwenu is going to be a load to move, but does he have the explosive ability to be a one-gap player? I don't know but I'm guessing not. You can definitely work around that—the Patriots have used a hybrid one/two gap system for years based around Vince Wilfork. But, I mean, Harbaugh. You show him a guy who can pull at 360 and he's going to want him on offense.

Hockey lines of the last 15 years

Hey Brian,

Curious on your all time first three lines for Michigan hockey. At least since the last national champion.


Wow. This is a brutally difficult question. Here's an attempt:

Kevin Porter – TJ Hensick – Mike Comrie

Porter and Hensick combined on one of the top lines in recent Michigan history, and Porter went on to win the Hobey after Hensick graduated. Hensick was a puck wizard who was brilliant on a 2-on-1 and was a one-man-zone entry. Meanwhile Comrie is simply the most talented player with the puck on his stick I have ever seen in Yost Ice Arena. Due to loopholes in the NHL CBA Comrie left for a half season in the OHL (which he burned to the ground with like 3 PPG) before leaping direct to the NHL.

Zach Hyman – Carl Hagelin – Mike Cammalleri

With a better supporting cast and the mysterious disappearance of Jack Eichel Hyman likely wins the Hobey. Drove tons and tons of play off the wall, and eventually turned that into points. Just a nightmare for defenders.

Hagelin is the best two-way player Michigan has had in my time as an M hockey fan, lightning fast and always defensively responsible. Late-career offensive surge based on his relentless ability to improve himself.

Cammalleri was/is Comrie. Better pro but a hair behind Comrie in college.

Jeff Tambellini – Max Pacioretty - Andrew Cogliano

Tambellini was a mobile howitzer. Best shot I've seen. The second half of his freshman year Pacioretty dominated; I was really hoping to see a sophomore season from him. Alas. Cogliano is another in the line of Comrie/Cammalleri, fast as hell and small. He wasn't quite in their league as an offensive force but was much better in his own zone.

BONUS GRIND LINE of personal favorites who certainly aren't better than Dylan Larkin:

Brandon Kaleniecki – Andrew Copp – Scooter Vaughn

(defensemen, quickly: Komisarek, Trouba, Jack Johnson, Werenski, Mark Mitera, Eric Werner.)


Bando Calrissian

January 15th, 2016 at 12:53 PM ^

Brief talk of great Michigan defensemen, and no discussion of Tim "I'm going to park in the corner with this puck for a full minute to kill the penalty" Miller?

Bonus hot fact take: Miller currently plays for a German team called the Fischtown Pinguins. Best team name ever?

EDIT: Why in my memory is Miller a defenseman? Yeesh. I'll take a lap.


January 15th, 2016 at 12:52 PM ^

As an MGoReader living in Columbus, I have the sad misfortune of being a Blue Jackets fan. From what I've read here, I've been trying to keep the brakes on the Zach Werenski hype train that charged out of the station after World Juniors, mainly based on his defensive abilities.

Is he a guy that could play third-pairing, sheltered/offensive zone start minutes in the NHL next season? Or does he still need more work?

With the crap fest that has been the Blue Jackets' season, many fans are looking for Werenski as a potential sooner-rather-than-later bright spot. I'm wary.


January 15th, 2016 at 1:02 PM ^

I've had the same question as the first mailbag question and I pretty confident it was going to come up in a post and I'm glad it has. In my own wrestling with it I look at it in a couple of ways: 


1. No one is getting booted off the team for dubious reasons or for dubious medical reasons. There's been no one who has eligibility left get a scholarship yanked and there's no one who got to campus and we were like 'whoops, sorry no room.' 

2. It is the first full cycle for Harbaugh after the first full season. There's gonna be guys who have been looking around already and are going to jump ship shortly (Derrick Green) and dudes are going to see the writing on the wall and want to actually play (Moe Wayes, Jaron Dukes, Da'Mario Jones all got passed by a freshman and we're bringing in higher rated guys than him this year). They have probably mentioned such and that's why our class is going to be so large. 


If #1 above changes and #2 is a recurring theme, I might start to furrow my brow a bit. I have no issue with dudes leaving for more PT but I don't want to hear anymore questionable stuff like Ondre's assertation that he was forced out. I also don't want to see 28/30 person classes every year where we need a full scale research project to figure out where the numbers are coming from.


so for the time being let's calm our tits and not go all Mike Valenti right now. 


January 15th, 2016 at 1:31 PM ^

I'm sorry, but the whole "playing time transfer" thing is indefensible when Brian has criticized Crean's Indiana and Saban's Alabama for doing exactly the same thing. Saban isn't yanking scholarships. He's telling players "you need to transfer or medical because you're not playing here anymore" and Brian has criticized him for it.

I can link an article where Brian saw a report that Alabama was taking a class of 27 and that meant 8 is players had to be jettisoned from the program if that was correct. How many will we have to jettison if we take 30 and why is Brian not complaining about it?


January 15th, 2016 at 1:40 PM ^

There's a difference between saying "You're off the team" and "You can stay if you want, but you're not going to play." Ross Taylor-Douglas said in an article the other day that he was told by Harbaugh that he could stay at Michigan, but Taylor-Douglas wants to explore his chances to play elsewhere. I don't see any problem with scenario #2. 


January 15th, 2016 at 1:52 PM ^

Hard disagree.


If this is a yearly thing and we have the same issues creeping up, we're in lock step. This is year one, and some of these dudes are going to look around and say "this isn't who I signed up to play for AND I'm not playing, I'm gonna peace out."


Derrick Green is the poster child for this. Again, let's calm our tits and see what happens going forward. 



January 15th, 2016 at 1:53 PM ^

You have a concern come February.   Until then you have to realize Harbaugh has not said 1 word about any of this because he can't.  This is all theory from people in the know.  

This is not the SEC.  Harbaugh has to have a plan in place to account for the scholarships.

There haven't been any credible stories of Harbaugh doing anything considered scummy yet.

Pipkins- His claims do not make sense.  Scholarship was not needed this year.  

Falcon- Falcon went against Harbaugh's wishes, got hurt and Harbaugh still kept his word with the medical scholarship.  He gave him plenty of time to work out all his options.

Current recruits-  Nothing unusual so far.  Usual attrition with grades and such.  

I say at this point Harbaugh is clean as a whistle but might have some splainin to do in 4 weeks.  Put your concerns in a box and reopen in Feb.   If any stories come out smearing Harbaugh make sure to research the story because Michigan can't say anything so usually you are only getting 1 side.  If at that point it looks like Harbaugh has crossed over to the dark side then we can have that talk.

Until then....Harbaugh.




January 15th, 2016 at 3:51 PM ^…

I remember reading once that the number of medical hardships given out at Alabama matched the rest of the SEC, COMBINED.  Saban is sleazy.

EDIT: found it, here:…

and here:



January 15th, 2016 at 2:44 PM ^

February 2008 --- which really is not THAT long ago --- is absolutely quaint when seen in the lens of January 2016.  Literally weeks of debate about "snake oil" and "gentleman's agreements" and blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.

What was that about again?

Oh yeah, someone continued to recruit a player who made a verbal committment.  

Is there anyone who does NOT do that in 2016?

I fully believe that in 10-15 years, the "over-signing and ghosting and yanking of scholarships" practices that started among only a few schools will become nearly 100% commonplace at college football's highest levels.

"Normal" evolves.  


January 15th, 2016 at 2:54 PM ^

Difficult to tell on him I agree

Reality is in a Harbaugh offense you are really only going to go about 4 WRs deep since the TEs are so utilized.  And 2 of those 3 will be outside - the other is your Perry type inside.

If you do look aaround the college landscape there are very young WRs doing very big things - one WR UM was after (Scott @ Clemson) had like 80 catches as a true freshman, and has ave that every year (yes diff offense).  Tyler Boyd went to Pitt and had 80 catches as a freshman. Guys in P12, B12 doing big things as true SO.  If you want a more UM offense, that little Covey guy who burned Peppers had an excellent true freshman campaign (I believe 50 catches).  Corey Davis was a lightly recruited guy who went to Western and had 70 catches as a true freshman.  Godwin - who is not a superstar - has 70 catches in his 2nd year at PSU.

Our guys like Harris and Ways have like 5 catches.

True talent is going to come in and impress nearly right off the bat at positions like RB and WR - it is not going to "wait its turn because someone else is older".

Of course everyone can always argue someone like Chesson who doesnt do much until November of his RS JR year but arguing exceptions to the rule vs the rule is usually not a great thing.  Usually a WR is going to pop relatively early in career ... still early on Ways and Harris but if they are not popping by next year (even with Darboh and Chesson getting bulk of playing time) I'd be bearish on prospects. 

And of course the 2013 class of 3 WRs was a near complete whiff in terms of production.

If this was Baylor offense and we recruited this many WRs it would make me less pensive on what they think of Ways and Harris but with so few guys who are really going to get opportunities and this many WRs coming in (even if some end up on defense) - and even more being recruited - it makes me wonder.  But yes another year of data needed - but coaches see what they see day in and day out in practice.


January 16th, 2016 at 2:03 AM ^

Ways is probably going to be a role-player. I don't necessarily see him blossoming into a star like Chesson or Gallon or Hemingway, but that doesn't mean he can't be a solid four-year contributor. If he catches 60 balls for 1,000 yards in his career with some good edge blocking, is that a waste of everyone's time? I don't think so. If he makes 20 receptions next season he's well on his way--even though he'd probably rank about fifth or sixth on the team.

That said, I don't consider WR an "off the bat" position. It's not all that uncommon for a guy no to do much as a freshman or even sophomore and then be very productive as an upperclassman. Some guys need to add a lot of weight (Chesson, and probably Drake Harris). Some guys played different positions in high school and need a lot of technique work (Gallon, probably Brian Cole). Obviously neither of those situations pertains to Ways, who played WR in high school and has had good size from the get-go. Ways is probably just stuck behind an established starter (Darboh) and will have to wait turn.