Mailbag: Recruiting Outperformance, APR and Hardship Logistics, Burn This Card Now Comment Count

Brian April 10th, 2015 at 12:43 PM

Recruiting rankings and outperformance


[Bryan Fuller]

Good afternoon –

Beilein has developed a reputation for being a stellar recruiter. He is now known for uncovering basketball players who were either lightly regarded, lightly recruited, unknown, or young, so that they grew and developed significantly after he recruited them. (Burke, Rahkman, Dawkins, Albrecht, LeVert, and now Moritz Wagner all fall into this category.)  I will be interested to see how Harbaugh and his staff correlate to Beilein in this regard. In one sense, every fan wants every recruit who comes in to be a 4 or 5 star rated recruit. But the reality is that the coaches sometimes see things that the rating experts missed. This has been an on-going discussion: how much do stars matter? I think the correlation of Wagner and Kingston Davis committing today brought this topic to my mind.

So, my questions and requests for you:

1) I’d love to see a table showing recruiting ranking vs. actual performance. Who ends up bring in recruits who significantly outperform their ranking, who brings in recruits who perform the way expected, and who brings in recruits who underperform, relative to how they were ranked.

This is too hard to do for basketball since there are very small and wildly varying recruiting classes. Last year Michigan brought in six players; this year it looks like it will be just one. A couple years ago Ohio State's recruiting class was… nobody. The attrition rates are wildly different so recruiting rankings, which always favor volume, are going to be skewed. You can point to anecdotes like Beilein turning fringe top 100 recruits into lottery picks on the regular; I don't think it's possible to do anything systematic with the numbers.

Football does give you a reasonable baseline to work with and this has been done by Ross Benes at Deadspin. You will be unsurprised to find Michigan where it is in a study that covers 2009 to 2013:


I am a bit skeptical about the methodology here, as it doesn't seem to account for the fact that there's nowhere to go but down for the teams at the top of the rankings. (It also doesn't take last year into account, which is why Michigan State isn't in the Wisconsin zone.) But it's still good for comparing you to your peers and the result is undeniable: amongst teams that recruit like Michigan, only Tennessee and maybe UCLA perform worse; Miami is on par.

2) The followup question would be to assess how much of this is attributable to a recruit being ranked accurately and appropriately, and much is attributable to the recruit’s development in college. The knock on Hoke wasn’t recruiting:  it was the belief that he didn’t develop players to perform to the best of their capability.

Thanks, best regards, and enjoy the balance of the Spring.

Steve Kass

No doubt it is some of both. Recruiting rankings are necessarily ignorant of a number of things that will influence the development of the player—ACL stability for one. But it's clear that some guys are awesome teachers able to improve players and others are guys who clap and shout "let's go." It's nice to see Stanford on the right side of this ledger even after Harbaugh's departure since many of those coaches were his, and he set up the culture that lifted them from the bottom.

APR logistics


I think that perhaps I don't understand what goes into the APR and was hoping you could help me understand.  I thought (although it appears incorrectly) that APR measured the percent of a school's players with remaining eligibility that return to school, maintain that eligibility academically, and/or graduate.  With 7 Kentucky players declaring for the draft (following several years of many more declaring), it would appear that Kentucky couldn't possibly evade APR penalties because legions of eligible players have not and will not be returning to school.  Is there an exception for going pro that I'm unaware of?  Is Kentucky's APR really only measured by whether their mop up players stay eligible and graduate, without regard to the majority of the team that goes pro?



That is correct. The APR has a loophole for players who leave school early for pro sports. You don't even have to get drafted to take advantage of it—NCAA-sanctioned UConn men's basketball started digging out with a perfect score this year despite a player leaving for Europe. He signed a contract overseas and left in "good academic standing," so he doesn't hurt UConn's APR.

As a result of that loophole all Kentucky has to do is gin up some Cs for the NCAA minimum progress toward a degree and their APR is untouched. It's probably in fact easier for them to comply with APR stuff because all they have to do is get their kids to go to Easy Class 101. Few end up having to move on to We Kind Of Need You To Pay Attention Now 386.

On the one hand, you need that exception because it's not the school's fault if, say, Nik Stauskas blows up into a top ten pick and wants to go get paid millions of dollars. On the other it does enable the travelling circus that is the current one-and-done system.

Medical hardship logistics

Hey Brian --

Recently there's been significant attention paid to key questions facing Michigan basketball this offseason (Will Levert go pro?  Will Jaylen Brown commit? etc.).  All of the discussion seems to operate under the premise that either Austin Hatch will continue to take up one of the 13 scholarships the team has to hand out, or the team will place him under "medical hardship."  I have two questions.

1) What does this medical hardship entail?  Would it be 100% career-ending?  Would he no longer be able to practice and play with the team?

A medical hardship allows the school to continue giving the kid a full scholarship. It would end his playing career at Michigan. He could still be affiliated with the team, could still practice (there's no regulations on who you practice with in college; womens' teams will often go up against guys). He could not get in the game. He would be a student manager, basically.

Michigan might be able to get a waiver for senior day.

2) Why has there been no discussion of freeing up Hatch's scholarship to use on, say, Jaylen Brown or Mike Edwards, by making him a walk-on?  I'm assuming there are other ways the University can make sure all his tuition bills are paid for.  At the very least, paying for Hatch to go to Michigan is worthy of $200K of the millions of dollars the athletic department has gotten from Stephen Ross or Al Glick.

In other words, maybe we don't have to choose between keeping Hatch on the basketball team and bringing in another scholarship player of Jaylen Brown's caliber, should LeVert choose to come back.


M 2012

Once you've been on scholarship, you count as a scholarship player even if your money supposedly comes from a source than the athletic department.

There are in fact certain things that you can do when you are just a recruit that make you count as a scholarship player, something that football teams have been dancing around of late with this "blueshirt" thing where kids arrive on campus as walk-ons. Those kids can't take officials or they end up counting against the limit of 25 signees annually.

Again, this is a situation where Michigan might be able to get a waiver since it's very high profile. Without that Michigan cannot use Hatch's scholarship without disqualifying him from playing.

Buy it and burn it.


I am so upset about this I had to share...


The above Ebay link is for a new Devin Gardner card with a sick & twisted "variation" of the winged helmet. This just is not right! I don't see how Upper Deck can get away with messing with our helmet design and printing this card.

Ed McArdle

Saginaw, MI

Is that a sugar cookie made by a deranged aunt on the card? Why is anyone making a Devin Gardner rookie card and is it even slightly possible that any of the bids on this travesty are legitimate? Supposedly this card is up to 16.05 with four different bidders. This makes me want to find a WIRED article about the shady lives of professional EBay sellers or something. I have a million questions.


Gonna go with "no" on this one.



April 10th, 2015 at 2:02 PM ^

I think because that post generated something like 390 comments, and I guess is relevant to some people for some reason.  I mean, I don't give a crap about what a bunch of college kids watch to get motivated.  My HS x-country coach took us to see G.I. Jane because it was supposed to inspire us to do something.  Me, I thought it was just weird to see a bunch of rape-menacing scenes with a bunch of HS girls around.  

People want to get attention.  Some do it by being great at their job, generating top-notch content, and being generally-nice human beings (the staff here).  Others do it by hashtagging stuff and being assholes online because they lack anything approximating maturity or non-lizard-level intelligence (AARules).


April 10th, 2015 at 2:55 PM ^

And to that I add, go see the movie or not.    Your choice, vote with your feet.  However let's not disrespect our veterans, who represent all races, ethnicities and religions, and the sacrifices they make for all of us.  Nuff said let's talk Michigan sports. 


April 11th, 2015 at 4:43 PM ^

Honestly, I was already laughng out loud at "We Kind Of Need You To Pay Attention Now", but when I got to the question about whether we "hacktivists" were going to suddenly rise up and call for THE HARBAUGH's resignation, I almost fell out my chair (and sadly, it's not Jim Harbaugh's old 49ers chair).  Classic assholery - - and Brian's "going with a no on that one" just made it better.

Wow.  I maybe need a cigarette.  Thanks, guys!


April 10th, 2015 at 1:05 PM ^

What's a 'slacker hacktavist'?  I think I may want to be one.  What education is needed?  What kind of pay can one expect?  Would it be a tough transistion for a 30 year old with a current career in healthcare?


April 10th, 2015 at 1:18 PM ^

I read that Matt Stainbrook was able to give his scholarship to his walk-on brother. I'm assuming this sort of situation would require Hatch to pay his own way plus Brown/someone else to walk on initially.

No idea if Hatch is willing or able to do such a thing, and it's certainly not fair or reasonable to expect him to. Is there something else I'm missing?


April 10th, 2015 at 1:22 PM ^

Regarding Hatch I have a NCAA process question. The question came up because they seem to do everything wrong.
He has not had a new injury. He played minutes despite his previous injury. Could (not should, not probably would, just COULD) the NCAA rule that he doesn't qualify because his injury has not already prevented him from playing?
Frankly, the asshats at the NCAA are bad enough that they could read it that way, but does anybody know if/what the guidelines or recommendations are for medical hardship waivers?

Sent from MGoBlog HD for iPhone & iPad


April 10th, 2015 at 2:01 PM ^

Because that's the fun of being a body with arbitrary powers. In practice, there's been a number of instances with players who get injured in high school go straight from LOI to medical, and certainly others who shift there after not fully recovering from the injury sustained in high school. The general complaint is that it gets applied too liberally, not too conservatively.


April 10th, 2015 at 2:12 PM ^

My understanding is that the medical staff of the team and the player have to come to some understanding that the player shouldn't/won't be allowed to play anymore due to injuries.  It's not so much the level of the player's injury; we think of it as terrible concussions or spinal injuries, but I've heard of guys getting medicalled for "chronic" injuries that, in another light, a player could probably still play through.  So it's pretty subjective and based on acceptance by all parties versus some specific list of factors.

This WSJ article gives some details wrt Alabama.


April 10th, 2015 at 1:52 PM ^

But, with the limited number of scholarships in baseketball I think he should get a medical hardship. Jaylen Brown(obviously) Kenny Williams or Mike Edwards all are players that could help the program.


April 10th, 2015 at 2:36 PM ^

Something about all this Hatch medical discussion really bothers me. We should all hope that he stays on a real scholarship and recovers to eventually contribute in meaningful minutes, even if that is extremely unlikely. We already have excellent depth going into next year. You are all advocating that we tell Austin that the chances of fulfilling his dream are too slim that he might as well just give up. And you want to replace him with a 1-and-done?

What the hell is wrong with you people?

We are rooting for a bunch of 18-22 year olds playing a ball game, representing a university. I would much rather have Austin Hatch on the team I support, even if his chances of playing meaningful time are 1 in a million, than some mercenary who is using the team as a pit stop.


April 10th, 2015 at 2:49 PM ^

It's not any different than discussing the merits of retaining a 5th year like Bielfeldt. I'm sure it's important to Austin as well as the university that he not be given preferential treatment simply due to his story.

I trust the medical staff and Beilein to make the best decision for Hatch and the program. It's their jobs on the line after all.


April 10th, 2015 at 3:24 PM ^

"Is that a sugar cookie made by a deranged aunt on the card?"

I was thinking it looked more like the nasty-ass butterscotch candy that the old lady on the next block would hand out at Halloween. A month later, they'd be the only thing left in your bag after you'd finished off all the good, then decent, then edible candy (along with those spongy orange peanut-shaped things, whatever the hell they were.)


April 10th, 2015 at 5:18 PM ^

may want, I don't think Beiein is going to take away Hatch's scholarship and replace it with a medical no matter whether LeVert stays or goes. I mean of the players recruited, the option to play here is always a numbers game.

I heard Sam Webb suggest that Michigan is still in the running for Booker among the 8 schools still on his list, but the speculation that he will go to Kentucky based on their 7 early entry departures increases the chances he could go there based on scholarship and roster availability alone. It would be nice to get Booker, but the way things have gone for Michigan in recent times, it could strike out on both Booker and LeVert making the Hatch question a moot point, anyway.

I'd like one or the other if not both, but not really at Hatch's expense.


Mr Miggle

April 11th, 2015 at 6:57 AM ^

Hatch could become a walkon. The rule he cited was about scholarship players in non-revenue sports participating in football or basketball. If they were recruited in a revenue sport, they can't become walkons. That would be a way for schools to skirt the scholarship limits. I don't know of any rule against players giving up their scholarship to become walkons. It happened at Syracuse a few years ago too.

It is an obvious rules violation to give Hatch money to become a walkon though.


April 11th, 2015 at 8:39 AM ^

when we realized Alabama has a significant merit scholarship program. The program is rumored to be funded by the proceeds the AD transfers back to the university (which cannot be true because the amount transferred back is in the range of paying for athletic scholarships at the out of state rate).

There are specific rules about how much recruiting contact the coach can have with the player. If say player A and coach meet at a camp and player A joins the team as a walk-on, doesn't take an official, and is given a generally available scholarship to the University, player A is not counted as a scholarship player until they play in a game.

If on the other hand player B is in home recruited by coaches, or takes an official, and then walks on, the rules are different. They are counted as a scholarship player. Hatch is in the player B category, and while I really hope he is able to make the rotation, if he cannot, at some point Belein needs to have a hard conversation and make a difficult decision. I'm hoping that point won't be reached.

Don't have the time to dig deeper, but I am wondering if Bama's merit scholarship programs give them a deeper walk-on squad. (i.e., not only do they have a advantage stemming from oversigning / St. Saban's medical ward, but they can bring in academically eligible players "off scholarship" until they develop to where they get playing time. e.g., bring in a guy like Will Heininger (who was academic all big ten) on a merit scholarship, and move him to a football scholarship when he breaks out his redshirt junior and senior year.)

Mr Miggle

April 11th, 2015 at 11:20 AM ^

spring practices. He would count against the 85 scholarship cap if he played in a game, but was allowed to practice as a walkon.

Nebraska used to have a big walkon program of in-state players. I'm not sure if it was funded like Alabama's. The rules for scholarship athletes from other sports are clear. I think you're right about how they would treat walkons who came in on academic scholarships.

None of this applies to Hatch, though. The school can't substitute a different type of scholarship to free up a roster spot and keep him eligible.


April 12th, 2015 at 1:49 PM ^

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April 13th, 2015 at 4:35 AM ^

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April 14th, 2015 at 7:03 AM ^

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