Unverified Voracity Is Nerding Out Comment Count

Brian January 11th, 2017 at 12:04 PM


[Bryan Fuller]

Orange Bowl grading. The PFF takes will not surprise you:

Michigan’s offense was completely overmatched against the Seminoles’ dominant front-seven, and the Wolverines earned well below-average grades for team run blocking and team pass protection. All five offensive linemen, fullbacks Khalid Hill and Henry Poggi and tight ends Ian Bunting and Tyrone Wheatley all earned below-average run-blocking grades

Woooooof. It is a good thing that Drevno has a track record that allows him to deflect most of that to the previous regime, but even with that track record I can see a bunch of discontent popping up next year when he's (probably) starting a true freshman again. Why does every departing coach at Michigan have to leave a ticking timebomb on the OL? This is three straight:

  • Lloyd Carr's last team dug Alex Mitchell out of retirement so he could get rolled like everyone else against OSU and gave Rich Rodriguez seven scholarship OL.
  • Rich Rod had a recruiting class with one OL, who was medicaled after a year. The next one saw him bring in an OG who quit football a week into fall camp.
  • Hoke at least tried, but his 6-OL class looks like it's petering out into zero starters and the numbers after that were far from sufficient.

All the evidence you need about Hoke's OL recruiting is the projected number of Hoke-era OL who will be starters in Harbaugh year three: one.

Anyway, the defense was terrific. So hooray.

Draft in or out: mostly out. NFL decisions for 2017 Michigan opponents are rolling in. Gentlemen who are headed for the draft:

  • Florida: LB Alex Anzalone, DT Caleb Brantley, CB Teez Tabor, CB Quincy Wilson
  • OSU: WR Noah Brown(?!), RB/WR Curtis Samuel, CB Gareon Conley, S Malik Hooker, LB Raekwon McMillan
  • PSU: WR Chris Godwin, DE Garrett Sickels, LB Nyeem Wartman-White
  • MSU: DT Malik McDowell, S Montae Nicholson
  • Northwestern: LB Anthony Walker
  • Wisconsin: LB TJ Watt, OT Ryan Ramcyzk
  • Indiana: LB Marcus Oliver(?!), RB Devine Redding(!?!)

JT Barrett, Jason Cabinda, and Josey Jewell have announced returns. Michigan got good news from Mason Cole and Maurice Hurst and less good news from Jabrill Peppers; OSU is also expected to lose CB Marshon Lattimore.



Draft stock, meanwhile. Taco Charlton has cracked a couple of first-round mock drafts to pay attention to. PFF has him 29th:

Charlton was having a strong season then took his game to a new level down the stretch, grading as our No. 4 edge defender from Week 9 through the end of the season. He was strong against the run and disruptive as a pass-rusher, picking up eight sacks, 10 hits and 32 hurries on only 251 rushes, and his two-year production is among the best in the nation.

Meanwhile Todd McShay shot him all the way up to 13th:

Charlton finished the season on a tear, compiling 10 sacks in his final 10 games. He has always had the raw ability, but this season, he showed more consistency and refined technique. Charlton has the ability to be an edge defender in either a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme in the NFL.

He was 26th in late December. Peppers is still 8th to McShay; PFF has him a late first-rounder. Lewis is hanging around the middle of the first round, usually.

Coordinator lockdown. Michigan is going to lose coaches on a regular basis, because Harbaugh. They've set out to lock down their coordinators, though. Don Brown got a five year, $1.5 million deal that is certainly unprecedented for a Michigan assistant coach and may be unprecedented nationwide. I don't think I've ever heard of an assistant getting a five year deal.

Soon after, Tim Drevno got a five year, $1 million deal. Drevno might leave for a head coaching job at some point, but if it's not a P5 gig he'll be taking a paycut.

Rumors that Ty Wheatley might be a candidate at WMU seem to have petered out, FWIW.

Making football more like debate. Nate Silver did things approximately as nerdy as I did in high school, and they even had similar tournament formats:

The solution that debate tournaments devised is something called power-pairing. Power-pairing just means that teams with the same record are paired off against each other, so that a team that starts off the tournament 2-0 will face off against another 2-0 team, for instance. It usually works by drawing the first two rounds of a tournament at random,1 and after that, everything is power-paired.

This turns out to be a surprisingly elegant solution. It helps to make the matchups relatively even, which not only helps students to learn more but also usually tells you more in determining the best teams. Furthermore, the pairings are somewhat self-correcting. Suppose a good team happens to randomly draw very tough opponents in its first two rounds and gets off to an 0-2 start. They’ll receive some compensation by being paired with easier opponents the rest of the way out — an 0-2 team and then a 1-2 team, and so forth. As another bonus to this system, the best teams are put through the gantlet and really earn their keep. A team that finishes its tournament undefeated or with just one loss will have beaten a lot of very good teams along the way.

They also did this at quiz bowl tournaments. Silver proposes a radical reshaping of Big Ten play in which each team gets three rivalry games, a couple early-season games scheduled by the previous year's standings, and then four "flex" matchups based on current standings. He's honed it fairly well:

  • You know whether you're home or away in the flex weeks.
  • Three rivalry weeks is enough to satisfy anyone.
  • The flex matchups make late season games more meaningful.

An example of the latter point:

In our simulated season, Penn State played (and defeated) Wisconsin, Nebraska and Illinois, a decent group of opponents whom they didn’t play in the actual regular season, but skipped games against mediocre Indiana, Purdue and Rutgers, whom they pointlessly faced in real life.

This site has railed against 14-team conferences and plead for dynamic scheduling since their inception. To me the uptick in meaningful games and much more meaningful result is worth disrupting the hallowed season-ending rivalry weekend, but I understand if that's a bridge too far for you. I'm in, though.

BONUS reminder: this is the best way to do Big Ten basketball scheduling:

19 game conference schedule.

PHASE 1: round robin.
PHASE 2: line is drawn between 7th and 8th teams in the league. Mini-leagues subsequently play round-robin.

That would be killer, man.

Oh man... oh man. Here's this!

I'm trying to think of a less appreciated Tennessee assistant football coach than Mike DeBord.

Still thinking.

Still ... OK, I give up.

This is a guy named John Adams. He is a newspaper columnist engaging in such 1990s classics as "talking down to his readers" and "using points and yards per game," so he's a natural DeBord ally. Hell, he's still using 1990s offenses as benchmarks.

In fact, DeBord proved to be one of Jones' best hires. In his first season, he revived UT's running game, which averaged 223.7 yards per game, second in the SEC. This past season, the Vols averaged 36.4 points and 443.7 yards per game.

In 1997, with senior All-American Peyton Manning at quarterback and offensive guru David Cutcliffe calling the shots, the Vols averaged 34.3 points and 482.8 yards per game.

This will be news to Adams, Debord, and Baby Spice, but it's no longer 1997. Tennessee's offense finished 28th in S&P+, which is almost perfectly mediocre in a metric that adjusts for strength of schedule. There is a reason DeBord moved to Indiana and not up the P5 ladder.

Walker is still extant. Kareem Walker had a rough start but seems to have evened things out:

"I got a 3.0 this semester," Walker said with a smile. "At Michigan. That was like 'wow." That felt good. I worked hard for that.

"(Harbaugh) hasn't seen (the report card) yet, but I told him I about a grade I got (a while back). I had to leave practice one day for a paper and I ended up getting a B+ on that. I told him about that grade. He liked it."

There are going to be a ton of early enrollees and even so the most fascinating guy to hear about and see will probably be Walker. He was brought up unprompted by various people during bowl practices as a guy to watch, and he's a talented dude.

What went down at Minnesota. The abortive boycott after ten players were suspended in the wake of a sexual assault investigation looked terrible, and looked worse after the Title IX report was released. Tracy Claeys got fired in its wake. If you're wondering what those guys were thinking, the Pioneer Press has an extensive interview with DE Gaelin Elmore:

PP: But at any point, when Coyle comes in to explain the suspensions, did anyone think, well, he’s the AD, he knows what he’s doing?

GE: No, because his answers made it seem like he had no idea. And it was like, you’re the AD, you did this; how do you not know enough? That’s when a lot of guys were like, ‘This isn’t right.’ We had no idea. (The suspensions) came out of nowhere. If someone just has a conversation with us before (the suspensions) happen, says, “You know what? This is a Title IX, EOAA investigation, it’s really out of our hands; we’re going to suspend the guys until it’s clear,” we’d have been fine. Or even when it was released to the public, at least tell the public the kids were suspended based on the investigation that has been ongoing since Sept. 2. If that’s said, (the boycott) doesn’t happen. But none of that happened, and our team felt we had no other option.

Bad decisions with low information from the team and a Dave Brandon Classic mismanagement of the public relations from the Minnesota AD. I'm a bit surprised that PJ Fleck decided to jump into that business feet-first, but then again he is crazy.

Let's patch holes in this boat that's already on the bottom. What's worse than not enforcing any of your actual rules? Making up new ones to seem virtuous.

One of the buzz words from Tuesday's NCAA recruiting seminar is: IAWP. As part of recruiting reform, the NCAA has proposed during a two-year period before a recruit's anticipated enrollment and a two-year period after the recruit's enrollment, an institution shall not employ individuals associated with a prospect (IAWP) in a non-coaching staff position.

Harbaugh's done this three times, hiring Gwen Bush, Chris Partridge, and Devin Bush Sr. All three of these people are good, and qualified for, the jobs they now have. Meanwhile half the SEC signees are getting paid. What's the point of restricting possibly dubious transactions when you are utterly incapable of enforcing the rules already on the books? Ugh. Amateurism is the worst.

Speaking of, here is a NYT article surveying CFB players on how they spend their stipends:

When the full-cost-of-attendance stipends were approved two years ago, there was worry among some college administrators that athletes would waste the money on frivolous purchases. But Georgia running back Nick Chubb said he saves his money every month, and his teammate Jeb Blazevich said he was surprised to learn how many Bulldogs send the money home to their families as soon as they receive it.

“That blew me away,” said Blazevich, a tight end from Charlotte, N.C. “That’s the thing that got me to love this team so well, just seeing these guys’ heart and sending the stipend home. These guys are good guys, and they want to do well by their family.”

Paternalistic concerns about How The Youth Will Spend Their Money are the worst arguments in favor of the current system. If they waste it all they're no worse off than they are now.

Etc.: What do you have to do to get ejected from a Philly press box? You can find out here. Rumors that Michigan-Florida might get moved to Sunday are unlikely to amount to anything. Spencer on the title game and the Rose Bowl. Smart Football on that power read pitch both teams were running in the championship game.


Toasted Yosties

January 11th, 2017 at 12:28 PM ^

Is there a link for the Nate Silver stuff aside from the power-pairing doc? I didn't see one.

I'd love to see a simulation and how it'd impact the B1Gs chances of being involved in the playoff. With the likelihood of the playoff being eight teams in a few years, and knowing two losses probably gets most blue bloods in, the season will be a little less spectacular. I'd be down for the B1G to give this a a try for a few years. It'd make it exciting on a different way.

Bando Calrissian

January 11th, 2017 at 3:32 PM ^

I was pretty on board with the Silver stuff until he went on the little rant about rivalry games and put them in the middle of the season.

There has to be a way of doing this while still keeping intact the little quirks and traditions that make college football so comparatively great--like The Game on the last weekend of the season.

He's dead on about CCGs, though. Dead. Freaking. On.


January 11th, 2017 at 12:29 PM ^

Yes yes yes

To the round robin, 7/8 cutoff, round robin format. Some European soccer leagues do that and I think it works well. It might hurt teams that are 8th/9th and would be bubble teams because they wouldn't get a chance to get some resume boosting wins in the second half of their season. But it would make every single one of those first set of round robin games vital and important. Would make for a great schedule (and filled arenas) if you get in the top half for the final stretch of the regular season. 

Big Brown Jug

January 11th, 2017 at 12:29 PM ^

I do not for the life of me understand why a bunch of uninvolved football players thought they were entitled to a super special explanation of a sexual assualt investigation.  

El Jeffe

January 11th, 2017 at 1:31 PM ^

It's a little hard to tell what they thought should happen. On the one hand, the AD seems to be saying that he suspended the players because he had to in light of the Title IX investigation. On the other he seems to be saying that he had no clue what was going on. 

In my experience at a large public research university not unlike Minnesota (though not Minnesota), there is a pretty high wall around the Title IX office (which is a good thing IMO), so it may be true that the AD didn't really know what was going on.

But still, the way he handled it sounded very Brandony, so I'm somewhat sympathetic to the other players.


January 11th, 2017 at 12:34 PM ^

it's obvious he's been working hard in the classroom and it's paying off.  Now looking forward to seeing him playing some football at UM while working on that degree. Great job young man!


January 11th, 2017 at 12:40 PM ^

To me the uptick in meaningful games and much more meaningful result is worth disrupting the hallowed season-ending rivalry weekend, but I understand if that's a bridge too far for you. I'm in, though.

Not me.  The thing about having the rivalry game at the end of the season is that no matter what goes wrong, you always have that to look forward to as your chance for redemption.  Lost to Iowa?  Oh well, can still beat Ohio.

The only exception is when your team sucks and you're expecting to get steamrolled, but by then you're numb anyway and moving the rivalry game weeks earlier won't change that.

Everyone Murders

January 11th, 2017 at 12:42 PM ^

I love the anecdote about Walker missing practice for a paper, and getting a good grade, etc.  This is easy to picture at Michigan.

Not so easy to picture at North Carolina, Louisville, Kentucky, etc.  It's a great disservice to a school's athletes to have an "ain't come to play school" culture, and it's good to see that Harbaugh is walking the walk.  Hopefully recruits' moms and dads are watching ... .


January 11th, 2017 at 12:50 PM ^

Something to consider: Pre-Harbaugh there was, for many years, a lot of bad thinking and acting going on at several levels of Michigan football.

Some people thought it would have been perfectly reasonable for Mike D to take over for Lloyd in 2007 even after he bombed out at CMU. (Lloyd himself may have been among the adherents of this idea.)

Bad thinking, I'd say.

That's one of many examples. We could add GERG and many others.

Maybe Brian is just trying to keep awareness high to reduce the odds of it (bad thinking) happening in the future.


January 11th, 2017 at 12:44 PM ^

If that IAWP rule had existed, Wheatley wouldn't be able to return to his Alma Mater to coach the position he played there, or his son couldn't have gone to the same school his parents did.

You Only Live Twice

January 11th, 2017 at 1:21 PM ^

Would penalize Michigan for these hires, but not the free flow of cash in the South?  It wouldn't be at all difficult to demonstrate qualifications for a given position; keep records that would be available for review, etc.

Cash - no paper trail.  The NCAA continues to reward the schools that work outside the system.  


January 11th, 2017 at 12:46 PM ^

One of the OL from the 2005 class, Justin Schifano, was a 4-star recruit who (IIRC) quit football shortly after arriving at Michigan.

On paper at least (especially to those who believe that recruiting stars are tantamount to destiny) he would have been helpful to the '08 and '09 RichRod teams.

Today? The WWW says he's a lawyer. (Good for him.)


January 11th, 2017 at 12:53 PM ^

Fleck going to Minnesota is a great move for him from a football standpoint. He inherits a team that won 9 games. Most coaches are thrown into situations where the program is in shambles and they have to completely rebuild it. He is coming in with pieces in place to have a "succesful" year

LSA Superstar

January 11th, 2017 at 12:58 PM ^

Anybody else ready for Michigan to overtly, Fab Five / SEC-style pay recruits?  I am.

This isn't a case of falling into the common bad actor fallacy (that's the fallacy where you say "well if he's doing evil I can do evil).  Because paying players for their labor isn't evil.

I feel like Michigan is bending over backwards to compete without breaking an unethical rule within a system where nobody else follows that unethical rule.  And this effort, paradoxically, creates all these perverse incentives.

Quick, answer with your gut - Would you rather pay Aubrey Solomon 150K for his committment and break the rule?  Or pay (hypothetically) Aubrey Solomon's high school coach 150K to "do a job" that isn't real and benefits only that coach?  Which is more ethical?

And yes, I'd feel the same way about the matter if I knew that would mean OSU and MSU would do it too.

Let's just end this charade.

Toasted Yosties

January 11th, 2017 at 2:03 PM ^

IIRC there were rumors about Gary being offered money to play at one of his potential schools. If so, why doesn't he, or other kids who turned down such offers, speak up about it? I feel like a few articles with people who were directly offered such illegal incentives would start us down the right trail in fixing the problem.

Toasted Yosties

January 11th, 2017 at 3:09 PM ^

I honestly don't. Because we're doing it? Because they don't want to rat out other recruits? Brian seems in the loop and it sounds like he doesn't think it is happening here (direct payoffs). I've heard of our guys getting free meals here and there from local businesses, which is not the same thing as someone handing them a large sum of money. And, yes, I understand both are against the rules.


January 11th, 2017 at 3:59 PM ^

Couldn't agree more.  I always hear sideways comments that the southern schools are paying people.  I've seen the anonymous "Bagmen" articles in magazines every few years.  I've read Bacon's books where UM players talk/hint at southern recruiting shenanigans.  Yet, nothing concrete ever comes out.  Seems like someone who turned down those types of benefits would talk about it, eventually.  Seems like a former player would get disgruntled for whatever reason and spill the beans - but it never happens.

If it is truly so rampant (either in the south or everywhere) why aren't there more detailed examples and reports?  Why do people with any level of insider connections (Brian, Sam, JUB, etc.) always hint at it but never say anything definitive about it?  It's like the whole thing is very common knowledge among the Illuminati, but all of us unconnected masses are left in the dark to speculate.

Mr Miggle

January 11th, 2017 at 4:26 PM ^

1) Selfishly, who wants to became a crusader for change? Gary and others have school and football to worry about. Being the big name recruit to accuse schools of cheating would take time and be a huge distraction.

2) Why rat out other players when you don't blame them for taking the money? Don't expect players to share the outrage of some fans.

3) You can't just turn them in without it being your word against theirs. You need to document the offers when they happen. That's easy when you're taking the money, but I expect schools to be pretty careful about just making offers. It's likely to be some 3rd party making an offer to one of your relatives. It's really asking a lot of a high schooler.


Toasted Yosties

January 11th, 2017 at 4:52 PM ^

I don't mean to rat out players directly, but if Ole Miss is having an unexpectedly good recruiting class and you go on twitter to say "hey, some Ole Miss booster just offered me $10K," there will be a degree of guilt by association for other Ole Miss recruits whether they received illegal benefits.

Regardless, if a player decided to make it publicly known, he wouldn't even have to do a lot. Even just a quick tweet that something shady just happened would be enough. And a player doesn't need to even name the person responsible for the offer. Naming the school would be enough. Perhaps certain schools don't want this behavior happening. I'm not being naive, only acknowledging that almost anyone can be a booster by NCAA definition without any connection with the school whatsoever. Perhaps if a school became aware of something shady going on, they could take action to prevent it.


January 11th, 2017 at 1:11 PM ^

Great article linked by Brian.  It sure seems like some of the creativity demonstrated with the offenses discussed in the article is missing from ours.  I understand that Harbaugh/Drevno are "pro-style" adherents, that Speight is not fleet of foot, etc., why can't a shovel pass (and plays built on the option of one) be incorporated into our offense, for example? 


January 11th, 2017 at 1:16 PM ^

I find it interesting that so many were complaining of the necessity for a stipend to bridge the cost gap of education (ie, books, other ancillary costs) when in fact the players appear to not need the stipend if they are sending the money home.  Makes you think....

Mr Miggle

January 11th, 2017 at 1:54 PM ^

They were about being able to do things that typical college students do, like visit home or eat out. Some players feel their families need the money more than they do and are willing to do without.

It does make me think. That making that an argument against stipends is a terrible, terrible idea. 


January 11th, 2017 at 5:25 PM ^

Maybe I don't understand / remember the argument well, but I thought the NCAA approved the stipend on a "need" basis/argument for the athletes.  Irrespective, my agrument still holds that (and contradicts your point that they need money to eat out) they are sending the money home.... not eating out or using to visit home as you say.  The quotes support my point that the stipend was unneccessary (but sold to the public that it was a need/necessary).

Mr Miggle

January 11th, 2017 at 6:39 PM ^

First of all, it's not a need based stipend. All scholarship players on a team receive the same amount. Obviously their financial circumstances will vary.

The NCAA made very clear that the stipend money was for transportation and other personal expenses. The scholarships already cover tuition, books and fees, room and board. Maybe you would like to read their official statement. http://www.ncaa.com/news/ncaa/article/2015-09-03/cost-attendance-qa

Some of these players are leaving families behind in bad circumstances. You are arguing that if they are willing to send money home to help them, then they don't need the money. That's not a compelling position to take.

I don't recall a campaign to sell the stipend plan to the public. I don't see why one would be needed. Why are you against them? As I recall, it was a proposal by the Power 5 conferences that they had to sell to the rest of the NCAA.



January 11th, 2017 at 1:23 PM ^

I think it's a "bad thing" that Drevno can "deflect blame" for the poor Oline performance.  Not only was he the Oline coach for 2 years, he was also responsible for much of the offense's schemes and play-calling.  He should have been able to recoginize the strengths and weakneses of his players and been able to develop game plans and call plays that worked to UofM's advantage.  That didn't happen. 

The problem with not assigning blame to Drevno is that it means the real problem won't be addressed, and if it's not addressed, it can't be fixed.