Unverified Voracity Is A Robot Programmed To Coach Football

Submitted by Brian on January 14th, 2015 at 11:01 AM


two point buckets are rare as unicorns these days [Bryan Fuller]

That was ugly. I don't have much to say about last night's demolition in Columbus. It's pretty much over as far as an NCAA bid is concerned—even 9-4 the rest of the way leaves Michigan with two horrendous, horrendous losses compared to the rest of the bubble and no real marquee wins.

I don't know what blew up. Obviously losing all three posts from last year is a big factor, as is the almost total lack of production from Kam Chatman (who is shooting an unbelievable 34%/25%). But there's something not right with the guys we thought were going to be the big guns. When your captains are saying you're in "coast mode" after a game that's nasty.

Walton's obvious: he's got turf toe. Irvin and LeVert are both doing okay; neither has become anything approximating a go-to guy. Both are shooting 44% from two with little in the way of free throws; Walton's even worse at 36%. With no one who can create two point shots consistently they've lost the crazy offensive efficiency of the last two years, and the defense hasn't improved nearly enough to keep their heads above water.

The only remaining hopes for the season is that they start getting better, make the NIT, and have a run in there that gives you some confidence.

Mattison back, officially. The latest in a long line of re-re-confirmations:

"Jack Harbaugh will always be one of the most influential coaches I've ever been with," he said. "I had the opportunity to coach with him for five years, just a tremendous football coach who taught me a lot about coaching.

"And I really respect (John Harbaugh), you always knew he'd be successful. ... And there's another Harbaugh (I'm close with), when we had our first child, Lisa, the only person she'd ever let babysit for her was Joanie (Jim's sister). That Harbaugh family, we've known for a long, long time."

Having Mattison around is going to be excellent for recruiting and continuity, and should allow Durkin to gradually adjust to being the man on that side of the ball after coaching under Will Muschamp at Florida.

Early signing may be happening. The Conference Commissioners Association was tasked with looking into an early signing date for football, and the proposal now has a shape:

On Tuesday at the American Football Coaches Association convention in Louisville, Susan Peal, NCAA associate director of operations who serves as a liaison between the collegiate governing body and the commissioners, revealed that the committee is leaning toward recommending a mid-December signing period. Peal said that window would likely coincide with the midyear junior college transfer signing date that occurs in the third week of December.

"Based on all of the feedback -- and there are all kinds of dates out there of what people want -- the most favorable option the committee has seen seems to be for an early signing day in December, something that's in line with the midyear junior college transfer signing date," Peal said.

I'm not a fan of early signing because it does nothing for the players, who get locked in earlier than they do now in exchange for bupkis. But at least that date is much better than the ridiculous August 1st date supported by the ACC, which the Big Ten somehow supported. Signing before official visits are even possible is some kind of dumb.

The darkest alternate timeline. Les Miles lost his excellent defensive coordinator to a conference rival and has now hired former Clemson DC Kevin Steele to replace him. The Kevin Steele whose last act as a DC was this, as Get The Picture points out:


Miles is also supposedly bringing in Ed Orgeron, a move that bodes well for local press conferences, Louisiana-set buddy cop movies, and recruiting but maybe not so much organization and the like. If Les farts around again next year I wouldn't be surprised to see him get the boot, because LSU fans have always been way more discontent than you'd think.

The competition to best describe Harbaugh is over. Former Stanford tackle Ben Muth:

"When I first met him, I honestly thought a lot of it was an act, it was like a robot who was programmed as a football coach," says Ben Muth, who played offensive tackle for Harbaugh at Stanford. "It's absurd stuff, but he believes it all. And after a while, so do you. Just the way he talks, his cadence and his deliverance. He talks like a normal football coach, but kicked up 50 percent and he's always on."

Also: hooray spring game fun? As part of Harbaugh's insane competitiveness, he turned Stanford's spring game into a full on draft-win-die thing:

At Stanford, his spring games featured full-scale drafts. The coaching staff was split down the middle into two groups, and inside the team meeting room, every player was drafted to a side for the game.

They weren't just glorified practices, they were full-scale competitions. Nothing was wasted or viewed as insignificant.

If that format's announced and Michigan pushes it back to best roll the dice on the weather that would be guaranteed to be Michigan's best-attended spring game ever.

Why do you hate turkey? I get most of what Oregon's trying to say here.


I'm down with most of it, as well (though tradition generally wears two colors unless you want to count white). But what's with the shot at turkey on Thanksgiving? Surely you would prefer us to eat that instead of duck, right?

Whiskey the dog. In case you were like "WTF" when Brandon brought up Whiskey during his My Personality Is To The Best Of My Ability tour:

Sap and MVictors have more details over there.

Whatever this is. OSU and Michigan are listed 1-2 in "intrinsic value" thanks to improved cash flows:


Note that OSU is bringing in 20 million less than Michigan this year, and Michigan is above everyone except Alabama and Texas in revenue. Oregon's 18th. Brandon's relentless focus on dollars above everything else was unnecessary.

Etc.: Michigan is getting a visit from 2015 megaprospect Jaylen Brown.



January 14th, 2015 at 1:09 PM ^

Plenty of coaches (SEC) would instantly pull that scholarship. 

And it's not the reporters as much as other coaches, read some stuff about how many calls and letters a day those guys get. It is literally nonstop. If someone is 100% in their decision by December as plenty of recruits are, there is absolutely nothing wrong with them wanting to put an end to those calls, letters, visits, tweets, facebook messages, etc. 


January 14th, 2015 at 4:46 PM ^

Cherry-picking examples doesn't make the whole point invalid.

If you're not in the super-elite there is a loss of losing a scholarship that early signing can mitigate and makes coaches have some skin in the game.

Plus if you have signed an LOI, you'll get left alone as you're done with recruiting, there may be other media circus fall-out to deal with but you've certainly mitigated one part of it by this.

I'm not saying the scales are tipped in the players favor here, but I think it makes things a little better, so why not do it?


January 14th, 2015 at 5:02 PM ^

The LOI is binding for the player but not the school. It doesn't guarantee the player anything.  If coach leaves after signing day the kid is stuck.  If the school oversigns and the player is told to grayshirt, he has no recourse.

The reason you sign is because you have to. If you want a scholarship its a necessity....except when it isn't.  If you're not a borderline kid, if you are being pursued by universities trying to offer as much as they legally can to have you.  So maybe there's an A- prospect out there who puts his foot down and says "I'm coming but I'm not going to sign anything right now"...what are the drawbacks for him?

Either the school says OK or they say sign elsewhere.  It all depends on the leverage of the player -- how badly he is wanted, and how badly he wants to play at School X.

For a lot of these kids they hold a ton of leverage but don't use it.


January 14th, 2015 at 2:33 PM ^

Even having signed doesn't guarantee you anything, as Les Miles forced one kid to find out when he got to campus in the fall.  SEC gonna SEC, regardless.

The problem is that if you're a B+ prospect and you don't sign, coaches will take that as a sign you're looking around.  They will be pressured to sign early to "show their commitment."  Then the Roy Roundtrees of the world will be stuck at Purdue instead of getting the opportunity to impress a new Michigan coach when it's the Michigan offer they really want.

There are other, more creative and smarter ways to put a stop to all the recruiting literature without destroying the flexibility that's extremely important this time of year.  How about an NCAA clearinghouse where you can register your "verbal" commitment, and forbid everyone from sending you messages but the team you committed to?  And you could pull that registration at any time, no questions asked, up til signing day?  An early signing period is like using a sledgehammer on a nail in your drywall.


January 14th, 2015 at 5:12 PM ^

The simplest solution is to cap scholarship offers for each season, rather than a total roster limit.  That will put player retention and player health squarely in the school's interest, instead of the current system which encourages players who don't play well to be pushed out.  Not to pick on our new coach, but isn't it better if a kid like Bosch is supported to work through whatever he needs to do to stick around, even if he doesn't play?  The only downside I'm aware of is that it will rob walk-ons of the opportunity to earn a scholarship.

There are many many different and better ways to protect players.  And frankly it makes no sense at all to allow oversigning as it doesn't really aid in the marketing or revenues of the sport.  It's just a competitive advantage to schools that are willing to stick it to student-athletes.

This kind of stuff upsets me a lot more than not paying players.  It's just pure ineptitude by the NCAA with no winners anywhere except for unethical programs.


Brady Elliott

January 14th, 2015 at 11:18 AM ^

Am I remembering correctly with the jack Harbaugh story and a connection with Brady hoke...I think I remember Jack helped Laura hoke deliver their premature daughter because Brady was out recruiting. She was only 2 or 3 lbs if I remember correctly. Can anyone else confirm my memory? The Harbaugh's have a lot of connections with a lot of folks.


January 14th, 2015 at 12:37 PM ^

"When she [Laura Hoke] was carrying their first and only child on Valentine's Day in 1985, Brady was an assistant coach at Western Michigan and stuck in a blizzard in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Schools were closed and he was having trouble collecting national letters of intent, but the mother of one recruit told him she had an important message from Western Michigan's head coach, Jack Harbaugh.

"I looked down at the number she handed me but I did not recognize it as Jack's," Hoke said. "I called and Jack was at the hospital. He said, 'You have a baby girl. Get back up here to Kalamazoo, but be careful and take your time.'

"Kelly was premature and weighed only 1 pound and 8 ounces. She was in an incubator when I got there, and Jack Harbaugh was keeping my whole family together. He had been calling the Indiana State Police to try to find me. We didn't have cellphones back then.

"He still calls my daughter every year on Valentine's Day to wish her happy birthday. Jack and Jackie Harbaugh are unbelievable people, a great couple. It was one of the busiest days of the year, but he left his job to be there for me. That's Jack."


January 14th, 2015 at 11:27 AM ^

The bubble seems to get easier every year. Last year, Iowa was in the play-in game at 9-10 in the (albeit better) Big Ten, was in the tank at the end of the season, and their best wins were us, OSU, and Nebraska at home. None of their losses came close to our two disasters, but I think 12-6 in the Big Ten with one BTT win would get us in and 11-7 with one BTT win might even give us a decent chance (we'd need at least one win among WIS, MSU, and OSU at home and MSU and MD on the road). The committee tends to look pretty favorably at hot teams late in the year, and almost no power conference team with a 12-6 type record gets passed over.

However, after the way we've played, I don't think any of that will be relevant. 


January 14th, 2015 at 11:19 AM ^

could still make the tournament.  If one of those wins is Wisconsin or at Michigan State and they win a game or two in the NCAA tournament they will likely get in on the down side of the bubble, possibly even a play-in game.  I am not saying such a scenario is likely, but I don't think last night was a "bubble bursting" game.  In March all last night will be is a "loss at Ohio State," which in and of itself is not anything dire.

That article is more than a little concerning.  The team seams resigned and Beilein is talking about foul trouble.  Not exactly what you hope to see.


January 14th, 2015 at 11:23 AM ^

should extend into next year, because Caris is likely gone and Chatman and Donnal look like major recruiting misses.  There will be incrimental improvement from Walton, Irvin Doyle and Dawkins and Duncan Robinson, of course, but yeesh that is scary.  

Frank Booth

January 14th, 2015 at 12:15 PM ^

Yeah, I've had this feeling in the past with Caris. He's really talented but sometimes his decision-making is befuddling, especially when the game is on the line. Example: last year against Tennessee he made two or three huge mistakes near the end of the game that almost cost the win. I don't know if some of the issues can be fixed. I see loads of talent but perhaps a lower basketball IQ.

Sent from MGoBlog HD for iPhone & iPad


January 14th, 2015 at 1:58 PM ^

It's not really based on team success and the two things shouldn't be conflated.  Draft spot is all about potential and Caris' hasn't really been hurt much, other than the fact that he is older now (all of 20 years of age). He hasn't made a leap to the lottery that some projected but others always saw him as a guy who will be picked in the 20s.

The analytics models that predict NBA success value steal rate highly, and Caris' has shot up significantly.  His efficiency has been maintained more or less despite taking on a much bigger role.  He is still very young, tall, athletic, and highly skilled. You don't get a lot of 6'7 guards who can hit 40% of 3s, get their own shot, and play a solid all around game. 

Caris needs to play better D and fill out physically but he's still an excellent NBA prospect.   There's no reason for him to stick around college and he probably sould have gone pro after last year.

He's gone after this year -- and he'll go in round 1.

Prince Lover

January 14th, 2015 at 1:04 PM ^

Can we pump the brakes a bit here and have some perspective.
Yes, losing sucks. Can't argue that one. But student athletes are allowed 4 years to play their sport. And even then they are given 1 yr before the 4 years start to count if they want. And I trust the reasons for this need not be argued.
So, can we wait a little longer than 3 months into their 4 years before we judge any careers?


January 14th, 2015 at 2:18 PM ^

They are misses only in the sense of being early contributors.  They could still be very good players.  Horford, Morgan, Douglass and countless others weren't the players they would become as freshman.  Even Trey, Nik and Caris weren't.

THAT SAID, Beilein knew he needed some instant-impact Spike types and he took MAAR and Dawkins as older recruits to deliver instant help.  Secondly, Donnal is a top 100 recruit that looks like he is verging on bust status.  Finally, there unquestionably WERE recruiting misses because Michigan failed to land ANY of it's top recruiting targets with the POSSIBLE exception of Chatman.

Early returns on the freshman as you project out to the rest of their careers:

  • Donnal:  too small, too soft, and not athletic enough to make a major impact. Disappointing considering he's in his 2nd year.  Upside downgraded to a so-so bench contributor.
  • Chatman:  can see the skill-set that got everyone excited but he's a long-way off.  Absolutely can blossom into an all-conference player, but it won't be till his JR year at the earliest.
  • Dawkins:  raw and a limited skill-set, but he's going to get better.  Future 3 and D wing and a quality starter.
  • MAAR:  back end of the rotation role player unless he develops a good 3 pointer.  Is what he is, a better version of former walk-on Eso Akunne.
  • Wilson:  red-shirt hopefully...anything is possible as he hasn't played.

Monocle Smile

January 14th, 2015 at 11:26 AM ^

We still have trouble playing defense 1-on-1, but on offense, there's not much the coach can do about awful shooting. It's not like we don't generate more than our fair share of good looks.

I still feel like both Chatman and Dawkins can make the Beilein leap.


January 14th, 2015 at 12:14 PM ^

of the offensive struggles are related to youth.  So many times all that several of our players need is one pump fake and they are going to the line or scoring.  They don't have the patience yet to understand that shots that appear "open" still require ingenuity.  Doyle seems to be adjusting somewhat and improving his positioning before he goes up.  Chatman has not even begun to grasp it, and by the time he has figured out he actually doesn't have a look he is mid-air leading to a laughable rejection or a circus shot.

Monocle Smile

January 14th, 2015 at 12:36 PM ^

I think Chatman will be a good player once he adjusts to the speed of the game and works on the moves leading up to a shot. During possessions, he'll show some exciting flashes; he just needs to put it together. It's like my golf game...I'm capable of hitting excellent shots, but my scores aren't great because I don't often put together a solid drive, approach shot, chip, and putt in one hole.

Coach Carr Camp

January 14th, 2015 at 11:27 AM ^

This basketball season feels eerily similar to 2013 football. After 2 games in 2013 football we had just destroyed a MAC team, and easily beat a decent ND squad. I think we understood the team had some faults but there was no reason not believe we couldn't be competitive in every game that year. Obviously, we know what happens next.

Basketball this year, we start with 2 solid power 5 wins and a close loss to top10 team.  We have freshman playing significant minutes, so we can only expect to get better. Again, I think we knew there were going to be bumbs in the road but we should at least be competitive. Then boom, our team turns into a shell of itself, and we aren't just not as good as we thought, we are straight up bad. I just don't understand how this happens.   


January 14th, 2015 at 11:30 AM ^

FWIW, intrinsic value is a useless metric.  It's only useful for economists to argue academic points (the difference between intrinsic value and appraised value is completely arbitrary), and kooks who don't want you to look at their balance sheets.  Note I'm not saying it doesn't exist; I just don't care, and no one who counts beans for a living cares either.

Someone posted a graph a while back showing Brandon's pull-out-all-the-stops marketing-driven regime basically kept the Michigan money machine following the same trendline as all of college football.  That pretty much said it all.  A used teabag would've done just as well as Brandon, and at least presumably have provided someone with some tea.


January 14th, 2015 at 11:45 AM ^

Odd how Mattison mentions Jack H and Jane Harbaugh/Crean, but doesn't talk about his 3 years working directly for John H. I guess when you have a lot of connections, you forget a few of them. 


January 14th, 2015 at 11:57 AM ^

to seem degree you have to acknowledge that Brandon is RESPONSIBLE for those current numbers, including the "intrinsic" value, having pumped up a lot of the less wildly popular sports. And at some point we'll have to acknowledge a certain continuity--I was bombarded by ads on the mgoblue site when I went to watch the presser, but for now all is rosy.

The_Mad Hatter

January 14th, 2015 at 12:05 PM ^

Brandon may have boosted revenue, or at least kept it from dropping, but he did little to increase intrinsic value.  In fact, one could argue that his toxic personality and dicking around with the football game day experience has actually damaged the intrinsic value.

So glad that POS got his walking papers.