This Week's Obsession: Worst Attrition Comment Count

Seth May 21st, 2015 at 11:09 AM

Two-parter this [ed-actually we did this last…] week.


1. What was the most painful single attrition loss you remember (Woodson was not painful since you didn't expect him to come back. Neither was Stauskas. Hypothetically losing Trey Burke after one year would have been THE WORST. Guys who were 50/50 only get half points.)?

2. Guy who would have been eligible for the 2015 football team you most miss?


Worst attrition loss ever?

Brian: We're a fun bunch this week. Here is a picture of Denard.


comes with one free Molk

Despite the fact that Mitch McGary went in the first round and there was a pretty decent chance he was going to leave even if the NCAA didn't come down on him like lunatics, it's gotta be him. We got those six tournament games that hinted at his ability, and then he wasn't right during his sophomore season, and then he was gone because he had a soon-to-be-legal substance he was tested for after not playing in a game.

I just needed to have one season of McGary as his effervescent self before he went and blew up NBA twitter. Michigan's most recent basketball season was a magnificent combination of crappy circumstances that prevented McGary's impact from being severe in a program legacy sense... and despite that, his absence pulls at the heartstrings harder than anyone else's.

[After the jump: nothing as anger-inducing as McGary, at least.]


Ace: Jamal Crawford's Michigan career lasted just 17 games, and yet I'd include him among my very favorite Wolverines from my time growing up and dropping by any game at Crisler with tickets cheap enough to get in for less than the cost of a hot dog. (Back then, this was a lot of games.)

Thanks NCAA for ridding us of athletes who accept offers like "here's a place to live so you won't get shot at anymore" when they should be playing the game just for fun. [Bentley photo]

Crawford could've been an All-American, a guy with the type of impact to change the course of a program in serious need of course-changin'. A 6'6" natural scorer with filthy handles—his nickname: "J-Crossover"—isn't something that comes along often; Crawford entered Michigan as an advanced version of Caris LeVert, essentially.

But the NCAA had to make Crawford another poster child for the way the college sports overlords will screw over student-athletes in the name of following the letter of their arbitrary laws. If the details of Crawford's case came out today, the backlash would be massive. Crawford didn't have a father around when he grew up in Seattle, then moved to South Central Los Angeles; his mother essentially handed over custody—though, importantly for the NCAA, not in any official capacity—to Seattle businessman Barry Henthorn, who put Crawford up and gave him a car. Henthorn wasn't a Michigan booster; he allowed Crawford to live in an environment where he could play basketball without the looming threat of gang violence.

The NCAA suspended Crawford not once, but twice, ordered him to pay back over $11,000 to Henthorn—the ever-magnanimous NCAA scaled that back from the original $15,000—and after the second suspension Crawford took the most understandable route and declared for the NBA Draft, getting selected eighth overall and going on to an impressive, ongoing career as instant offense off the bench. Would he have stayed at Michigan for more than a year if the NCAA would've been reasonable? I don't know, but I sure would've liked to find out.


Adam: John Gibson. What if Jourdan Lewis asked to transfer days before his first fall camp? What if Tim Hardaway Jr. decided to go play in Europe a month before his freshman year started? Such was the case with John Gibson, who decommitted from Michigan after signing his LOI so that he could instead play for the OHL's Kitchener Rangers.

Gibson wasn't the first goaltender to spurn the Wolverines for the OHL; Jack Campbell did so the year before. What made Gibson's decomittment particularly painful was the timing. Campbell left Michigan months to find their next Goaltender of the Future. (That goalie happened to be Gibson.) Gibson was supposed to spend one season as Shawn Hunwick's backup before presumably taking over the starting job in 2012-13. Michigan was left with no time to fill the now-empty scholarship before the 2011-12 season started and had to rely on Adam Janecyk as the backup.

The graduation of Tiny Jesus left Michigan with freshmen Steve Racine and Jared Rutledge (who left the program after one season), plus the aforementioned Janecyk. Zach Nagelvoort arrived the following season, and since then he and Racine have been...okay, I guess.

Meanwhile, Gibson has become one of the Anaheim Ducks' top prospects. He posted a .914 save percentage and 2.60 goals against average in 23 NHL starts this season, which would have been his senior year at Michigan. It's hard not to think about what could have been as Michigan's goaltending has regressed over (and even within) the last three seasons.


Seth: I used to serve Drew Henson his early morning sub at Pizza Bob's; the WORST was when he would come in with Yankees gear on. The QB controversy Lloyd created by promising Henson he'd start when Tom Brady was about to didn't do Henson any favors, but the worst nice thing ever done for him was when Ohio State fan George Steinbrenner ignored his scouts and offered Henson a starting 3rd baseman's pay to be a minor league 3rd baseman who strikes out a lot.

Lets remember what Drew Henson 2000 was like:

Go to 6:19 and watch two throws in a row. I was there and I don't know how his hands weren't frozen off and the guy's still making those tosses.

Henson taking Judas money from the hated owner of the most despicable team in sports to play baseball cut so, so deep. Like McGary we only got a little bit of injured ball (and defensive collapses he couldn't help) for one of the most exciting prospects ever to come here. According to guys who played with him, the broken foot in early fall practices deflated the season. By November the foot was well enough he could do 75% of Henson foot things, and Henson went point for point with Drew Brees and Randy Walker's spread offense. The second half of the game I showed above was one of the best by a Michigan quarterback ever.

In 2001 Michigan's offense went into a shell because John Navarre really wasn't ready to be the starter yet. That offense also lost four OL to the NFL plus A-Train and David Terrell (who it was said around campus would come back only if Drew did). But the damage was mitigated by a much-improved defense. Put Henson on that team and not only does it save Navarre a ton of therapy, but Washington never comes back, Spartan Bob remains a sad little man in a sad little booth for a sad little program, Tressel's bravado is thrown in his face, and Michigan gets blown out by Miami (THAT That Miami) in the national championship instead of by Tennessee in the Citrus Bowl.


Dave: Antonio Bass was almost (again, hope I don't get fired for this) Denard Robinson before anyone knew who that would be. He played QB in high school, although not a great passer (55 of 161 for 999 and 14 TDs). Oh, could he run, though. In high school, he had 276 carries for 2177 yards and 30 TDs. He was 6'1"/194 in high school and had 4.4 speed.

During one practice Antonio notices a reporter asking questions to a freshman receiver. He approaches, sees what's written in Rosenberg's notebook… [photo GBW]

After his freshman season in 2005—in which he played slot WR and started to show flashes of his capabilities—he sustained one of the worst knee injuries the surgeon had ever seen: a comparison to falling off a three story building and landing straight on his leg. He walked again, but didn't play.

WHAT IF...the injury isn't as serious and he just needs to medshirt. 2007? Not sure he prevents The Horror or even Oregon and after that probably similar things take place. But come 2008 he's a redshirt junior who's played some WR and QB packages and Rodriguez is all "man, you guys thought this guy was a receiver?" and teaches Bass to run read-options.

If Bass ends up being competent, the 2008 team is a probably 3-4 wins better and Shafer isn't forced to mount the scaffold to placate the peoples' blood lust. Come 2009 he's a senior returning starter and Tate is his backup, which means we can redshirt...this is getting painful; I'll stop.


Guy who would have been eligible for the 2015 football team you most miss?


Brian: There aren't actually that many options here since the 2010 class was such a disaster it prevented almost the entirety of 2011 from redshirting. Then Hoke came in and retained all the persons. 

Strictly in terms of "I would like this player and I have the Seahawks' approach to vetting them" I would like Frank Clark back on the team. Michigan has few sure things at defensive end and not even that many unsure things; Clark was proficient against the run and would have been dynamic against the pass if things had fallen slightly different last year in the secondary and at DT. The addition of a senior version of Clark would significantly improve prospects for the defense, and the season. 

If we are taking bootings into account, then it's Countess. You cannot have enough cornerbacks, and Countess was damn good as a sophomore. Last year sucked, sure. He looked feisty this spring, and I bet he ends up playing well wherever he ends up.


Adam: Devin Funchess. I'm no doctor, but I feel like it's important for a wide receiver to have a foot. It would have been nice to see what Funchess could do with two of them, and would also have assuaged some of the tenable fears about the current receiving corps.


Seth: Yeah I asked then realized the "wish you were here" pool is a lot smaller than I though, though I expect five or more will be added to the pile this summer based only on what always happens when you bring in a new coach. That still puts the 2012 and 2013 classes at historically low attrition after two classes that were historically high:

Attrition as of 5-14-2015

If I'd asked this for 2014 I would have answered Christian Pace—the OL problems under Borges were legion and mostly having to do to Borges, but having a proto-Molk after Molk would have fixed quite a few of those, starting with having an option other than "one-legged Molk" when Molk got hurt before the Sugar Bowl.

Since Funchess is taken, Countess has to be the next-biggest loss. Even if the base defense is a 4-2-5 nickel and even if Lyons won the job, and even if everyone stays healthy, and even if Watson is more than a one-trick pony, and even if Stribling is 100% made of matter, Countess was expected to play a lot. There's a lot of zone defense to be played on 3rd and longs. Guys who run up and down the field with receivers going deep need a spell. And 5th year seniors who were as good as Countess was a freshman are very nice things to have.


Dave: I agree on Funchess, obviously. Countess is good, too. Since, I used up my words in the first answer, I'll quickly add Justice Hayes. Fifth year back would could at least handle the basics: finding the correct hole and picking up blitzes. Those aren't to be taken for granted, as we have learned.


Ace: It's Funchess. I think anybody who watched the spring game would answer the same.


Ronnie Kaye

May 21st, 2015 at 11:36 AM ^

Bass is by far the weakest choice here (don't know enought abut Gibson to say, though). McGary, Crawford and Henson all proved they could ball. Bass? We merely thought he could put it together and be a star. Not nearly enough evidence on that to put it in the bank.

To me, it's a tough call between Henson and McGary. Mitch gives you a GREAT shot at a national title. With Henson, you at least waltz to a B1G title and - critically - don't hand OSU their mojo in Tressel's first season.


May 21st, 2015 at 12:32 PM ^

I think you could make a reasonably compelling argument that the delta between Bass vs. no Bass is at least in the vicinity of a McGary though probably not a Henson. You're almost going from no QB to a potentially good to very good one in 2008. The delta for McGary is relatively small: elite 8 vs. national title


May 21st, 2015 at 1:51 PM ^

A healthy Bass would have changed everything.  The wins in 2008 go from 3 to 9 or 10, recruiting improves dramatically and Rodriquez has fan base/alumni support instead of being knifed by the Michigan men mafia. 



May 21st, 2015 at 2:02 PM ^

Michigan had the #12 class in 2009 and #17 class in 2010. The extent to which a marginal improvement in freshman would have made a difference in 2009 or 2010 is highly debatable.

That all assumes that A) Bass would have been so effective at QB that he would have won SIX (or more!) games - a HIGHLY dubious assertion.  Even if Rodriguez would have had Denard at QB that 2008 team would not have won 10 games.

Ronnie Kaye

May 21st, 2015 at 1:40 PM ^

Bass only completed a third of his passes at Jackson High School. There's an excellent chance he'd be moved to wideout in college regardless of system.

Even if RR moved him to QB, a healthy Bass would have been a senior in '08 with only one offseason to knock off the rust in his passing game.


May 21st, 2015 at 2:34 PM ^

the 2001 team wins a NC if Henson comes back.  I think it's fair to say they would've had a great shot at making the BCS title game if Henson comes back (especially when you look at the losses UM had in 2001).  However, I don't think Michigan beats Miami. 


May 21st, 2015 at 9:01 PM ^

We can always play "what if" games but the nature of how we lost Henson is what galls me, especially as it was literally just days after he made a public committment to stay at Michigan for his senior season.


May 21st, 2015 at 11:29 AM ^

(ducks head for cover).  JK, McGary for me.  Although an argument could be made for Boren (ducks again) in that it was a PR issue, and the guy did make it to the NFL.


May 21st, 2015 at 2:44 PM ^

It was only a PR issue in that the faction staying overly loyal to the previous coaching regime versus the existing regime at the time, made it one.  I'm still amazed after all these years that the media allowed such a spolied, entitled player to dictate the narrative of his departure the way he did.  Can you imagine how the public would react if Countess had walked out questioning Harbaugh's "family values"?  He'd be burned in effigy and nobody would give it an ounce of credence.


May 21st, 2015 at 11:38 AM ^

Is there any answer other than McGary?  The huge on-court impact combined with the incredibly painful fact that he wanted to come back makes it a no-brainer for me.


May 21st, 2015 at 12:28 PM ^

Even if we had kept McGary for a 3rd year, how much impact could he have had with the injuries to LeVert and Walton?  I guess he could've still been the difference-maker in getting us to another spot in the tournament, but we're still probably not in the hunt for the conference.

Now McGary with healthy guards?  Attrition woes hurt a lot more.

Blue Know It

May 21st, 2015 at 11:47 AM ^

Guy who would have been eligible for the 2015 football team you most miss?


Brian: ... Frank Clark....


Correct me if I'm wrong, but Frank Clark would not have been eligible to play in 2015. He was a Senior in 2014.


May 21st, 2015 at 11:49 AM ^

Justin Fargas deserves some consideration.  Before a vicious knee injury he was very fast and even after injury and transfer to USC he was good enough to be drafted by the Raiders and play a short NFL career.  Word on the streets is that if he does not  suffer that injury he might have stayed on and been productive.


May 21st, 2015 at 12:16 PM ^

Fargas was a good running back but:

  1. Michigan didn't know how to use him--we constantly tried to run sweeps with him outside because speed. That worked against Northwestern in a deluge because their linebackers couldn't get traction in the mud. It didn't work any other time.
  2. 1998-2000 was Anthony Thomas, who got pretty much every yard Fargas would have if Justin had stuck around to siphon off carries.
  3. When Fargas was a senior we had Chris Perry and BJ Askew--again, Fargas wouldn't have performed appreciably better than either of those two.



May 21st, 2015 at 9:23 PM ^

We can never know how he would have been used nor who well he would have performed had he not injured his leg and the University surgeon didn't botch the first operation and missed the bone infection.  Had he not broken that leg playing against Wisconsin I think it safe to say we would have been saying "Anthony who?" in 1999.  That' s right, I said it, Anthony Thomas owes his NFL career to Justin Fargas' broken leg.

Fargas couldn't "stick around" because the Michigan staff in their infinite wisdom decided he needed to play safety if wanted a UM degree.  What Fargas really needed was time for his body to heal and time to regain his confidence.  Time Michigan refused to give him.  I was sad that he chose to leave, I was glad that he chose to leave to be with those that would treat him like a human being instead of just a cog in a machine.


Wolverine 73

May 21st, 2015 at 11:55 AM ^

He would have been great if he had sat as a freshman behind Brady and played at least three years after that.  I watched the second half higjlights from the game linked above just to see the reverse rollout to seal the win over OSU one more time.  Awesome.


May 21st, 2015 at 11:56 AM ^

I'm the guy that debates people about Henson. I'm an 80s baby and I absolutely will not back down from the claim that he's the best UM QB I've ever seen. Sure, Brady was the better starter when Drew was a true Fr-So that dedicated "some" of his off-season to football (lol). Yet, Carr have him minutes for a reason: He knew what Henson would be if he could keep him in football. We got one injury plagued year out of him and it was spectacular! Purdue came back b/c Carr went full Carr. NW won the battle of "last with the ball" due to an A-Train fumble. That's it. A slightly better defense & that's a NC team. He stays another year & it's the same.
PS: I was too young for Harbaugh.


May 21st, 2015 at 12:09 PM ^

I agree on Henson, begrudgingly. If he had stuck with football, he probably would have been a 1st round pick, if not top ten overall. The three quarterbacks taken in the first round of that 2002 NFL Draft were David Carr (#1, Texans), Joey Harrington (#3, Lions), and Patrick Ramsey (#32, Redskins). At the very least, Henson would have been picked in place of Ramsey.


May 21st, 2015 at 12:32 PM ^

If Henson had stayed for 2001 season, I think there's a good chance he would have gone #1 overall in the NFL Draft and Michigan would have played in the national championship game.

I remember at the time thinking the '01 team wasn't going to be great, so no great loss with Henson, but then the defense averaged like 7 sacks a game.

True Blue Grit

May 21st, 2015 at 1:30 PM ^

at the front of the post.  He was THE difference between Michigan having a so-so season and winning the Big Ten Championship.  Instead, we have to go with not-even-close-to-ready John Navarre at QB and struggled badly at times.  The crowning insult that year was losing to a bad Ohio State team at home in Jim Tressel's first year - setting the tone for following years in his tenure. 


May 21st, 2015 at 12:04 PM ^

I personally don't think Christian Pace or Justice Hayes would be difference-makers in any way, shape, or form. And Hayes definitely doesn't seem to fit the mold of a Harbaugh running back. Meh.

Give me anyone back for this year, and it's Countess. Whether he plays nickel, returns kicks, backs up at corner, etc., he could have done something. I know people fuss about him being limited in man coverage, but it's not an accident that he made 6 picks in 2013. Those guys don't grow on trees. That was tied for the third-best total in school history (Tom Curtis had 10, Charles Woodson had 8). Good coaches work with what they have, and I think Harbaugh/Durkin could have found a role for Countess.


May 21st, 2015 at 1:09 PM ^

Was the best 3rd-down/receiving back Michigan had and could have been used in a Clarence Williams capacity.  Even if you have your A-Train somewhere amongst the returning RBs, you need a guy who can do the 3rd down things. Who is that on the 2015 team? Maybe Ty Isaac has some of that but you don't see a lot of 250 pound 3rd down backs so uh....anyone know if Drake Johnson can catch (and is healthy)?

Hayes wasn't a game-changing player, but Michigan doesn't have much in the way of potential replacements. We went through this with Vincent Smith before - he was missed, and Hayes will be too.  Harbaugh wanted him back.

Cali Wolverine

May 21st, 2015 at 12:06 PM ^

...all of the other names didn't cause the pain in my stomach I felt when I read Henson's name above. To this day, Henson was the most gifted QB from a pure talent perspective that I have ever seen play for UM. I really think he would have been unbelievable with another year at Michigan...and then in the NFL.

Fuck you Yankees.


May 21st, 2015 at 12:07 PM ^

Had Henson stayed, we beat Tressel's first OSU team 55-10 or something. Instead of going 7-4 in the regular season, Tressel goes 6-5 and is barely bowl eligible. More important, after the Cooper years the Tressel era starts off as "more of the same annual Michigan beatdown in November."

People forget that Tressel was about as popular choice in Columbus as Brady Hoke was in Ann Arbor. There was a ton of "wtf" and noise about Tressel being unqualified to coach in the Big Ten - let alone at OSU.

Adding to the misery, if OSU doesn't gain the confidence of the 2001 win over MIchigan - the 2002 OSU team doesn't have the confidence to win so many games they shouldn't have won on the way to the 2002 14-0 National Championship.

Let's add in the fact that starting with that 2002 year, on the basis of one win over Michigan and the new "things are different for OSU now" vibe, Tressel was able to pretty much lock the recruiting borders of Ohio with one win over MIchigan.

A win by the way that OSU won by 6 points with only 255 total yards of offense because Michigan turned the ball over 5 times due to playing a freshman quarterback instead of Henson.

I think in fact, that if Henson doesn't leave early the entire Tressel era does not happen. If the Tressel era doesn't happen, the Rodriguez era also doesn't happen and likely neither does the Meyer era. (Hoke still maybe).

So yes, it's Henson by 1,000,000 miles over any other choice.


May 21st, 2015 at 12:20 PM ^

I wouldn't go that far. Tressel was a very good football coach, and the only freshman to be a significant part of the 2002 team was Maurice Clarett, who would have gone to Ohio State regardless because he is the human embodiment of Tressel's Ohio State.

Their 2002 team was lucky, but Henson beating them in 2001 doesn't change anything about it.


May 21st, 2015 at 12:42 PM ^

Even if 2001 Drew Henson renders Tressel's prophetic quasi-guarantee to the abyss, 2002 Michigan is still going into Columbus with a redshirt freshman Navarre, with 12 less starts under his belt.  We're still getting beat in that game.  Henson in 2001 doesn't prevent Carr from punting from the 38 yard line in 2005.  Henson in 2001 doesn't prevent Shawn Crable from late-hitting in 2006.  Henson in 2001 doesn't prevent Tatgate and Tressel from being scurried out of town in favor or Meyer.  The only thing you could say with any kind of confidence is that Henson in 2001 would've pushed Tressel's loss total against Michigan from 1 to 2, but the rest of the ugliness is still probably inevitable.


May 21st, 2015 at 12:55 PM ^

if Henson comes back and UM loses to Miami in the BCS title game, UM is getting all sorts of publicity and coming off probably the best 5 year stretch in program history since Yost.  Who knows how the recruiting and program momentum carries forward.


May 21st, 2015 at 12:08 PM ^

I have to agree on Bass. I don't know if he would've been Denard, but it's hard to not to see him being world's better in 2008 than Sheridan or Threet were. That's got to be one of the most painful ones