SO MANY CLICKY CLICKS
Hello. At MGoBlog, we link all kind of things. Some of these things are behind paywalls. We've always tried to leave something useful behind those paywalls, whether that's by only quoting a few sentences or leaving it alone for days or months before we get around to our post on Player X. (With few exceptions, this site goes for thoroughness over immediacy.) But occasionally what we do raises hackles.
Sometimes we get yelled at for quoting people. Sometimes we get yelled at for not quoting people. Usually when people get mad I say "if you want we can stop using your stuff" and they say "well…," because a link with a ($) is also an ad for them. Comments here will occasionally say "I dropped my subscription to X because of MGoBlog" and while that's accurate for that guy it's clearly not accurate for everybody.
Here's the lay of the land when it comes to Michigan recruiting sites.
What we do
We have twice-weekly roundups of whatever's out there, from the three major recruiting services (Rivals, 247, and Scout) or newspapers or blogs with original reporting.
When a player commits we do a Hello post that summarizes the player's rankings, offers, stats, and scouting. We'll revisit them after Signing Day in the recruiting profiles.
What they do
Daily updates with indications as to where recruits are leaning—not gospel, broadly accurate. More in depth scouting. Some video, though these days Hudl has all the highlights you care to watch.
They also have program stuff—every site had extensive coverage of the coaching search. While that doesn't differentiate them much from this space, they have insider stuff on practices, players to watch, coaching moves, the works. The recent shoe contract negotiations are a better example. Most of them were publishing stuff about it more frequently than we did.
In general, they publish more, and more frequently, and are better-connected to the program. We will use a subsection of their posts later—often months later—in order to give you an overview of the recruiting situation or a particular player.
Why to subscribe
If you go into withdrawal between Monday and Thursday recruiting roundups; if you would like to have a very good feel for where player X is leaning; if you want their scouting more completely and (sometimes) much more quickly; if you want the comprehensive inside chatter now and not later.
Each also has a message board community. We have a message board community, but it's not for everybody. It can be harsh around here for people who don't fit; it is possible that certain MGoBlog readers will find a community of like-minded fans on a premium site elsewhere. That alone can be worth more than the cost of admission.
[After THE JUMP: an overview of your options.]
This will be a matter of personal preference. Full disclosure: I do radio with Sam weekly, Tim Sullivan and Brandon Brown of Rivals used to work for MGoBlog, Tom Van Haaren of ESPN used to work for MGoBlog, and I tried to hire Steve Lorenz of 24/7 just before 24/7 started a Michigan site. Oh, and Isaiah Hole, who is shooting for 24/7, also works with us.
- You also get John Gasaway columns.
- Tom's a good dude.
- They send you a magazine like it's 1950 or something.
- They've moved away from day-to-day recruiting coverage. Tom is now regional and doesn't talk about Michigan too much any more. You get the scouting reports with your insider subscription and not much else.
If you get Insider it's probably not for the recruiting content. It is cheaper than everywhere else and gives you access to other useful content, however.
- In my e-pinion, Sam is the most plugged in guy. There is no question he is for basketball. He was ahead of the curve when he said Michigan had a very legit shot for Jaylen Brown and has been on point on just about every recruiting event there. Sam gets a lot of stuff direct from coaches, and there's a big difference between that and getting stuff from people who were at practice.
- He's also the most plugged in for football, though that's a closer competition. Remember when Michigan brought in Tyrone Wheatley for an interview and Sam couldn't report on it because he knew Wheatley too well? Yeah.
- National or regional Scout guys are pretty responsive on their message boards. They seem to do the best job in that department; posts from Brian Snow and Allen Trieu are frequent.
- The software is broke-ass. They've put some effort into it lately, but I'm still using their old board code to read the board because the new stuff broke my back button.
- Now there's auto-playing video everywhere. A number of their articles are video interviews with recruits with no transcription, or two guys talking about recruits with no transcription.
- Not that this is going to come up much, but their SEO is horrendous. Google a recruit and the front page will have 24/7, Rivals, and ESPN pages for the kid. Scout will be way down the list. I don't have much confidence in the Scout management, since they appear to be chasing metrics instead of thinking about how to serve their customers.
Scout's message board has recently undergone a makeover with the departure of Tom Beaver. For reasons inexplicable to me, this incensed a number of people who left. On the other hand, this allowed Sam to bring back a few posters that Beaver had run off. One who now goes by "SqdScoops" dumps big posts with links to everything about Michigan just about every day. If UV is not frequent or catholic enough for you that would be an asset. DOTMAN is also now a mod there, and he's providing a series of interesting interviews that are unlike any other content out there.
Scout is the middle porridge in message boards these days. 24/7 feels like it skews young and Rivals old; Scout's in the middle.
- Lorenz is very good and also very good at not embroidering his information so it seems like it's more important than it is. You go there, you get the information, and then you have it. I appreciate the directness. I have things to do.
- They're the newest network and the software is the best. I am constantly hitting up player pages for information and these days I go to 24/7 first.
- Can be super cheap if you catch them at the right time.
- If you subscribe to 24/7 they let you read all their premium message boards, not just Michigan's. I may or may not have scoured Kentucky and Kansas boards during the Jaylen Brown recruitment.
- They don't have a particularly complete network right now. 24/7 is weak for basketball in general, and a lot of schools don't have much in terms of a community. This makes the "you can read everything" aspect a little less powerful.
- Neither do they have a lot of depth past Steve at the Michigan site. Some guys come and go but other than Isaiah I couldn't tell you their names at the moment.
24/7's message board is hyperactive and seems to skew young. Most of it is accessible to non-subscribers, as they don't split into premium and regular halves. They have running threads in which they assemble most things of interest.
- They have some excellent in-depth content. Tim Sullivan will often go to games and come back with a relatively unvarnished take on a particular recruit. Brandon's started doing this as well. They regularly ping opposing coaches for their take on players for informative posts. Other sites will have live scouting from time to time, but when I do the recruiting profile posts I find those the most helpful. Recruits within a reasonable drive of Michigan who commit before their senior years will get a ton of scouting.
- Mike Spath is the most plugged in guy for hockey. If you care about hockey, he is basically the only choice.
- Spath also does those posts from Media Day in which he exchanges anonymity for real talk. Those are amongst the most interesting content you'll see from a premium site all year.
- Rivals has its own camp series that only they scout.
- Mike Farrell, their national guy, can be highly annoying. For example, after Zach Gentry switched to Michigan there were three or four articles questioning the wisdom of that decision since Michigan had Alex Malzone.
- I'm torn about the utility of their "Inside The Fort" posts. Often when I read them I wonder if I actually learned anything afterwards. This is the opposite of what Lorenz is good at: he gets in and out with things that are clearly information. Sometimes an ITF will have some people saying things may or may not happen, or they'll repeat coachspeak from anonymous sources.
- Basketball coverage is clearly one or two steps removed from the coaches. A lot of it boils down to "I don't believe this will happen because this guy is getting paid."
- I find a lot of their insider practice content to be at odds with reality. A recent example: 6'4" Jeremy Clark apparently moved to corner and was getting a lot of run. That makes me nervous; Rivals played it up like this was a great thing.
Rivals's message board can be fusty—it's the most likely place to host complaints about kids getting paid by the $EC and O$U lol. It's also the last place on the internet to have Brandon defenders. They do a good job of responding to questions and have a couple of insider posters who have been accurate in the past. Interactions with national analysts can get testy.