Early Morning Buzz Kill/Recruiting

Submitted by Anonymous Coward (not verified) on July 29th, 2008 at 10:33 AM

So, it's been accepted as fact that Rodriguez, Barwis, and the rest of the staff "do less with more" than most other coaches. People generally point to WVU's sterling records and lofty rankings, combined with a seeming slew of two and three star talent coming in the door. We've talked about the amazingness of Mike Barwis, and assume that WVU was transforming these 2 and 3 star recruits into 5-star performers. Finally, as we have been signing a few 3-stars it's been a running meme that Barwis and the staff turned out amazing results with players like this, so we shouldn't worry.

All this, I'm afraid, ignores the context in which WVU's success came. In the past 7 years (an arbitrary number, but all it's all the available date in Rivals), the Big East has, as whole, recruited as follows:

2008 - 0 teams in Top 25 recruiting classes

2007 - 1 team in top 25 (WVU)

2006 - 1 team in top 25 (Pitt)

2005 - 0 teams

2004 - 0 teams

2003 - 0 teams

2002 -0 tea,s

By contrast, in the past 7 years, the Big Ten has produced 23 classes ranked in the Top 25. The SEC, absurdly, has produced 48. Shockingly, Mississippi State has produced more Top 25 classes in this time frame than the Big East as a conference (they've gone to a single bowl game in 7 years, by the way). So, it is possible - almost likely - that WVU succeeded with two and three star players because it wasn't an absurd handicap - the conference in which they played was stocked with them.

Looking at other successful Big East teams we find:

UCONN - 1 four star player recruited in the past 7 years.

Cincinatti - 0 four-stars, 0 five-stars

Lousiville - 16 4-stars, 1 five-star

Pitt - 20 4-stars, 1 five-star

WVU had: 14 4-stars, 2 five-stars

So, WVU's talent level was, at least, comparable to the top teams in the conference. This wasn't a team that succeeded with comparatively poor talent - it was a team that had, for the conference, superior talent.

None of this means that I believe the staff will be unsuccessful. What it DOES mean is that WVU wasn't doing "more with less" than the rest of the Big East - they were doing what they should have with more talent. Luckily, Michigan generally has excellent talent levels. If that is maintained - and it appears that's not a problem - then we should have continued success.

None of this should be taken as an indictment of recruiting three-star talent. Every successful team recruits a large portion of their class at this level, and I have no expectation of Michigan being different. Just, we should likely not have an expectation of the staff and Barwis turning all this three-star talent into five-star performance, as the three-star talent at WVU was, actually, superior to much of the Big East.



July 29th, 2008 at 10:38 AM ^

I "think" the Big East has been pretty successful in bowl games the last 7 years, so...does this now throw some doubt on the recruiting rankings' accuracy? Is there such a thing as a Big East recruit ranking bias?


July 29th, 2008 at 10:48 AM ^

I personally believe that lower level recruits like Feagin who pick a Big 10/SEC type team, especially one of the higher profile teams, get a bump over if they had picked say Louisville.

But that brings up another question - is it a bias, or a reflection on the fact that they were underrated to begin with and are being rated more where they should have been, based on the fact the bigger programs are recruiting them? 

As for bowl games, I don't put a lot of stock in judging  conference superiority by one arbitrary game a year that takes place 50 days after the season. If M and Florida switched conferences before last year, who do you think would have had more success?


July 29th, 2008 at 11:58 AM ^

If RR makes BCS games and beats the likes of Oklahoma and Georgia, that'll do. The stars of recruits will make no difference nor will the perceived strength of the Big Ten or any other conference.

While you might be skeptical of aggregate bowl records, if Michigan plays like they did against FLA all season they would have been in a very different bowl. The only team on the schedule that would have posed a problem would have been Oregon. They would have done to OSU what LSU did. Which is what makes me want to smash my head against the monitor. Why didn't they play LIKE that all season? And I don't mean that well but that style (well the defense playing much better helped). Sure when Henne was hurt things would have to be simplified but they used brand new running plays that had FLA completely lost. Every team was scheming to stop the zone left and yet DeBord continued to run one running play as if they didn't realize there were any others... 

chitownblue (not verified)

July 29th, 2008 at 10:45 AM ^

Entirely possible. There's no doubt that a recruit gets a little more love when Florida pursues them than when Cincinatti pursues them.

chitownblue (not verified)

July 29th, 2008 at 10:52 AM ^

But, that said, excepting WVU, the Big East has not beaten a single BCS team in a bowl game the past 2 years. They've beaten the likes of East Carolina, Western Michigan, and Tulane.


July 29th, 2008 at 11:08 AM ^

It doesn't hurt your argument that much, but you forgot that Miami and VaTech were in the BigEast until the 2004 season and Boston College was until the 2005 season. Big East teams finishing ranked in top 25: 2002: Miami #8 Rivals, #4 Scout Pittsburgh #25 Scout 2003: Miami #5 Rivals, #6 Boston College #24 Rivals Virginia Tech #21 Scout 2004: Boston College #24 Rivals


July 29th, 2008 at 11:55 AM ^

I was wondering about Miami, et al as well. Thanks for the info about those teams.  



Anyway, no buzz kill for me.  I think the hidden point about the original post is the arbitrary and "greatness by association" nature of recruiting rankings to begin with: i.e. Miss St. in the top 25 purely b/c it's in the SEC.  



If anything my buzz is even greater b/c it shows that Rich Rod and crew really know how to find, develop/coach talent, and put those kids into a scheme that will best utilize each one.


July 29th, 2008 at 11:09 AM ^

None of those handful of **** recruits ever made an impact for them, most of them probably never made it to campus. Devine was really the first big name WVU signed that saw the field and contributed.


July 29th, 2008 at 11:18 AM ^

do these numbers from '02-04 include Miami, VaTech and Boston College before they moved to the ACC? (though BC actually moved in '05, a year after Miami and VT)

I think you almost have to split the Big East analysis into 2002-04 and 2005-Present since it's kind of comparing apples to oranges when you suddenly lose some of your top football teams.

EDIT: looks like my thought process was beaten by a few posts, but I guess the point still stands... 

Ninja Football

July 29th, 2008 at 11:16 AM ^

So we need to win against comparable talent, which Rod has proven he can do. If we do so on par with what OSU has done the last few years, say going 50-50 with them, then we should be in the MNC hunt yearly and I like or chance in a one game playoff. Look what WVU did to better talent in one game situations against OK and GA. While I understand the Barwis backlash to some extent, you have to remember that we're not privy to everything they do. Has everyone else been doing olympic lifts for years? Yes. But there's a reason THIRTY TWO NFL players worked out with him in the off season. I think there's probably more that we don't know about. While he won't turn 3*s into 5*s, he will put our 3s and 5s in the best possible position to succeed against other 3s and 5s.


July 29th, 2008 at 11:26 AM ^

I think you are operating under an incorrect assumption that Michigan has not recruited its share of 3-star recruits or lower in the past. My records for the past six years indicate that Michigan has consistently recruited a significant number of 3 star recruits: 2003 - 6 out of 17 were 3 stars or less 2004 - 12 out of 22 were 3 stars or less 2005 - 9 out or 22 were 3 stars or less 2006 - 11 out of 21 were 3 stars or less 2007 - 7 out of 20 were 3 stars or less 2008 - 9 out of 24 were 3 stars or less Another incorrect assumption is that RR intends to only recruit 3 star players to Michigan. You mention that in the past 7 years WVU recruited a total of 2 five-stars and 14 four-star players. In a matter of months, RR already has commitments from 2 five-stars and 4 four-stars. It is clear that RR and his staff are going to be working with higher rated recruits than they did at WVU. Given the success that RR and his staff had at WVU, fans are rightfully excited about what they may be able to achieve with higher rated recruits. GO BLUE!!

chitownblue (not verified)

July 29th, 2008 at 11:26 AM ^

bleedscarlet - every team has attrition. Do you think every 4-star that Pitt got is starring for them? Yeah, point taken on the splits there. However, the point stands because WVU has been dominant in the past two seasons - without Miami, Va Tech, and BC. So, who they recruited doesn't matter that much for WVU. And Ninja - I am, unashamedly, extremely, pro-Rich Rodriguez. I think he's a great coach. I'm excited about our future - I think we'll be successful. As I said, I think Rodriguez will do more with "Michigan Talent" than Carr has the past few years. That said, I just strongly disagree with the whole "look what he did with 2-star talent!" argument - because everyone he played had 2 star talent. The conference, in the past few years, has been at Mississippi State talent level.

chitownblue (not verified)

July 29th, 2008 at 11:30 AM ^

Martin - you're misunderstanding me. I know Michigan always gets 3-star talent. I even said that in my diary. I'm not upset about Rodriguez attracting 3-star talent. My argument is that the AMOUNT of 3/2 star talent that Michigan attracts is dwarfed by the amount you see on a Big East roster. I never, once, said RR intends to recruit only 3-star talent. I don't think that's the case at all.

The only point was this: people say that RR does "less with more". That, I think, is largely untrue because his roster, made up of a slew of 2 and 3 star talent, is no worse than the rest of the Big East.

Tim Waymen

July 29th, 2008 at 11:35 AM ^

While we're on the subject, it appears that Jelani Jenkins "loved" Michigan. Oh please God let it be so. Also, I noticed an interesting article on new rules. The helmet penalty is getting out of hand. Safety is important, but the problem is that officials are becoming excessively harsh on penalties that are arbitrary in many cases, and there is no review available for penalties. Debatable penalties are called while harder, more deliberate hits elsewhere don't get flags. Perhaps officials want to be more consistent by just calling everything illegal. But scrutinizing "excessive celebrations" even more is just absurd. http://collegefootball.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=831113


July 29th, 2008 at 11:56 AM ^

Two points that kind of derail things...

1. The amount of success could be proportionately more than other conference juggernauts, based on the same level of talent throughout the various conferences. That would mean they were still getting "more" from "less" on a comparative basis.

2. You would really have to look at how the Big East fared compared to the rest of the BCS conferences, but in particular how WVU fared against non-Big East competition. That's how you would see if they did more with less. In other words, simply look at the games where they clearly had "less", and see how they did. The two I know of for sure are Georgia and Oklahoma, and that's enough for me. Michigan hasn't kicked the snot out of anyone but ND lately, and they're not Oklahoma.


July 29th, 2008 at 11:56 AM ^

Not to go all "seeing the world through maize and blue glasses" on all of you, but Michgian recruits itself. RR is working on his first class from start to finish, and I am more than satisfied with the early returns: A DT, DB, 2 QBs, an OL a RB and a WR all among the best in their class and we still have half of the class to fill. We have 4 straight top-10 classes in a row and we are clearly on our way to another one. We are all worried about how many stars this and that, but its how they develop once they're on campus. It is fair to say that not much development has been going on the last couple of seasons or so as the program had stagnated. I figured new blood with coaching was going to improve that right away regardless who the coach was. Yes, the Barwis love is over the top, but I think we are much better equipped now than we have been in recent years to develop players. The national rep (knock, really) on UM was it was a place where 4 and 5 star recruits go to get slower and fatter. No way any of the three-stars would really develop. Now, that knock will be no longer. As for all this smallish, yet fast players that aren't really on anyone's radar who we seem to be going after, I am giving RR the benfit of the doubt here that he knows exactly what kind of players he needs to get his system going at full throttle. We'll see, but I dont think RR is going to lose us any ground in the recruiting wars. And, we're not going to recruiting at WVA's level either.


July 29th, 2008 at 12:04 PM ^

Although they may have played against teams of similar or worse talent levels in the Big East, they beat teams like Oklahoma and Georgia, which regularly get 4 and 5 star recruits


July 29th, 2008 at 12:04 PM ^

Chitown, are you the kid that sits there and boos Henne when he would do a 3 and out? What is it you hope to accomplish with trashing everything Michigan? I say that even if you're right, Michigan could use a lot less "fans" that are more intent on analyzing all of the negative aspects of the team and being right all of the time and use more people who are loyal and supportive. I hope I'm misinterpreting this array of bashing people who are excited about Barwis, or about TJ Jones or Peaceor the incredible amount of success our new staff had a WV, but I don't get it. Anyways, that's my reaction to all of this michigan myths stuff, let me know what you're trying to get at. Also, you need to review Yost and what a Michigan Man is if you're going to say Eugene Germany is the same Michigan man as Braylon Edwards.

chitownblue (not verified)

July 29th, 2008 at 12:10 PM ^

Again, I'm not particularly concerned about how we're recruiting, at all. I object to the assertion of "look what he did with inferior talent!" when, in fact, his talent wasn't inferior. And, Wolverine - there's a paucity of quality OOC games:

2007 - 3 MAC teams, Maryland, and the aforementioned Oklahoma

2006 - Marshall, Eastern Washington, East Carolina, Ga Tech

2005 - Wofford, E. Carolina, Maryland, Georgia

2004 - E. Carolina, James Madison, Maryland, Florida State

2003 - Wisconsin, E. Carolina, Cincinatti, Maryland

So, against BCS schools: 4-1 vs. Maryland, losses to Florida State and Wisconsin, wins over Georgia, Ga Tech, and Oklahoma. Only once was Maryland a "good" team - and that was the one loss. So, I'm not sure the out of conference says that incredibly much.

For the record: I think it makes more sense to lump bowl games into aggregate Out of Conference.

And, when Miami and Va Tech were in the Big East (teams with vastly superior recruiting), WVU was 1-5 against them. So that doesn't bolster much.


July 29th, 2008 at 12:36 PM ^

Yes West Virginia had success out of conference and in bowl games- this tells me RR- when given time to prepare can breakdown an opponent and exploit them.  To me it means he really can coach.  We must remember that Michigan plays almost every game with a bullseye on their back as they are the rivalry game to half of the teams on their schedule......Ohio state, Notre lame, Michigan state, Minnesota, Wisconsin.  Those games are for blood and there are not many weeks off for Michigan in the big ten.  You look at strength of schedule and Michigan is continually in the top 15.  West Virginia would be #74 or something like that.  To me it means Michigan has to have superior talent (4 stars etc) than West Virginia had in order to maintain the program and be successful in the big 10.  You have to have quality depth to win now.


July 29th, 2008 at 4:59 PM ^

Your argument isn't sufficient to determine if you are right or wrong.  Simply saying that they recruit the same as rest of the Big East, then claiming they did great in-conference with the same talent level is a straw-man argument.

I made no actual claims myself, except to suggest some ways you could actually check that claim out.  Looks like you did a bit up above, and I gotta say that's not too shabby.

chitownblue (not verified)

July 29th, 2008 at 12:17 PM ^

As has been pointed out to me:

I don't think Urban Meyer had SEC talent at Utah, or Tressel has Big 10 talent at Youngstown, but they succeeded. I don't mean this as a knock on Rodriguez, at all.

I think he's a phenomenal coach. I just think that people tend to hang on to magic potions like the Barwis love, the assertion that he does "less with more", etc. The fact is - we don't need these less-than-factual arguments to think that Rodriguez is a good coach. He'll succeed because he coaches the game well - not because of a magic ability to transform players or a shaman-like S&C coach.


July 29th, 2008 at 2:31 PM ^

"in the past 7 years, the Big Ten has produced 23 classes ranked in the Top 25"

Just curious, how many of the 23 were UM, OSU and PSU? 21? It seems to me UM, OSU and PSU get better talent than the rest of the BigTen

Dan Man

July 29th, 2008 at 12:39 PM ^

"He'll succeed because he coaches the game well - not because of a magic ability to transform players or a shaman-like S&C coach." I think that hits the nail on the head. Also, let's not forget what Rodriguez did with the WVU program itself - brought it out of mediocrity and turned it into into a national powerhouse. I think that's the true measure of a coach.

And, yes, I see the irony in my tag.  It's just a joke.

chitownblue (not verified)

July 29th, 2008 at 12:39 PM ^

baleedat - 13 of the 23 were OSU and Michigan (OSU didn't get in during Tressel's first class). PSU was in 5 times. So that's 18. The others were Iowa (twice), Illinois (twice), and Purdue (once). That sort of gives me a greater appreciation for Wisconsin.


July 29th, 2008 at 12:43 PM ^

Its not just us crazy fans that are in love with Rod or Barwis's awesomeness. Your argument is tenuous at best. You are comparing apples to oranges and concluding tomatoes are better. Good luck with that.


July 29th, 2008 at 12:57 PM ^

trying to keep expectations real so that there isn't a freak out if we go 8-5 (which would actually be a great season given the circumstances).  Although dex can be a bit of an ass while making things personal for no reason.


July 29th, 2008 at 1:08 PM ^

I heartily endorse this if it means we get to wear big spiked shoulder pads and make your CPU play "Iron Man" every time we post in the same thread

chitownblue (not verified)

July 29th, 2008 at 1:03 PM ^

Baleedat - I was really just trying to make the point that the Big East, right now, is nearly at a MAC talent level. So, when people say "Rodriguez succeeded with sub-par talent," it's not entirely accurate, as WVU has recruited on par with the rest of the Big East.

chitownblue (not verified)

July 29th, 2008 at 1:17 PM ^

Just to be clear - I'm not saying WVU is a MAC team. They found some diamonds in White and Slaton, to be sure, and their 5-star, Devine, was a monster in that game. But, I don't think that you can boil the entire argument down to 2 games spread across 3 years (Georgia, Oklahoma).

I saw that, Jamie - that's gotta hurt. But, I really don't think I appreciated how poor the Big East talent level is, now that Miami and Va Tech left. They sported a strong bowl record because they played an overwhelming number of small conference teams. They also sport better records because they play 5 OOC games in the regular season, and they all seem to schedule Temple.


July 29th, 2008 at 1:44 PM ^

Maybe they still think Temple is in the Big East?

 I do agree with your premise that the whole "RR and WVA did more with less and that is why they achieved so much" is as much myth as anything else. Fact is, they had more talent than anybody else in the Big East and were expected to win the league titles in these recent seasons. The league is a mixture of new Div I schools like USF and Uconn, schools like Lville who are stepping up to the BCS league from a mid major and fallen powers like the Orange.

But, whats worth pointing out is that in year 2 and 3 of his WVA tenure, he had success against the big boys Miami and VT. They played a classic game, albeit in defeat, losing by 2 to top ranked Miami and beat a top-10 VT team in back to back seasons. What stands out in those games is not that his spread and shed, ninja offense tore through those guys, but rather WVA brought it physically in those games. They pushed the Hokies all over the place, and its rare to see VT get manhandled like that. The next year, there was a lot of talk about VT getting revenge and showing WVA who is boss. Yeah, not so much, it happened again. Did the legend of Barwis begin with those Hokie smackdowns?

So, in those cases, he did achieve more with less, simply by coaching them up and getting them to play with froth at the mouth. Had the Big East stayed the same, it would be interesting to see how he would have done since he clearly upgraded the talent at WVA since then.

His bowl wins, as far as I am concerned, prove more that WVA is closer in talent and speed--especially on offense--than people are willing to admit, and less that he's doing more with less. OU and UGA just could not keep up with WVA's speed and it caught them off guard early in each game and they found themselves in too big of a hole to catch up.