The Future of the McBean Rating System

Submitted by Meeechigan Dan on October 8th, 2009 at 8:49 AM

Source Material: Original Post, Definitions, 2002 Class, Problems, 2002 and 2003 Classes.

The generally low level of activity on the last couple McBean posts is because the season is upon us. Or the posts aren’t very good. My ego and the advice of wolfman81 are sure it is the former; it appears this project is ideal for the off-season when football filler is welcome.

The plan, therefore, is to shelve for a few months the massive posts that rank the players class by class in exchange for amusing ourselves with surgically precise mgoboard posts that ask about individual players. Each recruiting class has a good handful of players on the bubble, and it is my goal to increase the survey participation beyond the current group of hard core McBean aficionados. This will take the form of an mgoboard post that has a short preamble, a link to source material and a survey about a single player.

My goal will be to get to 25 or 30 votes on each bubble player. If the mgoboard post falls off the front page before that total, then I will repost it at a later date. This should allow us to get to a statistically useful number of opinions about borderline players for when we finish the project in the off season.

Here is an example:

Preface: In August, I launched the McBean Rating System and asked the mgocommunity to help me rank every Michigan recruit at the end of their career as a point of comparison to their initial rating (using Rivals)*. Jake Long was a four-star recruit coming in and, after his career, he was a five-star going out. Kevin Grady was a five-star recruit coming in and will likely be a three-star going out. This subjective rating system depends heavily on definitions designed to maintain the same relative number of players in each Rivals rating bucket. The goal of the project: to develop a “collaborative, ongoing post-recruitment rating system that will allow us to determine if, in the Rich Rodriguez era, perfect-fit three-stars are more desirable than random four-stars.” In other words, to answer the Pat White question once and for all.

Player: David Harris
All American: No
All Big 10: Senior year
Drafted: 2nd round (47th)
Rivals: ***
McBean: ****
Bubble Question: Was David Harris a four-star or a five-star player at the end of his career at Michigan? (Please review the definitions.)

Good idea? Bad idea? Additional information needed? Board? Diary? Do you think this will be productive?

*Since that time, I can no longer take ownership of this project as there have been significant contributions from several mgobloggers; this is a mgoblog community project now.



October 8th, 2009 at 9:40 AM ^

Let's see how much interest there is during the season, but I think that this will get more input from the community in the off season.

Either way, don't give up on this, it looks to be a great way to see how our coaches develop talent.


October 8th, 2009 at 10:01 AM ^

I would re-evaluate the tie breaker scenario for a five star classification. I would suggest changing it from only a 1st round pick, to the first 50 picks...there have been plenty of players who would have been drafted in the first round but didn't fit the "needs" of teams with low first round picks. Draft status is sometimes a poor indication of college contributions.

The inclusion of 50 first draft selections would serve justice to those types of players (such as Harris IMO) who would have been 1st rounders had another team had low 1st round picks. Plus 50 is a nice even number when determining the top NFL talent.

Meeechigan Dan

October 8th, 2009 at 10:17 AM ^

Here's the issue: Rivals only designates about 30 five star players.

2010 - 20
2009 - 33
2008 - 30
2007 - 29
2006 - 28

If we designate 50 five-star McBeans, then we lose a point of comparison; in other words, where five-star refers to the top 30 players in the game going into college, it would refer to the top 50 in the game coming out.

That said, perhaps a solution to the two-star problem is to create a five-star problem: in other words, since we unbalance at the bottom end with more two-stars, we should unbalance at the top end with more five-stars. Thus, Hart, Henne, Harris, et al would be five-star players. Interesting.


October 8th, 2009 at 10:55 AM ^

clearing that up.

I didn't realize that Rivals had so few 5 stars per year. Of course with players like Hart, Henne and Harris who may not have fallen into 5 stars under any of the definitions, it would be hard to find Michigan fans who would not classify them as "5 stars" going out, due to intangibles, sentiment and their contributions to our program.


October 8th, 2009 at 10:40 AM ^

We have considered this before in the definitions post. We want to be sure that the number of 5-stars, 4-stars, 3-stars, etc. is mirrored between the two ratings systems. Numerical guidelines from Rivals (HT: UMFootballCrazy)

Players are also ranked on their quality with a star ranking. A five-star prospect is considered to be one of the nation's top 25-30 players, four star is a top 250-300 or so player, three-stars is a top 750 level player, two stars means the player is a mid-major prospect and one star means the player is not ranked.

Picking on the 5-stars briefly, you need 25-30 players and you need to think nationally. The first place that I'd like to look is the All-American list.* There are 11 Offensive All-Americans + 11 Defensive All-Americans + 3 Specialists (kicker, punter, and return specialist/all purpose player) = 25 players. This gets us quite close to the sheer numbers of the 5-star ranking. The 1st round of the NFL draft has 32 players. This is a decent upper limit.**

We really didn't consider that need might come into play on draft day. I guess too many of us have gotten used to Millen drafting the best player (read: Wide Receiver) available, regardless of need. We can (should?) revisit this, but we should remember our numerical guidelines so that we do not over-rate our classes. (I guess that you can call me the grade inflation police!)

*And, yes, I know that there is more than one. This is still a subjective rating and we can argue to blur these guidelines as we see fit.

** There are also, sometimes, under-represented groups on the All-American teams, especially on the Defense. The AFCA uses only 3 defensive designations: DE, LB, and DB. As DEs tend to have more gaudy stats (read: sacks) than DTs, they tend to be over-represented in some of the more mainstream teams. Also, FBs are under-represented. The above team has Knowshon Moreno and Shonn Greene on it rather than a deserving FB.

Meeechigan Dan

October 8th, 2009 at 11:33 AM ^

wolf, what do you think about inflating the five-stars to account for value to the program and not objective value as judged by NFL scouts and AA lists? Right now, the McBean vastly increases the number of two-star players, why not increase the number of the five-stars to offset. If we insist on two stars because how the hell can Jim Presley get three stars as a LB for Michigan (2003 class), then why can't we further insist that Mike Hart gets five because of his value on the team. Both are measures of value on the team and both distort the Rivals numerical template.

For example, the 2003 class - which should be a class that overperforms the Rivals net rating - would look like this if we are generous in rating players for their Michigan value:

And the RMS gets it right about on the money.


October 8th, 2009 at 2:15 PM ^

I'm not sure whether I like it or not.

Jim Presley can't get a 3-star because he never saw the field. He could not beat out his fellow teammates and gain time to play a position that he was (most likely) equally touted to play as those who beat him out. Doesn't this mean, that late in his Michigan career, he was beaten out by Obi Ezeh? If a player does not raise his level of play to meet his expectations doesn't that mean that he underperformed or was underdeveloped? And isn't that exactly what we intend to measure?

You can always make the argument, "Well he'd play at so many other BCS schools." I recently read an article-but I forget where-that said that Tebow should sit until he is 100% healthy, instead of just 99% healthy, in part because their backup is the 4th or 5th best QB in the SEC. Imagine for a minute that the FL backup QB is a senior as well. This means that he sat behind Tebow for more than a few years and would be, at best, a 3-star, for playing while Tebow's hurt and during garbage time. Having an all-whatever player in front of you lowers your ceiling, and almost certainly dings you down to 2-star status. What we can all gleefully call depth is a McBean problem in this context. (This is our "2-star problem")

Also, since you can have 85 players on scholarship (21-22 per recruiting class) this means that some players won't see significant playing time, because they will be behind someone, or be beaten out by a younger player. If we assume that the standard Michigan recruit is a 4-star on Rivals, we set the bar quite high on our average player. Especially since a 4-star McBean should be looking at All Conference (1st team, 2nd team, or honorable mention), that standard is quite high. (25 players per all conference team x 6 BCS conferences x 2(first or second team) = 300 + honorable mentions should be close to the top 400 players in the country.) (My point here is that we expect to have the "two star problem" to some degree.)

Perhaps what we should be looking at is re-evaluating the 2-stars to some degree. If they were bracketed by 4 or 5 star McBean players, perhaps they deserve a 3-star. As the saying goes, "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." These players had some role in improving their teammates. Back to Pressley, he sat behind David Harris - a 4-beaner, and then was succeeded by Obi Ezeh(just my guess?) who may or may not make 4 beans. Perhaps the senior Pressley was "even" with Ezeh, but the coaches thought it better to develop their young talent, especially since it was equal to what they had...I don't know. I agree that there is some expected bias if we leave the system as is.

One last idea: Normalize the ratings. Pick a class that you think lived up to the projections. Divide all McBean ratings by that class's McBean rating, then multiply by the Rivals rating of that class. This sweeps our 2-star problem under the rug.

You didn't expect a short answer did you?


October 8th, 2009 at 3:59 PM ^

As I've said before if you don't count specialists you have 44 All-Americans of which 30+ weren't All-Americans in prior years. So I think that closely approximates Rivals' 30 5-stars they have every year (i.e., David Harris is a 5 star). I really don't like the NFL draft is a tiebreaker thing. What, half of first round picks were All-Americans at some point. So much of the NFL draft is potential and not production. That's why you have James Laurinaitis (3-time All-American) going in the second round and Wolfman arguing he was a 4-star because of it. I don't remember Heisman winner Eric Crouch or Jason White being drafted that high. down with just looking at All-Americans for 5-star with only a little wiggle room.

Meeechigan Dan

October 8th, 2009 at 4:38 PM ^

You know those lawyer shows where you hear one guy arguing his side and you say, "Damn, that's what I'm going with there." Then you hear the rebuttal and you think, "Whoa. Maybe I am going with that dude."

That's what this feels like!

I see your point - If you can't rate Laurinaitis a five star McBean from an OSU perspective, who can you rate as five stars? And we don't care if Tom Brady is a six star in the NFL, he wasn't a five star at Michigan.