Intra-Region Power Shifts

Submitted by mjv on August 8th, 2008 at 10:47 AM


From my observations and what
has been written on this blog and in the MSM, I believe that we have changed our
recruiting focus from one that was more heavily focused on retaining all of the
talent within the State of Michigan and capturing what we can get in the
surrounding states (Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Illinois) as well as a few athletes
from certain talent hotbeds (Florida, Texas and California) to a greater
emphasis being placed on recruiting from the talent hot beds.  What are the ramifications of this philosophical
shift?  And how have coaching changes
resulted in shifts in intra-region power?

  1. It is likely that MSU is going to recruit
    better within Michigan
    than they have in the past.  My reasoning
    is that as RR draws greater numbers of recruits from outside of Michigan and the Midwest
    than the prior regime, more quality players will be available to the Spartans.  In addition, Brian had a post some time back
    describing how the change in the type of players we recruit will lead to
    certain players that would have been a lock for Michigan, now being a better fit at State.  I am not implying that we will not get the
    guys we are interested in recruiting.  That
    will be dependent upon our continued success on the field and fostering relationships
    between the program and the high schools within the state.
  2. MSU will likely become more competitive in
    the Big Ten and nationally.  The
    increased talent level will have the potential to move them up into the second
    tier of the Big Ten currently being fought over by Wisconsin,
    Penn State, Illinois
    and Iowa.
  3. Assuming that RR is able to land better talent
    from outside of Michigan than is available
    inside of Michigan,
    our overall talent level will rise, making us more competitive nationally.  Hopefully, the relative talent level between
    us and MSU will remain constant.  This
    should raise the absolute level of talent in the Big Ten at the expense of the
    SEC and ACC (assuming our recruiting focus has moved towards Florida and the south east).

    The risk is that we chase
    windmills and fail to land equal or better talent in the southeast and cede talent
    within the State of Michigan
    talent to MSU.  The Spartans then gain an
    ability to win the recruits we want and there is a possible shift in power.  As I stated before, the mitigant to this is our
    continued success on the field and fostering relationships between the program and
    the high schools within the state.

    Observations and Parallels:

    Is RR’s focus on talent
    outside of the home state due to his time at WVU where there was far less
    instate talent than in Michigan? I’m not implying that Michigan is OH, PA, FL, TX or CA, but it is
    clearly better than WV.  One thing that
    seems clear, is that the tenures of Bobby Williams and John L. Smith (and the
    Spartans refer to us as slappies??) decimated the in-state recruiting at
    MSU.  While there were not great numbers
    of Plaxico’s and Duckett’s at MSU there were some clear examples of players we
    wanted but State got.  BW and JLS seemed
    to have killed this very nicely.

    There have been some
    interesting changes in balance of power within different regions during the
    last 10-15 years that may provide interesting insight. 

    1. The fall of Washington
      and the rise of Oregon.  How much of the rise of Oregon as a national
      power have to do with the influx of Phil Knight / Nike money versus the
      missteps and poor coaching hires at UW?  Has there been a re-routing of talent from Seattle to Eugene?  Did the re-emergence of USC shut down UW’s
      access to southern California
    2. The fall of Notre Dame, Illinois
      and Michigan State
      and the rise of Iowa and Wisconsin (and Northwestern and Purdue to a
      lesser extent?).  Did the inconsistency
      of ND and Illinois cede some degree of control
      over greater Chicago
      recruiting to other Big Ten School?  A
      close analysis of the recruiting records (in particular recruit hometowns) for
      each school over the last 15 years would yield some interesting insight.  Did the Spartans losing Nick Saban to LSU and
      the ensuing coaching chaos provide an opening to NU and Purdue?
    3. The fall of Nebraska
      and the rise of Oklahoma.
    4. The fall of Alabama
      and Tennessee (to a lesser extent) and the rise
      of LSU and Auburn.

      This post is to generate
      discussion, as many of the ideas I have included have not been researched,
      rather are observations of mine that seem to fit together with some degree of



      August 8th, 2008 at 11:10 AM ^

      I am sure down the road we'll be hearing something about esssss eeeeeee ceeeee speed and how RR is trying to steal it.

      Good point about MSU though, I had the same question. One thing that I thought of, however, is will the state of Michigan become more open recruiting ground for schools like Wisconsin, PSU, and OSU because of RR's change to the spread?

      I think many of us kind of assume MSU would pick up the big power backs and Statuesque QBs and 350 pound lineman that are left over. But if a Water Buffalo drop-back pocket QB, for example, is a real 4 or 5 star talent - I could see some of the other powers coming in and winning those battles vs. MSU.


      August 8th, 2008 at 11:13 AM ^

      I agree with you overall, but in your first #2 point, at least for this year and probably the next, UM will probably fall into the 2nd tier of the Big Ten, going to a bowl game, but not in serious contention for the Big Ten championship or a national title.

       I think RR may be focusing more out of state because he and his coaches have already built up relationships with those out of state coaches. Of course, he's also quick to take advantage of a situation where there's a previous regime relationship and work it to his advantage, ie Cass Tech, Trotwood Madison, and Orlando Edgewater. I think that the more years RR is established in MI, the better his recruiting in MI will be, as more coaches will move over to the spread that he teaches, producing players that fit into his mold, et cetera. Until then, there's the potential for Sparty to land a few good classes of in state recruits.

       As for this year, if you look at MSU's 4*'s, many of the offensive skill players don't fit RR's spread, 1 OL is from East Lansing, 1 OL was stolen from Iowa (zomg snake oil!), 2 RBs were offered and committed during the time that RR's staff was just getting onboard. The only matchup that UM clearly whiffed on was Chris Norman. We'll just have to see how Dantonio will do now. He has a couple of classes coming through now that are not highly regarded, if he can hold his own until the current recruits can start making a difference, AND the next 3-4 years are mediocre at UM, he might be able to turn it around.

       Arg the formatting is still screwing up on me


      August 8th, 2008 at 11:14 AM ^

      Interesting points.

      From the same theoretical stand point, it is no coincidence that the rise of MSU basketball coincides with the fall of Michigan basketball.

      I do think that our recruiting out of state in football will be good enough to offset any gains MSU might make in-state.  This is because we will still be able to cherry pick the guys we want instate and have a big enough brand name to get the guys we want out of state. I would say we are the biggest brand name running this type of offense so we should easily pickup the guys we need to run it from out of state.  

      West Texas Blue

      August 8th, 2008 at 1:23 PM ^

      Already one effect of Rich Rod in town now is that Cass Tech, a yearly hotbed of top talent, is switching to the spread offense. So yeah, as more schools in Michigan start switching to the spread, there will be more players developed that will fit our offense's mold and be more inclined to play for us than MSU.…


      August 8th, 2008 at 3:40 PM ^

      That's a good point.  High school teams generally put their best athlete at QB, so it only makes sense for more of them to run an offense similar to ours.  (And the city of Detroit is overwhelmingly pro-UM; Detroit schools aren't going to want to produce square pegs for our system.)