Note: This Diary comes with the standard disclaimer that recruiting ratings are subjective, and that this amusing exercise is not intended to answer the fourteen unanswerable questions.
Several mgocolleagues have objected to my disturbing avatar, the congenial visage of Gothmog, the Morgul lieutenant from the Lord of the Rings movies (not, for fellow nerds out there, to be confused with his namesake, Gothmog, the Lord of the Balrogs, from more ancient Tolkien history). I have a potential replacement for this avatar: Sylvester McMonkey McBean of Sneetches fame.
Why McBean? Well, Mr. McBean adds and subtracts stars with his Star On and Star Off machines, which is the exact skill set that we are looking for if we would like to answer the Pat White question once and for all.
Our new coach arrived in Ann Arbor with a reputation for finding diamonds in the rough, and for turning three stars into five stars with one part eye of newt, one part Mike Barwis, and two parts mad offensive genius. Was this by necessity or design? Rich Rodriguez appears to have an aptitude for spotting hidden talent and Mike Barwis is clearly able to turn 45-year-old couch potato fantasy leaguers into Ray Lewis, but are we making lemonade out of lemons? Has Rich simply been forced in the past to settle for a kettleful of lower-rated players and relied on outliers in a normal distribution to produce the occasional Pat White? <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /?>
The debate has intensified since, after a three and nine season, Michigan recruiting has begun to resemble West Virginia recruiting a little too closely for comfort. The optimistic among us believe that Rich Rodriguez can create a juggernaut from three-star players that are a perfect fit for his philosophy and also happen to possess that killer attitude not present in such players as Gabe Watson or Alex Mitchell. Said killer attitude, combined with said killer, Mike Barwis, may be the foundation of Rich McMonkey McBean’s purported eye for diamonds.
How do we move this question from the realm of water cooler optimism to something more analytical? That is the purpose of this post. I am proposing 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. Of course, we all acknowledge that perfect-fit four-stars (or perfect-fit five-stars, for that matter) are better than perfect-fit three-stars, but all these questions can be addressed with a system that continues to rate recruits after they begin playing football at the University of Michigan
Here’s where the mgocommunity comes in. As the work of one grotesquely deformed orc, this enterprise would hardly be taken seriously. However, if the career ratings that follow the recruitment ratings are the consensus of what can be objectively described as the most sophisticated and knowledgeable football blog community out there, then we might have something. I am not polishing the apple here; anyone who reads the Diaries on a regular basis knows that this is accurate.
The point here is that we want to expose where recruiting ratings were/are wrong. In the 2002 class above, for example, Rivals was slightly wrong about Gabe Watson and very wrong about David Harris. There was no malice or incompetence in their being wrong; they just were off in projecting those players. It is an inexact science. It is also important to note that this uses the recruiting ratings in a specific way: as a college career projection and not a snapshot of their status at the end of their high school career. Only in this way can the information be useful to us.
What now follows is a request for feedback regarding preliminary judgment calls I have made to launch this system. Which needs a name. Perhaps McBean Rating, but I am open to suggestions here.
The definitions are critical. These career ratings must mirror the intent behind the recruiting ratings for our conclusions to be useful. (Note: All recruiting ratings used are from Rivals.)
Question 1: Do you agree with these definitions for the two rating systems? If not, please suggest changes.
Question 2: What should be done about players that leave the team? Consider 2008. Dann O’Neill was a four star player coming in; does he count when he leaves after a year? What about a Justin Feagin, who played a little and was kicked off the team? Clearly, Taylor Hill or Marcus Witherspoon, who never put on a uniform, should not count…but is this so clear? Should there be no penalty for recruiting someone who leaves? Remember, the ranking of the class coming in is based upon Dann O’Neill and Taylor Hill being there.
This is a critical question in my opinion. If we start removing players who don’t play much or at all, then we’ve messed with that cryogenically preserved Team Ranking that is a touchstone in the Pat White debate. <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /?>Michigan has had six players from 2008 leave, including four 4-stars. Newsflash: that drops that class to 15th or 16th, all other classes staying the same. Which, of course, all other classes are not the same. Who the hell knows what Alabama’s ranking after the fact truly is? We obviously can’t re-rank the Rivals rankings; we must work with signing day class.
For purposes of making a start, I have judged that if the player sees the field for more than a cup of coffee, they get a rating. With this model, O’Neill, Wermers, Witherspoon and Hill do not get a rating from McBean, but Feagin and McGuffie do. The star calculation for a class over time, then, compares the final average from Rivals to only the McBean rated players. In the 2002 class above, all 21 players produce an average of 3.52 stars. The McBean average is 3.37 stars using a denominator of 19, not 21. Thoughts?
Question 3: Check my conclusions for lightly used players. This is where the mgocommunity will be critically helpful. I could barely remember some of these players and Googlestalking was marginally productive. For example, did Quinton McCoy and Tom Berishaj in the 2002 class ever play? The greatest inaccuracies will be for those players who played a little, like Feagin, but I don’t remember because it was years ago.
Question 4: If you disagree with my McBean rating for any player, please educate me. I am getting old and my memory is not what it used to be.
Here are the first three classes in which all the players have a final McBean rating (none are playing college ball any longer). It would seem, based on a preliminary review using the tentative rules that Lloyd’s classes underperform slightly. It will be very interesting over time to see how Rich’s classes do.
Here are the next two classes that have incomplete McBean ratings.
I will somehow compile the feedback and present a final McBean Analysis for each “closed” class. As each class becomes closed, I will present the final after feedback. Hopefully, Rich produces guys on the left.