Hand : Elephant in the room

Submitted by His Dudeness on November 15th, 2013 at 2:26 PM

I read this morning on the Rivals Board from Balas that Hand went to Bama for academic reasons and chose engineering. Hand came to his Michigan official visit wanting to be an engineering student. Our engineering program is far more reknown than Alabama. It doesn't make sense at first glance, but when you get into the story further it kind of makes a lot of  sense. 

Now this may or may not have happened, but reading between the lines about what the result of Hands recruitment was I assume Michigan said to him "Son, we have seen some kids try to do it and it doesn't work out well. Why not take a look at this wonderful sports management program we have."

Alabama on the other hand said to him "Son, it is difficult, but we have kids doing it right now and they can mentor you and we have processes in place to help you out. It is going ot be mighty difficult, but if you want to give it a shot then that's up to you."

Obviously this is all my assumption. Also, credit the sports managment prof for making a hell of an impression and nearly changing the course of Hands future.

The things we do know are Hand was "steered" toward sports management on his official.

He chose Alabama over us even though we have the superior engineering program (by a long shot).

My question is why did (do) we do this? Why not give the kid a shot if he wants to try engineering? Why do exactly what Harbaugh said we do (and got crushed for saying so)? Why take away one of our major advantages over other schools?

Also do you think my assumptions are off in the first place?

Sorry for bringing this up, but it has been bothering me.




Monocle Smile

November 15th, 2013 at 2:31 PM ^

As long as we're assuming Bigfoot exists, how about discussing the Bigfoot social structures? Why do they groom in packs, but hunt alone? What lead to the development of their matriarchy? 


November 15th, 2013 at 2:48 PM ^

I agree with the first part of your post, but not the second.  He didn't pick Bama because of engineering, but he didn't pick them because we lost to Nebraska.  Bama is Bama, and would still be had we beaten MSU and Nebraska.  


November 15th, 2013 at 3:21 PM ^

what's not according to people you belive.  are you saying our recent losses influenced his decision, or making a joke that according to people you believe, bama isn't actually bama.


November 15th, 2013 at 3:05 PM ^

that he did not pick them only because we lost those two games, but I really think it would be a jump to say they likely did not have an impact.  Michigan being "on their way back" and "not even close to where they want to be" are miles apart.  Pre-MSU this was a team that had the building blocks in place to be a legit power going forward.  Two weeks later and this is not a program that is going to sniff the playoff during Hand's college years.  Whether it is accurate or not is a different issue.  Perception is reality.  I really think the last two weeks may have been the decisive issue if it was still up in the air.   I think Nebraska could have been a well timed muligan if we didn't come out and suck even worse than the week before.


November 15th, 2013 at 4:04 PM ^

Well there's the aforementioned bad-mouthing UM academics, possible resentment at being passed over for Scott Loeffler, and when you add in the various rumors over the years that Harbaugh doesn't like UM as much as UM fans would like him to...

And yeah, I think he would have turned down the job then

(not that his resume deserved the job anyways)


November 15th, 2013 at 4:14 PM ^

Maybe--I was really just trying to point out that it's not like Stanford was in some great position at the time we hired RR; I disagree with the "why would he leave that?" part of your statement.

I remain skeptical that all that other stuff would have really deterred him from coming all that much, but who knows.


November 15th, 2013 at 2:33 PM ^

I think is way off.  There's no way the coaches OR academic personel would try turn him onto a program that he wasn't interested in.

To us it seems obvious that the rankings for UM are higher than AL so there's no way he could cite academics as a source, right?  If he wanted to go someplace for academics alone he would've gone to Harvard or some other Ivy league that I'm sure offered him.  It's impossible to say what he saw in their program that he didn't with ours.  Doesn't matter now though as he's gone the way of the elephant (nice pun in your title there - not sure if intended)


November 15th, 2013 at 2:38 PM ^

In theory it could have also been the case that that couldn't guarantee that Hand would be admitted to the engineering school at Michigan. I think it was stated that he was a B student and he may have not have the grades for engineering at Michigan. I think that both the engineering school and the business school have heightened requirements for athletes that many of them wouldn't qualify for.

Alabama being the less rigorous engineering program was probably willing to guarantee it.

There was a player whose name escapes me from a few years ago who stated that one of the primary reasons he picked Notre Dame over Michigan was that Michigan wouldn't guarantee him entrance into the business school.


November 15th, 2013 at 3:36 PM ^

This is the only (or at least most) plausible response I've seen.

Unlike many other schools, Michigan has a "College of Engineering" that handles its own admissions. Just because "Michigan" accepts you does not mean you're accepted to the CoE. I have no idea what their standards are for athletes.

In any case, the CoE is no joke, especially for a high school B student, and anybody telling an athlete that it would be anything other than very difficult to succeed there would be lying. I don't think we want Hoke to lie.

On the other hand, Garrett Rivas and Joey Burzynski are two scholarship football players I know of who were/are CoE students, so it's possible. If I were Hoke I'd have had Hand talk to Joey. Don't know if that happened or not.


November 15th, 2013 at 3:55 PM ^

Could have been brutal honesty vs. Saban-speak.  Personally, as much as it hurts to say - I'd rather be straight up and miss out on a recruit than BS our way into it and then switch gears later.  May hurt us on the field, but when we're losing at least we have our integrity to fall back on.  And when we do win it all, it'll make it that much more sweet.


November 15th, 2013 at 4:18 PM ^

I don't know if it's really "Saban-speak." I'll give Alabama some credit: maybe they do have processes and procedures in place that both guarantee placement for atheletes and allow them to navigate the rigors of academia a bit easier (or in a way that maximizes on-field and off-field expectations). 

It's not a slight to UM to say he chose Alabama over UM because they are allowing him to pursue engineering. Maybe - thinking outside the box here - UM's engineering program is supremely more difficult and time consuming than Alabama's? Maybe the expectations at UM's engineering program are significantly higher than Alabama's? And, because of the difficulty, time, and expectations, UM doesn't really have a "roadmap" football players can follow to graduate with a degree in engineering. And / or that roadmap is more the exception and not the rule, since - it appears - so few players actually pursue it. 


November 15th, 2013 at 4:30 PM ^

I thought I recalled reading that the timing of classes made it very hard to play football at Michigan and study engineering, but that Alabama was willing to tailor the program to meet his needs. More online classes maybe? Don't know if there's any truth to that, and my gut feeling is this was more about football than academics anyway.

Michigan Arrogance

November 15th, 2013 at 5:37 PM ^

I think this is it- the UMCoEngin probably doesn't give a rip if a kid plays football, so they didn't give any special notice of acceptance or any assurances to the football staff or the AD re: Hand enrolling in CoE.

So the recruiting staff went the Sports Mgmnt route when selling the program.

Meanwhile at UA, they will accept anyone at anytime in the engineering school, and if he plays football they will make sure he can "get the help he needs."

Look, the kid wants to study engineering- good for him. At a lot of places, like toledo, alabama, SUNY Albany, you probably could do well at both (either b/c the football isn't as rigourous or the engineering program isn't). But Michigan engineering is more like MIT, Stanford, Cornell, CalTech- it's big boy rigor and big boy pace. Unless he's a savant he's not going to do that well at BOTH at a place like Michigan and even if he could- the UM CoEngin doesn't give out special assurances and they certianly don't care that you play football.



November 15th, 2013 at 2:34 PM ^

Simple answer: ALA will do or say anything to get Hand on campus.  Once there, if his Engineering classes prove to be too much, he will then be 'steered' to less challenging ones fairly quickly.  MI was honest with him from day one...their engineering major is extremely difficult for regular students, much less football players.  Which approach is better?  You decide.


November 15th, 2013 at 3:06 PM ^

That may true and all but you allow a student to make their decision. Did he ever meet with the engineering professors? Did he want to and was denied the chance? Don't ever lie to a recruit but if the coaches were the ones telling him this and not the engineering professors that that may not have been the best way.


November 15th, 2013 at 3:49 PM ^

If you're suggesting that Bama didn't lie, that they told Hand he'd get his 1st choice major + plenty of academic support to give it his very best shot to succeed, and that Saban et al are perfectly prepared to steer him to a major where he can remain academically eligible if that later becomes an issue... if that's the supposition, then I'd say we were badly out- recruited by a team having so much more success on the field currently than Michigan that Hand's decision is virtually a no-brainer!
In this scenario did Michigan do anything right, except show D'Shawn how cool he'd look in the winged helmet?!


November 15th, 2013 at 2:34 PM ^

That must be what went down. Looking back i remember hand being blown away by sports mgmt prof. Then a few weeks later he said he wants to be an engineer again.

The writing should ve been on the wall.

Why hoke or they would do something so stupid i don t know. If the No.1 recruit is interested in being a brain surgeon or skipping all of his classes, who cares, let him do whatever he wants

If they want to run track or play basketball. Let them. They are young KIDS who don t really know what they want yet. Wtf

Just another choke job


November 15th, 2013 at 2:34 PM ^

Who knows for sure, but it makes sense. When I heard that if Hand decided to major in engineering, he would go to Alabama, but if he decided on sports management, he would go to Michigan, and he's all about academics, something didn't click. Maybe he realized Michigan's engineering would be too challenging, on top of all the commitments football would require of him. Maybe Alabama is just more accommodating to athletes because they don't have to live up to being one of the top public universities in the world. And maybe Michigan wants to keep their graduation rates up. 


November 15th, 2013 at 2:34 PM ^

You raise a good point, but I don't think we steer kids towards Sport Management.  I graduated with an SM degree this spring, and the only football player I remember having classes with was Craig Roh.  In fact, one player (I believe it was Stephen Hopkins) failed to get accepted into the second level of the SM program and had to transfer to a different major.


November 15th, 2013 at 2:37 PM ^

The fact is that people do it and it is not easy.  IIRC Burzynski is a biomed major - no easy feat, but he is still on the team.  If Alabama was like "yeah guys do it all the time" and Michigan was like "it's not easy" it could be that both are telling the truth.  Michigan's engineering program is well respected because it is not easy, and football on top of that is borderline crazy.

Do you think he would turn away from Michigan because engineering is too hard?  I don't know but I'd guess the underlying reasons are probably elsewhere.


November 15th, 2013 at 2:37 PM ^

I think we should stop focusing on hand and his decision, the coaching staff needs to focus on player development program.  Even if we had gotten hand, there is no way he becomes a star here or saves us.  No one that is a 5 star that came tomichigan turned to be an amazing freshmen playing right away (since hoke took over).  So if none of them dont work here and you still have to wait couple years to see any production from them, just get what you can and focus on the your player development which needs a lot of fixing. 


November 15th, 2013 at 9:49 PM ^

The only 5* to arrive at Michigan under Hoke has been Green, and he's 2nd on the depth chart as a true freshman behind 5th year senior/3 year starter. The jury is still out on developing 5*s.

But, Desmond Morgan started as a true freshman and was good. Blake Countess started as a true freshman and was good. Stribling and Lewis have both played a lot/started in the nickel package and have been good (and bad, but you can see they will be players soon). Funchess started as a freshman and was good (at non-blocking activities). Butt has been pretty good as a freshman. So, even if the jury is out on 5* recruits, Hoke has done a pretty good job of getting good play from freshmen.


November 15th, 2013 at 2:41 PM ^

I think people misunderstand what kids talk about when they talk about academics.  Sure we have a better ranked Engineering school that bama, but that's just a part of it.  Football players are looking at the support structure in place to help them achieve what they want.  Alabama spends a lot more money on football than we do.  Some of that money goes iinto more support and help for the athletes to be able to take and get through the program they want.

And as far as rankings, doesn't a lot of that depend on the grad programs anyways?  Getting through 4 years of civil engineering at any major college is going to get you to roughly the same place.  Probably would be taking most of the same classes, even learning from the same books on occasion.

Bama offers better facilities and more support than we do for their athletes, it's just the way it is.  We hae better facilities and more support than any other program in the B1G save for Ohio, it's what kids are looking at and is why we get players over the Wisconsins and Iowas of the world.


November 15th, 2013 at 2:46 PM ^

Unless you know something more than you're letting on, I kind of doubt we know how good the academic support is at UM, save for the fact that they spend millions of dollars a year on tutors, training tables, etc. to keep these kids eligible.  I have a hard time believing Alabama does anything more, though perhaps the competition in his classes will be lower so he can stay eligible longer.