Category Archives: B1G Ten

What’s Wrong With Michigan’s Football Recruiting?

What is wrong with Michigan’s football recruiting?  That is the familiar refrain from Wolverine fans following two “under the radar” commitments to Michigan in the last week.  I’m not sure why Michigan fans are losing their minds over the commitments of MI/ATH Ben Vansumeren and MO/WR Ronnie Bell, but clearly some are not thrilled.

Vansumeren is a three star athlete who was off the radar except for his commitment to Iowa, his offer list included a bunch of MAC type schools and the Hawkeyes until he recently flipped from Iowa to Michigan.  Vansumeren is a typical Harbaugh recruit, he’s versatile and loves to hit people which is why he could project as a TE, FB or LB.  The guy has the athleticism to be very good, flexible player for the Wolverines, but some nutty Michigan fans are not having any of it.  The star gazers are not thrilled that this guy is a three star recruit who literally “nobody” wanted and was on the way to Western Michigan before verbally committing to Iowa and finally flipping to Michigan.  My guess is none of them have ever seen the kid play are are simply upset that he didn’t have enough “start” next to his name.

If Vansumeren sent Michigan recruiting stargazers over the edge, imagine the meltdown when former Missouri State basketball (yes, I said Missouri State) commitment Ronnie Bell decided he didn’t want to play basketball for the Bears and instead announced he was heading to Michigan to play football.  Bell has zero….zero football offers as most schools expected him to play basketball.  Bell is a rangy but thin receiver who was one of the best players in Missouri, even though the in-state schools didn’t recruit him or offer a scholarship to play football.  Further freaking out some Michigan fans is the fact that Bell is Michigan’s only third two star recruit (outside of kickers) to commit to the Wolverines under Harbaugh.  The other two stars are offensive lineman Nolan Ulizio in Harbaugh’s first class in 2015 and RB Kurt Taylor in 2017.  I’m not counting kickers as they are considered top prospects as two star prospects.

Critics say Harbaugh can’t keep the momentum up because the Wolverines lost four games this season and that Harbaugh has lost his touch, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.  There are many reasons we could be seeing some lower level recruits and none of them are a reflection of where the Wolverines recruiting efforts are trending.  A quick glance at the 2018 recruiting cycle will show you there is zero loss of momentum with three players in the top 100 already verbally committed to the Wolverines.

The recruitment of Vansumeren and Bell could be as simple as Harbaugh taking flyers on very athletic players, it isn’t unprecedented. If you look at his previous classes, Harbaugh has tried to uncover guys nobody else is recruiting, every teams needs organizational depth and unless you are Alabama you can’t expect every four or five star player to commit to your program.  That comes after you win and win big.

The trouble with recruiting at a high level and not yet getting into the playoffs is that recruits aren’t flocking to your school but you can get enough great players to fill out your two deep.  The downside is Michigan can’t sell playing time anymore, so they will take a certain number of developmental guys who will hopefully be contributors when they are upperclassmen.  If these guys don’t pan out, you will see them leave as seniors or before to free up scholarships for higher prospects.  They are akin to placeholders and if they develop, all the better.  Most people don’t understand that scholarships are a series of one year contracts and turning over the roster is the new way of doing business in college football.

Rest easy Michigan recruiting geeks, the recruiting effort under Harbaugh has lost no momentum under Harbaugh, the 2018 class is a smallish, filler class that affords the Wolverines to take a flyer or two on a couple guys with tremendous upside.  Harbaugh clearly knows talent when he sees it and at this point, after watching the player development under this staff, I think we know where this is heading.  In the end, this class will still likely end up in the top 10 nationally.

 



 

Sparty, There Is A Reason You Didn’t Get The Outback Bowl!

Sparty, there are multiple reasons you didn’t get picked to play in The Outback Bowl.  The biggest is right here, face it, you just don’t support your team and you ain’t that sexy.

The Outback Bowl took the more attractive option, they took a TV ratings magnet and a huge ticket sale over a regional program that many outside of the Midwest don’t pay attention too at all, even when you are making the playoff.

What is even more delicious was your total meltdown when somebody told you the truth.  The complete meltdown by the fan base and players over a meaningless bowl game only only reinforces the “little brother” tag and makes you look small.  You’ll never get out of Michigan’s shadow by calling for a boycott of every bowl that didn’t select you to play in it.  I’d hate to see what would happen if you got snubbed by the Dollar General Bowl or the Camping World Bowl.

Outback Bowl president/CEO Jim McVay:

“We’re tied in with the Big Ten and we’re tied in with the Southeastern Conference and both teams are loaded with excellent inventory. On the Big Ten side we looked at a couple of teams. The way the process with the Outback Bowl (works) is: We get our selection committee, our board. And once it’s clear who is available, we make presentations about each team and then (the board) votes. Whatever the decision is from the board and the selection committee (is) that’s who we take. We feel very fortunate to have South Carolina and coach (Will) Muschamp and the University of Michigan and Jim Harbaugh in our game. We’re excited about it.” 

Yep, they picked Michigan, why, TV ratings and butts in season, so simple even a Sparty can figure it out.

 



Michigan State loss shouldn’t dent confidence in Jim Harbaugh’s overall plan

Despite the increased criticism this week following Michigan’s 14-10 loss to rival Michigan State, by any objective measure Jim Harbaugh is doing great work at Michigan.

Yes, this may be hard to stomach for some Michigan fans still smarting from the loss Saturday night, but Michigan football is on the right track, and suggestions that Harbaugh isn’t getting it done in Ann Arbor are pure lunacy.

The “rivals” narrative is one that has gained a lot of momentum this week. Harbaugh is 1-4 against Michigan State while his predecessor was 2-2. Yeah, sure. But how about a little context?

Brady Hoke beat a depleted Ohio State team coached by interim coach Luke Fickell and edged a 7-6 MSU team in 2012. Yes, the Wolverines won, but in this case context matters.

Harbaugh and the Wolverines would love to beat their rivals. But those in the know privately will admit
they expected this rebuild to take four or five years based on the lack of talent depth in the program.

Face it: There was a severe lack of offensive line, wide receiver, running back and quarterback talent when Harbaugh took over in 2014. The lack of depth is being addressed and is starting to show itself at many offensive positions. A little seasoning and it isn’t hard to see Michigan competing for titles starting next season.

The bottom line concerning Michigan’s “rivals” is that Mark Dantonio and Urban Meyer had head starts and Meyer is a much more accomplished coach. It was inevitable that the Wolverines at some point would play a small game of catch-up with its rivals, which is exactly what is happening this year. Barring any unforeseen attrition or a rash of major injuries, a lot of this uncertainty will clear itself up in 2018.

People forget that before the season, most experts expected Michigan to take a step back in 2017 based on youth and depth. That is why three or four losses shouldn’t throw fans off the deep end. Keep in mind the end goal — competing for national titles and doing it the right way.

I have to admit my complete shock at the media narrative that Harbaugh and Hoke have the same record and Hoke is slightly better than Harbaugh against his rivals. This is exactly the kind of misleading “journalism” that turns off many.

There is zero comparison between Harbaugh and Hoke. Some national media even posted these very misleading tweets.

View image on Twitter

Garbage like this is simply trolling. Hoke’s teams lost nine games by at least 14 points. That has happened once to Harbaugh, in his first meeting with Ohio State. Hoke’s teams went from 11 wins to nine to seven to five. Comparing Harbaugh to Hoke is asinine.

I know this will come as a shock to many who are looking to kill Harbaugh for this loss, but in his first 31 games his winning percentage is .770. Do you know what Nick Saban’s was after three seasons in Tuscaloosa? It was .770. In his first 31 games with the Tide, Saban was 23-8. After their first 31 games at Michigan, Harbaugh and Hoke were 24-7. So Hoke is better than Saban?

Obviously, that is a farce, but you see how these stats can get stupid, right?

This article isn’t meant to be blanket cover for Harbaugh and his staff. He still clearly has work to do on offense, and depth and inexperience aren’t going to provide cover in 2018. Michigan has done a great job building an elite defense, but the offense need to build an identity and start moving toward it.

Michigan needs to address a couple of positions right away. One is right tackle and the other is running back. If they can’t get a positive result from these crucial positions, winning eight or nine games this season could be a tough putt for the Wolverines.

The fan base needs to relax. The rebuild is on track and a stumble in the road against a rival won’t change that. Now a loss to Sparty in 2018 is another story.