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Thursday, February 22, 2007

There is a nasty rumor circulating the Michigan internets that three players, two of them potential starters, are in some degree of trouble. The rumor is multiply-sourced and probably true, IMO, but the assertion that all three are booted from the team is at the very least premature. Varsity Blue chips in with what they can:

Rumors have been perpetuated on the internet (including those damn bloggers -ed.*) that three players, whose names I will not drag through the mud until this rumor has been in some way substantiated, have been caught with drugs and kicked off the team. Per Tom Beaver [GBW poohbah -ed], at least the aspect of getting removed from the team is false, and he also stated unequivocally that the law is NOT involved.
He also offers some circumstantial evidence of his own that indicates anyone panicked should calm down a bit; hit up Varsity Blue's post for that additional bit of reassurance.

In sum: three guys probably in trouble but of the stairs-running variety. A complicating factor: a couple of the accused have been in trouble before and may be running out of strikes. (Any SEC fans wishing to jump down my throat about this would be advised to look into whether their favorite program conducts off-season random drug tests for recreational substances first.)

Mel Kiper is not a huge fan of Alan Branch. Detroit News article on instate draft prospects:
Branch has enormous physical ability, very athletic with tremendous physical prowess," the ESPN analyst said Wednesday during a teleconference. "I'd say he'd probably go top 10 to 12, but I have him right now at 18, 19, 20."

The knock on Branch, a 6-foot-5, 330-pound defensive tackle, is his lack of production, Kiper said.

"He should be a dominant player but was not on a consistent basis (in college)," Kiper said. "He probably needed another year at Michigan, in terms of production, because he was not a guy that gave you results in terms of tackles and sacks that you thought were possible.

"He's got a chance to be a heck of a player. The potential is there."

This is silliness on a par with those MaxwellPundit voters who downgraded Reggie Nelson because he only made one tackle in the MNC game. (How many tackles was Nelson, a deep free safety, supposed to make when Ohio State completed four passes?) Branch is a defensive tackle and to measure his impact on the game in terms of numbers is inherently shallow.

Kiper on Hall:
On cornerback Leon Hall (5-11, 193) -- "If you asked me where he'd go in September, October, November, I'd probably have said top 10. What hurt him a little was the Ohio State game and then the Rose Bowl, where he was beaten deep, and his recovery speed was in question. The combines and workouts overall are important for him. I think he's a mid-first-rounder right now."
No problems with that. Throughout the year it seemed odd that Leon Hall was being talked about like a top-ten pick and a Woodson-Law type corner. Don't get me wrong: Leon was a very good collegiate corner. But he never had that lockdown ability you expect from a guy with that level of hype. As far as corners of the last decade or so go, the list is like this:
  • Woodson
  • Enormous, Weis-sized gap.
  • Law
  • Similarly sized gap.
  • Hall, Jackson
  • Lesueur
I think I'll have something more on this Delaney thing soon. I mean, lord knows I don't want to. It's been my longstanding opinion that the top five conferences are all fairly equal -- though if Miami and FSU don't pull out of their tailspins, the ACC isn't -- and arguing about which conference is incrementally better this year is a stupid and boring conversation to have. But Delaney and the Big Ten have been getting hammered ever since OSU didn't show up for the MNC game (and, granted, Michigan didn't show up for the Rose Bowl) by people who think the result of whatever the last game was is the way all future contests will go forever and ever.

A couple quick things, though. BGS posts something called "Big Tenvy" that has a nice table of the 19 recruits offered by both Big Ten and SEC schools this year, notes that 15 of them went to SEC schools, and claims that this effectively disproves the infamous Delaney line about not having six top-ten classes because of the modicum of scruples the Big Ten chooses to maintain or whatever. (<-- Delaney's words paraphrased and not, at this time, an expression of personal opinion.) Leaving aside the obvious sample size problems, a subset of players that have been offered by both sets of schools implies that their academics obviously met the standards of both conferences and proves nothing about a hypothetical gray area in which one says OK! and the other NO WAI. But what really drew my ire was the Larry Grant example, which is so dumb it featured heavily in a Matt Hayes article. General rule of thumb: if Matt Hayes is using something, run away. BGS excerpt:
Originally from Georgia, Grant selected Florida but could not qualify academically. After completing some make-up work he then enrolled at, you guessed it, Ohio State. Tell me again which conference had the higher standards?
Excerpt from BGS-linked article:
Although Grant landed at OSU, that was not his original destination. A few months ago, he was committed to Florida and all but had his bags packed for Gainesville. Originally from Norcross, Ga., an Atlanta suburb, Grant intended to play in the Southeastern Conference.

Then came the revelation that he had not passed a math course that the SEC requires of all junior-college transfers. Florida couldn’t take him. He did the makeup work in January, but by then he was a free agent.

The implication of this sentence is that by the time Grant committed to OSU, he was eligible to play anywhere in the SEC. Second excerpt:
Tressel is not a fan of junior-college transfers, primarily because they can be in the program three years at the most. In his five years at OSU, he had not signed any, although he had inherited two, receiver Chris Vance and linebacker Jack Tucker.
Criticizing Ohio State and the Big Ten for taking an SEC-eligible Larry Grant when he's the only JUCO Ohio State has taken in five (now six) years of recruiting is something only Matt Hayes could come up with, and BGS should be embarrassed that they resorted to it.

Meanwhile, over at EDSBS Orson takes a look at the 2002 Michigan and Florida classes and checks them for relative flameouts. There are a lot of ways a player can fail to serve out their eligibility, and only some are ethically dubious. A rough division:


  • Injury.
  • Playing-time-related transfer.
  • Playing-time related departure from team -- ie: buried so far on the bench the only chance you'd have to play is if the walkons all tear their ACLs. Most schools retain the option to cut guys after their fourth year.
  • NFL departure (within reason: if you aren't going on the first day that's sketchy)
  • Guys who never qualify.
  • Academic washouts.
  • Showing your manhood to coeds and such
  • Lawrence Phillips disease.
Of Michigan's 21 recruits (Disimone only shows 20, counting Quinton McCoy against 2003, but he first signed a LOI in '02 so it's better to file him here for purposes of this discussion), 12 completed their eligibility. Six were "That's life" departures: Rembert and Guiterrez left so they could play. Kolodziej and Berishaj left because of injuries (2002 was a bad year to be an OL with a last name ending in "J"). Kevin Murphy and Jacob Stewart were not invited back for fifth years because they weren't going to see the field. Only three fall in the sketch category: Greg Cooper, who didn't qualify, prepped, and went to State, Larry Harrison, who loved running around town without pants on, and McCoy, who was an academic washout.

Orson's analysis of Florida's 2002 class, which is similarly sized, shows 13 guys (Orson actually shortchanges UF by undercounting here) who finished their eligibility or left early for the draft. One guy was injured, and another was unambiguously sketchy. The remainder:

Patrick Dosh: Became a pirate at ECU. Yarr for him.

McKenzie Pierre: Robbed Florida fans of an exceptional name by transferring after ‘04.

Jimtavis Walker: Became a cabbie-mugging Beaver before flunking out completely.

Guys who fell off the face of the earth.

Todd Bunce. D-lineman who fell into Federlineville.

Gavin Dickey: Fleet qb who opted to play British women’s sport instead of football.

Ryan Carter, OL: Running guns in Cote d’Ivoire, for all we know.

Placing these guys into one big "didn't finish" category leaves something to be desired. In Michigan terms, there are Matt Gutierrez transfers and Max Martin transfers. The latter are sketchy. We can safely file Walker into "sketchy" and Dickey into "not" (baseball, for those having a hard time translating), the circumstances of the other two transfers and the mysterious disappearances of Carter and Bunce are ambiguous. So Michigan has 18 not sketchy, 3 sketchy; Florida 15 not sketchy, 2 sketchy, and 4 don't knows. Still fairly even. Orson's promised a look at Tennessee, who by dint of sheer numbers can't possibly maintain that sort of good citizenship record.

Anyway: this debate seems to be only starting and since it's the offseason you'll no doubt end up with as much of it as you care to absorb.

Etc: Rivals previews the Michigan baseball team, which should be pretty good for northerners; Stadium & Main on Appalachian State and future scheduling.