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Thursday, February 07, 2008

A lot of inexplicable things have happened over the last couple days. Terrelle Pryor decided to not decide. Michigan stole commitments from Penn State, Purdue, and Florida. Sam McGuffie went on some sort of vision quest. (Fortunately, his totem animal is a wolverine.) And sooner or later Michigan will give a full ride to a long-snapper. It's been the craziest Signing Day in the internet era of Michigan recruiting.

But it doesnt hold a candle to the local media's reaction to MSU's class. I discussed this a bit on the Fanhouse:

Michigan State struck out on instaters Nick Perry (USC) and Mark Ingram (Alabama) late; Ingram's decision to flee is especially grating since his father was one of Michigan State's best wide receivers. Ohio linebacker Taylor Hill took an official visit to MSU and liked it so much he committed to Michigan on the way home. Hell, linebacker Yourhighness Morgan took a look at MSU and said "thanks, but I'm going to play for Florida."

Florida Atlantic.

MSU ranks 7th in the Big Ten, and this was both their new-coach-bump year and a year in which Michigan changed coaches. Michigan's little brother continues to bow down.
If there was ever going to be a year in which Michigan State wrested instate recruiting from Michigan, this would be it. The results are Fred Smith and, depending on who you listen to, Tyler Hoover. Though Hoover claimed a Michigan offer, he ended up ranked a three-star at both sites. If he was part of the Michigan class, he would be the at best the #18 recruit in it. This is MSU's silver medal recruit. By any standard this is an immensely disappointing class... unless you're in the media.

You sort of expect spin like this from the Steve Grinczels of the world who make their living by telling State fans "wait till next year":
As things stood through Tuesday, MSU ranks in the bottom half -- as low as ninth by -- of the Big Ten.

However, that should not be interpreted as an indictment on the overall quality of the players coming in, according to CSTV recruiting analyst Tom Lemming.

Sure. The fact that this is a class on par with Northwestern's shouldn't be interpreted as an indictment of the players' quality, just their ability to play football. Which they have none of.

This is even funnier:
Ray, who committed early, joins a full stable of running backs that returns senior starter Javon Ringer, junior A.J. Jimmerson, Andre Anderson and Ashton Leggett from last year's recruit class.

The addition of Ray allowed MSU to make four-star running back Mark Ingram Jr., of Flint Southwestern, less of a priority even though he was rated higher.

Yes, the reason they didn't get Ingram Jr. -- remember Ingram Sr was a star for MSU -- was because they snatched Caulton Ray away from the MAC. Meanwhile, Ingram is part of the #1 recruiting class in the country.

It gets better:
National signing day turned out to be a day of bold statements at Michigan State, including the one Mark Dantonio made to one of his top recruits, Charles Burrell, on Wednesday morning.

"Look down at your feet," Dantonio said to Burrell, a safety from Detroit. "Now you just imagine those feet playing in the Rose Bowl, because that's where they'll be within four or five years."
(One of MSU's top recruits on why he didn't pick Michigan: "I didn't receive a scholarship offer from Michigan. That was the school I always wanted to go to. It was kind of disappointing they didn't offer me. I worked real hard to receive an offer.")

Tim Brewster, meet Mark Dantonio. You're both bats. Except you can recruit, Brewster.

Lemming again pops up for a ludicrous quote:
"They basically battled to a draw with (U-M) on in-state guys, which is big," said CSTV recruiting analyst Tom Lemming.
In-state recruits with M and MSU offers who went to M: 5, including three of the top four kids in the state. The reverse: 2.

More spin:
"I know a lot of people nationally don't think this class stacks up with a lot of classes in the Big Ten [including me], but I think it does [except I don't]," said Jeremy Crabtree of, which ranks MSU's class No. 7 in the Big Ten and No. 47 in the nation [see?]. "They got a lot of the best kids from Michigan [that no other Big Ten teams wanted]. Any class that has (Detroit receiver) Fred Smith in it, I'm a fan of. If anything, this class could have used a couple more home runs [good players]."
Aaand then:
MSU thinks it got three from its back yard in Smith, Hoover and Burrell. They helped MSU compete closely with U-M for in-state talent, for the first time in recent memory.

Asked how the Spartans did against the Wolverines, Dantonio stuck with the tone of the day. Bold.
Indeed, "compete closely" now means pick up one guy Michigan wanted, one other they were kinda lukewarm on, and none of the top four guys in the state.

This is expected from Lansing party organs. But what's the deal with Drew Sharp writing his bi-annual positive column about one of the worst recruiting classes in the Big Ten? And Mike Rosenberg trashing Rodriguez for "running off" malcontented, disrespected, and teammate-hated Ryan Mallett?

Rosenberg's piece is especially disappointing, as it lingers on the off-the-cuff comment provided by Rodriguez when he was surrounded by reporters at halftime of a basketball game:
A month after Mallett left, I’ve not forgotten what Rodriguez said about him. A reporter asked where Mallett was going.

“I don't care,” Rodriguez said. “He's not playing for Michigan. I'm concerned with who's playing for Michigan. … I recruited him once, I recruited him twice, and after the third call, I'm thinking, ‘OK, three calls is enough for me.’ It's a great institution, and if somebody doesn't want to be here that's already here, you wish them well and move on.”
He doesn't care. Why should he care? Mallett decided to leave the program, at which point he no longer cared. Follow up:
The problem is that Rodriguez didn’t just say that to Mallett, or to the media. He acted like the wronged party, and he made a Michigan freshman look bad in the process.
I do not understand the leap from "I tried three times and he does not want to be here, I wish him well" to "I am a wronged party! Mallett should look bad in your eyes!"

You know who else was about to run off Ryan Mallett? Saintly Lloyd Carr, who according to a source told him "I don't like anything about you" and then hurled transfer papers his way halfway through this season. Mallett almost transferred two seconds after he showed up on campus, then almost transferred the summer between his early enrollment and fall, and then actually did transfer as soon as Rodriguez was hired. There's a common thread here. It is not Rich Rodriguez.

About every week I got an email from someone on campus who had seen the kid getting high or trashed. Some talked to him; all who did came away with the opinion that the guy didn't care about anything. Sources inside the program confirmed multiple times that Mallett had a major attitude problem, something that was so pervasive that it even worked it way into one of the local newspapers. The dissent was evident on the sidelines during the disastrous Wisconsin game, when Mario Manningham bitched him out on the sidelines, or during Mallett's disastrous stint in the Illinois game, when Carr bitched him out for two solid minutes.

In October I wrote this based on multiple sources:
The situation here is precarious; without a major attitude adjustment things could be very sketchy at quarterback next year.
I have heard it far and wide and so many times from so many sources that the conclusion is indisputable: Ryan Mallett is the reason Ryan Mallett transferred, no matter what Ryan Mallett's mom -- no doubt the least biased source around -- says.

Mallett would be on his way to Arkansas and failure no matter who Michigan's coach is.

Meanwhile... Drew Sharp. What can you say?

There were no news conferences from attention-hungry teenagers announcing there wouldn’t be a news conference. There were no last-minute decisions that left the recruiting-obsessed almost breathless in anticipation.

"No one decided to go to Michigan State."
There was little buzz surrounding Michigan State’s fresh list of football signees because it’s boring building a foundation.
Also boring: Northwestern's class.
There’s only one “four-star” player coming to MSU? Detroit Southeastern wide receiver Fred Smith. But the commitments don’t seem to include the illogical reaches that defined many of John L. Smith’s recruiting classes.

This class looks more Big Ten than Mid-American Conference.
MSU's 2008 class: #49 to Rivals. MSU under JLS: #16, #35, #33.
For Michigan State, it’s not about the number of four-star recruits it signs now, but the two- and three-star players that can help develop a sturdy program. That’s the foundation from which championship seasons and Rose Bowl appearances are inevitably erected.

That’s how Jim Tressel did it in Columbus.
Indeed. Tressel's second recruiting class: #5. A foundation of... uh... three five-star recruits and fourteen four-star recruits. Just like Michigan State's class.
There are private whispers around East Lansing that Rich Rodriguez’s radical transformation of Michigan football creates opportunities for the Spartans. While the new guy from West Virginia introduces himself to the local prep coaches, Dantonio is already in the door, gaining familiarity.
Indeed, Rodriguez, who hopes to have a spring game at Ford Field and will invite every coach in the state to come to his frequent clinics and camps and finished his first recruiting class with a flourish, will have to fear Michigan State's insane short-joke-making curmudgeon. Because Jesus, man... they got a guy!

This is what you need to know about Michigan State's class: its second-best guy would be Michigan's 18th, and this year is the first time in 40 years Michigan changed coaches. Meet the new boss, little brother.