Saturday, March 31, 2012

A Note on TTB Ratings

Kyle Kalis is my top-rated recruited from 2012, but not every recruit receives
such high praise.
Recently I have taken a lot of flak for the TTB Ratings (and player reviews) I've been giving.  I'm a big boy and can handle the criticism; I expected criticism when I created the ratings.  However, I have to admit that some of the comments are unfounded and unrealistic.  Many of the complaints have centered around the fact that the coaches like the kids, so why can't I just shut up and enjoy the ride?  Well . . . because coaches are wrong.  And yes, that means I can be wrong, too.  But these are my opinions, not anyone else's.  And if my predictions are wrong, you can always point to a commitment post or a TTB Rating and say "Told ya so!"

Looking from a historical perspective, though, I think some people need to realize that a large number of these kids are bound to fail at football.  It's just the nature of the business.  Some high-profile recruits bomb.  Some low-profile recruits turn into stars.  And vice versa.

Looking at the bottom rung of my TTB Ratings, it says "0-39: Below average backup or special teams contributor."  Keep in mind that the TTB Ratings are trying to predict success at Michigan, not necessarily overall talent.  For example, a guy who I predict might get buried on the bench at Michigan could go to Kent State and play very well.  From 2002-2008, here's a list of all or most of the players who would fit that 0-39 category (essentially, these are complete non-contributors for various reasons): Tom Berishaj, Mike Kolodziej, Quinton McCoy, Kevin Murphy, Will Paul, Jim Presley, Clayton Richard, Pat Sharrow, Jeff Zuttah, Roger Allison, Keston Cheathem, Jeremy Ciulla, Grant DeBenedictis, Brett Gallimore, Marques Walton, Jason Forcier, Brandon Logan, Chris McLaurin, Chris Richards, Justin Schifano, Cory Zirbel, David Cone, Jason Kates, Cobrani Mixon, Quintin Patilla, Quintin Woods, Zion Babb, Artis Chambers, Vince Helmuth, Isaiah Bell, Taylor Hill, Dann O'Neill, Kurt Wermers, and Marcus Witherspoon. 

In a span of seven years, that's 34 guys who were complete busts . . . an average of 4.9 per recruiting cycle.  I realize some of those guys' careers ended early due to injury (Kolodziej, Sharrow, etc.), some transferred, and some got in trouble with the law . . . but some of them just couldn't cut it.  Jason Forcier was buried on the bench here and got buried at Stanford.  Brandon Logan could never see the field despite playing on a depleted football team.  Cone was behind younger players and walk-ons for his entire career.  No matter how you slice it, there are bound to be flops.

Am I a soothsayer?  No.  I can't predict the future.  All I can do is offer an educated opinion based on depth charts and what I see on film.  But I am 99% certain that some of these 4-stars will play like 5-stars, some 5-stars will play like 3-stars, and some 3-stars will become studs.  Nobody knows for sure which players they will be, but we're all bound to be wrong sometimes, and we're all bound to be right sometimes.

The difference between this site and others - whether you like it or not - is that I will share who I think those booms and busts will be.  There are numerous recruiting sites out there that essentially say "I love this kid and think he will be great!" . . . and they say that about every recruit.  That's fine if they want to do that, but I'm not going to put stock in the opinion of any "evaluator" who thinks 99% of these kids are going to be studs.  Imagine if you went to a doctor for your back pain and he said, "Surgery is great, acupuncture is great, chiropractors are great, exercise is great, and meditation is great!  They're all great!"  Or imagine if you went to a financial analyst who wanted you to put your money into every stock out there.  Well, surgery might mess up your back for life, and putting all your money into Groupon might sink your life savings.  Just like you would want a doctor or financial planner to steer you in the right direction, I hope I can steer Michigan fans in the right direction.

I will never root for a Michigan player to fail.  These kids play for Michigan, my alma mater.  I would love for every kid who walks onto the field to be an All-American and get drafted in the first round.  But that's not a realistic expectation, and realistic fans ought to be able to see that.  If my approach to recruiting upsets you, I encourage you to read another website.  That's not because I don't want traffic or that I don't value others' opinions.  I simply think you'll be happier elsewhere . . . and I know I'm unlikely to change.  I welcome other fans' opinions, but getting angry about my ratings is a waste of everyone's time.

43 comments:

  1. Boo hoo, sack up! If you don't care why continuously try to defend it. You know it'll just keep happening.

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    1. As I said, it's a waste of time. And as I also said, it's not honest debate that I dislike. It's the hate mail and such that I grow tired of deleting.

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    2. Shut up. He's explaining the system. If you want to attack him at least have the courage to say who you are!

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  2. I find your evaluations to be quite refreshing, a breath of fresh air to be honest. Too often people simply buy into all the hype, but I love how you point out even the flaws in 4 star and 5 star players' game. Keep up the objective analysis; I suspect the majority of the fanbase, although less vocal about it, welcome realistic views to herd-mentality hype.

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    1. You say realistic, I say pessimistic: but we know what we're in for. If people don't like the analysis, they can choose to read it or not. I enjoy getting worked up when Magnus gives a kid a 60something when the kid holds offers from 20 great schools, Bama Texas USC, etc., and I don't see what he's talking about in the tape.

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    2. Magnus, I too appreciate the ratings. It is easy to give out stars as all the major sites do, but this is something different and is a projection. There are some that I agree with and others that I disagree with. To all the readers that are upset, understand that even among the coaching staff there is disagreement on these kids. This ranking system is set up as an opinion and best guess. He is not condemning them to these rankings. Whether I agree with Magnus or not, it gives me the opportunity to hear or think about another perspective. Kelly Baraka (5-star), David Underwood (4-star), Mike Hart (3-Star). We never know how these kids will turn out. Magnus is trying to look into the future and make an educated guess to give us some extra reading material. Chill out and enjoy and have a HEALTHY debate.

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  3. Just keep posting the hot girls/Michigan girls and I'll do my best to look past your short comings.
    It's all about content and something to argue about anyway.
    Keep up the good work.

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  4. I don't always agree but I read you and burgeoning because we can't all sip the koolaid. Time will tell if you are correct and will give you more experience understanding what the coaches can fix and what will be a longstanding flaw.

    Keep up the work and we'll find out later if it is good. :)

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  5. I discovered this site during last years countdown to kickoff and since that time have contributed and embarrassingly high number of hits to it. I ask the occasional question, but don't really have any opinions on player evaluation or college football recruiting, as I am not an expert in these matters. I value this site primarily for your personal unedited opinion. Magnum PI posted a couple weeks ago that he would like an editorial from you on player ranking and on various other things in regular postings, and I could not agree with him more. Personally, I think that is the strength of this site (along with the ladies, of course.)

    People are still going to get upset when you post a negative assessment of a recruit, I don't think you'll ever put a stop to that. I don't agree with every single thing that you post, but you're never going to see me whining and complaining because we don't share the same opinion. It's very good to hear that you have thick skin because the second you start glorifying every single commit we get, is the very second I'm out of here. Stick to your guns, and keep doing what you do.

    That's my opinion, for whatever it's worth.

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    1. I couldn't say it better myself. I agree with everything Gilmore, Happy says.

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  6. My advice believe in YOUR heart & mind, everything else is interference. People u seek out is better than those that seek u.

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    1. Wow, that's deep. Thanks, Mr. Hollis!

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    2. How did u know it were me? I thot this were anonimuss.

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    3. BTW u is welcome :)

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  7. Well said on every count, although it might be useless. Haters gonna hate.

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  8. I feel like people fail to understand there's a reason these high school kids are called PROSPECTS, as in, NOT GUARANTEED. You're analyzing a kid on what he does against weaker opponents in High School. Measurements don't mean anything unless they are coachable and have good character.

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  9. I feel like people fail to understand there's a reason these high school kids are called PROSPECTS, as in, NOT GUARANTEED. You're analyzing a kid on what he does against weaker opponents in High School. Measurements don't mean anything unless they are coachable and have good character.

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  10. Roger Allison would have probably been a 4 year starting full back if not for a neck injury that forced him to quit playing football. I hate to call injured Wolverines busts. But other than that point you are correct. Not every player becomes an All American and we come to your sight to find out which ones you think have those skills to become great players. Keep it up.

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  11. Well said, Thunder. I appreciate your hard work and I believe in your love for Michigan.

    Go Blue!

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  12. I enjoy your knowledge and information you provide, thanks for the time you put into this!

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  13. You offer something that many sites do not and that is a dose a refreshing honesty. No Michigan fan has ever been happy to hear that a future player is not going to be the next #1 draft pick. However, you offer insight as to your rating outcome and are honest. This site has become my favorite site for information. Keep up the good work.

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  14. For every angry email or comment I'm sure there's at least two individuals that felt your opinion was valuable. As others have mentioned, your honesty is refreshing. Is it a bit harsh sometimes? Maybe, but that's just you being you. Keep it up. I appreciate your contributions.

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  15. Keep on keeping on, I for one enjoy the critical analysis (good or bad). Thanks for putting your thoughts out there for us to read.

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  16. A boring post, but at least you can link to this the next time someone hates on one of your evals.

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    1. That's why I saved it for a Saturday, when fewer people read the site. I thought it would bore fewer readers.

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  17. I have to say, Thunder/Magnus’ thoughts are sometimes hard to read as a fan; however, his analysis of strengths and areas of improvement are usually spot on.

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  18. Thanks to each of you who have shown support. I have no intention of toning down the criticism, but luckily, Hoke seems to be recruiting better than Rodriguez did...so there will naturally be less negativity. I hope so, anyway.

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  19. Here's an analogy for you - one of the random topics I love to debate is the Baseball Hall of Fame each year. Countless people share their opinions on who was great, who was good, and who was neither as they determine who deserves to be in the HOF. In those cases you have people who are typically paid decent money to follow the sport closely who end up with their own opinions that often differ from the norm (some to an insane extent). And this is with mountains of data and real data available from these players having played over 10 years professionally. Debate is fun, but some people just can never be convinced that there is another opinion other than their own.

    Meanwhile you run a fun site for Michigan fans in your spare time and based these rankings on whatever limited video is available from these kids playing a few games as teenagers. Your opinion is educted from your coaching experience, you make it clear that it is just your opinion, and history suggests that at least some of these recruits won't pan out. Anyone who takes that too seriously needs a new hobby.....but the MLB analogy shows that there will always be people who think their opinion is all that matters.

    -AC1997

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  20. I love this blog and I love it because I can get fair assessments of players here. I'd love for every Michigan recruit to be a 1st rounder in the NFL draft but this isn't my Xbox. Predicting every player to reach their potential is crazy and the one bone I have to pick with MGoBlog's "Hello" comments. Every player seems capable, in their mind, of hitting the 80-100 percentile of their own potential. The comments there are even more pie-in-the-sky like. No, every recruit isn't going to be an All-American.

    I come to this site because 1) your more fair than any other Michigan fan I know and 2) unlike every football blogger you know your shit. You can see that a player doesn't get low enough and that often it doesn't just go away once they go to college. Somehow you also are able to accurately predict what a player will look like in 2-4 years.

    The one suggestion I could give is maybe giving a range because you often say, like for LTT, that he could be elite but needs coaching. When people see "elite" or "great" or whatever term (too lazy to go back and look) and then see a not 85+ score they easily could get confused. For example, maybe you could say that LTT's TBB score is 78 (my made up #) but he could be anywhere from a 74 (won't lose height and weight) to a 90 (if he learns this and this). A range score plus your current system might quell some of the criticism.

    Side note: People expect good to be a 90 in today's world of inflated scores. A "C" or "75" seems to no longer be the average (see Harvard's average grade of an "A") for most people. Don't get too upset over their confusion and/or stupidity. It's them, not you.

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    1. Thanks, KB. The "range rating" is something I have considered, but I'm leery of going in that direction. It just seems too vague, and the rationale behind the 0-100 rating scale is to be more precise.

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    2. I'd stay away from ambiguity. Stay with what you've got and let the chips fall where they may. I don't always agree with what you say, but that's half the fun.

      --BluCheese

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  21. I don't see how you could put Mike Kolodziej on a list of complete non-contributors. He started some games. Aside from that, frankly I think you weaken your argument by including careers lost to injuries and illness in your list of busts. Your ratings are meant to consider different factors that may lead to a player being a bust. I don't think potential injuries have ever been one of them.

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    1. Consider the case of Vladimir Emilien, who suffered a severe knee injury in high school. He never quite got back up to speed and, in part because of his lack of quickness, struggled to see the field and then transferred to a MAC school. I don't know Kolodziej's high school history, but there may be some indicators that certain kids are prone to injury or haven't recovered from previous injuries.

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    2. Kolodziej played three seasons, and missed his final year due to injury. I'd guess he saw about as much playing time as the rest of your list combined. You're right about Emelien, but I think my point still stands. He had a pre-existing injury. That's something you may have considered in your rating. But how often have you downgraded a healthy prospect for being injury prone? I appreciate what you do, just think your argument would be more convincing if you left out names like Zuttah, Zirbel, Allison and Sharrow. Your ratings aren't meant to account for things like Jeff Zuttah being dignosed with sickle-cell anemia before he even suited up.

      A small nitpick, Isiah Bell was in the 2009 class.

      FL

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    3. Allison, Sharrow, Zirbel, and Zuttah are guys who never contributed. They factor into the discussion about not all recruits panning out. The reasons are various, as I mentioned (injury, illness, off-field behavior, lack of talent, depth chart, etc.). But the point still stands that there are bound to be a handful of guys in each class who never contribute or contribute very little.

      I didn't remember the extent of Kolodziej's career. The way I remembered it, he was a career backup before earning the starting job...and then got injured as soon as he earned the starting tackle position. Looking back on it, though, he did play more than most/all of those other guys.

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    4. Touche on Bell. I added him at the last minute (I've had this piece written up for a while) and forgot that the list was only encompassing kids up to 2008.

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  22. If you want people to stop bitching, just do recruiting rankings of OSU players. Then everyone will love the negativity.

    My only issue with reading your breakdowns/ratings is it makes me underestimate the recruiting class and look at other classes as being better, even if they aren't on any site. Aside from that, it's nice to not have sky high expectations for every player who favors/commits to Michigan and expect them to all be freshmen All-Americans. I've also learned to not get overly excited by any sophomores who will likely commit to Michigan and are at least decent, Ricardo Miller and Marvin Robinson taught me a lesson.

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  23. Yabooli from KoreaApril 1, 2012 at 12:45 AM

    I love your blog and your fair assessment of players so please keep up the good work!!

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  24. In looking at past classes he's right. Hopefully Hoke and Co are doing a better job evaluating talent and we have less busts. But ultimately several players from each class won't work out.

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  25. I like to read a more grounded opinion too. Keep up the good work! I always head over here after I see a new Hello post on MGo.

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  26. I also like the honest opinions.

    One thing I have been looking forward to, though, is to see whether Hoke & Co. can reduce the frequency of recruiting busts. I was actually a bit surprised by your 4.5-busts-per-class historical average--I actually thought it would be higher. Especially under Rich Rod and in the late Carr years, it seemed like a high percentage of UM recruits failed to pan out. But I am hoping that the combination of Hoke's focus on character, together with veteran coordinators who presumably know what kinds of players will thrive in their systems, can significantly increase the rate at which UM recruits succeed on the field (and in the classroom). Obviously this is something that we won't be able to judge for several years yet, but I do think there are some early signs for optimism in this regard.

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    1. This isn't necessarily a comprehensive list of guys who "didn't pan out." It's a list of guys who never contributed at all. There are certainly some 4- and 5-star guys who played minor roles or didn't live up to their potential.

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