Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Sports Illustrated: Brady Hoke, Michigan recruiting at elite level

Catalina Otalvaro
Stewart Mandel over at Sports Illustrated  has taken notice of Michigan's stellar recruiting class.


  1. To quote Stewart mandel, The Wolverines inexplicably lost that pull toward the end of Carr's tenure and throughout Rodriguez's stint."

    I'm thinking we can probably explain it around here. ..... quite thoroughly.

    1. Inexplicable isn't the right word, but it is a little curious why Michigan struggled to recruit as well in the last few years of Carr's tenure - especially in the secondary and OL. Rodriguez is a whole other can of worms that has been discussed to death already.

  2. Roanman, I'd like to hear your thoughts (seriously). I was favorably impressed that Mandel (who sometimes misses) took a reasonably nuanced historical view, as opposed to the jackalopes that assume everything went to hell exactly when Rodriguez started.

    '05, '06, and '07, important classes for RichRod's teams, didn't produce a lot of NFL draftees.

  3. Thunder,

    I wonder if you agree with this meme about Hoke "killing it" in recruiting?

    Historically, it is the norm for Michigan to finish with a recruiting class ranked in the 5-15 range There were a few outliers above (Carr early on) and below (Rodriguez's last year), but if you average out the recruiting sites rankings, Michigan has finished within a narrow range for rank/caliber of recruiting classes nearly every year.

    Mathlete's work over at MGoBlog indicates that Michigan's rank is 5-7, which is obviously taking Michigan 'back' to the higher end of their range, but not a significant change from the norm. I'm not a fan of Mandel's analyses (though he is good at writing, IMO) so this doesn't move the needle for me, but I do like the top-10-or-not litmus test.

    Furthermore, since Michigan is (probably) done in this class, while a bunch of high profile recruits will still commit to other top 10 caliber schools - Michigan is very likely to move down from the current ranks that Mandel references.

    My opinion is that Hoke is doing well - it says something to return Michigan back to the top 10 after Rodriguez. He has also addressed big needs quickly (OL, DL, LB) and SEEMS to be recruiting a higher percentage of high character kids. But, I don't agree with the common view (supported by mid-way rankings on Scout) that Michigan has a top 5 recruiting class. I don't think Michigan is recruiting quite as well as Ohio State or Notre Dame (another litmus test) and I think they remain a notch below the national elites. I think skill-position recruiting has been disappointing. (even D.Green wasn't a first choice for Michigan).

    These are notpiks and the overall direction is quite positive. I'm a fan of Hoke as a coach overall, and I think he is doing well in recruiting, but I'd give him a B+/A- whereas I'm hearing a lot of A+++++ from people and talk about "obviously" having a top 5 class, when I think the opposite is likely.

    1. I don't really understand why you say that Michigan isn't recruiting as well as Notre Dame. In Hoke's two full classes, Michigan has been ranked #6 and #7 (an average of 6.5) on Rivals. Meanwhile, Notre Dame in that time span has been #2 and #20 (an average of #11).

      As for whether Hoke is "killing it" or not, I think it takes a little bit of context. Michigan was 15-22 in Rodriguez's three seasons and just turned in an 8-5 season. In between was an 11-2 season. That means over the last five years, Michigan has gone 34-29. I'd say pulling in the #1 class (on Scout) or the #6 class (on Rivals) is quite an accomplishment, given the recent [lack of] on-field success; even if those class rankings drop down to #4 and #9 or something like that, it's still pretty impressive.

      Is Michigan recruiting on par with Alabama? Florida? No and no. But if you take everything into account - lack of recent huge success, geographical location, Big Ten instead of SEC, etc. - I would have to put Hoke and his staff right at or near the top of the heap in regard to recruiting.

    2. Thanks for the response. I agree with the second two paragraphs more or less. Finishing in the top 5-10 is very good, no matter what. Even if that's your 'par', it's an incredible difficult par that takes a lot of effort to maintain (and Rodriguez failed to do so.)

      Geography is a weakness for Michigan but there are a lot of institutional advantages too. I mean, Rodriguez landed top 15 classes (according to Scout) coming off a 2-win and 5-win season. Hoke's coming off an 11 win year.

      I think that Rodriguez's record/failure was a BIG deal for the '12 recruits. Hoke sold them on something and that was definitely impressive, but for the '13 guys it stopped being a hurdle. For them, Hoke already showed he could/would win. I don't think most recruits are hung up on the past and quickly buy into 'turnarounds' and recent success (e.g., Oregon). [But still, Hoke deserves credit for that 11-2, even if it was with Rodriguez's players - I'm just saying the recruiting impact of record is marginal, not taking away from the accomplishment itself.]

      As to the Notre Dame thing -- to me their class is clearly better by the numbers:

      1. Notre Dame is ranked higher in 3 of the 4 sites, and this year's class isn't finished yet. Notre Dame is still in on some elite recruits and Michigan is essentially done. Scout is an outlier - the only one that might have Michigan above ND in the end.

      2. The class rankings methodologies are driven primarily how big the tail (lower-rated) end of the recruiting classes are. A 20 person class with 5 ***** players and 15**** players will rank lower than a 27 person class with 7 *** players tacked on. That's just a function of team need, not an indicator of how well a school is recruiting. Michigan has a bigger class so their ranking is inflated.

      3. This years class, the top 7 guys are better than Michigan's top 7. 7-23 they are identical. http://mgoblog.com/sites/mgoblog.com/files/image_264.png Michigan gets a bump for having more guys, but even Scout says the average rank of NDs recruits is better than Michigans.

      4. Head-to-head, Notre Dame has won more recruits that both schools have pursued.

      Notre Dame's class is better, though I'll admit the gap is small enough as to be called negligible.

      The same comments go for Ohio State. 3 of the 4 sites say they are better and they won more head-to-head battles. OSU and ND have the same number of elite recruits, they just have a smaller class (at the moment).

      If Hoke isn't making progress against OSU and ND then I don't really see recruiting as a clear victory. I don't expect to beat Alabama, Texas, and Florida, but I would like to see us winning more head-to-head battles and beating the local powers (and by that I don't mean MSU.)

  4. Lloyd got old, slow, tired of the pressure and even more crotchety near the end of his tenure than he had been in his prime, and started looking around for the exits. Kids felt this and some number of the good ones that he would have reeled in earlier on in his career, went elsewhere.

    Enter Rich Rod.

    The smell of death was on Rodriquez almost from the very beginning as a large number of very small "Michigan Men" decided that it was better to throw the program under the bus than it was to have Michigan coached by an outsider, conveniently forgetting that the sainted Bo Schembechler himself was an outsider to damn near the point of hick when he came to Michigan and that both Canham and Bump (to his eternal credit) made it a point to not only support him, but to integrate Bo along with his entire staff into the University.

    Rodriguez died from a thousand cuts. And the kids, who are not stupid, having tuned into Sports Center for the latest news, decided to stay away ..... in droves.

    1. I don't buy that argument about Carr considering he had bad classes in 2002-03 (ranked 18 and 13) good classes in 2004-05 (rankd 4 and 5), and typical classes in 2006-07 (ranked 11 and 11).

      I'm not going to rehash the entire Rodriguez saga, but saying the kids stayed away in droves is a gross exaggeration. Carr's last two classes were ranked 11, 11, and Rodriguez (with Carr's help) slightly edged that mark in 2008 with a rank of 10. Rodriguez's first full class (2009) was ranked #11 -- same as the previous 3 - he maintained. Once the losses piled up and his job was in question, then yeah, things feel off and kids stayed away, but the 2010 class was still ranked in the top 20.

      Rodriguez had many failings but it's revisionist history to say that recruits stayed away in droves from the outset.

    2. To begin with, with regards to Rodrigues, I didn't say recruits stayed away in droves from the outset. I'd quote myself, but you can scroll up and try again, my point isn't that hard to follow.

      Second, you place way more significance on the services than I do. That your undies are in a knot over Notre Dame being rated more highly than we are in 3 of 4 services suggests that you are residing in a dark place lately and need to find some respite from your angst.

      Carr's bust rate went up dramatically in the last three or so years of his career. If you want to pin it on a coaching change (Mallett, Borin) Ok.

      I stand by my assertion that many of the quality kids that Lloyd would get earlier, the ones who went somewhere, stayed, played and contributed as seniors were passing on Michigan far more frequently toward the end of Lloyd's tenure. This accelerated under Rodriguez as it became more and more obvious that he was doomed.