Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Recruiting: How times have changed

Last week two big events occurred back-to-back at Schembechler Hall. First, on Tuesday, February 5, 2008, thirty players from the 1969 team (Bo's first squad) returned to meet with the current players and coaches. Secondly, on Wednesday, February 6, 2008, Coach Rodriguez announced the incoming class of freshmen as Wednesday was National Letter of Intent signing day. The back-to-back events made me think about how things have changed in the world of recruiting since the days of the 1969 team. One of the players from the '69 team that returned for last Tuesday's event was Michigan legend Jim Betts. According to the book What It Means to be a Wolverine, Betts played high school football in the mid-1960s at Benedictine High in Cleveland, Ohio. His coach was Augie Bossu, a former Notre Dame player. Betts was a QB and was recruited by about 175 colleges during his senior season. However, Coach Bossu did not want Betts to be distracted during the high school season so the coach boxed up all of Betts' recruiting letters and the coach did not give the box to Betts until after the final game of the season. It was only then that Betts learned of all the schools that wanted him to come play for them. Betts' wound up visiting six Big 10 schools but committed to Michigan after a 2-hour home visit by Coach Bump Elliott during which the coach sold Betts' mother on the virtue of a Michigan education.

Contrast Jim Betts' recruitment to that of Ryan Mallett. Mallett was also a top high school QB prospect. However, in 2006, Mallett verbally committed to Michigan while he was still a junior in high school. After playing his senior year of high school football, Mallett graduated just months later and early enrolled as a student at Michigan. In January, 2007, Mallett was a freshman on the Michigan campus while his high school classmates were attending prom and preparing for their regularly scheduled graduation in May, 2007. Back in 1967, when Jim Betts was a freshman, there was a rule that freshmen could not play. That rule was abolished many years ago and Mallett, in 2007, played in 11 games as a freshman. How the times have changed. Go Blue!
*NOTE: Photo of Michigan legend Jim Betts addressing the members of the current team on 2/5/08 from


Saturday, February 09, 2008

Recruiting Wizard

Coach Rodriguez is a Recruiting Wizard. No less an authority than Purdue Head Coach Joe Tiller said so. However, when I say it, I mean it as a compliment. Now I know that Coach Rod and I have not gotten off on the right foot but I take exception to Coach Tiller's comments regarding the circumstances of 4-star recruit Roy Roundtree's de-commit at Purdue and his subsequent commitment to Michigan. Tiller was quoted as saying, "If we had an early signing date, you wouldn't have another outfit with a guy in a wizard hat selling snake oil get a guy at the last minute, but that's what happened." The article went on to state that Coach Tiller was concerned about a loss of integrity among Big Ten coaches.

I took great exception to Coach Tiller's comments as it is just a case of sour grapes and Tiller's baseless swipe adds more fuel to the fire in the "Coach Rodriguez lacks ethics" debate that is ongoing in the media. As Tiller well knows, de-commits are an unfortunate part of the recruiting process. It happened last year to Michigan when Jerimy Finch de-committed from Michigan and ended up at Florida and it almost happened this year when Sam McGuffie wavered in his commitment as he almost chose to de-commit from the Wolverines and head to California instead. Tiller's comments were out of line and he just better hope that Coach Rodriguez decides not to make Tiller pay by having the Wolverines run up the score on the Boilermakers on November 1st. For another take on Tiller's comments, click here to read the hilarious post by Frank of It is worth it.

As for those readers who may be wondering why I'm defending Coach Rod when I've been so hard on him myself, I give the following reasons. First, I always call them as I see them and he is absolutely in the right in this recruiting "dispute". Secondly, and I am paraphrasing, Frank indirectly told me to "cowboy up" regarding the hiring of Coach Rodriguez. Considering that Coach Rod just reached out to the '69 squad, I'm willing to move forward. Giddyup! and Go Blue!!!

*NOTE: Picture of Coach Rodriguez from his signing day press conference of 2/6/08 from


The past meets the future

There was a cool event that occurred this week on Tuesday, February 5, 2008 that got lost in the shuffle because everyone was focused on February 6th National Signing Day. On Tuesday, the 1969 Michigan Football team came at the invitation of Coach Rodriguez to speak to the current Wolverine football team. The 1969 team was Bo's first team and thirty players from that squad came out to meet with the staff and players of Coach Rodriguez' first team. Returning players included Jim Betts, Dan Dierdorf, Reggie McKenzie, Billy Taylor, Paul Seymour, Jim Brandstatter, and Don Moorhead. The meeting of the 1969 team with the 2008 team was the brainchild of Dana Coin, the kicker from the '69 team. The event was a huge success. Click here for a link to the photo gallery from the event. Go Blue!

*Note 1: Top Photo of Coach Rodriguez addressing members of the 1969 team on February 5, 2008 from
*Note 2: Side Photo of Coach Rodriguez (far right in photo) speaking with Michigan legends Dan Dierdorf (left) and Jim Betts (top) on 2/5/08 from

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Thursday, February 07, 2008

Quarterback still a question mark

With the graduation of Chad Henne and the departure of Ryan Mallett, Coach Rodriguez stated that he wanted to bring in two quarterbacks in this recruiting class. Coach Rodriguez further stated that he normally likes to carry five (5) quarterbacks on the roster. Going into signing day, Michigan only had 3 quarterbacks on its roster, to wit: two scholarship QBs (Steve Threet and David Cone) and a walk-on (Nick Sheridan). Also remember that recently graduated QB Chad Henne hinted in an interview during the week of the Senior Bowl that two more quarterbacks may decide to transfer depending on how things go in Spring Practice. However, on signing day, Coach Rod only reeled in one prep quarterback. That was Justin Feagin of Deerfield, Florida. Feagin is a dual threat QB but he is not known for having a real strong throwing arm. He was rated a three-star prospect by most of the recruiting services. Assuming a miracle does not occur and 5-star prospect Terrelle Pryor does not commit to Michigan, the Wolverines will only have one QB in this class for now while Coach Rod wanted a minimum of two. Michigan's QB depth chart will consist of a redshirt freshman who is a pro-style QB and has never taken a snap in a game (Steve Threet); a little used Jr./So. back-up who has only thrown one pass in his career (David Cone); a true freshman with a mediocre arm (Justin Feagin); and a walk-on (Nick Sheridan).

Michigan got into this situation because Coach Rodriguez did such a poor job of re-recruiting Ryan Mallett. Coach Rodriguez was apparently more interested in trying to recruit Terrelle Pryor than he was in keeping Mallett and in the end it appears he will have neither one of them on his team. Now the Wolverines are likely to have a talent void at the QB position. When talking about the QB position yesterday at the press conference, Coach Rodriguez tried to reassure fans by stating, "We will be ok." Gee, thanks Coach. I feel so much better. Michigan has two scholarship openings remaining for the '08 class. One obviously needs to go to a QB if there is still a highly rated player remaining. Go Blue!

Update on 2/8/08: Michael Rosenberg did an article in today's Free Press where he made the case that Michigan needs a big-time player in the QB position to run Coach Rod's spread offense. Rosenberg wrote, in pertinent part, as follows: "Rich Rodriguez needs a great quarterback to win big. This is true of many college coaches, but it is especially true of Rodriguez because his system is highly dependent on the quarterback. There is no such thing as a caretaker quarterback in the spread-option. You can't have a low-risk, limited-talent guy at quarterback, making high-percentage passes and handing off to running backs. Every aspect of the spread option is dependent upon the quarterback." Although Coach Rodriguez will make do with the players he has on his roster, none of the quarterbacks on next year's team has the requisite skill set to run the spread offense the way Coach Rodriguez would really like it to be run.

Update on 2/11/08: Michigan signed the 24th player in its 2008 class (Martavious Odoms) and now only has one room for one more scholarship player in this year's class.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Signing Day: Michigan lands 23 new Wolverines

Michigan signed 23 prep student-athletes to binding National Letters of Intent today. The incoming class is very impressive. However, the class does not include highly regarded prospects Nick Perry or Terrelle Pryor. Perry committed to USC. As for Pryor, he announced that Penn State and Oregon were back in the running and that he would announce his decision at a later date. The last committment of the day came from Sam McGuffie. McGuffie had been one of the earliest verbal commitments of this recruiting class. However, when it came time today for him to sign and send in his LOI, McGuffie appeared to be wavering. He did not send in his LOI this afternoon as anticipated and it was believed he may have been thinking about switching to California. However, McGuffie has sent his LOI to Michigan this evening and ,in doing so, becomes the 23rd member of this year's class. As for Michigan's committments, it includes six offensive lineman but only one quarterback. Nevertheless, the recruiting class that signed today bodes well for Michigan's future. Go Blue!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Coach Rod continues to play the blame game

In the never ending dispute over his leaving WVU, Coach Rod continues to attempt to cast himself in the role of "victim". In his response filed in Federal Court yesterday, Rodriguez said it was the actions of the WVU administration- not a better job offer- that forced him to resign in December, 2007, and take the coaching job at Michigan. It is evident that Coach Rod continues to refuse to acknowledge his role in this entire dispute with his former employer. There is something about "It takes two to tango." Coach Rod, however, prefers to view the dispute from the perspective of a "victim" who has no personal responsibility for the events that have transpired. The e-mails released by Coach Rod's agent, Mike Brown, to support Rodriguez's contentions actually serve to reveal the true character (or lack thereof) of Coach Rod. A review of the e-mails show that Rodriguez's relationship with the school was on a downhill slide months before he resigned, in part because of his failed attempts to gain total control over the football program. Because of this ongoing dispute, Coach Rod was "available" when Michigan came calling. Unfortunately for Michigan, the school is now saddled with all the drama that Coach Rod brought with him from West Virginia. Worse, Coach Rod's behavior at WVU bespeaks of his character. If he was willing to turn on his alma mater he will certainly not demonstrate any more committment and/or loyalty to Michigan in the future than he showed WVU. If he doesn't get his way at Michigan, Coach Rod may be looking for the next big opportunity. I hope A.D. Bill Martin knew what he was doing when he brought this guy in. I think Martin is going to get more than he bargained for and not in a good way. Go Blue!

UPDATE on 2/8/08: Students at West Virginia University Law School have created a blog dedicated to the lawsuit between West Virginia University and Rich Rodriguez. The blog has links to all the actual court documents including Coach Rodriguez's contract. Check it out. It is very interesting.

*Note: Photo of Coach Rodriguez from


Friday, February 01, 2008

'70s Flashback: 1977 Game 3- Michigan 14 Navy 7

Sept. 24, 1977: The #1 ranked Wolverines got all they could handle from Navy but Michigan came away with the victory in front of 101,800 fans at Michigan Stadium. The Wolverines won on the strength of two Harlan Huckleby second quarter touchdowns. Michigan's offense was unable to produce a first down during the third quarter and was held scoreless in the second-half. Nonetheless, the Wolverines were able to prevail as Michigan's stout defense held Navy to seven points on the afternoon. Michigan's defense was led by linebacker Ron Simpkins (19 tackles) and Defensive Tackle Curtis Greer (pictured at right) who tallied 10 tackles with 2 sacks. Greer was named Defensive Champion of the game. Go Blue!

Second Quarter
M-Huckleby, 13 yd. run (Willner)
M-Huckleby, 22 yd. run (Willner)
Third Quarter
N-Jones, 34 yd. pass from Lesczcynski (Tata)

Rushing: Huckleby (M) 24-147; R.Davis (M) 19-93; Klawinski (N) 13-63.
Passing: Lesczcynski (N) 16-28-194; Leach (M) 4-5-36.
Receiving: Kurowski (N) 4-64; McConkey (N) 3-32; Callahan (N) 3-24; Gattuso (N) 3-18.

Previous Posts re: the 1977 season:

Go Blue!

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