1. As a general question, evaluate your recruiting class. Is it more or less what you expected, were you pleasantly surprised or horribly, horribly disappointed? Were your team's needs adequately addressed or will you be starting a two star running back at center next year?
I'm very pleased with Michigan's recruiting class overall. The quality of offensive linemen, running backs and wide outs is impossible to question, and Michigan managed to secure some linebacker and safety help. So, like I said, I'm happy. But in the interest of full disclosure there are some holes that weren't plugged.
The biggest, most obvious "hole" in the class is at quarterback. As a reader recently emailed me, Rodriguez has indeed put all his eggs in Pryor's basket (At least for this year). If Pryor picks Michigan, which appears increasingly unlikely, then Rodriguez' filled all the needs for his offense in less than two months. If he doesn't, well, Michigan's short a pure athlete that can play quarterback.
This isn't to say the cupboards totally bare. Steven Threet is a *4 QB (in both services) with an Elite 11 camp pedigree. He's a bright guy, with a cannon for an arm. Hell, Shaun King excelled in Rodriguez system so there's no reason Threet can't. Soon to be junior RB Carlos Brown also played a little QB in high school and can fill in. The hole isn't that deep, if it exists at all. However, if Pryor or another fleet footed QB shows up, I'm not going to turn him away.
Michigan's also thin on the Defensive Line. The last two classes have one DE and one DT combined. The big concern is in the middle of the defense. Rodriguez' defense places a premium on at least on fast edge rushers, but he also needs a space eater in there somewhere.
Other than DT and QB, this is as good a class as Michigan's pulled in top to bottom in a long time. What makes it even more impressive is the fact that the Rodriguez pulled in a #10 and #8 recruiting class despite taking the job and changing the team's playing style less than two months before signing day. That's pretty damn impressive.
2. Who were the big catches in your recruiting class? Name two players matriculating to your school whose existence everyone else in the Big Ten will curse for the next four years.
A couple of guys warrant special mention. You already know all about McGuffie, so I'll spare you the mixtape, and give you two other guys to watch.
1) CB Boubacar Cissoko
2) OT Dan O'Neil
If Cissoko had three more inches on him he would've been the highest rated corner recruit in the country. As it is, he's rated #3 corner by Scout and #4 corner by Rivals in the 2008 class. Cissoko will push for playing time almost immediately in Michigan's new defense and if he's as quick as he's billed, Big Ten quarterbacks are going to hate him.
O'Neil is 6'8, 285 and in the mold of Jake Long. High praise and high expectations, but O'Neil looks like the real deal. He's surprisingly nimble and quick for someone his size, and couples his gargantuan size with ridiculously long arms. He's only going to get bigger and nastier in Mike Barwis conditioning system. His rating took a hit because he's not the most polished guy, but the sky's the limit.
3. You can't win them all. Maybe some slick talking carpetbagger schmoozed his way into your living room, sold you a set of ginzu knives made out of tin foil, and walked off with your wife and your star recruit. Perhaps an in-state lock who grew up with [Insert University Here] posters on his wall and your coach's face tattooed on his arm decided to go elsewhere for reasons no one seems to understand? Did your recruiting class lose someone big on signing day, who was it, and was your school able to yoink someone else to cover his loss?
Michigan didn't lose anyone key in its class this year, maybe with the exception of PA HB Christian Wilson but that's a stretch. So there's no snake oil problem. There is a wizard hat issue however, as sneaky Pete Carroll stuffed four star Michigan Defensive End Nick Perry into his cap and snuck out of Michigan with the best remaining player in the state. Perry would've helped to sure up the team's lack of depth on the defensive side of the ball, but Michigan was never really sure where it stood with him. Hell, he'd been hinting at a USC lead for a while.
McGuffie was the big threat to bolt after Carr's departure and he sent in his letter, so Michigan came away with the critical parts of its class fully intact.
4. There's been a spirited debate about this whole "Coaches' Code" among the members of the Big Ten coaching fraternity. Do you believe this exists or is it a line being floated by the guys who couldn't keep their recruiting classes together? Bonus points for declaring your coach a poacher or a poachee in creative fashion!
What eess theees Coaches' Code? Eeest Bourgeoisie dogma to keeeep power conzentrated among elites. Nyet, comrade. The Proletariat should be free to choose own destination! No recruit eest property. He is free man! Pahshalsta!
Recruits of the World Unite!
Maybe it's because I'm on the poacher side of the argument, but I have no idea where this "coaches code" came from. Tiller's off his nut if he believes the crap he's spewing on this issue. This is akin to the "honor among thieves" argument or the "pirate code."
It doesn't exist. Brian did an excellent job of pointing this out, so I won't rehash it too much. Folks, this recruiting thing is a dirty business. No recruit is safe under NCAA rules, and frankly, its probably not a bad thing. Not everyone gets a chance to go to their dream school, but if that opportunity arrives we shouldn't begrudge them the opportunity. Maybe they just decide they can't stand the weather, am I going to be pissed about it? Not a chance.
Coaches are going to do what's best for their teams. If it means recruiting a kid heavily the day before signing day, so be it. If it fills a need for his team, fine. Sure it sucks to end up on the short end of that equation, but I'm sure you'd be pissed if you HC took a hands off approach to recruiting. I'm not going to begrudge Zook, Bewster, or anyone else for offering a scholarship to an excellent player recruited by or verbally committed to my school. If they can offer the kid a better opportunity, fine. If the kid's dumb enough to go to a school with six five star recruits in front of him at the last second so he can "compete against the best," fine too. It's probably an indicator he ain't quite ready for the big time.
As long as nothing illegal or contrary to NCAA rules goes on, it's open season. And face it folks, if your losing a kid on signing day the head coach or recruiter should look at the face in the mirror for the reason why.
Oh, and Rodriguez is a Viking. Better yet a Pirate Viking.
5. Finally, who's the slickest, smoovest, most Billy Dee Williamsesque recruiter in the Big Ten? Who's the worst, most incompetent, "trip over the flat tire on his Yugo" recruiter in the Big Ten?
Zookdaddy is da bomb son. Ain't no question. Brewster and Rodriguez get honorable mention.
Worst? Tie. Dantonio and Tiller. Tiller, despite the glorious, glorious mustache, made the cardinal mistake on announcing his retirement right before recruiting season kicked into high gear! Simply the dumbest of decisions. Dantonio? He's turning into JLS light. Michigan's in a down year, new coach, changing system, yada yada. If there was ever a winter to turn the corner at MSU this was it. Instead MSU was stuck in neutral and their prize targets went elsewhere.