Happy Friday. Have some Whiskey (not right now, its still the morning you drunk).
You have to look pretty hard to find negatives when it comes to Brady Hoke's recruiting efforts this past year and a half. Ever since he was given the opportunity to start assembling full classes from scratch, Hoke has succeeded early and often. After building a strong 2012 class that was top-10 nationally, the 2013 class has already stormed out to a huge lead in the race for number one overall.
Of course, not everyone remains convinced. While perusing the new SBN Ohio State blog Land-Grant Holyland* I stumbled upon an article that purported to tell the world of Brady Hoke's blind spot. While I figured this had little to do with properly checking lanes before merging into highway traffic, I still clicked over to try and learn something.
The article starts with a long story about having seen Alex Boone play in high school. Boone, for those of you who don't remember the Buckeye tackle, was a colossus of a man; at 6'8 and over 300 lbs he made the rest of the kids on the high school field look like middle schoolers. Boone went on to play at Ohio State where he was a four-year starter and an all-Big Ten selection in his final two years before going undrafted (NFL teams were leery because he was rumored to have a pretty serious alcohol problem).
What Ohio State fans, and DJ Byrne, might remember best about Boone was his back to back de-pantsings at the hands of Florida and LSU in the 06 and 07 BCS title games.
The crux of the article is this:
So, this is why I laugh at Michigan and their recruitment of Boone-like clones to stock their offensive line. It's also why I get super giddy when I compare those efforts against Urban's.
Now, Byrne brings up a solid point. A well developed defensive line is very important in modern day college football, and the quality of athletes that Ohio State has been able to sign over the past two years at the position is very impressive. But his assumption are ultimately based on some faulty reasoning. Consider:
- "Boone-like clones" is invoked without much discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of Michigan's offensive line recruits. While there are maulers like Kalis in the fold, Erik Magnuson, Logan Tuley-Tillman, and Chris Fox (to name a few) are all high-ceiling athletic prospects in the mold of the modern day ideal of an offensive tackle: long, lean, and mobile. Byrne uses the example of Boone as the justification of his argument that, "college football has shifted away from massive, clattering offensive lines," without presenting what the new ideal is and giving sufficient evidence why Michigan is doing it wrong.
- Byrne also doesn't mention that those two years that Boone was taken advantage of were his freshman and sophomore years. Boone was projected to be a franchise LT type, but it hardly panned out because of a failure to develop to his five-star potential and the aforementioned issues with alcohol.
- The year after Florida made fools out of Ohio State, Michigan met the Gators in a bowl game. While the Gator defense wasn't as good as the '06 championship version, Michigan's pro style offense still toasted it for 524 yards and 41 points.
- Byrne also glosses over the opposite: that Michigan has done a good job building its defensive line by dismissing it as Ondre Pipkins and a bunch of three-stars. The 2012 Michigan D-line class is a close second in the Big Ten to Ohio State with a five-star (Pipkins) two four-stars (Chris Wormley and Tom Stroble) a couple borderline three/four-star types (Matt Godin and Mario Ojemudia) and a three-star sleeper (Willie Henry). While the 2013 class only has one defensive line commit thus far (Taco Charlton, not a bad start) the Wolverines are looking to add two or three more defensive linemen and are in on a number of highly rated recruits that are every bit as good as what Ohio State already has in the fold. Michigan's defensive line class should once again rival that of Ohio State if the Wolverines can get a couple plan-A recruits.
Byrne is right on one account: Ohio State has built a monster defensive line. However, Michigan's recruiting in the trenches has been just as good overall.
Brady Hoke and Urban Meyer both understand that games are won and lost on the line of scrimmage. Don't worry DJ, I don't think you are going to be bored watching Michigan and Ohio State battle in the trenches over the next few years.
*(the site is run by Luke Zimmerman of Eleven Warriors, EDSBS, and SBNation proper, and staffed with some incredible writers such as Ted Glover and DJ Byrnes among others. So it is definitely a must read for all things Ohio State. I wish Luke and the guys the best of luck, and I toast them with a hearty "hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate.")
Time for some links to help you through your Friday:
Brady Hoke: Josh Furman's status with Michigan football team 'still being evaluated' - Furman has been cleared of the charges against him, but Hoke is still waiting to make a final judgment on the backup safety. There is no rush and one thing you want to get right is matters of discipline when the legal system is involved.
/looks in the direction of East Lansing.
La Torre: Firm Helping Penn State Improve Relations With State, Local Media - Want to know how much quality PR costs in the face of the biggest sex scandal in college football history?
The school is paying both firms $208,000 per month on a 12-month contract, or $2.5 million. According to The Morning Call, Penn State has already paid $7.6 million to "at least 12 other firms" for comms and legal work.
Maturity helps Gophers' Gray evolve into better quarterback - First, for those overlooking the seriousness of Minnesota as an opponent this fall, remember how much potential MarQueis Gray has and what he was able to do late in the season against Iowa, Michigan State, and Illinois (three pretty good defenses). Second, for those clamoring for Devin Gardner to move to wide receiver for a year, read this and remember why it isn't a good idea to have your quarterback concentrating on another position for an entire year of his career.
Nebraska assistant Ron Brown is many things, but for how long? - It is hard to imagine Nebraska allows this kind of hate speech to continue from one of its football staffers. Make the right move, Bo. Get rid of Ron Brown asap.
This is the elephant in the room for the teams heading into this season on the tail end of an extended losing streak. Ask Ron English about how hard it is to reverse a losing culture: it took English three years and 20-plus losses to reach his team, formerly the perennial whipping boy of the MAC. The task was equally painful for Western Kentucky’s Willie Taggart; the Hilltoppers won four games from 2008-10 before reaching bowl eligibility last season.
Or think about the situation Al Golden took on at Temple in 2006. "You find a lot of young men who have lost hope, and you’ve got to start educating," Golden said in 2009, when the Owls were close to clinching their first bowl berth in three decades. "You have to start to implement your culture and your core values. As you evolve, you have a lot of people who aren’t willing to make those sacrifices. So many of them had to move on."
2. The committee will track the course of the regular season's finale, and weigh several factors in determining the best teams for the four spots using a simple rubric: strength of schedule, consistency, and room service. Just shitloads of room service, preferably from the Fontainebleau's trained staff of service professionals. Embarrassing amounts of plates outside hotel rooms, really.
3. Selection committee consists of Bob Toledo, Scott Storch, and a cockatiel that thinks option offenses are bullshit. The cockatiel is also known as Bill Callahan.
"I'd like to thank the city of New York, all these wonderful athletes, and especially our fans, the most passionate sports fans on Earth. This promises to be among the most memorable NFL Drafts in recent memory, and it is my hope that --"
And then his eyes fix somewhere in the distance, up toward the balcony. He stops abruptly, his eyes first squinting, then widening with a look of terror. He whispers too softly to reach the microphone: "No. Please. It can't be. Please."
Several seconds pass without words. He begins to perspire, gripping the podium with white knuckles.
Quite possibly the best thing you will read about the NFL draft this year.