So...That's a Wrap on 2020

    The Big Ten university presidents voted on Tuesday to postpone the 2020-2021 football season with the potential to play in the spring.

    I generally try to avoid these "big picture" posts because a) I think they're boring and b) talking heads inundate us with discussion.

    But I think there are a lot of people showing how dumb they are, and like all of us, I think I'm less dumb than them.

    So let me address a few things.

    THUNDER, DO YOU THINK THERE SHOULD BE FOOTBALL IN THE FALL OF 2020?

    Yes, I do but I might be wrong and it doesn't matter anyway. Let me explain.

    I think if the players want to play and the coaches want to coach, then they should play. There should be no punishments for sitting out. If you want to sit out, you get a redshirt year and thus get a fifth or even sixth year of eligibility if you want it.

    But here's why it doesn't matter:

    People want players to sign waivers saying they will not hold the schools liable for their medical issues, if they indeed get COVID-19 and suffer because of it. There is a big concern of myocarditis and other issues - including, uh, death - having to do with COVID-19.

    Those waivers do not and will not hold up in court, and they were deemed illegal by the NCAA already. So if the schools are going to be held liable for potentially millions or hundreds of millions of dollars in lawsuits, then there's no way the schools are going to play.

    Let me use Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields as an example. Fields is a potential first round pick. If he were to get COVID-19 while playing football and develop life-threatening complications, not only is he a human being whose life is valuable; he is also someone who could potentially earn hundreds of millions of dollars as an NFL quarterback, spokesperson, brand developer, etc.

    How bad would that lawsuit be for Ohio State to handle if something were to happen to Fields and his family sues them for $300 million based on his NFL worth and his potential endorsements that he'll never get?

    So players should play if they want to play, but the legal landscape of our country makes it almost impossible for that to happen.

    BUT THUNDER, ISN'T SCHOOL STARTING? THEY CAN PLAY FOOTBALL IF KIDS ARE IN DORMS AND GOING TO CLASS!

    This is dumb, and you should feel dumb for making this argument.

    (Also just as stupid: "They just ran into each other for 60 minutes, but then they can't shake hands after the game?")


    Some exposure is bad. More exposure is worse. Nobody would say that if you've had unprotected sex, you should just keep having unprotected sex because, hey, you didn't get a disease or get someone pregnant the first time.

    You gotta wrap it up and maybe be careful with how many people you get freaky with.

    If I'm a student in a dorm, I'm exposed to the germs that are shed by fellow students at my school.

    I'm not exposed to the germs that are shed by students in Piscataway, State College, East Lansing, Columbus, etc.

    (And, oh by the way, due to Title IX, you probably can't just play football because it's outside and transmission is rare outside. If there are opportunities for men to play football in the fall, you also have to open things up for other fall sports, which includes indoor activities like water polo and volleyball. So while a football player might be unlikely to get COVID-19 on a football field, that doesn't mean a Michigan volleyball player couldn't get COVID-19 from a Rutgers volleyball player.)

    THIS IS THE END OF THE BIG TEN!!!! EVERYONE IS GOING TO TRANSFER!!!

    First of all, we have no idea how many conferences are going to cancel. So transfer where? Reports indicate the Pac-12 is on the precipice of canceling/postponing. The MAC and the Mountain West have already canceled. So have UConn and UMass and ODU.

    The ACC, SEC, and Big 12 are still planning to play. But will they?

    And how many scholarships does the SEC have? They can't just absorb a whole other conference, because those schools are already full of scholarship players. The limit is still set at 85 for any given team.

    Any additional players are going to have to pay their own way. And if, say, Nico Collins transfers to Auburn for a year to showcase himself for the NFL, some backup or freshman is going to get pissed off and transfer to Ohio State or Maryland or Michigan. "Hell, I'm not going to play this year, anyway, so I might as well go get myself a jump start on my next school."

    Talented players want to play, and they're not all going to get on the field in the SEC or the ACC. If anything, if the SEC soaks up a bunch of superstar talents in 2020, that's going to open the door for 2021 and 2022 recruits to see available playing time at Michigan, Ohio State, etc.

    IF YOU'RE SO SMART, WHAT SHOULD THE BIG TEN DO?

    I'm open to suggestions, but I think this is a realistic plan, or at least a good starting point:

    • Plan to play a spring season. Play a 10-game conference schedule that was planned for the fall.
    • Start the season indoors. Wherever and whenever possible, play indoor games. Let Michigan and MSU play their games at Ford Field, etc. Yes, it's cold and and it's not ideal, but nothing is normal right now. Maybe Michigan plays at noon and MSU plays at 7:00 p.m. Maybe Michigan plays on Saturday and MSU plays on Sunday.
    • Limit players to 8 games. If you're concerned about players taking too many hits, limit each player to 8 games in spring 2021 and 8 in fall 2021. That way they will play a maximum of 16 games (the equivalent of one NFL season), but with three months off in between.
    • Lobby for the NFL to push back the draft. I know the NFL has said it won't push back the draft, but everyone needs to be - and has been - flexible. Hold the draft in June or July so all the spring football participants can get their exploits on film.
    • Forgive a year of eligibility. Kids who opt out of the 2020-2021 season should maintain that year of eligibility. If 2020-2021 is your fifth year of college football, you should be able to still play in 2021-2022.
    • Allow up to 25 signees. There are limits to scholarships for incoming recruits. If a team has players "opt out" of the 2020-2021 season, they should still have the ability to sign 25 players. Yes, it's a cheat in a way, but it's a one-year cheat. So if you have 3 players opt out and come back for an extra year, you could potentially have 88 scholarship players in 2021-2022. If the schools don't want to pay for those 3 extra scholarships, that's fine; then they only get to sign 22 initial counters in the class of 2021.

    Obviously, this is not a comprehensive plan. There are a lot of things that need to be addressed. It's a brand new landscape.

    But this is not the end of the world. It's not the end of the Big Ten. And it's not the end of good football and good players in the Big Ten.

    Life will go on.

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    2020 Season Countdown: #36 Karsen Barnhart

    Karsen Barnhart (image via MGoBlue)

    Note: Yes, I'm continuing with the countdown even though it looks like the season will be canceled/postponed. I don't like to leave things unfinished. Also, I already went to the trouble of making the dang list.

    Name: Karsen Barnhart
    Height: 
    6’4″
    Weight: 
    301 lbs.
    High school: 
    Paw Paw (MI) Paw Paw
    Position: 
    Offensive tackle
    Class: 
    Freshman
    Jersey number: 
    #52
    Last year: 
    I ranked Barnhart #91 and said he would redshirt (LINK). He played in two games and redshirted
    TTB Rating: 
    86

    Barnhart was a high school tight end transitioning to the offensive line in college. With three seniors and another guy who was good enough to leave for the NFL after his junior year, a redshirt was inevitable. And that's exactly what happened, though he did play against Middle Tennessee and Rutgers in mop-up duty.

    Practice did result in quite a bit of practice buzz for Barnhart, though. He was one of two true freshmen to get people excited, along with Zach Carpenter.

    This year Barnhart is probably looking at a backup role, but he should be the #6 or #7 lineman. Last year it was Ryan Hayes, who filled in when Jon Runyan, Jr. was hurt. In the 2020 season, it will probably be Barnhart or Joel Honigford. Barnhart has the athleticism to play tackle even though he might be a little short at 6'4". Either way, it appears that Barnhart is putting himself in line for a starting role when an upperclassman moves on to the next level.

    Prediction: Backup offensive guard

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    All-Harbaugh Team: Defense and Special Teams

    Jabrill Peppers

    Please consider using the links here to make your Amazon purchases (LINK):



    Last Monday I posted the top performers under Jim Harbaugh on Michigan's offense (LINK).

    DEFENSIVE END: 2016 Taco Charlton
    Charlton's performance in 2016 is underrated by some, even though it resulted in the highest sack total since Brandon Graham matched it with 10.0 in 2008. Charlton finished the season with 43 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, 2 pass breakups, and 8 quarterback hurries. He was taken in the 1st round of the 2017 NFL Draft.

    Hit the jump for more.

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    2020 Season Countdown: #37 Anthony Solomon

    Anthony Solomon (image via Maize 'n' Brew)

    Name: Anthony Solomon
    Height: 
    6’1″
    Weight: 
    212 lbs.
    High school: 
    Fort Lauderdale (FL) St. Thomas Aquinas
    Position: 
    Linebacker
    Class: 
    Sophomore
    Jersey number: 
    #10
    Last year: 
    I ranked Solomon #78 and said he would redshirt (LINK). He played in eleven games and made 1 tackle.
    TTB Rating:
     84

    When Solomon came into college, it was unclear which linebacker position he would eventually play, Viper or WILL. Playing WILL requires a little more size, and playing Viper requires a little more versatility and coverage. Solomon played mostly on special teams as a freshman, but that means the coaches liked him well enough to get his feet wet and burn his redshirt. That is probably a good sign for his future.

    The 2020 season will probably see him playing a backup role once again. The odds-on favorite for Viper is Michael Barrett, and the WILL position will be locked down by Joshua Ross. And anyway, Solomon is too light to play inside linebacker right now. The backup Viper has never turned into a high-volume position, except when Jabrill Peppers got injured a few years ago and Josh Metellus stepped in short-term. While Barrett is unproven as a player, I think he's unlikely to be unseated by Solomon. The coaches do seem to like Solomon, but Michigan has recruited the Viper position heavily over the past couple recruiting classes.

    Prediction: Backup Viper, special teamer

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    Scouting Report: 2021 OG Drew Kendall

    Dedham (MA) Noble and Greenough OG Drew Kendall

    Name: Drew Kendall
    High school: Dedham (MA) Noble and Greenough
    Height: 6'4"
    Weight: 255 lbs.
    Position: Offensive guard
    Class: 2021
    Offers: Boston College, Duke, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina State, Penn State, Stanford, Syracuse, UMass, Virginia, West Virginia
    Commitment: Uncommitted

    Notes: ESPN 4-star, #13 OG, #256 overall...Rivals 4-star, #4 OG, #65 overall, #1 in MA...247 Sports 4-star, #12 OG, #154 overall, #1 in MA...Teammate of Michigan linebacker commit Casey Phinney...Son of former Boston College offensive guard Pete Kendall, who was a 1st round pick of the Seattle Seahawks in 1996...Pete played 13 years total with the Seahawks, Cardinals, Jets, and Redskins

    Hit the jump for more.

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    2020 Season Countdown: #38 Luiji Vilain

    Luiji Vilain (image via MLive)

    Name: Luiji Vilain
    Height: 
    6’4″
    Weight: 
    253 lbs.
    High school: 
    Alexandria (VA) Episcopal
    Position: 
    Defensive end
    Class: 
    Redshirt junior
    Jersey number: 
    #18
    Last year: 
    I ranked Vilain #39 and said he would be a backup weakside end (LINK). He played in seven games and made 7 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 sack, and 1 forced fumble.
    TTB Rating:
     90

    Vilain is going into his fourth year at Michigan without a lot to show for it. Injuries were a big issue for his first two years, and he was finally relatively healthy in 2019 for the first time. It shouldn't take until year three to even see the field for a top-100 prospect, but that was the situation with Vilain. When he got on the field, he flew under the radar except against Notre Dame, which was a big night for everyone wearing a winged helmet.



    As you can see that "sack" and "forced fumble" were basically due to the fact that he was the closest guy to an inept Notre Dame quarterback.

    Vilain is ranked in approximately the same spot once again in 2020. Michigan has two solid starting ends in Aidan Hutchinson and Kwity Paye, but there is a little clearer path to playing time with no Michael Danna standing in the way for backup snaps. Vilain's role for 2020 may depend on how much David Ojabo and Gabe Newburg developed in their redshirt seasons and in the off-season. This is almost a now-or-never situation for Vilain, who would be unlikely to return for a fifth year in 2021 if he doesn't show the ability to be the heir to senior Kwity Paye's starting end spot.

    Prediction: Backup defensive end

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    2020 Season Countdown: #39 Sammy Faustin

    Sammy Faustin (image via Maize 'n' Brew)

    Name: Sammy Faustin
    Height: 
    6’2″
    Weight: 
    195 lbs.
    High school: 
    Naples (FL) Naples
    Position: 
    Safety
    Class: 
    Redshirt sophomore
    Jersey number: 
    #17
    Last year: 
    I ranked Faustin #57 and said he would be a backup safety and special teamer (LINK). He played in nine games and made 2 tackles.
    TTB Rating:
     76

    Faustin entered college as a little bit of a corner/safety project. He played corner in high school but was more the physical type than the coverage type. Last year the safety position was pretty full with veterans Josh Metellus and Brad Hawkins, plus elite recruit Daxton Hill. So opportunities were limited.

    With Hawkins and Hill returning to man the starting positions, there is a chance for the guy who's next in line to step into playing time. It will be very interesting to see who that guy is, but if I were a betting man, I would put my money on Faustin. There are some true freshmen who could press for playing time, but without spring ball and with limited voluntary workouts, the upper hand goes to the returning players. I think Faustin's upside is limited, but he's a safer pick at a position that requires reliability.

    Prediction: Backup safety, special teamer

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