Mailbag: Does Hoke deserve blame for lack of OL depth?

Mailbag: Does Hoke deserve blame for lack of OL depth?


October 20, 2011

Do you think Hoke deserves any blame for not going after OL/DL last year? I realize time was short, but he managed to snag a QB, TE, DE and LB – guys that hadn’t been targeted before.
Shouldn’t he have seen the potential train-wreck coming at OL and tried to address the situation? I’d imagine there were some marginal 3-star types available that could have at least contributed to depth. DT is probably a different story – since competition is so stiff and freshman can contribute right away. But OL…the needs been there for a long time. Besides Rodriguez’s class of 6 guys in ’08 Michigan has under-recruited the OL position since 2005 (no more than 3 OL in a class). Rodriguez recognized the need and immediately worked to rectify it. Yeah, he had more time, but we didn’t even hear of any new names pop up at OL in the 2011 class.

I think that Rodriguez deserves a little less blame for the OL situation. 1st, he was forced by Carr into recruiting a giant OL class in ’08. with all the other needs around he couldn’t keep taking 5 guys a year. So, the small OL classes in 09 and 10 were somewhat justifiable. 2011 was looking strong but the transition cost UM Fisher and probably some other OL recruit. I don’t think it’s all on him that the ’09 and ’10 OL classes now look to be so damaging.

The question above comes from a commenter in Tuesday’s recruiting update post.

No, I don’t think Brady Hoke deserves blame for not going after offensive linemen and defensive linemen last year.  First of all, he was hired less than a month before National Signing Day.  With that short of a start, I don’t think he can really accept any blame whatsoever.  But secondly, he did  go after linemen.  Hoke offered:

  • Ohio DE/DT Keith Heitzman (Michigan)
  • New Jersey DE Max Issaka (Rutgers)
  • Arizona OT Ryan Nowicki (Penn State)
  • Florida DT Trevarris Saulsberry (Tennessee)
  • Florida DE Jordan Williams (Tennessee)

Furthermore, he continued to recruit former Michigan commit Jake Fisher, who ended up signing with Oregon.  I got the feeling that the new coaches were really pushing for Fisher and wanting to make him believe that he was their priority at the position.  The fact that Fisher chose Oregon was very disappointing to me, because I think Fisher is going to be an excellent lineman and he has already earned solid reviews in Eugene.

Rodriguez offered just 17 linemen in the class of 2010; one committed (center Christian Pace, who has since left the program).  Rodriguez offered just 13 linemen in the class of 2009; three committed (Taylor Lewan, Michael Schofield, and Quinton Washington, who has switched to defensive tackle).  Furthermore, by the time Rodriguez was fired in January 2011, he only had three offensive linemen committed (Fisher, Jack Miller, and Tony Posada).

The offensive line recruiting at this point has nothing to do with Lloyd Carr.  Carr left behind a mediocre group (Justin Boren, David Molk, and Steve Schilling along with a bunch of journeyman types), but Rodriguez had a few years to fix it.  And while Rodriguez did a decent job of bringing in talent, he clearly didn’t bring in enough of it.  This roster is full of Rodriguez recruits, Mark Huyge, David Molk, Rocko Khoury, and Elliott Mealer; Lloyd Carr hasn’t coached a game since January 1, 2008, yet two starters and two key backups remain from his regime.  Here’s a breakdown of who’s responsible for the expected 2012 offensive line:

  • Carr: Rocko Khoury, Elliott Mealer
  • Rodriguez: Ricky Barnum, Chris Bryant, Taylor Lewan, Jack Miller, Patrick Omameh, Michael Schofield
  • Hoke: Blake Bars, Ben Braden, Kyle Kalis, Erik Magnuson, Caleb Stacey (plus a presumed sixth commit)
In other words, the guy responsible for two full recruiting classes and parts of two others will have six guys on the roster . . . and the guys who are responsible for one full recruiting class and parts of two others will have seven or possibly eight guys on the roster.  And keep in mind that, unlike Carr’s classes, none of Rodriguez’s recruits on the line will have graduated by the beginning of next year.

Lastly, you state that Rodriguez had so many other needs that he couldn’t commit more scholarships to linemen.  I think that’s a farce.  Every team has 85 scholarships to use.  Every team needs roughly the same number of cornerbacks, receivers, quarterbacks, etc.  Rodriguez had five slot receivers on the roster by the time he started recruiting for 2011 (Martavious Odoms, Jeremy Gallon, Terrence Robinson, Drew Dileo, and D.J. Williamson), yet he still offered five more slot receivers for the 2011 class.  Virtually every coach – except perhaps Rodriguez – would tell you that offensive linemen are more important than slot receivers, but Rodriguez whiffed on too many offensive linemen in the class of 2011.  After taking only one in 2010, he was on his way to taking only three in 2011.  The position group was going to continue to be thin under Rodriguez.  We’re talking about a difference of one guy (Fisher) between the current team and the team Rodriguez would have had.

With all that out of the way, take a look at what Hoke is doing now.  He threw out a late offer to Nowicki and didn’t get him.  Rather than poaching 3-star linemen from places like Vanderbilt and Purdue, he decided to throw himself into grabbing 4- and 5-star linemen for the class of 2012.  The Wolverines have enough depth for the 2011 season, so we’re talking about 2012 (and beyond).  Is a 3-star redshirt freshman loads better than a true freshman Kyle Kalis or Erik Magnuson?  Yes, it’s ideal that every lineman redshirts, but that doesn’t mean you necessarily take age over talent.

The 2012 offensive line looks to be:

LT: Taylor Lewan
LG: Ricky Barnum
C: Rocko Khoury
RG: Patrick Omameh
RT: Michael Schofield

The backups will be Elliott Mealer, Jack Miller, and Chris Bryant, plus a bunch of freshmen.  It looks like a pretty good starting offensive line, but whether the next guy in is a 3-star redshirt freshman or a 4-star true freshman, there’s bound to be a significant drop-off.

I don’t blame Hoke for any of the 2011 recruiting class, but I give him credit for Russell Bellomy, Tamani Carter, Keith Heitzman, Antonio Poole, and Matt Wile.  I also don’t blame Rodriguez for not getting a viable quarterback in 2008, but I do give him credit for pulling in Ricky Barnum, Justin Feagin, J.T. Floyd, Taylor Hill, Martavious Odoms, Patrick Omameh, Terrence Robinson, Roy Roundtree, and Brandon Smith.  But I will hold Hoke responsible if any of those five players wash out, just like I blame Rodriguez for wasting scholarships on Feagin, Hill, and Smith.

37 comments

  1. Comments: 21381
    Anonymous
    Oct 20, 2011 at 12:11 PM

    Slight correction: Witherspoon was a Carr recruit. Szabo was the LB coach under Carr and he was the primary recruiter for the three NJ boys: Smith, Fitzgerald and Spoon. J.T. Floyd was also primarily a Carr recruit.

    Both of those guys may have committed after Carr retired (I honestly can't recall either way) but their recruitment's were begun by the previous staff and I honestly doubt that RR would have initiated contact with either player.

  2. Comments: 21381
    Oct 20, 2011 at 12:25 PM

    @ Anonymous 8:11 a.m.

    You are correct that Witherspoon was a Carr recruit. He committed to Carr and stuck with his commitment through the coaching change.

    I was actually thinking of Brandon Smith when I wrote about Witherspoon. Smith was offered by Carr, but didn't commit to Michigan until a few weeks after Rodriguez was hired. He almost chose Rutgers instead, who tried to take advantage of the shakiness at Michigan to usurp the lead.

    Anybody who committed after Rodriguez was hired, I'm giving credit to the guy in command. It's just my opinion that the man a player pledges to is the man who earned his trust. It's not like Smith didn't have other options, and it's not like Smith couldn't have committed earlier. Michigan offered Smith in March 2007, so he could have committed anytime between March and the end of November to Carr. Instead, he committed a few weeks after Rodriguez was hired.

  3. Comments: 21381
    Anonymous
    Oct 20, 2011 at 1:16 PM

    What do you think the line looks like in 2013? Brian had it as Lewan, Bryant, Miller, Kalis, Magnuson. I find it hard to believe that Schofield wouldn't be out there as a RS senior.

  4. Comments: 21381
    Anonymous
    Oct 20, 2011 at 1:23 PM

    Who would you like to see as that sixth OL recruit?

    My "source" such that it is thinks that this staff was disappointed to lose Bisnowaty as they thought he had a nice combination of coachable, mean and athletic.

    If you had your druthers … who?

    Then, who do you guess it'll be really?

  5. Comments: 21381
    Anonymous
    Oct 20, 2011 at 1:27 PM

    Wasn't Bryant a heavy Michigan lean when Rodriguez was still employed? That would put his OL #'s at 4 if none of the other prospects he was recruiting committed. Although admittedly with Posada leaving and the lack of depth already he probably should have been going after at least 1 or 2 more guys.

  6. Comments: 21381
    Oct 20, 2011 at 1:37 PM

    @ Anonymous 9:16 a.m.

    I think that it will be Lewan, Bryant, Miller, Kalis, and Schofield, although Caleb Stacey might beat out Miller at center. I think a fifth year senior Schofield will be better than redshirt freshman Erik Magnuson.

  7. Comments: 21381
    Oct 20, 2011 at 1:39 PM

    @ Anonymous 9:27 a.m.

    Yes, Bryant was a Michigan lean when Rodriguez was here, but he didn't commit. I'm not going to count "leans" as recruiting victories for any coach.

  8. Comments: 21381
    T.R.E.
    Oct 20, 2011 at 2:25 PM

    Rodriguez had also switched Campbell to the offensive line last year. Did they actually think Campbell would turn into an eventual starter or were they just reacting to his struggles on the defensive line?

    I though Campbell played both sides in high school but I'm not sure if he was being recruited anywhere as an offensive linemen.

  9. Comments: 21381
    Oct 20, 2011 at 2:31 PM

    @ TRE 10:25 a.m.

    I think they were just reacting to his struggles on the defensive line. It's not like they NEEDED him on the offensive line due to numbers…because when they switched him from defense to offense, they also switched Quinton Washington from offense to defense. So the numbers stayed the same.

    Campbell played both OL and DL in high school, but most places were recruiting him as a defensive tackle. There were some rumors that his high school coaches thought he would be a better offensive lineman than defensive lineman, though.

  10. Comments: 21381
    Oct 20, 2011 at 4:49 PM

    @ Anonymous 9:23 a.m.

    My #1 choice for the sixth OL of the class would be Joshua Garnett, with Andrus Peat being a close #2.

    My guess is we'll be able to close the deal with Banner.

  11. Comments: 21381
    Anonymous
    Oct 20, 2011 at 5:06 PM

    Assuming they all develop well – Magnuson, Kalis, Bars, (senior) Lewan, Stacey (at center), Banner or Garnett (if either commits) – in a few years Michigan's O-line should be a monster. Shane would have all day to throw the football =)

  12. Comments: 21381
    TimH
    Oct 20, 2011 at 5:18 PM

    Given the name of this blog, should Banner be your number one? Or are you worried about what that would imply?

  13. Comments: 21381
    Oct 20, 2011 at 5:21 PM

    @ TimH 1:18 p.m.

    I am slightly worried about what it would imply, but perhaps it would be a good thing for trying to land an interview with him. I mean, the site is named after him, so I think he would feel somewhat obligated, right?

  14. Comments: 21381
    Painter Smurf
    Oct 20, 2011 at 5:46 PM

    Good writeup.

    I do think RR deserves a little heat for not bringing in a viable QB in the 2008 class. From the sounds of it, Hoke and Borges scoured the midwest for 3*'s QB's with potential in a matter of a couple weeks, and ultimately decided on Bellomy. RR had more time than Hoke and less talent at QB and should have done the same. It was obvious to a lot of people that Pryor was close to OSU and was a longshot for UM. RR should have realized this and not wasted all of his time on the guy. Feagin was obviously not QB material. Waiting another year to get a spread QB in was a killer for RR. It's a shame RR was not a more organized and aggressive recruiter.

  15. Comments: 21381
    Anonymous
    Oct 20, 2011 at 8:59 PM

    I really think that Kalis will start from day 1, so i disagree with the 5 up there but do not know who i would say is going to be removed in loo of Kalis.

  16. Comments: 21381
    Oct 20, 2011 at 9:04 PM

    Good post Thunder. I appreciate the thoughtful response. I agree in general, but here are a few remaining quibbles:
    Regarding Hoke and the ’11 class, you praise him for going after 5 guys and trying to keep Fisher (which, duh, he tried to retain everyone who committed) but you also praise him for “grabbing 4- and 5-star linemen for the class of 2012” instead of “poaching 3-star linemen from places like Vanderbilt and Purdue”. That’s exactly what Heitzman (who is not a DT) was. Issaka, too, was a 3-star DE who ended up at Vanderbilt/Purdue-like Rutgers. Saulsberry and Williams (also technically 3 stars) were just pipe dreams, but no harm done in offering. Anyway, my question was really focused on OL. Nowicki (who I forgot about) is exactly the type of guy I’d have like to have seen Hoke target more of. He may be just a 3 star, but given the lack of accuracy of OL recruiting, I’d have been more concerned about depth than talent. The problem with Fisher was that he made it clear he wanted to play in a spread offense. I’d have liked to see a Plan B…but given the timeline, I agree that Hoke faced a challenge there that he can’t be entirely blamed for. I guess all I’m saying is – why wasn’t there an OL version of Heitzman?
    Regarding Rodriguez and the ’11 class, the following is false: “he was on his way to taking only three in 2011. The position group was going to continue to be thin “. First of all Chris Bryant was widely reported to be a heavy lean under Rodriguez. Along with Fisher, that was a 4 person class, at a minimum. We can’t say what would have happened if Rodriguez was affirmed/extended/supported/retained but people like Zettel might have been in play without the transition going down like it did. I agree that ‘credit’ goes to Hoke for landing Bryant, since he was the coach on signing day, but you can’t pretend that he wouldn’t have existed if Rodriguez wasn’t retained.
    ”Rodriguez whiffed on too many offensive linemen in the class of 2011.” On one hand you’re criticizing Rodriguez for not offering enough people and on the other you’re knocking him for not landing too many. Meanwhile Hoke gets credit for ‘trying’ to get Fisher. Seems like a double standard. I view things differently: Rodriguez got a commitment from a hugely important in-state recruit in Fisher and Hoke failed to. Results-oriented, yo.

  17. Comments: 21381
    Oct 20, 2011 at 9:04 PM

    The reason Carr’s recruiting still matters is that it had a ripple effect. Rodriguez had to take a monster OL class in ’08, therefore he took smaller classes in ’09 and ’10. As a result, the cluster of ’11 happened and we’re right back to ’08 status in the ’12 recruiting class…well, except the ’12 team has a lot more returning (JR Lewan/JR Schofield/SR Barnum/ SR Omameh/ JR Khoury plus some depth) than the ’08 team did (FR Molk/ FR Huyge/ SO Schilling/ SO Boren/ JR Ortmann).
    I agree that Rodriguez SHOULD have taken more OL in ’10. One is just unacceptable. That said, it is SOMEWHAT understandable given that the ’08 and ’09 classes were looking so good. And while I criticized Rodriguez for over-recruiting the slot position as much as anyone, the common defense for that was that he had yet to find the playmaker he needed from the position. If your choice is Sammy Watkins or Tony Posada, it’s not totally crazy to choose Watkins. Furthermore, Hoke is doing the same exact things with linebackers right now. The guys that are critical to running his system get recruited heavily until a quality player emerges, regardless of numbers.
    “Every team needs roughly the same number of cornerbacks, receivers, quarterbacks, etc.”
    This is obviously false. Teams who run 4-wide offenses don’t need the same personnel as pro-style offenses. They don’t need FBs and TEs. That’s why Hoke’s gone after TEs and FBs so aggressively and let people like Lucien walk – he has more than enough WR already, slot or not.

  18. Comments: 21381
    Oct 20, 2011 at 9:04 PM

    Finally, the 2012 OL should be fine. It’s the ’13 line (after the ’08 class graduates) that will be problematic due to youth and inexperience – THAT’s where you’ll feel the ’09-’11 classes lacking in numbers. And before anyone assumes that the ’12 class will solve things, realize that not all those guys are going to pan out. The historical rate is 50-60% success. So, even if you bring in a 6 person class and include the two ’11 guys, you’re looking at probably 4 OL who can play. Better hope that Schofield and Lewan stick around and stay healthy, otherwise it’s walk-ons.

    Like hearing the optimism on Banner. Hope you’re right.

  19. Comments: 21381
    Anonymous
    Oct 20, 2011 at 9:40 PM

    Agreed on Garnett, although we have had poor luck so far with Garnetts.

  20. Comments: 21381
    Anonymous
    Oct 20, 2011 at 10:29 PM

    braden seems like a definite tackle to me, as does magnuson. is there any chance that one of kalis, bars, or bryant (or garnett in a perfect world) switches to center. especially if we add another olineman, it would seem like a shame to have that type of talent on the bench.

  21. Comments: 21381
    Oct 21, 2011 at 12:40 AM

    @ Anonymous 4:59 p.m.

    It's rare for true freshmen to start, especially when a team has four fifth-year seniors (Omameh, Barnum, Khoury, Mealer) and two fourth-year juniors (Schofield, Lewan) presumably returning. With the exception of a center, Michigan will essentially have 4 returning starters on the OL in 2012. I don't think Kalis will start from Day 1 unless there's an unexpected departure or injury.

  22. Comments: 21381
    Oct 21, 2011 at 12:55 AM

    @ Lankownia 5:04 p.m.

    I don't know where the Heitzman of the OL was. I don't understand why Hoke should receive blame for failing to successfully recruit an OL in three weeks when Rodriguez had three years to make connections and recruit kids for the class. Bryant Schmyant – Rodriguez had plenty of chances to earn Bryant's commitment and couldn't do it. Saying Bryant was a Michigan "lean" is such a silly thing to give him credit for. Who cares if Rodriguez got a kid to feel strongly for Michigan? Kids "lean" in directions all the time. The only thing(s) that matter are commitments/National Letters of Intent.

    I have to lol at your Fisher reference. It's just not a fair comparison. I'm results-oriented, too, but saying that Rodriguez got Fisher's commitment but Hoke didn't and laying blame at Hoke's feet is just kind of silly, too. Hoke had three weeks to build that connection. It's not his fault that Fisher wanted to, as you stated, play in a spread offense.

    I knocked Rodriguez for failing to get enough offensive linemen. If you need offensive linemen, offering 17 and 13 total prospects isn't enough. He went after about 29 of them in the class of 2011 and got three of them to commit (Miller stuck; Fisher decommitted; Posada washed out). Rodriguez deserves "credit" for Posada in the same sense that he deserves "credit" for Taylor Hill and Justin Feagin – none at all. Rodriguez never got a chance to "develop" Posada, but the bottom line is that Rodriguez recruited a kid who couldn't make it to his freshman year, reportedly because the 340-pounder couldn't handle a college conditioning program. So congratulations to Rodriguez for recruiting a giant fatty. Yippee.

  23. Comments: 21381
    Oct 21, 2011 at 1:01 AM

    @ Lankownia 5:04 p.m.

    It's not that simple. Rodriguez wasn't "forced" to take smaller OL classes in '09 and '10. A coach is charged with keeping scholarship numbers steady. Essentially, if you lose one offensive lineman, you should replace an offensive lineman.

    At the end of the 2009 season, Rodriguez was guaranteed to lose Ortmann, Moosman, and McAvoy; Dorrestein, Ferrara, and Schilling would be fifth year seniors in 2010. He replaced Ortmann, Moosman, and McAvoy with one guy in the 2010 class (Pace). Rodriguez failed to successfully recruit enough offensive linemen, and that's completely independent of what Carr did before him.

  24. Comments: 21381
    Oct 21, 2011 at 1:05 AM

    @ Anonymous 6:29 p.m.

    I don't think Kalis or Bryant will switch to center. Neither one has the physical makeup to be a center, in my opinion. Bars…maybe. I think the centers for the next few years will be Khoury, Miller, and/or Stacey.

  25. Comments: 21381
    Anonymous
    Oct 21, 2011 at 1:20 AM

    What physical make-up does a center require?

  26. Comments: 21381
    Oct 21, 2011 at 4:12 AM

    @Thunder,

    You do realize that recruiting is a process right? The groundwork laid does matter. Brionte Dunn's visit for Purdue matters. Zach Banner and Jordon Payton's visit for ND matter. Banner and Dunn may or may not sign with Michigan on signing day, but if they do, it'll be because of the work the staff put in during the summer and fall, not just signing day or the three weeks before it. Rodriguez deserves some of the credit for Countess, Bryant and the other guys that were strongly considering Michigan and decided to sign-up for Hoke in February.

    Not sure how you can say commitments matter but leans don't when so many de-commit. Some leans are more meaningful than some commits, just depends on the kid.

  27. Comments: 21381
    Oct 21, 2011 at 4:19 AM

    I was kidding about the results-oriented thing, I was just applying a certain kind of logic.

    I agree Hoke was put in a tough spot, but Fisher was a notable failure on his part. He's a guy that Rodriguez would have gotten, who wasn't replaced. The focus seemed to be at other positions (e.g., QB, TE, LB) which is what I'm questioning.

    I don't know who the OL Heitzman is, but in the same way I didn't know who Barnett or Bellomy were either.

    Speaking of Barnett – he's not better than Posada. Recruiting attrition happens to everyone – Carr, Rodriguez, Hoke, everyone. Yet another reason I don't feel entirely comfortable with having only 5 OL commits so far.

  28. Comments: 21381
    Oct 21, 2011 at 4:37 AM

    I don't think Rodriguez felt a huge need to 'replace' the contributions of Ortmann, Moosman and McAvoy. Those guys weren't much good. Anyway, that's what the '08 class was for, especially since OL typically red-shirt. The previous year's departures were much smaller, but he took a bigger class because he had a need. Your one-in-one-out logic is ridiculous. After all, there are only 2 departures this year (Molk and Huyge) yet we're looking at a 6 person class. You have to look at the long-term scholarship outlay, who looks like they're reliable contributors, and who is a wildcard.

    Rodriguez had a huge need on his hands in '08, addressed it, and therefore didn't have a huge need anymore. Carr played a big role in that. Yes, he should have taken another guy or two in '10, but he knew he could address it the problem in the '11 class, which, if you look at the '08 class, he probably would have.

    Rodriguez was extremely good at recruiting and developing OL that worked in his system. For all his other failings, at least we can give him that. If he had confidence in his ability to meet the need for OL by 2013, it's understandable and justifiable.

    To me, blaming Rodriguez for the impending problems at OL is a little like blaming Carr for the QB problems in '08. Yeah, they could have done more and recruited better backups, but the problems wouldn't have been nearly as acute if it wasn't for the transition. That's not on the coaches but on the ADs.

  29. Comments: 21381
    Oct 21, 2011 at 4:40 AM

    I could see Barnum moving to center if the coaches don't like Khoury and Miller.

  30. Comments: 21381
    Oct 21, 2011 at 9:40 AM

    @ Lankownia 12:12 a.m.

    Yes, I realize that recruiting is a process. It's a lifelong process. But I'm not going to give credit to Lloyd Carr for snagging Anthony Standifer just because Charles Woodson had a great season and caught Standifer's attention as a kid and now that Standifer earned a Michigan offer he chose Michigan partly because he wants to be like his favorite player.

    Bryant didn't commit to Rodriguez; he committed to Hoke. That's the bottom line.

  31. Comments: 21381
    Oct 21, 2011 at 9:43 AM

    @ Lankownia 12:19 a.m.

    Fisher wasn't a "failure" on Hoke's part. You said yourself that Fisher wanted to play in a spread offense. If he's anyone's failure, he's Dave Brandon's because Brandon was the one who hired a coach who would be changing the offensive system.

    Just like I don't consider the loss of John Wienke a "failure" on Rodriguez's part, Fisher's loss isn't on Hoke's head, either.

  32. Comments: 21381
    Oct 21, 2011 at 10:03 AM

    @ Lankownia 12:37 a.m.

    Ugh. You're right that the one-in-one-out logic doesn't apply this year…that's because we only have 9 scholarship linemen and two of them (Molk, Huyge) are graduating. Who put us in that position? RODRIGUEZ.

    Look, Rodriguez took only four offensive linemen in his two full recruiting classes – Pace, Lewan, Schofield, Washington. Other teams in the Big Ten took…

    Illinois (8)
    Indiana (8)
    Iowa (6)
    Michigan State (8)
    Minnesota (10)
    Nebraska (7)
    Northwestern (6)
    Ohio State (5)
    Purdue (3)
    Penn State (12)
    Wisconsin (10)

    That's 83 linemen spread out over 11 teams, or an average of 7.5 per school. Michigan took 4, and the average team took 7.5. The only team that took less was Purdue. If your hope is to be only slightly better than Purdue at things, then I guess you can continue to argue that this situation is somebody else's fault than Rodriguez's.

  33. Comments: 21381
    Oct 22, 2011 at 7:04 PM

    Thunder,

    Ignoring the context (the '08 and '11 classes) is being willfully obstinate and stubborn.

    I don't know how you can just toss-aside guys like Omameh and Barnum that were not on UM's radar before Rodriguez. And if you're going to credit Hoke for Bryant – the you also have to credit Rodriguez for the other 4 OL in that '08 class.

    Your numbers are informative. 83 guys over 2 years and 11 teams comes out to a 3.75/year average. Rodriguez took 10 guys over his 3 years. Over 4 years, it was going to be 14, at a minimum (Posada, Fisher, Miller, and, if not Bryant, at least another guy for sure, probably two.) Do the math and that's most likely 14 guys over 4 years. An average of 3.5 is slightly less than the 'normal' 3.75 you point to. He probably should have taken another guy besides Pace in '10, but he was having a high success rate with nearly everyone in the giant '08 class panning out.

    This wasn't the strategic debacle that everyone makes it out to be.

  34. Comments: 21381
    Oct 22, 2011 at 7:06 PM

    "Bryant didn't commit to Rodriguez; he committed to Hoke. That's the bottom line. "

    Fisher committed to Rodriguez and didn't commit to Hoke. That's the bottom line.

    The two above statements are equally bone-headed and simplistic. Neither reflects a more complicated reality. Rodriguez deserves some (not all, but some) of the credit for landing Bryant. Hoke deserves some blame (not all, but some) for not landing Fisher.

  35. Comments: 21381
    Oct 22, 2011 at 7:10 PM

    The loss of Weinke is nothing like the loss of Fisher. M had no need for a pro-style QB under Rodriguez. I doubt Rodriguez even tried very hard to retain him. M had a screaming need for long-term OL depth under Hoke. Hoke worked hard to go after Fisher. Weinke was not an in-state kid either.

    Again, I don't think Hoke's entirely to blame for not landing Fisher. The best parallel I see is Rodriguez's recruitment for Pryor. Can't blame the guy for trying, but you can blame him for not having a Plan B.

  36. Comments: 21381
    Oct 22, 2011 at 7:51 PM

    @ Lankownia 3:04 p.m.

    Huh? This post is very uninformed.

    I'm not tossing aside Barnum and Omameh. I'm excising that class and the '11 class because they weren't 100% Rodriguez's.

    Bryant =/= the four '08 linemen. Those things are not the same. Bryant committed to Hoke after Hoke was hired. Those other four '08 linemen committed to Carr. And that's why I'm excising the '08 and '11 classes, because it gets into silliness like giving credit to a coach who was fired by the time a player committed.

    "He probably should have taken another guy besides Pace in '10, but he was having a high success rate with nearly everyone in the giant '08 class panning out."

    WTF? Let's look at those six OL that you're talking about and what they had done by the time the 2010 class (Pace's class) signed:

    1. Mealer had a bum shoulder and hadn't played a down of football yet; there were questions about whether his career would be over or not

    2. O'Neill had left the team in June '09

    3. Wermers had left the team in May '09

    4. Omameh started a few games in '09

    5. Barnum played against EMU and DSU in '09

    6. Khoury played against EMU, DSU, and WMU in '09

    So yeah…it was an epic success with no need for reinforcements…except for the 2 guys who left and the 1 who got passed up by Schofield (Mealer). Two guys transferred, a few guys were graduating, and he still replaced all of those people with ONE guy.

  37. Comments: 21381
    Oct 22, 2011 at 8:32 PM

    Thunder,

    For a RS Freshman to play on OL and hold his own indicates he has a high likelihood of being a quality player. Michigan fans (and coaches) had great reason to think that Omameh, Barnum, and Khoury were capable of being quality starters. That's 3 guys plus Mealer. 66-75% success in the class is a higher than normal success rate for OL.

    Fair point though, I probably overstated that classes impact. But also worth considering is that the coaches had had a full season to evaluate Lewan, Schofield, and Washington. They liked what they saw from the OL overall and it wasn't a pressing need. Given what was happening on the other side of the ball, it's not the dumbest conclusion to reach. (It doesn't excuse all the slot WRs though…)

    You can't take 2 years of recruiting and evaluate that out of context of what happened around it. Regardless of how you want to spin it – Rodriguez was involved with both the '08 and '11 classes.

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