Mailbag: Rankings and MGoBlog

Mailbag: Rankings and MGoBlog

August 1, 2018

Hey, I was reading Mgoblog’s review of the 2018 class and Brian (or Ace) keeps complaining about the slack/terrible job that the rating agencies are doing, as the fall into the tank. Apparently, they barely view Michigan players and only provide minimal effort. Here is an example of that criticism –

I think you and Brian should work out a deal so that your ratings (and comments) are included in the initial player write-ups and/or look-backs. Your ratings [for Michigan players] would be a good addition. They are well-documented, well-researched, well-founded [insofar as you are a coach with an experienced eye for rating talent], consistent, based on your own applied system, long-standing [insofar as you’ve been doing this now for years], and easily available for people to view. A win-win-win for Mgoblog, TTB, and fans.

Thanks for the e-mail and the compliments. I’m glad to know my thoughts are appreciated and respected.

Regarding the premise about recruiting rankings, I somewhat agree with MGoBlog. Brian has suggested over and over again that recruiting coverage has tanked a little bit. I think the tech bubble popped, and there was a glut of information. Websites and media coverage were getting bloated, which is why ESPN, Fox, Sports Illustrated, and others started cutting employees. ESPN seemed like an up-and-comer in the recruiting realm at one point when they had specific sites for team/recruiting coverage, and Chantel Jennings, Tom Van Haaren, and others were basically covering only Michigan. Meanwhile, Scout had Sam Webb, 247 Sports had Steve Lorenz, and Rivals had . . . kind of a rotating cast of characters.

Scout has been absorbed by 247, ESPN’s coverage of Michigan on Recruiting Nation was cut, and Rivals has lost some people. Rivals people have mentioned before that they basically bump up players who go to their camps and Five Star Challenge, which (rightfully) caused some people to distrust their evaluations. ESPN evaluates sophomores and juniors, and then doesn’t bother re-evaluating them again, even if the players have matured physically, added 25 lbs., or shaved off two-tenths of a second off their forty. In the last few years, it seems like recruiting coverage has gone from too much to . . . a lot of fluff.

I would feel guilty about propping up my own rankings as being superior to those national analysts’. I think 247 Sports is the cream of the crop right now and they pay the most attention. I also believe their recruiting analysts know more about football and player evaluation than the people at Rivals, and they seem to have more manpower than the recruiting division at ESPN. I try to do my best, but I’m only one man and this isn’t my full-time gig. (Full disclosure: I also feel a little guilty that I have yet to update my TTB Ratings for the 2018 class, which I hope to finish soon.)

As for combining with MGoBlog, that site has provided TTB with a lot of links and a forum on which to discuss football, which has probably directed a fair amount of traffic to my site. I appreciate what that site has done for me, even if it has been inadvertent. Several years ago, when MGoBlog was looking for someone new to cover recruiting, I volunteered my services. For whatever reason, that didn’t pan out. That’s a bit of a different topic, but I’m just not sure if the guys at MGoBlog would be totally down with it.

My TTB Ratings are also a bit flawed when it comes to meshing with the 247 Composite and/or helping with the star ratings, since I give only a numerical rating without stars attached. That’s probably an easy fix – I could easily assign a star value – but it would require a change.

Ultimately, I’m pretty satisfied with where the site is right now. I have at times purposefully avoided opportunities that I could have taken to expand the website, because it’s a lot to handle. Right now I’m not beholden to anyone except myself for the website, which is great because I’m at a place in real life where I have a lot of responsibility. MGoBlog can certainly use any of my information anytime they want, but I feel like my guilt would multiply if I had a gaggle of MGoBloggers hankering for rankings updates. The regular readers of TTB seem to have a pretty good understanding of what I do and what I can offer, and I’m just happy that there’s a community here that can just talk football and fandom.

Thanks again for the e-mail, and I appreciate all of you! It’s very humbling to think you took time out of your day to compose that e-mail. Sometimes on the internet, it feels like you’re the tree falling in the woods when nobody’s around to hear. I’m glad you people are around.

To hear me fall.

Okay, maybe that wasn’t a perfect analogy . . .



  1. Avatar
    Comments: 104
    Joined: 10/22/2015
    Aug 01, 2018 at 11:11 AM

    I’m gonna be honest here and it’s not to suck up to you or anything like that, but I value your opinion more than any 24/7, ESPN, et al ranking system. Reason being is that I don’t know who you are in real life, but I know you’re a coach. A coach that knows football and understands what players fit in what systems based on fundamentals, athleticism, etc. In addition, you break things down into simple English for hobbyist like me to understand and embrace. Do what you do. IDC about any collaboration.

    What I do think would be really cool is if you made your own YouTube channel and broke down film with YOUR OPINION on why X Player is a good fit, what they’re good at, what needs to be developed…stuff like that. Good example would be this guy named Voch Lombardi who I was watching alot of prior to the NFL draft. Keep up the good work!

  2. JC
    Comments: 230
    Joined: 8/17/2015
    Aug 01, 2018 at 11:32 AM

    Nobody other than those contributing to the 31 million + page views is around to hear it. Thanks for all the content!

    I used to come here as much as mgoblog, but I am stopping here more often after mgoblog updated their website. Before the update I was hopping over mostly for the board. In terms of Brian’s posts, I’m a fan of his UFRs, don’t care for much else.

  3. gobluetwo
    Comments: 39
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Aug 01, 2018 at 12:05 PM

    It’s fun and contrarian-cool to rag on MGoBlog for a lot of folks, but MGB and TTB have different focuses. I appreciate MGB for the UFRs, Unverified Voracity, and coverage of other sports. I could do without the message board and comment drama, for sure. The comments sections here tend to be more focused on the story and less so on the drama (although that still does show up from time to time – you know what I’m talking about).

    There are areas where they overlap (recruiting coverage, game previews and reviews, etc.), but take a different approach. Maybe you prefer one to the other, but I find value in and visit both.

  4. GKblue
    Comments: 281
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Aug 01, 2018 at 1:01 PM

    I like the rating system you have now.

    Adding stars or footballs to your ranking to be further descriptive or comparative wouldn’t make them any more accurate. Any rating in the high 80’s and up is a high 4 star or in the 90’s is a 5 star (or pushing it) so when you combine the numerical value with your lengthy descriptive analysis your evals ain’t too bad at all. Thank you for them.

    Maybe as time goes by you can refresh some of your player examples to be more current. They still work fine for me (and to be compared to Brandon Graham or Mike Martin is something!) and please always keep Woodson at the top.

    As we read the countdown this year I seem to see the ratings as higher individually and collectively than they have been in the past. I think this reflects some positive recruiting by Brown and JH, and is encouraging.

    • Klctlc
      Comments: 67
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Aug 01, 2018 at 3:24 PM

      Agree with all the comments. But would like to add relative to your analysis that you are very self critical. I truly appreciate how you stick your neck out early and give us a ranking. Then if you are wrong or just a little off you are not afraid to discuss. I think the Devin Gil ranking today is a perfect example. You rated him really low when he signed, but you have him pretty high in your rankings this year and you explain why. You are not afraid to be wrong.

      Truly love the volume and content and I promise my donation is coming soon, your site is worth it. I may be in a minority here, but if you charged a fee ( please don’t!) I would pay for your site. a couple years ago Mgoblog would have been the only site I would pay to access. Mgoblog has the best content, no offense. But I feel like an outsider there. I don’t comment a lot. However, the juvenile posts and the politics suck. I hope I never know your political views Thunder.

  5. Avatar
    Comments: 1170
    Joined: 8/13/2015
    Aug 01, 2018 at 7:36 PM

    With regards to Thunder’s rating system, he does something that is a bit off the wall, in that he rates an incoming kid within the context of the roster. That’s a strange to bizarre approach when compared to the rest of the ratings universe. Here’s his description, “Ratings are dependent on the current roster, other committed players, and their fit with Michigan’s system. For example, a “4-star” quarterback committed in the same class as a “5-star” quarterback might result in the 4-star being ranked much lower since he might not be given much of an opportunity to see the field.”

    Every once in a while, Thunder will rate a kid, i’ll look at the film and I’ll think, “Well, that’s just nuts. But when I reference Thunder’s criteria, usually I can see it, or at least see how he’s seeing it.

    I don’t think it would be all that tough to adjust, and rate every kid we’re chasing in the light of the universe of graduating seniors for that year as opposed to the method Thunder employs now, but from my/our standpoint, I don’t think that would be as fun as what Thunder does now. The whole point here is to have fun, unless I’m mistaken on that one.

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