When David Brandon did the dumbest thing someone in his position possibly could, and waited until less than a month before NSD to fire his head coach, especially when state law mandates that the job be held open for at least seven days before it can be filled, he put the school, the team, and the coaching staff in the worst possible position for recruiting.
In the middle of December, Michigan had six 4-stars and eight 3-stars committed, and were "in" on a few more four-stars. So far, out of nineteen commits, there are only four 4-stars, 14 3-stars, and a kicker who should have a third star. In other words: in December, Michigan had a 4-star/3-star and others ratio of .750. Now, that ratio is .210.
I want to be optimistic about this class, but really, if they get four or five players who eventually become senior leaders out of it, the recruiting class of 2011 will have reached its upside. The good news is that the class wasn't totally wiped out.
Basically, every coach talks about how happy he is on NSD. Every recruit is projected to his ceiling, and nobody has failed yet. It's like spring training in baseball. The recurring meme for this class, at least until NSD-mania dies down, will be that these are "tough kids who want to play at Michigan."
The bottom line, though, is that David Brandon turned a "batting average" of .750 into one of .210 when he decided to not only throw his weight around but lie about his intentions for over a month. Let's hope Hoke can get extraordinary results out of a very, very ordinary class.
2. The basketball team is headed in the right direction.
While it won't really make much of a difference in this season, Michigan's victory over MSU was huge. It not only temporarily stopped the bleeding, but it probably helped both Michigan's upward trend and MSU's downward spiral at the same time. I would actually go so far as to say that this may affect MSU a lot more than it does Michigan, at least for the short term.
The loss will have MSU a lot closer to the 5-seed I predicted for them than the 1 or 2-spot they are used to. It will also help to continue the dissent that is gradually building up in EL, from not only the players, but fans who are turning on Izzo, and administrators who remember that he was ready to abandon them at a stroke of LBJ's pen.
Michigan is on the way up and MSU is on the way down. Until Tom Izzo used negative recruiting to take advantage of the Ed Martin scandal, Michigan had been a superior program for most of the previous forty years, with the notable exception of Magic's two years at MSU. It has taken a long time, but the pendulum is finally swinging back toward Michigan.
I will cover this more in a subsequent post.
3. All things considered, Hoke has done well so far.
When Hoke was hired, his most important task was to keep Denard Robinson from transferring. The situation may or may not have been as urgent as it appeared, but the announcement that Denard was staying was probably the most welcome of all the announcements in the program over the last two months. The "bigger picture" is to keep a lot of transfers from happening, but Denard's decision to stay probably affected as many as ten players who may have thought of transferring if Denard had.
Next, Hoke had to assemble a staff. The timing of his hire had, of course, handicapped him, but he did a good job. The best hire was, of course, prying Greg Mattison out of the NFL and getting him back to Ann Arbor.
Finally, it was time to recruit. Hoke had to try and salvage a recruiting class that had signed on for a coach who had just been unjustly fired by an AD who was grossly dishonest about his intentions. The class had lost Florida players Demetrius Hart and Dallas Crawford, who were seen as important recruits. It would eventually lose Traverse City product Jake Fisher, too.
Worse yet, a lot of high-profile players who were considering Michigan suddenly crossed them off their lists. So, Hoke played the "Michigan Man" card. He looked for a bunch of 3-stars who exhibited "toughness," etc. What he really meant was "warm bodies who want to sign with Michigan this year." Hoke was able to fill out the roster with numbers. He brought a few recruits from other schools whose coaches had left, and brought in a kicker who apparently can kick without a tee.
As I wrote above, the class is ordinary, but it could have been a lot worse.
So far, I will give Hoke an A. We'll see how it translates in the fall.