One of my favorite story lines in the New-Age Big Ten (post-Urban Meyer) is the recruiting war between Michigan and Ohio State. Jim Tressel competed hard against Lloyd Carr and Rich Rodriguez. But Meyer and Brady Hoke have cranked it up a notch — in more ways than one.
Meyer took the recruiting trail by storm in December and January, landing the Big Ten’s top class (according to the critics). How did Brady Hoke respond? He grabbed eight verbal commitments from Michigan’s Junior Day, joining three prior commits to the class of 2013.
I do wonder if Hoke is taking too many prospects too soon. Last year, Michigan essentially had a full class by September — before recruits had taken a snap in their senior seasons. Hoke appears eager to follow the Texas model again.
Trouble is, Michigan is locking up kids 19 months before they even wear a maize and blue uniform. Is that too early to judge prospects? Don’t kids change a lot between 16 and 18 years old? Isn’t senior year of high school a critical evaluation period?
I don’t dispute the need to pick up a few commitments now, especially when they’re blue chips. But 11 prospects 11 months before Signing Day? That’s arguably how Mack Brown got in trouble at Texas. You’re Michigan, not Illinois or Purdue. Kids will wait for your offer.
If I were Hoke, I’d slow down.
>> This would be a good time to direct you to our “Big Ten Battlegrounds” project, published last August. On Monday, the Associated Press Sports Editors selected it as one of the top 10 multimedia projects of 2011 in the “Under 2 million unique visitors” division.
>> Can Doc Sadler save his job? I doubt it, but there’s no telling what Tom Osborne thinks of Sadler — or the direction of Nebrasketball. If he’s on the fence, a few more wins might persuade him to give Sadler more time. Considering the lack of young talent in the program, that would be a mistake.
The Big Red road isn’t easy: at Purdue, at Michigan State, home against Iowa, at Minnesota. For Osborne, a .500 record could be a potential benchmark in keeping Sadler. Nebraska (12-13) would need a 3-1 finish — or a miraculous hot streak in the Big Ten tournament.
>> I will crunch the numbers later this week, but I don’t recall a season in which so many teams outside the “power six” conferences were poised to earn top-eight seeds in the NCAA tournament. Creighton, obviously, is one of them. I don’t think the Jays need to win out to wear a home uniform the first day of the tournament. But they probably need to win two this week, then make the Missouri Valley final.
>> A higher seed isn’t necessarily a good thing. In fact, I would rather have an 11 or 12 seed than a 7, 8, 9 or 10. Why? From a standpoint of sheer talent and athleticism, there’s a noticeable gap between the top eight or nine teams in college basketball and everybody else. When you get into the 3s, 4s, 5s and 6s in the bracket, everybody is basically the same. If CU wants to advance to a Sweet 16, it would help to avoid a 1 or 2 seed the first weekend. The 7s, 8s, 9s and 10s don’t have that luxury.
>> Looking for more Creighton basketball coverage? I’ll serve up a well-balanced plate later in the week. Come back Thursday and Friday.
>> Darin Erstad starts 0-3. That’s the bad news. The good news? The Huskers were probably going to need to win the Big Ten tournament to get an NCAA bid anyway. In that sense, there’s much less pressure on in February and March this year than in the past.
In the Big 12 days, NU needed to play well early. That’s how you build a respectable non-conference profile. And that’s how you earn an at-large berth. This year, in a bad baseball conference, it’s all about grabbing the automatic bid. Which means everything before late-May carries less weight.
>> By the way, the other 10 Big Ten baseball teams participated in the Big Ten/Big East challenge in Florida. They combined to go 15-15. Every Big Ten team won at least one game; Purdue was the only team to go 3-0.
>> Dennis Dodd reviews why commissioners and administrators have changed their minds on a college football plus-one — and what scenarios are most likely.
>> A Division III basketball star who doubles as the school janitor. Pretty cool. But wait, there’s more. Derek Raridon is the son of Todd Raridon, former coach at Nebraska Wesleyan. The Rairdons were in Lincoln during the 1990s, when Wesleyan made a few runs at a national title.
>> A very interesting story by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo detailing sentiment among some NBA players, expressed quite bluntly by Jason Terry, that Jeremy Lin is a product of the Mike D’Antoni system. His point: Who wouldn’t put up big numbers getting multiple pick-and-roll opportunities every possession?
“Ask anybody,” Terry said. “Give them an opportunity, ball in their hands, 20-plus shots and you better do something.”
>> One of the great debates in NBA history may be Greg Oden or Sam Bowie. Who was the worse Portland Trail Blazers draft pick? The easy answer is Bowie, who went No. 2 in 1984 — one pick before a high-flying shooting guard from North Carolina. Kevin Durant, who went No. 2 behind Oden in the 2007 draft, is not Michael Jordan. But the discussion is more complicated.
Oden played just 82 NBA games — his career is likely over after another knee surgery. Bowie played 511 NBA games, averaging 11 points and eight rebounds. For five years, he was a regular starter for the Blazers and Nets. Bowie is the worse pick for now (considering Jordan’s accomplishments), but give Durant a few more years. Either way, I cannot fathom being a Blazers fan.
It would be almost as painful — almost! — as living and breathing Husker basketball.