No Tea for the Tiller Man

Joe Tiller is not happy with the last minute defection of 4* WR Roy Roundtree to Michigan. In fact, he's doing something coaches rarely do - he's spouting off to the press about it (of course, he's only piping up because he's retiring and doesn't care).

"If we had an early signing date, you wouldn't have another outfit with a guy in a wizard hatselling snake oil get a guy at the last minute, but that's what happened."

How many ways could Tiller be wrong in one short soundbite? I count three. 

First off, no, this is not why we need an early signing period. In fact, this is exactly why we shouldn't have an early signing period. Roundtree described a Michigan offer as a dream come true. He said he always wanted to play for Michigan. He got the offer, he gets his chance, and that's a happy ending for Roundtree. If he committed to Purdue, changed his mind and then decided to play for Michigan, it's the original commitment to Purdue that was a mistake, not his change of destination. Put Michigan's and Purdue's views aside, what Roundtree wants is to be at Michigan.

An early signing period does not prevent kids from making mistakes, it locks them into their mistakes. Instituting an early signing period to prevent kids from changing their minds is like keeping families together by outlawing divorce.  An early signing period benefits schools and coaches, and maybe even obsessive message board posters who (act like they) live and die with these decisions, but it does so at the expense of the recruits. 

But I do have a proposal that helps the kids, and it's one I've mentioned before: a non-binding letter of intent.

Allow recruits to sing a non-binding LOI any time from, say, July 1st leading into the senior year. Once they file the letter, their scholarship to that school is secure, and in return for that guarantee, the recruit agrees to have no contact with coaches or recruiters from other schools and not to make any official visits to other campuses. It also has the benefit of preventing other coaches from calling recruits who filed these papers (contacting them would be a violation). But, if a kid were to change his mind, he could simply file paperwork to rescind the NBLOI, at which point it's like he never filed one, and recruiting is back on.


Kids can get the process done with, secure the scholarship and get back to class/football.

Kids receive some protection. No fear of commiting to a school and having the offer pulled at the 11th hour when a better player shows interest.

Kids can get persistent coaches off their backs.

Coaches know where they stand with a recruit. If the NBLOI is in, they know the commitment is (relatively) secure and that they don't have to worry about other coaches poaching. If the NBLOI is not in, they know the kid is still open. If the recruit files an NBLOI and then rescinds it, the school knows the kid is wavering and has to be recruited all over again. There is no "I'm 100% committed, but I'm still taking visits".

Kids know where they stand with a school. If they request an NBLOI and the school hesitates to give them one, then they know they are not priority #1 for the school. 

And kids still have the opportunity to change their minds.

Michigan has been stung a number of times, whether it be known cases of players who committed and then decommitted or just kids who (supposedly) told the coaches they were coming and then changed their minds. But in the end, if the kid has decided in February that he doesn't want to be at Michigan then he shouldn't be at Michigan. And if we're the beneficiary, that's great. Either way, the kid should be where he wants to be, and an early signing period is not a step in that direction.

That's point #1 where Joe Tiller is wrong. Or just being selfish and seeing things only from the standpoint of the coach and program.

Point #2 where he is wrong is in implying that Rodriguez is "selling snake oil". FIrst off, I don't think Tiller knows that phrase means. He probably just thnks "Well, it has something to do with being slimy" but doesn't exactly know what. But beyond that, to imply that Rodriguez did something slimy here is absurd

Tiller is angry that Rodriguez violated some unwritten gentlemen's agreement between Big 10 coaches. The coaches have agreed to certain rules on how to approach committed prospects, two in particular:

1. You ask the recruit once, and if he's not interested then you back off - obviously Roundtree was interested. Duh.

2. The recruit has to tell the coach he is committed to that he is looking around. Ya, and what if the offer comes at the last minute? "Coach, I'm about to announce in 3 minutes that I am switching to Michigan." Whee! Pointless. And more importantly, not under Rodriguez's control. What Roundtree did or did not tell Tiller is Roundtree's business. 

This isn't new and it isn't something Rodriguez is doing that no one else does. The Big 10 coaches made a wholesale assault on the UM commit list during the transition period and it didn't stop when Rodriguez took over. Boubacar Cissoko committed  to Michigan but was still recruited by Illinois and Penn State. John Wienke committed but visited Iowa and switched his verbal. Half of Michigan's recruiting class was contacted by Mark Dantonio and a handful here and there were contacted by Jim Tressell. 

Tiller's just being an ass.

And Point #3 where he is wrong is in describing Rich Rodriguez as some guy in a wizard hat. Joe Tiller has clearly never played any role playing games. If there's one midwestern coach who is a guy in a wizard hat selling snake oil, it's Charlie Weis. Let's be clear on who is who, here, or our party is doomed to failure:

Charlie Weis: the wizard with the spells to make chickens blow up at 300 feet, but get into a nasty fight with a balrog or something and he's pretty much useless. He can make the balrog dance the macarena if you want, but come fighting time, he's going to be standing in the back saying "Ya, I don't really fight. I've got a slingshot!"

Rich Rodriguez: the archer who hangs back and picks off enemies from a distance. And when the room is clear, he's the first guy to the treasure chest in the corner, stuffing his pockets full of gold, while telling the rest of the party "Weird, this one's empty, too."

Jim Tressell: the thief / assassin dual class with a backstab multipler of x3. So keep your eye on him, because when he sneaks up on you, you are dead.

Bret Bielema: the meathead barbarian who runs headlong into battle just for the fun of it, and laughs at the pretty, pretty sight of his own blood spurting. "Hamsters and rangers everywhere, rejoice!"

And poor, poor, John L. He's clearly the elfin cleric who wants to help, who gets caught up in the battle while trying to heal a wounded friend and ends up getting her head chopped off.

Posted: Thursday - February 07, 2008 at 08:01 PM