Chat with Michael Rothstein
Welcome to WolverineNation! On Thursday, reporter Michael Rothstein stops by to chat about the state of Michigan football.
Rothstein joined ESPN.com in 2011 after covering the University of Michigan for AnnArbor.com, Notre Dame for the Fort Wayne (Ind.) Journal Gazette and a host of colleges for the Daily News-Record (Harrisonburg, Va.). A Syracuse graduate and an East Meadow, N.Y. native, he lives in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Send your questions now and join Rothstein Thursday at noon ET!
Michael Rothstein (12:01 PM)
Greetings everyone! Hope you all had a happy holiday season and are gearing up for New Year's Day and the Outback Bowl (and, you know, New Year's Eve).Last chat of mine for this year, so let's get to it. Bring your questions!
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What is the worst College Football Bowl Game that Michigan has Played in?
Michael Rothstein (12:04 PM)
I don't know if there has been a "worst." Michigan has only not played on New Year's Day or after six times -- and not since 2005. Even the 1984 Holiday Bowl was a big game since Michigan's opponent, BYU, was No. 1.I'd actually have to go with either the 1979 Gator Bowl (a 17-15 loss to North Carolina) or the Hall of Fame Bowl on Jan. 2, 1988, a 28-24 win over Alabama. The reason for this game is neither Bama nor Michigan were ranked entering that game.But there hasn't been too much in the way of bad bowls for Michigan.
Chioke Hassan (Baltimore,Md)
Dear MichealDid the Wolverines honor the Sandy Hook victims?
Michael Rothstein (12:06 PM)
Nothing publicly, except for Brady Hoke mentioning the tragedy and that their thoughts and prayers were with those in Newtown. This was the night of the shooting. Other than that, haven't heard anything specific that Michigan has done. I'll look into it some more.
Looks like Michigan lost out on Treadwell this year. Does that mean we should expect Michigan go after 3+ WR's next year in recruiting? It seems they have some good young LB's and DB's in this years class, but I only see a couple DL...Guessing next year OL, DL, and WR are going to main areas of recruitment?
Michael Rothstein (12:10 PM)
Tough to totally predict, JR, since there will likely be attrition (it happens) between now and the end of next season. I'd say Michigan will likely look at a receiver or two based on numbers, although the Wolverines have young guys they like in freshmen Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson. They also have Da'Mario Jones, Csont'e York and Jaron Dukes already committed for this season. So they have been getting in on wide receivers.
Doug (Ann Arbor)
How do you think the Buckeyes will do in the Rose Bowl?
Michael Rothstein (12:11 PM)
By Buckeyes I think you mean Badgers and I'm curious to see how Wisconsin does. I think, of all the higher-end Big Ten bowl games, this is the one the league has the best chance of winning. Guessing Wisconsin's players are going to be pretty excited to play for Alvarez and this is a good, good team that really struggled for one reason or another at the start of the year. I think Wisconsin wins a close one.
It's pretty clear the honeymoon for Hoke and his staff is over after an 8-4 season. What record would he need to achieve next year for his seat to be hot going into 2014?
Michael Rothstein (12:13 PM)
Ken, it would have to be pretty bad. I'd say under-.500 would be the only way that happens. Maybe, maybe 7-5 considering the schedule. That said, I just don't see it happening. Michigan is recruiting well and shifting offenses for next season. Just don't think Hoke will be on the hot seat any time soon.
Going along with JR's question. With so much uncertainty on the DL and outside of Frank Clark and Beyer, there doesn't seem to be much talent on the DL, why has this not been more of a major concern of the coaches? Are they just happy with the guys we have gotten in the past two classes?
Michael Rothstein (12:16 PM)
Michigan has some talent there. They are fairly set at rush end between Clark, Beyer and freshman Mario Ojemudia. Quinton Washington will be back next season and Michigan has Ondre Pipkins, Jibreel Black and Willie Henry. Plus, Michigan has Poggi and Hurst in this class. At strongside end, there's a lot of youth with Chris Wormley, Matt Godin and Tom Strobel, all who redshirted this season. Taco Charlton is one to watch in the Class of 2013 there. I just think a lot of those guys are young.
Chirazi (Dearborn Michigan )
What's the status on derrick green? (#1 RB)
Michael Rothstein (12:17 PM)
Nothing has really changed. He's still looking at schools, still hasn't made a decision. Status quo.
Is UofM the home team in the Outback Bowl? If so, why are they wearing away whites? When there is a special uniform made, how far in advance is it produced and does that predicate what color is worn in the bowl?
Michael Rothstein (12:19 PM)
Yes, Michigan is the home team. Not sure why the Wolverines are wearing the whites, but that is what they are doing. My guess is these things are produced a few months out at least. Remember, the Michigan night game jerseys and the Alabama jerseys were trotted out well in advance. Don't necessarily think it is the reason a team wears white or not in a bowl.
John (Alma, Michigan)
I am hearing all this talk about Robison moving to cornerback. Could you please explain the reasoning for this as well as if you think that could actually happen? Thanks
Michael Rothstein (12:20 PM)
That talk, from what I've seen, is at the next level and everything with Denard Robinson as a pro is just a projection for now. Still think Robinson ends up as a receiver/returner in the league. The reasoning, from my understanding, is his speed, height and agility make him attractive as a potential cornerback, but there's still no way to know if he could, you know, cover someone.
How do you see Michigan finishing the 2013 class out? Do you think they have a surprise signing day commit?
Michael Rothstein (12:22 PM)
I've been pretty immersed in bowl stuff, but judging from what my colleagues Tom and Chantel have written, I'm guessing an OL and then there's a bunch of questions with other stuff. I'm just not sure and not in the head of 17-18 year olds, which by nature can be fickle.
Michael (San Francisco)
I saw that you beleived that next year's defense "may" be better than this years defense by the end of the year. I really feel like they "should" be better [I would say they "will" be stronger, but nothing is a sure thing]. Only lose a few players (a couple who were key), and are able to replace them with pretty close to equal players. Plus returing players will continue to improve. Or was I reading too much into the word "may"?
Michael Rothstein (12:24 PM)
You were reading too much into the word "may," in part because you just don't know. Michigan is losing its defensive heart (Kovacs), its middle linebacker who makes a lot of the calls (Demens) and half of its defensive line. While I think the Wolverines have the talent to replace all of those guys with equal/better players, it will take time for them to really get to game speed. Hence my "may," because you don't know how guys will play when they have to, you know, play.If all goes well, then Michigan should be improved defensively from a speed/talent standpoint.
Ken from NYC must be a Sparty fan. Hoke on the hot seat? He doesn't even have a bad loss on his resume yet. I think 8-4/9-3 is about what most realistic Michigan fans expected from this season.
Michael Rothstein (12:25 PM)
I said 8-4 and got all four losses (although I don't think that was too hard to do) before the season. For what it's worth, I think Michigan has a tough time against South Carolina next week.
Zeek (Rochester, NY)
Who is the D.Funch out of this class? By this I mean, who will come in and make an instant impact that wasn't really expected to?
Michael Rothstein (12:27 PM)
I wouldn't say Funchess wasn't expected to make an instant impact, mostly because Michigan had really no one else there. Once Brandon Moore got hurt, it was Funchess or nothing at tight end as well. But an instant impact guy, I'd stick with tight end and look at Jake Butt. He's coming in early and there will be opportunity to play. As far as a surprise, I'd say one of the running backs in this class gets a good amount of carries next season. Who? I'm not sure. But one will. Also, if you include redshirt freshmen, it wouldn't surprise me if Drake Johnson is a factor at running back next season.
Glenn Robinson III is a great player but doesn't see as many touches in this offense with the proliferation of threats on the court. Still, many draft sites have him leaving after this year and being a top 15 pick. Will teams draft him based on potential? Or will he need to up his production to leave early?
Michael Rothstein (12:29 PM)
The NBA Draft, even more than its NFL counterpart, is all about potential and Robinson III has a ton of that plus good bloodlines. I don't know if he leaves after this season -- but the answer for why he doesn't receive many touches is he is so efficient with what he does get. I just think it is a matter of when he touches it, more often than not, something good is happening for Michigan so it seems like he isn't getting it enough. But he's also great on the offensive glass, which has been a big help for the Wolverines and part of where he gets those points/boards.
I've been reading up on Denard's draft prospect. what position do you see him playing and what round would you guess?
Michael Rothstein (12:30 PM)
I think he ends up being a wide receiver/returner on the next level. Think Randall Cobb or Josh Cribbs. If he shows he can catch the ball at least reasonably well while still learning the position, I could see him as an early-round pick. Someone will take a chance on his speed and being able to develop him. It all depends on how a team plans on using him and there are many options there.
From being around the players does it seem like McGary is comfortable in his reserve role? The former no. 2 player in the country probably didn't expect to be coming off the bench at Michigan, and probably could have walked in and started at most top programs.
Michael Rothstein (12:33 PM)
Yeah, I think he is. Remember, he suffered an injury early in practice, which set him back a little bit and he has still been rounding into shape. He is still somewhat raw on the offensive end and is getting sixth man's minutes right now. Just because he was ranked high doesn't mean he would start at a lot of programs. I think he is in a good spot now and he is comfortable where he is.
chirazi (Dearborn MI )
Would you say Michigan has a high percentage of getting Green? Any advice for a future writer?
Michael Rothstein (12:33 PM)
Email me on the second question -- firstname.lastname@example.org.
kurt (south lyon)
mike- did you ever get an answer as to why gardner and robinson were not on the field together in the second half of the ohio game (since they did so well with them in the first half!) and do you expect them to be on the field together most of the time in the bowl game?
Michael Rothstein (12:34 PM)
Borges has not been available to us since that game, so haven't been able to ask him about it. As for the bowl game, I expect to see them both on the field together a good portion of the offensive snaps. With a month to prep for his new role, Michigan and Denard Robinson will be more comfortable in it.
Do you think RG3's season effects the draft stock of Denard? Does he have any shot at playing QB at the next level?
Michael Rothstein (12:36 PM)
No, I don't. And no, I don't think he does as a full-time quarterback. Teams could use him as a Wildcat option (think Brad Smith and how the Jets/Bills used him), but I have a tough time seeing him being a full-time QB in the NFL. Griffin III was insanely accurate in college and that was a big thing.
Bill (Farmington, MI)
Their "defensive heart" was also a tremendous liability when he had to play in space. I give Kovacs credit for playing hard, but he was a walk on who never would have seen the field had it not been for Rich Rod's refusal to recruit defensive players for 2 years. I would hope that his replacement will be a bit more of an athlete.
Michael Rothstein (12:36 PM)
I think even Kovacs will tell you his replacement (likely Marvin Robinson or Jarrod Wilson) will be more athletic. But don't dismiss what Kovacs has meant to Michigan. He was extremely good against the run and was rarely beat deep.
Jonathan (Ann Arbor)
How do you see the B1G breaking up the new divisions? I think East/West is the best way to go. They need to keep Ohio and Michigan in the same division to avoid the back to back match up potential in the championship game.
Michael Rothstein (12:39 PM)
This is just my opinion -- again JUST MY OPINION -- but I think an East/West thing is also good. Put PSU, Rutgers, Maryland, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State in one division. Put Illinois, Northwestern, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Iowa, Purdue and Minnesota in another.It might look unbalanced but that would make the most sense.
John (Columbia (SC))
Mike - Given both offenses are similar with Shaw at QB for SC, what do you think Michigan's biggest worry should be from our offense?
Michael Rothstein (12:41 PM)
Bruce Ellington. I know he hasn't had a huge year or anything, but Michigan's corners could have some trouble with him. Same with Ace Sanders. Teams haven't really tested Michigan through the air all that much and with J.T. Floyd out due to suspension, I'd go right after Courtney Avery early to see what he could do.
Tom (Lincoln Park)
I agree with your divisions except for one thing: switch Sparty and Purdue and make Sparty the protected rival. We won't have to worry about them making the Big 10 title game anyway.
Michael Rothstein (12:41 PM)
That's a possibility.
Errol (Ann Arbor Michigan )
With Greg Mattisons proven record and strategy as a D- codinator why haven't more teams tried to steal him away for all these open head coaching jobs? I know he has family in Mich and his age may be a factor but he would make a great head coach. And do you think in the future he may take a head coaching job in college/ NFL if offered??
Michael Rothstein (12:43 PM)
I would agree and there would have been a time where I would have thought he would have been an excellent head coaching selection. But Mattison is 63 years old. His family is here. Just don't see him going anywhere until he retires. Five/six years ago, I could have seen him doing it, but not now.
John (Alma, Michigan)
How are the ticket sales looking for the Outback Bowl? what is the economic impact for the university for going to a bowl game?
Michael Rothstein (12:45 PM)
Last time I checked, Michigan was doing well. Due to revenue sharing and the way the Big Ten divides its bowl monies, Michigan won't have too much of an impact one way or another. Here's a link to what Michigan did last season: http://espn.go.com/colleges/michigan/football/story/_/id/7954934/michigan-wolverines-make-78916-sugar-bowl
Are Michigan fans worried that with Meyer now at OSU and undefeated this year, they'll be another span of losses against their rival as there was with Tressel?
Michael Rothstein (12:46 PM)
I don't think they are concerned, but Michigan and Ohio State fans likely know there won't be a period of domination by either side in this game. Both teams have good coaching staffs, are recruiting well and are on equal footing when it comes to facilities. Should be a good battle the next handful of years at least.
Zeek (Rochester, NY)
Since I'm sure everybody is tired of reading about the Taylor-Clowney match up, what is an under-rated key in the Outback Bowl?
Michael Rothstein (12:47 PM)
I hit on it a little bit earlier, but how Michigan handles being without J.T. Floyd. He never put up big numbers and was beaten deep from time-to-time but he was a good college corner who will likely get a shot on the next level. He's been pretty consistent and how Courtney Avery plays could be a big underrated key to all of this for the Wolverines.
Has Michigan given up moving the UCON game to a diferent location?
Michael Rothstein (12:49 PM)
I wouldn't say "given up" but the teams are certainly running out of time. My guess is Michigan is going to be playing that game at Rentschler Field next year.
How much of a hit to the strength of the conference take by adding Rutgers and Maryland?
Michael Rothstein (12:50 PM)
Basketball wise, I don't think it will. Maryland is a good team and Rutgers, theoretically, has always had the opportunity to be good. Football-wise, it opens up new recruiting areas for some schools, which could be good, and Rutgers was a play away -- literally -- from a BCS game this season. But I think both of these schools end up in the middle of the Big Ten pack, at best, for a while. Don't know if it makes that big of a dent either way.
Bren (Berkeley, Ca)
Looking at the 2012 schedule, UofM's best win was against...Northwestern??? Gonna be a looooong New Years day for the Wolverines...
Michael Rothstein (12:51 PM)
Could be, but Michigan's schedule was fairly difficult this season.
Michael Rothstein (12:52 PM)
Have about 10 more minutes here, so get those final questions in.
Do you think the bowl game will be competetive or do you see a blowout?
Michael Rothstein (12:54 PM)
Yes, I think it'll be a competitive game into the fourth quarter. These teams are much closer to each other than most think. Still think South Carolina wins, but don't think it will be a blowout.
With the production and how good some of these freshman are playing for Michigan, how many under-classmen can you see leaving the Basketball team at the end of the season? It seems one and dones are pretty regualr now-a-days, I hope I am wrong....
Michael Rothstein (12:55 PM)
There is still a long way to go for that question, but I could see one of them leaving. Maybe. I think there are other guys on the team who will have decisions to make after the season (Burke, Hardaway Jr.), but a lot can happen between the beginning of conference season and the end of it.
UM loses about 13 starters next year. How many frosh start?
Michael Rothstein (12:56 PM)
True freshmen? Maybe two. Redshirt freshmen? Maybe a handful.
Not including the Outback, NCG or the BCS bowls, what bowl game do you think will be the most exciting to watch?
Michael Rothstein (12:57 PM)
I think the Holiday Bowl between UCLA and Baylor (including former Michigan receiver Darryl Stonum) could be a good one tonight.
Travis (Battle Creek, MI)
I might be crazy, but with the advent of all these espnu 150 lineman, why haven't we picked up a top RB?
Michael Rothstein (12:59 PM)
I think Deveon Smith could be a good one, but I'm not sure why. Michigan is obviously still in it for Derrick Green, who would be a big-time get.
Michael Rothstein (12:59 PM)
Thanks for all the questions everyone! Hope you have a Happy New Year and enjoy the football games. If I didn't get to your question, feel free to email me at email@example.com or tweet at me at @mikerothstein.Have a wonderful day.
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