Michigan Football: Balance — Not a Bad Thing
There seems to be a preconceived notion in all disciplines of life and nature that balance is a good thing. Few scholars or others argue for an unbalanced state of things.
So it is with football programs. In the pro ranks, only a few simple choices must be made: will two or three quarterbacks be kept, can the team afford three kickers instead of the normal two, how many wide-outs will be kept due to offensive scheme, which then affects the tight end number, and how many defensive backs and linebackers, combined, will be kept? The clue to many of the professional choices is special teams ability.
The college ranks have more spots, but the typical Division 1 roster can be split into the veterans who will play and will soon use up eligibility and the freshmen and red-shirt freshmen who are working up the ranks through the developmental approach.
An imbalance in roster make-up can be band-aided over, but sooner or later the scab may break loose to seep an ugly product. An imbalance can be a disproportionate number of athletes on one side of the ball, or by class number, let us say 30 in one class and 15 in another.
There are also imbalances in position groups, although this can be debated by coaches and fans alike. Again, for discussion, a team may have three scholarship quarterbacks and fans debate whether this is a little light or just right. Stockpiling at one position by simple number takes away from another group. Sometimes this is by design and sometimes this is by accident.
Regardless of how well the puzzle pieces seem to fit, the variables of luck, injury, quitting, and unexpected poor performance shake up the best executed plans.
Coaches know all about roster balance and most address this need in a straight forward and successful manner. Big boards list roster guys and potential recruits even up to three years in advance. But coaches do not get every player the program seriously recruits. Programs may strike out on two or three prospects at a position group in a given year, again the projected path is not typically the final result.
Michigan had notable roster balance in the Rodriguez years, specifically, the offensive roster numbers were given clear preference by coaches and recruits alike. Things got better, excepting the skill ranks were not sufficient. Then Coach Harbaugh started the quarterback sweepstakes and pulled in a monster number of wide receivers the last two years.
Currently, there is imbalance on the Michigan roster, as is the case with about any 85 man roster. To what degree can be debated. The offensive and defensive balance is better. The skilled group is better both with quality and quantity. There are gaps in some groups, currently it can be argued the safety, offensive line, and linebacker groups.
The biggest gap is between class sizes. Any time a team recruits over 25 a year, one of two things happen. First, the next class is smaller and the second is that a program continues to run off monster size classes each year. The second plan entails number casualties from the ranks of enrolled players.
Will Michigan seek to balance class sizes, or will the program just go full-bore each year to gather as many newbies as allowable? Furthermore, will such a scorched earth strategy lead to unwanted side effects, or instead stock the roster with top shelf players and results?
That is the essentially for your consideration and discussion so please come to our message board and add your thoughts.