it's a major award
There will be more on today's regents meeting in the days to come, as there's still much to parse through—the live streams I tried to view missed much of the action due to connectivity issues. I'll note a few important things right now, however.
President Mark Schlissel opened the meeting by saying he was "deeply disappointed" in the athletic department's initial response to the Shane Morris controversy, and he's still in the midst of evaluating the AD before making any potential changes. Importantly, the regents stated they support Schissel's mission to fix the issues in the department. It didn't sound like a firing is imminent, as Schlissel is still working to educate himself about the department; it also didn't sound like there are many road blocks left before a change would hypothetically be made.
Central Student Government president Bobby Dishell had more pointed statements, beginning with "the athletic department has broken its trust" with the students. He then cited a student survey—answered by an impressive 5,208 students, for about double the average response rate—that's been released in full via MLive (PDF link).
It does not reflect well upon the athletic department.
Had student seating remained general admission in 2014, less than 9,000 students would have bought season tickets this year (as opposed to under 12,000 this year under assigned seating).
However, even fewer students intend to purchase next year at a price of $295. To maintain a student section of just under 12,000 students, the Athletic Department needs to drop student tickets to roughly $210, or $30 per game next year. To regain a student section of 20,000 students, the Athletic Department needs to drop the price of student tickets to roughly $150 next year.
The department, at least, has agreed to "significantly" lower prices for student tickets next year, though an exact figure hasn't been determined. That may be a step towards repairing this regime's relationship with the student body, but the other results from the survey make it appear that it's broken beyond repair.
Though the Athletic Director was never mentioned, by name or by title, in the survey, David Brandon is mentioned 1,208 times by respondents (the phrase “Fire Brandon” was used 110 times by respondents). Almost none of the respondents have positive things to say about Mr. Brandon’s tenure as Athletic Director.
The CSG put forth several recommendations, including lowering ticket prices, expanding the student section in the lower bowl for basketball, being "forthcoming and transparent" when crises occur, and shifting "away from commercialization" in the department.
Most damning, perhaps, are the word clouds published based on responses to the following questions [click the word clouds to embiggen]:
1. Before coming to the University, what is one word that you would use to describe Michigan Football?
2. What is one word you would use to describe Michigan Football today?
I'd say those speak for themselves.
Previously: Gardening Lessons
While the rest of the roster deals with a good amount of turnover, point guard is a comforting constant for Michigan this season thanks to the return of starter Derrick Walton and invaluable backup Spike Albrecht.
Although both point guards return, their roles—especially Walton's—should be quite different with the departure of Nik Stauskas, who ran the show on offense for much of 2013-14. Caris LeVert will continue to handle the ball quite a bit himself, but Walton will either be the second or third option when he's on the court, and with Stauskas gone Albrecht's shooting off the bench becomes more valuable, as well.
These two will also be asked to provide much of the leadership for this young squad. A true junior who recently turned all of 22 years old, Spike is the oldest player on this team—I KNOW, RIGHT?—and John Beilein has discussed his importance as a leader several times this offseason, including at today's Big Ten Media Day:
Q. I was wondering if you could talk about Spike and how you've seen him develop since he got on campus, particularly from last season to this season?
JOHN BEILEIN: It's amazing the confidence he has shown since the day he walked in the door. I mean, even when he came for his visit where he was what some people thought was an unlikely recruit, he was laughing about how unlikely people thought this was. And then every time he walks on the floor, he just -- he's got incredible confidence that "I can play at this level," and he's shown that so well. He's a pleasure to coach. He's become a really excellent team leader right now. I'm really leaning on him to be the pulse of the team.
Spike is the pulse, Walton the burgeoning floor general. Hit the jump for a deeper dive into what to expect from them this season.
NORFLEET! Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog
1. The Four Factors
|Expected Pts||Conv Rate||Bonus Yards||Red Zone|
So…that was not a good offensive game. But you didn’t need me to tell you that. Below average conversion rates, no action beyond the sticks. One touchdown in four combined red zone trips. Michigan won the field position thanks to winning the punt battle, stopping the fake punt a turnover in field goal range. Other years this would be cause for concern, right now, a win anyhow anyway is no time to complain about the lack of offensive success.
2. Individual Performances
Devin Gardner: –1.1 pts, –7% Win Pct Added on 31 plays
Deveon Smith: +0.1, +7% on 15 plays
Devin Funchess: +0.8, –2% on 11 plays
Amara Darboh: +2.6, +4% on 5 plays
Christian Hackenberg: +0.5, –4% on 36 plays
Bill Belton: +1.0, –4% on 20 plays
Not a lot of offensive stars in this one. Devin Funchess barely finished plus on the game after a huge opening drive touchdown. Amara Darboh ended as the only Michigan offensive player with a significant positive contribution on the night.
As for Devin Gardner, he is broken. Prior to last season, I wrote about his amazing run to end the 2012 season and that he had done things that very few college quarterbacks had every done. Based on 2012, he had the makings of a QB capable of adding an average of two touchdowns above a normal offensive output every game. He had practically done it already. And then 2013 happened. Below is his chart of opponent adjusted EV (expected value or points added) for every game he had at least 10 plays (rushes + passes – sacks).
2010/11 were pretty pedestrian. 2012 was incredible and 2013 started pretty well too. Akron was a bad performance by his high standards. Things were ugly against UConn before rebounding against Minnesota. In his next 14 games, there were two great games against bad defenses (Indiana and App St) and the heroic one-footed game against Ohio St.
There are six negative games and five more that were essentially zero (which is below average for a QB). It’s hard to say when Devin Gardner was broken but it obvious, even without the numbers, that he has been. I don’t know if it’s possible for him to be fixed at this point with this staff, but I sure hope so, because he is poised to be the biggest casualty of the Hoke era.
3. Game Chart
Hey, this one goes up!
6. –10.1% Russell Bellomy incomplete on third down (late Q3)
5. +10.2% Deveon Smith picks up a first down on 3rd and 1 (mid Q4)
4. +10.3% Michigan stops the Penn St fake punt attempt (mid Q3)
3. –11.1% Devin Gardner incomplete to Darboh on 4th and 3 (early Q3)
2. +12.6% Jourdan Lewis intercepts Hackenberg (late Q3)
1. +16.6% Jake Ryan forces Hackenberg into a 16 yard intentional grounding (late Q4)
The Blame Game is now the credit game, with a fair amount of blame as well. The results should not surprise.
1. Pass Defense: +49%
2. FG/PAT: +22%
3. Rush Defense: +8%
3. Opponent FG/PAT: –6%
2. Rush Offense: –9%
1. Pass Offense: –22%
4. Dumb Punt of the Week
David Shaw is poised to get a lifetime achievement award at this point. Stanford punted two more times from inside the opponent 40, bringing the total to 7 on the year, 2 more than anyone else.
Other Dishonorable mentions:
Washington State punted down 2 scores with two minutes left. This was a tough one because they were inside their own 10 and it was 4th and 33. But two scores in two minutes ain’t happening after a punt.
Coaching man-crush at Wyoming also punted down 10 with less than 3 minutes left.
All three were worthy candidates, without a doubt. But this week’s award goes to Coach Six-Pack, Larry Fedora of North Carolina.
Facing a Notre Dame team that would put up half a hundred on the day, Fedora called for a punt on 4th and 7 from the ND 33 down 9 points in the third quarter. UNC averaged 6.2 yards per play on the day and 32% of plays went for 7 or more yards (yes, MGoReaders, this is legal). The punt of course went for a touchback and field position gain of 13 yards, and North Carolina lost by a touchdown.
5. Fumble Luck & Last Minute Timeouts
Way back in 2011 when Brady Hoke was lucky, Michigan was the second luckiest fumble team in the country at +9.4*. Since then, Michigan has been –1.7, +1.0 and so far this year, –5.2. There is a reason they call it fumble luck. Mattison didn’t have some secret voodoo magic that results in a multitude of fumbles and recoveries, because no one does. Fumbles are lucky and Michigan been extremely unlucky on the fumble side (especially on defense) so far this season.
The sane football fan knew that Hoke’s end of half timeout was idiotic. It is my understanding that there are some that think it was a good idea based on a defensive TD potential. Some quick numbers to put this to bed.
I looked back to 2003 and found 7 cases of a half ending interception return for a touchdown, the only case that could justify the timeout. Of those 7, three cases came when the offense was within ten yards of scoring a touchdown. Another three were on returns that began close to the line of scrimmage which I guess could be appropriate to this situation. And only one on a Hail Mary returned 100 yards for a TD and that was from a 2010 matchup between Tulane and UCF that was a 41 point game at the time. Compare this with 25 offensive touchdowns on end of half Hail Mary’s of at least 40 yards. That is between a 6 to 1 and 25 to 1 ratio of bad to good depending on how you want to count it.
* Fumble Luck is calculated based on this article assuming 1% lost fumbles on most plays, and 6% on sacks.
Michigan’s four factors for the season [Value (national rank/B1G rank)]
|Expected Pts||Conv Rate||Bonus Yards||Red Zone|
|Offense||24.0 (101/13)||65% (84/8)||1.8 (112/13)||5.2 (55/6)|
|Defense||26.1 (50/7)||62% (19/4)||1.9 (28/3)||5.4 (79/10)|
Michigan is 90th overall in net field position, only Penn St is worse in the Big Ten. The offense is below average at generating first downs and truly dreadful at pushing the ball down the field in big chunks. On defense, the news is better, as they crack the top 20 in conversion rate allowed and they are making opposing offenses almost as bad at generating yards beyond the sticks as Michigan’s offense is at getting them.
With a bye week upcoming, no game predictions. For the season, my numbers have an average of 1.8 wins left on the schedule with 3 wins and bowl eligibility at a 25% likelihood.
Quarterback is not the only difference.
Something you may not wish to address in season but in watching this team I had this thought:
Solid run defense, inconsistent pass defense, an offensive line with talent struggling to gel, solid backs, receivers and tight ends. Hmmm, sounds like 9 or 10 wins from Carr again. What is missing is a solid, low turnover, accurate, quarterback. Completely unfair?
Cumong man, that's completely unfair. You're comparing this offensive line to those featuring Jake Long or a half-dozen other NFL players, with zero freshmen of any variety on them unless they're Hutchinson-level talents. The backs don't make the right cuts and almost never make yards on their own. The tight ends are not good right now except for Butt, and Butt is still working his way back from an ACL tear.
There's no part of this team not subject to mental breakdowns that are hard to accept four years in. This includes quarterback, but since it seems like any QB under Hoke goes backwards it all ends in the same place.
BUT IS HE BETTER THAN A WISTFUL ORANGUTAN?
In the wake of the ND game i have found my anger directed more at Dave Brandon than anything for whatever various and stupid reasons. The conventional wisdom seems to be, "hey, but revenues are increasing so, even though football is terrible and the stadium experience is horrible, Dave Brandon is great at growing the business." I think that is non-sense. I looked at revenues from 2002 through 2013 (graphs and numbers in attached spreadsheet) and the trendline attached to the revenue data shows Brandon has not out performed Bill Martin. Growth in revenue looks very on trend from Martin's tenure.
If you look at Michigan's AD revenue from 2005 versus some other athletic departments (texas, OSU, florida, Alabama, Oklahoma) our athletic department hasnt outperformed them either. Those five ADs revenue increased 84% from 2005 til 2013, Michigan's increased...83%.
Look, the data i gathered isn't perfect, I don't love the way USA today presented the 2005-2013 data. I've sort of cobbled together the 2002-2004 data from U-M budgets. The way i have presented the data is somewhat problematic (i should index 2005 to 100 then see the changes from there), but I don't think it changes the overall picture.
The point is I am really bothered with the conventional wisdom saying Brandon is doing really well increasing revenue. He is merely riding a wave that started long before here was hired and affects all of college football. Raising ticket prices doesn't make you a business genius. He gets zero credit for increased television revenues, which are the two overwhelming drivers of the whole enterprise.
These are things I am sure you are aware of but i have not seem them articulated on the blog.
It should also be noted that the portion of the surge from 2009 to 2011 not due to increased BTN payouts was largely the luxury boxes coming online. Michigan offered them for cheap the first year and then increased the price to the regular level in year two.
So even if you are measuring Michigan athletic department success by revenue—a completely bonkers thing to do—Brandon is completely average in this department while being literally the worst AD in the country at public relations. A wistful orangutan could have been Michigan's athletic director since 2010 and revenue would still be way up. And students would love him!
[After the JUMP: Manning plausible as a CB coach over time? Mysterious red clad team-thing. Where to go in the event of an apocalypse. (The real apocalypse, not bad football.)]
About Last Week:
The Road Ahead:
Michigan State (5-1, 2-0 B1G)
Last game: Won at Purdue, 45-31
Recap: The number on the left is about what you would expect. The number on the right is very much
For the second week in a row, Michigan State turned a blowout into a real game with some serious fourth quarter derptitude. Sparty was up 38-17 with the ball deep in Purdue territory with 11 minutes left. But then Connor Cook threw a pick, and Akeem Hunt took a carry 52 yards to the house. Then MSU attempted a terrible fake punt, which led to another Purdue score, and all of a sudden it was 38-31, and Purdue got the ball back with 3:00 left with a chance to tie it up. Of course, Austin Appleby promptly threw a pick-six, but still.
State did manage to outgain Purdue 532-340, and all three of MSU’s primary backs (Jeremy Langford, Nick Hill, and Delton Williams) averaged at least 8.0 yards per carry. Connor Cook, on the other hand, has cooled off a bit. Last year against Power 5 opponents he threw for 7.5 YPA with a 3:1 TD-to-INT ratio. This year, he’s throwing for 7.2 YPA with a 3:2 TD-to-INT ratio. As Seth pointed out this week, Cook’s impressive top-line numbers are potentially the result of the three tomato cans on MSU’s schedule. We’ll have to wait until the more challenging portions of MSU’s schedule to see.
Of course, this week they take on Indiana’s defense, so that wait will continue for at least another week.
This team is as frightening as: Goliath. Big, strong, but vunerable to rocks thrown from long-distance. Fear Level = 9.872
Michigan should worry about: Well, I suppose you should worry about HOLY DOLPHIN GENITALS HAVE YOU WATCHED THE LAST YEAR AND A HALF???
Michigan can sleep soundly about:If Purdue can move the ball against Michigan State, and if Eastern Michigan can move the ball (a little bit) on Michigan State, then ANYONE can move the ball against Michigan State.
So that means Michigan has a prayer of moving the ball against Michigan State. A little bit. Possibly.
When they play Michigan: You drink a whiskey drink. You drink a vodka drink. You drink a lager drink. You drink a cider drink.
Next game: at Indiana (MSU -14.5), 3:30 Saturday, ESPN
[AFTER THE JUMP: We sing the songs that remind us of the good times]
News bullets and other items:
Hoke expects Devin Gardner to start against MSU, with Shane Morris now healthy enough to be his backup
Hoke identified zone coverage, the run game, and creating big plays as areas for improvement over the final five games of the season
Kyle Bosch will re-join the team in January after taking a leave of absence for personal reasons
Willie Henry could have played against Penn State if it was necessary
Hoke alluded to being past the point of making a decision regarding Desmond Morgan redshirting and was evasive when asked if he’d miss the rest of the season
The coaches go over negative highlights from around college football each week in team meetings
If you’re wondering why there were no MGoQuestions it’s because they were all about MSU, and I decided to save them for Monday since Hoke said the coaches are only in the preliminary stages of gameplanning
“Number one, thanks for coming out today. It was good to get a win. Obviously winning's an important aspect of what you do when you compete. The atmosphere, I think, in Michigan Stadium was unbelievable and I know our kids, the energy, they feed off that and it was through the whole game. It was loud when it needed to be loud [from] our students and our fans so we really appreciate that.
“Yesterday we had a shortened practice. We'll go a little longer today. Just fundamentals and techniques being the main emphasis. A little bit on our next opponent, Michigan State, but a lot of fundamental work because we've got some young guys who want to continue to grow and continue to get them as many reps as we can, and then you've got some older guys who've played a lot of football in seven games [over] seven weeks so you want to get them some rest when you can but at the same time try and get some of the early game planning stuff. And with byes, to get physically healthy is an important part of it as much as you can; you're never going to be all the way. And then we've got a great rivalry game with Michigan State.
‘So the other thing we’ll use the bye week for is recruiting. The other part of it will be for us to– for us as a staff to do some self scout with where you're at and what you've done so far and where you might want to change some details up and I think that's one thing Michigan State did – not Michigan State, Penn State, the other night when you look at some of the down and distance and formation things in the first half from an offensive standpoint. They had the bye week and I think they went in seeing that they needed to change up a little bit and I think they did that.”
Do you expect Devin [Gardner] to start at Michigan State?
“Yeah, I would. I think having Shane back and healthy also is a big part of it and as much as we are going to talk about injuries yeah, we expect Devin to be there.”
You've touched on this in the past, but what would you say is the biggest area of improvement in Devin since you've known him?
“I'd say as much as anything I think [it’s] his leadership. I think nowadays kids, not a lot of them have that natural leadership. And a lot of that is, and this is an opinion, I haven't studied this but they play so much AAU now. It used to be you go in a backyard or churchyard and you’d say [to] 10 guys, ‘Okay you're the captain of this team and you’re [the captain] of this,’ then pick. Now we have adults making decisions that I don't believe kids get to make and it doesn't help them grow and so that's just part of what I think. So it's a little tougher at times to help kids grow in that department.”
[After THE JUMP: more details on stuff summarized in the bullets]