Guest post, this from FOB Nick Mahanic.
(I really need to give massive credit to Vijay from iBlog For Cookies, who pulled all of the data that I have here out of James Howell's database. Any Hot Blog Groupies who get turned on by this should send gratitude his way.)
There's a strain of conventional wisdom which suggests that Lloyd Carr is a very good coach against top teams but struggles against mediocre ones. I wanted to cut to the core of it: how good is Lloyd against top teams, and how bad is he against weaker ones?
To solve this problem, I decided to break out the statistics. I took a look at Lloyd Carr's record against teams in different ranking groups based on the final AP poll. The record often cited by announcers is his record against teams in the top ten when Michigan plays them. There's nothing wrong with this, but not all rankings are equal. Rankings early in the year reflect more speculation and less information based on actual performance; does beating #9 Colorado in 1997 when they wound up 5-6 (or 0-11 counting those pesky forfeits) really count as beating a top team? Maybe Carr's stats were propped up by running into an above average number of overrated teams.
The problem with these numbers is that there isn't a well-known basis for comparison. Everyone knows that a .300 batting average, a 2.00 ERA, and rushing for 150 yards in a game are pretty good because they see these stats used all the time. But you rarely see a stat showing that Coach Sobchak is 4-7 against teams ranked 11-25 in final AP polls.
The best way to figure assess this information was to compare Carr's records to those of his coaching peers. To simplify, I compared him to coaches who are either approximately as good as him (say, Mack Brown) or better, specifically coaches that we can all agree are excellent (Steve Spurrier, Lou Holtz, Tom Osborne). Then I threw in some random people like Mark Richt and John Cooper.
Here's the data. A couple of things to note. First, the records are based on tenure for one team. This would be the most successful of a given coach's career: Florida for Spurrier, Notre Dame for Holtz, Texas for Mack Brown. You get the idea. Also, the AP only ranked the Top 20 until 1989, when it began to rank 25 teams. This explains why Tom Osborne only has 3 games against teams in that range despite coaching for many years. This oddity also affects Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno. Lastly, I'd really like to do this with some more coaches (Beamer, Fulmer) and with the Sagarin rankings.
Versus Teams Ranked 1-5:
Lloyd Carr is in impressive company here. Paired with Steve Spurrier, Mack Brown, and Pete Carroll (albeit over a very small sample), and below only Lou Holtz and Bob Stoops. If you think about it, 4-8 is pretty good against Top 5 teams. The Top 5 in any given year is going to have unbeaten teams, 1 loss teams, and maybe 1 or 2 2-loss teams. To beat a team that finishes in the Top 5 is to likely give it its only loss. No one should be able to do this over half the time. Note Tom Osborne at the bottom.
Versus Teams Ranked 6-10:
Mark Richt's ranking is flimsy given the puny sample size. I'd be surprised if Stoops' level is sustainable too but we're never going to get a big sample here, and he is pretty close to Osborne, who coached for a long time. Carr is still faring very well here. He's ahead of Lou Holtz and Steve Spurrier. Being behind the people he is behind is no loss; remember, these are some legendary coaches. Notice Paterno and Cooper again near the bottom. More on that later.
Versus Teams Ranked 11-15:
| Tom Osborne <|
Ugh. Now we get to it. Lloyd is woefully behind everyone here. At this point I wish I had thrown in a few coaches with obviously mediocre records (not Weis-like, but maybe Joe Tiller) to see who he sits with. But the point is clear: this is bad.
Versus Teams Ranked 16-20:
Lloyd's actually pretty good this time around, right in the middle of the pack. Better than Bowden and Carroll. The most significant thing here is that Steve Spurrier at Florida was damned good. If you doubted this somehow, it's about to become even clearer.
Versus Teams Ranked 21-25:
And back to the cellar for Lloyd. His record here (and in the 11-15) is actually worse than his record at 6-10 and 1-5 (technically 1-5/11-15 are equal). This is probably a sample size issue, since it is almost impossible that whatever strategic flaws he has, he's actually more likely to win against (much) better teams. Nevertheless, the point is that while the man can do a great job against top opponents, he leaves something to be desired against weaker opponents.
Versus Unranked Teams:
Yeah, Lloyd's numbers are all well and good here (better than Carroll, actually), but be honest: you stopped at Spurrier. There was a man who didn't fool around and took care of business. Kind of shocking that he only won one title at Florida (and that with a loss). Or was it? More on that soon.
First, though, another grouping:
So the conventional wisdom is right. Carr is terrific against elite teams but poor against mediocre ones, and fine against really bad ones. One fun fact: if Carr can beat OSU this year (and OSU finishes in the Top Ten) he will have as many wins against Top Ten teams as JoePa, except in five hundred million fewer years. Joe Paterno does not look particularly good relative to this group, which ordinarily would be no shame, but if you are in a race against death with Bobby Bowden for the most wins ever, you'd take this as a disappointment. Also, John Cooper sucks (at least relative to this group, which should be no surprise). Note, though, that Bowden, Osborne, and Paterno's "Unranked" records should be upped a bit to compensate for the fact that at least some of the teams they faced might otherwise have fallen into the 21-25 group in a different era (all else being equal, their unranked group is tougher than everyone else's, at least a little bit).
One more chart (last one, I swear).
|Games||% of schedule|
This chart shows the breakdown of games played for each coach, both in raw numbers (the left) and by percentage (the right). While this doesn't say much about anyone's performance within a group, it does tell us how that is reflected in their overall record.
For example, remember when I mentioned how great Spurrier's numbers were, but how he only won 1 national title? Looking at this, it's no wonder he didn't win more. 44% of his games were against ranked teams. 23% were against teams that finished in the Top Ten. That's an average of almost 3 top ten opponents a season! A good part of this is because his tenure overlapped with FSU's glory years, and the rest probably due to the SEC being strong (as well as Florida making a lot of SEC title games and good bowl games). In this respect, he's very similar to Lou Holtz: excellent numbers but very daunting schedules.
On the other end of the spectrum, we have our good friends in the Big Twelve, Bob Stoops and Mack Brown. Stoops has played the smallest percentage of Top Ten teams; Brown barely plays more than 1 team ranked 11-25 in a season. This isn't necessarily their fault: the Big Twelve hasn't had much of a middle from the looks of things, and their foes in the North have been struggling to put together any elite team for a few years now. Still, it makes their accomplishments slightly less shiny when you consider the road they've traveled.
And finally, Lloyd Carr is on the higher end of all categories but not at the top of any. He's certainly earned the achievements he's won.
So what does this all mean? In a sense, this confirms one of the more common adjectives to describe a Lloyd Carr-coached team: maddening. Take an athlete with decent speed but not enough to be an elite runner. You understand why he can beat bad runners but can never beat the best. You understand it and can live with it. If Carr could handle weak teams but came up short against the top teams we could come to a conclusion that makes sense: Lloyd is decent but not up to par with the top coaches in the game.
Yet this evidence suggests he can coach his team well when he "needs" to. But he does something when playing weaker teams that really hurts Michigan's record. A decent job against those teams means 4 or 5 more wins over his tenure. That's a couple more Big Ten titles, a couple more BCS bowl berths, and, if they happened at the right time, another shot at a national title.
I cannot answer the "why", but suffice it to say that Carr is what he is. Let's hope he has at least one more big win in him.
Oh God. Anarchy. High, high probability I win Mr. Manic-Depressive, which IIRC would be the first time an MGoBlog ballot has won any of the always-dubious awards:
What the hell is going on here? The events of the past few weeks have caused me to radically revalue the SEC. To wit: it sucks. (For the record, the Big Ten also sucks. The Pac-10 is where it's at this year.) When Mississippi State takes down two supposed contenders, your conference is not good. What real evidence do we have of the SEC dominance that braindead sportswriters and southern yokels proclaim every fall? A brief SEC OOC dossier:
LSU crushes VT. Georgia handles Oklahoma State who, yes, lost to Troy but is rounding into a decent Big 12 team. Auburn beats another decent Big 12 team, Kansas State.
LOOKED GOOD BUT UH...
Kentucky beats Louisville. Congratulations. Get in line behind Syracuse.
Auburn loses to USF. Tennessee is crushed by Cal. Mississippi State, competitive in conference, is obliterated by WVU. South Carolina struggles with awful UNC team. 'Bama loses to thoroughly mediocre FSU.
Ole Miss loses to Mizzou, but they've also lost to every SEC team they've played so no points off.
That is the entire listing of SEC games against BCS competition and it's mostly bad. Mississippi State sucks, sucks, sucks, sucks, sucks sucks, sucks and they've beaten Auburn and Kentucky. 3-2 in the SEC Tennessee was crushed by 2-3 in the Pac-10 Cal. 4-1 in the SEC 'Bama lost to 2-3 in the ACC Florida State. So the SEC can suck it.
Florida? Gone. South Carolina? Gone. Kentucky? Gone. None has proven anything except they're mediocre teams in a mediocre conference. LSU takes a hit from this re-evaluation and a two-week span in which schedule strength got pounded with the UK loss, the UF loss, the VT loss, and the back-to-back South Carolina losses.
Meanwhile, Georgia shoots up along with Bama for not being 3-3 in conference; Georgia gets a bigger boost for having an actual OOC win of consequence. Tennessee is still locked behind Cal.
And, oh, God, Michigan #12. Coulter and Krugman lick their paws already shiny with the blood of previous victims. Where else do they go, though? Comments and criticisms accepted.
Update: Oh, yes. Right. No Hawaii. SMQB is on the same warpath and does all my explaining for me; though we've disagreed about resume ranking in the past here we are as one. Excelsior, SMQB!
Yikes. This sounds un-good:
The U.S. Department of Education issued a scathing report to the University of Michigan, chastising U-M for routinely violating federal accessibility laws and effectively shutting out wheelchair users from Michigan Stadium football games.
The federal department has threatened to terminate federal funds to the 39,700-student university if U-M doesn't submit a plan within 10 days to correct the numerous violations outlined in the 42-page report dated Oct. 26.
"The university is discriminating against individuals with mobility impairments ... because the stadium does not include a sufficient number of accessible seats; the accessible seating is not dispersed so as to provide persons with mobility impairments the same range of seating choices as is provided to persons without disabilities ... and the routes, toilet rooms, and concession stands are inaccessible."
I was under the impression this case had to be tried or something; can the DoE unilaterally impose a punishment like this? Anyone out there have an idea how significant an event this is?
10/29/2007 - Michigan 34, Minnesota 10 - 7-2, 5-0 Big Ten
If you could create some sort of time vortex that inverted the order of the quarters in the Minnesota game Saturday, there would be no complaints from even the grumpiest Michigan fans out there. After an insane decision to rotate David Cone and Nick Sheridan at QB and two atom-sized white dudes at RB on the open series, Carlos Brown jets for an 85 yard touchdown, Ryan Mallett lays in a perfect strike to Mario Manningham, and the rout is on. It's 21-0 at halftime and eventually 34-0 before Mallett offers Minnesota a free touchdown and the Gophers get a late, meaningless field goal. Order is restored, Michigan squashes all comers and everyone goes home happy, even wizard's sleeve Tim Brewster, as Michigan's final drives would have been tepid three-and-outs.
This did not so much happen. I didn't actually read this week's game thread -- it's 926 comments long! -- but I did get this email about it from Matt K:
I wanted to drop you an apology for the flame war that took place in the game comment thread. I got pretty pissed off at something that was said and unleashed a barrage of f-bombs and inappropriate insults. I know you like to keep that stuff to a minimum. I know you'll end up deleting the posts, but please don't ban me. It won't happen again. I won't comment for a few days and will come back with a clean mouth and without the anger.
I would put the ETA on this little contretemps at two seconds after Mallett fumbled away the aforementioned free touchdown, staking Minnesota to a 10-0 lead. I can sympathize. In the stands at Michigan Stadium, I swore like a sailor and mentally prepared myself for The Horror II.
Michigan ran off 34 straight points and 500 yards from that point, Minnesota 0 and about 100. Michigan's last useless throw to Andre Criswell vaulted them to 561 yards, eight past Minnesota's season average. After the game, I accepted a chiding for my lack of faith. I'm betting that simultaneously frequent game thread commenter Magnus called various other frequent game thread commenters wizard's sleeves for various slurs, profanities, and gypsy curses uttered whenever anything went wrong during the game.
I was annoying; Matt was annoying; Magnus was annoying. We are all united in this. All of us reasonable people are really two completely insane people coming to a compromise. One of them, sports id, is Mike Valenti (MAKE PLAYS!). The other, sports hope, is that guy who predicts 12-0 before every season and then is totally unperturbed when things go wrong when they should be angrier than anyone. Unadulterated, both are irritating. So let's stop, maybe? Let's take immediate aftermath venting for what it is and let it go; I promise to not let gunmetal skies, Appalachian State, and the comical ineptness of an opponent or two ruin the last days of Hart and Henne and Long and (very probably) Manningham.
- This game meant nothing given all the backups in and the hideous performance of the Minnesota quarterback. The only two takeaways, IMO: a reinforcement of our issues with the interior run and what should be a final dispelling of any Manningham-related discontent.
- I swear to God I sat directly in front of Gloria from Miscellaneous T. Same irritating New Yawk accent, same complete inability to grasp simple concepts -- her husband explained that the teams switched endzones after the first quarter, then had to explain it again after the third -- and the same (projected) inability to stop talking. It was alternately amusing and awful. They were going to the Gandy Dancer after the game; I debated whether to tell them it was the most overrated restaurant in town and suggest the Earle, eventually deciding against it. The specter of a long conversation where she completely failed to understand me was too much.
- At halftime, a various men set up something that looked like an oversized metallic dandelion, then exhorted the crowd to cheer the oversized metallic dandelion, then took the OMD to the sideline without offering either an explanation or compensatory pyrotechnics. We booed them as they left the field. Why? Because eff them, that's why.
Does anyone have any idea what this was all about? The theory batted around was that they were measuring noise levels, but why and for what? And why at halftime when nothing in particular was going on?
- Oh God, every dire and awful item about Ryan Mallett's preparation consisting of playing MarioKart and listening to Bob Marley seemed horribly true in the first half. The free touchdown, screens winged to Tacopants -- Tacopants has never done screens before -- and Mallett's now-standard running-around-and- maybe-doing-something- awesome-but-probably-just-getting-sacked act... all horrible. Even the long completions were overthrown balls upon which Manningham and Arrington made superb catches. (This is less of a criticism, since said balls were a bit long and outside -- the place to miss if you're going to miss -- and they were completed; any ball thrown that far downfield and completed is by definition a decent throw.) I pined for, in order: Tom Brady, Chad Henne, Steven Threet, David Cone, Nick Sheridan, myself, and Richard Nixon's corpse, almost reaching Jimmah Clausen before Mallett did something, anything right and definitively proved himself better than Jimmah. Then in the second half he bombed and bombed and bombed and hey, that's pretty good. The most deeply schizophrenic performance by a Michigan QB in a long time.
- Greg Mathews looks like he's going to get his shin broken on every punt return.
- Weekly complaints about special teams: Zoltan dropped three punts at the five. All of them made it to the endzone. Not once has a Michigan gunner flagged down one of the many opportunities Zoltan The Inconceivable has provided to pin opponents deep. More evidence of disjointed coaching on special teams, yes? ZTI ended up so disgusted that he booted a second-half punt into the endzone, saving the crowd the trouble of hoping.
- At this point it looks like Michigan is going to have a bonafide tailback rotation in 2008 for the first time since Anthony Thomas took over for Clarence and Howard in 1998. (Unless you'd like to count the brief Askew-Perry here, but IIRC that was short-lived due to injury.) Grady, Minor, and Brown are all likely to receive carries, and probably for most of the year.
- Another day, another disturbing inability to stop read option dives. At least with Mendenhall and Jonathan Stewart you could console yourself with the idea those guys would be playing in the NFL before long. This Bennett kid? Not so much. Fortunately, it looks like we're done with the damned spread option until the bowl game; unfortunately it's doubtful that Michigan's weakness against the interior rush is limited to just one particular play.
- I don't know if the pass interference call on Warren was legit, but even if it was that sort of tough in-your-face defending bodes extremely well for his future. Draped on the receiver, he found the ball and made a play on it. The recruiting hype on him, at least, was 100% accurate.
- Brandon Harrison has come into his own as a detonator of screen and option plays.
Game column around 1-2 PM.
It's MSU week. That can only mean one thing: MAKE PLAYS!
- Michigan State: 3:30, ABC
- Wisconsin: noon, ESPN.
- OSU: noon, ABC.
No more BTN, and an opportunity for Hart to show his wares for a sadly unlikely Heisman run. If only Matt Ryan's complete suck had lasted four more minutes... or VT had rushed like four or five guys.
He's a winner. On the last play of the Minnesota game, David Cone rolled out and threw an eight-yard pass to Andre Criswell, who ran up the sideline for like 20 yards against Minnesota's crappy defense. Tim Brewster's reaction:
"I don't know what went into their thinking on it," Brewster said. "But obviously I think it was a disappointing thing. Maybe somebody will ask [Michigan coach Lloyd Carr] what he was thinking."
I have an exclusive interview with Lloyd Carr that reveals all.
MGoBlog: So why did you call a meaningless eight-yard pass instead of a meaningless three-yard run on the final play of a 34-10 blowout?
Lloyd Carr: To brand Tim Brewster deep with the mark of shame. He will go to the end of days with the knowledge that his team gave up a first down trailing by 24 with no time on the clock. I am remorseless, without pity, the destroyer of all that opposes me. Bow down, Brewster. I am your God.
MGoBlog: Super! WHY DID YOU PUNT ON FOURTH AND FOUR AGAINST OHIO STATE TWO YEARS AGO?
Lloyd Carr: That's a stupid question.
"I just shook hands with him and went about my business," Brewster said. "But I think he knew that I was thinking about the last play and maybe what his thought [process] was."
Oh, yeah, Minnesota's got themselves a winner here. Two words: wizard's sleeve. Glen Mason must be laughing his ass off.
Come back plz. Henne and Hart... available? Maybe. Carr:
"I'm optimistic that both of them will be ready to go," Carr said after Saturday's game. "But, as I've said in the past, it's day-to-day. I know that both are much, much better than they were a week ago. We'll see how the week goes."
So... probably, I guess.
First and what? He threw a what? Varsity Blue takes a look at the first down playcalling against the Gophers, which featured 22 runs and 6 passes. Those passes:
1. Incomplete pass to Moundros (0 yards).
2. Pass Interference (15 yards).
3. Mallett lost fumble (-4 yards, returned for touchdown).
4. Mallett scramble (7 yards).
5. Mallett sack (-16 yards).
6. Manningham Touchdown Bomb (40 yards).
Not exactly pure awesome, although you don't really expect Mallett to say "hey, here's a free touchdown" on a regular basis. Meanwhile, Minor and Brown plowed the Gophers... eventually. I plead small sample size.
A toothpick, some gum, and a shoelace equals... this potential starting lineup for Michigan basketball:
Don't read too much into it, but the starting lineup for Michigan's closed scrimmage at Kent State Saturday was Ron Coleman, Zack Gibson, K'Len Morris, Jerret Smith and DeShawn Sims.
Videos. Wolverine Historian presents the '97 MSU game: