I thought that myself when I read that article that talked about a Data Scientist(tm)
It's cool, guys. We're just in our teal phase.
Ty Cobb; Al Kaline and Harvey Kuenn; Magglio Ordonez
Gordie Howe; Steve Yzerman; Henrik Zetterberg
Bill Laimbeer; Allan Houston and Grant Hill; Ben Wallace and Chauncey Billups
Tom Harmon; Jim Mandich; Tom Brady
UPDATE: someone said the "fair comparison" is the changes in Michigan's away uniforms over the years, as if 1) the Notre Dame game was not at home, 2) Michigan changed their away unis three times in a season, four if you count helmet numbers, back in the day 3) and looking stupid is acceptable as long as it's a road game. Here are the incredible changes in the last 40 years.
1971 MSU program; Jim Harbaugh; Mike Hart
Dave Brandon; Dave Brandon; Dave Brandon
Seven interceptions, heat from the fans, lots of running to come. Sounds familiar, but it's 1982.
"Wild man" Mike Boren also features in the pregame. Via WH.
The lemon bet. A few weeks ago Mike Farrell tweeted that Yuri Wright's top two were Colorado and Michigan, to which I responded that I would eat a lemon and put it on the internet if Michigan lost Wright to CU*. I'd rather have a super athletic, if raw, corner than do this, so this quote($) from his trip to Boulder is a relief:
“I wish they would have picked a different weekend [ie, not finals] for me to come out there, but I still had a good time for the most part. I know it’s a good school.”
A small relief. I mean, I'll believe a guy with options like Michigan and Notre Dame going to Colorado several years after I see it.
*[FINE PRINT: Lemon will be consumed if Wright ends up signing with Colorado AND Michigan is still pursuing him at the time of his commitment. If M picks up Armani Reeves and stops going after corners, bet is void. To prevent this from being weaselly, this will have to be a direct quote to that effect or something from Sam Webb.]
Bust bits. The football bust transpired without hand-holding or weeping and with a minimum of Rodriguez hur hur that was made awkward when players thanked Rodriguez during speeches. There was one notable newsbit:
LIVONIA -- Michigan football coach Brady Hoke said at the team's annual bust Monday that he does not expect linebacker Marell Evans to return next year.
The fifth-year senior from Richmond, Va., has not played this year. Hoke, who declined throughout the season to elaborate on the situation, revealed at the banquet that Evans had eligibility issues because of "a twist of fate" resulting from his transfers.
You can remove the vague possibility Evans is on the team from your scholarship calculations. Also Molk made certain people feel bad:
"Going through what we did for five years … it's hard to put into words truly what it means and truly what we've been through," Molk said Monday night at the Laurel Manor. "Because frankly, I don't think there's many people in this room or in this country that understand. Unless you've been a fifth-year senior here, you don't know. You didn't live it you didn't feel it, you didn't see the pain, you didn't hear the anguish, you didn't hear the hate."
Take that, guy I threw an empty water bottle at after the Toledo game. You probably think Demanding Excellence is what got Michigan back on track. I hate you so much.
Q: How many times will people make the joke about Fred Jackson having coached Tom Harmon? IIRC, Rodriguez (of all people) was one of millions to get that zinger off. It is as traditional as Fred Jackson proclaiming all tailbacks to be Olympian gods.
AnnArbor.com has the fullest rundown of things that were said.
No sale, literally. If you're still looking for Sugar Bowl tickets, Virginia Tech has a deal for you:
As of Monday evening, Virginia Tech had sold a little over 9,500 of its 17,500 ticket allotment to the Sugar Bowl, a number that is only slightly higher than the 9,200 the school announced last Friday. So it's clear ticket sales -- at least through the school -- are slowing to a crawl at this point.
I bet Kansas State would have done better.
I've seen many a tweet about Kansas State and Arkansas' rush on Cotton Bowl tickets as proof that the Wildcats should have been chose for the Sugar Bowl instead of the Hokies. Kansas State reportedly sold out its 12,500-ticket allotment before the bowl was announced. Tickets are so in demand for the Cotton Bowl that the cheapest on StubHub are going for $219.99. Only the BCS title game ($1,299 for the cheapest seat) is a tougher ticket right now of the bowl games.
Andy Bitter suggests that's a factor of the distances—Dallas is driveable for both fanbases, but they're enthused after a big year and VT is coming off a hammering in the ACC title game.
VT is struggling in part because resellers are currently undercutting VT by two to one. An interesting note from Bitter: the ACC now picks up the tab for unsold tickets once schools get over the 8k mark. At least the risk the bowls have migrated from themselves to the teams is being spread over a greater number of institutions these days. Still: scam, scam, scam.
First halves maybe some. Your impression that Tim Hardaway spends many first halfs chilling, relaxing, maxing all cool are accurate. Via Wolverine Nation, Hardaway averages 5.2 points in the first half and 11.2 in the second. That's… more scoring in the second, there. I'd be fine if M started every game with a possession on which Hardaway is given those double high screens and given the green light to shoot if he comes open for a three. There are points in the first half when it feels like the offense bogs down because Hardaway isn't being enough of an option.
This is going well. This has no relation to anything you care about except the tenuous connection I can make between all bad coaches and Charlie Weis, but man does Randy Edsall remind you of an even less accomplished Charlie Weis or what? One of the early warning signs that Weis's colossal dickishness wasn't a Parcell-style asset was when starting defensive end Ronald Talley, a guy with almost no competition on the depth chart, transferred. To Delaware.
Presenting Randy Edsall's Maryland:
In a move that surprised no one, D.J. Adams announced his intention to transfer. The controversial running back had the class to wish Edsall and the program luck in a statement. Meanwhile, we're still waiting for Edsall's thoughts on losing the most talented tailback the team had after Davin Meggett. Heck, we're still waiting to hear why Adams was benched for most of the year.
Offensive tackle R.J. Dill — a starter and one of the team's best linemen — is transferring, too. Not only does it hurt the team from a football standpoint in the short run, but it also begs the questions: Who else is leaving, and who is going to come to College Park now?
Edsall went 2-10. Meanwhile, Freidgen coach-in-waiting James Franklin had something of a breakthrough year at Vandy and Maryland is dropping a bunch of sports after paying massive buyouts all over the place to hire Edsall and Gary Crowton. The yutz at Tennessee resigned in June, so Maryland's Kevin Anderson is now Worst Athletic Director In The Country.
In case you haven't seen it. Tom Crean's expression after Indiana hits their game-winning three against Kentucky is priceless:
Court rush approved. Indiana has spent some time in the wilderness after their disastrous decision to hire Kelvin Sampson (speaking of yutz athletic directors…) and this was a "OMG we're back" moment. Also beating #1 on a buzzer beater… yeah. That court rush is the reason everyone's so upset when people rush for dumb reasons.
Etc.: Dylan previews Arkansas Pine Bluff more thoroughly than they have ever been previewed before. The Pac-12 is not good at basketball. Floyd and Woolfolk are rehab BFFs. Why is the NBA stuck with the Hornets? Because of their publicly funded stadium.
In 1997, back when 7-point leads were comfortable and safeties were meant for hitting people while corners did the covering* undefeated and no-brainer No. 1 Michigan went to the Rose Bowl. That was pretty cool. We faced Washington State and Ryan Leaf back when he was Ryan Leaf and not Ryan Leaf, Woodson made that interception to
stop the comeback keep Michigan in striking distance (wow I forgot that context), and woo forever.
Meanwhile the conferences that weren't the Big Ten and Pac Ten were into their third year of a "bowl coalition" to match up the best two teams possible. Undefeated kick-ball-in-OT-vs-Mizzou Nebraska went to that and beat the tar out of Tennessee. The AP declared the next day's Daily cover something to hang on your wall forever, the coaches gave Osborne his send-off gift, and it didn't matter that there was a co- because starting next year there would be the perfect championship system to determine an unquestionable champion…for 1997.
* This wasn't at all true unless you literally had Charles Woodson in your backfield. Dude should win an award for that or something.
Getting' Jiggy With It isn't working. This has been the BCS's problem since its inception. In 1998 it was the perfect system to pit the last big conference undefeateds against each other, but then it left out an undefeated minor conference team and arbitrarily selected one of several similar 1-loss teams to face unquestioned numero uno Tennessee. Every year there was at least some complaint they patched with an overreaction on the next one. Team A beat Team B beat Team C who got in? Overrate head-to-head and dump half the computers. Too influenced by pollsters? Let's get more computers. Teams running up the score? Dump the margin of victory. AP and Coaches No. 1 USC left out of a three-horse race? Overrate the polls. Undefeated SEC team left out of a three-horse race? Overrate schedule strength. Boise State keeps going undefeated by playing Wyoming 12 times? Autobid the little guys. Two Big Ten teams about to rematch? Oh the pollsters can jig the system. Wait the pollsters are jigging the system? Kick 'em out and get our own pollsters. Two SEC teams about to rematch? Dammit.
This is what a process looks like when it has no forethought. I could say the same about many playoff proposals. Every year there's a perfect system that would be perfect for that year if we had that system. What we should be asking for is a system that would be good enough every year.
Good enough is good enough. Math says if you found the best team in a 120-team league after 12-13 games of unbalanced schedules, you just got lucky. What we're shooting for here is something where only the homeriest homer of Domer will be claiming their team got duked. The last team in should have an ironclad case, were they to emerge victorious, to be the No. 1 overall team, but the first team out should not have a very good case to be given that chance.
Autobids are bad (for this). This includes conference champions, sorry. The championship games help clear things up by giving contenders an extra bellwether. However a two-division format means 8-4 teams can beat 12-0 teams they lost to the first time. The Big Longhorns Conference still technically exists. So does the Big East. Bowl tie-ins for conference champions are great and should stay but nothing should be automatic about a playoff.
The right process is some kind of playoff. I'd be fine if it just went back to bowl games and polls to determine the National Champion, but the game has gone national and there's money to be made.
The question is how many teams should be in it. The current system has two teams. The Plus-One proposal discussed by the conferences last year is basically four with some measure of flexibility. Brian wants six, which is the fewest that will accommodate undefeated mid-majors most years. Hinton proposed 10, which reasonably fits most of the good 2-loss teams.
What I'd like to do here is UFR the BCS years past and see which of these playoff systems, the BCS, a Plus-One, Brian's, or Doc Saturday's, would have been best.
1998: Slightly similar to this year, with one undisputed team on top, then lots of 1-loss teams to pick from. Four-teamer is #1 Tennessee (12-0), #2 FSU, #3 Kansas St, and #4 Ohio State. Six teamer includes #5 UCLA and #10 Tulane. Ten teams nets #6 Texas A&M with 2 losses, #7 Arizona with 1 loss, #8 Florida with 2 losses, and #9 Wisconsin with 1 loss (the Big Ten Champ). Ideally: Brian.
1999: The first obvious matchup of two undefeated BCS teams, #1 Florida State, and #2 Virginia Tech. Clear #3 Nebraska stands apart from a ton of 2-loss teams like Tennessee, Bama, Michigan, Wisconsin and MSU. 1-loss KSU is in there too. 10 teams works if you take Marshall over 3-loss Florida or Penn State. Ideally: BCS
2000: #1 Oklahoma, #2 Florida State, who lost to #3 Miami, who lost to #4 Washington. #5 V-Tech, and #6 Oregon State also had 1 loss each. After that is a lot of 2-loss BCS teams. The BCS system generated all sorts of controversy for teams 2-4 being mostly indiscernible, and lo more overreactive rules were written into the BCS codec. Ideally: Brian.
2001: Another year where 1 is clear but the rest ain't. #1 Miami, then #2 Nebraska, #3 Colorado with 2 losses but who just beat Nebraska, #4 Oregon with Joey Harrington. Getting to six includes 2-loss SEC teams #5 Florida and #6 Tennessee. You're leaving out 1-loss Illinois and 2-loss Texas here but 2-loss Tennessee was a shoe-in for the national championship game until falling in the SEC championship. An expanded field of 10 also draws in Stanford and Maryland. Ideally: Plus-One.
2002: #1 Miami, #2 Ohio State, HUGE GAP, #3 Georgia, #4 USC, #5 Iowa, #6 Washington State. This is the year you want to just skip to an N.C. game because the top two are undefeated and everyone else has 1 or 2 losses against easier schedules. A 10-team playoff includes Oklahoma, Kansas State, Notre Dame, and either Texas or Michigan. Could you really build a strong argument that the 2002 team is a national title contender? Ideally: BCS
2003: A top tier of three 1-loss teams: #1 Oklahoma, #2 LSU, #3 USC, then and easy cutoff between #4 Michigan and #5 Ohio State, #7 Florida State. Again you're picking between 2-loss teams for the 6th spot. Here I drew in FSU over Texas for winning their conference (not an auto-bid but it can count). Whichever team that is would have to play in Ann Arbor under the Brian plan to avoid having a repeat of M-OSU in the same place a week after The Game. The next four teams would include Texas, Tennessee, Miami (YTM), and either K-State or 1-loss Miami (NTM). This is a great case for a 4-team playoff, a decent case study for a 6-teamer, and shows how a 10-teamer is getting down to 1-loss MAC teams. Ideally: Brian.
2004: Again a clear top tier: #1 USC, #2 Oklahoma, #3 Auburn. A fourth is #5 Cal or #4 Texas, a sixth undefeated #6 Utah. Undefeated #9 Boise State is out there too. Expanding to 10 includes 2-loss Georgia, Virginia Tech, and 1-loss (not Big East yet) Louisville. Ideally: Brian.
2005: #1 USC, #2 Texas, BIG GAP, #3 Penn State, #4 Ohio State, #5 Oregon, #6 Notre Dame or maybe #11 WVU? Like '02 this is a "just play the NC" year. Twice in four years is enough to write a fix into the system for this sort of thing (more on this below). A 10-teamer includes Georgia, Miami (YTM), Auburn, and either VT, WVa., or LSU, or ??? – there are fully 10 two-loss BCS teams. Ideally: BCS.
2006: A one and many situation again. #1 Ohio State, then pick one from #3 Michigan (no need for shenanigans), #2 Florida, #5 USC, #4 LSU, #8 Boise State. I slotted in undefeated Boise over 1-loss Louisville and Wisconsin, and also moved USC over LSU for winning their conference. Going to 10 includes them plus probably Auburn and Oklahoma; after that is Brady Quinn's 10-2 Notre Dame who don't belong near an NC game except in ND fans' minds. Ideally: Brian.
2007: Sixer would have #1 Ohio State, #2 LSU, #3 Virginia Tech, #4 Oklahoma, #5 Georgia, and #10 Hawai'i. This might as well be 2011 with another pretty sure-fire #1 and some confusion after that. This would be a hard call between a BCS game (LSU's a strong #2 while the other 1-loss team is #8 Kansas) and a 6-teamer. Going to 10 includes Mizzou, USC, Kansas, and West Virginia, who are indiscernible from Georgia and VT but cuts off before 10-2 Arizona State. Ideally: Doc Sat.
2008: This was the season that wasn't played. Henri the Otter of Ennui wins. Okay fine this is a mess of seven 1-loss teams at the top and two undefeated mid-majors, one of which played Michigan and respectable MWC schedule. Sixer ends up with #1 Oklahoma, #2 Florida, #3 Texas, #4 Bama, #6 Utah, and #5 USC. Sorry #9 Boise State. After that there's 1-loss Texas Tech and Penn State and 2-loss Ohio State. If you're okay with leaving out Boise for USC it's Ideally: Brian.
2009: It's not 2004 despite three undefeated BCS teams since the Big East was by now a mid-major. #1 Alabama and #2 Texas in easy, and #3 Cincy and #4 TCU after. Going to six includes #5 Florida and #6 Boise State. Only Florida among the six has a loss. The next four are Oregon, Ohio State, Georgia Tech and Iowa, all with 2 losses so 10 teams would only muddle things that are fine, but this year would work well as BCS, Plus-One, or the Cook Six Plan. Ideally: Brian.
2010: Top two are easy #1 Auburn and #2 Oregon. Top six hauls in #3 TCU, #4 Stanford, #5 Wisconsin, and #6 Ohio State. Again this is tailor-made for six teams (three undefeated, three with one loss). It's tempting to go with the NC format, TCU be screwed, but six is just fine. The 2-loss Sooners and Razorbacks, and 1-loss MSU and Boise would draw into a 10-team field. Ideally: Brian.
2011: Two is a rematch of #1 LSU and #2 Alabama. Four is #3 Oklahoma State, plus either #4 Stanford or #5 Oregon who beat them. And #7 Boise State, now with BCS scheduled teams and TCU. I'm giving Boise the entry in a six-team system over Arkansas so we don't have half the field from one conference. Ten teams would be a bitch (Hinton includes Clemson in there—the BCS standings would have four SEC teams in a 10-team field). Ideally: Brian.
So you're saying the boss's system is better?
Yeah, I…wait I have a bolded subconscious alter-ego too now?
No I'm Ace's bolded alter-ego, filling in.
The coaches like me better. Boom BCS'ed!
He got bored right around the time you started going over every year since 1998.
:( So final score is Brian 9, BCS 3, and 1 each for a Plus One and Doc Saturday's 10-team bowlstravaganza. So six is the best solution, but far from a perfect solution. This makes sense when you look at an average season. For this I can even give you a
..art of how many of each type of contender we've had in 14 Final BCS Standings:
|Team type||Avg. per season|
|Undefeated BCS Teams||1.4|
|One-loss BCS Teams||3.4|
|Two-loss BCS Teams||5.8|
This is a loose argument for a six-team playoff. There's a reasonable chance of having four or five undefeated or 1-loss BCS teams, plus one perfect mid-major, every year. Those mid-majors aren't going away with TCU and Boise joining one of the recently pilfered BCS leagues; you can see Marshall and Tulane popped up before they did. However any given year should expect plenty of 2-loss BCS teams, more than you want to pick from to expand to a field of 10. Six draws an imaginary circle around the top three rows and suggests most years you can get between 5 and 6 comfortably competitive playoff contenders.
But then you still have 5/14 years when that's not ideal in just this little sample. Is that acceptable?
No it isn't. Even if you figure the perfect Plus-One year and the perfect Doctor Saturday year wouldn't bother too many people if we rammed them into a six-team field, what's unacceptable are those three BCS wins. It's better than the BCS's 3/14 but hell some years you just wanna see Ohio State versus Miami (YTM), or Florida State versus Vick, or the Pete Carroll's Hollywood All Stars versus the Vince Young Show. So:
Let's have that!
Let's propose the six-team playoff system I'll call Brian-Plus:
- Six-team field chosen by a select committee/cabal like in basketball
- #3 and #4 hosting #6 and #5 respectively in home field quarterfinals the week after the conference championships (mid-majors who get in will almost certainly fall in that that 5- or 6-seed range to preclude too much blue turf in Round 1)
- Semifinals in Sugar and Orange Bowls on Jan. 1.
- Final a week later in the Rose Bowl.
- All other bowls left alone; bowls can schedule Round 1 losers. Rose Bowl can have its regular game a week earlier with the parade.
…but that seeding committee can also choose to declare a clear national championship game. So basically when they meet they decide a.) Is it two or six this year, and then b.) If it's six who gets in and how are they seeded? On years when there's a clear two-team BCS game we revert to something like the current system, with bowl tie-ins for the regularly scheduled bowl games.
I would also suggest removing one game from the regular season schedule (if only this would solve the FCS problem) so that the conference championships are played over Thanksgiving and Round One of the playoffs be a week after. Maybe that's pushing it.
Bacon Qs! The time has come: the season's over, Three and Out has been digested by the people who bought it at or around launch, and we are set to get more information from Bacon on things that were omitted from the book or were included and might need clarification or explanation.
If you've read it and something stuck with you, let's hear it. Don't be afraid to ask tough questions; Bacon can take it. He sat in a press box with limited power and made it out alive.
Site note. I have been bookmarking things for MGolicious but Delicious is not updating the feed. Now it's down. Not sure what I can do other than switch link providers, but I'll try to poke around and see if I can fix anything.
Boo-boo. It (one of the its, anyway) was REVEALED!
“Turns out you didn’t have a boo-boo,” a reporter asked Robinson on Friday. “You had a staph infection?”
Robinson threw his head back and laughed.
“It was a deal,” Robinson said, repeating another popular ‘Hoke-speak’ phrase.
“I was a little sick — had a staph infection. But I went out there and still played. I did it for my team.”
Heiko got a gross shot of it.
Ow. Now that the season's over how do we feel about the Denard injury == terrible throwing idea? He had that and the elbow abscess, and once past those things he did get a lot better. I'm guessing 40% this stuff, 30% plain bad mechanics (back foot throws), 30% lack of familiarity with what Borges is trying to do.
BONUS: filing "had a deal" into the Hokeopticon.
Desmond Howard being interviewed by a woman who looks like she is playing a part in a 1990s science fiction movie. Just me?
This whole thing makes me think "Demolition Man." I am biased by the high top fade, probably. Via Wolverine Historian.
Goodbye, competent instate opponent. Saturday's game against Oakland was the last Michigan will play by edict of John Beilein:
"No," Beilein said Friday when asked if he had interest in renewing a contract with Oakland. "Not at all." …
"We traditionally want to play our games at Crisler (Arena) as often as possible," Beilein said of non-conference scheduling. "I'm not saying we won't go back to The Palace if it's a type of situation that we really think benefits Michigan 100 percent."
I'm not a fan. If playing Oakland means giving up occasional games against Arkansas Pine Bluff, uh… okay. There's plenty of room on the schedule for a game at the Palace against a real opponent.
Kampe said Oakland is "good enough to beat" Michigan and that's a reason M wants them off the schedule, but they're also good enough to provide an interesting game and an RPI bump relative to a Towson. Michigan should be looking for more opponents like Oakland, not fewer. I'd rather play them outside Crisler than some SWAC team anywhere.
Insert usual disbelief at lack of annual game against ND here.
Early emergence. I'm still trying to get my head around what's going on with the hockey team, and it basically comes down to three things:
- They are short two quality defensemen. Moffie should be a third pairing guy rotating with Clare and Serville should be redshirting. Clare's gotten better of late but his footspeed remains an issue and you can feel the panic when he gets the puck in his own zone.
- There is no top line. The best forward on the roster is…? Depending on the day it's Di Guiseppe, Wohlberg, Brown, or (lately) Guptill. One of those guys may have been the third wheel on a vintage Michigan top line as someone else stirs the drink.
- Special teams are terrible, terrible, terrible. Michigan's PK is last in the CCHA and PP is 8th. This was something of a problem last year; the PP has been a mess for a long time. Watching MSU run the same thing M does reveals that there are options other than "shoot from the point" and "get your shot blocked from the point."
This is not really related to the article I'm linking except that parenthetical above:
…this weekend, it was a different freshman — forward Alex Guptill — who stole the show. Guptill ensured that Di Giuseppe wasn’t missed at all. Over the course of the series, Guptill racked up three points and now leads Michigan in goals scored (nine).
“(Guptill) is doing the little things right,” said senior defenseman Greg Pateryn. “That’s what it comes down to. Less is more in college hockey, and he’s doing the simple things.”
After the first half dozen games or so I pegged Guptill as one of those big forwards the NHL drafts too high who disappoints until catching fire as a senior and leaving in a blaze of glory, but not so much. Guptill has started catching my eye for "little things" like dumping and chasing effectively; he seems faster than most guys his size.
On the flip side, a lot was expected from Hyman and he hasn't produced, languishing with 7 points. Only Glendening and Lynch have fewer points among forwards* with a regular shift. Both Hyman and Guptill are a bit older than usual Michigan freshmen (they both took post-draft years in junior) and it's a little concerning that Hyman isn't doing much of note yet.
*[IE, two thirds of Michigan's nominal top line to start the season. This is what I am saying.]
Pittsnogle redux (or I guess Jamie Smalligan but that's no fun). 2013 basketball commit Mark Donnal's latest boxscore: 36 points on 13/15 shooting with 8/11 from the line. UMHoops has video of this outburst featuring multiple three pointers, baby hooks in the lane, and a fadeaway jumper from the elbow, all against a pretty decent high school center with midmajor offers. Dude is a 6'9" post. Watching the video makes it apparent why Beilein offered Donnal as fast as he possibly could.
He doesn't look particularly athletic and doesn't seem to have the attributes needed to be a 4, so it's three-shooting center time again. Hopefully Donnal ends up reminding me of that one center from the SNES version of NCAA basketball who shot 50% from three because some programmer looked at a Colorado center going one for two (or thereabouts) on the season and decided he was awesome.
Etc.: Dave Brandon complains about OSU's recruitin' waiver. Didn't Michigan get the same thing when RR was hired? I don't recall any sanctions coming down as RR recruited dudes between his hiring and the Citrus Bowl.
via The Shredder
- South Florida, 23-20 (L)
- @ Michigan, 35-31 (L)
- No. 15 Michigan State, 31-13 (W)
- @ Pittsburgh, 15-12 (W)
- @ Purdue, 38-10 (W)
- Air Force, 59-33 (W)
- USC, 31-17 (L)
- Navy, 56-14 (W)
- @ Wake Forest, 24-17 (W)
- Maryland, 45-21 (W)
- Boston College, 16-14 (W)
- @ No. 6 Stanford, 28-14 (L)
Rankings/Standings: Unranked; borderline Top 25 team receiving a couple votes in each poll.
|Scoring:||30.5 ppg, 44th||20.9 ppg, 28th|
|Total:||424.1 ypg, 34th||348.8 ypg, 34th|
|Rush:||166.0 ypg, 51st||147.1 ypg, 58th|
|Pass:||258.1 ypg, 33rd||201.7 ypg, 34th|
|T/O margin:||-13 (+13, -26), 115th|
Season recap [wsg ed-S taking a metaphor way further]: Year two of the Brian Kelly regime was rough sailing. It wasn’t that they lost four games; it was that they lost four games in creative and terrible ways.
The Irish entered the season ranked 16th in the nation only to drop their first two games in television-shattering fashion. This mass destruction of TV sets explains why nobody now remembers their 31-13 thrashing of Michigan State. Those old CRTs had to go anyway though, and this meant the few Notre Dame fans who hadn't checked themselves into some sort of facility for the psychologically damaged and turnover-prone got to watch Tommy Rees and co. beat up some mediocre teams (and a couple more turnover meltdowns to rivals USC and Stanford) in crystal high-def.
There were some close, ugly wins here and there, but the story of the 2011 Irish was dominance split and bookended by wanton TV carnage.
Notre Dame’s biggest problem was with turnovers, and if you really want to point fingers (you do) you’d be epic-Hoke-double-pointing at the Irish quarterbacks. QB Tommy Rees and backup Dayne Crist combined for 19 TDs and 13 INTs plus a handful of fumbles that put Kelly on the fast track to vascular dementia. But then yea in the last half of the last game there came in sophomore Andrew Hendrix to lead an almost-comeback v. Stanford and rekindle hope for the future. Hope might have been 11-24 for 192 yards, 1TD and 1 INT but it does come in a golden dome.
That 20/14 TD/INT ratio is not so good if you’re a passing spread offense. To compare, Tony Pike and Zach Collaros combined for 39 TDs and just 8 INTs during Kelly’s last year at Cincinnati.
Coaching clearly contributed. Despite being equipped with two explosive running backs and a powerful offensive line, Kelly relied too much on his turnover-prone quarterbacks to make plays.
Stephen Dunn / Getty Images
This led to him turning purple when they did something stupid, which was often.
The playcalling cost them the game against USC and contributed to a couple other losses. Against the Trojans, RB Cierre Wood and RB Jonas Gray combined for 43 yards on a paltry 9 carries. It’s only fitting that the game-breaking play was a fumbled snap as Crist dropped back to pass on third-and-goal from the one.
via The Chicago Tribune
That said, the Irish were approximately two plays away from a 10-2 season and a possible BCS bowl.
They looked like a BCS bowl-contending team on paper. The Notre Dame offense came well stocked with skill players who should have been able to make up for the signalcallers’ weaknesses given the right coaching and game planning. The defense was filled with talent too, and despite some horrific breakdowns here and there they shoulda woulda have posted better stats had the offense not been coughing up the ball every other series. Their front seven demolished Michigan State’s run game, and we all remember what they did to Michigan’s offense for most of Under The Lights.
The defensive unit as a whole also held Matt Barkley and Andrew luck to mediocre performances, and it was the defense that allowed the Irish to survive the ugly games against Pittsburgh and Boston College to prevent the team from going 6-6.
In sum, the Irish had enough talent on both sides of the ball to stack up to the best teams in the country, but turnovers and embarrassing collapses during big games condemned them to a disappointing season.
Best win: No. 15 Michigan State
Worst loss: All of them.
When Michigan played them, we thought they were as frightening as: A seven year old with an M80 because they were as prone to hurting themselves as they were to hurting other people. Fear level = 6.
But now we know they are as frightening as: A 13 year old with an M80 -- about the same as before but now with a recently discovered, poorly developed taste in fashion. 6.
What this win meant for Michigan: Every flaw born of the coaching transition got exposed in this game: ineffectiveness from the I-formation, no intermediate passing game, Denard’s interception-fest, NFL blitzes without NFL-calibre players, and the clear lack of a number one running back despite the promise shown a week earlier. All the warts were well lit and on full display, yet somehow Michigan still managed to win.
That’s not to say the Wolverines didn’t do anything right and don’t deserve credit for the win as much as Notre Dame deserves credit for the loss. The game did also provide the first glimpses of the defense’s third-and-short domination, the emergence of Jeremy Gallon as a reliable weapon as a return man and receiver, the rise of the “jump-ball” offense (a.k.a. say what you want about Denard’s passing, but all your defensive backs are belong to Michigan’s receivers), the inaugural supereffective throwback screen, and abundant reaffirmation that Denard still has It.
Over the course of the season the Wolverines would work out most of the bad things while retaining most of the good things. Sounds simplistic, but if that isn’t QED for the superior level of coaching at Michigan, I don’t know what is.
The biggest disappointment about the win over the Irish is the Irish. Notre Dame losing their first and last games meant that the Wolverines beat a tough team that was ranked neither at the time nor at the end of the season. It doesn’t really matter now because Michigan made a BCS bowl anyway, but having the second-best beaten opponent be more competitive down the stretch wouldn’t have hurt.
And it totally felt as awesome as: Watching this video over and over and over.
“But he’s a poor thrower!”
Bowl game: Champs Sports Bowl vs. Florida State, Dec. 29 at 4:30 p.m. EST
Previously: Introducing Shaq Wiggins
Tyrone (GA) Sandy Creek CB Shaq Wiggins is a member of both the ESPNU 150 Watch List and the Early 247 for the class of 2013. He has been high on Michigan throughout the early stages of the recruiting process after an outstanding performance at last summer's Sound Mind Sound Body camp in Southfield put him on the radar of several Midwest schools. Wiggins holds offers from Michigan, Ohio State, Tennesee, Cincinnati, Wake Forest, Ball State, Ohio, and Toledo, and he was in Michigan Stadium a couple weeks ago to take in the Ohio State game. I caught up with Shaq over the weekend to get the latest on his status:
ACE: How's everything going in terms of your recruitment? How many offers are you sitting on right now?
SHAQ: Still sitting on eight. A couple schools came to see me, and for the most part they want me to come to their junior days and stuff like that. I'm going to sit down and pick out some of the schools that I'm going to consider and go to their junior days.
ACE: Are there any schools that are standing out for you right now?
SHAQ: I would probably say Tennessee right now.
ACE: You had the chance to come up and visit Ann Arbor for the Ohio State game. What were your impressions of Michigan coming out of that?
SHAQ: Well, right off the bat, I mean the crowd—114,000 fans—that was pretty amazing, I never saw that before. I know Ohio State and Michigan are good rivals. They executed well against Ohio State, the play was great, the environment was great—it just makes you think more and more about being a Michigan Wolverine.
ACE: Did you get the chance to talk to the coaches while you were up on your visit? What have they had to say about your recruitment?
SHAQ: I talked to Coach Montgomery most of the time, and I talked to Coach Mallory for a little bit. They were telling me to keep focusing—this was while the season was going on—keep focusing on my style of play and just playing hard for my team and they would come to see me in the next two weeks when they come and recruit the South.
ACE: What's the status of your Michigan offer? Depending on where you look, it says you may have one or you may not.
SHAQ: Yeah, I don't know why—someone talked to me the other day [and said that] on ESPN the check was off my Michigan offer or something like that. I know I have a Michigan offer, so I don't know what the rumors are or anything like that, but I can't worry about that.
ACE: Did visiting Michigan change how you look at the school and how they fit in with the teams you're looking at right now?
SHAQ: Yeah, it definitely gives a little spark in my eye. Just looking at the freshman, Blake Countess, playing early, and the depth chart looks pretty good. So, I mean, Michigan I would say is a priority.
ACE: Looking at your season, you guys went through the regular season undefeated and got into the third round of the playoffs. How'd you feel about your team's performance this year and your performance individually?
SHAQ: My team's performance, I thought it was as good as it could get. In the last game we didn't play as well as we should have, but as a team throughout the whole season, the season was great. We played an undefeated regular season and won the regional championship, so some of the goals we set we accomplished them, and obviously the goal we set to win the state championship didn't go as planned. All we can do is come in harder next year. My season individually, you know, I never thought I would have nine interceptions in one season. I guess from all the hard work in the summertime, that's what I got.
ACE: Nine picks is obviously a very impressive number. How'd you feel you improved over the season, and what are you still working on for the next level?
SHAQ: I try and get better at every aspect of the game, especially at cornerback, I try to work at everything. But the most important thing that I want to work on is my size, a lot of people talk about my size—not that I really take offense to that, it's true, I have to get bigger, stronger for the next level in order to contribute to my team. I would probably say that's one of the main focuses of my game. Once I get a little stronger and bigger I think my game will be kind of complete and good and I'm just hoping to get better.
ACE: Now that your season is over, what are you looking at in terms of possible junior days and summer visits?
SHAQ: Yeah—hopefully Michigan again. I know I'm taking a trip to Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee, and maybe one more school.
ACE: Do you have any idea in terms of a timeline about when you'd like to wrap up your recruitment?
SHAQ: I'm hoping summertime of 2012, going into my senior season, but I'm not trying to rush anything. I would like to get my recruitment over with by summer so I can just focus straight on my season.