who are you going to believe, a black and white 1950s comic strip or common sense?
YOU HAVE BEEN OFFERED THE JOB. Michigan is talking to people now. One of those people was David Cutcliffe or his agent, which led wildly inaccurate NFL.com insider Gil "Thorp" Brandt to assert that he had been offered the job and turned it down. What actually happened: Michigan gauged his interest and he said no thanks*. Or nothing at all, but taking public statements from the people involved at face value is never advisable in a coaching search.
If Michigan did contact him, why would Cutcliffe say "no thanks"? He's 60 and underwent triple-bypass surgery in 2005 that he thought might end his coaching career; Duke was described to me as a "surprise retirement job" for him. Anyone could call him and he would not leave Durham, where he has infinite job security and a level of commitment he can be comfortable with.
What does this say about Michigan's end? They're casting a wide net and poking anyone who looks like a quality college head coach so they have a list of interested people in the event they don't get Harbaugh. Asking after Cutcliffe is a good idea—he's a terrific coach. Or it means nothing at all in the event it didn't happen.
NEXT UP ON LET'S GO NUTS ABOUT A PHONE CALL. Michigan talked to Les Miles's agent yesterday, according to everyone except LSU. (See what I am saying about public statements?) This spawned a WHAT DOES IT MEAN thread on the board that was a little overheated—not that I expected anything else. It's clear that Miles is a guy Michigan should ask about if their policy is "let's talk to good head coaches," even if there remain conflicts between Miles and big chunks of the program alumni.
A call is a call. It means that Miles is not entirely off the list; it doesn't mean much more than that. It has spawned a lot of insiders chattering about how he might be #2 on the list, which would be a shock to me. If so, Hackett is an OG for real. There are a lot of "over my dead body" hurdles to clear there.
An alternate possibility: Hackett made a very public overture to Miles—every newspaper and site had it yesterday, and prominently—in an effort to spur Harbaugh to a decision. That doesn't necessarily mean Miles isn't a legit candidate. The nature of the contact when everything else is murky and disputed is a clear signal to Harbaugh, though.
*HERE IS HOW THIS WORKS. Search firms create a pool of candidates; when they do that they make sure that pool consists of people actually inclined to take the job. A reader who's been involved in these sorts of things details the process:
Anybody who’s been involved in either side of a job search conducted by a search firm knows that the search firm’s job is to create a pool of candidates. As a potential candidate, you get a call (or, I guess if you are important enough, your agent gets it) from a staffer at the search firm. The person asks you whether you’d be interested in being a candidate. (Sometimes the first question is whether you know anybody who’d be interested and would be a good candidate.)
You ask about the process - how many people are they contacting? What’s the timeline? In my world, to commit to the process, you actually have to do something like write a letter of interest and submit your C.V, and I don’t know if that’s true for coaches. But you DO have to commit to expending time, energy, and the possibility of disappointment if you say “yes.”
So from time to time I will get a call about an opening because I’m a plausible candidate, even if it is only to make sure that the firm has fulfilled its duty to create the pool. And in most cases, I’ll make an immediate decision that throwing my hat in the ring isn’t worth it, because the likelihood of getting the job just isn’t worth the physical and psychic costs.
The news story on Cutcliffe in particular struck home that way. He’s a plausible candidate to have in the pool. He’s got a good job. He’s not likely to make the final cut. He says, “no, thanks, I’m not interested,” not because he wouldn’t like the idea of being the coach at Michigan (just as I wouldn’t mind being the dean at the XYZ Law School), but because he says or thinks, as I do, if Jim Hackett (or the equivalent provost in my case) really wants me, have him give me a call and we can cut to the chase, but I’m not willing just to fill out your NCAA 64 team bracket.”
There, I feel better.
Michigan is obviously creating this pool in earnest now.
BUT WHAT ABOUT HARBAUGH? I don't think this means much about Harbaugh. It rules out wildly optimistic scenarios in which Harbaugh has already agreed to the job and is going to punch Jed York on the field Sunday before escaping in a block M emblazoned helicopter, giving the stadium an epic double bird while laughing maniacally on his way out.
Michigan is uncertain enough that they're giving themselves a fallback option, or fallback options. This fits with the general belief that Michigan has come after Harbaugh with a very strong offer and hopes he accepts it, but doesn't know.
I've heard conflicting things, but one thing that seems clear is that Harbaugh is 100% honest when he tells the media he is not focused on anything other than his current job. If the 49ers get eliminated from the playoffs things might start moving faster then. Right now Harbaugh is still maniacally focused on something other than where he'll be next year. Frustrating; also why he's a very good coach.
NFL OPENINGS NOT SO OPEN. Despite currently being 5-8 in his second year with the Bears, local opinion holds that Marc Trestman will be back next year. Harbaugh was of course a Bears QB for a long time and an open Chicago job was described as a "problem" a few weeks ago.
how not to conduct a coaching search
an epic poem in iambic pentameter
by Jeremy Foley
"DISORGANIZED." Bruce Feldman called Michigan's search that while discussing Cutcliffe, and we've heard other media people echo that assertion. For one, I don't think that's knowable. For two, M has been laser-focused on Harbaugh; agree with that approach or not it is a clear goal Michigan is pursuing before exploring other options.
For three, I fail to see why Michigan's search is being held up for ridicule when Nebraska just hired a 62-year-old who's under .500 in the last five years and Florida—Florida!—botched their search so badly that half of the media in a five-state radius descended on their negotiations. Those negotiations fetched a guy with three years of head coaching experience for a seven million dollar buyout. Michigan doesn't have a coach yet, sure. I'd rather have this search than either of those.
PLAN B. Still nothing resembling clarity. Scout's Jamie Newberg reports($) that Jim Mora, Dan Mullen, Bob Stoops, and Butch Jones have all said no thanks; 247's Clint Brewster reports that Mullen and… erk… Bret Bielema could be next options after Harbaugh. He also says Seahawks OC Darrell Bevell is not so much, after Sam named him a person of interest. Nobody knows!
Similarly, opinions on how realistic a Miles candidacy is are all over the place. Brewster says "some people directly tied to NFL and college agents" say it's his to lose(!); Rivals and Scout are far more circumspect—or at least were. Today the chatter is that he's moving up, potentially way up. In this case I place far more trust in the local guys than some agent chatter. But, man.
At least there's this: on GBW's new, insane rumor board Sam noted that Schiano's support comes from his agent and this guy who runs the search firm and his detractors include($) "anyone with coaching experience" still affiliated with M. So we can rule that out, I imagine.
Greg Davis is drawing up a zone read, so he can't be a candidate at least
Seth: How does Michigan screw this one up?
Either of those would be a swift kick to the searchbits; otherwise I'm optimistic about the search (both process and outcome). This may lead to me posting a bunch of Gob Bluth clips on Twitter, but I don't think Michigan screws this up.
[After the jump: more all too realistic scenarios in which Michigan decides we need more mediocrity and stupid.]
Michigan (6-2) vs.
Eastern Michigan (7-1)
Ann Arbor, Michigan
|WHEN||9:00* pm EST, Tuesday|
|LINE||Michigan -10 (KenPom)|
*Actual time TBD. Game tips after 6:30 WBB game vs. Princeton
SO THAT HAPPENED
Okay, elephant in the room. Michigan is coming off a loss to the New Jersey Institute of Technology. And not at technology things. At basketball. In a real game.
Fortunately, basketball upsets are not quite like football upsets. Rivals will guffaw, and will bring it up for years. Buckeyes and Spartans are buying NJIT stuff like hotcakes. And Michigan fans are pretty confident that unlike, say, App State, this is just a sign that crap happens. Beilein Uber Alles.
THE LINEUP CARD
Projected starters are in bold. %Min and %Poss figure are from this season now—yes, there will be a fair amount of noise in these numbers for a while. The "Should I Be Mad If He Hits A Three" methodology: we're mad if a guy who's not good at shooting somehow hits one. Yes, you're still allowed to be unhappy if a proven shooter is left open.
|G||1||Mike Talley||Sr.||6'0, 176||61||21||No|
|Incredibly efficient, pass-first PG. Gets to the line a LOT.|
|G||0||Ray Lee||So.||6'3, 170||75||30||No|
|Another massive usage guard. Having a really good year. DANGERMAN.|
|F||14||Karrington Ward||Sr.||6'8, 212||79||22||Yes|
|Large guy. Splits time between the three and four.|
|F||3||Anali Okoloji||Sr.||6'8, 232||56||22||Kinda|
|Big guy, can step out and shoot.|
|C||30||Mike Samuels||Jr.||6'11, 285||35||27||Very|
|Big dude is big. Probably a more comfy matchup for Doyle.|
|G/F||5||Jodan Price||So.||6'7, 180||52||18||No|
|Splits between the two and three. Exclusively a deep threat. Literally.|
|C||12||Lekan Ajayi||Jr.||6'11, 245||37||10||Oh yeah|
|Splits time with Samuels at the five. Zero offensive anything, other than OR%|
|G||25||Ethan Alvano||Fr.||6'1, 170||41||16||Yup yup yup|
|10% eFG% is bad. 0-11 from deep. Really good A/TO ratio.|
First, the bad news: Eastern Michigan Basketball is most decidedly not Eastern Michigan Football. The basketball version is 7-1, which is more wins than the football team has put up in the last three seasons combined. Instead of being a doormat, they are potentially in the hunt to compete in the MAC. They’re #132 in KenPom. Northwestern is #129. This is a real team.
Now, the good news: Eastern put together their seven wins by playing three Division 2 schools, four schools in the 200’s or worse in KenPom (#206 Oakland, #201 Youngstown State, #293 UNC Greensboro, and #343 Longwood*). They are coming off a nine point loss to #56 Dayton, however, which isn’t a terrible result.
More good news: Michigan already beat the much better version of this team. It was called Syracuse. EMU head coach Rob Murphy spent six years as an assistant to Jim Boeheim, and runs the same 2-3 zone. And like Syracuse, EMU is tall and long; their effective height is #44 in the country, and they can run a lineup that averages over 6’8” at the two through the five. They block a lot of shots, and they pick up a lot of steals. They give up a lot of three point attempts. Their profile is very much the profile of a 2-3 zone team, and one that runs an effective version of the 2-3.
Offensively, Eastern is led by shooting guard Ray Lee, who uses 29.9% of possessions and takes 32% of shots when he’s on the floor. He is currently shooting 64.4% eFG% from the field, but that may be SoS-influenced; that number was 44.4% last year. He’s also shooting 46% from three, but shot only 31% as a freshman. Maybe he took a leap, but he has also undoubtedly boosted his stats by feasting on some delicious snacky cakes.
The other dangerman is point guard Mike Talley. The Duquesne transfer doesn’t shoot a lot (though he is efficient when he does so), but his assist numbers are astronomical. He also gets to the foul line; he’s one of 13 players in the country playing real minutes with more free throw attempts than field goal attempts. He is currently only 68% from the line, however. Talley is also the son of former Michigan point guard Michael Talley.
One oddity to note: primary backup Jodan Price, who spends most of his time at the three, is 38% (11-29) from three, but is 0-9 from two.
As a team, Eastern does a couple of things very well: they take care of the ball and they get to the foul line; they have four players who draw 5+ fouls per 40 minutes. Some of this may be the result of experience (they run three seniors in the starting lineup), or just being coached by someone far more not bad than the folks who have coached Eastern Michigan Football in the last ALL THE YEARS.
[Ed-Seth: I did my best to recreate Ace's thing here]
Hit threes – This is a pretty obvious point for a Beilein team in pretty much every game, but nearly 40% of the shots that go up against Eastern are from beyond the arc. If Michigan’s snipers have an above-average night, this one could get out of hand early. If Zak Irvin goes 1-of-8 from deep again… Zak Irvin should not go 1-of-8 from deep again.
Stay out of foul trouble – Michigan doesn’t foul. Eastern lives on foul shots. Fortunately, most of that pressure is in the backcourt, where that prospect is a little less concerning than for the bigs, but if Caris picks up a couple of cheapies, the autobench could make things interesting going into the half. Which is why Michigan needs to…
Push it. Puh-push it real good – Eastern has played the second weakest schedule of defensive teams in the country. Their only decent opponent, Dayton, shoots under 50% eFG% and can’t shoot threes for crap. There’s a good chance that it will take the Eagles some time to adjust to this quality of offensive opponent. Michigan has a chance to wipe that New Jersey-ish taste out of its mouth if it can pressure EMU early offensively, not from a tempo standpoint but from an efficient murder-death-machine standpoint.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by 10.
Dylan’s UMHoops preview. Brennan Quinn’s MLive previews. A camera carried by a helper monkey who is following Jim Harbaugh around.
This is what NJIT’s gym looks like. Really. (Source)
YOUR WEEKLY B1G HOOPS COLUMN
*It’s the last week of class before finals and I’m really busy – Alex
Table of Contents
Our new least-favorite acronym
Is it time to panic?
The Big Ten defeats the ACC
Iowa wins in Chapel Hill
Remember: Michigan did beat Syracuse
Wisconsin, Ohio St., and Michigan St. lose
Michigan didn’t have the only awful loss
Early returns: individual player scatterplots
Early returns: efficiency margins
EARLY POWER RANKINGS
1. Our new least-favorite acronym
The elephant in the room is that–despite beating Syracuse in a key ACC/Big Ten Challenge clash–Michigan notched the most surprising result of the week (and maybe the most surprising result in all of college basketball so far this season) with a shocking home loss to NJIT, the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
After holding the Highlanders to just five points in the first ten minutes of the game, Michigan conceded 67 points over the next 30, and the Wolverine defense conceded the upset. To put it in context, NJIT’s outstanding eFG% of 70.7 was better than all but one of Michigan’s shooting performances last season (at Illinois – 72.5). While NJIT’s impressive 2-point percentage (55%) was a problem in and of itself, their eleven made three-pointers were the reason for the upset. To allow an opponent that had been shooting 33% from three to hit 11-17 is some extraordinarily bad luck. From Ken Pomeroy:
If you shot 45% in the first half of the 2011 conference season, you’d be expected to shoot about 35% in the second half. If you shot 25% in the first half, you’d be expected to shoot 33% in the second half. A difference you couldn’t notice with your eyes. I don’t know exactly what implications this has on strategy, but when evenly-matched teams get together, action happening beyond the 3-point line is like a lottery. You take a shot and a third of the time you have success.
Pomeroy’s analogy of the three-point line being a lottery – the amount of threes a team makes amounts to little more than a weighted random number generator and Michigan was absolutely torched by a team that, quite frankly, doesn’t shoot that well. This result is at the very far end of the bell-curve.
[AFTER THE JUMP: Panic? More on everybody else]
Goodbye, oh ye of many numbers
Not a surprise, even with the late slide in production:
"I would like to thank my family, coaches and teammates for their support," Funchess said in a statement. "It's always been a dream of mine to play in the NFL, and I am prepared to take the next step in my journey."
Funchess has some mouths to feed and should get drafted high despite the indifferent performance this year. He has a size/speed combo reminiscent of Mike Evans and someone's going to take a shot at him in the late first round.
"Every football team eventually arrives at a lead play: a "Number 1" play, a "bread and butter" play. It is the play that the team knows it must make go, and the one its opponents know they must stop. Continued success with it, of course, makes your Number 1 play, because from that success stems your own team's confidence." –Vince Lombardi
As we discuss coaching candidates we'll invariably get into the same old discussions on what kind of base offense said candidate might want to run. There was some discussion on the board this week and I wanted to expand that discussion into some basic "Rock" plays of various offensive schemes.
It is incorrect to identify any one play (and even more incorrect to identify a specific formation or personnel group) as a complete offense. You always need counters to keep doing the thing you do, and the counters will often borrow directly from some other offensive concept's rock. All offenses will borrow from each other so no breakdown is going to describe more than 60% of any given offense. Most zone blocking offenses throw in man-blocked things (example: inverted veer) to screw with the defense. You can run most of these out of lots of different formations. You can package counters into almost all of them (example: The Borges's Manbubble added a bubble screen to inside manball).
Really what you're describing when you talk about any offense is the thing they do so well that they can do it for 5 or 6 YPP all day long unless defenses do something unsound to stop it (like play man-to-man, or blitz guys out of coverage, etc.). Some examples of offenses and their formation needs (where a need isn't specified, figure they can use any set or formation: spread, tight, 23, ace whatever). I've given the rock plays, and left out the counters and counters to the counters because that gets into way too many variants.
Finally, the terms "pro style" and "spread" are meaningless distinctions. NFL offenses have the luxury of getting super complex: they have passing game coordinators who teach the QBs and WRs Air Raid things then run zone or power blocked things. The spread refers to formations and personnel—it doesn't say anything about whether the QB runs, if it's an option offense, or what tempo it runs at, or even what kind of blocking it uses. What I've done here is break up the offenses into "QB as Run Threat" and "QB Doesn't Have to Run" since the construction of these base plays usually stems from that. Remember, however, that QB running offenses can (and often do) still use blocking right out of Vince Lombardi's favorite play.
QB as Run Threat Offenses:
The FB dive will hit too quickly for anyone but the DE to stop; once the DE bites, the RG moves down to the second level while the QB keeps and heads outside, with the RB in a pitch relationship to defeat the unblocked defender there.
Concept: QB makes a hand-off read then a pitch read.
Makes life especially hard on: Edge defenders who have to string out plays against multiple blockers and maintain discipline.
Formation needs: Two backs.
Helpful skills: QB who can consistently make multiple reads and won't fumble, highly experienced, agile OL, backs who can both run and bock.
Mortal enemy: The Steel Curtain. Stopping the triple option is a team effort; if everybody is capable of defeating blocks, challenging ball-carriers, and swarming to the pitch man there's nowhere to attack.
Examples: Air Force, Nevada, Georgia Tech, Bo's Michigan
[Hit the jump for ZR, QB power, Air Raid, West Coast, Manball, Inside Zone, and the Power Sweep].