Thought it would be worthwhile to do a second deep dive on Dan Mullen's background. I did a first pass on Mullen in late September when he had just beaten LSU for his biggest win of his career, can be read here. At the time I was only looking at the NCAA data for total offense/defense. This time I have a much more expanded statistical data - which tells me to worry about the same things about Dan Mullen.
Mullen is to 2014's search IMO what Kevin Sumlin was to 2013; the name of the moment. A year later Sumlin's shine has dissipated quite a bit. This is my worry with Mullen. If I brought him up as a CC 12 months ago I would have been laughed off the board. So does 1 year justify changing that?
12.5 months ago Mullen was sporting a 4-6 record with 2 games to go in year FIVE of his regime. Those 4 wins were over baby seals Alcorn State, Troy, Bowling Green, and soon to be 2-10 Kentucky. He did beat 3-9 Arkansas and won the Egg Bowl over 8-5 Ole Miss to finish off the year 6-6 before the bowl. So his regular season included 1 win of note...in year 5. Bret Bielema has done better in year 2 of his regime at Arkansas IMO in terms of upsets.
And his first 4 years were not super impressive either; until 2014 Dan Mullen spent 5 years beating bad teams he should and losing to almost every decent team that came across his desk. Including an UM team that had given up on its coach.
2009-2013 wins and losses
List of wins year by year
- 2009: Jackson State, (2-10) Vanderbilt, Middle Tenn State, (7-6) Kentucky, (9-4) #20 Miss State.
- 2010: Memphis, (6-7) Georgia, Alcorn State, Houston, (8-5) Florida, UAB, Kentucky, (4-8) Ole Miss, Michigan
- 2011: Memphis, LA Tech, UAB, Kentucky, Tennessee-Martin, (2-10) Ole Miss
- 2012: Jackson State (3-9) Auburn, Troy, South Alabama, Kentucky, (5-7) Tennessee, Middle Tennessee, (4-8) Arkansas
- 2013: Alcorn State, Troy, Bowling Green, Kentucky, (3-9) Arkansas, (8-5) Ole Miss, (10-4) Rice
List of losses year by year
- 2009: Auburn, LSU, Georgia Tech, Houston, Florida, Alabama, Arkansas
- 2010: Auburn, LSU, Alabama, Arkansas
- 2011: Auburn, LSU, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas
- 2012: Alabama, Texas A&M, LSU, Ole Miss, Northwestern
- 2013: Oklahoma State, Auburn, LSU, South Carolina, Texas A&M, Alabama
Miss State beat NOBODY of value in years 3 and 4 of his regime. In year 5 he beat one - an 8-5 Ole Miss. That is 3 years with no regular season wins of value other than 1 team. He has a massive dearth of wins over >.500 Power 5 conference teams. Every single opportunity he had to spring a major upset ala Arkansas in year 2 under Bret he failed in those years 3, 4, and 5. In year 4 he had a team that could not beat Northwestern in a bowl.
His best win in 5 years was 8-5 Florida. His 2nd and 3rd best wins were rivalry games vs decent, not great Ole Miss in year 1 and year 5. I cannot find a 4th best win in his first 5 years - it would be between Rice in a bowl and UM in a bowl. So in 64 (including 4 bowls) opportunities in 5 years I am at a loss to find a 4th quality win.
Yes as many have said "he coaches at the Indiana of the SEC" but Harbaugh took over 1-11 Stanford and by year 3 had beaten top 10 teams like USC and Oregon. And Stanford is not any different than a Purdue level program - they bounced from bad to average for most of 25 years. So the open question is - why no major upsets in 5 years, why cannot you do what Bert B did at Arkansas in year 2 in 5 years? He had way more opportunities than most coaches to spring upsets as he is in the SEC West.
But let's look at the stats because it tells us a lot about how a team is built. It also disputes some notions. Right now the meme is Dan Mullen is an offensive guru due to working with Urban Meyer and his offenses at MSU. The data shows otherwise - this is not a Mike Leach offense or Kevin Sumlin offense or any high powered offense. MSU is not a team that spent 5 years losing 45-31 under an offensive guru like a Texas Tech did under Leach. If anything MSU was an above average defensive team whose offense was sorely lacking for 5 years.
I am worried Mullen is getting the "Brett Favre" effect. Lions fans will recall so many "offensive gurus" who coached Brett Favre. They's go elsewhere (including the Lions HC) and be exposed. Brett Favre made a lot of people a lot of money they didn't deserve.
This is always a worry with hiring a coordinator who works under a HC whose expertise is his side of the ball. Urban Meyer has had high powered offenses with any OC he works with. So to say "Dan Mullen developed Chris Leak" is no different than saying "Tom Herman developed JT Barrett". No folks - Urban friggin Meyer is the consistent piece there - right Tim Tebow? Did UF's offense go thru the crapper when Mullen left? No.
Here is 7 years of data including 2008 (Croom's last season) for comparison
|W/L||Tot Off||oFEI||oS&P+||Tot Def||dFEI||dS&P+|
For comparison here is U of M's 8-5 2012 team so we can compare to a decent but not great team
|W/L||Tot Off||oFEI||oS&P+||Tot Def||dFEI||dS&P+|
My advice is to ignore the NCAA's "total offense" and "total defense" measures and drift your eyes to the advanced stats. Why? Total offense and total defense measure nothing but total yards gained or given up in a game - they are simple measures that do not adjust for strength of schedule, garbage time, conferences, or anything. See the disparity in UM's 2012 Total Offense vs advanced stats or MSU's 2014 Total Defense vs advanced stats. So look at FEI and S&P+ instead..
Let's exclude 2009 because you can't do much as a coach in year 1 when you take over a bad program but begin to recruit and adjust your team. From 2010 forward we see a team that until 2014 had Greg Mattison type defenses (excluding 2012). That's not bad but not great. 2014 was different in that was a very good defense via advanced stats - although you'd never know it by using total defense via the NCAA.
As for the offense. Offensive guru? Hell no. This was a mediocre offense for 5 years. Only in 2014 with an early Heisman Trophy candidate did it take off. Seeing how bad it was in years 3-4 is very troubling. 2011-2012 advanced stats mirror what 2014 UM is doing; FEIs in the 80s for a Power 5 team is putrid. And no Miss State doesnt recruit like Purdue or Indiana - its classes were generally in the 30s in Mullen era, which is no different than Michgan State and not much below where a Nebraska or Penn State recruits. And ahead of Stanford and Wisconsin. So there is no excuse for this bad of an offense for 5 years, including 2 years of Michigan 2014 level offense.
As for year 6 in the regime? Stats look awesome across the board. But if you are hiring a coach for what he did in year 6 after 5 year's of mediocre you are taking a massive risk.
Throw all that together PLUS the transition costs of switching to his run based spread where we just got rid of all the type of players that fit it and I do not think Dan Mullen is a good risk as a HC for UM. Bert B is already doing better things in year 2 at Arkansas than Mullen did in year 5 at Miss State. Some say Mullen is not a 1 year wonder - I say thus far until proven otherwise next year - he is.
Football Outsiders FEI measure and (3) Football Outsiders S&P+ measure are 2 advanced stats I am using. Both of these incorporate various strength of schedule adjustments, garbage time adjustments, blowout adjustments etc to give a more comprehensive view of a unit other than yards gained or yards given up. Read more about them here and here.
Report: Mike Shanahan Wants To Coach Either Michigan or Florida - Florida, please
John "Doc" Holliday
Following that riveting Northwestern victory where Fitzgerald outdumbed Hoke, we took time to contemplate who would or would not make it:
Nuss won't make it - Year 2
Funk won't make it
Jack & Jill won't make it
and Coach Heck won't make spaghetti tonight
While you're at it, How about showing some support ????. 4 question marks. FOUR!!!! Dave Brandon is impressed.
We got to eat our own and re-hash whether we should have retained Gorgeous Al Borges while trying to make a case for retaining Hoke.
Daily Jim Harbaugh articles: 11/14 11/19 11/24 9ers possibly trading Harbaugh to Jets Shefter:Harbaugh to NCAA unlikely
BTW, Stephen Ross would rather have Harbaugh at UofM. OF course, it helps that his team is actually playing good football right now.
Larry Foote tells the world we have too many trust fund babies and that we should get back to recruiting the 'hood. Frank Clark takes it upon himself to prove Foote wrong. He was promptly dismissed from the program. Coach Hoke released a statement on Clark
Florida one-upped us by firing Will Muschamp in his 5th season in Gainesville.
Nebraska pulled the quick trigger. OT: Bo Pellini Fired
And then, on Tuesday December 2, Athletic Director Jim Hackett addressed the media and confirmed what everyone expected: Brady Hoke Fired
So there it is. After having 3 coaches over a span of 4+ decades, we now look for our 3rd coach in 5 years. My have things changed in Ann Arbor.
At the end of the day, we're talking about a bunch of college kids playing a game. These boys put their time, effort, and well-being on the line so we can enjoy 12 Saturdays every Fall.
A poor kid with a battered brain felt the only reasonable remedy was to take his own life. His body was found near his apartment with a pistol nearby. God rest your soul, Kosta Karageorge.
To conclude, here's a picture of Devin Gardner. This photo reaches deep into my soul perhaps more than any other I've seen. Look at the face of those two young men and immerse yourself in that very moment.
It makes me feel ashamed that I've ever spoken a bad word about a college football player.
Here's to hoping for a more content future.
I've now done three (one, two, three) CC candidate roundups. In each, I profiled 4 legitimate and 1 not-so-legitimate candidates. Now I rank the 12 legitimate ones according to how desirable a candidate they are, but with close calls determined by plausibility. (As you'll notice, some candidates are more plausible than others.) In other words, if I were Hackett, I'd just go down this list--maybe skipping the pipe dreams, but more likely just putting out feelers and politely backing off if the answer is "thanks but no thanks."
So what makes an ideal coaching candidate for Michigan in 2015? The demonstrated ability to coach + the demonstrated ability to win QUICKLY with a roster like ours + the likely ability to manage the uniquenesses of a "blue blood" program and its vested interests. That last bit really shouldn't matter as much as it does, but it undoubtedly does. And not just at Michigan: at Notre Dame, Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Alabama, USC and Tenessee too. Programs that feel the weight of history require coaches who can not only win but simultaneously embody and transcend tradition. Bo would be a perfect example, but there are others from more recent history, coaches who took the reins of once mighty "blue bloods" fallen on hard times and brought them back to glory. Bob Stoops, Pete Carroll, etc.
The Michigan job is further complicated by the fact that, like Notre Dame, we pride ourselves on academics and high integrity. Ideally we do not want to cut corners in our push (back) to the top. This is admirable, but it does make the job of finding the right person harder, as some of the best coaches out there are inveterate corner cutters. A Bob Stoops still makes the cut, but Pete Carroll? Not sure.
But enough about all that. Here's my ranked list of previously profiled CC candidates:
1. Jim Harbaugh
CASE: Harbaugh is the best available coach (to the unknowable degree that he is available) and the candidate who best “gets” what makes Michigan unique and special. Also shares Schlissel’s views on the academics/athletics balance.
LIKELIHOOD HE COMES IF OFFERED: 40%. It’s possible, maybe even more than possible, but he’s also going to have NFL options, and coaches with NFL options don’t often switch to college.
2. Gary Patterson
CASE: The best not available coach who's name nevertheless keeps coming up in every CC discussion at every major school. Patterson's long-term success at TCU speaks for itself—there’s a reason, after all, why his name keeps coming up. Unfortunately, it may not be worth the bandwidth to email an offer, because he’s not coming.
LIKELIHOOD HE COMES IF OFFERED: 1%. Anything's possible, but some things are so implausible that they might as well not be. In other words, he’s not coming.
3. John Harbaugh
CASE: Like little brother Jim, but less abrasive. Has won Super Bowl and grew up in Ann Arbor. Good NFL coaches (hell, even pretty good NFL coaches) tend to do well in college.
LIKELIHOOD HE COMES IF OFFERED: 10%. A neat idea, but hard to see “John Harbaugh, Michigan Football Coach” becoming reality. After all, unlike little brother Jim, he’s not being pushed out of his NFL gig for clash-of-personality reasons.
4. Les Miles
CASE: Big-time winner at LSU, and clearly a very good football coach. Former letterman and assistant coach under Bo too. Also the guy we maybe should have hired in 2007. However, is on the old side now and hiring Miles might exacerbate rather than heal our factional wounds.
LIKELIHOOD HE COMES IF OFFERED: 99%. He’s been non-obliquely hinting at it lately, and straight up told John U. Bacon in Three and Out that he was ready in 2007. If we want him, he’s coming.
5. Bret Bielema
CASE: Like most people, I thought this was crazytalk the first time I encountered it. But the more I think about it, the more sense it makes. Would be able to take this roster and make it competitive right away. And as has been said, Bielema wins with a brand of football that roughly corresponds to what Hoke and Brandon wanted to re-establish but couldn't. On the other hand, his teams at Wisconsin were mostly of the “almost-but-not-quite-great” variety. That sounds pretty good from where we are right now, but could wear thin after some time.
LIKELIHOOD THAT HE’D COME IF OFFERED: 33%. There is a solid speculative case for why he’d be interested, but it’s airy speculation (i.e. there are no sources or rumors, just logic). Astronomical buyout might render this dead in the water.
6. Dan Mullen
CASE: Has won more games at Mississippi State than previously thought possible. Is also a disciple of Urban Meyer, who wins a lot of games for our rival school. That said, he hasn’t really won that much at Mississippi State, (it took Mullen 6 years to reach 10 wins), and may favor recruiting practices we'd prefer to avoid.
LIKELIHOOD THAT HE’D COME IF OFFERED: 33%. He’s got to realize that his stock will never be higher, and at the least, should use that to renegotiate his current contract. But may be comfortable where he is, or at least in the SEC. You'd think Florida was a sure thing, but apparently it's not. May wait to see if the LSU job opens.
7. Todd Graham
CASE: Wins a lot. Runs modern offense, but is a defensive guy. Modern offense plus good defense = WANT. At the same time, “cultural fit” might be an issue here (or not). Also, Graham is pretty mercenary in his approach to jobs, and would easily bolt after one year if he felt it was in his interests to do so.
LIKELIHOOD THAT HE’D COME IF OFFERED: 20%. He’s a good coach and would probably be interested in any gig that pays more/has a bigger spotlight, but Graham-to-Michigan doesn’t seem like an intuitive match for either party--especially after his old boss' bad experience here.
8. Jim McElwain
CASE: Like Nussmeier but with experience/success as a head coach. Like Bielema, could plausibly take what we have and make it work. But also not a thrilling (potential) hire.
LIKELIHOOD THAT HE’D COME IF OFFERED:
50% 20%. McElwain will have options, but Michigan (and the salary we could pay) would be at or near the top something he'd look at. Would we offer? Depends on that $7.5m buyout. Also rumored to be a he appears to be the top Florida target.
9. Tom Herman
CASE: Really good OC at Ohio State. Urban Meyer coaching tree. Can recruit Ohio! However, lack of experience as HC means on-the-job learning, and we’re probably not in the mood for more of that.
LIKELIHOOD THAT HE’D COME IF OFFERED: 80%. I’d put it higher, but there’s always the chance he wouldn’t want to face his mentor every year in THE rivalry game. Or maybe that’s not an issue? In any event, I see him moving to a Tulsa or Cincinnati before making the big jump. But of all the coordinator-level candidates, Herman is the one I have the most faith in.
10. Paul Chryst
CASE: A low-transition-cost, ultra-safe idea. Who knows--could be a Dantonio-type? May, however, be another Hoke.
LIKELIHOOD THAT HE’D COME IF OFFERED: 99%. Can’t see him saying no. We’re pretty far down the list if we’re offering, though.
11. Bob Stitt
CASE: A true innovator on offense. Long-term success at FCS level. But lack of even mid-major experience likely a dealbreaker
LIKELIHOOD THAT HE’D COME IF OFFERED: 99%. Can’t see him saying no, but he's not a serious candidate for HC. Now, if we're talking OC, then we're really talking. Yes please!
12. Greg Schiano
CASE: We prefer not to win or sell season tickets.
LIKELIHOOD THAT HE’D COME IF OFFERED: 99%. Welcome to my nightmare.
Duke brings its collection of highly-touted freshmen to Madison, WI (source)
*I had my wisdom teeth pulled on Friday, so getting this together took longer than expected. Apologies. – Alex
Table of Contents
Major ACC – Big Ten Challenge storylines
Game previews: Tuesday
Game previews: Wednesday
Nebraska and Rutgers bring home wins
Tom Crean’s seat might be getting warmer
Holiday hoops recap – Part I
Holiday hoops recap – Part II
Holiday hoops recap – Part III
1. Major ACC – Big Ten Challenge storylines
As usual, the annual competition between the Big Ten and the ACC brings some of the most intriguing non-conference fixtures on the college basketball schedule. Unlike early-season tournaments or games at one-off neutral site venues, these will be played on campus – intersectional matchups between some of the most talented and prestigious teams in all of college hoops. As an added bonus, it provides 14 more data-points in the comparative analysis of conference strength.
The headliner of this slate of games is one of the best college basketball games of the year, on paper: two top five teams—Duke, led by possibly the best pro prospect in the country (Jahlil Okafor) travels to face Wisconsin, a veteran team coming off of a Final Four bid. Okafor, a mammoth center with precocious skill and coordination, matches up against Preseason All-American Frank Kaminsky, a versatile inside-out scoring five. Duke’s Justice Winslow meets Wisconsin’s Sam Dekker – both will likely be future NBA players, both are athletic, long wings who can score, defend, and rebound. Senior point guards Quinn Cook and Traevon Jackson form an intriguing matchup. This game – televised Wednesday at 9:30 E.T. on ESPN – is simply a must-watch.
With 14 games total, there are plenty more compelling matchups: Ohio State’s young squad faces its first real trip with a trip just south to face a vaunted Louisville team; Michigan welcomes an unusually inexperienced Syracuse team to Ann Arbor and will look to crack its characteristic 2-3 zone; Illinois and Miami – both undefeated – have a chance to enhance their upstart status; in a matchup of former conference foes, Virginia – and their unaesthetic brand of basketball – heads to Maryland (who will unfortunately be without the injured Dez Wells); Iowa has an opportunity to steal an upset at North Carolina; and Michigan State rekindles a football rivalry with Notre Dame – now a basketball member in the ACC.
This is one of the best short stretches of college basketball in terms of unique, high-level matchups, with the added element of conference camaraderie thrown in. Other leagues have since replicated the ACC – Big Ten Challenge, but this is still one of college basketball’s marquee events.
[AFTER THE JUMP: ACC—B1G analysis, recapping holiday tournaments]
SIX GAMES IN
I thought it might be a nice time to stop and look at a few basketball statistics now that we are starting to get into the season in earnest. Granted, these are non-conference games and what we will be able to get out of some of the numbers right now might be limited, but it seemed like six games was a decent enough checkpoint in the season.
One of the things which gets floated around from time to time here is the extremely good record of John Beilein once the points per possession number gets about about 1.10 or so. It is interesting then, that it has only been below that once, and that game was the very close loss to Villanova. Indeed, right now the average PPP number for Michigan is 1.22. One that I personally like as an efficiency measure is assist / turnover ratio – the season average to date is 1.95 and the only time it has been below 1.00 is also the loss to Villanova.
The comprehensive table of current averages on various stats is below:
One thing that is striking to me is that, so far anyway, these numbers aren’t terribly different than many of last season’s averages. For example, last season’s eFG% overall average was 55.95% and right now it is 55.18%. The offensive rebounding percentage last season averaged 28.74%, and so far this year, it is 29.53% - a slight increase. Of course, this is not a true comparison in that you have different personnel responsible for these performances, but it seems to speak to the maturity of Beilein’s philosophy as practiced here.
There are also the Four Factors to consider. Here is what those look like after six games - naturally, we are in blue and the opponent's corresponding statistic is red:
I don’t know that you can draw many strong conclusions, but the differences between the Villanova performance and the other five games are apparent. The one that I found amusing – and something that I didn’t think much about while watching the game – is the freakishly high FTR against Oregon. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen 63.04% there, but 29 FT attempts against only 46 FGs attempted is pretty amazing as a single-game stat, I think.
Anyway, here’s how it looks so far.
As everyone knows, in 1973 Michigan stormed back and scored 10 points in the 4th Q to tie Ohio 10-10, with Michigan QB Dennis Franklin getting hurt with 2 minutes left in the game. Twice in the last 2 minutes, Michigan’s field goal kicker missed the winning kick, but obviously had more scoring chances and ended the game the “stronger side.” According to Wiki, even Woody Hayes admitted his team wouldn’t go to the Rose Bowl.
Two years prior, the Big Ten abolished the “no repeat” rule, which if in effect in ’73, would have prevented Ohio State from going back to the Rose Bowl since they had gone the year before. All signs pointed to Michigan going, yet Ohio State was chosen by the Big Ten AD Committee, purportedly because Franklin was hurt, and since the Big Ten has lost the last 4 Rose Bowls, the committee thought Ohio State had the better chance to win.
Bo was furious about this decision, and remained so until his death. It was so controversial that documentaries and HBO specials were made about it.
JT Barrett went down on Saturday, and now throughout the airwaves we hear pundits voice the same issue – whether Ohio State should be downgraded for the first ever playoffs because they are weaker now without their QB.
I went to school when Bo was still coach. I saw the man up close many times. Never a more intense human being had I ever seen, even when just walking by on the way to lunch. If Bo were alive today, while he would feel bad for the kid’s injury, I would bet my bottom dollar deep down, with his competitive fire, he would have one thought in mind: schadenfreude. Dennis Franklin busted his ass all season long to keep Michigan undefeated and bring Michigan back to earn not only a tie, but a chance to win against Ohio State before he went down. Where were thoughts for Dennis Franklin by the AD committee in 1973? They chose against him.
For Dennis Franklin and for Bo, I will be rooting against the Buckeyes this Saturday, and against their selection come selection show.
Am I alone? Will I get negged for not showing more compassion? I’m tired of the trust fund attitude of too many Michigan faithful who’ve lost the intensity and competitive fire that should naturally come when you’ve lost to your arch-rival 11 out of 12 years. Hoke was the perfect embodiment of this softness – pathetically apologizing to Dantonio after getting pounded by State over a harmless stake gag. Would Bo have apologized? Not in a million years, and I’d bet he would’ve considered firing Hoke on the spot after that apology.
Let’s hope our next coach isn’t a nice guy, but a competitive mother effer who brings even half the intensity Bo brought with him, and demands excellence not only in comportment and execution, but in the level of competitiveness Michigan once had.