"Rodrick Williams Jr.'s 10-month old, 2-foot-long savannah monitor named "Kill" gets the RB some strange looks when they go for walks together."
Over the past week or two, this community has done a fair amount of discussing what it means to be a fan, how to distinguish between a “real” fan and a “fair-weather” one, and what value might be assigned to each group. In Brian's inaugural Athletic Director post, he mentioned “sustaining the enterprise” in his three-point assessment of what an AD's job should entail - - and got some comments that he hadn't given enough attention to the fanbase. In the “Michigan Dark Secrets” thread, there were so many Body Snatcher-like accusations of “not a real fan!!” that posters started giving a disclaimer before they divulged their confession: “This may make me sound like a bad fan, but....”
So, what exactly is a fan? Hans Christian Andersen gave us a rather silly test to determine the authenticity of a royal claim in “The Princess and the Pea”, involving a legume and multiple layers of bedding. In reality, such a test is as simple as determining one's parentage; it has nothing to do with sensitivity. When it comes to fandom, however, the situation is reversed. History, parentage, even educational background have little to do with it. This forum is chock-full of Michigan maniacs who earned (or are currently earning) degrees from other institutions, even - - dare I say it? - - Ohio State and MSU. Fandom is all about sensitivity, and this makes it a rather subjective assessment.
As I perused the posts in “Michigan Dark Secrets”, I was struck by how differently passionate people can react to a single pivotal event. Some of us were unable to watch to the end of a game, when our team was being thrashed on the field of play. Some were unable to turn away. Some stopped attending games in person but watched on TV, while a few in despair had to record the contests and decide after the fact whether to watch or not. As in politics (oh no!! verboten subject!), it seems that intelligent people of good intentions with a common desire can see the path to that goal taking opposite directions.
There was, however, a thread of continuity throughout, and that was this: every Michigan fan made his decisions (whether to buy a ticket, whether to stay for the end of a game) with the athletes, the school, and the program solidly in focus. And I think this rather clinical distinction is where we all come together on the great Venn diagram. The students who petitioned and rallied for change found their drive in a desire to make Michigan athletics proud, the same drive that compelled other students to stay the course. The fans who held their ground and stayed in their seats even as their team was crumbling before them did so because they longed to give support and strength to a program they love, but so did the fans who got up and left.
Apparently, fandom cannot be quantified in a specific action or characteristic. It exists in that nebulous world of sensitivity. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart famously once said of defining pornography, “I know it when I see it”. In the case of fandom, I know it when I feel it.
By contrast, the “fair-weather” or bandwagon fans are, well, not fans at all. They're spectators. I don't care much about major league baseball, but hey, I live near Kansas City. When the Royals made a run last year, I bought a shirt and wore it. Yay, team! Good job! Whatever. I'll never be jumping out of my seat on an August afternoon, knocking over my neighbor's beer, to reach for a foul ball. But I'm important to that franchise (as independent voters are to political parties), because they can earn my attention and therefore, my support.
A fan's attention and support doesn't have to be earned. Even a disenchanted fan loves his team and desperately wants to regain that thrill of pride. Wolverines who went all Tasmanian Devil after the 2006 Ohio State game felt themselves redeemed in 2011, while spectators at both contests watched with interest and said, “Huh. Good game, eh?”
Let's hope that the new athletic director, be it Jim Hackett or anyone else, finds a way to “sustain the enterprise” that both re-connects the fans and catches the interest of the spectators. HARBAUGH was a magnificent first step. Winning will be a good second.
Since Michigan opens their season on a rare (and I mean rare) Thursday night game at Utah on September 3rd, I thought I'd list the history of Michigan Football on Thursdays.
It is a very rare occasion to be playing on Thursday in the regular season. When Michigan takes the field at Rice-Eccles Stadium, it will be the program's first regular season Thursday game in exactly 110 years.
|11/22/1883||at Harvard||L 0-3|
|11/24/1887||at Harvard Club (Chicago)||W 26-0|
|11/29/1888||at U. Club (Chicago)||L 4-26|
|11/28/1889||at Chicago Athletic Association||L 0-20|
|11/26/1891||at Cleveland Athletic Association||L 4-8|
|11/30/1893||at Chicago||W 28-10|
|11/29/1894||at Chicago||W 6-4|
|11/28/1895||at Chicago||W 12-0|
|10/15/1896||vs Physicians & Surgeons||W 28-0|
|11/26/1896||at Chicago||L 6-7|
|11/25/1897||at Chicago||L 12-21|
|11/24/1898||at Chicago||W 12-11|
|11/30/1899||Wisconsin||L 5-17||Played in Chicago, IL|
|11/29/1900||at Chicago||L 6-15|
|11/28/1901||Iowa||W 50-0||Played in Chicago, IL|
|11/27/1902||vs Minnesota||W 23-6|
|10/8/1903||vs Albion||W 76-0|
|11/26/1903||at Chicago||W 28-0|
|11/30/1905||at Chicago||L 0-2|
|1/1/1948||#8 USC||W 49-0||Rose Bowl|
|1/1/1970||#5 USC||L 3-10||Rose Bowl|
|1/1/1976||#3 Okahoma||L 6-14||Orange Bowl|
|1/1/1987||#7 Arizona State||L 15-22||Rose Bowl|
|12/28/1995||#19 Texas A&M||L 20-22||Alamo Bowl|
|1/1/1998||#8 Washington State||W 21-16||Rose Bowl|
|1/1/2004||#1 USC||L 14-28||Rose Bowl|
Thanksgiving Day football was an early Michigan tradition. In fact, Michigan and Chicago are credited as being the originators of Thanksgiving Day football.
Michigan is 9-8 in Thanksgiving Day games, 15-14 on Thursday overall and 13-9 in Thursday regular season games.
This will be Michigan's first road game season opener that is a night game since Gary Moeller debuted as Michigan's head coach in 1990 at #1 Notre Dame.
Previously: Zak Irvin
Along with his reputation as an offensive guru, John Beilein’s become well-known at Michigan for his ability to discover under-the-radar recruits and turn them into stars.* Trey Burke and Nik Stauskas are the most-oft cited examples (along with Caris LeVert, who, like Burke and Stauskas, could become an eventual first-round draft pick), but Beilein’s found success in fleshing out his rotations with mid- or low-major recruits. In the last four recruiting cycles, Michigan developed a penchant for adding late-bloomers near the end of their senior seasons: in 2011, Max Bielfeldt; in 2012, Spike Albrecht and LeVert; in 2014, Aubrey Dawkins and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman.
*He’s also known for recruiting sons of famous NBA players and Dawkins continues that lineage.
Because of unexpected attrition and injuries to key players, Michigan’s best five-man lineup in the last month of the season featured four of those late additions: Spike, Mo, Aubrey, and Max. Though all four were seemingly recruited as depth guys, they often played as many as 30 minutes per game down the stretch. Michigan’s frustrating season quickly became unburdened from expectation and silver linings were actively sought for and discovered over the last two months of the season.
Aubrey Dawkins was the most encouraging of those “weird guys.” Before Caris LeVert’s injury in the waning seconds of the first Northwestern game, Dawkins averaged just 8.6 minutes per game and even though he was Michigan’s best player in the conference opener (hitting six threes and totaling 20 points on 9 shot equivalents), Aubrey wasn’t given much playing time. After LeVert went down, his minutes skyrocketed:
Despite taking a prep year and only fielding scholarship offers from Dayton, Cal Poly, College of Charleston, Northeastern, and Rhode Island, Dawk emerged as a high-ceiling prospect and a valuable rotational member going forward – simply put, he can get buckets and he can get them efficiently.
* * *
Checking the Eye-Test
Once he broke into the starting lineup, Dawkins’s strengths and weaknesses became quite evident. The NBA fetishizes so-called “3-and-D” prospects – players who fit neatly into the new wave of spread pick-and-roll offenses (which Michigan emulates to a certain extent) across the league. Providing spacing is an increasingly valuable trait; a guy has solid offensive value if he can stand on the perimeter and shoot 40% from three, even if he can’t do much more than that. Throw in credible (or better) defense on the wing, and you have a 3-and-D player – rapidly rising salary numbers for those types emphasize their perceived value.
Dawkins isn’t one of those guys, though he could possibly get there. His defense was bad across the board: Beilein hesitated to give him playing time early in the season and in hindsight, it’s easy to see why – he was frequently lost on the defensive end, prone to ball-watching, easily shed on screens, and beaten as the on-ball defender. His rebounding numbers were disappointing and he averaged about half a steal and half a block after his ascension to the starting lineup. Theoretically, Dawkins could develop into an adequate defender (or maybe even better than that), but as of right now, he’s decidedly a minus.
If he eventually does progress significantly as a defender – which is definitely possible – he has the offensive tools to fit the 3-and-D mold. He shot a healthy 43% from three on 88 attempts despite a funky, though consistent, release: his length and leaping ability allows him to soar over contesting defenders and he flicks the ball towards the rim with a low trajectory – almost like a shot in beer pong. Beilein drew up some sets to get Dawkins some elbow jumpers and he hit them well enough to overcome the inherent inefficiency of long twos. The “3” aspect of the 3-and-D player is definitely there and he’s shown he could handle high volume – Dawkins shot 46% on 4.5 attempts per game after cracking the rotation.
Like Tim Hardaway, another 3-and-D-without-the-D pro legacy, Dawkins can jump out of the gym, possibly his best hint towards a potential (though unlikely) pro career. I mean, just watch this emasculating throwdown over 6’11 Nnanna Egwu (and it’s impossible to watch just once). More importantly, he’s successful around the rim even when he isn’t dunking – Dawk shot 61% at the rim, per Shot Analytics. He can’t create off the bounce – remarkably, his assist rate was lower than Zak Irvin’s freshman year – but he’s clever cutting off the ball and gets close-range attempts that way (and in the same vein, Dawkins is excellent at moving around the arc to set up open looks from three). He’s a one-dimensional player: a scorer who needs to be set up by others. With Michigan’s bevy of players who can create, that’s perfectly alright.
[Hit the JUMP for the rest of the analysis]
ROUNDS AND LONGEVITY: ANOTHER LOOK AT NFL CAREER LENGTH
In the twelve year span from 1995-2007, about 2,600 players that heard their names called in the NFL Draft have seen the field on Sunday somewhere and for some length of time. The question we are examining in this particular work is, “How long?”
The answer may not shock many people - it might very well depend on where you were picked in the draft. We know from anecdotal evidence that the typical NFL career is on the short side, perhaps even fleeting. Indeed, in the sample I used – 1995-2007 – regardless of round, you could expect to spend 5.21 years in the NFL on average with a standard deviation of about three years. Here’s the broad distribution of players by career length:
The distribution is very, very skewed – in a sample of 2,624 players, 30.7% of them played 8 or more years, and only 12.8% of them played 10 or more years. Of more note, 49.3% of those players played five years or fewer, so you can see where that particular average comes from. Speaking of average career length, it began to take a tumble towards the end of the studied period.
Let me change this up for a moment and explain why I used 1995-2007 as a time frame. The primary reason is that I wanted to use a time period where there would not be very many careers still in progress. Using data too close to the present would drag down the averages for the first few rounds and probably do little to the remaining rounds. Also, it is a relatively recent timeframe, so the game was in a state at least close to what it is at the moment.
Bearing that in mind now, let’s look at average length of service by round overall:
Here, you’ll note the bars which show plus or minus one standard deviation. Essentially, the average career length of a first round pick is pretty atypical in the NFL, and you can see this tumble rather nicely to the also atypically brief career of a seventh round pick. The line crosses the average career length between the 3rd and 4th rounds, so basically your chances for a career of some length are greater in the first three rounds. That shouldn’t surprise you, but the numbers back it up.
Here’s the same data, but broken out by round and year. It will appear cluttered at the bottom (which you should expect as the separation decreases rapidly in later rounds), but you’ll note that the first and second rounds more or less fly high above the others.
Another way to look at this is to see the individual rounds distributed by length of service and player counts so that you can see the profile of each round in this time period. The first and second rounds are fairly normal, although they both have some multimodal moments:
The third round’s profile is very different, heavily skewed towards briefer careers:
The fourth through seventh rounds therefore should not be surprising:
So, we can see in this sampling that your draft round definitely can be a factor in how long you manage to stay in the league. In another part of this particular set of diaries, we will zoom in and look at the first two rounds and see if there is a potential impact from one’s spot in the draft order and later on we will tackle this by position to examine tendencies by round.
Oh, and in case you're ever confused...
Ok, so this was more an exercise in creating a magazine spread than me designing a wallpaper, but it occurred to me that many of you are just as crazy obsessed with Harbaugh's presence at Michigan and may enjoy it. This was a concept piece I did this week for a fictional magazine article about Jim. I did it because I'm working on building up a portfolio of various graphic design templates in order to possibly land some freelance stuff. I hope you all enjoy it. It has been sized to fit a standard HD 16:9 screen because that's what I run. As always, constructive criticism and suggestions are welcome.
Think getting into the first round doesn't matter? Think again.
There are some common misconceptions regarding early entries into the NBA Draft. A new "wisdom" seems to have sprung up among fans: sooner is always better, the key is starting your career earnings clock, there's still more money than joe fan will ever see in getting on a roster - or even in Europe - heck, add in that the streets of Europe's major cities are paved in gold.
There are significant problems with these new orthodoxies - career longevity is where the real money is at (even for guys who are never more than bench players), an early start date on a career earnings clock doesn't mean much if the clock never gets past year 2, $1.2 million pre-taxes, agent cut, and expenses, is far from life changing money, some European teams can't even meet their payrolls due to cratering economies*, and most of the stories about huge Euro contracts seem to be apocryphal and possibly the work of a small handful of crazed European fans who plant these stories on various forums.
The facts very clearly display that it is far, far better to land in the first round of the NBA Draft - both for the guaranteed contract and the higher likelihood of establishing yourself in a league where it pays to play many years rather than a few - they print funny money for just about everyone besides first, second, and third year players in the NBA, stars or not. Willie Green, who in a 12 year career has averaged 10 points per game twice, had banked more than $22 million at the end of 2014. I studied draft years 2003-2013, and as the tables and charts show above and below** (props to our own LSAClassOf2000 for turning my sleep addled tables into these graphical displays), there is a distinct difference between length of the careers that start in the first round and those that start in the 2nd.
Lest anyone protest that, of course, first round careers are longer, as the top half of the round is all lottery players, note that isolating the non-lottery first rounders yields largely the same results.
Two articles ran last year on cbssports (HERE and HERE) that had truly dubious conclusions: the first suggested that early declarants fare better than their senior peers (this one is simply not true - it's mathematically wrong), the second suggested that the idea of bumping up one's prospects by returning for a senior year was outdated and fanciful. It is accurate that NBA teams (foolishly, I think, judging from the stats I've poured over these last weeks) tend to shy away from seniors in the lottery, but as the tables and charts show below, the value of turning yourself into a first round lock - even near the bottom of the first round - is significant.
So what if you don't get into the first round? I'm not finished with my research, but a general hypothesis is emerging. If you're stuck in the 2nd round, you better be ready to play right away or have freakish talent that teams will be willing to take multiple runs at. Essentially, if you're a 2nd rounder, you want to be either a guy who has spent 4 years in college (RS Jr or a SR) or a former top 30 recruit.*** Looking at second round seniors who are non-top 30 guys vs. early entries into the NBA Draft who are also non-top 30 HS recruits, the former have logged 37.63% of all possible years of service while the early entrants**** have accounted for 24.92% of all possible years of service. That's a pretty significant difference. It suggests that you don't want to be a second rounder or an undrafted guy (the cbssports article's point was that you make a roster generally as an early entry, drafted or not) whose game or body is not ready for NBA competition. If you are in that pool, it's good to still have the buzz (and the inherent talent) of being a former top 30 high school recruit.
To bring this part of the research to a close, I think people focus too much on the first contract (even though it is valuable for *future* contracts to be a first rounder). We hear too much about the "stigma" of being a junior and not a sophomore and the "super stigma" of being a senior (gasp) and not a junior with more upside. You know what's much more important than any of that? Being ready to play on day one of your entry into the NBA. Being ready to play on that first day in summer league.
Here is a partial list of guys who have had solid, lengthy NBA careers (or look to be on their way to such careers) after being drafted in the second round as seniors, without a former top 30 status to fall back on:
Dominic McGuire (RS Jr)
and a whole slew of guys still in the league who were drafted in 2012 and are looking very strong (Acy, Hamilton, Scott, Sacre, etc.)
I certainly understand the allure of the NBA Draft. For so many kids, the league is the dream. And why delay getting started with one's career? But is the dream a two to three year run (or, even worse, never seeing an NBA court)? I have to think it's a 10-12 year career, with some playoffs thrown in for good measure. My research suggests it can be a very bad thing to leave a a year before you're ready for the league if you have a lengthy career in mind. In fact, even relative to athletes who perhaps stay a year too long, it is a worse road to travel, to a significant statistical degree.
I believe people can improve their games at the league level - many do. But to get the attention and the support and the patience of an NBA team to allow for your development, they have to make an investment in you. And there's nothing wrong with spending four years in a college program to make sure that you are an investment that starts paying dividends on day one.