this may be of some local interest
Many people have attempted to frame Jim Harbaugh as a crazy person but what he truly is, is a tactical genius!
Why the oddities?
The sleepovers received major attention as being creepy but what one fails to realize is this truly is a maximizing of time and exposure to the recruit. No one stops to think about the amount of time it takes to drive from a nearby hotel to a recruit’s house but I bet Jim Harbaugh does. Why waste that time when you could be front and center spending 20 more minutes with a potential recruit? Harbaugh wasn’t going to sleep on the floor either (although I bet he would) and would have some of the best care.
What has not been mentioned in news articles is the amount of time spent away from family. I am not certain of the actual hours spent away from family but Harbaugh has young children. If I had to spend x number of weeks away from my family and my success was dependent upon some 17 year old saying yes to my proposal then I would make darn sure that kid is going to say yes. What Harbaugh is doing is not odd at all when people understand it in the context of maximizing time, contact, and exposure. A sleep over may seem odd but spending 2-3 more hours to make your case than the next coach is most certainly not.
Signing of the Stars
Somewhere someone created a national signing day for high school recruits. Media exposure during what is considered a dead news season for college football has created a media event. If you have to give attention to this event then why not go all out? Why not make it a spectacle? If you want to fault anyone then fault those who chose to give exposure to the recruits as they select a hat off the table but most certainly don’t fault the man transforming the day into what it was quickly becoming: a gala. What is Coach Harbaugh in this situation? Honest! You might as well gain exposure for your program while you are being honest with the events that surround the day.
Practicing in Florida
Genius! Once again Harbaugh has managed to come up with a solution that gives his team practice time; gives him a selling point with the location; and exposure with a recruiting powerhouse. Does Harbaugh care about his student-athletes and their study time? Absolutely! The man posted GPAs publically for the world to see last semester. He cares about the players’ grades. They get to practice and have fun all on Michigan’s dime. He gets headlines and the eyes of recruits on him all across the country.
Well, it's no wonder the SEC wants to keep Harbaugh out of Florida. The last time he brought Michigan there, the Wolverines smoked SEC East champion Florida 41-7 at the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl. And now he wants to practice there in front of recruits? Of course he's persona non grata in Dixie. - Brian Bennett, ESPN
He wears out his welcome?
Where did he wear out his welcome? San Diego? Stanford? San Francisco? The first two schools never would have fired him and Coach Harbaugh would still be there to this day if he wanted to. Stanford promptly kept almost everything intact that he built and continued their success. The San Francisco situation and blame is now clearly being placed on Jed York’s shoulders. If you are dealing with a man driven then he may rub you the wrong way but you learn to deal with it and work with him as he is making your organization successful.
Jim Harbaugh is not certified crazy; he is a genius! May OSU and the SEC have more headaches for years to come.
[Bumped (and added some photos) because it's good and so is our softball team. --Seth]
Sprinkle the cheese
It’s hard to put the experience of Michigan’s 2015 softball season into words. It was totally unique in so many ways. Michigan fans were desperate for something to go right after hockey, basketball, and football all came up well short of pre-season expectations. Jim Harbaugh was making headlines, but concrete results were still months away, and the Michigan community was still convalescing from its long bout of Brandonitis. It was the perfect time for niche sport to make a bid for mainstream status, as fans needed something, anything to go right, to make things feel like Michigan again.
Into this void stepped a group of twenty young women, swinging bats and making pizza as they blasted their way through the country and the Big Ten, into the record books and Maize and Blue hearts nationwide. The team combined absurd offensive production and strong pitching with an unmatched rootability factor. Whether on TV or in person, this team was fun. When Lauren Haeger’s Gators bounced them in the last game of the season, it felt like an injustice, just like Trey Burke missing out on his crown or the Legend of Shawn Hunwick falling short against Minnesota-Duluth.
The difference between those crimes and this one, however, is that Michigan has a chance to put things right. Almost everyone is back from the 2015 squad, and there’s no question that they’ve been working harder than ever all offseason to earn what was denied them a year ago. It’s a new year with fresh faces and stiff competition, but this is a team on a mission. Below, we’ll break down roster changes, offense and defense, and the opposition Michigan will face in the season ahead. 2016 isn’t going to be 2015 all over again, and Hutch and her crew are smart enough not to try to make it that. It just might be a little bit better.
[Hit THE JUMP to see what that team lost and what to expect from this one]
Recruiting is the lifeblood of a college football program. It is one of the three key components along with player developement and sceme/game day coaching, that leads to championships. Many of us feel that we have 2 and 3 covered with the current staff, but how far are we away in the talent department if we want to compete with the big boys?
To answer that question, I looked at the last four recruiting classes with the focus on five and four star players using the 247 Composite Rankings. This a simple method and has some flaws, but it is a starting point for discussion. One problem is that 247 only awards 25 five stars and in 2016 they awarded 313 four stars. That seems a little off to me. Rashan Gary, as the #1 player, was given a score of 1.000 while the #25 player was rated at .9835. That is a fairly tight grouping. The four stars range from #26 at .9821 to #338 at .8901. Player #339 drops off by only .0002 to .8899, yet he becomes only a three star. So with this method of only counting the number of stars a team takes, no weight is given to which end of the scale those stars were nearer to. And then there are the issues with the ratings themselves and how subjective they are. Did this player attend our camp and what does his offer sheet look like?
Lastly, this method looks only at incoming classes and doesn't account for incoming grad transfers, PWOs or attrition.
Before we can win a natty, we will first need to win the Big Ten. How well do we stack up against our fellow conferebce members? Pretty well, thank you. I broke this down by division because I found it to be very interesting.
|2013||2014||2015||2016||2013 - 2016|
In the last four years, the Big Ten has landed a total of 228 five and four star players and 189 of them, including all 10 five stars, went to the east division. In the 2016 class, the ratio is 53 to 9. Wow! Talk about competitive balance. Not. Iowa and Purdue each managed only one four star in the last four years. WTF?
We appear to be in a two-team race with OSU and we were pretty much in a dead heat this year. Over the four-year period, these two teams landed 51% of the top talent taken by the Big Ten. A current problem for Michigan is that we have two weak classes sandwiched between our strong 2013 and 2016. We have a great shot at winning the Big Ten this year based on talent.
Here is the top recruiting competition on the national scene.
|2013||2014||2015||2016||2013 - 2016|
To no surprise, Alabama is in a class by themselves. Only OSU, LSU, FSU, Auburn, Georgia and USC are even in the conversation. Michigan is about two full recruiting classes away from catching up with Alabama talent, meaning they would need to add about 28 more 5 and 4 stars. If Michigan continues recruiting at this years pace, we will be fine. At a minimum, I think that we need to achieve an on-going four year cycle of two top 15 classes and two top 7ish classes to stay competitive with talent. I think that is very doable as long as we continue to show results on the field.
Hey it's Bill C day. For those of us who love the statistics he is a must read. Today's earlier post had me thinking about Phil Steele's annual look at teams ranked by returning starters as I am a big believer that unless you are Bama or 2-3 other schools experience matters. Last year's came out in January (here) but I don't see one yet for 2016. After some googling I found this neat story by Bill C last week (here) as he foreshadowed today's overall rankings. As always he takes the normal stats we have relied on (X starters is better than Y starters!) to a new level - i.e. a mediocre starter w/o much production is not a big advantage. (i.e. Rutgers is bringing back a lot of crappy players) So rather than just bodies returning he looks at production returning.
With the caveat it's much more difficult to do in football than basketball i.e. scoring assists rebounds are easier to measure than what an returning offensive tackle can give you, below I snipped portions of his tables. UM was "less experienced" on offense than I expected until I remembered the most important position on the field has departed and with him all that production.
Here are some key takeaways Bill offers at the 40K foot view (he has only been doing this for a few years so he now has enough data to offer these views without sample size screwing it up)
- Experience matters more on defense than offense (in effect on S&P+ rank for that unit)
- Experience in the secondary matters more than in the front 7
- Teams with under 50% returning offensive production usually meant doom - in 2016 that means it might be a rough time for OSU and Stanford.
Some of these things are counterintuitive to me. For item 1, I expected the opposite but maybe I am clouded by the experienced of RichRod and Hoke where inexperience meant doom on offense. But other programs seemingly just reload (hi Baylor Oregon OSU etc) so maybe we are the wrong place to judge. Item 2 makes sense as one mistake in the secondary and you are looking at a TD. One mistake by a LB and you usually just are looking at a 22 yard gain. Item 3 makes sense (except for Baylor apparently) - you don't need to be supremely experienced on offense but if you are very green you will feel pain.
There is also a controversial view on "returning OL starts" measuring future offensive success (he found almost no correlation ...which obviously is not true) but Bill believes he needs to find a better way to measure it. So he is not saying OL returning stars don't matter - he just needs to find a better measure than career starts. Again it's not basketball where an OL is easy to measure in performance.
If you are into the statistical stuff a full read of his piece is in order as he goes through various correlations impact on Defensive S&P+ (an advanced stat) i.e. how much impact returning pass breakups correlate overall defensive rank vs sacks returning, etc.
Tables below don't list all P5 but I picked "top 25ish" teams to list at extremes of top and bottom and then other teams of interest at bottom. Showed entire Big 10.
*I also included the 3 UM non conf opponents
As expected - OSU with 6 returning starters is the team bringing back the least production in P5 (ASU not far ahead), and MSU's O without Burbridge & Kings and Cook needs to rebuild production from scratch in passing game. As I noted in the "Our 2016 Schedule is not Extremely Tough so Stop Saying It Is" diary a while ago - there is not a better time to play OSU and MSU on the road than this year (well, at least until those coaches retire from the programs).
Outside those 2, Iowa brings back a good amount of production so that looks like a tough game as expected...while Wisconsin is going to be bringing in an inexperienced team to the Big House.
Should also note UCF was horrible last year but they at least will be experienced this year - and Colo brings back a lot of production so I expected that to be a tricker game than most folks think due to their dual threat QB... and this only reinforces that.
In non UM stuff, Charlie Strong finally brings back some experience in year 3, TN has been tagged a team to breakout this year and you can see why, Bill loves Washington and the production returning shows why, and LSU if they can find a QB should do great things....
P5 "In the Middle"
Part 1: Introduction
In the aftermath of two consecutive, embarassing losses at home and a season that has been satisfactory at best (and by satisfactory, I mean, that outside of a win against Maryland, Michigan has handled the teams they should beat and lost to the teams they should lose to), there has been an ongoing debate on whether John Beilein should be on the hot seat or even fired. This is an objective look at John Beilein's success in the context of Michigan basketball history and Beilein's modern contemporaries.
Part 2: Michigan's Place in the Pecking Order
A week or so ago there was a debate about "blue bloods" as it pertained to college football programs. The consensus was that some programs (Michigan among them) have an inherent advantage and sustained legacy of success. The program draws the best coaches and the best players. Jim Harbaugh isn't leaving the NFL to go coach Purdue. John Calipari isn't leaving Memphis for Auburn. I used a fairly simple system to rank every program in a Power 5 + AAC + Big East conference. A NCAA Tournament appearance is worth 1 point. A Final Four is worth 5 points. A National Championship is worth 10 points.
In the interest of time and space I won't list every level and program. The system came up with 7 "Blue Bloods". UCLA, Kentucky, North Carolina, Duke, Indiana, Louisville, and Kansas. On the second level, there were 12 programs. They are:
Ohio State, Michigan State, Connecticut, Arizona, Cincinnati, Oklahoma State, Syracuse, Arkansas, Michigan, Villanova, Georgetown, and Florida.
These are the programs that historically have matched Michigan's success. You could argue against Oklahoma State's inclusion (made it based on two titles in the 1940s) or that State or UConn deserves to be bumped up a level. So, how is John Beilein doing compared to the coaches of these 11 programs (Ohio State and Michigan State will be saved for the B1G section)? Let's take a look:
|John Thompson III||Georgetown||11+||.675||3||8||1||0|
Throw out Boeheim. It's impossible to compare Beilein to a guy who has been at Syracuse for 40 years. Beilein's resume at this point is most comparable to Mick Cronin at Cincinnati which makes sense. Cronin relies on fielding a strong defense that creates rock fights, but his teams routinely hae trouble scoring. Cincinnati was in a strong Big East minus the last 2+ years so it's not like the American offered an easy way into the tournament. Every other coach outside of Mike Anderson (who has a higher winning %) has been more successful.
Part 3: Beilein's Place in Michigan History
Okay, so Beilein hasn't been as successful as the coaches of other programs on Michigan's level, but he turned what had been a pretty big disaster and resurrected it. How does Beilein compare to the other coaches in Michigan's long history? Because the NCAA Tournament didn't expand until 1985, I gave coaches a tournament berth if their team had a winning % over .667 (a 20-10 record today).
|Bill Freider||9||.680||2||5 (+1)||0||0|
|Johnny Orr||12||.649||0||4 (+1)||1||0|
|Dave Strack||8||.559||3||3 (+1)||2||0|
|Bill Perigo||8||.438||0||0 (+1)||0||0|
|Ernie McCoy||4||.460||0||0 (+1)||0||0|
This looks a little better for Beilein. He's already led Michigan to the 3rd most NCAA Tournaments under one coach (counting an extra one for Freider). He brought respectability back to Michigan basketball. His % of NCAA Tournaments to seasons is better than everybody but Fisher. Is he the 2nd best coach in Michigan history? I think he is.
Part 4: Beilein vs B1G Contemporaries
Last part of the analysis is how is Beilein doing compared to the other coaches who have been in the B1G while Beilein has been at Michigan.
|Tom Izzo||Michigan St.||20+||.717||7||18||7||1|
|Thad Matta||Ohio St.||11+||..751||5||9||2||0|
|Ed DeChellis||Penn St.||8||.452||0||1||0||0|
|Pat Chambers||Penn St.||4+||.439||0||0||0||0|
Wow, that's a lot of data and one joke, so let's try to break it down. Matta, Ryan, and Izzo have been the gold standard for the past decade plus in the B1G. Beilein's closest comparison is probably Bruce Weber. You know who got fired after missing the tournament 3 times in 5 years? Bruce Weber. Still, during Beilein's tenure Michigan has been the 4th best program in the conference. That's basically in line with history.
Part 5: So, Should He Be Fired?
No. We don't know what the hell is going to happen the rest of the year. Michigan needs to take care of business against Minnesota and Northwestern, go 1-2 in their road games against Ohio St., Wisky and Maryland, and split their homes games against Iowa and Purdue. That'll give them 2 solid wins and no bad losses at 21-10 and a winning record in the B1G which should put them in the tournament. If that happens, Beilein is safe. If they make a run to the Elite 8 or Sweet 16, then it's even more of a no brainer. However, if Michigan collapses and loses 5 of their last 7 and miss the tournament, he goes into next year on the hot seat. If they miss the tournament against next year, that puts him well below the level set by let's say Matt Painter at Purdue, traditionally a worse program than Michigan's.