further adventures in Jed York being unsuited for his position
On the eve of the Big Ten Championship I find myself thinking about the Big Ten conference, and all its wonderful mediocrity over the last decade in football. The Buckeyes have dominated the conference. They have won either a share, or an outright conference title six times since 2002. All six of these titles are Jim Tressel coached teams. During the tress era, Ohio State football competed against better competition than the Current Buckeyes have seen. For example, the Buckeyes won the Big Ten title five consecutive times from 2005-2009. After evaluating their strength of schedule on (http://www.teamrankings.com), the average strength of schedule from 2005-2009 was eleventh. Tress's Buckeyes had only one year that they faced a strength of schedule out side the top ten and that was in his last season at the helm.
So how about Urban's Bucks? Since Urban has taken over the Buckeyes they have sleep walked through the regular season only losing three games in three years. They have dominated Big Ten regular season play, but they have nothing to show for their efforts other than Rings that were provided by the athletic department in 2012. Everyone gets a trophy right Urbz? (http://www.cleveland.com/osu/index.ssf/2013/04/ohio_state_buckeyes_get_rings.html), yes they got rings the year they went 12-0, and were on probation. Now how does Urbz Bucks, compare to Tress's dominate version? Lets compare strength of schedule. From 2012 to current the Buckeyes average strength of schedule is thirty second. This season it is forty second and dropping. Last year was the anomaly as the schedule strength beefed up to 21st because of Sparty, and Clemson. The two biggest test of the Urban Meyer era at Ohio State were failures.
This year was supposed to be different. Then the unexpected happens with Braxton Miller's injured shoulder, then they tripped over themselves vs. Va Tech at home, but out of nowhere J.T. Barrett develops and makes a run for the Heisman breaking records along the way. Then tragedy struck when Barrett broke his ankle against Michigan, and is now done for the season.
Here comes Cardale (I ain't here to play school) Jones. Hopefully he lives up to his famous tweet (see the link for entertaining reminder), (http://m.espn.go.com/ncf/story?storyId=8466428&src=desktop). If he truly is only at Ohio State to play football he should be prepared for the biggest game of his life and of the Urban Meyer era.At least the Buckeye faithful hope so.
This Big Ten Title game is important on so many levels for Urban Meyer, who did not receive a contract extension for his performance thus far. It's been three years of falling short for some reason, or another. You had probation in 2012, the best Michigan State football team in its history in 2013, and now you are down to your third string QB, and are facing a Classic pound the football, play action Wisconsin football team. The Buckeyes should honestly be favored in this game. why should they be favored you ask? The reason I feel they should be favored is that the Badgers have fed off of a weaker schedule than the Buckeyes this year ranking at number fifty three in the nation. Wisky did nearly beat LSU to open the year, but eventually were exposed for what they are, a one dimensional football team. Joel Stave would be fourth on the Buckeyes depth chart. Melvin Gordon is the centerpiece of the Badger attack, and with a big game he could win the Heisman. The Buckeyes will certainly key on Gordon Saturday Night. If the Buckeyes struggle to stop Gordon, Wisky will play keep away all night. This will be the plan for Wisconsin and I think the plan can work.
But Urban needs this one desperately. I had made a comment back in 2012 that Urban would not win a Big Ten Title before Brady Hoke. If the Badgers win I will be partially right about my guarantee from 2012. Hoke will obviously never win a BIg Ten Title, but I'm going to hedge my bet, and say that if Urban doesn't win this game Saturday, whoever coaches Michigan Next, (Insert the many Names here), will still win a title before Urban Meyer.
So Urban, how important is this game to you? The Buckeyes are always so focused on National titles, but the truth of the matter is you have to win the Big Ten Title, and let the rest take care of itself. A Buckeye loss on Saturday means it was all for nothing again. Urban as of now remains the second best college coach next to Saban, but a loss on Saturday will prove Urban is just a good coach at this point, not a great coach, and the conversation of whether he can still win the big game at the highest level will become the topic of conversation in Columbus, and on the national level. A win will almost certainly get the Buckeyes in the College Football final four, and Gene Smith can finally extend Urban Meyer's contract because they actually won something.
2011 was magical, but the delay in instituting "his" offense likely hurt Brady Hoke
Sometimes a good coach doesn’t work out because the pieces don’t fit. There is little doubt that the transition to a spread offense was tougher than even Rich Rod himself could have predicted. And while bringing power offense to Michigan in 2011 would have meant sacrificing the talents of Denard Robinson (who likely would have transferred if asked to play RB) and our only bowl win since 2007, I wonder if it would have been better for Hoke (not for us as fans)? If Brady Hoke had gone 5-7 in his first year with a new offense, is it plausible that the 2014 version would have looked much better?
I am NOT making the case that Brady Hoke should have been retained. I am pointing out a fact in college football: Change is hard.
Brian wrote an impassioned case for Dan Mullen yesterday, whom I believe would be a very good hire for Michigan. There is, however, a big risk: the transition to Mullen’s offense takes too long and the impatient fanbase forces another coaching change.
What I wanted to do was to breakdown every player on our offense’s two-deep and to what system/style I believe they are best suited. Keep mind that every program mixes elements of different systems, but the most successful outfits have an established identity with corresponding constraints that can maximize their personnel. Part I is a brief breakdown of the systems, part II will explore which players fit each style.
Power football says, "I am going to punch you in the face," then does it
Power Running: The hallmark of any “power” running team is using an extra blocker at the point of attack to open lanes for the ball-carrier. In today’s college football, that almost always means using pulling offensive linemen, since fullbacks are less and less common. Motioning TEs and H-Backs are also used. Power can favor both power and speed backs, and makes the reads for the ball-carrier simpler. Increasingly, however, these schemes are mixed with zone blocking. Examples: Stanford and Wisconsin
Zone concepts threaten multiple gaps on every play
Zone Running: Simple to explain, hard to master. Just the block the guy in your zone, and, if that defender is secured, move to the next one. The zone system is popular because of its versatility: nearly every play gives the ball-carrier at least two choices (and a cut-back) and forces defenses to play very controlled, or risk giving-up a big play. The drawback is that a good guess by a defensive coordinator or player can blow-up a play, since the O-Line is moving laterally off the snap. Many offenses focus on either inside zone or outside zone. Examples: Alabama and Iowa
Spread-to-Run can be smashmouth and fullbackian
Spread-to-Run: Spread offenses all have one thing in common: their intent to force the defense to “declare” itself pre-snap. A spread-to-run team utilizes a mobile QB to add an extra blocker for the defense to deal with, and then tilts the math further in its favor by optioning off defenders. While the O-Line predominantly uses zone blocking in most schemes, there are lots of programs (Auburn, Miss. State) that incorporate power and lead concepts as well. The passing game is set-up by the run, and usually involves simple plays and patterns that allow the QB to make his decision pre-snap, or set-up the defense with play action. Examples: Auburn and Ohio State
160 feet never looked so wide
Spread-to-Pass: Bias alert! This is my favorite college offense. The wide hash marks of the college field force a defense to show its hand pre-snap. A QB in the shotgun can see the whole field, and, by using receivers spread to the sidelines (or close) can determine with a high rate of success what type of defense (man, zone, help over the top) he is looking at. Of course, having a mobile QB certainly helps add another element to this offense, but its primary function is to open the field for easy yards and chunk plays with those pre-snap reads that often come from the sidelines. Examples: Baylor and Notre Dame
Most "pro-style" college offenses are actually hybrids
Pro-style: This scheme mimics the multiple formations and concepts used in the NFL. There is a lot of under center work for the QB, and route combinations (triangle, high-low, smash, levels, etc.) set-up challenging scenarios for the defense to read-and-react to quickly by threatening multiple layers of the defense and forcing uncomfortable match-ups. When run correctly, I believe these are the most difficult offenses to defend. The trouble is, they’re awfully hard to run correctly. QBs are required to make multiple reads on each pass play and routes must be run with extreme precision. Pro style offenses can use the pass to set-up the run, or vice versa. It’s getting increasingly difficult to find a pure pro-style offense in the college game. Examples: LSU and Michigan State
The truth is that all offenses use some combination of these concepts, but, again, most build off of a single style and related constraint plays. Establishing that identity early in a coach’s tenure is vital, because repetition is a player’s best friend. Next week I'll match each player on our offensive two-deep with a system that I believe fits him best.
Inspired by this Bill Connelly post at sbnation about Nebraska, I wanted to look at the upcoming coaching change in terms of developing talent, and exceeding or underperforming expectations. In the article Bill asserts that comparing performance ranking to recruiting ranking is a reasonable way of determing performance.
So I took that theory and applied it to Michigan's past coaches, some of our leading candidates, and our competition to see what I could see. I tried to use the most recent tenure as possible, to show comparisons relative to each other. One thing that stood out early was that almost every coach underperformed expectations, but with most of these coaches recruiting at top-10 level, it would be hard not to. Without further ado, here's what I found.
Let's start at the very beginning, it's a very good place to start.
|coach||school||years||recruiting avg||f+ avg||+/-||career recruiting average||career f+ average||career +/|
Not much we don't already know. Carr started tailing off, Rodriguez improved from a terrible start, and Hoke has fallen off after an outlier of a start. One interesting way to view this would be year-by-year, since obviously Carr's last year preceeds Rodriguez's first, etc. Michigan's recruiting has been very good, except for Hoke's first class, which still almost ended up top-25. Performance has been great (but not exceptional) to, well, I don't need to remind you how bad 2008 was (worst of any analyzed here).
|coach||school||years||recruiting avg||f+ avg||+/-||career recruiting average||career f+ average||career +/|
Yep, Stanford went from underperforming to outperforming expectations, even as recruiting improved. Performance went from average to excellent, and recruiting went from above average to good. That's pretty good performance in both categories, and will be hard to beat for the candidates we've selected.
At this point, I couldn't decide whether to order by who's best or who's most likely to accept if offered. Since we're all dreaming at this poit, I decided to go with who's best.
Dan Mullen started off with above-average recruiting, and improved some, but not much of the last four years. But the performance improvement is amazing. His team went from average to elite in two years. How much regression would we expect next year? Well, their four year average is about 37, offset against an upward overall scoring trend.
Gary Patterson is pretty much the poster child for over-achieving. Recruiting in the mid-30's, with teams outperforming by almost 10 spots. It's easy to see why people are trippig over themselves to see what he'd do with a top-10 recruiting clss. Recruiting hasn't gotten much better, but he's been there for so long, and competing against Texas and everyone else for recruits, it's tough to imagine them rising much higher than they are. Performance had been sliding backwards until this year, but still inline with expectations overall.
Next up, somewhat surprisingly is Bo Pelini. I was somewhat surprised that Nebraska fired him, especially after winning their last game, but the writing has been on the wall since the open-mike comments last year. Pelini has performed about inline with expectations or better, which was a little surprising. I didn't realize how far down Nebraska was in the recruiting rankings, which does explain their performance a bit. Recruiting in the mid-20s, performance in the mid-20s, trending improvement. We could certainly do worse.
The Hat. Looks like the consensus on him is pretty accurate. Great recruiter, good on the field, trending downward. Now, part of that is due to their great class this year, which would indicate a potential bounce-back coming, but that's what the numbers say now. Still only -3 relative to expectations, which seems pretty good.
|coach||school||years||recruiting avg||f+ avg||+/-||career recruiting average||career f+ average||career +/|
Obviously Muschamp isn't competition any more, but I included him to compare with Hoke. Florida had better recruits, but has been unable to do much with them, 2012 excepted. As a result, he comes in with a score between Hoke and Rodriguez, and, not surprisingly looking for a new job.
Urban Meyer is improving a loaded OSU team, from underperforming to meeting expectations in just three years. They've had top-5 recruiting classes, and the performance is starting to match. No reason to expect otherwise next year, unless the coordinators get poached (please, everyone poach their coordinators).
Nick Saban, well, what is there to say? Number one recruiting classes all four years, number one performance all four years. Technically that's five years of recruiting, since so many recruits don't make it to campus, but those are the numbers I have. Newsflash: Alabama is good, has been good, and probably will be good.
Brian Kelly at ND was a bit of a surprise. I didn't realize how far down their performance was. Next year could be make-or-break for him, and if their performance continues to slide, I'm not sure where he would wind up next. I was actually considering him as a possible candidate, but after looking at the numbers, I'm not convinced. We know he can recruit, but seems to be having trouble putting it on the field
Finally, Mark Dantonio. Tip of the hat to you, you crazy nutball. Recruiting in the mid-30s, top 15 performances. That's pretty clear evidence of outperforming expectations.
So after looking at year-to-year performance, I charted the overall relative over/underperformance of each coach. Here's the result.
So, what does all this tell us? Well, it's easier to outperform expectations when you're lower in the recruiting rankings. If you have a top-10 class, there's not much room to outperform. It's really about meeting expectations at that point. Harbaugh is the only coach I profiled with consistent improvement, but as far as our best available candidates, can you believe it's Dantonio, Patterson, and Pelini?
Uh...OK. Whatever Trent. Bill Parcells was freaking 69 years old.
According to a new book, Baalke's first choice for the 49ers job was none other than Bill Parcells.
In an excerpt from "Parcells: A Football Life," Parcells says he didn't take the job because he was too old and it was too far away from where he was living.
From the book (via the San Francisco Chronicle).
After Baalke secured the job, he quietly tried to lure his first choice for head coach: Bill Parcells. York and Baalke emphasized that although the club had missed the playoffs for eight straight seasons, it contained a talented roster.
The 49ers saw Parcells, even at sixty-nine and having been away from the sideline since the 2006 season, as someone who would lead the franchise to the playoffs for at least a couple seasons while sharing Baalke's vision. But citing his age and the team's distance from his home base (Jupiter, Fla.), Parcells put an end to any serious discussions. The 49ers turned their attention to the Stanford head coach on so many wish lists.
If everything went down the way Parcells and author Nunyo Demasio describe, then it all happened fast. Baalke was hired as the 49ers general manager on Jan. 4, 2011. Three days later, the 49ers hired Jim Harbaugh as their head coach.
Forty-niners CEO Jed York gave Baalke the power to hire any coach he wanted, so it's completely conceivable that he called Parcells and basically told him, "If you want the job it's yours."
The 49ers general manager has a relationship with Parcells that dates back to 1998 when Baalke was a scout for the Jets.
In the end though, Parcells turned down the job and Baalke hired Harbaugh, someone who might not be in town much longer.
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.