alternate title: YOU ARE OLD AND WILL DIE VERY SOON
This is going to be an abbreviated Best and Worst. First off, I've just survived a weekend of family celebrating both my wife's and my daughter's birthdays, so I finished watching the DVR of the game about an hour ago. Plus, I'm dying right now of a sinus headache, the type that makes you wonder just how bad the longer-term damage would be to drill a teeny-weeny hole in your skull to release the pressure. Plus, it's IU, Michigan is 4-5, and they just fired Dave Brandon and Brady Hoke is pretty much doomed to follow. What happened on the field isn't really important.
Best: Michigan Won! And, Like, By A Lot of Points!! More Than the Spread!!!
By my own back-of-an-envelope calculations, this is the first time Michigan has done that to a Power 5 team since the Truman administration. That's the Marshall Plan for ya!
The game was never really in doubt when it became clear Indiana wasn't going to throw the ball forward, and with a 17-0 lead going into the half it was kinda, what's the word, "relaxing" to be watching a Michigan football game. For future reference, I want to feel this way again sooner rather than later.
Worst: The Part Where I Kinda Defend Dave Brandon
So yeah, something else happened in conjunction with this game.
The big news at the end of the week was David Brandon's resignation/peaceful surrender/It's not me, it's you as athletic director at the University of Michigan. Obviously, this comes as a shock to everyone.
What was a bit surprising was the speediness in which the change was made; while I doubt the two are related, within a week of MGoBlog's release of Dave Brandon's Live Journal-esque email screeds, the pizza baron was out of office and early reports have them looking hard at Jim Phillips at Northwestern amongst other targets, which seems to be a departure of sorts from the "Michigan Man" ties that drove previous searches and comprised the initial "wish lists" for Brandon's replacement. This is good for the University and, frankly, for Brandon; I certainly don't want to work at a place where a large number of people actively despise me, and I'm sure he'll rest easy on his pile of money, with many beautiful ladies.
But as (apparently) one of the resident contrarians/apologists for Dave Brandon as AD, I don't take much joy in his firing. He needed to go because he failed the most basic tenet of being an athletic directory, the same rule that offensive linemen are told: keep your name out of the newspapers. If you are doing your job well, nobody should be talking about you until the end of the year when you collecting your team awards and QBs are talking about how they owe you a steak dinner and a nice watch after the Pro Bowl.
Dave Brandon the man became a PR circus, mishandling so many public elements of his job that it almost felt like he was doing it on purpose. He kept trumpeting "dynamic pricing" of tickets while outright lying about attendance figures, he helped whittle away Michigan's voluminous waitlist by driving away large swaths of diehards with seat "donations" and screwy point systems, he messed around with gameday traditions and neutered the band in favor of Special K rocking the Big House with some of your favorite Deja Vu jams, and always, ALWAYS doubled down on bad decisions with condescension and general assholeness. In particular, his handling of the football team and it struggles, highlighted this year by Morris's concussion fiasco and the rally, destroyed whatever residual goodwill he still had with most fans.
Still, what continues to bother me about the discussion surrounding his firing is the pervasive argument that Brandon's tenure was not beneficial to Michigan athletics in general, which I'm not sure is (a) true, (b) measurable, and (c) relevant to his firing. As I stated earlier, Brandon had to go because he kept screwing up publicly and the cash cow was hemorrhaging support and money.
Measuring Brandon's tenure as it relates to other sports is difficult because so many factors are legitimately beyond his control and/or difficult to quantify. Brian tweeted the following:
BTN discussing how awesome Brandon's done with other sports. Top 5 Directors Cup finishes, 1999-2009: 10. Since: 1. — mgoblog (@mgoblog) October 31, 2014
The argument being made was that before Brandon arrived, Michigan was an elite athletic institution across a variety of sports; it wasn't just a "football factory" that failed to live up the dual ideals of amateurism and Title IX equality. Yet once his MBA-fueled policies took hold and he started to replace the institutional memory of the athletic department, the other non-revenue sports were marginalized and suffered.
First off, I question the premise that the Directors Cup is a good barometer of an athletic department's overall health and well-being. When Stanford is riding a John Wooden-esque 19-straight titles because they are really good at golf and water polo while sports like basketball, hockey, and wrestling are ignored, you have to wonder a bit about the system's efficacy.
So I went through and compiled a list of Michigan's finishes in the final standings since 1999, with the highest-scoring sport included.
|2009||5||M. Golf/W. Water Polo|
|2010||25||W. Water Polo|
So what I see is a school that was pretty good at Women's Rowing and Softball in the early 2000's, consistently finishing in the top 10 with one outlier in 2006. Then the year he took over, the school suffered through a pretty terrible run at the selected sports (a dip highly unlikely to have been affected by Brandon's nascent hiring), and has since trended upwards, reaching #4 despite their national championships in Men's swimming & diving and gymnastics not counting in the final tally. Rankings aren't complete for 2014, so there might be some softening. Still, if you read the chart it sure looks like Brandon stepped into a leaky ship and helped plug the holes, though not being deeply knowledgeable of the various other sports at UM, I can't say for sure.
And on an interesting sidenote, here is a breakdown of the national championships Michigan has claimed over the same span, broken up by BD (Before Brandon) and AD (After Brandon)
Number of National Championships from 1999-2009: 3
M Gymnastics: 1999
Field Hockey: 2001
Number of National Championships from 2010-2014: 4
M. Gymnastics: 2010, 2013, 2014
M. Swimming and Diving: 2013
My point isn't to make an argument that Brandon should have been retained because the gymnastics team suddenly got better, only to argue that Dave Brandon's official job was to be the Athletic Director for the ENTIRE University, and on paper it looks like he wasn't doing a half-bad job. The basketball team had just suffered through a 15-17 season after a promising return to the tournament in 2009-2010, and there were rumbling that Brandon might need to remove Beilein and go select one of "his" guys. Yet he stuck with a guy he inherited from the last administration, helped to improve facilities, and now Michigan is one of the most consistent basketball programs in the country. Conversely, the hockey team has gone into a talespin recently under Red, and yet it doesn't appear Brandon put much pressure on Berenson to turn the ship around or ship out.
Maybe with Brandon gone we'll hear from the other programs about his tenure from their perspective; my guess is that most will say he was fine to work with, gave them the resources they needed to be successful, and mostly stayed out of the way. We keep hearing condemnations from "friends of John Bacon" that Michigan's financials were in shambles and Brandon should be fired for that, and yet the Michigan brand is, by virtually any metric, still one of the most marketable and profitable out there, doubly impressive because of the state's meager economic assistance and the poor performance of the football team in years past. Making money is a major part of an AD's responsibility, and the guy who takes over for Brandon is probably continue a number of his policies, though probably with less fanfare. It isn't breaking news that college sports are "big business", and anyone expecting the next AD to be a radical departure from this core outlook is probably going to be disappointed.
So I guess my point is that Dave Brandon had to be fired because he had a number of very public flameouts, and when people are marching on your boss's lawn calling for your head it's time to pack up the framed footballs and retire to your floating island or wherever guys like Brandon hang out. But I don't know if he was a bad athletic director in totality, and the fact that doesn't matter in the final calculus of his firing shouldn't invalidate the positives he did at UM.
Best: The Gooch
Back to football, Indiana has a freshmen linebacker on their team called Greg Gooch. He didn't seem to chart, but I couldn't help seeing his name without remembering one of my favorite part-time characters on Scrubs.
Worst: The Offense is Still Broken
Yes, Michigan just put up 404 yards on Indiana, and recorded both their first 200-yard passing game of the year (!) and first 100-yard rusher game in the B1G since the last time UM played IU (!!), but man is it hard to get excited. For one thing, Indiana has a turrible defense that gives up huge plays to everyone, yet Michigan's longest play was a 34-yard strike to Darboh that featured Gardner having to bypass the rush, step into a lane, stutter-step about a million times, and still have to throw a tight throw to Amara as he finally shook off the IU defensive back. It was a good play and helped get Michigan in position for an opening score, but Jeremy Gallon had 369 yards receiving on his own last year against effectively the same IU defense, including multiple 50+ yard receptions. It remains an offense bereft of "playmakers", which I know is absolutely the most cliche thing to say but is kinda true.
If you look the offensive drive efficiency for NFL offenses, you see that the best teams score quickly and with (relatively) few plays. It makes sense intuitively, as dinking-and-dunking your way down the field requires your offense to execute multiple times successfully, which as anyone with a basic understanding of probability knows that success rates tend to go down the more times you tempt fate. Looking at Michigan's first couple of meaningful drives, you see these long 8+ play drives that are littered with short gains and the occasional long-ish run or completion but nothing really explosive. It worked because it was Indiana and Drake Johnson had a career game (more on that later), but when your longest plays of the year so far are 62-yard and 61-yard runs by Green and Smith against App. St. to start the season, and your future 1st-round WR has a season long of 43 yards on an ill-timed bomb that probably should have been picked off by the PSU safety, you can't read TOO deep into a semi-breakout day. Last year's offense was way more boom-or-bust, but this year's "consistent muck" probably wasn't what everyone hoped for when Michigan made a change at offensive coordinator.
Meh: Gardner, Again
Just copy-paste one of my sections about Gardner from any diary this year. Nothing has changed. He's broken, not in a way that can't be fixed, but in a way that nobody at Michigan, in the next 4 games, is going to come close to accomplishing. Sadly, he'd be the perfect QB for an Urban Meyer or a Chip Kelly offense, a guy who can outrun most defenders and throw the ball effectively enough to keep them honest. He's a sunk cost, a broken wagon wheel dipped in dysentery on the Oregon Trail of 2014 Michigan football.
Best(?): Disney's The Drake Johnson Story
First off, that was a legit good performance by Johnson, even with the opponent factored in. He looked confident, made decisive cuts, broke some tackles, and had a couple of bursts that reminded people he was a pretty accomplished hurdler at Pioneer. Once De'Veon Smith left the game with an injury, Johnson stepped in and turned a close-ish game into a blowout, and as noted before had the first 100-yard performance against a conference opponent in about a year. Plus, being a hometown kid performing so well on Homecoming, after such a tumultuous week, is a great story and one he'll probably remember forever.
That said, I have no expectation that he (or this team) will be able to reproduce this running effort against anyone else on the schedule save (maybe) Northwestern, but even that might be generous. It has literally been years since Michigan had anything approximating a consistent running game, and that was mostly because of the threat of Denard in the backfield. With Gardner still nursing an injured ankle and the coaches consciously not asking him to do much on the ground, this 184 yards feels like the end of a movie that probably won't have any more sequels this year.
Best: The Mendoza Line
This is the second team Michigan held a team under 200 yards of total offense (the other Miami [NTM]), and 75 of those came on IU's 2nd-to-last drive of the game. I know IU is starting 18th-string freshmen and Buffy sidekick Zander Diamont, who has thrown something like 23 passes for 35 yards in his career, but holding superback Tevin Coleman to a shade over 100 yards even with those garbage carries is impressive. Yes, everyone knew that IU had exactly two good players on offense - Coleman and Wynn - and so the defense was able to shift its formations to shutting down those two players, but it is still pretty impressive that the defense was actually able to execute as well as it did.
It's hard to tell if the unit is "good" or not, since they alternately kick offenses off the field quickly and give up 80+ yard TD drives to end halves, and the offense has been so disjointed and anemic against most teams on the schedule that they tend to give up yardage and points out of exhaustion as much as poor playmaking. Even the fact that the offense is one of the slowest in the country (thus reducing the total number of plays per game for both teams) hasn't been a blessing, since 3-and-outs that take 30 seconds or 3-and-outs that take 1 1/2/ minutes aren't functionally different.
I don't expect them to replicate a game like this against anyone left on the schedule, but looking at Maryland and NW I see the possibility for the defense to make a bit of a stand these next couple of weeks before OSU, well, you've all seen Oz. At best, it's going to be one of the lighter death scenes in Oz.
Again with all "this is Indiana" caveats applying, the defense still had 12 TFLs, including 2 sacks and another QB hit, spearheaded by Jake Ryan absolutely abusing IU's offensive line for 2.5 TFLs and 10 solo tackles all around. It still feels like a bit of a waste with him in the middle, but it was nice to see him has such a disruptive effect in the game.
It was also the second week in a row that Michigan got a bit of luck in the fumble recovery game, this time Mone recovering Coleman's second stumble-fumble of the first half that Michigan capitalized on for an early 10-point lead. It's a bit too little, too late, but after having major "luck" issues with fumbles and loose balls the past couple of years, it is nice to see the pendulum turn a bit toward the good guys.
Worst: The Muggles
Straight off, I didn't know what a Muggle was until this tweet came out. Despite being a guy who follows professional wrestling, I find stuff like Game of Thrones and Harry Potter slogs to read and just, I don't know, boring. By all means enjoy what you like, but I've always found it hilarious that a Board post about Wrestlemania is littered with people calling it dumb and fake and yet there are heated discussions about characters in a show based on a series of books about dragons and mythical wolves.
Anyway, apparently Elliott Mealer called the University of Michigan students who called for Dave Brandon's firing muggles, which followed up earlier comments from other former players that took issue with (I presume) their impression that people were a bit too excited about a guy they knew getting fired, and that the peanut gallery basically won out over the people who had played for the teams, including the current players. He later deleted the tweet, but because this is the internet a not insignificant number of people returned fire at Mealer, while other agreed with him for a variety of reasons (bad precedence, issues of accountability, etc.).
I don't agree with Mealer's specific rationale, as the "you didn't play, so how do you know" argument is factually weak and intellectually lazy. I don't need to have played lacrosse to know Dave Brandon wasn't very popular at UM and the lines against him were calcified, just like it doesn't take a parent to know this probably was a bad idea.
Still, he has his right to an opinion, just like anyone else.
But I have a bigger issue with the counter-argument that without "the muggles" paying tickets/attending games, there wouldn't be a need for guys like Mealer. First off, most schools don't "make money" on college sports; Michigan is one of the few with an athletic department that generates a profit and is self-sustaining; the vast majority of departments rely on public and private funding to keep everything running. And yet, there are over 125 FBS teams, and even more D1 athletic departments. Unless we take the argument to its logical extreme that nobody, anywhere would watch college sports, fans' contributions don't cover the cost of an athletic department. If it did, we wouldn't have basically any sports other than basketball, football, and baseball in the south and hockey in the northeast and Minnesota, and even that might be a stretch.
Secondly, the "I pay your salary" tone devalues a human's opinion and makes it akin to rank entertainment for the crowd's pleasure. You see it with the arguments against paying players a stipend beyond their scholarships, this idea that they should be happy they have received what they did and stop complaining because most everyone else paid his/her way at Michigan. Now, I'm not sure about the financial situation for others, but I paid part of my way through Michigan but had assistance from family; I definitely couldn't have afforded it without my loving benefactors (read: parents). I've since paid for two graduated degrees via a combination of loans, scholarships, and part-time work, but 18-year-old BronxBlue had some help, and based on my peers at UM I wasn't the outlier. And even if you did pay your whole way, I don't see how that should be held against other people who, for various reasons, are deemed worthy of additional assistance because of some extraordinary ability. We give scholarships to budding math geniuses, and yet in my years of work in various university licensing offices the vast majority of these individuals didn't generate enough money to cover their funding. It isn't their fault; in theory university's are designed to mold the future generations, and that can come from a multitude of actions.
Nobody is "right" in this situation; it's just a bunch of opinions about something that is history. Yes, mob rule isn't usually the best option for making important decisions, but in this case it was pretty clear that Brandon's continued employment was untenable, and the issue was not if but when. At the same time, men and women who work with Dave Brandon, who interact with him on a daily basis, may hold a different opinion of him compared to those who know him only from blog posts and email exchanges, some of whom certainly aren't blameless about the tone of the discussions. The old saying is you can't get 10 people to decide on the toppings for a pizza, so expecting everyone to agree about something so dramatic as the firing of a prominent member of the Michigan athletic department is nigh impossible.
Still, it continues to bother me how quickly the discussion turns from a difference of opinion to attacks on people's character or station in life, and I had (foolishly) hoped that the bulk of Michigan fans would have let it go.
They lost at Iowa 48 to 7, gaining a total of 180 yards of offense. Justin Jackson averaged more yards a run (4.0) than Trevor Siemian did throwing it (3.8), which I hear isn't a good thing. Hopefully Michigan can do roughly the same and get the back to .500 before the big showdown (sigh) with Maryland to decide bowl eligibility and let me book my ticket to the Pinstripe Bowl in Yankee Stadium! Metro North, here I come!
I can't post to the main board since Saturday so I'll throw this here.
Yes it is difficult to believe but there are SO many bowls that a 6-6 Michigan should get into a bowl. Currently the team is not in Jerry Palm's predictions but based on some head to head matchups a few teams that are currently in the lower tier Big 10 bowls will drop and UM with a 2-1 finish could move up. I would think both San Francisco and NYC would love to get UM in their bowl because (hopefully) it will be a rare case in the future. Heck we might even go to the Outback Bowl (no seriously) - see below*.
Palm has TCU and Oregon in the playoffs rather than MSU but 2 teams in the "Selection Committe Bowls" MSU and Nebraska. I think Nebraska - who has played no one aside from Miami FL but has Iowa and Wisconsin on the road to end the year could be pushed out by Wisconsin for that slot.
*Look at PSU ... 4-4 and 1-4 in the Big 10. Yet Palm has them all the way in the Outback. We're 2-3 in the conference. A 2-1 finish gets us to 4-4 / 6-6. PSU with a 2-2 finish would be 6-6 and 3-5.
Here are the slots and Big 10 standings:
- Cotton - MSU v MSU (4-0)
- Fiesta - ASU v Nebraska (4-1)
- TaxSlayer - LSU v Minnesota (lol) (3-1)
- Outback - Texas A&M v PSU (1-4)
- Capital One - Georgia v Maryland (3-2)
- SF Bowl - USC v Wisconsin (3-1)
- Holiday - UCLA v OSU (4-0)
- Pinstripe - GA Tech v Iowa (3-1)
- Heart of Dallas - Rice v Rutgers (1-4)
- Quicklane Bowl - NC State v Temple* [this is supposed to be a Big 10 opponent for NC State but Palm is not projecting any other Big 10 team to be eligible it appears]
That is 10 bowls for 9 teams. Northwestern is 3-5/2-3 and Illinois (YTI) is 4-5/1-4 so that is it for competition with any chance to go bowling.
In terms of road forward - yes Northwestern is a road game and yes they somehow beat Wisconsin but they also lost a close one last week to Iowa (48-7) and their advanced metrics (FEI, S&P+) are incredibly mediocre. That Wisconsin win is looking a lot like Indiana's over Missouri.
Maryland's metrics are as poor as UM's. And Maryland has MSU the week before they face UM so should be in a state of smashed pudding. So 2-1 is feasible to close out this year.
"AD" for After Dave. Once the head coach has been hired, an athletic director, being so far removed from the day-to-day workings of a football team, should not be able to impact the success - or lack thereof - of the football team. A quick check of the boxscore does not show the athletic director's name (though this season I have hinted at it showing his finger prints.*) In fact, it does not even show the coaches' names, which makes this a less than perfect archive since I believe that the coaches do matter. (It does, however, list the officials.) So the boxscore is populated by people who set foot on the field and determine the outcome of the game. Did the resignation of Michigan's athletic director release a dam of pent-up frustration, stress, and ill-will that allowed the football team to perform to their highest potential, or is Indiana just really bad? I'm going to take this opportunity to focus on the positive and leave the rest of the nonsense for later in the season. For now, there's still a chance the team can become bowl eligible, earn another chance to put on the winged helmet and play for Michigan.
*I've referenced the advertisement placement that blocks some of the stats.
Boxscore Link: http://www.mgoblue.com/sports/m-footbl/stats/110114aaa.html
Burst of Impetus
* Michigan stopped Indiana on their first possession and responded with a decent drive that ended in a field goal. Michigan's drive was highlighted by a 34 yard Gardner to Darboh completion. On Indiana's next drive, Jake Ryan forced Tevin Coleman to fumble the ball and Bryan Mone was there to recover the ball. Given a short field, Michigan's offense responded, going 27 yards in 6 plays for a touchdown. Down 10-0, Indiana's coach benched his one great player for fumbling, allowing Michigan to extend our lead to 17-0. With Indiana sorely missing their QB, there was little to fear the rest of the way.
Love the Drake
* I thought the story of the running game this year was going to be the battle between Derrick Green and De'Veon Smith. With Green out for the year, and Smith dinged up in the first half, Michigan turned to Drake Johnson. Johnson carried 16 times for 122 yards and two touchdowns. Even subtracting his long run of 32 yards leaves him with 90 yards on 15 carries for an even 6.0 yards per carry. That was a solid performance.
* Smith and Hayes combined for 42 yards on 13 carries against the same Indiana defense, so I'm inclined to be optimistic that we may have stumbled on something positive in the running game. Time will tell.
I'm Having a Hard Time Coming up with Positive Section Headings. It's Been That Kind of Year.
* Devin Gardner completed 22 passes for 220 yards and 2 touchdowns.
* Even though he mostly targeted Darboh and Funchess, eight Michigan players caught passes, including Bo Dever, Joe Kerridge and A.J. Williams.
* Darboh had a career game with 9 receptions for 107 yards and a touchdown.
* Jake Ryan led the defense with 11 tackles, 2.5 TFLs and 2 forced fumbles.
* Michigan recorded 12 TFLs and had two sacks.
* The top four tacklers were all front-seven guys. Wilson and Hill each had 3 tackles. The starting CBs, Taylor and Lewis combined for one tackle.
The Glass is Half Full?
* Indiana did not earn a passing first down. I wonder when the last time was that happened. For the game, Michigan doubled Indiana's first down production, 20 to 10.
* Michigan ran 64 plays, of which, 61 ended in non-negative yards.
* In a near reversal of last week, Michigan more than doubled Indiana in total yardage, 404 to 191.
* Michigan won the time of possession, 33:35 to 26:25. Hey, it matters to Brady, so we'll record it as a positive for this week.
* We had twice as many third down conversions as Indiana, 6 to 3.
* Michigan was perfect in the red zone, going 6 for 6 with four touchdowns, and unlike previous weeks, we actually got there quite often this week.
* For the second week in a row, Michigan scored more points off turnovers than their opponents. This week it was 14-0.
Wow, I'm sorry guys. I'll admit this was far from my finest effort. It's going to take more than a new AD to rescue this program. I tried to put lipstick on this pig, but it's still a pig. On to the next one...
[ED: Normally, the judgement on diaries is left to others, but I think this might merit that status for length / presentation reasons if nothing else - LSA]
So I work in Columbus in the O.R. and unsurprisingly, most of the people here went to OSU. This week I was in an OR with the guy who is the blue jackets team doc and played college ball (not sure where, not exactly sure whether it was BB or FB, could have been either). I was asked what the shelf life of the football coach was and my response was that the AD was going to be fired and replaced before the FBHC was fired and replaced. The overwhelming response was that if the football team was winning, the AD wouldn't have been a problem,
My response was that there's a distinct difference between the health of the department, the program and the current team which it seemed people were unwilling to differentiate and I think the former players and some members here are already losing the distinction as well.
The Athletic Director was fired, in part, for being an ASS. He was terrible at crisis management and damage control. He was instrumental in "Concussiongate" and was unable to recognize the issue with "Cokegate." Add into these the additional issues of "Emailgate" as well as the rumors of "Interfering with the coaching-gate" and "Watching film with the coordinators-gate." And we begin to see the issues which sealed the fate of the AD. The fact that the football team is a disaster is not as much a reflection of the AD as it is of the coaching staff. The Athletic Department as a whole was being viewed in a very negative light and it was due to the inability of the AD to manage the issues which occurred.
This brings me to the program. This is the other half of why the AD needed to go. Since Brandon took over, revenue has increased, but not significantly more than other top programs' per http://mgoblog.com/content/mailbag-qb-not-major-problem-revenue-increases-oregons-thing. However, student participation at the football games has plummeted and the wait list for season tickets has disappeared. It was anticipated that the game this past weekend, even though it was a homecoming, would be the first game in decades which did not have 100k+ in attendance. These are not the causes of the deteriorating health of the program, but the symptoms of the health of the program, which is a responsibility of the AD, not the coach, per se.
Finally we get to the health of the team. This is not something that should be specifically related to the atletic director unless there is some documented issue with dysfunction withing the football team itself or the coaching staff. We don't get to hear enough about the inner workings of the team and staff to know if these are going on, but we do get to see the results of the team management on the fielf. And its performance speaks for itself. It's a mess. The coach is obviously failing. He's had nothing but a significant rise in the amount of talent on the team, except for the possiblity of OL due to questions about OL youth and the slow development of OL in particular, yet basically all position groups continue to underperform related to their recruiting rankings. Yes, caveat re:STARZZ, but it has also been shown that high recruiting rankings and offer sheets from top tier programs correlate the best with success. Hoke has gotten many highly recruited players which have had offers from many other programs, but the results are not evident based on the results from the field. This should be criteria solely for judging the coach and the performance the past 3 years are what should be the nail in the coffin for Hoke.
The only thing that there is a crossover between the AD and the state of the football team is that there has been much chatter that non of the highly attractive coaches would come and coach at Michigan if Dave Brandon had still been the AD. His inability to hire the best coach for the job because none of them would accept the job from him is the only thing that should have tied his tenure to the production by the football team,
In short, the AD got canned for being an ass who is hated by many, the coach is going to be fired because he's obviously made some bad decisions. I'm not going to say Hoke couldn't fix the team, but he doesn't deserve a chance to do so. If he's hamstrung the team though retaining friends who could not handle the job in the first place, he is culpable and does not deserve the chance to put it right as he's already used 4 years to make this team unable to compete.
Well I tried to make this short enough for a forum entry but people prefer brevity there which I fail at in these type of analysis, so I decided to write a long form and will place in diary.
With the erasure of David Brandon from UM athletics and the scuttlebutt about a potential re-marriage with Jim Harbaugh (the guy who wears a crown says Harbaugh's reps will be in AA next week to meet with Schlissel, but MGo policy is not to link to the crowned one's site) I thought I'd present some data on Harbaugh's Stanford years. I've done a litany of reviews of most of the major coaching candidates (Mullen, Patterson, Graham, Jones, Mark Stoops) over the past month in a somewhat similar format but I am going to make this post more narrow, focusing mostly on statistics. (I also looked at how Strong & Franklin compared to this year's candidates)
I did break out Jim's data a lot more in detail - rather than simply looking at total offense/defense each year at Stanford, I went into rush & pass offense/defense and then went another step and looked at the advanced metrics of FEI and S&P+ utilizing Football Outsiders. Harbaugh coached from 07 to 10, so I've also listed the data for Stanford in the year before and year after he coached for comparison (please note there was no FEI data in 2006)
Here is Harbaugh's data - please note Andrew Luck was QB in 09/10/11:
|W/L||Tot Off||oFEI||oS&P+||Tot Def||dFEI||dS&P+|
Here is a deep dig into the data broken down by run / pass
|Rush O||Pass O||Rush D||Pass D|
TL;DR version - cool story bro, I dont care, statistics are for losers...give me Harbaugh. Stop reading here.
Not TL;DR version
The perception of Stanford football today is tough a$$ defense. But that was not Harbaugh's defense, or it sure wasn't until his last year there. What struck me on looking at the data is how sucky the defense was in Harbaugh's first 3 years. I mean it was really bad, and yes let's allow for 1-11 Stanford but there should have been more tangible improvement by year 2-3. Jim doesn't seem to be a defensive coach. And yet we saw a massive improvement in his last year. So I looked closer and we can get an explanation from 2 words -> Vic Fangio.
Here are his D-coordinators by year
- 2007 - Scott Schafer (YTSS)
- 2008 - Andy Buh/Ron Lynn
- 2009 - ditto
- 2010 - Vic Fangio
So who is Vic Fangio and where is he now? Fangio is a long time NFL coach, who unfortunately was stuck coaching for 2 expansion teams, but had been a D Coordinator from 95 to 05. Colts management wanted him fired one year but Jim Mora (YTJM) famously refused to fire him since he didnt think he was a problem, and instead Mora got canned. Between 06-10, Fangio was a "special assistant" to first Billick and then John Harbaugh at the Ravens. (Ironically on the same staff as Gregg Mattison from 08-10... small world)
So obviously he got shuttled from 1 Harbaugh to another and his 1 year in college was his only year. He has been the DC of San Fran's excellent defense since 2011. At age 57 - and never being a HC - he does not seem like one to take over for Jim if he was to leave San Fran (hoping UM fans in San Fran could shed more light on this, I am speculating) but he seems like a NFL guy more than a college guy. I also could not find his salary with the google fergodsakes, but he did get an extension thru 2015 this past March.
If we are lucky enough to land Harbaugh, it will be interesting to see if Mr. Fangio comes along. (Nice article here on Fangio for those inclined; paints him as a cerebral, detail oriented coaching lifer)
If not, I would say it is imperitive Harbaugh finds an excellent D-coordinator (maybe Will Muschamp?) Just being blunt but his first 3 years (again allowing that Stanford sucked in 2006) on defense were pretty awful, like Kevin Sumlin's defense at Houston awful. Well like Kevin Sumlin everywhere he coaches awful on defense.
Unlike the defense, Jim's offense improved at a steady pace through his years at Stanford. Now again, and this is why I like diving into the data - the perception was this was mostly Andrew Luck. But as we slice the data we can see it was the rushing offense that carried the day. By the 2nd year Harbaugh had engineered a Mattison in 2011 turnaround of the rush offense from >100 to top 20. Now that is f***** manball sir. Somewhere Bo is shedding a tear. Luck did come around in 2009-2010 (and 2011 after Harbaugh left) and while the passing offense was very good in 2010, the rushing offense was the better unit even that year. So in terms of fit of style to current player personnel - I mean the shoe fits. Assuming Rivals was not wrong on every damn UM offensive recruit from 2012-2014. Harbaugh did what Hoke promised to do. And did it quickly. Interestingly the advanced stats (S&P+ and FEI) were kinder to Stanford then the NCAA's "Total Offense" all 4 years, which is probably a nod to the tough conference.
Looking at this data better helped me not only look deeper at Jim Harbaugh but better helped me couch all the other candidates I ran analysis on over the past month. It makes me appreciate the defensive prowess of Charlie Strong at Louisville and Patterson at TCU, and Graham / Sumlin offensively (and Graham defensively at ASU). Coming in and quickly turning around programs and getting "top 20" rankings at these schools without top 10-15 recruiting talent is NOT easy. Many people are critical of many other candidates I (or others) present for not winning big by year 2 at other programs (what?! 5 losses in any year? DO NOT WANT!) or having one side of the ball with sucky stats. Well Harbaugh evaluated after 2-3 years would have some of those same flags as well. Again - adjusted for taking over a 1-11 tire fire.
Which is why judging a guy like Mark Stoops in year 2 is so difficult - in many ways he is well ahead of where Jim was in year 2 both in W/L and offensive and defensive statistics - taking over a similar 2-10 tire fire. Of course we'd prefer to see year 3 for him as well!
Looking at this data, if I removed the name Harbaugh and changed it to Smith and he had played at Nebraska rather than Michigan, "Coach Smith" would not be such a slam dunk based on comments I've seen in many of the CC threads for guys with - frankly - some better data in year 1-3 of their respective stops.
All that said, of course I am not suggessting Jim Harbaugh should not be UM's coach - I would be sent to Bolivia for even the suggestion. The history, the Michigan roots, the hate for Ohio, the intensity, the intangibles - very few coaches in the country have those. And he has proven himself even more so at the NFL level than the NCAA. But he is an offensive minded person who built a manball team and found and tutored a great QB. Things I am sure he could do here. But his defensive coordinator hire may be his biggest decision if he does make his way to Ann Arbor.
Yeesh! Bundle up if you'll be out early! Low 30s throughout the morning, edging into the mid 30s around lunch. Winds are out of the north at 15mph, gusting to the mid 20s (small trees sway) - it doesn't sound like much compared to Friday, but it's enough to put our wind chills into the 20s! We begin the day with a lot of cloud cover, but see more sunshine heading into the later morning and afternoon. Anyone bringing chili to the tailgate?
It's a 3:30 start, so we'll hit the high here - just don't expect the actual temperature reading to be high! 39 degrees for the beginning of the game. A mix of sun and clouds, so it'll help for those of you that get to be in the sun a bit. Winds remain out of the north at a steady 15mph, and we may see a few gusts here and there around 20mph, but they'll start to die out during the first half. Wind chill will keep it feeling more like 30.
Temperature at 38 degrees, and it'll continue to fall during the second half of the game. We get rid of the gusts, but winds will stay at 15mph out of the north - dropping that wind chill back into the upper 20s. We'll continue to see less and less clouds, so especially as the sun sets, expect it to really get chilly.
High pressure finally starting to take over the mitten - giving us partly cloudy skies and a north wind at 10mph ending the game. It's still enough to give us a wind chill, so that temp of 35 will feel more like the mid 20s. Staying out late (because yes-this is that night where it's closing time and then you get another hour to celebrate a win!) - bundle up! Temps fall to the upper 20s in the late night and 25 degrees by last call. Winds will start to shift NNE at become light with mostly clear skies. You got this, blue!