landing spot. will be interesting to see how he does.
My previous diary came on the heels of the NFL's admission that concussions in football are a problem. Some people expressed they'd like to hear my ideas on how to solve these problems. I posted them at the end of the diary responses, but the thread had died out. I'm re-posting them in another diary, not to say, "LOOK AT MEEEEE!" but with the purpose of getting feedback. I welcome all forms of serious feedback, as there's probably things I haven't thought of (why they wouldn't work) or some physics things I don't understand. So, without further ado, here's some rules ideas I've been tossing around in my head:
- No launching or diving at another player, whether you're on offense of defense. Only time you're allowed to leave your feet before contact is to try to catch a thrown pass or lateral.
- Alternating possession, a la basketball. If the offense fumbles, the whistle is immediately blown and it is a dead ball. If it is indeed a fumble, team with the arrow gets the ball. Fumble piles are dangerous in a myriad of ways, and it has been statistically shown that fumble recoveries are random anyway. Or, defense gets the ball. While that may be hard to do in basketball, in football it would be pretty easy to see that team A had possession, then fumbled, ergo, team B gets the pigskin.
- NO player is allowed to lower his head.
- A tackle must be secured by actually securing the ball carrier. You can't get a guy down by simply laying a hit. A tackle is when the defender has a hold of the ball carrier. No tripping tackles. If a ball carrier breaks a tackle and then goes down, he can get up and run.
All of the above except alternating possession are 15-yard penalties for 1st offense, DQ for 2nd.
Headgear and uniform ideas:
- non-hard shell, but need to engineer a protective face mask. At least in boxing the athletes are trying to protect their face which they know the opponent is attempting to hit.
- hadn't thought of the "grease the helmet" thing...interesting idea by user trackcapt. Perhaps silicone spray?
- race cars are designed to shatter on impact to absorb force. Hard-shell helmet could be structured not to shatter per se, but come apart on an impact of a pre-determined force, and then easily be able to be snapped back together. Somewhat like a glorified Lego. (Boy wouldn't they love to get their hands on some of that NFL money and # of impressions?)
- All linemen wear gloves w/o fingers so they cannot grab an opponent. Okay, they couldn't catch a ball very well or secure a fumble, but the alternating possession rule would rule that moot.
- No hard-shell shoulder pads.
- Clampons (just kidding)
- protective girdles that are lightweight and pad everything from belt to knee--there would be a lot of shoulder hits to the thigh area if the rest of these were adopted
Okay, now let's hear everyone say how stupid these are, how they would ruin the game, woosify 'murica, etc.
I started photographing Michigan sports in Spring of 2012. I had just finished my Sophomore year of Undergrad in engineering and wanted to do something with my photography skills, so I joined the Michigan Daily. The 2011-2012 season was Michigan's 22nd consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament. Photographing this 2012-2013 team was obviously a very special opportunity for me and one that I was excited about.
But apparently I was a curse that led to a three year NCAA tournament drought. Or at least many have told me this. Sorry, guys.
But this weekend the curse was broken as Michigan played in the NCAA Tournament in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Since most Michigan could not make the trip, I wanted to make a Diary that gives a feel for what the atmosphere was like. Away games/environements have always intrigued me. Unfortunately I chose the last game of the year to start one but better late than never, right?
The Notre Dame game was a fun preview of the years to come. Fans of both teams travelled well. When teams took the ice, it was a battle of the bands with the fight songs. "Let's Go Irish" chants were drowned out by "Let's Go Blue" chants, and vice versa.
Not every Michigan player dressed, but they did all travel. As a fan, it's tough watching your team go into overtime because there's really not much you can do. As a player though, it must be much worse. They looked far more nervous than any fan (as seen above).
Unlike the Big Ten Tournament, plenty of Michigan fans showed up to cheer on the team. This was to be expected, as Ann Arbor to Cincy is about 4 hours, versus 12 hours to St. Paul. The stadium still wasn't full and the upper deck was tarped off, but there were certainly enough there to create a decent atmosphere.
The hockey bands really gave the college sports atmosphere. The arena still played RAWK MUSIK (actually it was a lot of hip-hop mash-ups that they probably pulled from a YouTube playlist), but hearing Notre Dame and Michigan's fight songs back-to-back was a refreshing sound. Even the Northeastern band traveled quite well (as did their fans, though to a lesser extent than all the other teams).
Speaking of Northeastern, they were thoroughly handled by North Dakota. Despite scoring the first goal, they found themselves down 5-1 in the 2nd period to UND. The above photo pretty much sums up the game.
Steve Racine played lights out all weekend. This save above was a wrap-around by Notre Dame in overtime that was saved by the blade of Racine's skate.
Moments later, Michigan scored, players celebrated, and Notre Dame fans went home looking sad.
The next day, North Dakota fans arrived with strong energy. Though they are now officially the "Fighting Hawks", "Let's Go Sioux" chants echoed all game long.
Also in attendance: Michigan AD Warde Manuel. I don't think he changed facial expressions once all game.
Sioux Fighting Hawks had some supporters from Ohio, too, celebrating in front of some Miami (Oh) and OSU fans. Something tells me they were cheering more for not-Michigan rather than North Dakota.
"Fighting Hawks" doesn't appear to be catching on any time soon.
If you're looking for a moral victory, after the North Dakota player scored he got taken out by the ref. So there's that.
It took until the 3rd period for North Dakota to take a 4-2 lead in this game. They dominated most of the pace and you couldn't help but feel that it was only a matter of time until they went ahead. In the first period, shots were 22-5 in favor of North Dakota. The players received a lot of support as they left the ice, Racine especially.
Red Berenson gave no mention of retirement at his press conference. He did applauded the efforts of his seniors, and praised the efforts of North Dakota. Could this have been his last post-game press conference?
If you were unable to attend the tournament in Cincinnati, I hope this has helped give you a feel for what it was like! A thrilling overtime win over Notre Dame and 2.5 periods against one of the best teams in the country made for an exciting weekend of hockey. (This is also my first Diary post so go easy on me!) I'd like to make more of these when I travel to away games in the future.
See you in the Fall!
About me: See the Art Briles post. TL;DNR summary. I am a doctor in Toledo who played center and LB in high school and safety at Cornell. I have been going to UM coaches clinics since RichRod as a “prepare to do something new” pre-retirement strategy and to be more of a football insider and a better fan.
About Frank Beamer: Beamer grew up in rural Virginia and spent most of his life coaching football within a few miles of where he grew up. He was a three sport star athlete in high school and started three years at cornerback for Virginia Tech. He went to grad school at Radford University a mere 15 miles from VaTech and became an assistant coach for the high school football team. He became a grad assistant at Maryland, the defensive coordinator for several years at The Citadel under Bobby Ross and then the DC and eventual head coach at Murray State. He was named head coach at Va Tech in in 1986 after NCAA violations led to the firing of Bill Dooley. His choice was controversial but he became one of the most successful coaches of all time, winning multiple conference championships in the Big East and ACC and coach of the year awards in both conferences. After going undefeated in 1999, his team played for a national championship with Michael Vick at QB but lost to Florida State in the Sugar Bowl. At the time of his retirement this year, his VaTech teams hold the current longest active streak with 23 straight bowl game appearances.
About that scar- he was keeping a trash fire contained with a push broom as a kid. When he put the broom back in the garage, he did not notice it was smoldering. He placed it too close to a can of gasoline that exploded. He required dozens of skin grafts to correct those injuries. Just my opinion, but I suspect that after living through that as a kid, you learn how to take the ups and downs of being a coach in perspective.
His presentation style is low key and friendly. He told a story about his first encounter with Harbaugh. They were meeting before the 2011 Orange Bowl. Harbaugh told Beamer how much he was looking forward to playing Georgia Tech. Beamer followed up by saying how happy he was to be playing Samford.
His advice on creating a winning program: As with Briles, I feel many of his comments are good advice for anyone leading a team or organization.
You must be able to relate to your players. They are the only ones who can get you through a crisis and you must prepare for crisis on and off the field. You do this with honest, respect and caring.
Big decisions need the entire staff to be involved. His experience is that this leads to better decisions and better support for those decisions when all feel involved.
Practice is key as it sets the tone for how you play. It should be fast, furious and fun and you have a better tempo when you hit the field for games. Short practices are better than long ones and fast furious and fun helps to make that happen.
If you are delegating an important job, give it to one person. That makes it possible to keep people accountable for performance.
Special teams need special preparation. Special teams play is the quickest way to win or lose a game.He then gave an excellent talk on special teams play. It was quite detailed and probably too long to cover in this format but he did give some good general advice.
He spot practices special teams during practice not at the beginning or the end because that is how it happens in games.
Kick off to one side as it makes for less field to cover. Structure coverage to make the kick receivers run sideways. The coverage must stay in their lanes until the ball takes a direction and then must keep the ball in front of them. Do not overrun the ball.
Practice and use pop up kicks once in a while as they force personnel changes by your opponents.
On kick off returns, the key is to stop the backside gunners away from your general return direction and then set up double teams blocks up the middle or on the return side at your chosen point of attack.
Spread punt protection (pro-style with gunners out wide and blockers in slot positions) makes it easier to cover kicks but harder to defend against blocked kicks. Shield protection (seven on the line and three blockers in front of the punter) makes it easier to protect the punter but harder to cover the kick. He would always be fine with high punts for 35+ yards with a fair catch.
If you can get good punting with two steps that is preferable to avoid blocks. You want your long snapper to be fast and an athlete. No one can hit him at the time of the snap, so he can function as one of your gunners down field. You punt protection blocks must be square to create a wall. Footwork is important. Stance with inside foot up and then first step is quick back with the outside foot then second step back brings feet square to form a wall.
Feel free to skip the following but here is an attempt to cover in more detail one part of his talk. Diagrams would help here but I have only hand drawn ones. I do not know how to digitize my drawings and embed. Anyone want to give me a lesson?
Punt blocks and returns: Against a shield formation, put 10 on the line of scrimmage and one receiver deep. For a return right, attack the L end with two players one is to force the kick and contain the kicker and the other maintains a block on the end.
The kick rushers are the next two players inside on the left. They attack the outside gaps of the blockers over them and rush the kick. They slow those linemen in front of them and occupy the shield blockers so there is no reason to block the shield players or punter. Punt blockers must keep their eyes open and avoid any collision course. Block punts with one hand reaching out with the left hand if attempting to block from the left and the reverse on the right. So for a return R, your punt block attempt comes from the L and the reverse.
Once the long snapper leaves the LOS, the man over him pops him once to slow him down then drops quickly back to set the first part of a wall facing left. The right side of the line blocks and maintains the blocks on the men they are covering with a double team on the end. The receiver returns the punt right. You flip all this to return left. He did not have time to discuss the punt block and return against a spread pro-style protection.
If this is Goodbye, then thank you for our program [Patrick Barron]
FREQUENCY OF SEEDS AND PERFORMANCE
It occurred to me that it might be interesting to do a high-level survey of the seeding of both the Final Four as well as the tournament champions and then look at ways we can check expectations (i.e., that the higher seeds should go to the better teams overall) versus results (i.e., the actual seed of the champion).
As some of you may be aware, seeding as only been a thing since 1978, so this was a constraining factor in the data collection, but there is definitely enough there to see some interesting phenomena in the data. A couple things that I did not know, just as examples:
- As much as we talk about 5-12 matchups in the tournament, a #12 has never made it to the Four. An #11 seed has made it, however (three times).
- Only once since the tournament was seeded did all the #1 teams survive to the Final Four (2008)
- Only three times since the tournament was seeded did no #1 teams make it to the Final Four (1980, 2006 & 2011)
There are other interesting tidbits you can glean from it, of course, but something that is just as interesting, or so I believe, is some of the other trends buried in the data.
First, here’s the seed count for all 152 teams which have graced seeded Final Fours in the NCAA tournament:
It should look exactly like you might expect, which is the point here. Indeed, by the time you get out to the 4-seed, you are at 82.24% of all teams that have played in a Final Four game, which in 152 games leaves only 27 instances where a team has been lower than the 4-seed (in the case of some years, multiple seeds were lower than that, of course)
Days later, as we know, three of these teams are gone – two in the Final Four and one in the NCAA Championship Game. Here’s the seeding frequency of those that won it all:
As you can see, truly quizzical endings to the NCAA Tournament have been a sparse exception statistically, with only four of them ending with a champion that was seeded as lower than a #4, and of course, one of them is that Villanova team (at #8) that made what some have argued is the quintessential Cinderella run some 30 years ago.
What about any sort of performance metric though? I wasn’t sure how to approach it – we’re just talking about the seeding, after all, so we have to make an assumption that one of the four #1 seeds is the best of the best, or at least that they are deemed such by how they are seeded and what they actually do in the tournament. The expectation then might be that all four of them should make it to the Final Four, but that only happened once to date for as we also know, there are far too many variables in a basketball game, human and technical – the countless upsets in tournament history are a testament to that.
Something that I thought was interesting was to look at the average seeding of the Final Four teams through the years and then build a frequency chart with those averages:
There you see the sole time all participants at this stage of the tournament were #1 seeds, but look at how many times the average has been less than 2.00 – only 10 times. Here’s part of the reason:
In 30 of the tournaments since seeding began, the Final Four has seen only one or two of the #1 seeds make it, although as you saw earlier, a #1 seed has won on 21 occasions.
Another assumption we have to consider is seeding as an indicator of projected performance, which is one that we all make typically when doing brackets, but team performance is taken into consideration as well when the committee does lays out the 64 and 4 as well. Taking a shot in the dark regarding how we can use this to look at the performance of the committee as well as the winners versus their seeding, I subtracted the champion’s seed from the average of the corresponding year and got this frequency chart:
The overall results are interesting – we find that in 26 of the 38 tournaments which have employed seeding, the champion’s seed has fallen above the average seed of the Final Four, which I would argue is “overperforming” in that, well, a higher seed beat the average quite simply. This includes all 21 occurrences of a #1 winning the tournament, but also some outliers – 5 instances where a non-#1 seed won and still outperformed the average seed of the Final Four – 1979, 1980 and 1997, where a #2 won, and 2006 and 2011, where a #3 won.
Here’s another chart where you can see how rare the Cinderella story is as well – that -5 belongs to 1985’s Villanova team, with an average seed in the Final Four of #3 and Villanova winning it all at #8. It happened again in the 1980s, however – the value -3.5 is 1988’s result, where the average seed was 2.50 and the tournament was won by a #6. Of course, there’s 1983 as well and that improbable run by North Carolina State at a value of -3.00. These are the examples of the unlikely becoming possible, where a team was probably seeded below their actual potential – misjudged, if you will. Other interesting note – only twice has the average seed of the Final Four matched the seed of the champion – in 2004 (#2 won) and in 2008 (#1 won).
You will note, however, that 22 of these 38 results fall between 0 and 2, meaning that in nearly 60% of the tournaments – at least this is how I read it – the Final Four results versus the champion seed fall fairly close or almost right on the default expectation. In other words, slightly more than half the time, they appear to get it right in the end despite all the chaos that seems to happen in earlier rounds in some years.
A moment of Zen, courtesy of the movie "Crazy People":