Well, it's that time of year again, folks. The leaves have all shed themselves from the trees and the cold is starting to settle upon the midwest. The days are getting shorter and the nights longer. If you flip on the six-o-clock Sportscenter during this evening you will, no doubt, be serenaded to the soothing sounds of SEC bias while the moon is peeking gently through the window.
The geese have taken flight to the warmer climes down south, and so too do our football teams. For it is bowl season again. Time for us all to regale upon bowl seasons past, and look forward to our annual unfavorable bowl matchups.
"What's that you say? Unfavorable bowl matchups? But Michigan is playing Va Tech! Purdue plays Western Michigan, those don't seem unreasonable. Why... when I was still a youth (circa 2007-08) I remember playing 5 of our 8 bowl games in the HOME STATE of our competition. Indiana actually played a bowl game that year. I remember Illinois being sacrificed on the alter of a pissed off USC. The game was in SoCal. OSU was embarrased by an LSU team that had to travel all of an hour to get to the game. Michigan miraculously pulled an upset on Florida that NOBODY predicted. Florida had to endure nearly two hours on a bus, after all. Now THAT was an unfavorable bowl season."
True, my crotchety and slightly older grandfather.
While this year is not quite as bad as we had it a few years ago, we are still playing five away games this bowl season compared to zero home games. The away games are all held within a few hours of our competition. We are also only favored in three games. The aforementioned Sugar Bowl and Little Caeser's Bowl; as well as Illinois over UCLA in the Fight Hunger Bowl*. Since Illinois has not won a game since they ended apartheid, let's just call that game a push.
Sick of my attempt at witty banter? Here are the hard facts. Lines provided by Yahoo because, why not? I'm at work anyway and can't get to any of the good sports sites.
Little Caesar's Bowl - Detroit, MI (away game)
Insight Bowl - Tempe, AZ
Texas Bowl - Houston, TX (away game)
Fight Hunger Bowl - San Francisco, CA (away game)
|Illinois||6-6||10||-3 (Uh, no?)|
Ticket City Bowl - Dallas, TX (away game)
Gator Bowl - Jacksonville, FL (away game)
Outback Bowl - Tampa, FL
Capital One Bowl - Orlando, FL
Rose Bowl - Pasadena, CA
Sugar Bowl - New Orleans, LA
We're screwed because...
- The average bowl team in the Big Ten placed at a rank of 5.5 in conference (this makes sense as the top 10 teams made it). Our average opponent is ranked at 3.9 in its respective conference. That means we are consistently playing nearly two positions above our head. If you compare the 8 teams we have that are playing against AQ schools, you come out with a rank of 5.5 as well. You would expect a big drop in the rank of the AQ schools, but they are ranked an average of 4.1 in conference, nearly a spot and a half ahead of the good guys.
- We have the better W/L record in exactly one bowl game, and only because UCLA was allowed to embarass themselves in the PAC-12 title game. Four of the games match teams with identical records. The other five games have us playing teams with better records. Since the B1G record against the other Big 6 conferences was above .500 this year, this difference doesn't reflect poor OOC play. Instead it reflects the disparity in conference rankings outlined above.
- The eye test. Penn State plays arguable the best non-qualifier in Houston. Oregon, Georgia, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Florida, Virginia Tech, UCLA, and TAMU are all teams with names that have cache. More cache than say... Northwestern, Illinois, or Purdue.
- Half of our bowl games are in the state of the opposing team.
But it's cool because...
- Michigan is favored in a BCS game. Run that one through your head again...
What does it all mean?
The Big Ten has an image problem, largely due to the SEC pandering that ESPN has been hocking. Couple this with OSU's 'performance' problem in big games and Michigan's temporary loss of luster, and there has been a stigma attached to the conference for the past 5-6 years.
I think a playoff system will aid the Big Ten in returning to the dominant force in college football, if a playoff system is ever implemented. Home games would be nice. Picture Alabama coming to Ann Arbor in December. Pipe dream, yes. But that would be an equalizer.
The Big Ten may well go anywhere from 2-8 to 6-4 this year. The ceiling is not high. Not because it is a bad conference, but because not unlike a drunk OSU coed, we can't make it through a bowl weekend without getting screwed.
*Ironic that the head coach of both schools lost their jobs right before the Fight Hunger Bowl.
**I ranked teams by conference W/L record and ignored the conference championships (looking at you UCLA). After conference W/L, I looked at overall W/L. After that, BCS rank. If those three were all identical, I used a super secret method to determine which team was to be ranked higher (my uneducated opinion, akin to random computer rankings). Kinda cool.
After reading wolfman81's diary about Conference Title Games, the BCS, and playoffs, I wanted to write a reply that focused on whether there was any suitable alternative to the Conference Title Game. I threw out an idea and saw how recent history would affect it, and was surprised that (a) I actually found it a plausible alternative, and (b) my response was uber-long. So I decided to make my own diary. This is my first diary, so if it's not diary worthy, please go easy on me and mods just bump it back down to the board.
I've often felt the same as wolfman81- that Conference Championship games are an unfair way to determine who the Conference Champion is. To me the perfect way is to have a complete round-robin in the league, where everybody plays everybody and a champ is determined by league record. This is obviously not possible in a 12 team league, or even the 11 team Big Ten of yesterday. And I do think a conference title game is a better solution than having teams in the conference not play each other and just having a hot mess at the end of the season (see: 2010 Big Ten standings). So what's the alternative?
You could say "let's limit conferences to ten teams, kick out Penn State and Nebraska AARGH!" Let's step into la-la land for a second. Even when the Big Ten had ten teams, we still only played 8 conference games, and only had a true round-robin for a few years in the '80s. But why couldn't they do it now? Obviously the cash from a title game, and the bonds from the CIC don't care too much about what's the best idea for us naive football fans. Yet if we are focused on the best way to pick a champion from a league, and a way where every game truly matters, this is it - true round robins in ten team leagues, with three additional regular season games.
So now accepting that we can't do that, what's the best way within the current paramaters? How do you pick a champion from a 12 team league, where you're allowed to play a title game at the end of the season, and you want an "every game matters" mentality?
Well, what if we had no divisions? Teams played their schedules, missed a few opponents, and then at the end of the year you'd set up a title game based on the two best teams - except with two extra provisions. To limit rematches, if you lost to the #1 team in the conference, you don't get to play them again. If you beat them, and you're next in line, you've got a chance to prove you're the league's best - and they've got a chance to prove that it was all just a fluke. And of course, in a tie, the head-to-head winner has a tiebreaker. So for this year's SEC, your standings would look like this:
(1) LSU 8-0 (2) Alabama/UGA 7-1 (4) Arkansas 6-2 (5) USC 6-2...
And lo and behold! A tie at #2 - but since Bama LOST AT HOME to LSU (note: yes, I'm bitter), UGA would get to play in the Georgia Dome. And so we get the same thing as this year. Well that's one instance where it works. Let's look at the B1G, 2011:
(1) Sparty 7-1 (2) Penn State, Wiscy, Michigan 6-2...
So we've got a three-way knot of doom at #2, where M didn't play either of the other two guys. Except since Sparty beat Wiscy and Michigan, it's not so bad - they play Penn State in Indy. The same Penn State who lost handily to Wiscy - not exactly ideal, but then, is it fair for Sparty to have to beat Wiscy twice? Maybe so, maybe not. Let's look at this year's Pac 12 and then ACC. Pac 12:
(1) Oregon 8-1 (2) Stanford 8-1 (3) USC 7-2 (4) Washington, UCLA 5-4...
So by my rules, since Oregon beat #2 Stanford, and USC is ineligible, and Washington lost to #1 Oregon...we're left with UCLA. Wow. Same as this year. ACC:
(1) VT 7-1 (2) Clemson 6-2 (3) 4 teams at 5-3...
So VT would get a chance for revenge at Clemson. Really, the only title game that would change this year is the B1G, where Penn State would get a shot at the title. And while I do feel for Sparty, I don't think anybody believes Penn State is more deserving than Wisconsin this year for the B1G title. But that is just my opinion, and this system doesn't look too bad yet. So let's look at recent history, to find some examples that might blow up my system completely. Your 2010 Big Ten:
(1) Sparty 7-1 (2) Wiscy 7-1 (3) Ohio 7-1 (4) Iowa, Illinois 4-4 (6) Penn State 4-4
So (if Nebraska had missed all of these guys hypothetically in a 12-team 2010 Big Ten) Sparty would play Ohio for the title, since Sparty beat Wiscy head-to-head. But if Ohio beats Sparty and wins the title, theny you've got a situation where Wiscy > B1G Champ Ohio > Sparty. And Sparty did get blown up by middle-class Iowa. But really this isn't any more unfair than what actually happened, and we'd avoid a rematch, and Wiscy's defeat at Sparty clearly matters. But apparently it matters more than their defeat of Ohio? Clearly my plan isn't ideal - but then, neither is the current system. One last example, the 2008 Big 12:
(1) Texas, OU, Texas Tech (4) OK St 5-3 (5) Mizzou 5-3 (6) Nebraska 5-3...
Oh, right. That whole triangle of doom scenario. Which would be broken by the BCS probably, giving Oklahoma the #1 spot. At least they'd get to play Texas again, for revenge. Hmm, come to think of it, that's better than playing Mizzou, isn't it? And it's a better solution to the triangle of doom than the current system has.
I started off thinking my idea was completely ridiculous and would be proven so with just this season's standings alone. I was certain it'd have a tougher time dealing with the most ridiculous issues of recent memory. I now actually think I might prefer my way a little bit - it mostly follows the current system pretty closely, and actually avoids rematches where the #1 team has to prove it's better again - but instead gives them a chance to avenge a loss and prove they are truly the conference's #1. Two negative side effects are that it gives some pretty unworthy teams a shot at the title - but mostly not any moreso than today's system - and that it screws with the BCS a bit more. For example if in 2008, UT had been ranked higher than OU, Tech and UT would have played the title game. If Tech upset UT a second time, OU would have gone to the BCS Title game while not playing for their conference title. Wait a sec...where have I heard that before?
Actually, it has no more negative side effects than the traditional "division" system used today. I started off a skeptic of my own plan, to try to prove the validity of the conventional thinking. I've convinced myself that this is better. Its negatives are the same as the current system, and its positives are that the regular season matters more. What are your guys' thoughts? Is this better than the present system? Is there a better alternative? If it's worse, why and how?
EDIT: I just thought of a pretty big time negative - it's conceivable that a team goes 9-0 in conference, and the only teams they didn't play have losing conference records. I guess one additional provision would be this: if the only teams who haven't been beat by #1 have losing conference records, then #1 will just play #2. I mean this is totally bats and la-la land anyway, right?
EDIT II: I had originally gotten my 2008 Big 12 tie-breaker wrong. I incorrectly said UT won the tie-breaker that year. It was OU. It's been fixed.
After Cliff Keen Invite
- Michigan hasn’t put out a full strength lineup yet for any duals or tournament. This last weekends Cliff Keen Invite was the closest, still missing just 9th ranked 125lber Sean Boyle.
- The Wolverines have had two exhibition tournaments, a dual win at Buffalo 27-13, a dual loss at #11 Pitt 13-19 and a second place finish at Cliff Keen.
- Michigan went without #9 Boyle(125), #1 Russell(141), #6 Grajales(149) and Collins(184) for the Buffalo Dual. Only putting Grajales back in for the one at Pitt.
- Kellen Russell missed both duals as he was selected to the NWCA All-Star match. He ended up pulling out and not wrestling, but, was still honored.
- Michigan was ranked 8th with 7 top 20 wrestlers. (125 Boyle 9th, 133 Stevens 13th, 141 Russell 1st, 149 Grajales 6th, 165 Yates 18th, 174 J.Zeerip 11th, Hwt Apland 13th)
Recap by Weight:
- 125 – Grant Pizzo has filled in for Boyle, losing both dual matches and posting a 1-2 finish at Cliff Keen. Would have been interesting to see how Boyle did at CK. He would have made 4 top 10 competitors at the tournament.
- 133 - #13 Zac Stevens posted major decisions and bonus points in both duals against unranked wrestlers. He went 4-2 and a 4th place finish at Cliff Keen. His losses came to #4 Stieber from Ohio (6-14) and #18 Keith from Harvard (0-6), while picking up a win against #17 Kiley from Nebraska (7-4). Solid showing for Stevens.
- 141 – Michigan put out Donnie Watkins for both duals in place a Russell where he dropped both two unranked wrestlers. Russell Returned for Cliff Keen for a 3rd place finish and a 6-1 record. His loss was to #15 and Freshman Hunter Stieber from Ohio (5-6). He notched wins against #20 Pennesi from WVU (8-1), #12 Nevinger from Cornell (7-1) and #2 Novachkov in a tiebreaker from Cal Poly (same guy he beat for the National Title last year). Bump in the road against Stieber, which he will see again a few more times. Russell tends to wrestle on the edge with his tremendous feel and confidence, opening himself up for something like that. The tournament winner was #5 Mangrum from Oregon State, so the field was pretty stacked at this one.
- 149 – #6 Grajales missed the first dual where Mike Hillock fell to an unranked. Grajales returned for Pitt and dropped a close one to #3 Nauman (2-4). Grajales almost got his rematch at Cliff Keen, but, Nauman fell in the quarters, while Grajales took down #17 Walsh from Indiana (19-4) and #5 Von Ohlen from Air Force (9-1) to win the 149lb title. Grajales dominated the tournament.
- 157 – Brandon Zeerip won both is duals against unranked competition. He made a run at Cliff Keen before losing to #1 ranked and returning national champion 0-6 in the quarters. No signature wins yet for Zeerip or bad losses. I’ve said I think he is a top 20 wrestler by the end of the year. He wrestled like it last year before getting wore down in his first full season. He’ll still be in the fringe after this tournament.
- 165 – #18 Dan Yates off to a slow solid start. Picked up both dual wins against unranked guys. Posted a 4-2 record as well as a 7th place finish at Cliff Keen. His losses were against #12 Burak from Northern Colorado (6-9 in a tiebreaker) and #16 Ben Jordan from Wisconsin (3-8). He gets another shot at Jordan Sunday when Wisconsin comes to Michigan for a dual.
- 174 - #11 Justin Zeerip is up and running in his senior campaign. He went 2-0 in duals with a pin and 4-1 at Cliff Keen with a 2nd place finish. He was aided by a med forfeit in the semis against #1 Amuchastegui from Stanford, but, only lost in a 5-6 tiebreak loss to #7 DesRoches from Cal Poly in the finals. He is certainly one to look out for this year.
- 184 – Chris Heald filled in for Collins for both duals, going 0-2. Collins returned for Cliff Keen and went 1-2. His shot at #3 Bosak from Cornell ended in him getting pinned. This continues to be the weak spot for the Wolverines.
- 197 – The lone Newcomer to the projected starting lineup Max Huntley has started off strong. He pinned in his dual at Buffalo and dropped a close one to #7 Wilps from Pitt (2-6) in the other. He went 3-3 with an 8th place finish at Cliff Keen. In doing so he picked up a win against #19 Smith from Cal Poly (11-5) and closed the gap to Wilps in a 4-6 lose. The Big Ten has some quality at this weight they need Huntley to compete.
- Hwt – #13 Ben Apland got a tech fall in his dual against Buffalo and then dropped a 1-3 tiebreaker loss against an unranked at Pitt. He fell in the quarters of Cliff Keen to an unranked Capone from Ohio (2-5). Dropped another to #16 Barlow from Kent State (1-3 in a tiebreaker) and then won the 7th place match over #20 Felix from Boise State (10-2). Finished with a 4-2 record.
Michigan looks to still be getting into the swing of things. Which is fine, it’s a long season. A Full lineup would have won the Cliff Keen tournament. Ohio certainly showed they will make a big leap this year with their freshmen. Michigan has a home dual Sunday the 11th against Wisconsin that should provide a couple good matchups as they kick off the B1G schedule.
Okay, we'll do the disclaimers first.
- Yes, this has spoilers. If you haven't finished 3&O, close this tab now.
- Yes, I realize 3&O has been out for awhile. I wanted to sit on it for a bit and gain perspective though. 3&O carries a rather heavy emotional payload, so I read it. Set it aside, watched us win 10 games, and then reread it. I was less suicidal the second time I read it. If you want to complain about this kind of diary reopening old wounds, close this tab now.
- I'm not going to cite things with page numbers or whatever. If I miss use a quote, call me on it. Consider 3&O to be a heavily cited work that gets the credit for most facts.
- It's long and doesn't have any pictures. I'm sorry.
Now then, why am I writing this. Because we're not entirely over RR. We have people who still are up in their caves, wearing their turbans and engaging in the Freep Jihad. We have people who scour every word written on the blog's mainpage and ranting at anything that might be critical of Hoke. We have people who take praise of Hoke to be an attack on RR. So I want to talk about the three years of sadness. If you feel an angry rant coming on, last chance to close the tab.
Right before Bo passed he said that once he died, we'd find out whole the real Michigan Men were. We did and it was damn ugly.
In the wake of Bo passing and RR being hired, we had three major players in Michigan football. Lloyd Carr, Bill Martin, and Rich Rodriguez. It would expand to 4 after MSC got involved and later Dave Brandon would replace Martin. However the tone of the era was set by the actions of the first three.
Lloyd Carr is the engima here. He was successful at Michigan. The only two coaches who had his number, Tressel and Caroll, ended up fleeing to the NFL one step ahead of the NCAA sanctions committee. He also won a NCAA title and 78% of his B1G games. He never lost more than 3 B1G games in a season and only finished below 3rd in the conference once. At the same time he took a lot of heat form the fans. Claims that he only won his ring with Moeller's players. Heat over his Rose Bowl issues and issues handling the spread. I still remember walking into the stadium one game and seeing an anti-Carr fan holding a sign. It read "Osama Bin-Lloyden is destroying Michigan football". The dude had a megaphone and was ranting. I just had to shake my head. Every year Tressel took him down, the fanbase got bitchier.
Since Carr has been silent (no comments in 3&O or anywhere else for the most part since he retired) it's hard to know what he felt at retirement. The evidence suggest he was burned out in 2006, but Martin had no replacement plan so he stayed on. The Horror happened and the heat on Carr was turned up. At the end of the day the best insight I have into Carr's mind comes from Bacon, who writes that Carr wanted to name his successor.
Here I'm going to make a leap. Carr felt like he'd accomplished a lot here and he definitely had. However the fanbase was pretty bitchy by this point and a lot of people were happy to see Carr retire. Basically it was a "Thanks for your service, here's your award, door is to your left" kind of retirement. No one exactly went into mourning when Carr hung it up. I see a potential situation where Carr felt bitter, underappreciated and not properly compensated in terms of legacy for his work. In 3&O, Carr tells Martin that someday a MAC team was going to beat us. Basically saying college football was getting tougher, more parity, and yet Michigan fans want to see the 100-0 scores that we'd manage in the early 1900s and when we didn't, we got bitchy. Carr did a lot for us and we photoshopped his face on Bin Laden's body. I can understand why the man might be bitter. Carr ends his career wanting DeBord or English to replace him, but after his last few seasons the fanbase would go nuclear if either of them did. Martin wisely says no to that. Carr's legacy ends him him kind of coming close to getting run out of town, despite his body of work. We all laugh at Minnesota for firing Mason despite his body of work, but we were dicks to Carr desite his. (As a side note I'm using we here because we're all part of the fanbase, even the retards).
So Carr is retired. Burned out, but not going since he was an Assoc. AD. Martin comes forward and coaching search begins. Miles is ruled out early (Carr says "Hell No" and MSC backs him on it, insert various rumors about why here). Martin screws up on a bunch of offers, Miles kind of becomes a hail mary option, Martin goes sailing and can't work his damn phone. Carr meanwhile reaches out to RR as kind of an end around on Miles and so he is kind of naming his own successor. Suddenly we have one of the top offensive minds in the country, a guy who won BCS games with WVU (while we lost ours), and a hot, young name in coaching.
We also have a problem. Carr is going off the reservation here and making first contact and from Bacon's work it carries the implication Carr did so on his own, at at the behest of Martin or MSC. In the Bo era if you went behind Bo's back, you paid. We're now at the point where a future Assoc AD is sneaking around behind his boss's back.
Martin's cluelessness with personnel decisions continued. When he interviews RR he tries to tell RR he has to keep Lloyd's entire staff. MSC though is now taking a role in the process (post Miles clusterfuck) and shuts him down. I want to break this down a bit though. Martin asks RR to keep the entire staff in a meeting with RR and MSC jumps on him. This wasn't something that Martin and MSC privately talked about on the way to the meeting. This was the President having to slap the AD down in front of a potential new employee. Way to plan ahead for interviews...
It also means something even worse. Think about what Martin said. "We love your spread and shred offense and want to hire you, by the way we want to you to keep DeBord on staff as the OC." Think about that for a minute. Bang your head into your desk. Later in the meeting when RR says it will take him awhile to install his system and Martin says that's not a problem, you really have to wonder if Martin had any clue what RR's system was. If Martin had any clue what he was getting into.
Martin of course then lowballs RR's assistants and fails to secure Casteel. So we arguably whiff on the second most assistant of RR's machine (I'd argue since RR is offensively minded, DC is more important than OC. Coordinators of course are clearly more important than posistion coaches). We also screw up the whole firing of Carr's staff. RR makes them wait in the hall and people like Gittelson (30 years here) are fired.
This is a failure for everyone. For Carr, for RR, and for Martin. Carr's about to become the Assoc AD for football operations. If he's so worried about his assistants getting treated fairly he should take a greater role in the process. Martin should be finding jobs for people like Gittelson (there has to be come kind of generic title we can give him, keep him on the Michigan payroll, and reward his loyalty. Barwis is now the man for football, we have dozens of weightrooms on the campus, we could have found Gittelson a place. Same with the others, stuff them in some AD job until they find coaching work. We're Michigan, we're supposed to be loyal.). RR of course really fails at handling the firings well. Carr of course ends up unhappy, somewhat openly advocating transfers, and the whole RR-Carr relationship goes sour.
We know how it goes from there. Freep columnists are harsh on RR, Carr era players attack RR in the media. Martin does nothing public, Carr does nothing public. RR says the wrong things, loses games, and finally Grobans himself out of a job. Plus of course getting bombed in the bowl didn't help.
My reason for rehashing this 3&O content was to show the actions of people and compare them to Bo. There was no "The Team, The Team, The Team". No concern for the players.
First off Martin flushed his legacy with the RR hire. The man put us in the black, he built a beautiful athletic campus. He set us up with the stadium suites that generate an amazing amount of revenue. We have the world's largest indoor practice facility because of him. Crisler doesn't look like shit anymore because of him (DB did it with his revenue). We could afford to offer Harbaugh 5 million a year because of him. We could pry Mattison out of the pros because of him. We have a massive bank account, a massive revenue stream, and top shelf facilities because of him. We also had the NCAA investigate us and a civil war because of his poor personal management. If we had a comptroller hall of fame, he goes in the first round. As it stands though he is remembered for going boating during a coaching search with a cellphone he could not operate.
I love Carr and anyone who bothers to read my posts knows I'm in the Carr defender category. Carr has done a lot for this University. On the field and off the field (namely his fundraising for Motts is really his greatest achievement as a human being since sick kids are a million times more important than kicking around an inflated pig's bladder). Yet when the time came he wasn't a Michigan Man. RR's teams were loaded with Carr's recruits. Yet he turned down 8 chances to speak to RR's teams. It's fine if Carr wanted to dislike RR. RR did fire all his friends and talk a lot in public, the antithesis of Carr. However when our fanbase errupted into a civil war it was the players, the players that Carr recruited who suffered as the program was ripped apart. Carr must have promised these kids B1G rings when he recruited them. Yet he shut up and didn't do anything when the program collapsed around them. It's almost as if he told them "transfer, because I'm cutting all ties and won't be around to help you after the Bowl". Bo was known for walking into people's offices and telling them "You need to shut up". Bo would have been defending the kids and the program. Carr was silent. At best he did nothing, at worst he was using his players and contacts to undermine RR instead of help him. I have no idea what Carr did during those three years, but he wasn't a Michigan Man because he definitely wasn't using his power to support the team.
I'm going to be brief on RR since we've dissecting him a million times on this board. He made a lot of mistakes on the field in terms of the defense. Off the field he really failed to win the political battle that comes with being the head coach at a name brand football school. Yes the deck was stacked against him, but even so he tended to make things worse, not better. For example RR played under Nehlen, a Bo assistant. He learned about "Those Who Stay Will Be Champions" from Nehlen and used it himself when he coached at Glenville State. Yet he never told those stories despite the fact they instantly put him on the Bo tree and made him more acceptable. More importantly is how quickly he broke down. His locker room destroying rage, this "fuck you" ridden tirades over his headset when Tate made a bad play. Yes it is projection, but you have to wonder if in year 4 or 5 he goes all Woody Hayes on a DB or Bob Knight on someone. I don't believe RR as a person would ever do that, but people do snap. At some level when you read how broken down RR was as Year 3 went from 5 and 0 to 2 and 5, you have to wonder if it was a mercy firing.
What we see there are three people who aren't bad people. Martin made us rich, Carr did a lot for the program and the school, RR wanted to make this his destination school and cared for his kids, and he did install the offense we hired him to install. Yet everyone had their flaws. Blindess with personnel hirings, a failure to support RR the way Bump supported Bo, and the inability to properly adopted Michigan mannerisms/fix the damn defense. No one is the devil here or an incompetent, but no one is Bo either.
Then there is the fanbase, us. That member of our fanbase who called a regent to complain that RR used "ain't" in a press conference (seriously, fuck you whoever that was). The fanbase who the minute Bo died, demanded someone else become Bo. Then when everyone showed they were mortal, not Bo, and could make mistakes we devolved into armed "Old Guard" and "New Guard" camps. Communist football vs primitive saurian Llloydball. We all agreed Martin was a moron who couldn't work a cell phone, picked a coach (RR or Carr) and tried to crown him as the new center of Michigan football. We also didn't exactly cover ourselves in glory.
That's what we need to take away from the RR era. Our dad died. Uncle Lloyd turned out be a distant and cold paternal figure. Uncle Rodriguez went through a rough time and had a melt down. Uncle Martin was busy clicking buttons in excel. So a lot of the fanbase regressed from Michigan Men into bitchy children who said mean things on the radio or wrote them, despite the negative impact they had on The Team.
As we enter the new era, 10-2, now willing to pay top dollar for top coordinators, with a guy who gets Michigan, and RR has a new job in a BCS conference, I think it may be time to let it go. At the end of the day we don't have a good guy and we don't have a bad guy. Martin, Carr, and RR all did a lot for this school and they all failed it. Any debate where you try to annoint one guy as the devil and one guy as the angel in this era is just going to generate a flamefest because each side has plenty of material to cite. The actors here were all humans who were successful in some areas, but unlike Bo they weren't successful in every area. No one was bad, they just weren't Bo and that is fine because being Bo is a high standard to live up to. As we go forward we need to stop looking for a new Bo. Bo's dead. But a new one will emerge. Just as it flowed from Yost to Crisler to Bo. Don't try and place someone on that throne by force though.
We should also remember how a house divided cannot stand against itself and more importantly how we hurt the players on the field with the whole civil war. We owe people like Graham and Moundros something. They gave it all on the field on Saturday while the fanbase was busy having a flamewar.
Oh and always remember Sharp and Rosenberg suck.
If we're going to keep one thing in our mind as we move forward, it should be that comment from Bo about how we'd find out who the real Michigan Men were when he died. We did and we need to remember what that cost us. It's up to us to keep it together now, because we won't have Bo to walk into our lives and tell us "You need to shut up now".
Ok, so this has been bouncing around my head while I was cleaning up the fallen branches from the recent snowfall. I'm not going to say anything too wild and crazy here (down with the BCS), but maybe I'll say it in a different way.
Conference championship games: EPIC FAIL
First of all, conference championship games are highly overrated, especially when they are rematches. Ideally, the conf champ game should decide who the champ is for the conference (regardless of which team wins). However, this is rarely the case, and when there is a rematch, this game will often muddy the waters even more. As an example, let's take a look at the championship games this season to see if this ever happens:
MAC: NIU vs. the Bobcats. Both teams were 9-3, but NIU was 7-1 in the league, while the Bobcats were 6-2. Toledo muddies the situation because they were also 7-1 in the league (but 8-4 overall). It seems like Toledo could have an argument for being the "best" in the conference if the Bobcats had won. Championship game FAIL.
Pac 10: Oregon vs. UCLA. What a joke! Obviously this FAILs. But let's pretend that USC was bowl elgible, an Oregon vs. USC game still doesn't work because of Stanford. Championship game FAIL.
Conference USA: Houston (12-0, 8-0) vs. Southern Miss (10-2, 6-2). Here, they had a clear cut champion, who ended up losing. And let's also note that Tulsa was 8-4 (7-1)...so in effect they played a game between the #1 and #3 teams for this one...and the #3 team won. Championship game FAIL.
SEC: The well known case of LSU (12-0, 8-0) vs Georgia (10-2, 7-1). Raise your hand if you think that Georgia winning that game meant that they were the best team in the SEC...anyone...Bueller? Right, me neither. So why did they play this sham of a game? Because they couldn't play...
SEC championship (part 2): This will be LSU vs Alabama in a game that should be televised on Jefferson Pilot. Alabama LOST. At HOME. They couldn't even win their DIVISION, much less their CONFERENCE. The result should be different in the superdome? Even if Alabama wins, who should the champ be? 13-1 LSU or 12-1 Alabama? The word of the day is specious (link provided for any SEC fans who got lost here). SEC championship DOUBLE FAIL.
ACC championship: Virginia Tech (11-1, 7-1) vs. Clemson (9-3, 6-2). At least they got the best two teams in the league for this one. But, in my opinion, this league again had a clear cut champion. For this one, it could be argued both ways: VT still has a better overall record, but Clemson beat VT twice, and these two teams were the class of the league. I'll give this one a PUSH
BIG championship: Sparty (10-2, 7-1) vs. Bucky (10-2, 6-2). Here we had a clear cut champ. And if Sparty had pulled it off, I wouldn't have any qualms about calling little bro the conference champ. But they didn't. And now, who should be the champ? Should Sparty? I mean they split the season series, and both games were competitive. And let's not ignore Michigan and Penn State--both 6-2 in the league and having an equal number of losses as MSU and UW. Championship game FAIL.
So by my estimation, championship games are 0-6-1 this season. (The SEC gets the -2 because of the double fail...no relevant championship game, and forcing a MNC game that means nothing!) Conference championships: Defend your existance
Fixing the BCS:
Moreover, we have another problem. Oftentimes, the conference championship game loser gets punished because they played an extra game against a high quality opponent. In all of the AQ conferences the championship game loser could have easily been bumped from a BCS game. Join me in "maximum chaos world."
Oregon loses to UCLA. UCLA goes to the Rose Bowl and Stanford still gets a BCS bid. Oregon plays in the nobodycares.com bowl.
Georgia beats LSU. Georgia and Alabama get BCS games. LSU gets the Capital One Bowl.
UW beats MSU...MSU gets Outback Bowl (not even the Citrus...)
MSU beats UW...we can probably assume the same. (or maybe UW gets the citrus over Nebraska, who they pummeled).
VT beats Clemson...Clemson joins Oregon in the nobodycares.com bowl.
Clemson beats VT...If Boise State and/or Houston had stayed undefeated VT probably doesn't make it because of the autobids.
We replay the 2006 season in 2011. UM and OSU both get to the game undefeated. This also sets the schedule for the championship. OSU wins game 1 at home, Michigan wins game 2 in Indy. IIRC, Wisconsin was ~#5 in the polls that year. OSU falls below UW and UM and UW go to a BCS game.
Flip that scenario (UM wins game 1, OSU wins game 2, UW/PSU/Neb/MSU/Iowa is sitting at 4 or 5 right behind #1/2 UM/OSU). Now Michigan gets the Capital One Bowl.
To make the BCS have some semblance of logic, and to be consistent with their own mantra (each game matters), they need three rules.
- The national championship must be between two teams who won their conference. [Otherwise LSU v. Alabama part 1 didn't matter]
- In order to qualify for the BCS from a conference with a championship game, you must play in the championship game (i.e. you must win your division). In order to make it from an AQ conference with no championship game, you must be #1 or #2 in your league. (Less important because of ties and other clusterf-y things at the top of some conferences.) [Otherwise winning your division/finishing ahead of someone in your conference standings doesn't matter]
- Any championship game loser must not be punished in the BCS standings by playing a CG. If they qualified before the CG (from an AQ conference), they should stay qualified. [Otherwise you get punished for playing a game rather than a tomato can.]
I realize that these rules put a torch to the BCS games that they've got, and it would leave out a number of heavy hitters from this season's BCS (Michigan, Alabama, Stanford)--but then Boise State likes this just fine thanks. I know it's not perfect, but the BCS is inherently flawed. That is why we need:
A playoff system
First off, I don't care about the bowl system, as it is so lovingly called right now. We have way too many bowl games, and too many of them already are untenable, especially for teams that don't travel well. Colleges need to learn to say "no" to ticket guarantees and force these games to justify their own existence. If the whodafcares.com bowl was no longer in existence it would be just one less game that I don't watch.
Secondly, as Brian said:
Let's go back to first principles. What is the point of a playoff? Most soccer leagues across the globe play a balanced schedule and eschew the playoffs entirely. The season determines the champion. To them, the American way of doing things is stupid. And when you've set up your league such that everyone plays everyone else home and away, it is. Around here, however, there are very big leagues where balanced schedules are impossible and at the end of the regular season you're not quite sure who the best team is. So it makes sense to have the teams that you think might be the best team play each other.
All I've really done so far is extend this same argument:
Playoffs are assets when both of the following criteria are met:
- The regular season is insufficient to determine a best team.
- The winner of the playoff can reasonably claim to be the best team.
to conference championship games. I'm not going to make another bracket here, but I think if we eliminate conference championship games, we could add one more round to Brian's playoff proposal since we have one more week to play with. At this point, any idea is better than the BCS, right?
Michigan gets a commit as I'm writing this, which is always pretty cool. There's a fair amount of movement this week (OK, two weeks, as I was foolish enough to think I'd do mid-week rankings after Rivals finished their re-ranks) thanks to a few decommits and Rivals coming out with new rankings. Action since last rankings:
11-20-11: Pharaoh Brown removed from Michigan commit list.
11-22-11: Ohio State picks up Adolphus Washington.
11-24-11: Illinois picks up Dami Ayoola.
11-27-11: Ohio State picks up Ricquan Southward.
11-29-11: Minnesota picks up Alex Keith.
12-1-11: J.P. Holtz decommits from Penn State.
12-2-11: Deion Jones decommits from Nebraska.
12-4-11: Michigan picks up Amara Darboh.
|Big Ten+ Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# Commits||Rivals Avg||Scout Avg||ESPN Avg||24/7 Avg||Avg Avg^|
*ESPN doesn't rate JuCos, so they are counted as unranked recruits for the sake of consistency (trust me, it makes sense when you look at the spreadsheet).
^The average of the average rankings of the four recruiting services (aka the previous four columns). The figure is calculated based on the raw numbers and then rounded, so the numbers above may not average out exactly.
On to the full data, after the jump.