Fear and Loathing in Ann Arbor Volume II
The 2010 Regular Season
Disclaimer: The following diary is a combination of a narrative for the 2010 Michigan football season excluding the Gator Bowl and a collection of work from author Hunter S. Thompson. I made minor changes to his work such as places, names, coaches, players, etc to make it relevant to our 2010 season. The work in this diary was lifted from the pages of Dr. Thompson’s work in “Hey Rube”. If you wonder what lines were his and which were mine, thank you for the compliment and then get the book. Enjoy the second installment of Fear in Loathing in Ann Arbor...or don't!
They were all laughing at me. I grabbed some whiskey off my leather-covered icebox and went outside to be alone with my thoughts and humiliation. My worst fears came true. I was a public Dupe, soon to be jailed for crimes of cruelty to myself for investing so much damn emotion and confidence into a game that ended with me stone drunk and stone naked on my porch. How had it happened? Had I finally loved Michigan too much?
October 16th, 2010. Iowa. I made it to the television set to watch the game. After the MSU debacle, I thought for sure a wormhole would open me up, swallow me whole, and deposit my carcass on the streets of Columbus with nothing but a Michigan themed unicorn tattoo on the small of my back for everyone to aim at. This wasn’t the case. I had to take a step back and realize that the defensive problems were voiced before the season started. The season must go on, we were 5-1, still ranked, and heading into Iowa with a level head and a hope that last years close call will turn in our favor because of our lethal yet friendly QB, Shoelace D Robinson.
Iowa has seemed to be a team that could beat anyone on any day, especially when you play in Iowa City at night time. Many teams have come out of the visitor’s locker room that resembles a clean vulva only to run into an Iowa team that spreads high concentrate sucrose syrup on their field while they bowl you over with their heated Nike Vaseline IIIs. One would think they would be a perennial powerhouse if this was the case. Not so. Kirk Ferentz has a fine eye for two and three star recruits that become valuable assets to his team. The progression of his players has something to do with their first year training. Most freshman are redshirted at the bottom of his family’s corn silos and will only see the lights of Kinnick Stadium by eating themselves out and sprinting to the field twenty miles down the road. The Hawkeyes may be losers individually, but as a team they are a reliable bet, most of the time. Let’s say a 77.8% of the time, which is not a bad clotting average for Iowan hearts.
The much anticipated rebound game to prove we aren’t Michigan 2009, never came. At one point the Hawkeyes were pulverizing us by three TDs. We had four turnovers, Denard looked human and injured, and we lost. The only bright spot was Tater Nutz coming in and exacting his revenge on the Iowa secondary in a way that made it seem like they brutally shit stomped his pet dog the night after Christmas the year before. The loss was not as bad until the immediate thought that popped into everyone’s head a second later. The thought of shitting the bed with no change of sheets hit us like a high-speed collision. Everything else in your world disappeared into a bright yellow flash. No pain because the thought rendered you frozen and unconscious like a dead fish. No noise, feeling, or sight could distract us from it. We were “on our way out” as Doctors like to say. The thought? We were now one step closer to reliving a nightmare that would even scare Charles Manson, the nightmare of repeating 2009. Shoelace D Robinson’s injury was unknown, and we felt like we lost to someone we should have beaten like an ugly stepchild. Oh God! This can’t be happening, again! At least we had a bye week and thought of it as an incubator bringing Denard back to life as well as our team against a struggling Penn State team and their freshman QB. I would be in attendance to see the resurrection of the team in one of my personal most hated teams to walk on the face of this planet besides that gang of toothless junkies in Ohio.
October 30th, 2010. Penn State. Hot damn, it was Halloween again. I was ready to get weird in public. What better place that State College, Pennsyltucky? If there is any place to get weird it would be here where those freaks should all be put to sleep. I arrived at my tailgating position and set up Weird Camp. I was clearly not welcome, but no shit was given. The freaks that worship a man older than god had the audacity to send a meek and unwanted guest to my camp asking for beer as if I owed the bastard even one hair from my scrotum. After I held my tongue and respectfully declined his request for an alcoholic beverage he began berating me for being alive and wasting my body on the colors of maize and blue. The man-child didn’t know he was dealing with the king of weird that was about a 5th of the way through two bottles of rum. I unkindly explained he was another jackass looking for attention that he didn’t receive from his parents at a young age. After he didn’t take to that too well, I conveyed that I would give his lame ass a severe beating if I ever caught the sleazy little freak sneaking around my camp again. In my way of thought, I was sure my team was thinking the same thing about the Penn State Geriatrics.
As soon as I arrived to my seat, an ominous tone that has been spoken of before raised its ugly head once again. I got the pleasure of getting to sit amongst my Michigan brethren for the first time at Beaver Stadium, but I noticed a Michigan sister paler than the white pom poms the jackwads in PSU’s student section were holding. As soon as I noticed her complexion, she tossed her Coors Light in a warm puddle all over the bleacher in front of her and next to me. I could tell she hadn’t had any food at her camp from the insides that laid next to me. Her friends quickly rushed her out of the stadium after I did a quick clean up job with her scarf. To sooth my nerves and uptick my buzz from the legal and illegal substances I engrossed myself in at the Weird Camp, I drank their unopened 24 oz. Coors Light can they left behind and lit up a cigarette at my cold lonely seat. They came back eventually, but either did not notice or care that I drank their beer that they so ever carefully smuggled into the game.
After my Turkish tobacco stick, I realized our good chances of beating this team. Their freshman QB had suffered a concussion the week before and now they were forced to play a walk on sophomore that named rhymed with McGroin. Life was good. I felt I was floating. Couldn’t tell if it was a predictive feeling or the buzz I had. As the game reached halftime, I was looking for my parachute cord to no avail. I instantly wanted to find the poor girl who vomited to use her soothsaying powers for the second half. Michigan was down 28-10 at half time and I could only imagine my ex girlfriend sitting somewhere in the student section snickering until she collapsed due to affixation. Well, I bought the ticket; I might as well take the ride. Maybe the second half would bring the supreme comeback of the year. I found out that that was the joint thinking. Michigan performed valiantly, but ended up on the short end of a 41-31 stick. The weirdest thing about this game in the freak kingdom was that Michigan was outgained in total yardage by a team with a first time starting walk on QB. Maybe this was not an anomaly, but the ineptitude of an ever growing liable defense. Michigan could not stop PSU on a third down even if GERG threatened to pluck out his beautiful locks of hair and sacrifice them to the Bull God. The positive note? Shoelace D Robinson returned to his usual form passing for 190 yards and rushing for 191 with 4 TDs. He was 19 yards away from being the only player with three 200/200 yard games in a season. The next game on the schedule was Illinois, the land of my birth. Also the land that shit stomped PSU 33-13 and held the number 15th defense in the nation. I thought we were doomed, lost like pigs in the wilderness- a gang of squabbling losers with no pride, shame, and no hope for the next 20 years. Guaranteed fear and loathing. Abandon all hope. Prepare for weirdness again. Get familiar with cannibalism.
November 6th, 2010. Illinois. In years past, Illinois was a notch above a bye week. The starters would only play half the game and the Illinois cheerleaders would be passed out from a combination bender of booze and hashish. Not this year. Since Monday (Sunday was a blur of a hangover and Dido songs), I was in the grip of agony. Things went downhill in a hurry since the Michigan State game. Besides the impending slip into football abyss on my mind, my dentist botched my root canal, and I slipped on a balcony ledge and sustained a nasty subdural hematoma that almost ended my life. After getting past a heavy week I thought to myself that not long ago I looked forward to Saturdays in the fall with a certain giddy expectation, like a vacation coming up. No longer, not after these past three seasons of continual pain in my stomach equivalent to blue balls. For the past three years we were beaten and disgraced. I did not assume it would change against an upcoming average offense and a stout defense that crushed the opponent that de-pants us the week before. I had my blotter sheet and razor blades ready for the inevitable. I was at least leaving this world in a ball of fury and excessiveness.
The first quarter ended 7-6 in favor of the good guys. The defense looked surprisingly better. Could this last? The answer was no. At this point I would have covered my tongue with some tiny leprechaun stamps on my coffee table however Illinois’ defense seemed to catch the same disease we have been ailing from the whole year. At halftime the score was a dead heat at 31 all. This is why I don’t gamble. If given an over/under I would have most likely picked under. The offensive explosion that unraveled before my eyes could have shocked Larry King so much that his pacemaker would have exploded on air even if his interviewee was Ted Koppel explaining the electoral votes of Wyoming in the 1916 election. After halftime the horserace continued. It was like watching two speed junkies racing the wrong way on a one way street in order to score a fix that’s end would not only be dangerous, but leave the defenses disgraced. Thankfully most football games end after sixty minutes. Not this game. Not this day. The rocket race to win the 2nd worst defense award ended after three electrifying overtimes. The game was so intense and gripping that I didn’t notice my dog gyrating all over the place and trying to stab the cat with its damn dewclaws. I did notice that my blotter sheet was missing. Anywhoo, to get back on track from that train wreck of a situation, I was blown away when the play to finally end the game was a defensive stand by the Michigan defense. This told me something. They may be rag-tag division II backups, but they were my rag-tag division II backups and they lived up to the wolverine namesake. Frequently outsized and out popularized by other four legged beasts, they were willing to break their own neck to make that single play to seal the deal and protect the bounty that their offense was hoarding on frequent kills.
One thing was for sure on the well lit streets of Ann Arbor that night. That Saturday night even fools could cut loose and take risks that would be out of the question on any other night: get drunk, shoot guns, dance naked in the streets, and hack into the Pentagon database. If Sunday is the Lords day, then Saturday night belonged to the Devil. It was the only night of the week he gave out free passes to the Late Show at the Too Much Fun Club.
November 13th, 2010. Purdue. 13 has always been a quasi mark of the beast, at least a mark when he unleashes his demon spirits upon the world. The poor number 13 has been stigmatized for decades. This day was no different. I attended the Michigan-Purdue game the year before in Ann Arbor when it was uncharacteristically 65 degrees and sunny. The weather gods fooled me. Michigan jumped up to a 24-10 lead and looked well on their way to a bowl eligible year only to come out and get chewed up and spit out to lose. I was incensed. I burned my ticket and drank the rest of my Miller High Life cammo cans as my ex-girlfriend sneakily giggled inside at the loss of my sanity. Not only did Purdue beat them, but their slime sucker of a coach made it a point to get full embarrassment out of it by having a player suspended for not following the rules assist him in finding mid-field to blame Rich Rodriguez for the situation. After burning my ticket was complete, I raved, babbled, and threatened to piss down their spines to consummate my feelings for them. I claimed that this year Michigan would beat them. They were a puffball team with no soul and we would beat them like the sick rats that they were. It was really stupid, vengeful stuff. It was ugly and wrong. It sounded like something you would hear out of a sleazy drunken sot, which I was at the time. I still did not hide how much I wanted to destroy them this year.
It was monsoon season in central Indiana. I couldn’t imagine anyone wanting to see it in person as much as someone that goes out to sea for eight days and nights on the ocean with no engine and no radio. It would be madness by any nautical wisdom. Only a fool or desperate man would even think about it. The risks were too high and our chances of escaping unharmed or dead seemed to be 1-44. Denard would be slowed down by the lakes on the field and our turnover bug would rear its ugly head again.
Purdue let that little shyster coach take over the once respectable program that enjoyed his slimy role as a pimp and prostitute all at once by playing clearly injured players to beat his new boogeyman, Rich Rodriguez. It was by no means a pretty ugly game with ten turnovers combined. If this were a healthy Purdue team, there would have been cause for concern, but a crippled team will never beat a healthy team. You couldn’t help but feel sorry for Hope’s players. I still rooted against them vehemently because Hope was a backstabbing punk with the soul of a rat and the heart of a filthy virus. The NCAA should have had him committed to a state mental hospital and locked down with restraints until he gets his entire body dyed bright maize, which will stay on his skin forever. At halftime we were up 14-10. Only leading by four points left me with a queasy feeling in my stomach. Why was I all of a sudden plagued by memories of false hubris and total collapse again? Am I fool? Thankfully Michigan escaped with a victory, albeit an ugly victory. I could still celebrate though. The victory against them was a moment to slip the dagger between Hope’s rib cage and twist. The true Hope haters out there loved the fleecing, whipping, cruelty, and stabbing feeling that Hope must have felt. When you can physically feel their pain, that is what makes winning so fun, it is wonderful. The feeling in Ann Arbor was that this was an ugly win. Winning can be ugly but it is another universal language along with simple mathematics, cold beer, and wild sex with Jimsonweed. Any traveler conversant in these tongues and football too would find friends that night in Ann Arbor. Take my word for it.
Impending doom lurked ahead. A two headed pig monster in Wisconsin and Ohio State lay ahead. It was definitely going to be a tough road ahead, but at least the feelings of not going to a bowl were put to rest and we gained a little momentum going into these fights with overgrown swine.
November 20th, 2010. Wisconsin. Those just checking out of the hospital bed from pneumonia thanks to the deluge in West Lafayette and checking into their own bed to catch the late night sports news may have had a heart condition to revisit a hospital for. During the everlasting water balloon fight at Purdue, Wisconsin was drubbing Indiana as a world power would in a war with Tajikistan. They were like your neighborhood bully that spent weeks training in his basement with rabid pit bulls, a Bo-Flex, and lead weights just to beat your ass. The upsetting part about Wisconsin this year was that their meathead coach was more unlikable than usual. I don’t know what his deal was/is this year. Most likely he found out he was a crossbreed love child of Kenneth the Page from 30 Rock and a hormone injected T-bone steak that set him off on a point rampage the second half of the season. He came to Ann Arbor with his band of cheese heads that wouldn’t know the difference between a carrot from a poison meat whistle.
Wisconsin had a QB by the name of Scott Tolzien, who has a bitching arm and a nice habit of lulling a defense asleep with normal stuff and suddenly breaking their backs with long weird strikes to the heart. Right down the middle-so fast that it catches you flat footed, two steps behind and stupid. If we were going to win this one, it was going to be a shootout. In order for us to participate in a shootout, our offense made one big mistake at least in the first half. They forgot to score points. It was ugly. I was left at halftime smoking half a pack of my cigarettes trying to catch cancer as soon as possible. The game was over at halftime, but after two halves the score ended 48-28. It wasn’t 83, but it might as well have been. The Wolverines were ripped to shreds. They were utterly demoralized. It was painful. They were like helpless bums being chewed up and spit out, right in front of our eyes. They withered and turned to jelly. I felt sorry for the poor souls. The players seemed to be suffering the whole game from a severe dose of ether. You lose all functions of your body but your head still knows what is going on. Until the same is done to Bielema and his meatheads, I fear I will have recurring nightmares about it, causing me to wake up sweating and screaming like some kind of pig being eaten my meat bats.
Next week wasn’t going to get any better. Our brutalized Wolverines were going into the dumbest and most dangerous city in America for anyone with an IQ over 23, Columbus. If you haven’t started with cannibalism, you better start. The Detroit Free Press was arms and legs ahead of anyone.
November 26th, 2010. Ohio State. Hatred is a funny thing. It is usually viewed as a negative attribute of someone’s character. Those that think this have obviously never been stabbed, beaten, or walked out their front door in their lives. That or they are lying. There of course is the feeling of intense anger. That is what everyone knows about hatred. What most don’t know, or won’t admit is that hatred is also balls to walls pleasurable. If we didn’t have hate, what motivation would we have had in creating fast food, the second amendment, and the death penalty? Motivation was in huge order for our boys. They were just humiliated by Wisconsin and faced an opponent unabashed to show hatred for them and intellect. The hate didn’t only come from their players and coaches, but also their fans. The Buckeye nation is beyond doubt the sleaziest, rudest, and most sinister mob of thugs and wackos ever assembled under a single “roof” so to speak, anywhere in the English speaking world. They are a profoundly disagreeable cult that meets every Saturday from August to January.
Days before the game, the Buckeyes release images of the jerseys they would wear for The Game. I was expecting them to sport numbers no higher than three on a vest with nipple holes cut out of the chest. It was worse. We would be playing bloody tampons honoring the smartest class that ever graduated that godforsaken college, the 1942 Ohio State Buckeyes. Over 12% of them graduated that year. All I could think is how any of us could need this public lewdness in such a time of fear and depression. I believe we were 18 point underdogs. I am surprised Vegas just didn’t take us off the board coming off a lackluster performance against Wisconsin. I was hoping for anything to give us an advantage before the game, maybe with luck Jim Tressell was caught in the act of fondling a foreign flag on his vest while prancing around the streets of Columbus in black tuxedo thong. This however never came to fruition. We were going into this game as heavy underdogs. There are many things in life that suck waking up to. Ague fever, shin splints, chicken pox, projectile vomit, rickets, and even black hairy tongue disease, which is highly contagious, are all better than waking up knowing you lost to Ohio State the day before.
High noon. The Game begins. The first quarter blew my mind away. We looked as if we were controlling The Game. A 0-0 tie at the end of it. I would settle for that score because it would piss them off more than us. End the game oh god; end it now with a good old fashion dust storm. As proved true the whole season, the gods were not with us. After competing at a high level for most of the half in a 10-7 ballgame, things immediately went south. After kicking the ball off to the Buckeyes, they returned it all the way to make it 17-7. I knew then things would unravel for our uncannily young and hobbled team. The score at halftime was 24-7. We were flogged, flummoxed, and humiliated on worldwide TV. By halftime I felt stupid and wrong in every way. It was like dying and going to hell. We lost the game as expected, 37-7. Losing to Ohio State was bad. Luckily or unluckily my friend hid every sharp object in my house. This loss was worse though, it was seven in a row. I longed for the nostalgia of the days of that poor sap John Cooper. Hanging with Mr. Cooper was fun because we owned him.
We lost two in a row in disgraceful fashion. A spiral that goes straight down at unholy speed is called a vortex, I think, and a spiral that whirls straight up is called a tornado. The only sure difference between being sucked down a bottomless sinkhole and getting sucked up in the air while strapped into your car and then dropped like a bomb on a schoolhouse 12 miles away is that your scrambled remains will be easily identified if you fall from the sky on a schoolhouse. Your family will be disgraced and their auto insurance will be canceled for unexplained reasons. Winning becomes a habit and losing does in the same way. When failure starts to feel normal in your life, work, or even your darkest vices, you won’t have to go looking for trouble, because trouble will find you. Count on it.
November 27th, 2010. End of regular season. The autumn season is coming to a close. In comes Old Man Winter whose breath reeks of death and uncertainty. Some say this season was a joke. To which others viscously disagree, to which I say there are no jokes. The truth is the funniest joke of them all. Actually I didn’t say that, Muhammad Ali did. The harshest lesson one can learn when being an avid and rabid sports fan like I, is that there is a difference in having fun and being smart. It is the only thing that keeps me sane. Most “experts”, including myself expected a seven win season, eight at best. After seeing the possibilities on this team I could lose what’s left of my mind in trying to live for just fun. The smart in me is telling me that this season was just reality, case closed. We are now in a limbo period of slow football news. Every injury update, word, tweet, and tidbit of news drives us to be rats in heat clawing amongst each other. It doesn’t help that the inflammatory so called journalists hailing out of Detroit are making things worse. The dumbness of Detroit sportswriters is a subject long thought to be settled and exhausted, but let’s hit on it one more time, just for fun….Many, or maybe just I have described them as “a rude and brainless subculture of fascist drunks” and “more disgusting by nature than maggots oozing out of the carcass of a dead animal….” But they keep coming back for more like pimps and real estate agents, and this season my patience is running out with them. They are hell bent on destroying our program from outside and within by printing lies and shit a dog wouldn’t even eat out of a catbox. It has been quite painful to sit and watch as everyone involved in the program twist in the wind until those swine are put in their place and the truth is brought to the light.
Of all the shocks and pain that the past three football seasons brought, the worst of all is the ending of it. Fortunately this season bucks the trend. We were invited to the Gator Bowl to play the Bulldogs of Mississippi State. All I know about Mississippi is Brett Favre, Eli Manning, and disturbing scenes from the movie Deliverance. None of which are very popular right now. However the chance of redemption whirls in the wind. That wind takes us to Jacksonville, Florida. It is no accident that this viscous mess has come to a head in Florida. I have known great happiness in Florida and I still have a certain love for it. But I also know it to be the most corrupt and profoundly degenerate state in the Union besides Ohio. More murders and rapes go unreported in Florida each year than in Corsica and Sicily combined. The state has no income tax and essentially no laws. Its cities are ruled by depraved sots and its universities are snake pits of cheating and random sex in public. To redeem our season, we must dive deep within the cesspool filled with said snakes and grab victory from the jaws of a team of overweight bulldogs. Good news is rare these days, and every glittering ounce of it should be cherished, hoarded, worshipped, and fondled like a diamond necklace around a beautiful Amsterdam hooker.
I will root one more time this football season for my beloved Wolverines with everything I have left inside me from this rollercoaster of a ride they call a sport. I am more than just a serious Wolverine fan. I am a lifelong addict. I was addicted from a young age, in fact, because I lived in Michigan and I learned, early on, that habitual dominance was a natural way of life. The first time I managed to suit up for football practice, I knew I was destined to lead the University of Michigan to another Big Ten and national championship. Even now, so many years later, I still believe Michigan will go undefeated and win everything when August and Autumn roll around again.
That is it for now folks. There is no more until after the Gator Bowl. Hail to the Victors.
With a turnover margin (TOM) of –9 for the year and a national ranking of #110, the only conclusion that could be drawn is that TOM was a significant factor that caused Michigan to lose more games this year. That conclusion is absolutely WRONG. In reality, positive TOMs helped Michigan win as many games this year as negative TOMs contributed to M losing games!
Situational Analysis of Turnovers: At the end of the 2009 season, my youngest son and I were talking about the effect of turnovers (TOs) on college football games. We both agreed that looking at the total TOs for an entire season was stupid and irrational (sorry, Phil Steele). Intuitively, we also concluded that, even on a game by game basis, merely looking at the end-of-game turnover margin (TOM) without considering the situation that existed at the time each TO took place was lazy analysis with the potential for invalid conclusions. We both thought there would be a significant number of turnovers that would be meaningless (e.g. interceptions of a hail mary pass at the end of the half/game, turnovers during garbage time, etc.) Hence, was born the weekly situational analysis of TOs.
Sample Size: One team for one year is about the most minute sample size available. It is what it is. Most of the conclusions stated below are based on only the 2010 season for Michigan. However, IMHO many of the conclusions are valid across all of college football.
Conclusion #1: TOs Affect Virtually All Games. I do have game-by-game TO data for M for the past 5 years (60 games). Only twice (PSU this year and Minnesota in 2006) were there no TOs by either team. Thus, over 98% of all games are affected to some degree by TOs. Over the past 5 years, M had no TOs in 11 games and the opponents had no TOs in 11 games. A team can expect that it will give away the ball at least once in 80% of the games but can also expect to take away the ball at least once from the opponent in 80% of the games. There were 15 games with a TOM of –0-. About 75% of all games will end with a TOM of at least 1 while 25% of games will end with a TOM of –0-.
Conclusion #2: Almost All TOs Are Situationally Important. This was one of the surprises (at least to me). There were a total of 45 TOs in Michigan games this year. Of these, only 8 were basically meaningless (4 because an M interception was followed on the same play by an M fumble and 4 because the game was in garbage time). Thus, 80 % of all TOs occurred at a time when the outcome of the game was still in doubt. This is probably understated since the probability that an interception will be followed by a fumble on the same play has to be very small (even though it did happen twice this year). Without these 4 TOs, approximately 90% of all TO were situationally important.
Conclusion #3: Overall Turnover Margin for the Year Tells Us Very Little. Here is the TO summary for the year.
Without knowing when TOs occurred during the 12 game regular season, this means virtually nothing. It does not tell us how many games ended with a positive or negative TOM for Michigan. It does not tell us if TOs were significant in any games. It does not tell us if TOs helped win some games, lose some games, or had no impact at all.
Conclusion #4: Positive TOMs Helped Michigan Win As Many Games This Year As Negative TOMs Contributed To M Losing Games. M had 2 games with a positive TOM and the TOs helped win both games (UConn & ND). Michigan had 6 games with a TOM of –0- and won 4 of those games (UMass, BGSU, Indiana, Purdue) while losing 2 (Penn State, Wisconsin). M had 4 games with a negative TOM and actually won one of those (Illinois with a TOM of –4). Of the other 3, TOs were a primary factor in 2 losses (MSU and Iowa) but in one (osu) it is doubtful TOs were a significant factor in the loss. Therefore, if all games had ended with a TOM of –0-, it is likely M would still be 7-5 but with losses to UConn & ND and wins against MSU and Iowa. (And, yeah, that would be a lot better.)
Looking at the game by game analysis, if M had been able to eliminate the TOs in the MSU and Iowa games, an overall record of 9-3 would have been possible even though the overall TOM for the year would still have been –2.
Game By Game Detailed Analysis:
This is an excellent example of the importance of situational analysis of TOs. Based on the final score of 30-10 and a TOM of just +1, the initial conclusion would be that TOs were NOT significant in this game. However, the TO occurred at 2:29 of the third quarter with M ahead 21-10 and UConn going for a 4th and 1 at the M7. UConn had gotten the first down when Floyd forced a fumble at the M3 that was recovered by Ezeh. Without this TO it is likely that UConn would have scored a TD bringing the game to 21-17 with the momentum shifting to UConn. The TO was a significant factor in the Michigan win. This is also the game that M blocked a UConn FG attempt (blocked FGs are not counted as a TO).
This game is fairly obvious. Without the 3 TOs, M would likely lose the game. The first TO was an interception by Mouton at the ND40 and returned to the ND31. M scored on the next play to tie the game at 7-7. The second interception by Floyd at the M37 stopped an ND possession with the score 14-7 Michigan. The third by Kovacs was at the ND 35 and returned to the ND25. M did not score but punted to the ND4.
These 5 games ended with TOM of –0-. The UMass game had the first meaningless TOs – the M interception followed by a lost fumble on the same play. The other 2 TOs in the UMass game basically offset one another. The BGSU game was really never competitive and I considered all 4 TOs as meaningless (this is the other game that had an interception followed by a lost fumble on the same play). The Indiana game had 2 huge TOs (M fumble at the goal line and Indiana intercepted in the end zone) but they did offset one another. There were no TOs in the Penn State game.
Although the Wisconsin game had a TOM of –0-, M missed a FG and also failed to recover 2 onside Kickoffs that were very recoverable.
The Purdue game had the next meaningless TO (M interception of a hail mary pass at the end of the half). Therefore, this game really had a TOM of –1 for M. I was fracking nervous for the entire game. There were so many TOs that the game could have gone either way with 2 TOs retuned for TDs, a fumbled punt leading to a TD, and an interception leading to a FG. All this pretty much ended with the TOs not impacting which team won the game. My gut feel is that the game was closer than it should have been because of all the TOs.
I have no doubt that both the MSU and Iowa games were decided by TOs. Two interceptions in the endzone when the receivers were open and a third interception with 12:23 left in the fourth quarter with M trailing by 14 points (31-17) were the primary reasons for the loss. The Iowa game had a meaningless TO at 1:54 left in the fourth quarter and M trailing by 10 points. The other 3 TOs and another blocked FG were key reasons for the loss.
Michigan defied the odds in the Illinois game by winning with a TOM of –4.
The final score in the osu game makes it difficult to conclude that TOs had an impact. Michigan needed a well played game plus a positive TOM to make this game competitive. Neither happened.
SAE's Annual Mud Bowl: MVictors
The Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI) isn't out yet for this week, so this data is outdated, but I had to turn in my office pool's bowl selections today for the ESPN confidence poll, and because I believe in using the internet to steal money from my co-workers, I grabbed their latest numbers (11/27) and did a little Excel work to make my picks.
In doing so, I realized my spreadsheet might also have a secondary, and perhaps more profitable use: determining a ranking of bowl games to watch so as to maximize my December/January bowl game enjoyment quotient without tripping the spousal "all you're doing is watching football; why don't you spend some time with me!" line (which with Misopogal is about 2.4 games per week).
All I did was create a list of bowl games, select the expected winner based on their FEI scores, and compare the standard deviations in FEI to decide which games were blowouts, tossups, etc. The spreadsheet's up on Google Docs if you want to play with it yourself.
The results are interesting enough I thought them worth sharing. Nebraska over Washington is a holy lock. Northwestern and Texas Tech might as well be playing themselves (although not really: see below).
In the following chart, the team listed first is expected to win. The FEI StD is the standard deviation between the combatants' FEI scores. Those at the top are the biggest expected blowouts; at the bottom are the pick-'ems. Michigan's expected to lose to Mississippi State, but it's only about a moderate expectation.
|Holiday||Nebraska vs. Washington||0.18|
|Fiesta||Oklahoma vs. Connecticut||0.14|
|Las Vegas||Boise State vs. Utah||0.13|
|Military||Maryland vs. East Carolina||0.12|
|Humanitarian||Northern Illinois vs. Fresno State||0.11|
|Texas||Illinois vs. Baylor||0.11|
|Little Caesars||Florida International vs. Toledo||0.1|
|Music City||North Carolina vs. Tennessee||0.09|
|Poinsetta||Navy vs. San Diego State||0.08|
|Alamo||Oklahoma State vs. Arizona||0.08|
|Capital One||Alabama vs. Michigan State||0.08|
|St. Petersburg||Louisville vs. Southern Mississippi||0.06|
|Cotton||LSU vs. Texas A&M||0.06|
|New Mexico||BYU vs. UTEP||0.05|
|GoDaddy.com||Middle Tennessee vs. Miami (OH)||0.05|
|Outback||Florida vs. Penn State||0.05|
|BBVA Compass||Pittsburgh vs. Kentucky||0.05|
|Sun||Miami vs. Notre Dame||0.05|
|BCS Championship||Auburn vs. Oregon||0.05|
|Gator||Mississippi State vs. Michigan||0.04|
|Kraft Fight Hunger||Nevada vs. Boston College||0.04|
|Chick-fil-A||South Carolina vs. Florida State||0.03|
|Liberty||Georgia vs. Central Florida||0.03|
|Meineke Car||Clemson vs. South Florida||0.02|
|Independence||Air Force vs. Georgia Tech||0.02|
|Rose||Wisconsin vs. TCU||0.02|
|Insight||Missouri vs. Iowa||0.02|
|Sugar||Arkansas vs. Ohio State||0.02|
|Armed Forces||Army vs. SMU||0.01|
|Champs Sports||West Virginia vs. North Carolina State||0.01|
|Orange||Stanford vs. Virginia Tech||0|
|Hawaii||Hawaii vs. Tulsa||0|
|New Orleans||Troy vs. Ohio||0|
|Pinstripe||Syracuse vs. Kansas State||0|
|TicketCity||Texas Tech vs. Northwestern||0|
Obviously this doesn't take into account things like having your entire offensive line return from injury, having your First Team All Big Ten Quarterback (Dan Persa: further proof that the dimension we are living in is not the real one) injured, teams that have historically put up embarrassing performances against a certain conference, or if your school's annual pre-bowl residence hall assault is liable to get a fifth of your team suspended*, so if you're planning on using this for your own pools, it's best you educate yourself on each teams' respective roster situations before making your selections.
I also added up the FEI scores of both opponents for each bowl game, to create an approximation of which bowls have the highest total performance, figuring games that feature better teams are more compelling. This quality of play index is pretty much in line with the general bowl ranks:
|BCS Championship||Auburn vs. Oregon||0.577|
|Orange||Stanford vs. Virginia Tech||0.520|
|Sugar||Arkansas vs. Ohio State||0.493|
|Rose||Wisconsin vs. TCU||0.423|
|Capital One||Alabama vs. Michigan State||0.418|
|Chick-fil-A||South Carolina vs. Florida State||0.412|
|Champs Sports||West Virginia vs. North Carolina State||0.387|
|Cotton||LSU vs. Texas A&M||0.376|
|Insight||Missouri vs. Iowa||0.361|
|Sun||Miami vs. Notre Dame||0.283|
|Las Vegas||Boise State vs. Utah||0.263|
|Fiesta||Oklahoma vs. Connecticut||0.249|
|Meineke Car||Clemson vs. South Florida||0.239|
|Alamo||Oklahoma State vs. Arizona||0.230|
|BBVA Compass||Pittsburgh vs. Kentucky||0.218|
|Liberty||Georgia vs. Central Florida||0.172|
|Poinsetta||Navy vs. San Diego State||0.155|
|Holiday||Nebraska vs. Washington||0.153|
|Gator||Mississippi State vs. Michigan||0.148|
|Kraft Fight Hunger||Nevada vs. Boston College||0.129|
|St. Petersburg||Louisville vs. Southern Mississippi||0.112|
|Outback||Florida vs. Penn State||0.102|
|Pinstripe||Syracuse vs. Kansas State||0.094|
|Music City||North Carolina vs. Tennessee||0.091|
|Military||Maryland vs. East Carolina||0.088|
|Independence||Air Force vs. Georgia Tech||0.072|
|Texas||Illinois vs. Baylor||0.069|
|Humanitarian||Northern Illinois vs. Fresno State||0.000|
|Hawaii||Hawaii vs. Tulsa||-0.007|
|Armed Forces||Army vs. SMU||-0.047|
|TicketCity||Texas Tech vs. Northwestern||-0.049|
|Little Caesars||Florida International vs. Toledo||-0.127|
|New Orleans||Troy vs. Ohio||-0.154|
|New Mexico||BYU vs. UTEP||-0.179|
|GoDaddy.com||Middle Tennessee vs. Miami (OH)||-0.320|
The data gave up some other interesting bowl tidbits:
- USC (28th, with an FEI of 0.113) is the best team that's not going to a bowl game.
- The best team not going due to things other than NCAA sanctions: Arizona State (41st, 0.061), those unlucky bastards.
- Miami (Not THAT Miami) is the worst team going to a bowl; their -0.198 is 110th out of 120.
If you subtract the (negative of the) defensive FEI of each team's opponent from its offensive FEI, then add up the scores, we get an approximation of which games will feature a lot of scoring. Top 10 predicted score-fests:
|Bowl||Teams||OFEI v Opp|
|Military||Maryland vs. East Carolina||0.76|
|Poinsetta||Navy vs. San Diego State||0.59|
|Independence||Air Force vs. Georgia Tech||0.56|
|Hawaii||Hawaii vs. Tulsa||0.55|
|Alamo||Oklahoma State vs. Arizona||0.48|
|BBVA Compass||Pittsburgh vs. Kentucky||0.48|
|Gator||Mississippi State vs. Michigan||0.47|
|BCS Championship||Auburn vs. Oregon||0.37|
|Chick-fil-A||South Carolina vs. Florida State||0.34|
|Armed Forces||Army vs. SMU||0.28|
Finally, for a Watchability Index, I ranked, then combined all three factors:
- Team Quality (TQ)
- High-Scoring (HS)
- Competitiveness (CO)
And came up with a final order of importance for games and how much they're worth watching, independent from school and conference interest:
|Orange||Stanford vs. Virginia Tech||2||19||3||84|
|BCS Championship||Auburn vs. Oregon||1||8||18||81|
|Chick-fil-A||South Carolina vs. Florida State||6||9||13||80|
|Sugar||Arkansas vs. Ohio State||3||16||12||77|
|Rose||Wisconsin vs. TCU||4||17||11||76|
|Hawaii||Hawaii vs. Tulsa||29||4||1||74|
|Independence||Air Force vs. Georgia Tech||26||3||8||71|
|BBVA Compass||Pittsburgh vs. Kentucky||15||6||17||70|
|Gator||Mississippi State vs. Michigan||19||7||15||67|
|Liberty||Georgia vs. Central Florida||16||13||14||65|
|Alamo||Oklahoma State vs. Arizona||14||5||25||64|
|Pinstripe||Syracuse vs. Kansas State||23||18||4||63|
|Capital One||Alabama vs. Michigan State||5||15||26||62|
|Poinsetta||Navy vs. San Diego State||17||2||27||62|
|Armed Forces||Army vs. SMU||30||10||6||62|
|TicketCity||Texas Tech vs. Northwestern||31||11||5||61|
|Champs Sports||West Virginia vs. North Carolina State||7||34||7||60|
|Insight||Missouri vs. Iowa||9||30||9||60|
|Meineke Car||Clemson vs. South Florida||13||35||10||50|
|Military||Maryland vs. East Carolina||25||1||32||50|
|New Orleans||Troy vs. Ohio||33||23||2||50|
|Kraft Fight Hunger||Nevada vs. Boston College||20||24||16||48|
|Cotton||LSU vs. Texas A&M||8||31||23||46|
|Sun||Miami vs. Notre Dame||10||32||22||44|
|St. Petersburg||Louisville vs. Southern Mississippi||21||20||24||43|
|Texas||Illinois vs. Baylor||27||12||31||38|
|Las Vegas||Boise State vs. Utah||11||27||33||37|
|Outback||Florida vs. Penn State||22||28||21||37|
|Humanitarian||Northern Illinois vs. Fresno State||28||14||30||36|
|Fiesta||Oklahoma vs. Connecticut||12||29||34||33|
|New Mexico||BYU vs. UTEP||34||21||20||33|
|Music City||North Carolina vs. Tennessee||24||25||28||31|
|Holiday||Nebraska vs. Washington||18||26||35||29|
|Little Caesars||Florida International vs. Toledo||32||22||29||25|
|GoDaddy.com||Middle Tennessee vs. Miami (OH)||35||33||19||21|
Right, so of course all the good ones are on at the same damn time. Also, usefulness of this chart is made more questionable considering it doesn't take into account last week's games because of the old FEI scores, and things like Oregon/Auburn predicted as less competitive than Pitt/Kentucky. But it was fun, no?
*Last year's 20-percent turnout beat the 2008 record of 18 percent; this year with sponsorship from Capital One, expect about 27 percent of Michigan State's football team to join in the campaign, with Greg Jones given the ultimate honor of being the marauder who gets to turn to the camera and say "What's in YOUR wallet?"
No, I don't believe Sagarin rigged his schedule ratings to help Oregon and prevent TCU from miraculously slipping by Oregon. But it is interesting to note that while I have heard plenty of talk about TCU and Boise St. lacking schedule strength, I hadn't really heard much regarding Oregon's.
Step in unnamed MGoBlogger* (**edit** named Drakeep) who pointed out that the Big Ten teams' schedules included an average of 7 winning opponents (while each SEC team faced an average of 5.8, and the PAC-10 something like 4...) This savvy blogger also pointed out that Oregon had only faced 3 teams with a winning record. I could barely believe it, and checked the stats myself. Such is true.
So I head over to Sagarin to see where exactly a schedule against 3 winning teams and a very much non-winning FCS school would rank. 20th. What was U of M's against 7 winning teams and a winning FCS school? 40th. Hmmm....
Next, I give Sagarin the benefit of the doubt and assume that although Oregon's opponents didn't all win a lot of games, the games they did win must have been meaningful. (In other words, Oregon's opponents must have combined to beat a lot of winning teams... as beating crappy teams and losing to good ones should not build a team's own strength.)
Oregon - Played 3 teams with winning records (out of 11, plus one losing FCS team.) The 12 teams Oreg played, combined to achieve 12 victories over "winning FBS opponents" and 7 victories over "winning FCS opponents." That equates to Oregon's opponents each beating ONE winning team.
Mich - Played 7 teams with winning records (out of 11, plus one winning FCS team.) The 12 teams Mich played, combined to achieve 32 victories over "winning FBS opponents" and 7 victories over "winning FCS opponents." That equates to Michigan's opponents each beating 2.67 winning teams.
These statistics are not even close, on either the primary or secondary level. Yet, there it is: Oregon's SOS at 20 and Michigan's SOS at 40.
For another reference point: Mich St. played 5 teams with a winning record, and MSU's opponents combined to haul in 19 wins against "winning FBS opponents." They lie between Michigan and Oregon on both the primary and secondary levels, and have a SOS rated 65th.
In conclusion, based on the ranking of Michigan and MSU schedules, Oregon's schedule should probably rate somewhere between 70 and 80. This has placed me in the odd position of questioning the legitimacy of Sagarin's rankings... if any mathematician out there can point out how strength of schedule might use something more meaningful and direct than opponent's wins and opponents' wins against winning teams to rank schedules, let me know. Until then, I'm going to have to believe that Sagarin is off his rocker.
*Unnamed MGoBlogger - my apologies, but I went in search of your forum and could no longer find it. If you (or anyone else) would care to link to your post, I will gladly edit the above content to include your name and a link.
I sadly put the column back on the shelf for another season, but first look forward to the upcoming bowl season with the usual eye towards the lopsided, shorthanded, or just plain visually offensive. But first:
Nothing exciting happened in the Big East, which actually shouldn't be that noteworthy given the rest of the season. So instead, we'll review the Arizona/Arizona State debacle. In the first half, nothing happened. Well, lots happened, just very little of it was good. Two field goals, maybe seven first downs, and 14 punts worth of "action." In the second half, Arizona managed a 14-6 lead but gave up two FGs in a long day of FGs and ASU's lone TD to fall behind 14-20. Arizona scored a late TD, but had the extra point blocked to tie at 20-20 and go into overtime. Both teams traded FGs in the first OT, and ASU scored first in the second OT. Arizona scored a TD as well, but had their second extra point blocked, giving the win to Arizona State.
The "Racial Integration is a State Right" Bowl, aka the BBVA Compass Bowl, brings us Pitt versus Kentucky. Kentucky has beaten everyone they should have beaten, and lost to everyone they should have lost to. Wins: Louisville, Western Kentucky, Akron, Charleston Southern, and Vandy. Losses: Florida, Mississippi, Auburn, Georgia, MissState, Tennessee to finish 6-6. They do have the win against South Carolina but managed only one more conference win. Pitt, was two Big East-shenanigans games away from a BCS bowl, even though they lost to both of the teams that they would have moved a head of. The best thing I can say about Pitt is that they're not better than UConn or West Virginia.
The New Mexico Bowl is the "Someone gets to be over .500" Bowl for the second year running, pitting BYU against UTEP in the Alphabet Soup game of the week. UTEP limped in with a 3-5 record in Conference USA. They ended their season with a loss to Tulsa and also have a loss to Tulane on their record. BYU has first week win against Washington and a season-ending close loss to Utah to bookend their season.
I propose some sort of playoff between the winners of the Meineke Car Care Bowl, the MAACO Las Vegas Bowl, and the Autozone Liberty Bowl to play for some sort of "Symbol of the American Economy - Rusted-out Car On Blocks" Trophy. Oh right, I forgot, there already is one:
The "Great Game - 20 Years Ago" Bowl is a toss-up between Florida v Penn State and Notre Dame v Miami. Florida and Penn State are both "offensively challenged," Penn State and walk-on QBs moreso. Miami has been bi-polar all season, so it's anybody's guess as to which team will show up: the one that beat Maryland and Pitt, or the one that lost to USF and Virginia.
The "Perseverance in the Face of Insurmountable Odds aka The Bunny in a Chipper-Shredder" award is between Michigan State against Alabama, or UConn against Oklahoma. Both of these games look like the results of picking sides for a game at recess: both teams are left standing in their Horace Grant glasses, knee socks and bony white elbows. "I had UConn last time!" And yeah, I don't care that State is ranked higher. Alabama is the 5th ranked scoring defense. It's going to look like this:
So goodnight until next season, and now maybe I'll get a chance to work on the OSU UFR.
I've delayed a few days in posting this; I had doubts about whether I would post or not. It is a story (cool story, bro!) that sheds just a little light on the intersection of Dave Brandon, the press and the Michigan alumni/fan base. Anecdotally only, of course.
One year ago, I attended the annual dinner of one of the suburban Detroit alumni groups. The alumni members of that group do an amazing job of raising money for scholarships; there are a handful of kids getting degrees right now, who wouldn't be there without this group of loyal interested alums. They have an annual fundraising dinner at a golf club, and last year, December of 2009, the invited dinner speaker was Michael Rosenberg of the Free Press, who was ostensibly there to talk about his book, "War As They Knew It."
The audience was, in the parlance of this blog, pure "blue-hair." Most attendees were in their 60's, 70's and 80's. If that makes some younger fans think less of them, so be it. They are donors; loyal alums; many are season ticket holders; a number are former lettermen. They mostly all read the Free Press, and if they don't like the Free Press it is probably because they are Republicans, not because they care about sportswriting. And, as I already mentioned, they are making it possible for some great, worthy kids to go to Michigan.
There was the usual Q-and-A session after Rosenberg's short talk about his book. And there were the usual questions about the history of Bo and Woody, and before that Bump Elliott, and some timid questions about whether the football team was going to start winning soon and how Mike Rosenberg thought that might happen.
I waited to the end of the general questions, then rose, and proceeded to ask Rosenberg a series of pointed questions about the Free Press story of August 30, 2009:
- Q - Why didn't you ever talk to any of the people who actually understood Compliance Services operations and CARA reporting details? A - That wasn't Rosenberg's story, he said.
- Q - Why did you wait until the Friday before going to print on Saturday, to drop this bombshell on Martin, Rodriguez and Bruce Madej? A - That was enough time for them to answer, and if they had something to say, we might have delayed publication, but they didn't.
- Q - How do you justify the anonymity afforded to the unnamed "former" players, but meanwhile you named (and substantially traumatized) Je'Ron Stokes and Brandin Hawthorne, both of whom say they were misqoted and their commets were misused? A - We gave anonymity to players who asked for it, and the two freshmen did not ask for it.
- Q - What about Toney Clemons; he says he never asked for anonymity, and he admits that you interviewed him? A - How do you know he was one of the sources we used for the story?
- Q - What about Justin Boren; a guy who was so unconcerned about "retaliation" that he dressed up as Rich Rod for Halloween, with his girlfriend as a "Bunny/stripper" Rita? A - No comment on Boren as a source, and as for the justification of anonymitiy, it would have been better to cite "general retribution" instead of "retribution from coaches."
At one point, Rosenberg asked, "Am I being cross-examined?" The mood in the dining room was a bit tense. It was not what a lot of the guests might have anticipated for a holiday-season dinner. Rosenberg had no good answers, and the audience, not particularly well-attuned to the issues of what Jon Chait called "journalistic malpractice," probably didn't know quite what to think. At that time, December of 2009, little was publicly known about the NCAA investigation. The University had not yet responded to anything. Bill Martin was the AD, and there was not much thought about David Brandon at that time, other than that he was a former Regent, was now at Domino's, he had made a lot of money, and some thought he might someday run for governor.
Fast-forward to December, 2010; last week, the night before the Football Bust. The annual dinner takes place at the same golf club dining room. The speaker, this year, is David Brandon.
Brandon speaks for about 35 minutes, without a note, about his lifelong connections with Michigan, and it was so organized, so cogent and so well-crafted, that a transcript of the talk would look like it had been pre-written, carefully edited over a week or so, and then delivered with a TelePrompTer.
Brandon then answered questions. Everyone pretty much knew what he would and would not answer. At one point a lady mischeivously asked Brandon what criteria he will grade his football coaches on; a cute way of asking about Rich Rodriguez. People were laughing as she tried to ask the question from the back of the room. Instead of fouling off the question and giving a nothing response, Brandon asked the lady to repeat the question, because the laughter drowned her out just a bit. She rephrased the question, over more giggles and whispers. Again, Brandon asked her to repeat a part of it, so that he had her exact question. He was not going to dodge a single word, and he was going to answer the exact question, directly.
When all of the routine questions were done, I rose to let Brandon know who last year's speaker was, and relate what had happened. As soon as I mentioned the name of Michael Rosenberg, there were scattered of boos and hisses from throughout the room. What a difference a year makes, even to a group of older, conservative Free Press readers. I let Brandon know what had happened last year, and aksed what was his feeling about the Free Press story of August 30, 2009.
Brandon said he was proud of the way that everyone had responded. The investigation had been solid. Naturally, it uncovered some problems and the University had to take full responsibility for what the investigation had found. They did so, and they did it without whining to the media about how it had all gotten started.
Brandon said that he had spent more of his time and energy with the lawyers on the Michigan/NCAA football investigation, than he had on the biggest deal of his life in the corporate world, which was a 1.2 billion-dollar series of transactions.
Then Brandon opened up about the press. He said that the newspaper story that had led to NCAA investigation had been "crap." He said that he had taken a yellow highlighter to the printed story, and had highlighted all of the parts that were unfounded, untrue, exaggerated or eroneous. He ended up with a story that was more yellow than not. If there had been any doubt in the room about Rosenberg and the Free Press, the two December meetings, in 2009 and 2010, had erased it.
He thanked me for my question.