mesmerism! presidential assassinations! circuses on fire!
I love the work of Brian Cook. MGoBlog is something that has filled my life with joy and wonder, bringing my level of Michigan fandom to a level that is both wholly satisfying and terribly unhealthy at the same time. But right now I can't support Brian's views in regard to the coaching search and eventual hire of one Brady Hoke. This is no way to begin the era of a new coach, regardless of what Brian's personal feelings on the matter are.
I get that many fans, especially those who frequent MGoBlog, are less than pleased with how the coaching search went. Brady Hoke wasn't my favorite candidate either. I do respect David Brandon for how he conducted the search though. I think Brandon showed that he is a man of integrity in several ways, many of which were frustrating to fans:
- He gave Rich Rod every opportunity to show progress that would warrant keeping him on as head coach. I think the results of the bowl game really illustrated how much that game mattered in the evaluation of Rich Rod. Without that data point, Michigan fans are even more divided about the need for a new coach. The Gator Bowl embarrassment cleared things up, and thus had value. Had Rich Rod managed to win and get Michigan to 8-5 with a bowl win over a ranked opponent (would have only been RR's second in 13 tries), I think it would have strengthened the case for keeping him almost as much as the embarrassing loss killed it.
- He didn't interfere with the season of any other program. I think this is one of the most glaring differences between this coaching search and last, it felt more respectful towards others and therefore more Michigan. No coach considered was interfered with before his teams' bowl game, including Mr. Hoke. Considering the outcome, would it have been better for the program to have had Hoke sign up and come over a month ago? Of course. But I am glad that SDSU and Hoke got to get that bowl victory, and that their players got to have proper closure to their impressive season. Pulling Rich Rod before WV's BCS game always seemed a little shady to me.
- He stuck to his guns throughout the process. I never got the feeling that he was out of touch with the search, despite the lack of leaked info. He wasn't off sailing his boat, and if I believe that he was pretty busy following possibilities. Harbaugh wanted the NFL; I don't consider this DB's fault. Miles decided to stay at LSU; this may be for the best as Les had a bit of baggage anyways. Michigan couldn't afford to wait much longer to sign a coach and whether we like it or not, DB had a set of criteria in mind and Hoke met the requirements.
The bottom line is that none of us know how things went down. Also none of us is any more qualified to judge the coaching search than we are to judge the decisions of our football coach. There is a reason David Brandon was hired to be Michigan's AD, and we will have to wait and see if his decision is a good one. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding. The pudding has not been served yet.
I am excited for a new era of Michigan Football to begin and I am 100% behind Coach Hoke. People keep bringing up Hoke's record of 47-50 as a head coach as if just under .500 football has been his consistent result throughout his career. Reality paints a different picture though: a progression from Head-Coach-That-Never-Was-A-Coordinator (HCTNWAC) learning on the job at a loser program, to Head-Coach-That-Turns-Shit-Around (HCTTSA) that wins conference Coach of the Year honors.
What I see:
Ball State 2003 (HCTNWAC)
Goes 4-8 (3-5) in first year with Bill Lynch's players (6-6 in 2002). Does not look competitive if the scores are any indication. Ended season on a 4 game losing streak.
Ball State 2004 (HCTNWAC)
Bottoms out, going 2-9 (2-6) in his second year. Whether because of personel, or lack of HC experience, Hoke appears in over his head at this point. 2 wins come against teams with a combined 1-21 record.
Ball State 2005 (HCTNWAC?)
In his third year things start to show improvement. Record improves to 4-7 (4-4) with three wins against teams that would finish with winning records. Won three of final four games and took final game against CMU to OT.
Ball State 2006 (HCTTSA?)
More improvement, going 5-7 (5-3), his first winning record in conference. Didn’t beat anybody of note, but put a scare into a very good Michigan team.
Ball State 2007 (HCTTSA)
Continues to build the Ball St program, going 7-6 (6-2) for his first winning season and bowl bid. Beats talented Navy team in overtime. Comes within 51 seconds of knocking off Nebraska, losing by 1 point on a long touchdown in the final minute.
Ball State 2008 (HCTTSA!!!)
Undefeated regular season, including a second straight win against Navy and a victory over Indiana. Peaks at #12 in the polls before faltering in the conference championship game, finishes 12-1. Ball State would fall off a cliff in 2009 after Hoke's departure, going 2-10.
SDSU 2009 (HCTTSA?)
Takes the reigns of a program that hadn't had a winning season in a decade. Takes his lumps, going 4-8 (2-6) with victories coming against the dregs of the MWC.
SDSU 2010 (HCTTSA!!!)
Has an outstanding season, ending at 9-4 (5-3) and taking Coach of the Year honors for the MWC. Closer inspection of his season reveals that the 4 losses were all to teams with winning records and a cumulative record of 40-12. The 4 losses were by an average of < 4 points per game as well, with the worst a 5 point defeat @ undefeated TCU. 3/4 losses were away games. This season is easily better than the final record indicates. Hoke gets his first bowl victory, stomping Navy 35-14.
This is not the same as merely spouting 37-40 implies.
The bottom line is that Brady Hoke deserves our full support as a fan base. He seems like a class act and served Michigan in the past, producing NFL quality D-Linemen and helping to form the 1997 defense. He remembers what it is like to coach a winning team against that team down south. He legitimately has turned 2 smaller programs around and is walking into a Michigan program that is on the rebound. I expect that he will have a good/great season next year and be a great representative of the University of Michigan.
This is Brian Cook's blog and he will post what he sees fit. MGoBlog and its community will continue to be a cornerstone of my passion and obsession as a fan regardless. I just urge that Brian, and all those that frequent this corner of the interwebs, realize how MGoBlog influences public opinion. Comments about the coaching hire being "stupid" and calling our new coach "average" before the new coach is even formally introduced will have a very real effect on how many people view Michigan Football. Recruits and current players, all of which we are trying to retain, no doubt read these statements and form opinions based on them. Positive thoughts and comments lead to positive opinions and the feeling that the fans have Michigan players' backs (and their new coach's back as well).
If MGoBlog is going to be so obviously anti-Hoke, how is it any better for Michigan Football than the Freep?
The purpose of this diary is simple, to track Hoke’s record against BCS team. One of the perks of being in the MAC is getting called in to BCS schools early in the year to be ground into a fine powder by more powerful teams and offered up to the Revenue Gods as Macrific.
So I decided to chart how Hoke did against various BCS Teams. One thing you might remember about playing MAC Schools is that by the Fourth Quarter those of us still in the student section are normally going “Whoa we have a SIXTH string quarterback?” as we watch some guy we never heard of put up Heisman like numbers. In an attempt to normalize for garbage time points I’ve also done my best to note games where the BCS Team was comfortably ahead, put it on cruise control and let Ball State score some pity points.
Result: 35-7 Loss
Ugly slow death by Ball State here. First quarter ended 7-7. In the second Mizzou got 14 unanswered and then 7 in each of the final two quarters. Ball State’s only points came off a 4 yard drive so the offense did nothing.
Result: 42-21 Loss
The first half was relatively even. No points for anyone in the first. 14 each in the second quarter (44 and 54 yard drives for Pitt, 46 and 80 for Ball State). Coming out of half though Pitt made adjustments and got 21 in the 3rd. 7 each in 4th, but Ball State’s last 7 came in the closing minutes of the game when Pitt was likely checked out.
Team: Boston College
Result: 53-29 Loss
The first starts out decently enough. 80 yard drive by Ball State and a 59 yard drive by BC. BC also gets a punt return for 14 total. Then just a steady steamroll by BC, 11,14 and 14 in the last three quarters. Ball State manages to put together some drives of decent length but it isn’t enough.
Team: Not That Miami (But Ranked #15 at the time)
Result: 49-3 Loss
The only ranked team Ball State played. Total ass kicking / incestuous Macrifice
Result For 2003:
Hey Not Bad For a MAC Program: 0
Macrifice: 4 (counting the loss to ranked ntM despite them being in the MAC as well)
Team: Boston College
BC leads 12-11 at half. In the second Ball State gives up one 53 yard drive and that seals the deal for BC. The 2004 edition of BC finished 9-3 and beat UNC in the Tire Bowl. BC beat PSU 21-7 the week after playing Ball State.
Result: 59-7 Loss
The 7 points came in the 4th when Purdue was likely in celebration mode.
Result: 48-0 Loss
Result To Date:
Hey Not Bad For a MAC Program: 1
Macrifice: 6 (I almost feel like I should count Mizzou and Purdue as double)
Result: 56-0 Loss
Kirk Ferentz cruises.
Result: 63-3 Loss
Hey I think I know what made Hoke decide to hire Al Borges.
Team: Boston College
Result: 38-0 Loss
BC gets 14 in the first and then off to the races in the 3rd and 4th.
Note: Ball State had 7 players suspended during Iowa and Auburn for NCAA infractions.
Result To Date:
Hey Not Bad For a MAC Program: 1
Result: 24-23 Loss
23-7 Indiana at half. Ball State gets 14 in the 3rd and manages to make a game out of it. Indiana started their second string QB but ended up playing their 3rd string for the entire game due to the suckitude of the 2nd stringer (he was pulled after 6 players). Thus this is a push for scoring purposes. Indiana is a cellar dweller to begin with and even worse once you start running the QB depth chart.
Result: 38-28 Loss
21-10 at half, and 31-13 at the end of the 3rd. So it looks like Ball State kind of put up a fight in the first half, Purdue makes adjustments and seals in the 3rd. A FG in the 3rd for Ball State and then 15 garbage points in the 4th. So no credit even though the final score was one two scores different.
Team: North Dakota State
Result: 29-24 Loss
We know how this one feels don’t we?
24-12 at half. 7 each in the 3rd and Ball State outscores 7-3 in the 4th. We played Henne the entire game. Now this has long been a question mark game for me. I was there and I really felt like Carr was being nice to his former assistant or else was having trouble finding the gas pedal for some odd reason. This was our 11-1 season and our team crushed everyone else. I’m going to give Hoke credit here and call it a not that bad win even though to this day I feel like Carr was simply too nice to go for the kill against his former Associate Head Coach.
Result To Date:
Not That Bad For a MAC: 2
The Horror (MAC Version): 1
Result: 34-31 OT Win
Competitive the whole way through, no last second rally when the other team went to sleep and the let other creep back into it.
Result: 41-40 Loss
This was in Nebraska’s shitty period but even so Nebraska needed to outscore Ball State in the 4th 13-9 to get win. A definite Not That Bad.
Result: 38-20 Loss
Indiana was in its normally sucky mode and desperate for a win to be Bowl Eligible. They got the win. Overall a decent game by Ball State but you don’t get credit for losing to Indiana by three scores.
Result To Date:
Not That Bad For a MAC Program: 4
Tim Brewster Nods Knowingly: 1
Result: 38-25 Win
Someone get Navy on the schedule.
Result: 42-20 Win
Indiana managed a total of 3 wins this year (Western Kentucky, Murray State and drum roll #22 ranked Northwestern [ouch]). Still a win over a BCS Program counts, plus I’ve been mean to Ball State so far so I’ll give them another bump.
Result: 45-13 Loss
Ball State did not score in the second half. You can argue they’re disappointed after losing to Buffalo in the conference championship and getting shunted off to the GMAC Bowl or whatever you want, but they still got punked by a C-USA Team. What CRex giveth for a Win over Indiana he taketh away for utter destruction at the hands of Tulsa. Actually no wait he won’t, since upon closer inspection Hoke had already bailed for SDSU.
Result For Career:
Not That Bad For a MAC Program: 5
I’d Talk Shit, But I have No Room To Talk: 1
At the end of the day I think the examiners bias here determines how you view these. One thing I’ve heard brought up constantly on the boards is that part of Hoke’s record can be explaining by the fact that he was forced to play at least 3 teams ever year that had access to better resources than he did. Overall he comes out as 5-11-1 and a WTFOMGDIVISIONIIBBQ loses thrown in the hell of it.
If you don’t like Hoke you’re predisposed to lean in the direction of “Wow look at those losses to Purdue, Missouri, Auburn and Boston College. If you like him you look at the 5 not that bad ones and the Push and cite them.
My personal take away from all of this is that whenever I hear Hoke’s record tossed out I’m not going to panic and mentally spot him a few more wins. If he’d Big Ten caliber recruits and facilities maybe some of those almost wins turn into wins.
It’s hard to read these tea leaves though, for example in 2003 he finished off the first quarter tied up 7-7 before Missouri took care of business. Finishes the first half tied with Pitt that year but then Pitt pulls away in the second. So either Hoke was ready for Missouri/Pitt and his MAC caliber players simply wore down or else Missouri and Pitt weren't taking Ball State seriously and spent a quarter or two fumbling around trying to find the gas pedal. If you like Hoke you’ll likely say his scheme managed to hold it together for at least a while. If you don’t like him you’re more likely to claim the other team just never bothered to shift it into gear.
Thus I’m not going to try to take much data from this, but I’ll post this in case anyone wants to find a use for this or simply for education purposes. For example that Auburn beatdown definitely helps explain why Hoke went hard after Borges and brought him along.
I tried to think about the coaching hire from DB's perspective. Dave is a member of the Michigan football alumni fraternity. This fraternity was consumed in group think. The vast majority of former players seemed to think that the traditional the program had suffered greatly under RichRod. He came in and changed traditions about the #1 jersey and team captains. RichRod didn't know to dance a jig around the Little Brown Jug on St. Patrick's Day or to salute the moon after each NASA launch to honor UM grads involved in the space program. The changes to traditions resulted in losses, ANGAR, and the Gator Bowl.
Dave saw a fractured fan base and decided that a new coach was needed. He settled on three criteria the new HC must meet. The new coach would have to head coaching experience at the highest level of college football and he would have to be a "Michigan Man." Applying the first two criteria left DB with just candidates: JH, LM, and BH.
What was the third criterion? The new coach would have to be a good employee. Why the third criterion? Because Dave is a hands-on businessman who values control. The new coach would have to coachable. DB is the boss and he does not tolerate insubordination. BH was plan A because of the third criterion.
I see DB imagining his interactions with the possible head coaches:
Scene 1 - DB busts in on JH's team film study.
DB: "Hey Jim."
JH: "What are you doing here, Dave?"
DB: "I came to watch film and to evaluate the way you interact with your players."
JH: "Get the hell out, Dave!"
DB: "Jim, I'm the boss! Now get on with it."
JH: "Get the fuck out Dave before I call the 49ers!!"
Scene 2 - DB tries to discipline LM after UM wins The Game:
DB: "Les, may I have a word with you?"
DB: "Les, quit it an listen. You can't go around lifting up the cheerleaders' skirts and eating their pom pons."
LM: "We just beat tOSU on their field. I can do whatever I want."
DB: "QUIT IT LES BEFORE I FINE YOU!"
LM: "Try it and see how fast I apply my abilities to another opportunity to be taken advantage of."
Scene 3 - DB busts in on BH's team film study.
DB: "Hey Brady."
BH: "Hey Dave."
DB: "I came to watch film and to evaluate the way you interact with your players."
BH: "Do you want some popcorn?"
What does it all mean? It means that DB found the best coach for DB. The hire of BH gets his frat brothers off his back and gives him a compliant employee. The coaching change was for the benefit of the AD. He has his model of how to run an organization. Apparently it does not include sharing power.
Is BH the best fire for UM? Time will tell. My initial reaction to learning of the hire was deflation. However, I am willing to give BH the benefit of the doubt. I believe he will give his best effort. I have noticed that most of the negative reaction about the hire has to do with his physical appearance. I know that people tend to overestimate the competence of attractive people and to underestimate the competence of those less fortunate. We have a new HC who is no Fabio and an OC who is no Brad Pitt. They will not will beauty contests. I hope they win games.
I want you to think back, carefully, think back to the days of Coach Carr. What did you used to say, muttering to yourself grimly or shouting to others in the room angrily during the game? “A field goal will only put us up 6 and there’s plenty of time for another drive left. Go for it!” I shouted this at the TV on many 4th and 1’s from the opponent 14. “We’ve been blitzing successfully all day, and now we get down to the last minute, and you go to this totally ineffective Prevent? Play to Win!” You may have supported Coach Carr to the upmost, like I did, but you can’t deny that his choices infuriated you on occasion. He so often played not to lose. He so often did things ‘the old way’.
And so, we brought in Rodriguez to change all that. To finally do away with the run up the middle on third and 50, and the QB who couldn’t get out of the way of the world’s slowest developing pass rush. We brought him in, scary as it was, to reverse the field and have lightning quick snap counts and to play to win. And it didn’t work.
Monday night, a spread & shred offense as good as anything Rich Rodriguez at WVU ever put on the table played in the national championship game opposite Auburn, a team featuring a more traditional spread. True to form, the scoring in this game was quick and furious, featuring scoring drives of less than a minute in many cases. Full field reverses and lightning quick snap counts were the play du jour. At times, it was awesome to behold.
Keen observers may note one thing, however, about the game. With a final tally of 22-19 and scoring that included safeties, goal line stands and field goals from within the red zone, the battle was undeniably defensive. In a game where the question was expected to be, “How long can these good defenses stand up before these excellent offenses find a chink in the armor”, we instead found ourselves asking, “How many chinks in the armor before the offense runs out of little things to exploit and can’t make anything else happen?”
And we were left with one more question. Why did the Auburn defense not get tired, slow down, and slowly but surely give the game away in increasing chunks of yardage, as every MSM talking head had prognosticated for weeks?
Ladies and gentlemen – we brought in Rich Rodriguez to be our coach to lift us out of our mediocrity and to finally lift our sights higher than a Big Ten championship and a Rose Bowl berth. We brought him in to reinvigorate the program and bring speed, style and a modern flair to Saturday afternoons in the Big House. We brought him in to win National Championships. And we sent him on his way because while the speed was coming, the rest of it, so far, was frustratingly not. And now you question it?
No, don’t say, “He needed more time. He needed more time to install this and ready that and yadda yadda yadda.” No. We brought Rodriguez in to take us beyond dreams of Big Ten Championships and Rose Bowl berths where we were never really in the national picture. We brought him in to wake up from our dreams of Bo. And as I’ve already pointed out, that’s no guarantee, even if everything works perfectly. The best Spread & Shred in the history of Spread & Shreds just played in the national title game, and lost, in a DEFENSIVE BATTLE. I’m not saying that the spread doesn’t work. Obviously it does. But think back to Michigan/Florida in the Capital One Bowl. Just because it’s the spread doesn’t mean it’s a winner, either.
And we recognized this. And we fired our coach. And we were prepared once again to move on. Except now, the name we wanted – we couldn’t get. And people are lamenting, “If we couldn’t get Harbaugh, we shouldn’t have fired Rodriguez.” Well, I’ve got news for you people. “4th and 1 from the 14? We couldn’t get the TD, so lets just kick the field goal.” “1:15 left up by 6? I think it’s time to pull out that prevent defense.”
No, we may not have gotten exactly who we wanted. But who we had was not getting it done, and even if everything was optimal, it very well may not have been enough.Brian talks about how we sacrificed our chance at being national champs to be conference champs. Well me, I think that's a lot of bull. Rodriguez was a good coach, but we were still a million miles from becoming a national power, and the next flash in the pan wasn't any more likely to do it. And last I checked, winning the Big Ten goes a long way in your national perspective. Keep Rodriguez if we couldn’t get Harbaugh? Avoid the perilous situation we’re in now? You’ll excuse me if I don’t feel like kicking the field goal and playing prevent. It might cost me, but I’m a Michigan fan. I want to PLAY TO WIN.
For a number of years now, it has been a popular position that the time off between the end of the regular season and the beginning of bowl season is excessively long, and leads to poor play early in games. Certainly I have found this to be an attractive explaination for the prodigous quantities of DERP we saw this bowl season.
But DERP is subjective, and the plural of anecdote is not data. Is there any substantial quantitative support to the notion that bowl games start off unusually sloppy? There are a great many factors at play; I chose to look at relevant statistics on a quarter-by-quarter basis. I don't have the massive database that seems popular around these here parts, and the typical box score doesn't give a per-quarter breakdown of anything but score. Bummer. Well, maybe if we go ahead and look anyway at a
chart of percent of total points scored per quarter, we can find something elucidating. All bowl games are included. Each team's per-quarter scoring is normalized by their total score in the game. Averages and standard deviations are then computed, based on the entire bowl team population. It seems plausible that excessive pre-bowl layoff will result in a substantially higher standard deviation in the early part of the game, when either offense or defense might be DERPerrific.
|U of A||70.00||0.00||30.00||0.00||10|
Well, hmm. We could weight the per-quarter score fractions by the total number of points scored per team (0-3-3-3 is less telling than 0-21-21-21), but we find that this makes little difference. In the unweighted case, we find that the first half standard deviation is 29% higher than the second half standard deviation. The first quarter standard deviation is about 16% higher than the average quarter.
This seems to lend mild support to the idea that bowl games start off unusually sloppy. How does this compare to regular-season results? I compared to games from weeks 12-15, but only if the game involved two teams that ended up bowl-eligible (I counted Arizona State, because I graduated from there and it was Wisconsin's/SJSU's fault anyway and if you don't like it then tough). I toyed with the idea of removing rivalry games, because rivalry games are weird, but I did not.
|U of A||48.28||17.24||10.34||24.14||29|
|Fresno||thanks for breaking the chart Fresno||0|
|U of A||0.00||0.00||70.00||30.00||20|
Stupid Fresno. Anyway, we continue to see elevated stdev for the first quarter of regular season games between bowl eligible teams, but by a lesser degree. For these regular season games, the first half standard deviation is 10.8% higher than that for the second half. The first quarter standard deviation is about 11% higher than the average quarter.
There are certainly some serious issues with this methodology. Does a sloppy defense give up more scores to a sloppy offense than when both are playing carefully? I don't know the best answer, but I'm sure it varies on a case-by-case basis. There are also many late-game effects for which I have not accounted - a prevent version of a dominant defense might give up the only score of the game in the 4th quarter when the game is out of reach (hi there Sparty!). This would give a large standard deviation value to the 4th quarter, erroneously implying sloppiness. I do not know how to account for these sorts of errors with the data set I have available. Further, I do not suggest that this is an all-inclusive list of methodological problems.
Still, 29% vs 10.8% seems vaguely compelling, give 70 bowl and 98 regular season scores. My statistical background has faded badly since undergrad, so I'm going to refrain from a hilariously misguided attempt at error bars. The sample size is large, but boy those data are noisy. Any time my standard deviation is as big as the average, I start to feel a little woozy...
There have been a lot of questions about where we're at, and what's happening so I'm going to do a mini update so everyone is caught up on where we're at. We obviously won't know some aspects of what will happen until Brady Hoke assembles his staff, and starts to actually make phone calls and visits.
- There's been a rumor that LB Kellen Jones decommitted, which is not true. I spoke with his dad today, and he told me that's not even close. If the Michigan coaches tell Kellen that they want him just as much as the previous coaching staff did then he will be in Ann Arbor. Kellen is visiting Colorado this weekend, because it's already set up, and it's just for fun. He is supposed to take a visit out to Miami, but they're not sure if that will even happen. Kellen still feels the same about Michigan, he's just covering himself for just in case.
- Kris Frost hasn't heard from Auburn yet. If they say no, there's a good chance he'll come to Michigan. If they say yes, then as far as I understand someone else will lose their spot.
- K Matt Goudis and DB Dallas Crawford are visiting Miami this weekend. Dallas knows that Michigan has hired a new coach, and has started to do research on him.
- WR Devin Lucien is a recruit that has been waiting for Michigan to make a hire so he can visit. He still wants to talk to the coaching staff to make sure his offer will be honored, but he was being recruited by San Diego State. Michigan has a great chance with Devin.
- OL Chris Bryant is announcing at the end of January, but this hire for Michigan also helps with him. Michigan is in the lead.
- The only current commits we need to monitor really are Dallas Crawford, Matt Goudis, and Jake Fisher. Blake Countess will just require a phone call to make sure everything is in order, and we should be good to go with everyone else.
If you have any other questions, or if I'm forgetting anything ask in the comments and I'll try to get it answered. It's going to be an ongoing update as the coaches start to reach out to commits and recruits.