landing spot. will be interesting to see how he does.
[Ed-M: Bumped because this totally punctuated my equilibrium. The best indicator yet of year-to-year defensive evolution. And great news: the mean has magnetism!]
Richard Goldschmidt hypothesized that the incremental changes to organismal phenotypes over the course of even thousands of generations was insufficient to explain the change from one species to another. He posited that evolutionary change is powered by great leaps forward, instances of saltatory mutation that generate a new species from the old. Goldschmidt’s ideas were ridiculed, mostly, and with good reason. The overwhelming evidence of population genetics and the theoretical triumph of the Neo-Darwinian synthesis seem to indicate that evolutionary change is effected gradually over time by the additive effects of allele substitutions in the genetic makeup of a given population; population change happens slowly, if at all.
But there are situations in which sudden changes to an organism’s ecological niche—a new predator or prey introduced, migration or population bottlenecks, climate change, a massive meteor falling from the sky and killing all the dinosaurs—opens up the opportunity for rapid (on the geological time scale) evolutionary change.
The defense was bad last year. And bad the year before. And the year before that. A number of reasons have been put forward for the awfulness. The defense was decimated. Really decimated. Seriously, it was decimated. GERG is a force of nature complete with his own effect. The coaches thought making in-game adjustments was tantamount to cheating. And so on. At the risk of overstraining the metaphor, it certainly felt as if we were watching the extinction of that species of animal previously known as the Wolverine defense. It’s at the very least an endangered species. But if the combination of the addition of Hoke and Mattison, Nebraska joining the BIG, and the tattoo-laden implosion of the 614 area code don’t count as a change in the environment that opens the possibility of rapid change, then my metaphor has no validity at all.*
Folks have tried to take a stab at what might happen this year, based on small sample sized studies of returning starters, even smaller sample sized bits of anecdotal evidence, and a healthy dose of Hoke-A-Mania! I collected data from http://www.cfbstats.com/ on total defense numbers from 2006 through 2010 and analyzed year to year changes for every team, based on total defense rankings. Even though I’ve got five years of data, I’m going to talk in terms of “Base year” and “Year 2;” since I wasn’t looking to find multi-year trends in defensive performance all I care about is the movement from one year to the next. So with five years of data I have four years (2006-2009) worth of data in my “Base year” set and four years (2007-2010) in my “Year 2” set
This diary doesn’t propose to do anything other than aggregate a little bit of data about what we can expect based on very recent history and to show how many teams over the last few years have been outliers. From there we can start to see what Michigan’s chances are of bucking the odds of Darwinian uniformitarianism.
Natura non facit saltum: The Case For Phyletic Gradualism
My first task was to look at the aggregated data on a very coarse grain. I wondered how much movement there was in rank from year to year, so I grouped teams into sets of ten based on their base year finish (top ten teams, teams 11-20, etc.) and then tracked where those clusters of teams finished on average in year 2.
So the 40 teams in the data set that finished in the top ten in the base year averaged a finish at around 20 year 2. If a team finished in the 111-120 rank range, they could expect to be at around 95 in year 2. The obvious thing that jumps out is regression at the two ends of the line. This suggests what should be obvious: it is difficult to sustain excellence or ineptitude. So, by staying terrible last year, Michigan is already an outlier. Yay? But as you move away from the ends of the line, the movement away from the base year gets less and less, so that teams that are average appear to stay average.
Then, since I care mostly about one of the teams at the gruesome end of the line, I looked more closely at teams that finished the base year in the 90-120 range, and got this for my troubles:
This looks at every spot in the ranking from 90 to 120 and plots the year 2 average for the teams that finished at each of those spots. There is a lot of noise here, because for each ranking spot there are only four data points, but the trend line is pretty much what we’d expect. The worse you are in the base year, the worse you can expect to be in year 2.
So the numbers look gloomy, suggesting that expecting much movement in one year is a recipe for disappointment. These numbers provide the baseline for the geological timescale. The pace of change appears to be slow.
Hopeful Monsters: The Case for Saltationism
Despite this evidence of evolutionary stasis there have been a number of teams who’ve managed macromutation from one year to the next, both up and down. Since 2006, 37 teams out of a possible 278 (obviously only teams ranked 51 or worse could possibly make a 50 spot leap) have managed a leap of 50 or more spots in the ranking from one year to the next, and 107 out of 378 possible have made jumps of 25 or more spots.
50 spot leap
25 spot leap
For what it's worth, these percentages are higher than I expected prior to compiling the numbers. It's not worth anything, by the way.
My original goal was to analyze the factors that these saltatory leaps might have in common, but finding reliable data on returning starters, experience, changes to coaches or defensive co-ordinators, etc. has proven difficult. I might try to look in detail at a few case studies to see if there are any similarities between Michigan 2011 and the hopeful monsters who point to the possibility of rapid change, but provide a link to my table so that anyone else who may want to can do the same.
Viva la evolucion.
*Yes, I’m aware my metaphor already has no validity at all.
Edit: I think this is what the first commenter is asking for.
This will be the home of the BBQ visitor list. The event takes place on July 31st and looks like it's invite only. I'm still working on confirming visitors so I should have more names added as I get them. Be sure to continue to check back frequently.
Here's who I've confirmed so far:
LB Royce Jenkins-Stone - Commit
DB Terry Richardson - Commit
LB James Ross - Commit
DE Matt Godin - Commit
DB Allen Gant - Commit
TE Devin Funchess - Commit
DE/LB Mario Ojemudia - Commit
DE Tom Strobel - Commit
OL Kyle Kalis - Commit, said he will for sure be there. He's going up with his head coach Finotti, because his coach wants to sit down with Mattison to talk defense.
OL Ben Braden - Commit
2013 QB Shane Morris - Commit
DT Danny O'Brien (6'2", 293 lbs, 4 Star)
WR Jehu Chesson (6'3", 182 lbs, 3 Star)
2013 OL Steven Elmer
2013 RB Wyatt Shallman
2013 LB Jonny Reschke
RB Bri'onte Dunn (6'2", 215 lbs, 4 Star) - His father told me yesterday that Bri'onte will likely be going up with his cousin Dymonte Thomas. Bri'onte's Dad might not make it up though.
DE Chris Wormley - Said via text he is coming to the event.
DT Ondre Pipkins (6'3", 325 lbs, 4 Star)
DB Anthony Standifer - commit
2013 WR Laquon Treadwell
2013 DB Dymonte Thomas
TE AJ Williams - Commit
2013 RB Ty Isaac
OL Jordan Diamond (6'6", 290 lbs, 4 Star)
DB Jeremy Clark - Commit, said he's going to try to make it up.
OL Caleb Stacey - Commit
WR Monty Madaris (6'2", 190 lbs, 3 Star)
LB Kaleb Ringer - Commit
LB Joe Bolden - Commit
The beginning of my new screenplay [Ed-M: ...that's not a screenplay]. I hope you enjoy!
[Ed-M: Bump'ed like Elliott]
Brian got me thinking about who deserves to be in a Michigan ring of honor, so I did the only thing I know: Dump a bunch of data into a spreadsheet and rank them arbitrarily. I gave a point for being the College Hall of Fame, Michigan's Hall of Honor, Michigan retiring their number, points equal to the number of years being an All American, being in the top four in the Heisman (another 2 for winning it), and up to a point for winning other post-season awards. One could include other considerations, such as championships, captaincy, or being President of the United States.
The table below presents the data, sorted first by points and then year.
I would think anyone Chappuis and above deserves to be in.
I included only some 2-point guys of interest in the table below, most of whom aren't in Michigan's Hall of Honor or the Hall of Fame.
Coaches aren't included, except Kipke who is there because of his playing, though I don't know how much of his playing versus coaching got him in the Hall of Fame.
Why is Benbrook not in Michigan's Hall of Honor?
Obviously newer guys benefit from the various awards now available. The Heisman was first awarded in 1935. I would think Heston could have won it.
In 1939 Harmon finished 2nd in the Heisman voting to Nile Kinnick before winning it in 1940.
The All of American data are a bit surprising. Gerald Ford isn't listed. I had thought Carter was a three-year All American. There may be other surprises. I used a list from the NCAA (data source below), which made it easy, but the list may be flawed.
|Tom Harmon||37-40||y||y||y||2||2nd, 1st||Maxwell|
|Desmond Howard||89-92||y||y||1||1st||Maxwell, Camp, Nagurski, Bednarik|
|Charles Woodson||95-97||1||1st||Camp, Thorpe|
|Bob Chappuis||42, 46-47||y||y||1||2nd|
|Adolph Schulz||04-05, 07-08||y||y||1|
|LaMarr Woodley||03-06||1||Lombardi, Hendricks|
I will start this by saying I apologize for any formatting issues, as this is my first diary on Mgoblog.
|Team||Total Commits||5 Stars||4 Stars||3 Stars||2 Stars||Not Ranked||Percentage of 4-5 Stars|
|Team||Total Commits||5 Stars||4 Stars||3 Stars||2 Stars||Not Ranked||%age of 4-5 Stars|
With more new Michigan commits, we're hitting the front page after a hiatus of a couple weeks. Action since last rankings:
7-10-11 Michigan gains commitment from Kyle Kalis. Notre Dame gains commitment from Romeo Okwara. Penn State gains commitment from Nyeem Wartman. Indiana gains commitment from Wes Rogers. Minnesota gains commitment from Samad Hinds.
7-11-11 Minnesota gains commitments from Brian Nicholson and Jordan Hinojosa.
7-13-11 Ohio State gains commitments from Luke Roberts and Pat Eiflein. Michigan State gains commitment from MacGarrett Kings II.
7-14-11 Illinois gains commitment from Joseph Spencer.
7-15-11 Northwestern gains commitment from Dwight White.
7-17-11 Penn State loses commitment from Jamil Pollard.
|Big Ten+ Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# Commits||Rivals Avg||Scout Avg||ESPN Avg||24/7 Avg|
*ESPN doesn't rate JUCOs, so Isaac Fruechte is not included in Minnesota's average, and Steffon Martin doesn't count against Purdue.
On to the full data, after the jump: