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Fear and Loathing in Ann Arbor Volume I
The 2010 Regular Season
Pre UConn- MSU
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. This is a trial run at my first diary. If the majority of you like the content, I shall release part two of the 2010 season. If the majority of you do not like the content, I will keep part two to myself and would appreciate FAIL pics more than pointed insults. At least I will be able to laugh AND cry at the same time.
The autumn months are never a calm time in America. Back to work, back to football practice, etc….Autumn is a very traditional period, a time of strong rituals and the celebrating of strange holidays like Halloween and Satanism and the fateful harvest Moon, which can have ominous implications for some people.
Ominous it was. A second half season collapse leaving us 5-7 after a 4-0 start left the Michigan family feeling like getting in line for free turkey at the homeless shelter for our first hot meal in ages only to be told that chilled peas and week old fruitcake were left once it was our turn. More grumblings came not from our tummies, but alumni, fans, and current students at the time. Also the Detroit Free Press and their head henchman of death, Rosenberg, were hellbent on sinking Michigan football into Lake Huron.
September 4th, 2010. UConn. A kid nicknamed “shoelaces” that had the best smile east of the Mississippi takes the field as the starting quarterback. We witnessed the possible talent the year before with his blazing speed. Some of us worried of the inaccuracy and arm strength however, but this was a new season and nothing having to do with shoelaces, jockstraps, and sports bras would prevent us from feeling the overwhelming lust for the spoils of hearing Hail to the Victors with smiles all around when the clock ticked to 0:00 in the 4th quarter. Shoelace D Robinson proved his offseason training when he threw for 186 yards, ran for 197, and garnered 2 TDs. Victory was ours and we were headed to a showdown in South Bend riding on a 30-10 victory over a favored conference champion on the grand opening of a renovated stadium that rivaled the Roman Coliseum.
September 11th, 2010. Notre Dame, a college of hopeless alcoholics with huge egos and a weakness for mob hysteria in tense situations. They are the ones who will get angry when their lofty pregame predictions start going awry. They then guarantee some last minute fumble or shocking interception. I have seen these loonies win on some days, but lately, not often. They are the spiritual descendents of legendary old west gamblers who would bet the ranch and even their wives and daughters on one game of impossible odds that they cannot see due to denial of the mediocrity of their program. The fact remained the same though. We hate them and would hate even more to lose to the bastards. Games in South Bend can be scary, but again Shoelace D Robinson led our band of warriors to victory over the Brian Kelly led pack of degenerates. The week before’s performance against UConn was not expected again. That expectation turned out to be true. The performance of 244 yards in the air, 258 on the ground, 3 TD’s, and the last minute game winning drive shattered the expectation. 2-0. The next week? A I-AA opponent that was a sure win.
September 18th, 2010. UMass. This game was thought of as a lock before it even started. Call your bookie and tell them you are betting your soul. There would be no way we could lose this with Shoelace D Robinson. We soon found out that Denard doesn’t play defense. Although Shoelace put up 345 total yards and 3 TD’s, I sat by the internet radio gnashing teeth on my dog’s chew toy at the possible upset of Michigan by another I-AA team. Most if not all of Michigan’s fan base went rigid with fear of “The Horror” part duex. If any innocent bystander were to walk into a house with an avid Michigan fan, they would witness something similar to watching a brain-damaged cow with wild eyes staggering crazily around in circles with its legs caving in, its spine seizing up, and its hooves lashing out in the air with Mad Cow Disease. Michigan won 42-37, but it felt more like a tie and the defense was concerning. Oh well. It is a win and seeing how we came one win short of bowl eligibility a year before, we chalked it up to our horrible luck against small teams in the Eastern Time Zone.
September 25th, 2010. Bowling Green. Not much to say here. Every human being needs a reason to wake up, and this would be a good one for this Saturday. Many of us were curious to see how the defense would respond to its questionable performance the week before. There was an eerie feeling in the air before that game, at least on my owl farm. Most of my body was confident as a red blooded American man that just won the National Arm Wrestling competition and drove off feeling like a winner with Anne Hathaway in a blood red 1963 Chevy Impala convertible. However, I kept one eye open and fixed upon the defense anticipating a meltdown of epic proportion so that I could find the nearest sharp object and ram it into my pupil. Turns out I kept my eyesight and Meeeechigan won again with Denard able to leave early and Tater Nutz making it a record setting day for two quarterbacks in the season.
October 2nd, 2010. Indiana. The Big Ten schedule would officially be started this day. Indiana would be the first foe. By this time we were saturated with the voices of various experts claiming that Shoelace D Robinson could not sustain his demi-god like numbers on the field. It was said repeatedly, like most news and catchy memes, that Michigan would be risking destroying Denard and QBs like him in the future faster than high schools being able to churn them out. Michigan must have two QBs, because one of them is certain to get crippled or mashed by some steroid crazed monster who weighs 388 pounds, runs faster than Deion Sanders, and is hell bent on hurting people. Once Big Ten played started, Denard would suffer a compound fracture beyond our wildest nightmares.
Onto Indiana then. Last year’s contest was a white knuckle ride that left me scrounging for clean underwear at the conclusion. Indiana was and rarely has been good. It shouldn’t have been that close. If we lost this year to Chappell and his rightfully hyped passing show, I could only guarantee one thing. It would be a night in Ann Arbor of booze and violence that, 99 times out of 100, would swamp anybody that goes near it in a hurricane of fear, pain, and stupefying disasters that will haunt them for the rest of their life. Thankfully this was not the case. Michigan wins again, but in close fashion because of the growing liability and unluckiness of the defense. I did not shart my pants this year, but I did almost choke on my gum.
October 9th, 2010. Michigan State. Our intellectually challenged brethren to the west in East Lansing. We lost two years in a row to these shmucks and this year would be different. The noise about falling off a cliff into a pit of shame and despair at 5-0 reached deafening levels. Not this year chaps. This year, we would beat the forces of dumb into Bolivia and become bowl eligible for the first time under our coach Rich Rodriguez. The planets aligned, the moon was in Virgo, and our eggs were counted and ready to launch at that clown disguised as a coach, Dantonio.
The planets may have been aligned, but it wasn’t in our solar system. Michigan State brutalized us, making us look like the Chinese Crested Powderpuff pedigree of the state of Michigan. We came down like a car off a cliff from the week before’s high. There was a savage 180 degree swings between totally opposite poles like joy and fear, wild passions and violent rages, sudden love and sudden hate. Hate for Dantonio and his clown college beating us for three years in a row. Hate for Rich Rodriguez for only filling our hot air balloons with half fuel and mentioning it after we were 10,000 feet high. Hate for hate sake. Nonetheless, the whole situation, without exaggeration, was like sitting in a traffic jam on the San Diego Freeway with your windows rolled up and no air condition while Portuguese hip hop boomed out of your surround-sound speakers, animals gnawing at our necks and diseased bill collectors hammered on our doors with golf clubs. At least we got Iowa at home the next week and have deflated any lofty invincibility complexes…
Given that the Molotov cocktails (and even SS-20 nuclear missiles) were flying last week, it only made sense to wait until this weekend to put forth the latest edition of the Almanack. Doing so also allowed me to incorporate the statistics from the games played yesterday.
It will be interesting to see how Denard does against Mississippi State's stout defense, ranked 20th in rushing defense and 50th in pass efficiency defense. This, of course, assumes that Denard's dislocated fingers are healed up by then: something I don't take for granted, though he should be ok.
Congratulations to Denard for being named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. He also finished the Big Ten season in first place for total offense (conference games only) with 317.5 yards per game. Roy Roundtree led all Big Ten receivers with 83.9 yards per game, and Will Hagerup led all punters with 46.0 yards per punt.
The last Michigan players to lead the Big Ten in those categories? Jim Harbaugh (247.4 YPG in 1986), Mario Manningham (109.8 YPG in 2007), and Zoltan Mesko (45.2 YPG in 2009).
Prefatory Verbiage • New This Week • Week in Review • Record of the Week • QBs as Rushing Champions • QB Rushing, Game • QB Rushing, Season • QB Rushing, Career • Rushing (Any Position) • 200/200 Club • 1500/2000 Club • 1500/1500 Club • 1000/1000 Club • All-Purpose TDs • Total Offense • Total Offense Per Play • Passing Efficiency • Other M Passing • Other M Rushing • Team Offense • Miscellaneous Records • Standard Disclaimers • Acknowledgments • Comments
- Previous editions. Previous editions of this Almanack can be found at the MGoBlog Communist Football page.
- Suggestions are welcome. If you have found an interesting statistic or record that you think I should add to this list, please put it in the comments section and I'll add it to the original post (and give you credit).
- Review the disclaimers. Football has evolved considerably over its 141-year history, much more so than other major sports, and that is important to keep in mind when talking about all-time records. The existence of this diary is not meant to imply that individual achievement is more important than the achievement of the team.
New This Week
New to this week's Almanack is a section on all-purpose touchdowns, which I published after the Wisconsin game as a separate diary. I've also tried to liven up the sesquipedalian text with some historical photos, along with Monumental's remarkable Denard action figure.
Week in Review: Denard Finds A New Way to Get Injured
Statistically speaking, Denard had a pretty good first half against OSU, running for 95 yards and throwing the ball reasonably well against an outstanding pass defense. But he left late in the second quarter with two dislocated fingers, came back for one drive in the second half, and didn't play the rest of the way.
Unlike the Iowa game, where Tate Forcier was able to give M a spark, OSU's talented secondary shut Tate down, and Robinson's running ability was sorely missed. Denard ended up with 105 yards rushing on 18 carries for 5.83 YPC, including a critical red-zone fumble. He also threw for 87 yards on 8/18 attempts and no TDs, for a season-worst QB rating of 85.04.
Hopefully, the break before the bowl game allows Denard to recover fully from his various nicks and bumps.
Of the other prominant dual-threat QBs, Cam Newton cemented his Heisman-leading status by getting absurdly cleared by the NCAA, and rushing for 112 yards and passing for 551 in two impressive victories against Alabama and South Carolina. Colin Kaepernick ran for 45 and threw for 259 in a scintillating upset of Boise State, then ran roughshod over Louisiana Tech with 155 on the ground and 159 through the air. Taylor Martinez missed Nebraska's regular-season finale against Colorado, and got destroyed by Oklahoma's defense in the Big 12 championship game, rushing for minus 32 yards and going 12/24 for 50 yards and an INT through the air.
LaMichael James, Denard's leading rival for the FBS rushing title, ran for 126 against Arizona and 134 against Oregon State, to reclaim the lead in the rushing yardage race. As James' last game will be against Auburn's ferocious defense, Denard has a shot at catching him.
Record of the Week: Michigan Single-Season Rushing (Any Position); Big Ten Single-Season Total Offense; Michigan Single-Season 100-Yard Games; 1500/2500 Club
Denard is 175 yards short of tying Tim Biakabutuka's Michigan single-season rushing record of 1,818 yards, set in 1995. If he manages to stay healthy for an entire game, this record will certainly be within reach. (His 2010 per-game average is 136.9.) He currently sits fifth in Michigan's modern era in single-season rushing yards: the only backs ahead of him are Biakabutuka, Anthony Thomas, Jamie Morris, and Chris Perry. If Denard gains 100 yards in the bowl game, he will have ten 100-yard games on the season, tying a Michigan record held by Jamie Morris.
Our Comrade from Deerfield Beach is 230 yards away from setting the Big Ten single-season total offense record, currently held by Drew Brees with 4,189 yards in 2000. (Denard's 2010 per-game average is 329.9.) Denard currently sits fifth in the Big Ten's modern era in this category.
Denard is 184 yards short of 2,500 passing for the season, which would make him the first person in major college history to throw for 2,500 and run for 1,500 in the same season.
Though his average keeps trickling down, Denard still holds the Michigan career yards-per-carry record with a minimum of 200 attempts, with 6.4 YPC. The previous record had been held by 6.3 YPC by Jon Vaughn (from 1989-1990).
Denard lost his hold of the Michigan career pass-efficiency record with a minimum of 200 attempts, as the Ohio State game brough him down to 146.2. The current record is 148.1 by Elvis Grbac (from 1989-1992), though Elvis had the benefit of a Heisman Trophy-winning receiver. Denard's 146.2 mark is also on pace for fourth all-time in the Big Ten, though he needs 300 completions to qualify for that record (he currently has 169).
Denard remains on pace to break the Michigan single-season total offense per play record, with 8.0 yards per play as of this week. The current record is held by Drew Henson, who recorded 7.9 YPP in 2000.
Quarterbacks as NCAA Rushing Champions
A quarterback has never led the NCAA FBS in rushing yards over a single season. In 1937, the first year in which the NCAA kept official football statistics, Colorado halfback Byron "Whizzer" White led the nation in rushing with 1,121 yards, along with 475 passing yards. (If that wasn't enough, White also went to Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship, played in the NFL for Pittsburgh and Detroit, served in World War II during which he was awarded two Bronze Stars, came back and graduated from Yale Law School, and was appointed by John F. Kennedy to the Supreme Court of the United States.)
This year, Denard could become the first quarterback in history to finish the season as the NCAA rushing champion (by yards gained). He currently has gained 1,643 yards on the ground, 39 yards behind LaMichael James. Bobby Rainey of Western Kentucky has also edged ahead of Denard by 6 yards, but the 2-10 Hilltoppers are not headed to a bowl game this year.
On a yards-per-game basis, James is in first place with 152.9 (Denard has fallen to fourth with 136.9, behind James, Rainey, and Connecticut's Jordan Todman). Personally, I find the YPG statistic to be arbitrary: should Denard be punished because the Bowling Green game was a rout, and LaMichael James be rewarded because he was suspended for one game for pleading guilty to harrassing his ex-girlfriend? FWIW, on a yards-per-carry basis, Denard is well ahead of James.
Here are the top 5 rushers in the country, sorted by yards gained:
|Bobby Rainey||W. Kentucky||340||1,649||4.85||12||135.6||13|
|Lance Dunbar||North Texas||274||1,553||5.67||12||124.6||13|
* - LaMichael James was suspended for Oregon's first game against New Mexico for pleading guilty to a misdemeanor.
Rushing Yards by a QB, Single-Game
Denard currently holds the Michigan and Big Ten records for rushing yards by a quarterback in a single game: 258 vs. Notre Dame. The NCAA FBS record is 308, on 22 attempts, by Stacey Robinson of Northern Illinois, against Fresno State, on Oct. 6, 1990. The previous Michigan single-game record was held by another #16, Steve Smith, who ran for 147 yards on four carries against Minnesota in 1983.
Rushing Yards by a QB, Single-Season
Denard currently has 1,643 rushing yards in 12 games. This projects to 1,780 over a 13-game schedule. He owns the NCAA FBS (I-A) record, previously set by Beau Morgan of Air Force in 1996 with 1,494 yards. The Big Ten record was previously in the hands of Antwaan Randle-El in 2000 with 1,270 yards. Denard has destroyed the previous Michigan record for QB rushing yards in a season: 674 by Steve Smith in 1981.
Before you get too overwhelmed by all the numbers in this diary, just stop and think about that for a minute. Denard Robinson, your starting Michigan quarterback, playing before your very eyes, is on pace to almost triple a Michigan rushing record. And not just any record, but one that has stood for three decades. Even if you account for the fact that we're playing a very different style of football now—it's just incredible.
Rushing Yards by a QB, Career
There's no point in projecting Denard's career rushing totals, since there are a number of variables (does he stay his senior year? Does a great tailback lighten his rushing load?). But here are the records:
Michigan's career record is held by Rick Leach (1975-1978) at 2,176 yards: a record Denard could break this year, at his current pace. Denard needs 182 yards in the bowl game to take this title. (Guys like Leach and Steve Smith must salivate at what they could have done in the offense of Comrade Rodriguez.) The Big Ten record is Antwaan Randel El's (1998-2001) at 3,895 yards. The NCAA FBS record is held by Pat White (2005-2008) at 4,480 yards.
The NCAA FBS per-game career record is 109.1 yards by Stacey Robinson of Northern Illinois, achieved from 1988-1990 over 25 games.
Rushing Records (At Any Position)
For a single game, the Michigan record is 347 by Ron Johnson (pictured) in 1968 against Wisconsin; the Big Ten record is 377 by Anthony Thompson of Indiana in 1989 against Wisconsin; the NCAA FBS record is 406 by LaDainian Tomlinson of TCU in 1999 against UTEP.
For a single season, the Michigan record is 1,818 yards (Tshimanga Biakabutuka, 1995); the Big Ten record is 2,087 yards (Larry Johnson, Penn St., 2002); the NCAA FBS record is 2,628 yards (Barry Sanders, Oklahoma State, 1988). Denard can break Touchdown Tim's Michigan record by gaining 176 yards in the bowl game.
That Barry Sanders record will be around for a long time. At one point, Denard was on pace to break Larry Johnson's Big Ten rushing record, but he has slowed down as the schedule has gotten tougher, and that record now looks out of reach for this year.
For a career, the Michigan record is held by Mike Hart (5,040 yards, 2004-2007); the Big Ten record is held by Ron Dayne (7,125 yards, 1996-1999); the NCAA FBS record is also held by Ron Dayne, but they list it as 6,397 yards. (Herschel Walker of Georgia holds the record for a 3-year career at 5,259 yards, set from 1980-1982.)
The 200/200 Club
Denard is the only player in FBS history to gain 200 yards rushing and 200 yards passing twice—in regular-season games. To me this is a silly distinction: who cares if it was done in the regular season or a bowl game? If anything, Vince Young's performance in the 2005 Rose Bowl against USC is even more remarkable, given that that USC team is considered one of the most dominant teams of the modern era. Wake me up when Denard gets his third 200/200 game. (He did go for 191/190 against Penn State.)
Anyway, here are the 200/200 games listed in the NCAA record book, sorted by total offense. You'll note that Denard is the only member of the 240/240 club, and Marques Tuiasosopo is the only member of the 200/300 club.
Pictured at right is Penn halfback Francis "Reds" Bagnell, 1950 Heisman Trophy runner-up and great-uncle to MGoComrade Dandaman. Bagnell was the first member of the 200/200 club. It took 36 years for a second player to accomplish the feat.
|Player||Team (Opponent)||Year||Rushing||Passing||Total Off.|
|Marques Tuiasosopo||Washington (Stanford)||1999||207||302||509|
|Vince Young||Texas (Oklahoma St.)||2005||267||239||506|
|Denard Robinson||MICH (Notre Dame)||2010||258||244||502|
|Denard Robinson||MICH (Indiana)||2010||217||277||494|
|Reds Bagnell||Penn (Dartmouth)||1950||214||276||490|
|Brad Smith||Missouri (Nebraska)||2005||246||234||480|
|Brian Mitchell||La.-Lafayette (Colo. St.)||1987||271||205||476|
|Antwaan Randle-El||Indiana (Minnesota)||2000||210||263||473|
|Vince Young||Texas (USC Rose Bowl)||2005||200||267||467|
|Patrick White||W. Va. (Pittsburgh)||2006||220||204||424|
|Steve Gage||Tulsa (New Mexico)||1986||212||209||421|
The 1500/2000 Club
There is one quarterback in college football history—Division I, II, or III—who has both rushed for 1,500 yards and passed for 2,000 yards in the same season.
The 1500/1500 Club
There is one quarterback in major college football history who has both rushed and passed for 1,500 yards in the same season.
The 1000/1000 Club
Johnny Bright, a halfback from Drake, was the first member of the 1000/1000 Club, the same year Reds Bagnell joined the 200/200 Club. In 1951, Wilbanks Smith, a racist defensive tackle from Oklahoma A&M (later Oklahoma State), deliberately broke Bright's jaw, permanently damaging his football career. The incident led the NCAA to mandate the usage of face masks, and earned the 1952 Pulitzer Prize for the photographers who documented the assault. Drake temporarily withdrew from the Missouri Valley Conference to protest the fact that the conference didn't discipline Smith for the attack.
When Bright graduated from Drake in 1951, he held the NCAA career total offense record, with 5,903 yards: a record that stood for 15 years. It took three decades for another player to join the 1000/1000 Club. Tragically, Bright died at the age of 53 of a massive heart attack.
Today, there are 30 quarterbacks (and one halfback) in FBS who have run and thrown for 1000 yards in the same season. Other than Denard, none have both run and passed for 1500 yards (the previous rushing record for QBs is 1,494).
Seven quarterbacks have achieved this milestone multiple times: Brad Smith (thrice), Colin Kaepernick (thrice including this year), Vince Young (twice), Pat White (twice), Beau Morgan (twice), Joe Webb (twice), and Joshua Cribbs (twice). Only two people have joined the 1000/1000 club as freshmen: Brad Smith of Missouri, and Joshua Cribbs of Kent State. Air Force leads the overall list with five different QBs, in six different seasons, in the 1000/1000 club. (It is interesting that an instrument of American capitalist imperialism, the U.S. Air Force Academy, is the premier exponent of communist football.)
The list below of 1000/1000 members is sorted this list by rushing yards. Cameron Newton and Colin Kaepernick have also reached the 1000/1000 mark this season. I've also added 2010 season totals for Taylor Martinez, who may also get there. Newton is also likely to join Denard as a 1500-yard rusher.
|Newton (on pace for)||Auburn||2010||1,517||2,788||4,306|
|Dilithium (on pace for)||MICH||2010||1,780||2,509||4,289|
|Beau Morgan**||Air Force||1996||1,494||1,210||2,704|
|Patrick White||W. Virginia||2007||1,335||1,724||3,059|
|Dee Dowis||Air Force||1989||1,286||1,285||2,571|
|Beau Morgan||Air Force||1995||1,285||1,165||2,450|
|Antwaan Randle El*||Indiana||2000||1,270||1,783||3,053|
|Johnny Bright (HB)||Drake||1950||1,232||1,168||2,400|
|Chance Herridge||Air Force||2002||1,229||1,062||2,291|
|Patrick White||W. Virginia||2006||1,219||1,655||2,874|
|Keith Boyea||Air Force||2001||1,216||1,253||2,469|
|Dwight Dasher||Middle Tenn.||2009||1,154||2,789||3,943|
|Dan LeFevour||Central Mich.||2007||1,122||3,652||4,774|
|Joshua Cribbs||Kent State||2002||1,057||1,014||2,071|
|Josh Nesbitt||Ga. Tech||2009||1,037||1,701||2,738|
|Bart Weiss||Air Force||1985||1,032||1,449||2,481|
|Ell Roberson||Kansas St.||2002||1,032||1,580||2,612|
|Brad Smith (Fr.)||Missouri||2002||1,029||2,333||3,362|
|Joshua Cribbs (Fr.)||Kent State||2001||1,019||1,516||2,535|
|Reggie Collier||So. Miss.||1981||1,005||1,004||2,009|
* Previous Big Ten record for rushing yards by a quarterback ** Previous NCAA FBS (I-AA) record for rushing yards by a QB
There are different ways to calculate touchdown records. The Michigan record book tracks touchdowns scored; i.e., the player who has the ball in his hands in the end zone. The NCAA also tracks all-purpose TDs; i.e., the combination of passing touchdowns and touchdowns scored, something that Michigan does not track.
What is interesting is that we actually do have game-by-game accounts of touchdowns scored going back to the beginnings of Michigan football in 1879. As a result, Michigan does track touchdowns scored on an all-time basis, and not just for the modern era. The all-time Michigan record for touchdowns scored is held by Al Herrnstein, who scored 26 touchdowns in 1902.
In order to look at all-purpose touchdowns, I had to go back and look at individual season statistics to compile the data. I actually went through the game-by-game accounts of the 1901-1905 seasons from the Michigan Alumnus in order to get accurate information about touchdown statistics in the Fielding Yost "point-a-minute" era, and reviewed old NCAA research on pre-1937 touchdown statistics. It's possible that there are other pre-WWII players that I've missed.
According to the stats I've been able to find, Robinson is indeed out front with 30 all-purpose touchdowns, more than any player in the 121-year history of Michigan football. On a per-game basis, Denard at 2.50 per game is second only to Tom Harmon, who scored 23 touchdowns (including a kickoff return and an interception return) over 8 games in 1940, for an average of 2.88. (Harmon also scored 2.50 touchdowns per game in 1939, though over 8 games compared to Denard's 12.) The only asterisk is that I don't have information on passing touchdowns for the Yost-era teams.
Here is the table, sorted by touchdowns per game, with a cutoff of 1.60. Remarkably, the 1901 team had three separate players score at that pace:
|Name||Yr.||Pass TD||Rush TD||Rec TD||Kick TD||Int TD||TD||G||TD/G|
|Tom Harmon, LHB||1940||7||14||0||1||1||23||8||2.88|
|Denard Robinson, QB||2010||16||14||0||0||0||30||12||2.50|
|Tom Harmon, RHB||1939||6||13||0||0||1||20||8||2.50|
|Rick Leach, QB||1978||17||12||0||0||0||29||12||2.42|
|Al Herrnstein, RHB||1902||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||26||11||2.36|
|Steve Smith, QB||1981||15||12||0||0||0||27||12||2.25|
|Chad Henne, QB||2004||25||2||0||0||0||27||12||2.25|
|Willie Heston, LHB||1904||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||20||9||2.22|
|Drew Henson, QB||2000||18||2||0||0||0||20||9||2.22|
|Ron Johnson, RHB||1968||0||19||0||0||0||19||9||2.11|
|Steve Smith, QB||1983||13||10||0||0||0||23||11||2.09|
|Elvis Grbac, QB||1991||25||0||0||0||0||25||12||2.08|
|Chad Henne, QB||2005||23||1||0||0||0||24||12||2.00|
|John Navarre, QB||2003||24||0||1||0||0||25||13||1.92|
|Rick Leach, QB||1976||13||10||0||0||0||23||12||1.92|
|Steve Smith, QB||1982||14||9||0||0||0||23||12||1.92|
|Desmond Howard, SE||1991||0||2||19||2||0||23||12||1.92|
|Willie Heston, LHB||1901||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||20||11||1.82|
|Bob Chappuis, LHB||1947||15||5||0||0||0||20||11||1.82|
|John Navarre, QB||2002||21||2||0||0||0||23||13||1.77|
|Elvis Grbac, QB||1990||21||0||0||0||0||21||12||1.75|
|Tom Brady, QB||1999||20||1||0||0||0||21||12||1.75|
|Neil Snow, FB||1901||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||19||11||1.73|
|Bruce Shorts, RT||1901||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||17||10||1.70|
|Chad Henne, QB||2006||22||0||0||0||0||22||13||1.69|
|Willie Heston, LHB||1902||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||15||9||1.67|
Note that Bruce Shorts scored 17 TDs as an offensive lineman: now those were the days!
The NCAA FBS (I-A) single-season record is 63 touchdowns, by Colt Brennan of Hawaii in 2006 (58 passing, 5 rushing). The per-game record is 5.0 in 1990, by David Klingler of Houston (55 TDs in 11 games).
The FBS single-season record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback is 27, by Ricky Dobbs of Navy in 2009 (in 14 games). The season record for most touchdowns scored (i.e., excluding TD passes thrown) is 39, by Barry Sanders in 1988 over 11 games.
Tim Tebow and Cameron Newton are the only players to have both thrown and run for 20 touchdowns: in 2007, Tebow threw for 32 and ran for 23, and Newton has thrown for 28 and run for 20, with one game left. (Dan LeFevour of Central Michigan threw for 27, ran for 19, and caught 1 in 2007.)
The Michigan career record for most touchdowns scored is held by Yost-era legend Willie Heston, with 69 from 1901-1904 (the Michigan record book lists Heston at 72 TDs, which is incorrect according to my game-by-game tally). The Michigan record for most all-purpose touchdowns is held by Chad Henne, who threw for 87 and ran for 3 (for a total of 90) from 2004-2007. If Denard plays through his senior season, there is a realistic chance that he could break Henne's record.
Here is the team photo of the all-time great team of 1901, courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library. Al Herrnstein is the right-most player in the front row. Neil Snow is the second from the left in the middle row. Willie Heston is right-most in the middle row. Fielding Yost is in the center of the back row. The "501-0" football that captain Hugh White is holding reflects the fact that this picture was taken before the team beat Stanford 49-0 in the inaugural Rose Bowl game of 1902. The lopsided score so disappointed Rose Bowl officials that they didn't hold a second Rose Bowl game until 1916.
Denard already owns the Michigan single-game total offense record (502 yards against Notre Dame). In fact, Denard has broken the old Michigan single-game total offense record four times this year, with games of 502, 494, 383, and 381 yards. (The previous record was 368 by John Navarre against Iowa in 2003.) Against Illinois and Wisconsin, Denard almost broke this record again, gaining 367 and 360 yards respectively: giving him six of the seven highest totals in Michigan history.
|Denard Robinson||Notre Dame||2010||258||244||502|
|Denard Robinson||Penn State||2010||191||190||381|
As noted above, Denard has annihilated John Navarre's single-season total offense record of 3,240 in 2003 (Denard has 3,959 as of today, and projects to an astounding 4,289 yards over 13 games).
The Big Ten single-game total offense record is 585 yards by Dave Wilson of Illinois, vs. Ohio State in 1980. The Big Ten single-season total offense record is 4,189 yards by Drew Brees of Purdue in 2000, which is well within Denard's reach. Denard has to gain 231 yards of total offense in the bowl game to pass Brees; he is currently averaging 330.
The NCAA total offense records are dominated by prolific passers. Those records appear to be unattainable by Denard: 732 yards for a single game (David Klingler, Houston vs. Arizona State, 1990); 5,976 for a season (B.J. Symons, Texas Tech, 2003); 16,910 for a career (Timmy Chang, Hawaii, 2000-2004).
Total Offense Per Play
As with total offense records, these will be tough for Denard to keep pace with, and his performances against Big Ten opponents have left him further behind the pace. Through Saturday, Denard has 3,959 yards of total offense in 495 plays, for an average of 8.0. This would be a Michigan single-season record: the current record is held by Drew Henson, who in 2000 gained 2,140 yards on 270 plays for an average of 7.9.
Here are the NCAA FBS records for a single game: 14.3 by Jason Martin (La. Tech vs. Toledo, 1996) in 37 plays and 9.9 by David Klingler (Houston vs. TCU, 1990) in 63 plays. Denard came pretty close to Martin in the Indiana game, where in 35 plays he averaged 14.1 yards per play (which is almost certainly a Michigan and quite likely a Big Ten record):
|Denard Robinson||Attempts + Carries||Total Offense||Yards per Play|
|NCAA Records||Attempts + Carries||Total Offense||Yards per Play|
|Game: Jason Martin (La. Tech vs. Toledo, 1996)||37||529||14.30|
|Game: David Klingler (Houston vs. TCU, 1990)||63||625||9.92|
|Season: Colt Brennan (Hawaii, 2006)||645||5,915||9.17|
|Career: Sam Bradford (Oklahoma, 2007-09)||970||8,439||8.70|
As you can see in the table, for a single season (minimum 3,000 yards), the record is 9.2 by Colt Brennan (Hawaii, 2006). For a career (minimum 7,500 yards) it's 8.7 by Sam Bradford (Oklahoma, 2007-2009).
Passing efficiency is a statistic that rewards quarterbacks for yards, touchdowns, and completions per attempt, and punishes them for interceptions per attempt. The NCAA formula, which differs from the NFL one, is:
(8.4 * yards) + (330 * TDs) - (200 * INTs) + (100 * completions) ________________________________________________________________ attempts
Denard's 2010 passing efficiency is currently 152.9; his career efficiency (including last year) is 146.2, which is within reach of a Michigan record. Here are Michigan's pass efficiency records:
- Highest efficiency rating, season (min. 100 attempts): 173.3 (Bob Chappuis, 1947) (Denard is at 152.9, good for 7th all-time)
- Highest efficiency rating, career (min. 200 attempts): 148.1 (Elvis Grbac, 1989-1992) (Denard is at 146.2 for his career, good for 2nd all-time and on pace for 4th all-time in the Big Ten)
Bob Chappuis' Michigan single-season mark is also the Big Ten single-season record. (That’s him on the right. Check out that throwing motion.) The NCAA FBS pass efficiency record belongs to Colt Brennan of Hawaii, who reached 186.0 in 2006: out of Denard's reach.
Other Michigan Passing Records
At the end of 2009, here were some of the other Michigan passing records. Denard could break some of the completion percentage records (Tate broke one as well):
- Highest completion percentage, game (min. 10 attempts): 92.3% (Jim Harbaugh, vs. Purdue, 1985, 13 attempts) (Broken by Tate Forcier, 100% in 12 attempts, vs. Bowling Green)
- Highest completion percentage, game (min. 20 attempts): 90.9% (Elvis Grbac, vs. Notre Dame, 1991, 22 attempts) (Denard is 2nd with 86.3% on 22 attempts vs. Connecticut)
- Highest completion percentage, season (min. 100 attempts): 65.3% (Todd Collins, 1992) (Denard is at 62.0%)
- Highest completion percentage, career (min. 200 attempts): 64.3% (Todd Collins, 1991-1994) (Denard is at 60.1% with 281 attempts, on pace for 5th all-time)
- Yards per completion, game (min. 5 completions): Rick Leach, 36.3 vs. Purdue, 1975 (Denard's best is 30.5 with 10 completions vs. Illinois, good for 3rd all-time)
- Yards per completion, game (min. 10 completions): Jim Harbaugh, 30.0 vs. Indiana, 1986 (Broken by Denard Robinson, 30.5 YPC vs. Illinois with 10 completions)
- Yards per completion, season (min. 60 completions): Bob Chappuis, 18.8, 1947 (Denard is at 14.9, on pace for 8th all-time)
- Yards per completion, career (min. 120 completions): Rick Leach, 17.1, 1975-1978 (Denard is at 14.8, good for 8th all-time)
Other Michigan Rushing Records
At the end of 2009, here were the other relevant Michigan rushing records. On average yards per carry, he owns one of the single-game records Michigan tracks, but is surprisingly far from the other ones (not that that couldn't change in a hurry). The single-season and career records are within reach:
- Average gain per rush, single-game (min. 5 carries): 25.80, Denard Robinson vs. Bowling Green (previous record was Leroy Hoard, 18.28 ypc vs. Indiana, 1988)
- Average gain per rush, single-game (min. 10 carries): 18.00, Rob Lytle vs. MSU, 1976 (Denard: 11.42 vs. Indiana on 19 carries)
- Average gain per rush, single-game (min. 15 carries): 15.70, Tyrone Wheatley vs. Washington, 1993 Rose Bowl (Denard: 11.42 vs. Indiana on 19 carries)
- Average gain per rush, single-game (min. 20 carries): 11.19, Ron Johnson vs. Wisconsin, 1968 (Denard: 9.21 vs. Notre Dame on 28 carries)
- Average gain per rush, single-season (min. 75 carries): 7.34, Tyrone Wheatley, 1992 (Denard 2010: 6.71, on pace for 4th all-time)
- Average gain per rush, career (min. 200 carries): 6.29, Jon Vaughn, 1989-1990 (Denard: 6.35 on 296 carries, on pace for 1st all-time)
- 100-yard rushing games, season: 10, Jamie Morris, 1987 (Denard has 9)
- 150-yard rushing games, season: 6, Anthony Thomas, 2000 (Denard has 4)
- 200-yard rushing games, season: 3, Mike Hart, 2004 (Denard has 2)
Also, Denard is one of 5 quarterbacks in NCAA history to record 5 consecutive 100-yard rushing games (the others are Ricky Dobbs of Navy in 2009, Joe Webb of Alabama-Birmingham in 2009, Brian Madden of Navy in 1999, and Beau Morgan of Air Force in 1995). No one has done it 6 times in a row.
Michigan is averaging 500.9 yards per game in total offense, second-highest in Big Ten history? (First place belongs to Penn State's 1994 team, which averaged 512.7 yards per game.) If you take out the 72 extra yards Michigan gained in the three overtimes against Illinois, Michigan is averaging 495.0 yards per game, which would be fifth all-time.
This year's team is on pace to demolish the old Michigan total offense record of 466.9, set in 1992, when Gary Moeller roamed the sidelines, barking orders to Elvis Grbac, Desmond Howard, and Tyrone Wheatley.
|Big Ten All-Time Leaders||Year||YPG (Total Offense)|
|1. MICH (including overtime)||2010||514.6|
|1. Penn State||1994||512.7|
|3. Ohio State||1998||497.6|
|4. Michigan State||2005||497.3|
|5. MICH (regulation only)||2010||495.0|
|8. Ohio State||1974||493.2|
|9. Ohio State||1996||490.4|
|10. Michigan State||1978||481.3|
|11. Ohio State||1995||478.6|
|Michigan All-Time Leaders (QB/WR/RB)||Year||YPG (Total Offense)|
|1. Robinson / Roundtree / Smith (regulation)||2010||495.0|
|2. Grbac / Howard / Wheatley||1992||466.9|
|3. Navarre / Edwards / Perry||2003||446.7|
|4. Henson / Terrell / Thomas||2000||446.1|
|5. Grbac / Howard / Vaughn||1990||432.5|
In terms of scoring offense, Michigan is averaging 34.3 points per game in regulation (32.5 points per game including the overtime scoring), stats that lag the total offense by yardage due to our terrible kicking and defense. The 7-point output against Ohio State brought the season average outside of Michigan's top 10 all-time teams.
* - Excludes points scored in overtime
The Fielding Yost "point-a-minute" teams averaged 50.5, 58.5, 47.1, 56.7, and 38.1 points per game from 1901 to 1905. Fritz Crisler's 1947 national championship team of Bob Chappuis and Bump Elliott, nicknamed the "Mad Magicians," averaged 39.4. (The official Michigan record book erroneously lists the 1947 average as second-highest in school history; it is missing the performances of 1901, 1903, 1904, and 1905.)
Dynamic offenses have been few and far between in the postwar era. The 1976 Bo Schembechler team, led by Rick Leach and Rob Lytle, scored 36.0 points per game, and owns the rushing season record with 345.3 yards per game. The aforementioned 1992 team averaged 35.9 points; and the 2003 team averaged 35.4.
Here are some other stats:
- Michigan is averaging 7.0 yards per play, which is most all-time in Michigan history (the existing record is 6.4 yards, in 1992 and 1947).
- Michigan is averaging 251.1 rushing yards per game (inclusive of OT; 248.7 regulation-only). (The Big Ten record is 349.9 in 1974 by Ohio State; the Michigan record is 345.3 in 1976.)
- Michigan is averaging 5.7 yards per carry, second-highest in Michigan history (the current record is 5.9 per carry in 1976).
- Michigan is averaging 255.5 passing yards per game (inclusive; 252.0 regulation-only), 3rd all-time in Michigan history. (The record is 270.8 in 2003.)
- Michigan is averaging 23.5 first downs per game (inclusive; 23.3 regulation-only), second-highest in Michigan history. (The current record is 23.9 in 2003.) Over 13 games, this would be the sixth-highest total in Big Ten history.
As most of you know, against Illinois, Roy Roundtree destroyed a 44-year-old Michigan single-game receiving record, by gaining 246 yards (on 9 catches with 2 TDs). The old record was set in 1966, when Jack Clancy (pictured) gained 197 yards against Oregon State.
Roundtree's mark wouldn't even make the top ten all-time in the Big Ten: the Big Ten record is 301 by Chris Daniels of Purdue against MSU in 1999; the NCAA record is 405 by Troy Edwards of Louisiana Tech against Nebraska in 1998.
- Wins are more important than stats. The existence of this diary is not meant to imply that individual achievement is more important than the achievement of the team. It is, instead, to pay tribute to Denard's exceptional individual achievement within the context of a (hopefully) successful team. With a few minor exceptions, Denard's stats don't come at the expense of the team: when he rushes for 250 yards or has a QB rating of 270, the team is usually doing well. If you object to this point of view, you don't have to read further.
- Past performance is not a predictor of future results. To the degree I describe end-of-season projections for Denard, I do so simply, rather than Mathletically: (current total) * (13-game season) / (games played to date). As we saw through the season, Denard's projections came down as the defenses got stronger.
- Projections are for a 13-game season. Beginning in 2002, the NCAA revised its single-season and career records to include postseason games. Michigan, with its defeat of the Illini, is set to go to a bowl game this year.
- The quarterback position has evolved significantly. The forward pass was only formally legalized in 1906. From the 1910s until the 1950s, the most common college football formation was Pop Warner's single-wing, in which the quarterback's role was primarily as a blocker, and most passes were thrown by a tailback or halfback. The idea of a quarterback as the primary passer began to take hold after World War II, when coaches such as Clark Shaughnessy at Chicago and Stanford and Paul Brown at Ohio State took advantage of a recently redesigned football that was easier to throw, and married the ancient T formation to the threat of longer passes downfield.
- The record books are murky from 1869 to 1937. Something to keep in mind is that the record books don't actually go back that far in time. At the national level, official statistics have only been recorded since 1937: a mere 52 percent of college football's history. Indeed, the first rules for compiling football statistics were formulated prior to the 1941 season by an NCAA committee headed by Fielding Yost. (College football has been around since 1869.) One has to assume that Yost's point-a-minute teams would have harbored some record-producing players, though the game was quite different then, as noted above. So, to be as precise as possible, we should describe all of these records as modern-era, postwar records.
- Post-1978 records are for Division I-A only. Let me note that all the records here are for Division I-A (FBS), but do include all Division I records prior to the I-A / I-AA split in 1978. I don't really care about who did what in the other divisions, given the inferior level of competition. Personally, I would prefer to eliminate the non-automatically qualifying BCS conferences, but since the NCAA doesn't do that, I won't.
- Post-1996 overtime and pre-1912 scoring rules skew historical comparisons. The NCAA introduced overtime to I-A football in 1996, and soon after determined that points and yards gained in overtime would count toward NCAA records. Given that teams and players did not have the benefit of overtime prior to 1996, I try wherever possible to exclude overtime stats (or at least give both sets of numbers). The modern convention of TDs worth 6 points (+1 PAT) and FGs worth 3 began in 1912. From 1869 to 1882, touchdowns, extra points, and field goals were all worth one point each. From 1882-1883, TDs were worth 2, PATs 4, and FGs 5; from 1884-1897, TDs 4, PATs 2, FGs 5; from 1898-1903, TDs 5, PATs 1, FGs 5; from 1904-1908, TDs 5, PATs 1, FGs 4; from 1901-1911, TDs 5, PATs 1, FGs 3. The two-point conversion was introduced in 1958. I currently don't have the breakdown of TDs, PATs, and FGs for the Yost teams; if anyone else does, I would be pleased to adjust those numbers accordingly so as to make apples-to-apples comparisons with modern teams. The rules of college football evolved rapidly from 1879 to 1930, making strict comparisons difficult. For example, the goal posts were moved from the goal line to the end line (10 yards back of the goal line) only in 1927, which has a huge impact on field goal kicking, and the width of the uprights has varied significantly over time.
Thanks to Comrade tf (Michigan rushing single-game record) and danieljpaul (Denard's season totals) for corrections. H/T to tubauberalles and enlightenedbum for tracking down the FBS single-game QB rushing record. Comrades Raoul and UM in VA persuaded me to post the total offense numbers, and pointed out Denard's ridiculous per-play stats, which I also added to the diary. Trebor pointed out that we should keep an eye on the impressive seasons of Taylor Martinez and Cam Newton. Comrade U of M in TX helped identify a few updating errors. Raoul also suggested putting in the team offense stats. Hillhaus pointed out that I should discuss the pre-1912 scoring conventions. Raoul and BigHouseInmate suggested I look into Michigan's all-purpose touchdown records, which ended up being a lot of fun. And finally, thanks to all of you for enjoying the Almanack each week. That's what makes it worth my while.
Action since last rankings:
11-18-10 Illinois gains commitment from Tyler Marcordes.
11-29-10 Indiana loses commitment from CJ Robbins. Penn State gains commitment from Allen Robinson. Notre Dame gains commitment from Cam McDaniel.
11-30-10 Wisconsin loses commitment from Makinton Dorleant.
12-2-10 Notre Dame gains commitment from Everett Golson.
12-5-10 Wisconsin gains commitment from Melvin Gordon. Michigan loses commitment from Kevin Sousa.
Rivals and Scout have updated their rankings over the past couple weeks, so there are some shakeups in there.
|Big Ten+ Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# Commits||Rivals Avg||Scout Avg||ESPN Avg|
Rivals rankings are on the "RR" scale, which is on a scale from about 5 to about 6.1. Unrated prospects are given a 5.1 rating, on par with the worst of any Big Ten commit last year. Scout is on the 5-star system (unranked players earn star), and ESPN uses grades out of 100 (unranked is 40 or 45). Full data after the jump.
|#1 Ohio State - 18 Commits|
No change for the Buckeyes.
|#2 Notre Dame - 18 Commits|
|George Atkinson III||S||CA||5.8||4||79|
Notre Dame picks up North Carolina decommit Everett Golson. I was surprised to see that Rivals doesn't think much of him.
|#3 Nebraska - 17 Commits|
|#4 Michigan State - 16 Commits|
|#5 Wisconsin - 21 Commits|
In a move that's been a couple weeks in the waiting, the Badgers grab in-state back Melvin Gordon. Still waiting on ESPN ratings for three of their commits.
Wolverines lose Kevin Sousa to Wake Forest. His departure doesn't have much of an effect on the averages, but with so many fewer commits than Wisconsin, I think it's fair to drop Michigan past the Badgers. The averages are still high enough to keep them ahead of Indiana, IME.
|#7 Indiana - 20 Commits|
The firing of Bill Lynch has its first casualty, as CJ Robbins decommits. He has very little effect on Indiana's averages.
|#8 Iowa - 15 Commits|
|#9 Northwestern - 11 Commits|
|#10 Minnesota - 15 Commits|
|#11 Illinois - 18 Commits|
|#12 Penn State - 7 Commits|
Allen Robinson is the newest Nittany Lion.
|#13 Purdue - 10 Commits|
Yesterday I posted something that in retrospect was too much on the self-indulgent than on the value-add side of things. To make it up to the MGoBlog community, I wanted to do some data crunching. The problem is that there are many posters on the site that do the numbers thing very well, offering some great original analysis that deserves as wide an audience as possible. So I tried to find a niche.
One meme that seemed worth analyzing was "we just need a change in coordinator". This premise is not particular to Rich Rodriguez, as Lloyd Carr, Jim Herrmann, and Ron English could attest. It's of course not even particular to Michigan (see Texas vs. Greg Davis). Fans think a change of coordinator will bring success – but most of the evidence is anecdotal (e.g. Guz Malzahn at Auburn, Manny Diaz at Mississippi State). Of course the success or failure of coordinator changes depends on who is hired, not just on the fact that someone was hired. But I wanted to attempt a more systematic look at the effects of coordinator changes on the performance of that coordinator's unit.
Before you type tl;dr, here's a quick summary of findings: changing the defensive coordinator of a poorly performing defensive unit tends to lead to a modest improvement in the next year. Changing an offensive coordinator is much more of a crapshoot with no clear trends, even if we look at performance two years after the change.
Background I Feel Obligated to Place Here But Feel Free to Skip
The available data is a bit sparse. For performance metrics, I wanted to use the Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI) from FootballOutsiders.com. That (publicly available) data only goes back to 2007. FEI is great because it eliminates a lot of noise in the performance data, especially strength of schedule and atypical end-of-half drives. For 2010 I'm using the FEI rankings as of the games of 11/27/10 – with so few games this weekend I didn't want to wait until mid-week to post this.
A bit more difficult was data on coordinator changes. In recent years Rivals.com has helpfully posted a "coordinator carousel" listing which coordinators left, where they went, and who replaced them. I took that data and coded the coordinators into four categories – stayed, promoted, fired/demoted, and unknown. A coordinator was classified as 'promoted' if he got a coordinator job at a 'better' school (arbitrarily determined by me, based mainly on the conference of the school) or if he got a head coaching job at any school. A coordinator was classified as fired if he didn't get a new job, took the same job at a 'worse' school, or took a position job at any school. The 'unknowns' are mainly coordinators who went on to take a position in the NFL or the same position at a similar school – in many cases it's hard to determine if that's a promotion or a demotion. Nearly all Michigan fans believe Jim Herrmann's trip to the NFL was 'encouraged', but for some coaches a job in the NFL could be their desired career path. I did some Googlestalking to try to parse out which was which, but if I could find no definitive sentiment I just grouped them into a separate category . This coding was a bit tedious and I would welcome anyone who wants to double-check or validate my coding.
An issue confounding the ability to test the effect of coordinator changes is that they often come with a head coaching change as well. If a head coach comes in with a whole new staff and the FEI metrics improve, is that because of the head coach or the coordinators? So I also separated out coordinators that came on board as part of a new coaching regime (e.g. Malzahn) and those that came on with an existing head coach (e.g. GERG).
Finally, we know that there's a ton of other factors that can affect unit performance besides a coordinator change, the primary one being the players on the field. Did the best players graduate, or did an inexperienced group get more seasoning? Was recruiting on the upswing or the downswing? Those factors are not addressed here (see, I told you I wasn't the Mathlete).
Actual Results: Aggregated
So, our dependent variable is the change in the team's FEI ranking for the unit from the last season under the old coordinator to the first season under the new coordinator. We have 359 records (120 FBS teams by 3 years, except since Western Kentucky in 2008, their first year as a FBS school). Here's a quick look at the aggregated results:
Change in FEI Rank
No coordinator change
In the aggregate, across all types of coordinator changes, offenses tend to improve by 1.3 spots in FEI rank if their coordinator doesn't change, and decline by 2.3 ranking spots if the coordinator does change. For defenses there is almost no effect, and no differentiation between units with a coordinator change vs. those without a coordinator change. This is almost the essence of a null relationship.
Actual Results: Broken Out by Type of Coordinator Change
But coordinator changes should make a difference, right? The only way to tease that out is to break out those coordinator changes by whether the coordinator was part of an all new staff, whether he was pushed out, or whether he was promoted to a better job elsewhere. If we do that, we start to see some more sensible relationships:
We're not talking huge sample sizes, here (the smallest is 28 defenses where the old coordinator was promoted). But what we see makes some sense, at least for the defense. On average, if a defensive coordinator was fired, those team's units improve in FEI rank by 11.2 points the following year. In contrast, if the old defensive coordinator was promoted (because he was deemed to be good at his job), the defense declines by 4.3 points in FEI rank.
What about the offense? Here, it's the same pattern but not quite as extreme. If the offensive coordinator is promoted, the team declines in FEI rank by 8.0 spots. If he's fired, the team improves slightly by 2.1 spots. [I did a quick check to see if performance for the offense improves markedly in year 2 after a coordinator change, and couldn't find any compelling evidence that it does.] Note that all-new staffs seem to be more harmful to the defense than to the offense. And, as we might expect, teams have a hard time replacing coordinators who were good enough to get promoted to a better opportunity.
Actual Results: Broken Out by Previous Season's Rank
But we have to be conscious of regression to the mean. Coordinators tend to be fired from poor-performing units. The terrible performance of that unit may be due to the coordinator, but it's also likely due to some outside factors, including luck. Just as it's hard to be the #1 team year in and year out, it's hard to be the #120 team year in and year out. So a team that finishes terribly in one year is likely to improve its performance the next year, even if the coordinator remains (if that puts me on record as saying that if GERG stays Michigan will finish better than 104th out of 120 teams in Defensive FEI in 2011, so be it).
The question is, once we control for the performance of the units, does a coordinator change seem as beneficial? In other words, if team A has a terrible offense and doesn't fire its coordinator, while team B has a terrible offense and does fire its coordinator, does team B tend to improve more than team A? With a fairly sparse data set we can't get too specific with our controls, so I simply sliced the data into thirds based on their previous year's rank for the offensive or defensive unit.
If we look at the top 40 teams in FEI, all teams decline from one year to the next. This is the essence of regression to the mean (and competitive parity). We have to be very careful here because sample sizes are small (not many coordinators change if the team is performing relatively well, though tell that to Georgia's Willie Martinez). Among top 40 teams in FEI, the best thing is continuity of staff – and even there, teams are likely to lose 18 or 11 points of rank.
Now we see some more intuitive results. Presumably coaches are less apt to tolerate a bad performance if they don't think their coordinator is the right one for the job. Among teams in the middle of FEI performance, firing a coordinator tends to lead to a slight improvement in FEI rank over and above what is seen if the staff remains the same. Defenses are up 6.7 spots in FEI rank vs. a 0.3 point decline if the staff doesn't change, and offenses are up slightly (+3.0 vs. +1.3 for same staff). This does not mean that all teams would be better off firing their coordinators -- just that there is some juice to the conventional wisdom that a canned coordinator can be replaced with a better alternative -- at least for the defensive side of the ball.
Note that replacing a promoted defensive coordinator has slightly more benefit than replacing a fired coordinator – not sure what to make of that, except that again sample sizes are small (8 teams over 3 years fell into this category – the bar with the 10.9).
Finally, what if your unit stinks, and ranks in the bottom 40 in FEI?
We have really small sample sizes for the "old coordinator promoted" groups, as you'd expect (why hire a coordinator from a bad team?), so interpret those results with caution. The main areas to examine are the far right and far left of the chart. First, the offense. If an offense is terrible but keeps its coordinator, it tends to improve 23 spots in the FEI rankings. If a terrible offense replaces its coordinator, the FEI rank only goes up 9 points. Contrast that to the defense; keeping the DC of a terrible unit leads to a 12 spot increase in FYI rank, on average, while firing him leads to a 24 point gain. You might argue that it takes longer for changes in offensive coordinators to show a benefit, but in the few cases where a new offensive coordinator lasts to year 2, there's no clear evidence for that claim.
Fun fact – note that replacing a staff entirely leads to about the same change as keeping the same staff. Two possible interpretations – any staff would do better after a terrible year, or athletic director's are incredibly foresightful and know which underperforming staffs to fire and which to retain. In any case, here we're seeing the conventional wisdom hold true for defenses (a canned coordinator outperforms his predecessor), while not so much for the offense. You could argue that the offenses among canned coordinators would have done worse if the coordinator had stayed, but given the improvements for the other types of offensive coordinator changes it's not the likeliest explanation.
Double Bar Charts! What Do They All Mean?
The gist of these charts is that firing an offensive coordinator seems to have no clear positive effect for the team's performance, either in year 1 or year 2. In fact, teams seem to be better off if they keep their offensive coordinator. It appears that swapping out an offensive coordinator could be an indicator of something seriously wrong with the program that a mere offensive change can't fix (see Tommy Tuberville and Tony Franklin at Auburn).
On defense the story is different. Getting rid of an underperforming coordinator appears to pay clear dividends. These benefits aren't monumental – about 7-12 or so extra spots of FEI ranking over keeping the coordinator, but they're consistent.
What Does This Mean for Michigan?
Who knows? This analysis is aggregated, and mileage will seriously vary based on the team and the coaching staffs. On average, given Michigan's horrible defensive FEI in 2010, getting rid of GERG and replacing him with another coordinator would lead to a jump of about 24 points in FEI ranking, while leaving him as DC would lead to a jump of about 12 points in FEI ranking. Whatever happens at Michigan would vary from this weak 'prediction', but I put it out there in any case. The most optimistic scenario, as we'll see below, would be a jump of 75 spots in the FEI.
Bringing in a whole new coach is a different animal – and again shows the danger of looking at means instead of specific situations. But based on the averages we see, a new coach would lead to a 34 spot drop in offensive FEI rankings and a 14.5 bump in defensive FEI rankings, while keeping Rodriguez and canning GERG would lead to an 18 point drop in offensive FEI rankings and a 24 point bump in defensive FEI rank. Again, this is a very weak prediction based on aggregated data, and is not the main purpose of this diary. The purpose was to see if changing a coordinator is a cure all, a bandaid, or an empty act of desperation. It appears that for offenses, a coordinator change is at best a bandaid, while for defenses it may be more of a cure.
If you're curious, here are the top 3 best and worst coordinator cannings where the head coach DID NOT change, based on changes in performance year-over-year, from the coaching offseasons after the 2007, 2008, and 2009 seasons:
Offseason of change
Change in FEI Rank
Doug Ruse out, Hugh Freeze in
Gunter Brewer demoted, Dana Holgorson in
Chris Klenakis out, Chris Ault takes more control (possibly not a 'firing')
Chad Morris in as co-coordinator, Herb Hand demoted to co-coordinator
Phil Galiano out, Geoff Collins in
Buh/Lynn out, Vic Fangio in
Joe Kines out, Tim DeRuyter in
Offseason of change
Change in FEI Rank
Al Borges out, Tony Franklin in
Greg Peterson out, Pat Meyer in
Jim Michalczik out, Frank Cignetti in
Kent Baer out, Ed Donatell in
Bronco Mendenhall out, Jaime Hill in
Willie Martinez out, Todd Grantham in
For those curious, Michigan replacing Scott Shafer with GERG ranks as the 6th-worst firing of a sitting DC, looking strictly at one-year changes in unit performance.
This analysis is far from perfect, and I welcome any and all feedback. I am somewhat concerned that the 'best' firings all seem to be from the 2009-2010 season. Not sure if that's a function of using FEI data from before the end of the season, or if head coaches are paying more attention to coordinator fit, if there are flaws with my coding, or if it's just a fluke.
First of all, I should thank Coach Schiano for the idea for this ranking system. I've taken the concept from his diary, made a few tweaks, and applied it to all FBS and FCS teams. If you need an explanation of what is happening, I suggest reading there first.
So, the first thing that I did was I loaded all of the game results thus far (excluding last night and this night) into a database. Then, I was able to write a script that built paths between every combination of teams with the lowest possible value. So, MSU beat Wisconsin and Wisconsin beat OSU. The first step is to create paths of length 1 for those two games. After that, I can calculate the value of the path from MSU to OSU and then create a direct path of length 2 between them. Iowa's path to OSU is 3 and so on.
Once I had calculated the minimum value for all possible paths, I averaged out the values and had a very redimentary ranking. This is the exact system that was used in the original diary to rank the teams of the Big Ten, but now we have expanded the teams to compare.
|Original, Unweighted, Without Record|
|North Carolina State|
As you can see, this isn't a very accurate reflection of the best teams in college football. It took me a few minutes to figure out what was going on, but it became clear when I realized that Michigan was on there. The problem is that this system strongly favors a diversified schedule. The more teams that you beat that don't play each other, the better chance you have of getting 2 or 3 length paths.
The first thing that I tried to do to fix this was to weight the games. Instead of automatically giving a team a path of length one for a win, I started dividing that by the number of scores (8 points) that a team won by. So, winning by 24 points, or 3 scores, would give you a path length of .333 over that team. This works out really well because it benefits teams that win by 2 or 3 scores, but it doesn't benefit teams too much for going beyond that.
|Weighted, Without Record|
This seemed to get me a lot closer to where we want to be with a poll, but there are still some issues. How can Auburn be ranked 14 and Missouri be ranked 3? Well, now there is too much weight on winning strong games. But wait, if that's the case, then why isn't Wisconsin ranked in the top 10? That's because all of their blowouts came in the Big Ten. Wisconsin looked like a pretty bad team at the beginning of the year because they won some very close games against lesser opponents.
The only way that I could figure to solve the problems with overweighting is to add another weighting component, which is actually pretty obvious. I decided to add a winning percentage multiplier at the end. Originally, I figured that the concept of graph theory would account for winning. What it really does is account for beating the right teams, i.e. it is the strength of schedule calculation. The reason that I went with a winning percentage is because I don't want to give an advantage to teams playing Hawaii or in championship games, so raw wins was out of the question. I also need a way to penalize a team that loses a 13th game. The only way to do this is to do a winning percentage. 13-0 and 12-0 are now 1.000. 12-1 and 11-1 are only .006 apart. This gives a slight benefit to teams playing an extra game, but also makes sure to penalize properly for losses.
|Weighted, With Record|
|29||Delaware (Highest rated FCS Team)|
|31||Jacksonville State (Beat Ole Miss)|
As you can see, this looks like a real ranking now and it won't automatically place an undefeated team ahead of a 1-loss team. I'm pretty excited about the outcome, because this is actually pretty comparable to the polls that are out there. How comparable?
|My Poll||R||BCS||R||D||AP||R||D||Coaches||R||D||Harris||R||D||Computer Average||R||D|
|Ohio State||5||Ohio State||6||1||Ohio State||6||1||Ohio State||6||1||Ohio State||6||1||Ohio State||9||4|
|Boise State||6||Boise State||11||5||Boise State||9||3||Boise State||10||4||Boise State||10||4||Boise State||14||8|
|Michigan State||11||Michigan State||8||3||Michigan State||7||4||Michigan State||7||4||Michigan State||7||4||Michigan State||11||0|
|Oklahoma State||13||Oklahoma State||14||1||Oklahoma State||16||3||Oklahoma State||15||2||Oklahoma State||16||3||Oklahoma State||12||1|
|South Carolina||15||South Carolina||19||4||South Carolina||18||3||South Carolina||16||1||South Carolina||17||2||South Carolina||18||3|
|Virginia Tech||16||Virginia Tech||15||1||Virginia Tech||12||4||Virginia Tech||11||5||Virginia Tech||12||4||Virginia Tech||20||4|
|Texas A&M||19||Texas A&M||18||1||Texas A&M||19||0||Texas A&M||18||1||Texas A&M||19||0||Texas A&M||16||3|
|Florida State||21||Florida State||21||0||Florida State||20||1||Florida State||20||1||Florida State||20||1||Florida State||22||1|
|Northern Illinois||22||Northern Illinois||25||3||Northern Illinois||24||2||Northern Illinois||23||1||Northern Illinois||24||2||Northern Illinois||25||3|
|West Virginia||24||West Virginia||24||0||West Virginia||23||1||West Virginia||24||0||West Virginia||23||1||West Virginia||24||0|
|Mississippi State||33||Mississippi State||22||11||Mississippi State||22||11||Mississippi State||22||11||Mississippi State||22||11||Mississippi State||21||12|
What you have here is my ranking along with some of the more common rankings you will see. I didn't think all of the computer rankings would fit in this chart, so I just took the average of them. The numbers to the right of the poll are the ranking of those teams in the poll and then the difference between that ranking and my ranking. The BCS poll does not show beyond the top 25, so I can't compare those teams to mine. At the bottom, you will see the average difference and and the most common difference between the polls. The team that seemed to cause me the most troubles is Mississippi State. They alone account for a little less than half a rank in each of the averages.
So, I'm planning on doing another ranking next week after all the games have been played and another after all the bowls have been played. I'd also like to do conference rankings and go back to previous years and "resolve" controversies. By next week, I will have tweaked this a bit more to add in homefield advantage and hopefully perfected the formula.
I have one last ranking for you. This is the algorithm without the margin of victory used to weight the wins. This is essentially what would be submitted to the BCS because they don't allow points into the calculations. It's interesting that it places Auburn in first now just like the rest of the computers.
|No Weights, With Record|
L, 0-3 (22-25, 17-25, 16,25)
The volleyball team was swept in the opening round of the NCAA tournament last night at the hands of #11 Washington. The #23 Wolverines were missing Alex Hunt due to an injury, and adding more youth to an already young lineup didn't help Michigan's cause.