to play football, not to play trumpet
Reading up on the board of late and seeing a lot of "wow it's a tough schedule" in 2016. We will hear that all spring and summer. I will present a counter argument to that - unless you believe Michigan should be playing a Mountain West schedule. There is a difference between having a few really tough games vs having a tough schedule.
1) UM will be heavily favored in a ton of games.
Taking away 3 road games - MSU, OSU, Iowa .... and maybe Wisconsin at home, I think UM will be favored by double digits in every other game. Not sure how you can have a "tough schedule" when oddsmakers only see 3-4 games being competitive in point spread.
2) Michigan has 8 home games and 4 road games.
That's a big advantage and atypical for many P5 teams who often top out at 7 home and 5 road. (For perspective in 2017 UM has 6 home games, 1 neutral, 5 road games)
The reduction of the non conf from 4 to 3 games means in 2016 you eliminated the 1 road game vs a "peer quality P5 team" ala Notre Dame or hell Utah. I think home field means even more in college than pros due to age of players, maturity, mentality, etc. Michigan played like world beaters in all but 2 games at home this year, and struggled in all but 1 of their road games...and even in that one struggled for a half.
Related - 6 of the first 7 games are at home which will allow UM to have a massive head of steam (and get the QB up and running) going into the last month of the year. The one "road game" is in NJ which might as well be Ann Arbor East at this point.
Having 8 home games is a huge advantage.
3) That non conference though
This is the easiest non conference schedule UM has had in many many years. There is not one high quality team. I do think Colorado's offense (dual threat QB alert!!!) will pressure UM by the way and that is not as easy of a game as it looks like on paper (and I said last year preseason Oregon State would be awful while many wringed hands -- which they were), but Hawaii is barely a D1 program and USF was 0-12 last year. And I don't care if that's a bunch of Florida kids who will surge by 6 wins in 2016 to get back to .500, it a team that Michigan OSU Oklahoma Florida State types should ram rod.
There is no tricky game vs Notre Dame or Utah here.
4) Not every game is supposed to be a cakewalk that UM will be favored by 14+.
Generally P5 college football teams go and play 1 game a year vs a top 5 opponent - and multiple top 20 opponents....people realize that right? Stanford goes and plays Oregon (and vice versa) - a lot of the P12 south teams are very similar in strength, not easy playing USC, UCLA, Utah, Zona, ASU etc. The entire SEC West has to play Bama, as do a few SEC East teams... LSU and Auburn are usually pretty damn good. Even the down East has had quality programs like Georgia and Florida in it - and all will have crossovers with 1-2 tough West teams. Many ACC teams either have to play FSU or Clemson, B12 teams have to try to deal with the offenses of Baylor, TCU and usually Oklahoma is top 10 material. If you think any schedule that involves multiple 20 team, inclusive of a top 5 team is "tough", than I guess go be a Utah State fan - that's how it works and UM will never have a non "tough" schedule.
UM faces a whole 2 teams who were top 20 in F/+ in 2015 (an easy way to rank teams) next year. And only 4 in the top 40. Brutal eh!!
- OSU #4
- MSU #6
- Iowa #25
- Wisconsin #33
- PSU #46
- Indiana #62
- Illinois #67
- Maryland #74
- Colorado #95
- Rutgers #101
- Hawaii #121
- UCF #128
Let's isolate OSU onto itself. OSU will always be a tough game, esp with Urban. So if you think having OSU on the schedule makes a schedule tough than UM will never have a non tough schedule. This is the right year to get OSU as they will suffer massive attrition to the draft. In a relative sense this is going to be the most challenged OSU team in a while - very talented but very young. They will be better in mid Nov than mid Sept. But again we are talking relative. Would you rather face 2015 or 2016 OSU on the way to a playoff run?
No I have not been in the "this is the year MSU goes back to 7 wins!" camp like quite a few and have taken the downvotes the past 3 years to prove it. (Some thought I was a MSU troll in 2013/2014 in fact) But I do think they do take a step back - not a monster one - this year. Cook is a damn good QB and I could care less what his NFL potential is - it's about what he does at the college level; he kept MSU in many games and darn right outright won some for MSU the past 2 years. Losing him is regression, period. MSU's WR corps is in as much of an unknown state as UM's LB corps. I do expect the defense to still be "very good"+ and much worse MSU teams have given UM all sorts of trouble but again in a relative sense this is the least experienced MSU offense UM will have faced since 2012 / 2013. It will be more run based than the past 2 years which is in UM favor. This should be MSU's be the least talented overall team since the 2012 squad - which had a similarly very good defense and challenged offense. (I think MSU wins about 9 next year)
Again - easy game? No. But you are going to have a few tough games on your schedule.
7) Penn State gonna be tough! It's Penn State bro!
Until proven otherwise James Franklin is a tanner Brady Hoke. Really I could end the bullet point there. Stop looking at the name of the jersey and remember UM under Brady Hoke. They have a quality D.C. (Mattison to Shoop) and a lot of 4 stars that are not well used, with a bad OL. And they lose 2 of their top 3 DL off that team to boot. They will be installing a brand new offense. Barkley looks like a good running back - UM's D is going to be built to stop run focused offenses. See Florida.
Tell me PSU's best win last year. Tell me PSU's best win the past 2 years. They are Hoke UM - they will take out a 7-6 OSU or 7-6 MSU in its down year and then look foolish when those teams are rolling and lose by 20-30. Then get into dogfights with the Rutgers and Marylands of the world.
And it's James Franklin vs Jim Harbaugh. At home. Get that sh** out of here.
Wisconsin is a quality team but no world beater. And they lost their ace defensive coordinator. This is a team that lost to Northwestern at home. They will get Clement back which will be a challenge for UM but run defense should be a strength. In theory the Wisconsin offense should be built for UM to stop. And with Aranda gone that defense needs to find a new bright mind - it's not easy, especially at the budget Alvarez seems to want to be at. Solid team but one a playoff team should bully through.
If this is the 3rd most difficult game on the schedule - home game vs 25th ranked team - you don't have a tough schedule.
9) Iowa man...
The whole concept Iowa is a tough game would be laughed at 12 months ago. Iowa had "one of those magical seasons". Then got exposed by Stanford. You know - the team with the offense most like UM. And Stanford had a meh defense this year to boot. In retrospect their close game vs MSU just showcased two semi frauds. People asked all year what Iowa would be like when playing a "real team" - well you saw. UM 2016 should be a "real team" and the magic of 2015 won't repeat for Iowa.
Now is this an easy game? Hell no - its a quality team that looks to be returning a good amount of talent, a senior QB, and its a road game. It's a tough game. But it's not another OSU. Their best win was Pitt this year.
Put another way - what place in the East would Iowa have finished this year? What about next?
10) DJ Durkin is going to come with guns blazing!!!
What do you think Jim MF Harbaugh is going to want to do vs his ex assistant. If Durkin is so awesome he walks into AA and upsets a top 5-10 UM with Maryland's talent maybe we should have kept him and let Jim go to the NFL.
Have you seen Maryland's QBs play? There is a good chance if Haskins stays committed to Maryland, a true, not named Rosen, freshman is going to be be leading the charge. Tell me about Maryland's skill players on offense again? I'll wait for it. As for defense, Maryland lost its 1 true star to the draft early. And Likely is not back there returning kicks anymore.
Go look back the past 2 years and tell me what quality victories Maryland has. They get slaughtered on the road most of the time. They often lose by 20-40 when playing MSU, OSU, Wisconsin type of competition. Michigan is at that level now.
Now if you want to tell me you like Maryland long term and 2017 @ Maryland is a trap game I can buy your premise - Durkin and staff will be in year 2 with maybe a non buffoon at QB and a year to roll in some new recruits, with an interesting new young OC, yada yada - but get this DJ Durkin is coming to AA to take Jim Harbaugh's scalp crap out of here in 2016.
Go forward I expect Indiana's offense to be pretty damn good every year and cause issues for everyone. They are basically poor man's Texas Tech at this point. But if Indiana is a reason you think it's a tough schedule....
They lose Howard who is a Wolverine killer - yes their backup RB will still be good based on bowl but Howard was probably a top 7 NCAA back last year in these eyes. And Sudfeld is going to be a late NFL draft pick - he gone. They also lose 2 NFL Olinemen. That said they probably "reload" to a degree at QB and the line because of good coaching. But UM just put up 40 on UF - I think we can handle that defense of Indiana.
So every conference has this type of team right ? Basically Washington State of the P12 or Texas Tech of B12 or North Carolina in ACC, etc. So tons of teams have to deal with such teams and it doesn't make their schedules uber tough - you are not getting 9 creampuffs a season, see point 1.
12) UM continues to face a lot of not explosive offenses and not excellent QBs
Upsets usually happen when a gimmicky offense goes off on you - i.e. Washington State or Texas Tech rolls in on you and your offense has a bad night. UM doesn't face many of those offenses or system QBs as there are not many in the conference. Now maybe that changes in the next 2 years with the systems PSU, Maryland, and Rutgers throw in place. But right now its basically OSU and Indiana. MSU some years...not years named 2012 and 2013.
Do you think Wisconsin or Iowa (our "3rd and 4th toughest games") are going to go out and put up 30+ on our D? Heck Colorado might be the 5th best offense we face next year.
Does UM have an "easy" schedule. No. There are very few easy schedules in P5 last I checked - a few teams in the ACC Coastal who avoid both Clemson and FSU would be the main ones I see.
If you believe a team should have 9 cakewalks than UM's schedule is incredibly difficult. You are not living in reality however.
The 2 premier teams on the schedule will have their least experienced teams since 2013. So it's a good time to catch them. The next 2 toughest teams (Wisc, Iowa) are not powerhouses - solid teams that usually get pistol whipped by OSU level squads. If we think we are a playoff team we are going to be a OSU level squad next year. If we are not - we don't deserve to be in the playoffs. See MSU this year.
Speaking of MSU, MSU basically had this schedule last year - they had 3 tough games vs top 15 opponents and had to go face both rivals on the road (OSU, UM). The wash between MSU 2015 and UM 2016 is MSU had Oregon at home and UM has Iowa on the road. Which would you rather? I'd take my chances with Iowa on the road rather than throwing our linebackers out in space vs Oregon's skill players. And OSU on the road in 2015 was supposed to be the #1/#2 team in the country - not a young team who lost half its team to the NFL aa 2016. No one thought MSU's schedule was uber tough overall. It just had some tough games in it - which is usually how college football works.
2016 is the year to make hay to a playoff run with a QUITE favorable schedule that includes 8 home games, and 8-9 games UM will be double digit favorites without a premier non conf game to be seen. Our 2 chief rivals will have their youngest/least experienced teams with the most holes in them since 2012/2013. It's a top heavy schedule that is essentially make or break on 3 road games. Until UM moves to the ACC Coastal and is in the 2 year cycle they avoid both FSU and Clemson (and ND) and play all sub .500 teams in non conf this is the best schedule they will have in a long while.
MOD EDIT - Normally would not meddle in these, but this seems diary-worthy. - LSA
We're here now. Michigan will finish in the top 11 and likely top 10. We went from 5-7 to 10-3 in a year. We lost to Staee on the "flukiest of flukes" and to the 2nd best team in college football. We have the coach of our dreams and an absolutely stacked roster coming back next season. If the excitement you felt today felt like fool's gold....it's not. Not only is Michigan a legit top 10 team.....they are Playoff Contenders as of Fall '16. Before you call me an idiot....let me tell you why.
Michigan returns 3 experienced quarterbacks in '16 along with a prized freshman recruit in Brandon Peters. If you haven't watched his film.....Nike. (Just Do It)
Michigan returns 9 rotation Offensive Lineman and every running back not named Derrick Green on the roster. Kingston Davis may start Day one (FB) at an athletic 6ft 240. The additions of Kareem Walker and a terrific Oline class only add to cupboard.
Michigan returns every noteable pass-catcher in '16 including Chesson and Butt who will be All-B1G and fringe national AAs. Cole will come off of his "injury" lol and Hawkins and Mitchell will add to the depth of this group. We have 3 possible slot types in the class and were looking good for Dylan Crawford which would give us 2 top 25 recievers in this class.
Michigan also returns Kicker Kenny....which is a big deal. In a jam he could also punt. I don't want to say that P-word again so I won't.....but yeah kicking should be solid next season.
Let's go ahead and jump to the defensive side of the ball. I'm familiar with Don Brown as an FSU football alum and he is a terrific coordinator. BC does NOT have ELITE athletes and they still remain a top if not the top defense in the power 5. Don has been driving a Honda and now will get the keys to a Porsche.
Michigan is returning their entire Defensive Line, which has been outstanding for most of the year. Add Glasgow back to the mix as well as Mone who was a starter before his injury and you have incredible depth and strength. Wormley, Glasgow, Mone, Henry all appear to be all B1G level. Rueben Jones, Shelton Johnson, Lawrence Marshall and Taco Charlton will be explosive in '16. Ron Johnson the prized freshman recruit is dominating the SF practices to boot. Have fun being an opposing QB against us in '16-?
The Linebacking corps is going to be the one question mark....but there are athletic bodies to insert where Morgan, Ross and Bolden depart. These guys lacked elite athleticism to be honest and hurt us in spots but played some solid football. Allen Gant, Mike McCray, Ben Gedeon, Noah Furbush and Jared Wrangler should be able to replicate their production. Bush Jr. has a great opportunity to play early next season and we are still in on some big time kids in this cycle. All in all, I would venture that we could get creative with our linebacking in 2016 and possible convert one of the redshirted FLorida D ends or Lawrence Marshall and up the level of athleticism at this postion. I don't see a decline in our linebacking in '16 and i think Coach Brown's comments eluding to change coming to the defense are directed here. Linebacking is where we were weak in '15. That is going to change.
The secondary does lose Jarod WIlson, who was quality. Dymonte, Jabril, Jourdan, Stribling, D. Hill and J. Clark all return. Look for K. Washington and B. Watson to make some leaps as well. I really like our chances with the Californian David Long and believe him to be an elite corner. Jack Jones is a bit far-fetched but possible. With a few additions, you may be looking at a top 10 secondary nationally, although much of this depends on Stribling's development or the readiness of D. Long should we land him. Peppers is an absolute stud and simply needs to work on his ball skills. He is going to be an All American next season and can line up at about 4 or 5 positions on the field.
Michigan State loses a lot this year on both offense and defense. Cook was their team. His top targets are also leaving including a couple of his linemen. Staee will be good but we will simply have more than them next season. Their losses on defense will be substantial and although M. Nicholson is a stud...their secondary has taken a step back and that renders them very mortal defensively.
Ohio State is about to see a complete MASS EXODUS. They are losing a metric ton of talent and I'm not convinced they have similar talent waiting in the wings. There was a significant talent gap between us and them this season and i think it will be bridged rapidly in '16. B. Miller, E. Elliot, C. Jones, M. Thomas, C. Smith, N. Vannet and 4 starting linemen are all graduating or likely gone......off of the Offense alone. On Defense theyre losing, J. Bosa, A. Washington, T. Schutt, J. Perry, D. Lee, C. Williams, V. Bell, E. Apple. Safety T. Powell has a decision to make and Bell and Apple are viewed as likley entries and not in stone. That is a massive amount of talent to lose. Ohio has solid talent to fill it...but these are significant losses. Ohio State also has road games @ Oklahoma, @Wisconsin, @Penn State along with Michigan and Michigan State at home. So long cupcake schedule....it must have been nice.
Michigan has 5 consecutive home games in '16 including Wisconsin and Penn State to start the B1G Schedule. I love our chances in East Lansing and Iowa City. I really like our chances in Columbus. I just don't see a clear loss on the schedule. Word on the street is that O'korn is the real deal and will be tough to beat for the qb job in '16. Watch his Freshman film and it will excite you. The national picture opens up a bit for Michigan in '16. We will start in the top 10 and have a tremendous chance to finish in the top 4. I think it happens and I see Michigan in this FInal Four group: Michigan. Oklahoma. FSU. Stanford.
*I think the SEC canibalizes itself and Bama won't have a ready made transfer in Jacob Coker (FSU) to rescue them next year.
Way too early projected starters for 2016:
QB: John O'korn
RB: Deveon Smith
FB: Henry Poggi
WR: Jehu Chesson, Amarah Darboh, Grant Perry/ J. Peppers (yup...went there)
TE: Jake Butt
OTs: Mason Cole, Ben Braden/ Grant Newson
OGs: Kyle Kalis, Eric Magnuson
C: Patrick Kugler
DEs: T. Charlton/R. Gary , C. Wormley/ L. Marshall
DTs: B. Mone/Glasgow, W. Henry/R. Gary
LBs: M. McCray, B. Gedeon, N. Furbush/ A. Gant
FS/SS: Dymonte Thomas, Jabril Peppers
Corners: Jourdan Lewis, Channing Stribling
Harbaugh has changed the culture of Michigan in just one year. He has added depth and increased the talent pool. The class this year is going to be elite. The talent bar is being raised and his coaching ability is beyond question. The momentum is real right now and I absolutely envision Michigan as a Playoff Contender in '16. The future Michigan classes will feature better athletes and have a more Southern feel. This is what i think will put the program over the edge and back into the year in and year out National Contention. It's happening and it is beautiful. I watched Jimbo Fisher change first the culture and then the talent level of the program in Tallahassee. It was pretty rapid and I'm reminded of it by whats going on in Ann Arbor now. The new Jumpman unis are also going to be a big deal. Maybe not to 40-60 year old men who care NOT for current style and "Swag", but for young recruits and college age kids....this is EPIC. It's a great time to be a Wolverine and this season was just a taste of whats to come when you start reading the fine print of the program and look realistically at what we have coming back next year. The Hostile Takeover commences in 8 months. Go Blue!
I used to do somewhat weekly diary entries for gifs in previous seasons, but Hoke's last year was just sadpanda.gif and a new career path left me little free time. Well here's a new gif for 2016 and a recap of all my Harbaugh gifs over the past year. Have a Happy New Year and Go Blue!
[Bumped to Diary - LSA]
[Bumped to Front Page -Seth]
[Karan Higdon on his visit | Bryan Fuller]
Someone was asking about the recruiting process, so I thought I would offer up the little bit I know, since we are all waiting on recruits, and it is a slow week on the board…because despite the tagline on the Mgo header, the staff seem to inexplicably observing a major holiday.
I will preface this by saying: I was never recruited. I went to a high school with a lot of big time recruits, I know guys that played at a few schools including M during the Carr/RR years, and I have a close friend who is an up and coming coach in Virginia. I have been on a few visits and I have heard about a lot more…most of the ACC, Big 10, SEC, and Big 12.
First, visits during games are not ideal. There isn't enough time for coaches to spend with recruits because of game day. Keep in mind, most games are at noon or 3:30, so the kid will be lucky to talk to the coach more than 5 or 10 minutes pre-game. Teams are up early in the morning to eat, have walk-throughs and head to the stadium. Coaches are finalizing game plans and generally stick with the team during the entire pre-game process. During the 2012 UM/OSU game, we were allowed to go to the coaches locker room with Urban for about 5 minutes, while the other recruits were eating. (Our group also included the #1 player in the country, so that is unusual.) During the meal, the position coaches mingle with parents and recruits. At UTL II, (if you remember was a monster recruiting weekend) we had a nice meal, they showed a slideshow and we had a few quick words from coaches. I spoke with Chris Perry, who attended my high school, but he was ushered out because of compliance.
The recruits are assigned a coordinator, who leads everyone on to the field pre-game. On the way there, a lot of kids (and adults..smh) were asking for autographs, which was immediately attended to because this was right after the Johnny Manziel fiasco. (Sorry, the Johnny Manziel AUTOGRAPH fiasco, not any of the other fiascos he’s been associated with.) The recruits get to stand on the sidelines as everyone warms up. Most will remember a fantastic picture I took of Da’Shawn with the Maize and Blue crowd in the background.
At OSU, I wore a highlighter yellow “HAIL” shirt as I walked in front of the student section. They did not approve. Being on the field allows players to get a feel for the gameday atmosphere, because that’s exactly where they would be for every gameday. It’s wild looking up at the audience, and witnessing 100,000 plus…the anticipation is moving through the air. Right before the band comes out, recruits are ushered to their seats, usually in the first 5-6 rows, in between the 40’s. My UTL II seats were 4th row. At OSU, we sat in the 6th row. Maryland we were in the 2nd row. I am a family friend of a former player who is not well –regarded around these parts, but every time I went with his family, we were between rows 8 and 14.
After the game, the recruits leave together, and meet up in the athletic center to wait for coaches and players. Coaches will sneak in and say hi if they can. Once the players are dressed and done for the night, they take out or hang out with recruits.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest]
I think we can all agree that the gold-blazer clad men who run college football's bowls have taken their power to manaical heights. 41 games over 3 weeks. Teams with losing records somehow making their way to the postseason based on that time-tested metric of APR.
I don't usually believe in reversing progress. Time marches forward. I'm not thrilled with Rutgers or Maryland being in the Big 10, but that is the cost of the future. That said, progress and expansion aren't mutually exclusive. Cutting back the number of bowl games to something more manageable will only cut out the corporate suits who benefit from a 6-6 team playing a 5-7 team in a 1/4 full stadium on a Wednesday afternoon in December.
NEW YEAR'S SIX BOWLS:
CFP National Championship: Semifinal Winner vs Semifinal Winner [2nd Saturday in January] (Rotating NFL Stadium) *8PM EST, ABC*
Orange Bowl: ACC #1 vs At-Large [Jan. 1st] (Miami Gardens, FL) *1PM EST, ABC*
Rose Bowl: Big 10 #1 vs Pac-12 #1 [Jan. 1st] (Pasadena, CA) *4:30PM EST, ABC*
Sugar Bowl: Big 12 #1 vs SEC #1 [Jan. 1st] (New Orleans, LA) *8PM EST, ABC*
Cotton Bowl: At-Large vs At-Large [Dec. 31st] (Arlington, TX) *5:00PM EST, ABC*
Fiesta Bowl: At-Large vs At-Large [Dec. 31st] (Glendale, AZ) *8:00PM EST, ESPN*
Peach Bowl: At-Large vs At-Large [Dec. 31st] (Atlanta, GA) *12PM EST, ESPN*
Note 1: CFP Semifinals will continue to rotate as schedule. Semifinals, Orange, Rose, and Sugar will be broadcast on ABC.
Rose/Sugar (2014, 2017, 2020, 2023)
Cotton/Orange (2015, 2018, 2021, 2024)
Fiesta/Peach (2016, 2019, 2022, 2025)
Note 2: Highest-ranked team in Group of 5 guaranteed a bid to Cotton, Fiesta, Orange, or Peach Bowl
Note 3: Conference tie-ins determined by (in order): CFP Ranking, Conf. Record, Overall Record
Note 4: In years where Jan. 1st is a Sunday, New Year's Day games will be moved to New Year's Eve and New Year's Eve games will be moved to Dec. 30th.
TIER ONE BOWLS
Alamo Bowl: Big 12 #2 vs Pac-12 #2 [Dec. 31st] (San Antonio, TX) *3:30PM EST, ESPN*
Citrus Bowl: Big 10 #2 vs SEC #2 [Jan. 1st] (Orlando, FL) *1PM EST, ESPN*
Gator Bowl: ACC #3 vs At-Large [Dec. 31st] (Jacksonville, FL) *12PM EST. ESPN2*
Holiday Bowl: At-Large vs Pac-12 #3 [Dec. 30th] (San Diego, CA) *8PM EST, ESPN*
Outback Bowl: Big 10 #3 vs SEC #3 [Jan. 1st] (Tampa, FL) *12PM EST, ESPN2*
Russell Athletic Bowl: ACC #2 vs Big 12 #3 [Dec. 29th] (Orlando, FL) *5PM EST, ESPN*
Note 1: 2nd Highest Ranked Group of Five team guaranteed spot in Gator or Holiday Bowl*
Note 2: Conference tie-ins determined by (in order): CFP Ranking, Conf. Record, Overall Record
Note 3: Bowl has option to swap conference tie-in if lower-ranked team is within 2 CFP Rankings spots and has same or better conference record as higher ranked team.
Note 4: In years where Jan. 1st is a Sunday, New Year's Day games will be moved to New Year's Eve and New Year's Eve games will be moved to Dec. 30th.
TIER TWO BOWLS
Foster Farms Bowl: Big 10 #4 vs Pac-12 #4 [Dec. 26] (Santa Clara, CA) *8PM EST, ESPN*
Liberty Bowl: ACC #5 vs Big 12 #5 [Dec. 24] (Memphis, TN) *5PM EST, ESPN*
Music City Bowl: ACC #4 vs SEC #4 [Dec. 30] (Nashville, TN) *8PM EST, ESPN2*
Pinstripe Bowl: At Large vs Big 10 #5 [Dec. 26] (Bronx, NY) *12PM EST, ABC*
Sun Bowl: Pac-12 #5 vs SEC #5 [Dec. 26] (El Paso, TX) *3:30PM EST, CBS*
Texas Bowl: Big 12 #4 vs At Large [Dec. 29] (Houston, TX) *8PM EST, ESPN*
Note 1: 3rd Highest Ranked Group of Five team guaranteed spot in Pinstripe or Texas Bowl*
Note 2: Conference tie-ins determined by (in order): CFP Ranking, Conf. Record, Overall Record
Note 3: Bowl has option to swap conference tie-in if lower-ranked team is within 2 CFP Rankings spots and has same or better conference record as higher ranked team.
TIER THREE BOWLS
Birmingham Bowl: American #1 vs SEC #6 [Dec. 30] (Birmingham, AL) *5PM EST, ESPN*
Cactus Bowl: Mountain West #2 vs Pac-12 #6 [Dec. 19] (Phoenix, AZ) *3:30PM EST, ESPN*
Hawaii Bowl: American #2 vs Sun Belt #2 [Dec. 24] (Honolulu, HI) *8PM EST, ESPN*
Heart of Dallas Bowl: Big 12 #6 vs Conference USA #2 [Dec. 26] (Dallas, TX) *4PM EST, ESPN*
Las Vegas Bowl: MAC #1 vs Mountain West #1 [Dec. 19] (Las Vegas, NV) *7PM EST, ESPN*
Military Bowl: Air Force/Army/Navy vs ACC #6 [Dec. 28] (Annapolis, MD) *8PM EST, ESPN2*
New Orleans Bowl: Conference USA #1 vs Sun Belt #1 [Dec. 19] (New Orleans, LA) *12PM EST, ESPN*
Quick Lane Bowl: Big 10 #6 vs MAC #2 [Dec. 28] (Detroit, MI) *5PM EST, ESPN2*
Note 1: Conference tie-ins determined by (in order): CFP Ranking, Championship, Conf. Record, Overall Record
Note 2: If Power 5 conference can't fulfill 6th spot, that spot shall be taken by a Group of 5 team.
Now, that is the general template, which is simply a pared down and more organized version of the current format. So, what would the 2015 schedule look like?
Sat. December 19th, 2015
New Orleans Bowl: Western Kentucky vs Arkansas State *12PM, ESPN*
Cactus Bowl: Boise State vs UCLA *3:30PM, ESPN*
Las Vegas Bowl: Bowling Green vs San Diego State *7PM, ESPN*
Thurs. December 24th, 2015
Liberty Bowl: Louisville vs West Virginia *5PM, ESPN*
Hawaii Bowl: Memphis vs Appalachian State *8PM, ESPN*
Sat. December 26th, 2015
Pinstripe Bowl: #24 Temple vs Penn State *12PM, ABC*
Sun Bowl: Washington State vs Arkansas *3:30PM, CBS*
Heart of Dallas Bowl: BYU* vs Southern Miss *4PM, ESPN*
Foster Farms Bowl: Wisconsin vs #25 USC *8PM, ESPN*
Mon. December 28th, 2015
Quick Lane Bowl: Indiana vs Toledo *5PM, ESPN2*
Military Bowl: Air Force vs Duke *8PM, ESPN2*
Tue. December 29th, 2015
Russell Athletic Bowl: #10 North Carolina vs #17 Baylor *5PM, ESPN*
Texas Bowl: Texas Tech vs Texas A&M *8PM, ESPN*
Wed. December 30th, 2015
Birmingham Bowl: South Florida vs Mississippi State *5PM, ESPN*
Music City Bowl: Miami vs Georgia *8PM, ESPN2*
Holiday Bowl: #21 Navy vs #22 Utah *8PM, ESPN*
Thurs. December 31st, 2015
Gator Bowl: Pittsburgh vs #23 Tennessee *12PM, ESPN2*
Peach Bowl: #9 Florida State vs #18 Houston *12PM, ESPN*
Alamo Bowl: #16 Oklahoma State vs #15 Oregon *3:30PM, ESPN*
Cotton Bowl: #2 Alabama vs #3 Michigan State *Semifinal* *5PM, ABC*
Fiesta Bowl: #7 Ohio State vs #8 Notre Dame *8PM, ESPN*
Fri. January 1st, 2016
Outback Bowl: #13 Northwestern* vs #20 LSU *12PM, ESPN2*
Citrus Bowl: #14 Michigan* vs #19 Florida *1PM, ESPN*
Orange Bowl: #1 Clemson vs #4 Oklahoma *Semifinal* *1PM, ABC*
Rose Bowl: #5 Iowa vs #6 Stanford *4:30PM, ABC*
Sugar Bowl: #11 TCU vs #12 Ole Miss *8PM, ABC*
Sat. January 9th, 2016
CFP National Championship: Cotton Bowl Winner vs Orange Bowl Winner *8PM, ABC*
Last March Jim Harbaugh stated to the press and presumably the majority of high school football coaches in Michigan that football was under attack. Here is his response to one of the final questions of that spring presser…
How important is a day like this for recruiting? You have 800 coaches here, so in terms of getting to know people or reacquainted with people for the next recruiting class.
“Oh, sure. It's there. That's not the purpose of why we're doing this. [The purpose is] fellowship with other coaches. Guys that are ambassadors for the game of football and how important is that with football under attack these days that there are ambassadors for the game of football.
This was an interesting time in college football The football media and more importantly the media at large were onto the concussion issue and smelled blood after PBS won a Peabody for League of Denial based on the book by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru.
A month later John Harbaugh came out with his spring blog post Why Football Matters. It's clear that Jim and John are aligned on this Attack on Fooball (AoF). If you haven't read that post – you probably should.
There is a seasonality to this AoF and In this vein we about to enter into the evaluation period where a good deal of the meta discussion and policy making is done. If that sounds conspiratorial … so be it … it's happening.
In some people's minds the AoF started with the science of dementia pugilistica which is more widely known now as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Unfortunately science didn't finish it. In fact the science is just starting to roll on CTE. Here is a PubMed index for concussion and CTE research papers by year since 1962.
What most people would term "the AoF" actually started in 1994 when the NFL formed the first committee to understand concussion in the context of the spectrum of injuries to NFL players. The ineptitude of that committee and the initial intention of the NFL to downplay head injury at all cost was the first battle in the attack Jim and John Harbaugh conjecture. I've linked to the Frontline timeline above which is not definitive but provides a good run down.
The first AoF starts much earlier – as John Harbaugh outlines in his blog post…
In 1905, there were 19 player deaths and at least 137 serious injuries. Many of these occurred at the high school and college levels. Major colleges said they were going to drop football because the game had become too violent.
That’s when President Teddy Roosevelt stepped in to call a meeting with coaches and athletic advisers from Harvard, Princeton and Yale. He wanted to find a way to make the game safer. They made significant changes, introducing new rules like the forward pass and the wide receiver position. Those changes turned football more into the game we know it as today.
We made progress. Rules changed. Society evolved. The game advanced.
What John Harbaugh is saying here is misleading but he is right on point that football has been under attack before and survived. That attack and the current AoF are different far more than they are alike however.
The current AoF came back to me again when I read this editorial in Forbes in response to the politicizing of football in regards to public health. It turns out youth participation is lagging disproportionately along political boundaries. Just as with other matters of science the importance of tying data to policy is paramount to doing the right thing. Unfortunately like climate change, aids policy and many other economically and/or socially charged issues – concussion and CTE policy is not all about the data instead it involves compromise.
As John Harbaugh states in his post…
We’re at another turning point in our sport. The concussion issue is real and we have to face it.
We have to continue to get players in better helmets. We have to teach tackling the right way, and that starts at the NFL level. Change the rules. Take certain things out of the game. It’s all the right thing to do.
So there you go … there's something out there attacking Football. For the purposes of this diary I'm calling that AoF. Football has been attacked before but the current iteration started ~1994. There is a scientific basis for this attack and the research is ongoing. The current AoF is falling out along political boundaries (but in reality is more class based.) But where and how are we seeing this crop up.
By far the biggest event this month regarding the AoF is the movie Concussion produced by Ridley Scott, written by Peter Landesman and starring Will Smith out in theaters on Christmas day.
There's been quite a bit of PR, publicity and spin going on with this movie as it will be coming out this week. This more than anything else this month will possibly be the most talked about AoF event.
Will Smith has been nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance as Bennet Omalu. He's likely to get an Oscar nomination as well. The movie unfortunately is not likely to get as much acclaim. I will save judgment on that until it is released but the article on which the movie is based and the book created for the movie is a story based on the true events surrounding Omalu's discovery of CTE in MIke Webster's brain and his attempts to inform the NFL and the public of the danger.
Surrounding this human story is the much larger story of CTE itself and Football with a capital "F". Having seen the documentary League of Denial there is little in actual content added from the GQ article the movie is derived from, which is not surprising since the article predates the documentary. In fact there has been much in the way of CTE reporting and league reform since the original material this movie is based on came out. But the movie is a theatrical movie and as such will probably reach a wider audience than the documentaries, articles and books that have covered this material since are capable of reaching.
If there is a person who has not heard this material already it could be conceived as inflammatory. There are reports of negotiations between the NFL and Sony Pictures in the media about the portrayal of the NFL. It's hard to tell how much of that is publicity and how much is real. Dave Duerson's family has also taken issue with Duerson's portrayal in the film. If the book or reviews are any indication none of that is beyond the poetic license taken in any movie based on a true story. The movie itself is more likely to suffer criticism cinematically than factually. So far the star power of Will Smith is the biggest selling point.
The biggest contribution of the movie to the AoF, besides perhaps being good at best, is the title itself. In this respect Football is a loser. By titling the movie Concussion – Sony has conflated concussion and CTE in a way that obscures the real nature of the movie. It should by all rights be called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy or just CTE. Though understandably that doesn't have a very catchy feel, naming the movie Concussion is a disservice to sport and public health.
Concussions and CTE are not synonymous. Concussions do not cause CTE. They don't really correlate even. There are cases where CTE has been found where there is no recorded incidence of a concussion. The only real correlation of CTE and behavior wrt football is age of first exposure to the sport and/or duration of play – as in how many years one has played.
The two ailments are very different, but the movie is about CTE. Concussions can be difficult to diagnose but they are diagnosable. CTE is not diagnosable. There are studies and scans that can be done and data that has been collected but for the time being the only definitive way to diagnose CTE is by post mortem – which is really what this movie Concussion is all about … not concussions. Omalu makes his case through forensic autopsy for CTE not mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) – which is the medical term for concussion. In fact it's very difficult to diagnose a mild traumatic brain injury in a post mortem. There is a tremendous amount of physical subtlety to MTBI which can only be determined clinically.
Concussions have a "protocol" that has been instituted in the NFL this season of which all fans are more than aware. Most people know someone who has had a concussion. Concussions can be treated with rest. CTE has some experimental treatment but not any established medical protocol. It's very rare outside football players, boxers and hockey players. Very few people know a person who has had it. Finally and most importantly there is no NFL protocol to reduce CTE. In fact as linked above – the league is being coy about funding research to detect it in vivo.
By equating concussions and CTE the issue of CTE is obscured. Proponents of the AoF perhaps would not agree with that assessment but here's what I mean. As different as concussions are from CTE to limit them is certainly a positive. At least you can treat them. Blows concussive or not are the issue. But repetitive sub concussive blows are just as likely to give an athlete CTE. Nonetheless, Sony calls this movie Concussion. If this doesn't seem a big deal… it is.
Previously I showed a comparison of articles in PubMed on concussion and CTE. That presented a very skewed perspective of the relative work being done on these conditions. When you call concussion by it's technical term MTBI you get this…
What you call things is important not only to search engines but in matters of public health. Concussion science has dwarfed work on CTE. Rightfully so as many of our veterans, youth and elderly are at very high risk and it's common. The long term consequences of MTBI are grave enough not to be conflated with CTE for which the prognosis is grim and since it can't be diagnosed … scary.
But now… thanks to Sony… when you search the web for concussion… you get movie times and locations and an IMDb listing for a movie about CTE. LMGTFY link …
Conflating CTE and Concussion does not serve any real public good and truly does attack football. The AoF is really a battle for the hearts and minds of those who play the game and their parents. By making concussion synonymous with CTE it becomes public fear mongering.
When Teddy Roosevelt helped fend off the first attack in 1905. He did so not primarily as President of the United States, but rather as the parent of a freshman college football player. There many differences between that AoF and the current attack or 'culture war' as John Harbaugh puts it. The first one is money. There is a mother lode more money in the game than a hundred years ago. It changes everything…the motives and behavior of schools, conferences and leagues…the power of the players to set standards. A second is elitism. Back in 1905 Harvard and Yale were big players in football. College itself was the refuge of the privileged. History gets tricky when comparisons are made. The greatest similarity is perhaps that fact that Teddy Roosevelt had a reason to intercede as a parent.
Though modern parents don't have a bully pulpit to bring about change like Roosevelt did in 1905 the call for reform of the current game is substantially going to come from parents of the todays high school and college athletes as well. They need to do this without the attack on football setting the terms.