[ed: bumped despite deployment of worst photo of yrs truly ever.]
“…if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.” –Nietzsche
Son of a bitch. It’s happening. Quit lookin’ at me, abyss.
In 1960 JFK referred to himself as “…a graduate of the Michigan of the East, Harvard University.” I’ve always thought of that as a high compliment towards Michigan. Now, however, I also recognize the glint of the hex that was unwittingly cast upon us on that day. Upon uttering those words, the 35th P.O.T.U.S not only saluted the University of Michigan’s academic excellence, but he also set our crown jewel onto a collision course with gridiron suckitude. Allow me to explain.
I recently came across an article from 1949 in The Harvard Crimson. The article is over 3000 words long, but the first shiver slithered up my spine before I had even reached the byline: “Alumni, Doing Nothing, Scream for Blood After Worst Season Ever.” By the time I had finished reading the article—A Clockwork Orange style—my spine was a full blown electric eel in the throes of a nervous breakdown.
It’s hard to resist full verse recitation of the whole article but, here some highlights:
There are references to Harvard’s recruiting footprint and the need for MOAR
- The authors bitch about being charged “$4.20 or even $3.60 to see Harvard play an obviously poor football opponent.” Oh, the humanity! It’s weird though because throughout the article they vacillate their complaints between playing cannon fodder and actually being cannon fodder.
- There are reports of familiar alumni complaints a la, “Hurr, hurr…get off my lawn with that new fangled, Crisler-style, single-wing offense and two-platoon system; you…you Michigander, you. Gimme back my Power T.”
And two choice excerpts from the article
“[Current coach] ought to adapt his system to fit his players, the way ‘good old [retired coach] used to do.’ "
But the crucial concern right now is that no attempt to change the situation involve the firing of [Current coach], who may not be the genius he was hailed as last year but who is certainly doing his best--and a definitely competent best--with what material he has.
Go ahead and do whatever it takes to rid yourself of those heebie-jeebies; I’ll wait. Seriously, it’s like Brian himself had been warped to 1949 via the way back machine to write that article. It’s impossibly eerie; much like this ancient statue of
Michael Jackson an anonymous Egyptian woman and this authentic picture of Brian some bespectacled dude with long hair in a block M tee shirt.
[ed: more disturbing parallels between Harvard circa 1950 and present-day M after the jump.]
Having been a world cup fan(atic) since 94', in 2006 I thought of this idea for a world cup bracket type pool and it worked pretty good with about 10 entrants last time so I thought I would throw it to the Mgoblogship for usage/feedback.
The abridged rules are below. I rigged up an excel file for databases that is also crude by modern standards but functional in case any mixmasters want to try it at home. I am also interested in feedback, suggestions on the rules, statistics, grammar, etc.
- Ante/Country Selection/Rank Assignment (Before Round 1 – Due June 10th, 2010)
- Round 1 Scoring – Matches 1-48
- Round 2 Scoring – Matches 49-64
- World Domination vs. Surrender (tournament ends in early July/payout)
Ante & Selection
Ante $10 with entry, mail to MIXMASTER prior to first game kick off on 6/11/10.
Include your email with picks if you want updates on standings.
Entry should include your selection of 16 teams from the 32 team field according to the following scheme that borrows from “RISK” board game jargon.
--Choose 2 “Cannons”: These are your 2 overall favorites to win the WORLD CUP
--Choose 6 “Cavalry”: 4 are work horses you expect to win games and advance to round 2, and 2 are dark horses you expect to overachieve relative to their FIFA world ranking as of 3/31/10.
--Choose 8 “Infantry”: who you expect to survive and advance into Round 2.
Country Selection/Rank Assignment RULES
--You MUST choose 2 teams from each of the 8 Groups A through H to make up your alliance.
--Your alliance MUST include at least 1 team from the 4 Geography Categories listed below.
--Your 2 Dark Horses MUST be ranked 3rd or 4th by FIFA within their Group (ie., listed 3rd or 4th in Groups A-H below).
- For a good general resource web page for match schedules, team rankings, team news, tv schedules, South African Stadia, team & world cup history, check out http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/index.html.
Round 1 Scoring.
In Round 1, each team in your alliance earns you 5 points for a tie, and 10 points for a win in the 3 games against other members of their group. Two teams per group advance to the second, knock out round.
At the end of Round 1, countries advancing to Round 2 earn the following REWARD points:
Infantry, Cavalry, Cannon = 20 points
Dark Horse = 30 points
Round 2 Scoring.
In Round 2/Single elimination, only winning counts. Here each win earns a premium reward. The 3rd place/consolation game counts. If a team in your alliance wins the world cup, their reward is doubled for that game (ie. Cavalry winner = 60 pts for championship game).
Infantry = 20 points
Cavalry = 30 points
Cannon = 50 points
Enjoy 4 years as a champion of world cup football or continue to find other ways to take over and dominate—either way -- cheers! If there is a tie, pool pot is split between those tied at the end.
World Cup 2010 Groups & FIFA World Ranking on 3/31/10.
Pick 2 teams from each group for your alliance (Worksheet #1). Dark Horse Candidates in Italics.
France 8th (E)
Mexico 17th (N&CA/Asia)
Uruguay 18th (SA)
South Africa 88th (Af)
Greece 11th (E)
Nigeria 22nd (Af)
Korea Republic 49th (N&CA/Asia)
England 7th (E)
United States 16th (N&CA/Asia)
Algeria 27th (Af)
Slovenia 29th (E)
Germany 6th (E)
Serbia 15th (E)
Australia 19th (N&CA/Asia)
Ghana 31st (Af)
Netherlands 3rd (E)
Cameroon 20th (Af)
Denmark 34th (E)
Japan 45th (N&CA/Asia)
Italy 5th (E)
Paraguay 23rd (SA)
Slovakia 33rd (E)
New Zealand 79th (N&CA/Asia)
Brazil 2nd (SA)
Portugal 4th (E)
Cote D’ Ivorie 25th (Af)
Korea DPR 105th (N&CA/Asia)
Spain 1st (E)
Chile 13th (SA)
Switzerland 20th (E)
Honduras 36th (N&CA/Asia)
Select at least 1 team from each category as part of your alliance. Teams listed before the / qualified for WC 2006, teams after the slash (/) did not qualify in 2006. (Worksheet #2)
- Europe (13):Netherlands, Spain, France, England, Portugal, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Serbia / Denmark, Slovakia, Slovenia, Greece
- North & Central America OR Asia (8): US, Mexico, Australia, Korea Republic, Japan / Honduras, New Zealand, Korea DPR
- South America (5):Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay / Uruguay, Chile
- Africa (6):Cote’ D Ivorie, Ghana / Algeria, Nigeria, Cameroon, South Africa
ALLIANCE SELECTIONS and Score at Home Grid:
Alliance NAME ______________________ Email: ______________
RND 1 RND 2 Country
Country T (x5) #W(x10) ADV-Bonus TOT #W TOT TOTAL
1. : / / / _______ // / ______ // ________
2. : / / / _______ // / ______ // ________
3. : / / / _______ // / ______ // ________
4. : / / / _______ // / ______ // ________
5. : / / / _______ // / ______ // ________
6. : / / / _______ // / ______ // ________
DARK HORSES (must have lowest two rankings of the 4 teams in their Group A-H)
7. : / / / _______ // / ______ // ________
8. : / / / _______ // / ______ // ________
9. : / / / _______ // / ______ // ________
10. : / / / _______ // / ______ // ________
11. : / / / _______ // / ______ // ________
12. : / / / _______ // / ______ // ________
13. : / / / _______ // / ______ // ________
14. : / / / _______ // / ______ // ________
15. : / / / _______ // / ______ // ________
16. : / / / _______ // / ______ // ________
Friday 7:00pm ET
|Bobby Brosnahan||vs||TJ Oakes|
Notes: Michigan is 85-86 all time.
Minnesota is 1-0 in the tourney.
Michigan defeated Iowa in an absolutely dominating performance, winning 18-4. With the win, Michigan moves on in the winner's bracket to face the #1 seed Minnesota Golden Gophers. For Iowa recap and a look at Minnesota, follow the jump.
LB Sean Duggan (St. Xavier/Cincinnati, OH) has an unofficial top 5-10 (11) schools that are sticking out to him. He told me he has a lot of great schools after him, so his list changes every day.
The two that seem to be sticking out the most, at this point, are Wisconsin and Boston College. He said, they're not really his official leaders, but they stick out right now. The rest of the list includes Michigan (top 5), Virginia, Vanderbilt, Cincinnati, Oregon, Minnesota, and Arizona, Louisville, and NC State are tied. (Yes, I realize that's 11).
His father and grandfather both went to Notre Dame, so the rumor goes that he too will have a golden dome. Sean said that Notre Dame hasn't offered, so he's not worrying about them, and that he doesn't want to be someones second option, either. He wants to go to a school that wants him as much as he wants them.
He seemed pretty genuine in that, and I have to take him for his word. If Brian Kelly swoops in on a silver horse, with an offer in hand, they might still ride off in to the sunset, but I can't tell. He made it pretty clear that the rumors about Notre Dame leading, even if they were to offer, needed to be squashed.
He's been in contact with Coach Dews and Singletary, and finds them both very easy to talk to. He and Coach Dews have a few things in common, which has made the conversation easier. Sean was also excited that Michigan has a strong need at the linebacker position. He won't be at Michigan's elite camp, because he already has an offer, but is very excited to visit campus soon. His list will continue to change as he takes more visits, but he was adamant that Michigan is near the top.
This is just going to be fairly brief, but I really feel optimistic about the outlook for this season. First, a few brief thoughts about last season. Michigan was about 6 inches away from 6-6 (Illinois), and a few "bad bounces" away from 8-4 (MSU and Iowa). With this view, we should all be thinking that 8-4 is certainly reachable.
Let's start at the very beginning. (A very good place to start!) Back at Center, we will see David Molk, who should be fully healed from his injury. Molk is potentially an all-conference center who can anchor the line. As far as the rest of the O-line goes, I'll let people smarter than me about these things tell you more, but from what I understand, it seems like signs are good that the team will be as good or better than last season on the offensive line.
I'm not going to weigh in on Denard vs. Tate at this time. (So what if that makes me chicken!) But at the very least, we should have a QB that is better than last season's QB. Tate is healthy, and with one more year of experience and work should be better than he was last year. Denard is beginning to look like a real QB, and not just a TB who occasionally throws the ball. By all accounts the sophomore version of Shoelace should be better than the freshman version of Forcier. So barring the double gut-punch injury to BOTH QBs, we should have a better QB than last year. Also, the competition this season between the two seems more active, which should make the current starter (whomever that may be) have to work harder to stay in that role. This means that the starting QB should be improving even more than last season. In the doomsday scenario, both of the best options get injured and we have (OMG) yet another true freshman playing QB in Devin Gardner, which--let's face it--is still better than a walk-on. In all liklihood, the starting QB at Michigan should be better than last season (and doesn't that make you feel better too?)\
Ok, so Minor and Brown (and Grady) graduated...and this is maybe a little sad. But Minor or Brown was hurt almost every week and Grady rarely saw the field. It seems like the important thing to have here is depth. And this Michigan has, perhaps even in abundance. There is some experience in this system for guys like Shaw and Smith (who should be healthy again). And this gives me hope that the status quo will be maintained and this group is at least as good as last season.
This year, Michigan has lost Matthews and Savoy (who I fondly remember for those catches against Notre Dame...happy thoughts!) But Hemmingway and Stonum are back on the outside. And Odoms and Roundtree will be awesome in the slot. Maybe Koger gives us a decent middle of the field threat, you know, the one we hoped he would be last season. There is plenty of reason to be optimistic with this skill group as well.
So to summarize, the offense should be better, in just about every phase of play this season. This might even make up for not having a space emperor (of space) winning the field position battle so often. We can always hope, right?
There can be hope with this group too. Briefly, can it really be worse than last season?
You don't lose Brandon Graham and get better. But Martin, VanBergen, Roh, Campbell, and Segasse make a good nucleus for DL depth. Who will step up? It is possible that the DL is still the strength of the defense this season.
Ok seriously. It can't get worse. Right? Please? If I close my eyes and wish really hard, does that make it so? Maybe this change in scheme we heard about is really about simplifying life for the LBs...and this can be a group that doesn't kill us on Defense. It's still the off-season, so I can be optimistic. Just ask any Lions fan you know (for whom the off-season, and sometimes, the preseason, are the best times to be a Lions fan).
Again, it can't get worse, can it? The big questions to answer. Will we have a reliable deep safety that doesn't get burned at least once per game? Will we have the athletes at corner to play adequate coverage? I think that there are enough hands on deck in that position group to be effective.
So in summary, the defense might even be adequate this season. Nobody will mistake them for one of the stellar defenses of the past (see 1997) but they should make do.
I think we can all crawl back from the ledge. I can't wait for September 4th to come!...And not just because it will be my 6th anniversary! ;)
Hello everyone, Six Zero here with the latest installment of:
SIX QUESTIONS WITH MATHLETE
Inspired by the official site’s “Two Minute Drill” series and TomVH’s famous Q&A segments with potential recruits, this weekly feature highlights some of the more famous personalities here at MGoBlog. Without pulling back the infamous veil of blog anonymity, we’ll get to know some of your favorite posters better and possibly shed some light on their definition of why it’s so darn Great, To Be, A Michigan Wolverine.
Math. Nemesis to many, and friend to so very few. Some of us get it, and the rest of us use it only when we absolutely have to, like a plunger or Mucinex (ed: nasty stuff). When it comes to MGoBlog, we all know that the resident expert is Mathlete, who seemingly can use statistical information to prove everything from what players are more valuable than others to which Sparty player is most likely to next act with felonious intent. His posts are well-written, tirelessly researched, and busting
at the seams with factual analysis and conclusions. And yet, despite all that
number-crunching, he was still gracious enough to sit down with us
for this exclusive MGoProfile interview:
1. Mathlete, known far and wide as the only man capable of making numbers sing “Hail to the Victors.” Few login names fit their owners as well as yours. Were you, or are you, a competitive mathlete? Is there a story behind the selection of your name?
Growing up, my dad was a math teacher and a coach so I always had a strong mix of math and sports in my life. Sports were always the thing I wanted to be good at and wasn't, where academic competitions were the thing I was good at but mostly embarrassed of. When I first registered at mgoblog, I originally was going to pick an obscure reference from The Wire (Always, Boris) but at the last minute decided to embrace a more accurate name and attempt to embrace the title that had
created so much teenage angst.
Ahh, yes—surely the most famous type of angst has to be the teenage variety. And if it makes any difference, I think if you had any other login name it’d simply be wrong.
2. Your posts are legendary for their vast raw data, their accuracy, and their ability to recognize facts where others simply see coincidence. Do you live in a black-and-white world? How do you see life differently from others?
My interest in numbers actually has the opposite effect on me. We ultimately measure the results of things in black and white, but when I look forward, I am always viewing things in terms of probabilities. If the numbers say Michigan is better than their opponent, I don't see that as a guaranteed victory, I want to understand how much better Michigan is and what their probability of winning would be. I think is what separates me from most other people. Our brains our wired to eliminate complexity so often times we look at results and the then identify the reasons that the result had to have happened, when in reality, there were probabilities associated with a number of outcomes and a lot more luck and randomness than we are comfortable with contributed to the specific result. Over the long run, these variances will usually
cancel themselves out, but they can wreak havoc on smaller time frames.
3. Some of your pieces take significant amounts of time (not to mention brain power) just to read-- How long does it take to put together a solid, statistically accurate post from concept to completion?
That's a really tough one to answer because I often have a hard time focusing so it’s often done over multiple sessions. Usually I have a couple of ideas kicking around in my head and once I get one I think I can go with, I start writing. Usually as I start writing with one key chart, table of conclusion but as I go I get a clearer picture of the hard data that is going to be needed to build the case. Once I do get going it moves pretty quickly and I am terrible at proofreading my work, so once the last sentence is penned
I tend to just hit publish and live with dumb errors!
We’re all guilty of that. I’ve always been impressed not only by your talent for gathering and analyzing large amounts of information, but also your ability to present it in a way that the common reader can understand. Is that a challenge? Or, should I say, how much do you hold back to keep it accessible for the masses?
My goal is to provide something that is as accessible as traditional stats but more valuable. Sometimes it’s difficult to bring it around, but I am still approaching it all
as a football fan first.
4. Sports and statistics have always gone together like maize and blue. Why is that? Why do we, as fans, enjoy rattling off numbers as much as watching the games themselves?
The numbers help tell the story of what we just saw, they affirm and shape our feelings about our favorite players and teams, they expand the experience. They give us a connection to our teams in between games. Since I started doing The Mathlete work, one of my favorite times of the week is after all the games have been played and all the play by plays are available. Going through game by game and adding them into my database and then seeing what comes out. Whose performance was better than I thought and who seemed to do well but didn't show up in the numbers.
5. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that you work with numbers. But, without divulging too much information, can you describe what sort of field you’re involved in? And what do you like to do when you’re on your own time?
Believe it or not I do work with numbers for a living. For the most part I do demand planning and a production scheduling for a large corporation. In other words, I sold out to the man.
Most of my spare time is spent with my family. I have an 18 month old son who I am convinced is going to be the next Jake Long. Mrs. Mathlete isn't too keen on "offensive lineman" as my dream for our son, but she'll come around.
Aside from family, my life is generally sports related. Playing basketball, watching whatever sport is in season and thinking of new ways to analyze, predict or understand sports takes up enough of my time. I am working on getting a full-blown website up and running before football season starts so that I can make more information available but right now all I have is themathlete.com and absolutely no content.
Show your wife Jake Long's paycheck-- She'll come around. Describe the perfect meal.
My grandma used to make a dish called porkies. They had a ridiculous name and were never the most appetizing things to look at, but man were they good. How can you go wrong with what is essentially a giant meatball made of ham and sausage covered in a sauce that is 90% brown sugar. Add in some homemade mashed potatoes (no gravy) and you are likely to find me on the couch for the rest of the day watching football and regretting how much I ate while contemplating going back for more.
6. Can you explain why you are a Michigan fan?
I probably came by my Michigan fandom in a very different manner than most at MgoBlog. I grew up in Kansas with absolutely no connection to the state of Michigan. I think the only reason they came to be my favorite school is because growing up they were on TV more than anyone else other than Notre Dame and my dad hated the Irish, so I picked Michigan. The first time I remember cheering for them as "My Team" was in ‘91 with Desmond Howard. The next year saw the arrival of the Fab Five and I was hooked. I got accepted to Michigan for grad studies in Operations Research but a series of events led to it not happening. I am ashamed to admit I have never
attended a Michigan game live.
I was a fan for many years before finally making it out to my first game. I might argue that it meant more than a local’s first game, because of the pilgrimage, ‘Bucket List’-esque nature of the whole experience. When you do get up, it’ll be a life-changing trip. Finally, the staple last question-- who's your all-time favorite Wolverine?
It's not technically a player, but it would have to be the Fab Five. I had the book, I had a drawer full of the hideous black Nike socks, it didn't get any cooler than the Fab Five. My favorite Wolverine football player is probably Braylon Edwards if for no other reason than the damage I could do with him on NCAA Football.
Being a creative person both by profession and personality, I deal with abstract thoughts and ideas. My boundaries are only defined by the limits of imagination, and my work is grounded more by production details and budget than logic or validity. Perhaps that’s why I’m so fascinated by the results of Mathlete, and others like him who pour over numerical information to find the truth. Statistics are just raw data. It takes someone with a specific process of thought to manifest those numbers into concrete information that can prove one argument or disprove another. I, or anyone, can make ridiculous claims about a football team without any degree of accountability —the entire field of sports radio is built on this convenient truth— but a guy like Mathlete can take a box score and, with a fair degree of research, a certain level of intelligence, and a little bit of math, turn that raw information into indisputable fact. Unlike politicians, New Jersey women, and Michael Rosenberg… numbers do not lie.
See you guys next week for another edition of MGoProfile!