So Brian referred to our new Special teams/tight ends coaching position as esoteric. I don't know about tight ends but I am extremely happy we have special teams coach right now.
Rodriguez was accused of ignoring the defense to devote more attention to the offense. If that is true I believe it is doubly so for the special teams. I don't know what else he could have done given the limitations of the athletes he had at his disposal, but having a dedicated coach seems like a reasonable place to start.
Now let's look at some statistics (all courtesy of ESPN)
We had the 8th most yards per game on offense. Pretty good especially considering some of our tough competition. But the complaint from most people is that we didn't score enough points. We tied for 24th most points per game. Why?
Well, a large part of that has to do with field goals. To start, we were dead last in both field goals made and field goal percentage. We were 4/14 and that was without attempting a single kick beyond 50 yards. Because of our inability to kick, we passed on what should have been a guaranteed 3 points in several situations, once or twice a game, to go for it on fourth down. We succeeded a few times but failed to score on most of those attempts.
So, we never kicked a long field goal, should have made most of the ones we took and skipped out on attempting easy ones a little more than once a game. I estimate we could have scored 6 more points per game. That puts us at 38.6 ppg and 11th overall in scoring. That looks much better and explains a big portion of the discrepancy between points and yards.
Punting was also not great, finishing 87th in average yards per punt. I couldn't find statistics on kickoffs (like touchbacks) but ancecdotally we sucked. We were middle of the pack in return yards per kickoff (67th) and return yards per punt (also 67th, weird). We had a punt blocked and didn't manage to return a single kick for a touchdown.
So in summary, if having a dedicated special teams coach makes a difference, improvement in special teams performance is another reason to be optimistic about 2011 and beyond. It is also an indication that Brady Hoke gets it and is addressing the needs of the football team. I am cautiously optimistic.
Michigan's kicking woes this season forced the coaching staff to search for another scholarship kicker in the 2011 class. Rich Rodriguez had secured former Boise State commit Matt Goudis (6'0", 165 lbs) after many thought Goudis would stick with Boise. Once the old staff was fired Matt decided to take his talents to South Beach and commit to Al Golden at Miami, which left Brady Hoke searching for another solid kicker.
Lucky enough for Hoke he had already established a relationship with uncommitted kicker Matt Wile (6'2", 215 lbs) out of San Diego, California. Wile's head coach John Morrison says that relationship wasn't too hard to build. "Matts dad is the orthopedic surgeon on the athletic staff at San Diego State where Brady (Hoke) came from. They offered Matt two years ago at SDSU," Morrison said. "You guys are getting a heck of a coach, too. We're sad to see (Brady Hoke) go. I'm a big fan of his, he'll get that thing turned around really fast, I watched him do it at SDSU after 4 or 5 guys butchered it."
"It's funny now that Coach Hoke is out at Michigan, it's almost like it was meant to be for Matt. His dad and his grandfather are both Michigan grads. About 7-8 years ago Matt traveled with his dad to Ann Arbor when SDSU played Michigan, and went out on the field at halftime to kick field goals," Morrison recalls.
The coincidence has struck a cord with Wile, and he is scheduled to visit Ann Arbor this weekend (January 21st). Matt holds offers from Air Force, Michigan, Nebraska, and Washington as well. "He actually pushed back the visit to Nebraska to take the Michigan trip. I can't imagine he won't have a great visit, he already knows the coaching staff and he's already been on campus with his dad," said Morrison. "Coach Ferrigno (Special teams coach for Michigan) was actually out here the other night to see Matt, then he swung by the school to pick up his transcripts." The transcripts seemed like just a formality since Wile holds a 4.0 GPA.
Even though the cards seem to be in Michigan's favor, Coach Morrison doesn't believe Matt will make his decision while visiting Ann Arbor. "He told Nebraska that he won't commit on the Michigan trip. He wants to sit down with his family, take 24 hours and think about it. He's been very up front with all the schools. I would be surprised if he committed on the visit, but I wouldn't be surprised if he decided to commit after 24 hours," he said.
Wile averaged 42 yards per punt this season, kicked field goals and extra points, was captain of his team, and the kicker for the West team at the Army All American Game.
It's 3:22 AM on a school night and for some odd reason I was struck with insomnia. I was also struck with the effort to put into words how the Big Ten Hockey Conference would be created and managed thanks to an impromptu logo designing session. Below is how I feel the BTHC should be constructed.
14 conference games total
4 games versus main rival Michigan State
4 games versus secondary rival Ohio State
2 games versus each Minn, Wisc, and PSU (6)
|Team||Rival 1||Rival 2|
|Michigan||Michigan State||Ohio State|
|Michigan State||Michigan||Ohio State|
|Ohio State||Michigan||Michigan State|
Obviously, the rivalry series are to maintain the rivalries between teams from the same former conference (CCHA or WCHA...with Penn State involuntarily thrown into the WCHA rivalries)
Top 2 seeds (via conference record) receive first-round byes.
#3 vs. #6 and #4 vs. #5 have a best of 3 series with the higher seed receiving home ice.
Teams re-seed after the first round, therefore the #1 seed plays lowest remaining seed, #2 seed plays highest remaining seed.
Second round is also a best of 3 series, with the higher seed in each matchup receiving home ice.
The Big Ten Championship round is best of 3, with the series played at Joe Louis Arena, Detroit, MI.
In order to help keep the CCHA/WCHA competitive and afloat, each Big Ten conference team will face a significant number of opponents from their former conferences. For Penn State, they could be free to schedule a lot of non-conference opponents from all over the country. Approximately 12 games could be devoted to former conference opponents.
14 conference games + 12 former conference games = 26, which leaves about 5-7 out-of-conference games to fill in.
For Michigan, their 12 former conference games will include all Michigan schools (WMU, Ferris, LSSU, NMU) along with Miami and ND. These can all either be home-and-homes or double homes and double aways with a rotation the following year.
Sample Conference Schedule: Michigan
Bolded dates are conference opponents
10/6/12 vs. USTDP-18 (exhibition)
10/7/12 vs. out-of-conference opp.
10/13/12 @ out-of-conference opp.
10/20/12 @ out-of-conference opp.
10/26/12 vs. Ferris State
10/27/12 @ Ferris State
11/2/12 @ Ohio State
11/3/12 vs. Ohio State
11/9/12 @ Notre Dame
11/10/12 vs. Notre Dame
11/16/12 @ Michigan State
11/17/12 @ Michigan State
College Hockey Showcase - Ann Arbor, MI
11/23/12 vs. out-of-conference opp.
11/24/12 vs. out-of conference opp.
11/30/12 vs. Northern Michigan
12/1/12 @ Northern Michigan
12/7/12 @ Penn State
12/8/12 vs. Penn State
12/14/12 vs. Ohio State
12/15/12 @ Ohio State
12/28/12 Great Lakes Invitational
12/29/12 Great Lakes Invitational
1/4/13 @ Minnesota
1/5/13 vs. Minnesota
1/11/13 vs. Miami (OH)
1/12/13 @ Miami (OH)
1/18/13 vs. Lake Superior
1/19/13 vs. Lake Superior
2/1/13 @ Wisconsin
2/2/13 vs. Wisconsin
2/8/13 vs. Michigan State
2/9/13 @ Michigan State
2/15/13 @ Western Michigan
2/16/13 @ Western Michigan
2/21/13 - 2/23/13 First Round of BTHC Playoffs
2/28/13 - 3/2/13 Second Round of BTHC Playoffs
3/7/13 - 3/9/13 BTHC Championship Round
This prediction of the BTHC may be obvious and not too challenging but I feel this is what may happen and I hope happens. Seeing as the Big Ten is all about inclusion, they may cycle the BTHChampionship round between different cities like Chicago (United Center), Detroit (JLA), Minnesota (XCel Energy Center) as well.
I would like to know your thoughts and your insights into the (inevitable) BTHC.
Bonus Graphic: Our current jerseys with the new B1G logo on the right shoulder
EDITS: Restructured Big Ten conference games, increased number of games vs. CCHA, edited potential Michigan schedule 3/6/11
So, I've already tried to explain my position on the Hoke hire, as a 40-year sufferer of Michigan FootBall Obsession Syndrome (MFBOS).
In short, I’m badly in need of professional therapy, if I’m to survive a reprise of Michigan Football past.
As a diagnosed level 3 MFBOS sufferer, part of my required therapy is to project the best and worst possible outcomes, and to analyze just how (un)important those may be to my life. I’m going for extra credit on this assignment, and interviewing “friends” and “acquaintances.” The aforementioned would be, as they say in the SEC, ya’ll. This being an educated, sophisticated, and sometimes harsh crowd, I’ve made the questions a bit more advanced than the usual multiple choice. There are two categories of questions. First, the very short essay questions – how do you stand on various aspects of Mr. Hoke’s history, as regards his future prospects? And second, Uniformed Wild Ass Guesses (UWAG) as to how Mr. Hoke’s past will translate. To limit the chaos of infinite possibility that I am informed is the primary feature of the internets, I will establish categories and baseline opinions from which to proceed. You may, as internet precedent has established, respond to as few as one or as many as all questions, or indeed, questions which I or no one else have ever asked.
Very short essay questions: please give your brief answers and scores to the upside and downside of Mr Hoke in the following categories. MFBOS Patient’s responses listed for reference.
Public relations - Upside:
Hoke is all in for Michigan. Would walk to A2 for the job. Uses Bo Schembechler-type words like Tough and Team and Prepared. Treats the idiots among “reporters” like the societal leaches they are. Has lots of support from former Michigan players, and almost certainly from Carr. Previous university and State of residence are not insane like West Virginia. Stays on message like George W. Bush.
Public relations- Downside:
His moronic boss explains the hiring like he met Hoke over a beer and thought he was a great guy. Rah-Rah Tough Guy act will get old real quick if his defenses perform down to historical levels.
Public relations overall: 8.5/10
It’s pretty easy to look good in an initial presser. Nonetheless, it’s obvious he’s well-liked by the local press, and unless there’s a very surprising skeleton in the closet, he’ll get the benefit of the doubt for a while, and avoid most of the public controversy of the RR era. And his persona will go over very well with most M fans. If he’s successful on-field, he’ll soon be known as “Bo Hoke”.
Staffing – Upside:
This is obviously hard to judge, because his current staff is far from complete. But we can draw some general conclusions. First, none of his staff hires has “blown up” and become a highly desired coach or coordinator at a higher level of competition. In other words, he hasn’t found the stars in waiting. Second, he’s shown a willingness to replace or change coordinators when circumstances demanded it. Third: his position as M coach gives him a chance to attract a different level of talent than he’s ever managed before, particularly on defense. We don’t know what will happen yet.
Staffing – Downside:
Staffing – Overall: 5/10
There is no indication that Hoke is a discoverer and developer of nascent coaching talent. On the other hand, he’s had some competent coordinators, and his M staff is incomplete.
On-field Track Record – Upside:
Both teams he has coached have improved steadily and substantially between the time he arrived and left. Has shown significant flexibility in choice of offensive and defensive schemes, based on coordinator and personnel. Offenses have outperformed defenses. Coach of the year in MWC last year. Short term, the combination of 9 returning starters on O and D, return of Troy Woolfolk, (hopefully) a competent kicker recruit, and better schedule are a setup for 9 to 9+ wins.
On-field Track Record – Downside:
Overall 47-50 record. Never coached BCS teams – has to coach now against Tressel/Kelly/Dantonio/Bielema/Ferentz/Paterno/Pelini. Defenses ranged from mediocre to very poor, especially against the run. Took a long time to build Ball State to respectability in the MAC, and program died from there. No recognition as a creative schemer on either side of the ball.
On-field Track Record Overall: 6/10
Gets the extra point over 5/10 because of the late improvement shown with both BSU and SDSU, and because of the signs of adaptability. Big question is the mismatch between his rhetoric and defensive track record.
Recruiting – Upside:
Sam Webb says he’s teh awesome.
And it’s not hard to see that, as a 17-year-old kid, you’re going to be pretty impressed with this guy’s adolescent levels of enthusiasm. Combine that with M’s still-high national profile, and the draw provided short term by the example of Heisman candidate Denard Robinson, and I’m quite optimistic about recruiting beyond this year, which might or might not be a crater.
Recruiting – Downside:
Has made his rep fetching 2-3 star kids in the MAC and MWC. Now has to recruit 3-5 stars in the Midwest, South, and West against all of the bigger names mentioned above and more. Welcome to the big time.
Recruiting – Overall: 7/10
Hard to judge this. Tressel would have scored better than Hoke as an on-field coach coming into OSU, but the most important thing that jumped OSU into a consistent national power was Tressel’s ability to recruit. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Hoke become a Tressel-level recruiter. Matching Tressel in game-planning and in-game adjustments is another story, which only time will tell.
Purely numeric, UWAG category:
Chances of being Great: 1/10
Great being defined as: better than any M coach post ’74, beating OSU 2 out of 3 times, playing later than Jan. 1 as a birthright, playing in BCS championship game twice in 10 years. This is honestly more optimistic than I think is justified, but there is no doubt it could happen.
Chances of helping Dave Brandon keep his job: 7/10
Defined as: Winning 9 – 9.5 regular season games, beating OSU 1 out of 3, New Years or later Bowl almost always, no Free Press Jihad. 7/10 is a sign that I’m giving in to optimism.
Chances of failure: 2/10
Defined as: Hoke is in over his head – his defenses suck, he’s overwhelmed by the level of competition, and wins 7 or less for his last 2 seasons, despite a good beginning in 2011.
So, what do ya’ll think? My MFBOS therapist thinks I just need to think more realistically. Tell me, what is realistic?
Edit: The apparent Mattison hire substantially improves the outlook, obviously. It shores up the weakest area in Hoke's record. It also says something about Hoke that he could attract a person of this stature, and that he's (presumably) willing to turn over substantial control of part of his team to a high-profile guy outside of his coaching tree. This kind of hire would have been difficult to imagine under Carr, who had a different philosophy about development and promotion from within.
Apologies for the delay: Holiday weekend interrupted. Action since last rankings:
1-9-11 Minnesota gains commitments from Tamani Carter and Chris Hawthorne. Northwestern gains commitment from Xavier Youngblood. Purdue gains commitment from Armstead Williams.
1-10-11 Michigan State gains commitment from Shilique Calhoun. Iowa gains commitment from Quinton Alston. Minnesota gains commitment from Quentin Gardener.
1-11-11 Notre Dame gains commitment from Nick Martin. Michigan loses commitment from Dallas Crawford.
1-13-11 Purdue loses commitment from Marcus Caffey.
1-14-11 Notre Dame gains commitment from Ishaq Williams.
1-15-10 Notre Dame gains commitment form Aaron Lynch.
1-16-10 Michigan loses commitment from Matt Goudis.
|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 1 star), and ESPN uses grades out of 100 (unranked is 40 or 45, except JuCo players, who aren't included in the average).
The rankings now have more emphasis on number of commits in the class, as Signing Day is approaching. This means the overall rankings can change quite a bit week-to-week.
|#1 Ohio State - 20 Commits|
|#2 Notre Dame - 22 Commits|
|George Atkinson III||S||CA||5.8||4||79|
Irish pick up a couple bigtime defensive ends.
|#3 Nebraska - 16 Commits|
No change for the Huskers.
|#4 Michigan State - 17 Commits|
Shilique Calhoun picks the Spartans.
|#5 Wisconsin - 20 Commits|
|#6 Iowa - 20 Commits|
Hawkeyes pick up Quinton Alston.
|#7 Illinois - 26 Commits|
I've removed Dallas Crawford, though he probably decommitted a while back, and Matt Goudis, who picked Miami yesterday. Next weekend is when we'll probably see the commitment numbers move in the other direction.
|#9 Penn State - 13 Commits|
|#10 Indiana - 16 Commits|
No change. Hoosiers have a couple soft commits not reflected here.
|#11 Minnesota - 23 Commits|
Rivals considers Haughton-James and Rohr uncommitted. Gophers did manage to pick up a couple commits this week.
|#12 Northwestern - 14 Commits|
Wildcats pick up a wideout in Xavier Youngblood.
|#13 Purdue - 13 Commits|
Rather than engaging in the bouts of Hokemania running wild all over this site, or joining the numerous posters who seem to have forsaken Michigan for a love of RichRod forever-more (similar to my childhood fandom of "whoever Warren Moon plays for" after playing Tecmo Super Bowl as the Oilers), I decided to examine the rich and voluminous history of Michigan football to find some historical perspective.
While I bought in at the beginning of each of the last three years and convinced myself we were "just around the corner," I was disillusioned each year as the losses mounted and the victories failed to do so. I don't think the wins/losses did RichRod in, though - my sense from talking to other alums (and trying to track my emotional path through all of this) was that the sense of "time for a change" came less from the losses, and more from the MAGNITUDE of the losses. With that in mind, I first sought out a list of all seasons in which Michigan has been outscored by its opponents. There were twelve, which was actually more than I expected to find. The seasons (with coaches in parenthesis) were:
This list tells me a few things. First, having a season in which you were outscored by your opponent does not create a supportable assumption that you are a bad coach; if you remove the coaches on this list, Michigan's national championships decrease from 11 to 2. Second, having such a season does make it likely that you will be removed from your duties of coaching football at Michigan at some point; while Yost largely retired on his own terms, there was a movement to get the old man to move on by the time he stepped down. Wieman was gone after his bad season; while Kipke got a bit more rope because of his two national championships, his fourth led to his ouster as well. Oosterbaan's one season being outscored coincided with his last, and then Bump got a bit more rope...because he was cleaning up Bennie's mess? Either way, two for RichRod in three years didn't indicate a future of much success if you look at the historical numbers.
Next, I sought a way to quantify HOW MANY bad losses there had been; the three at the end of this year definitely wore on me, and so I looked at (a) how many games each head coach had lost by 10+ points each year, and (b) how many they did so on average. The numbers are as follows:
|Coach||10-pt losses||10-pt losses per season|
This chart was pretty striking to me; RichRod had more double-digit losses in three seasons than Lloyd had in his 13 seasons!! Also, while the likelihood of these events increased in the Mo/Lloyd years vis-a-vis Bo, they were still well below the Bump/Bennie/Kipke mark, and not far from Crisler and Yost's marks. Five per year more than doubled Bump Elliott, Michigan's 2nd worst coach (with regard to big losses).
Finally, I noticed that RichRod had 5, 4 and 6 double-digit losses in years 1, 2 and 3, respectively. I sought to put those in historical context; of the 110 seasons examined, there were only seven seasons of at least four double-digit losses in a season:
When viewed through this prism, it's much tougher to make the argument that the team was "competitive" and "just around the corner" the last few years - 2010 featured the 2nd-worst set of losses we've ever seen, eclipsed only by 1962. While improving from 3 to 5 to 7 wins seemed on its face to be "progress," the margins of victory and loss indicated otherwise - Michigan was soundly defeated in more games this year than in 2008. Three of the worst seven seasons (by this measure) don't point in the direction of a guy that should have been kept.
While we don't know what direction the team'll take under HOKEMANIA, we do know, at least, that our new coach has a love and appreciation for the history that is Michigan Football. Here's hoping we get fewer of these seasons and more that finish in Pasadena!