England’s superiority complex is larger than their beer gut.
After my knee-jerk Starting XI, and my Post US-Turkey Starting XI, it is time for a final look at my proposed lineup for this Saturday. Nothing really changed for me as the game itself was not very telling with both teams playing not to get hurt and adjusting to the altitude and weather.
Cherundolo DeMerit Onyewu Bocanegra
Donovan Edu Bradley Dempsey
top subs, Torres, Holden, Goodson
Still Findley up top? Yes, still Findley up top. Dempsey is much more effective on the wing mid (as is Donovan) and having the speed forward paired with a holding forward is a very lethal combination. Dempsey and Donovan on the wings makes the opposing fullbacks conscious about their runs down the flanks which, in turn, opens up the middle of field for Altidore to check into and Findley to make through runs behind. This causes havoc for the defense and opens seems for players to run through unmarked. Dempsey is a better forward than Findley. Buddle is a better forward than Findley. Donovan is a better forward than Findley. Heck, Gomez may be a better forward than Findley. However, Findley is the only one of that group that has the speed to play the counterpart to Altidore. Even though he didn't capitalize, he showed how effective it is and should have easily had at least 2 goals because of it. On a different day with a nicer pitch, maybe he nets both of those.
Neither Australia or the US seemed to care much about this game so to get a 3-1 result is mildly encouraging with Buddle playing the Altidore role very well. It is very likely that we see significant changes in the lineup between the England and Slovenia games due to their difference in both skill and style of play. The most largely contested point here is going to be Findley and I firmly believe he will be on the field at kickoff Saturday and relieved around the 70 minute mark with the score determining who comes on.
In a reversal of roles for most sports, the United States is the underdog in this match and we will have the world on our side. I hate England. I think we pull this one off 2-1 and soccer takes over the country forever. Well, maybe not the last part.
If you're a smoker, plan to hold off for a few hours whenever you come to a Michigan Football game this year:
Michigan Stadium to go smoke-free in 2010 season
The University of Michigan Athletic Department will make Michigan Stadium a smoke-free zone when the 2010 season opens against Connecticut Sept. 4.
"We have allowed individuals to smoke on the concourse in the past but with the new renovations and the university's commitment to become a smoke-free campus in 2011, we decided it was in the best interest of everyone to institute the change now," said U-M Director of Athletics Dave Brandon. "The move will ensure a healthier environment for all fans attending Wolverine football games."
Smoking already was not permitted inside Michigan Stadium's seated-bowl area. Now the smoke-free environment will extend to everything inside the gates of the Big House.
In April of 2009, The University of Michigan announced its commitment to become a smoke-free environment in July 2011. The change aligns perfectly with the institution’s goal to improve the health of the U-M community. Since the change was announced, thousands of students, faculty and staff have provided feedback regarding the roll out of the plan to ensure it occurs in a thoughtful, inclusive and respectful manner.
Subcommittees which include smokers, former smokers and never-smokers are carefully considering the implications for student life, faculty and staff, grounds and facilities, and visitors to the University.
The idea to have the university go entirely smoke-free began with student complaints, and it is one more step along a path set in the 1980s, noted Robert Winfield, M.D., the university’s chief health officer and co-chair of the Smoke-free Initiative committee along with Kenneth Warner, dean of the School of Public Health. In 1987, the university adopted a ban on smoking in buildings, (with exceptions for some residence halls) and in university vehicles. In 1998, the U-M Health System prohibited smoking on its grounds and in public spaces, and in 2003, the student-led Residence Halls Association eliminated smoking from all resident halls.
The U-M will join the University of Iowa and Indiana University, both of which implemented their smoke-free campuses in 2008. In all, more than 260 campuses in the United States and elsewhere have gone smoke-free.
Not surprising, to say the least. Also, probably a welcome change for some (most?).
Action since last rankings:
6-1-10 Purdue gains commitment from Russell Bellomy.
6-3-10 Ohio State gains commitment from Braxton Miller.
6-4-10 Minnesota gains commitment from Jephete Matilus.
6-5-10 Ohio State gains commitment from Evan Spencer. Illinois gains commitment from Marquise Mosley.
|Big Ten+ Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# Commits||Rivals Avg||Scout Avg||ESPN Avg|
Rivals, Scout, and ESPN all have their Top-X (X is 250, 300, and 150, respectively) lists released now. In the tables, Rivals' and Scout's rankings are on the 5-star scale (unranked = 1-star), and ESPN's will now be shown as their numerical rating (unranked = 45).
|#1 Ohio State - 13 Commits|
Buckeyes pick up a huge (though expected) commitment in QB Braxton Miller, and also add legacy WR Evan Spencer.
|#2 Notre Dame - 9 Commits|
No change for ND. The Rivals250 was not nearly as kind to them as was the Watchlist.
|#3 Michigan - 5 Commits|
Nothing new for Michigan. Will their Elite camp net them a commit?
|#4 Michigan State - 5 Commits|
The Spartans could move up once ESPN ranks Jones and Miller.
|#5 Indiana - 8 Commits|
The Hoosiers already have a 4-star Rivals prospect in Zack Shaw.
|#6 Wisconsin - 4 Commits|
Wisconsin can look for a big move up once more complete rankings come out.
|#7 Iowa - 3 Commits|
The Hawkeyes are right on Wisconsin's heels.
|#8 Purdue - 2 Commits|
Signal-caller Russell Bellomy pledges to Purdue, bolting them up the rankings.
|#9 Northwestern - 2 Commits|
No change, though ESPN's rankings helped them pass Minnesota.
|#10 Minnesota - 3 Commits|
Gophers pick up improbably-named Jephete Matilus.
|#11 Illinois - 3 Commits|
Marquise Mosley picks the Illini.
|#12 Penn State - 1 Commit|
Still ho-hum for PSU.
Pat Flavin is a 6-foot-7, 260-pound offensive tackle prospect from Benet Academy in Illinois. He was at Michigan's one day camp today working out, and trying to earn an offer from the Wolverines. I caught up with him once he took off, here's what he had to say.
TOM: Tell me about the day, how did it go?
PAT: I was a little dehydrated in the beginning, I've been working out a lot lately, but haven't really done a lot of actual football stuff. The morning was kind of shaking the rust off for me, and getting myself situated. Once I get everything under control, I performed a lot better. There were two sessions; the morning was more agility and run blocking stuff. I've done most of that before, but Coach Frey gave us great perspective on everything, and taught us a lot. The second session was mostly pass set. The one thing I need to work on, and that they were helping me with, is my punch, so we worked on that a lot. I worked on the left tackle spot mostly, but also worked some in the guard position.
TOM: You mention Coach Frey helping out, what is your relationship with him like?
PAT: I really like Coach Frey. I first met him in December, and then he came to my school in May. He's a really good guy, he's kind of younger, so he relates really well to everyone. I like his attitude, and how he gets everyone to work.
TOM: Getting to know him as a person, is different than him as a coach. Did this give you a better perspective of how he'd coach you at Michigan?
PAT: Definitely. That was the one thing I was anxious to see, and the best part for me. I got to see how he coaches, and what kind of style he uses. I really like his approach, and the way he teaches. He doesn't yell too much, and gets you going positively.
TOM: Were there any other athletes out there that impressed you, or that you noticed?
PAT: I don't really remember names that well, but yeah there were a lot of good players out there. I've seen the guys from Michigan, Illinois, and Ohio because they're local, too. There was a guy from Chicago, Michael Rouse (EDIT:TOM: Keep an eye on him</edit>Homewood Flossmoor, 6'4, 315 lb. DT). Donte Phillips (DT, Wisconsin) did really well, too. He's quick off the edge. There were a ton of good defensive ends there. It was great to go up against some guys like that.
TOM: Where does Michigan stand with you right now, and what did the coaches say about what's next for you?
PAT: They videotaped everyone, so they said they're going to go back and watch the film, then they'll go from there with handing out offers. I guess I should know in a couple days. This was my third time up to Michigan, though. They have the best facilities of anywhere I've been, The indoor facilities, the weight room, the Big house, everything is just awesome. I don't have a list yet, but Michigan would definitely be right up there. I'm hoping they offer me, and I am very high on them. I know the coaches are going to do a great job, and they're going to start taking off soon.
TOM: When do you want to start narrowing a list down then?
PAT: I'll probably narrow it down at the end of June. I'm still waiting to hear from some schools, like I am with Michigan. I'm hoping I get offers from Notre Dame and Miami. I really like UCLA and Cal. It's a different culture out there in the Pac 10, so that would be pretty cool. Illinois is also a school, being in my home state, that grabs my attention. I have a lot of familiarity there, so they would be in there. Once the end of June comes around, I should know more.
There have been plenty of rumors and guesses about Big Ten expansion, ever since commissioner Jim Delaney announced that the conference was studying the issue. But this week offered the first concrete clues from school officials who are actually in the position to know.
First was the rumor first floated on the University of Texas rivals.com site, that the Pac 10 was prepared to offer invitations to Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Colorado. The Colorado athletic director later said that he believed the report was true.
Second was an email from Ohio State University president Gordon Gee, in which he encouraged Delaney to get in touch with Texas president Bill Powers, “who would welcome a call to say they have a ‘Tech’ problem.” The email was among several obtained by the Columbus Dispatch in a freedom-of-information request, and Gee acknowledged it was genuine.
Gee wouldn't say what he meant by a “‘Tech’ problem,” and several newspapers were at a loss to explain it, but it is not difficult to figure out. ‘Tech’ clearly refers to Texas Tech, the “little sister” of three Texas state schools in the Big XII—Texas and Texas A&M being the other two. Naturally, all three play each other in football every year.
It is likely that wherever Texas goes, A&M will go with it. The Longhorns have played A&M in football every year since 1915. They've also played Oklahoma nearly every year since 1902 (they skipped a few seasons in the early party of the 20th century). It is highly doubtful that Texas would want to give up either rivalry. But it is equally doubtful that the Longhorns would agree to play in another conference, while being locked into two annual rivalry games with BCS-level opponents. If the Longhorns and the Aggies move together, presumably that would leave the Sooners as their only annually contested non-conference rivalry.
The Texas–Texas Tech rivalry does not have the same pedigree as the others. The two schools have played annually only since 1960. It is also a lopsided rivalry, with the Longhorns winning nearly 75 percent of the time.
So, what is the “‘Tech’ problem”? If Texas and Texas A&M join the Big Ten, it would probably spell the end of the Bix XII as we have known it. The more prominent football schools in the conference would not have trouble finding homes elsewhere. Nebraska and Missouri, for instance, could very well join the Big Ten, as well; the Pac Ten would probably take Oklahoma and Colorado. But “little sister” Tech would likely find itself in a non-BCS league, like Conference USA. That wouldn't sit well with Texas politicians, especially if Tech had the double blow of losing its annual rivalry games with both the Longhorns and the Aggies.
Here, then, is the significance of the Pac Ten's allegedly forthcoming invitation to six schools, including Texas Tech and Oklahoma State, which has a similar “little sister” status in its home state. It's a scenario that would make Texas and Oklahoma politicians smile, as in any other plausible expansion scenario, both would be at risk of finding themselves in lesser conferences. But would the notoriously conservative Pac Ten, which treasures its academic reputation and requires unanimous agreement to add a new member, really welcome all six of these institutions? Several of them, particularly Texas Tech and Oklahoma State, are not in the same academic league as the rest of the Pac Ten.
But if the Big Ten is willing to at least entertain adding Texas and Texas A&M, both of which are in the prestigious Association of American Universities (AAU), it would under no circumstances accept Texas Tech, which is not. That, in a nutshell, is Bill Powers’s “‘Tech’ problem.”
Most schools claim publicly they are loyal to the conference they are in—whatever they may be saying behind the scenes. But when the University of Texas says it is committed to the Big XII, they just might mean it. The Longhorns have been toying with the idea of creating their own cable television network. They are, perhaps, the only school in the nation that could do this. With their own network, plus the disproportionate share of Big XII television revenue that they already get, the Longhorns would be sitting pretty. But if the Big Ten nabs Nebraska and Missouri, and Colorado goes to the Pac Ten (with or without Oklahoma), Big XII membership might be a lot less attractive.
Among the three conferences the Longhorns could plausibly join, the Big Ten is the most attractive. The average Big Ten school is 1,022 miles from Austin, whereas the average Pac Ten school is 1,377 miles away. Six Pac ten schools are farther than any in the Big Ten. Except for Penn State, every Big Ten school is under 1,200 miles from Austin. Except for the two Arizona schools, every Pac Ten institution is over 1,200 miles and two time zones away. While the SEC might be closer geographically for the Longhorns, the SEC does not have the academic reputation of either the Big Ten or the Pac Ten.
I think there is very little doubt that Texas is the big fish that Jim Delaney and Gordon Gee would love to hook. Whether they can depends on how big a “problem” the “‘Tech’ problem” really is.
In football the QB position is the lynchpin for the whole offense. They touch the ball on every play, read the defense, and choose the best course of action based on what they see in the moment. So, naturally, the outlook of an offense depends in large part on the outlook of the QB who will be flying the plane. The goal of this diary is to see if there are any reliable trends in how a generic QB progresses from one year to the next and to investigate if there are factors that can be identified and quantified that will aid or hinder his on field success. I'm actually very surprised about how clear the data is.
To do this I have accumulated information for 226 quarterbacks that have played in BCS conferences since 2003. The pool was restricted to BCS schools so that some level of control was applied to the level of talent surrounding and opposing the quarterback; the presumption being that players in BCS conferences will be playing with and against talent that is on par with their own.
If a player did not average at least 10 passing attempts per game he played in a given year, the data point was not considered because the number is highly unreliable (small sample size). This shuts out some interesting pieces of data (Tim Tebow 2006) but improves the overall conclusions significantly. In Tebow’s case, his second year as a regular player was his first year as a regular passer so his sophomore season was placed in the Year 1 group. There are a few other, more obscure anomalies that were given the same treatment. The large number of data points make the impact of those anomalies negligible.
The metric I used for this study is NCAA Passer Rating. Unfortunately, Passer Rating isn’t perfect when it comes to evaluating QBs; there are many disses available on that topic (Advanced NFL Stats, Football Outsiders, Fifth Down). I leave the detailed explanation to the articles I’ve linked. However, though it’s imperfect, passer rating is still a familiar number for most football fans and it does provide significant and reasonable insight into the relative performance of QBs. On with the show.
The following chart shows the average NCAA QB Rating by year of experience for all QBs included in this study.The chart includes the standard error of the averages for those that know what that means (or are good guessers). The chart shows a couple of interesting things: more experience is better, which…duh, and the average QB rating seems to improve by approximately equal amounts going into year 2 and into year 3 but then tails off a little going into year 4.
Now, the second point goes against conventional wisdom somewhat; QBs are supposed to improve a lot more after their first year than after subsequent years. The fly in the ointment is that, in order to track improvement, the data should be evaluated as matched pairs. This means that we should take each specific QB’s improvement over the preceding year and then average the deltas to understand the average improvement from one year to the next. Doing that yields this chart.
This chart shows what we expect to see, the change after the year 1 is much bigger than the change after years 2 and 3. But, now there’s the apparent negative improvement between years 3 and 4. What’s up with that?
Need … more … charts …
What I did here is plot average improvement versus the previous year’s rating. To clear out the inherent noise in the data, I lumped QB Ratings near each other together (i.e: ratings from 115.0 to 124.9 treated as 120 and so on). The trends are clear and strong, and they demonstrate that mean reversion is in full effect—the higher a QB’s rating is in a given year, the more likely he is to have a lower score in the next year and vice versa. It’s very difficult to have 2 really good or really bad years in a row (unless the QB is awesome or terrible).
We know from the first chart in the series that ratings go up as your years of experience goes up, hence, by the fourth year as starter, the net expected change is negative. The guys above 130 are likely to fall back and the guys below 130 are likely to move up. This effect allows us to infer that there is an expected upper bound for a seasoned QB, probably in the 130 to 140 range. One possible explanation for this phenomenon, is that a QB is unlikely to have the same group of players around him for all four years. The team around him might be out of phase with his development and that will have an effect on the numbers he puts up.
The familiar example around here is Chad Henne. Chad had Braylon Edwards and a veteran offensive line in his first year. So any improvement he may have developed in between 2004 and 2005 was partially offset by the loss of Edwards and other changes around him. However, as the team around him developed and he continued to develop, he saw a big jump in performance in his third year. Then, going into 2007, there were many losses on the offensive line in addition to Steve Breaston, and Henne’s numbers fell back to the 130-ish level. Overall it looks like Henne never really improved, but the reality is that his development made up for and was masked by the changes in the team around him in all likelihood. I think this is a more plausible explanation than “he was always sweet and he never got better.”
Finally, it’s worth taking a look at the dependency of first year performance vs. Seniority. The question being: is it better to have a redshirt junior making his first start instead of a true freshman?
Once again I’ve plotted the averages and their corresponding standard error and included sample size along the axis for reference. The responsible conclusion is that seniority is not a significant factor in first year success for Redshirt Sophomores or younger. Players older than that seem to perform better. However, you could just as easily conclude that since the averages overlap so much, especially in non-adjacent points, the trend is pretty weak and that no trend exists. It seems that other factors, such as supporting cast and the overall talent of the player, matter more than the age of the QB when he makes his first collegiate start. The team thing is difficult to assess but talent is easy; Rivals.com, be my guide.
Same thing as before, lumped averages with standard error and sample sizes shown. This time, I think the trend is real because: A) it makes sense and B) there is no overlap between 2-stars and 5-stars. Also, a 5-star QB is more likely to have a good team around him than a 2-star player is. All of these things support the trend despite the uncertainty in the data. There’s another reason, let’s zoom in on 5-stars; this time with a table.
|Reggie McNeal||Texas A&M||2003||124.5|
|Trent Edwards||Stanford||2003||79.5||4 new OL; 2 new WR; new RB|
|Kyle Wright||Miami (FL)||2005||137.2|
|Marcus Vick||Virginia Tech||2005||143.3|
|Anthony Morelli||Penn State||2006||111.9||4 new OL|
|Matthew Stafford||Georgia||2006||109||3 new OL; 2 new WR;|
|Xavier Lee||Florida State||2006||123.5|
|Jimmy Clausen||Notre Dame||2007||103.9||3 new OL; 1 new WR|
|Tyrod Taylor||Virginia Tech||2007||119.7|
|Terrelle Pryor||Ohio State||2008||146.5|
When you strip out the four guys that had extenuating circumstances (Mallett stays in), the average is about 131. That’s approaching the theoretical upper limit right away, on average.
I’m currently working an a project that tries to use this information to see what we can expect out of the QBs on our upcoming schedule. I’ll also try to use the dataset to try and tease out what we can expect out of our guys based on QBs similar to themselves.