This is the second in a series of wallpapers leading up to the 2011 Gator Bowl. According to the Mississippi State University official athletic web site, "the most unique and certainly the most resounding symbol of Mississippi State University tradition is the cowbell. Despite decades of attempts by opponents and authorities to banish it from scenes of competition, diehard State fans still celebrate Bulldog victories loudly and proudly with the distinctive sound of ringing cowbells."
Bulldogs fans have been bringing their answer to the Vuvuzela to football games since the late 1930s and you can bet that the world's second most annoying noisemakers will be freshly painted and nerve-gratingly loud at the Gator Bowl. Tip: if you're planning on attending the game, halt your New Year's Eve celebration a few glasses shy of a next-day headache.
On the spectrum of college football tradition awesomeness, the Mississippi State cowbell lands somewhere between "not at all awesome" and "yeah, right - what is your REAL most resounding traditional symbol?" This tradition deficiency is extra glaring in a conference that boasts 'Between the Hedges' (Georgia) and 'War Eagle' (Auburn) among others.
There are few things in this world which I genuinely hate; among them are people who hurt kids, wisdom tooth extraction and cowbells. A cowbell-themed wallpaper was a foregone conclusion, but I just couldn't get my heart into anything that involved showing an actual cowbell. So in the spirit of maximizing opponent mockingness, I offer a visual pun of dubious humor by combining the pillar of Mississippi State football tradition with the symbol of Southern beauty and femininity: the Southern Belle. This also reveals the range of my comedic abilities. On the spectrum of humor awesomeness, I land somewhere between "not at all humorously awesome" and "wait - are puns of dubious humor REALLY your only comedic angle?"
The image below is a preview only. You can get the widescreen, 4:3, iPad and mobile wallpapers at The Art. The Art. The Art!.
How it was made
I captured the creation of this artwork and sped up the footage to condense a little over 3 hours of design time into a little under 2 minutes of video. If you're looking to improve your consumptive ratio of "time wasting garbage" to "meaningful and enlightening" media, you should not for any reason watch this video.
All of the 2010 Wallpapers
Action since last rankings:
12-5-10 Indiana loses commitment from Raymon Taylor.
12-6-10 Purdue gains commitment from Akeem Shavers. Michigan State gains commitment from Damon Knox. Wisconsin loses commitment from Bennett Okotcha, Notre Dame gains commitment from Bennett Okotcha. Nebraska gains commitment from Givens Price. Michigan loses commitment from Shawn Conway.
12-8-10 Penn State gains commitment from Ben Kline.
12-12-10 Illinois gains commitment from Jordan Frysinger.
|Big Ten+ Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# Commits||Rivals Avg||Scout Avg||ESPN Avg|
Rivals rankings are on the "RR" scale, which is on a scale from about 5 to about 6.1. Unrated prospects are given a 5.1 rating, on par with the worst of any Big Ten commit last year. Scout is on the 5-star system (unranked players earn star), and ESPN uses grades out of 100 (unranked is 40 or 45).
|#1 Ohio State - 18 Commits|
No change for the Buckeyes.
|#2 Notre Dame - 19 Commits|
|George Atkinson III||S||CA||5.8||4||79|
Irish steal Bennett Okotcha from Wisconsin.
|#3 Nebraska - 18 Commits|
Givens Price switches from the Rice Owls to the Huskers.
|#4 Michigan State - 17 Commits|
|#5 Wisconsin - 20 Commits|
Badgers lose Bennett Okotcha to Notre Dame.
The hits keep coming, as Shawn Conway will not qualify and instead is going to Grand Rapids CC next season.
|#7 Indiana - 19 Commits|
Hoosiers lose their top commit in corner Raymon Taylor.
|#8 Iowa - 15 Commits|
|#9 Northwestern - 11 Commits|
|#10 Minnesota - 15 Commits|
|#11 Illinois - 19 Commits|
Jordan Frysinger, an unranked wideout (who chose football at Illinois over lacrosse at Johns Hopkins, which is an... interesting choice) picks the Illini.
|#12 Penn State - 8 Commits|
Lions pick up Ben Kline, capitalizing on Pitt's coaching change. Zanellato picks up a ranking of 76 from ESPN.
|#13 Purdue - 11 Commits|
If you recall, before the potential coaching change engulfed the world of Michigan fans (myself included), we were interested in whether or not the 3-3-5 defense could stop Big Ten-style run offenses. There were various football people who insisted that it could if run properly and those, like Chris Spielman, who thought that it had too many “bubbles” (I fell into the latter camp, fwiw). This diary is intended to address that issue. Obviously, the issue is more likely to be relevant if RR is retained (the wisdom of which I don’t mean to comment on here).
By "Big Ten-style" run offense, I mean, perhaps sloppily, any offense that does not primarily run out of the spread. A majority of Big Ten teams now run out of the spread, of course, but the idea floating around toward the end of Michigan's regular season was that the 3-3-5 could not stop traditional Big Ten-style rushing attacks. I accordingly looked for results from the 3-3-5 against run offenses similar to those used by Iowa, Wisconsin, etc.
[Edit: I may not have been clear enough in defining "traditional Big Ten-style rushing attack." I'll try to be more specific: A running attack that mostly involves a QB under center and mostly involves the use of a fullback or at least one tight end on running plays. Why am I using that definition? I'm using it because it because I think that's what people mean when they say that the 3-3-5 can't stop Big Ten-style rushing attacks. This criticism tends not to be very specific, so it is difficult to address it with a great deal of specificity. It is difficult to catch the boogie man.]
For obvious reasons, WVU offers the best and most relevant example of a team that uses the 3-3-5. I decided to look at WVU's success (or lack of it) against Pitt, Rutgers, and UConn from 2005-2009 as a measurement of the effectiveness of the 3-3-5 against Big Ten-style run offenses. I think we can agree that those teams run using offenses that are similar to traditional Big Ten-style offenses or, at least, that they generally do not run out of the spread (or some exotic non-spread offense like the triple-option, wing-T, or lonely antelope*).
Here, we can imagine the protest that WVU's 3-3-5 may work in the Big East but would not work in the Big Ten, as the Big East is inferior. To this I have two responses: First, WVU plays against Big East-caliber players when it plays the above teams but it does this with more-or-less that same caliber of player on its own side. Off the top of my head, I'm fairly sure that Pitt, for one, nearly always out-recruits WVU, so WVU likely does not have a talent advantage in that match-up. As to UConn and Rutgers, I believe that WVU typically out-recruits those schools, but certainly not to the degree that Michigan or any other top-echelon Big Ten School does. I might be wrong on these assumptions and, frankly, I don't feel like looking it up. The motivated reader is welcome to shed light here. In any event, I hope we can agree that WVU does not have a significant talent advantage over Pitt, UConn, and Rutgers and so the “But it’s the Big East!” argument fails on that count.
Second, it is possible that Big East coaches are inferior to Big Ten coaches so that Big Ten run offenses are more nuanced and difficult to defend than are Big East run offenses. I have no answer to this objection. I don't have the time or expertise to offer a meaningful reply. WVU's 3-3-5 offers us the most relevant example of that defense, though, so we have to work with what we have.
With those issues addressed, below are the yards per carry (ypc) of Rutgers, UConn, and Pitt from '05-'09 for their entire seasons, not including their ypc against WVU in those years. Below also are the ypc for each team against WVU (WVU ypc) for each of the relevant years and the difference between the teams' season ypc and WVU ypc for each year.
The average difference in ypc between Rutgers’ season ypc and its ypc against WVU was -0.9 ypc for '05-'09.
The average difference in ypc between UConn's season ypc and its ypc against WVU was -1.3 ypc for '05-'09.
The average difference in ypc between Pitt’s season ypc and its ypc against WVU was -0.6 ypc for '05-'09.
Further Thoughts and Conclusion:
I realized as I was compiling these statistics that I did not account for sacks. WVU averaged roughly 31 sacks per year from ’05-’09, a seemingly middling amount (and roughly what Michigan averaged for those years). A brief review of the rest of the Big East’s sack totals for those years suggests that WVU was not a stand-out sack-wise in the conference for our time period. It is none-the-less possible that, despite WVU’s average performance as a pass rushing defense, WVU had a disproportionate amount of sacks against UConn, Pitt, and Rutgers and that these sacks artificially lowered those teams’ ypc against WVU. WVU recorded seven sacks for 50 yards in one of the games listed above.
I am not inclined, half out of laziness, to go back and pick through the sacks-against totals for UConn, Pitt, and Rutgers against all non-WVU teams and then against WVU. It strikes me as unlikely that those teams’ ypc were lowered by sacks against WVU any more than they were lowered by sacks against all other teams. Again, though, the motivated reader is welcome to illuminate this issue.
UConn, Rutgers, and Pitt rushed for an average of 0.9 ypc less against WVU during our time period than they did against all other teams. WVU’s worst performances were against Pitt in 2005 and 2008, when Pitt increased its ypc by 0.8 and 0.7 against WVU. Other than that, WVU routinely held teams to their average ypc or less. Twice (UConn 2005 and Pitt 2006), WVU stoned teams to the tune of a decrease of at least -3.9 ypc.
As a comparison (and here my laziness shows up again), Alabama’s very strong rush defense of 2009 held its Division I opponents to 1.6 ypc less than those teams rushed for during their entire seasons (here, though, I did not subtract those teams' ypc against Alabama from their total ypc, so the above number is artificially deflated). The fact that WVU’s performance against UConn, Rutgers, and Pitt does not match Alabama’s (deflated) performance of 2009 shows us that WVU was not dominant. Despite this, I am inclined to say that WVU’s performance was pretty good or, if you like, A-okay.
Despite the imperfections in the above analysis, I now believe that the 3-3-5 can succeed against traditional Big Ten offenses. Of course, replicating WVU’s success would require recruiting appropriate players for the 3-3-5, developing them, and then using the 3-3-5 at least as well as Jeff Casteel does at WVU.
*There is, of course, no such offense as the wing-T.
- I'm starting to get a feel for what this team is about and I'm not real delighted about it. They look pretty solid if not spectacular in all three phases of the game.
- They're playing a lot more 3-4 base even with georgia with a TE and FB. But by the end of the 1st quarter they started walking up the safety
- It looks like we can have some success running against the three down linemen.
- They substitute a lot on defense, this should be mitigated some by our hurry up, provided we can sustain drives.
- Relf doesn't really have the breakaway speed in the open field, but he'll kill you all day with 8-30 yard runs if you don't put a solid tackle on him.
- OOOOOOoooooh sweet play for MSU's first TD. I'll have to dissect that. (below)
- Georgia gives up a bad fumble which takes away what would have been a sure TD.
- #15 DB playing a deep zone was too aggressive didn't get his hips turned and got beat for a huge pass (i've been told he's not playing D anymore, oh well)
- #34 can't bull rush but he's smart and fast, moves well laterally, batted a ball rushing from a two point. he's a bit of tweener DE/OLB
- Georgia muffed a punt, so there's 2 bad turnovers and we've still got a ways to go before half.
- the motion man is very important in the play designs. our guys need to be ready and anticipate what the formation 'will be'. They like to motion guys into the backfield or across the formation for the fly sweep. And sometimes they do motion just to do motion, like flipping the formation strength on a passing down.
- Haha, halfback pass, nice play call, HORRIBLE execution. and the Georgia OLB was staying at home and got the INT, so we're back to +1 TO margin.
- And Relf draws a personal foul. Do we have any sean avery's on defense to get under his skin?
- MSU DL just blew up a zone blocking scheme as they all just shot across their blockers and met in the backfield. I'm thinking that's a miscall by the georgia O-line (hoping)
- With the tweeners that MSU has on defense, they'll rush just 2 down linemen but still bring 3, 4, or even 5 pass rushers. their DE's will drop into coverage a fair amount of the time. This is probably done to complement their blitzing. Denard, be careful about your hot reads!!!
- Oooh! Georgia gets a TD on a Tunnell screen (called back on penalty) but neither safety is anywhere to be seen. I LIKE IT!
- 7-6 at the half, but Georgia could easily be leading this if they hadn't fumbled or converted in the redzone. MSU is making an annoying habit of bending but not breaking.
- (Off Topic halftime comment: I'm watching Equilibrium on cable and the black guy just ruins it! He's fricken smiling within seconds of his introduction!!! You're supposed to not have any emotions dumbass. Christian bale should have shot you right then and there! Way to ruin it for everyone else. Sean Bean, always solid)
- Ballard #28 doesn't have great hands for the passing game.
- YES! ANOTHER HORRID INT BY RELF UNDER PRESSURE. Two weeks in a row. but Georgia was offsides. (please still do this, please still do this). When he throws off his back foot, start quacking, cause it's a duck!
- Jebus, they give Relf 3 lead blockers on some of those QB iso's.
- But he does show a little carelessness with the ball, fumbled outofbounds. (then again, so does denard), fumbled snap, fumbled mesh. If Relf has a bad day with turnovers, we'll win.
- Georgia doesn't have the passing ability to make MSU pay for putting 8 in the box. They rotate the safety late, but it's the same thing for the LB's changing their responsibilities.
- MSU doing a great job of 'checking the check' on defense. This has been consistent in all four games so far. (i.e. the defense shows blitz or some other risky defense, the offense sees it and checks to a hot route, and then the D sees the O change and changes too.)
- We're gonna need a huge game from our contain men, Roh, and whoever is playing opposite of Roh.
- Relf loses accuracy the further downfield he tries to throw. Intermediate over the middle is his sweet spot for passing. Need MLB's to get good pass drops.
- Mullen with another great 4th and inches call on his own 40 with 6 minutes to go, that's the kind of call that wins games. I'm starting to really respect this guy. Between Ballard and Relf, inches are a gimme for this veteran O-line.
- #34 wright, not really a pass rusher, great ups (2nd time i've noticed that?) likes to get in the passing lanes and bat the ball.
- at 17-6 georgia fails on 4th down deep in their own territory with 4 minutes to play, the final 13 points don't really matter. This was a pretty close game where if Georgia had a better passing QB, they probably could have won easily. MSU blitzed like crazy and kept 8 in the box all day.
- They didn't run hardly anything from under center (any?). Left the single wing stuff at home this week. Didn't see much of perkins #27, anyone know if he was injured for this game? That might have changed the formations available.
- Georgia's QB has an arm, just too young to know what to do with it right now. I'll have to watch the rest of the games, but my suspicion is that they don't blitz quite as much against better QB's (but then again, Denard is just a true sophomore with a tendency for bad interceptions, so we'll probably see lots of guys coming from different places)
MSU's first TD
This isn't a play that I have seen them run often up to this point, but it's a sweet play because it utilizes a lot of their offensive concepts and it's been tweeked for perfection in that situation. (not sure if the tweek was by design or just bad execution by the RB)
They're in the redzone, it's a big game. Still scoreless. It's not a time to be vanilla. They come out in what appears to be a simple 3 WR twins right. But actually, this is an unbalanced line. Both the WR are on the line of scrimmage which means that Bumphis is ineligible on this play. The left flanker, who's into the boundary will go in motion making this a huge overshift to the right. With one of the WR ineligible, this is screaming run to the right 99% of the time.
But the tricky thing here is that the TE is not on the line of scrimmage. This will be important in a moment. The RB is lined up in Relf's hip pocket indicating a mesh that could really go into any of the 4 inside gaps. The motion man is deep into the backfield faking the fly sweep which would be a common base play for this formation.
Here's where the real genius of the play can be seen. At the snap of the ball, the 3 linemen on the left block down hard to the right. The right guard pulls to the left. And the right tackle shows pass blocking technique on what will be the backside DE. There are just false keys being given all over the place. The corner and safety have been taken in by the motion and their momentum is completely wrong. Anyone on the defensive right side of the ball is going to be reading that the play is going to their left. The only one who has a shot at stopping this play for minimal gain is the Mike linebacker if he can pick out the right read amongst the 5 false ones. The big mistake is by the safeties, one of whom is completely confused, and the other is taking himself out of position.
The RB's first step is lateral to the left as he tries to get a good pitch relationship for the option. In this case the fly sweep acts as the dive man, but he's going completely horizontal. Georgia is completely baffled by what they're seeing. One LB makes the correct read, but you can't stop an option with one man. The other LB needs to get on his horse and cover the pitch man. (The ideal defense for this would be to not have the safety and DE get fooled, so the DE can keep contain and take the pitch man)
But EVEN IF Georgia had sniffed all that out, there was still the issue of the TE coming across the formation to do either a lead block or take the shovel pass. And that wasn't a TE, that was #2, their third TB. Another hint that something odd is coming. But he's hard to see behind that scrum of blockers. Anyway, 1 defender taking on 3 offender is never going to be a good thing for the defense.
This last part I'm not sure if it was by design or just poor execution by the running back Ballard, who is usually used on inside runs, not keeping proper pitch relationship. He gets well ahead of the play and Relf is forced to make a forward pass to him. If I had to guess, I'd say it's by design, with the shovel pass in play, the linemen are already staying at the LOS. It could just be that he ran out of space running towards the boundary and got overanxious to turn it upfield. But if it is by design, it's pretty clever, because this creates the possibility of turning him into a lead blocker for Relf if the pass isn't there.
In the end it's an easy TD. Relf had 4 options on this play, 2 others would have gotten huge gains by design, the only bad thing he could have done was hold onto the ball. And it's just a sweet play all around. The left tackle gets a great block to make it a walk in TD. Bumphis waited on the line, but he was pretty close to getting a flag for being illegally downfield.
Later they ran two more plays from this formation, (and why not, when it was that wide open the first time). They hit the shovel to Ballard who was at H-back for a big gainer, and they got a TD on the straight up pass motion. Interesting to note that the ineligible Bumphis sprints backwards on that play in about the only way he can legally get the ball. So going down the rabbit hole, they probably have a transcontinental play from the formation and a give to the fly sweep who gives to bumphis on the reverse (glad bumphis isn't playing, they'll probably use #27 in that role instead.)
And on a 4th play, they ran from almost the same look, but without the motion, and the WR were aligned to the short side of the field (on all 4 plays the WR were to the right, maybe they're not good with that formation flipped, at least at this point in the season). This time Relf just kept it to the wide side without some of the other options, probably didn't want to risk stopping the clock. Instead the two guys just turned into lead blockers. And this was a called run.
- LSU likes to run heavy sets more than Auburn, so Miss st. ran alot more 4 and even 5 DL fronts on first and second down 3rd down was almost exclusively 3 DL
- LSU's QB's were able to break contain on scrambles and get to the outside.
- ESPN U cameraman can't find the fricken ball, missing plays with stupid graphics, ARRRRGGGGHHH!
- Audible's come from the sideline
- Trips formation is about 60% bubble screens in 2+ games so far.
- Relf looks slow to pickup corner blitzes.
- punt formation was back to normal this week, but maybe just cause the punt was from deep in their own territory
- LSU adjusts to the 4 man line by going spread on 1st down. to pickup a nice gain, then back to heavy sets.
- #34 DE, team captian. Looks small for a DE, (maybe it's just his number) but has good ups. Knocked down a screen pass.
- 4th and inches on the 45, ran the option and gave to the full back instead of qb iso. strange.
- #28 ballard is pretty strong, can move the pile
- Relf looks to have decent accuracy over the middle, but he's not gonna beat you on deep outs and corner routes. ball has too much air under it.
- Trips, when LSU has two men up in bump and run, it's a straight up zone option, when LSU's corners play off, they throw the bubble.
- triangle trips (where the middle WR is on the line) is more of a passing formation.
- Terrible interception by Relf, just throwing up a prayer under a blitz pressure. hopefully he hasn't grown out of that yet.
- LSU is back in spread on 1st, so MSU goes 3 man line, so LSU runs right at it for big yardage.
- LSU 3rd and 15, only 2 DL but brought a 5 man blitz in the redzone, interesting.
- Relf is pitching the ball more when they run the option left this week, probably got coached up on that.
- 12-0 LSU at the half, Miss State's redzone D brought a lot of pressure, but LSU's ineffeciency at redzone passing probably had more to do with the stops. Very conservative playcalling by miles that the bulldog D jumped all over. procedure penalties also hurt LSU.
- the previous comment about tony dungy was obviously incorrect, it's Herman Edwards who is stuttering up in that booth.
- Miss st. is moving the the RB late to change the direction of the zone option
- Relf shaken up with a mild concussion, once you get the first it becomes more of risk every subsequent time.
- Russell can throw the deep out, hope he's out for the bowl game.
- not real impressed with miss state's FB on short yardage. he's better on option dives, but LSU does have a good DL, so that might be skewing my opinion. Either way, ballard and relf are the much bigger threats in short yardage.
- Still not very impressed with #4 safety, in 3 games I've seen him only make one great play when he was in the box and read the hole. Other than that, he's been a lot of meh.
- FB will take you to the play 90% of the time, he's either the first man on the option or the lead blocker, they almost never use him as a backside blocker or in cross buck motion. The closest to misdirection with the FB i've seen is when they dive off the guard's outside shoulder and option it the the other way
- up 26-7 start of the 4th quarter, fourth INT of the game for LSU and that's the ball game.
- LOL is there really a baseball player called FUKUDOME?!? I saw it on the scroll and thought it was the name of a stadium. the Fuk - U - dome.hahaha
- Without the massive # of turnovers this would have been a closer game, but LSU just dominated the LOS on both sides of the ball. they brought lots of heat on defense and heavy sets on offense and just pushed around their counterparts. Unfortunately this is not really something we'll be able to do. We won't have the weight advantage LSU had.
Last week, there was a thread about an alleged “MGoBubble” (thread ref)- and that led to a side discussion about the perceived level of support for Rich Rodriguez among various groups of people. In my quest to find some real data (rather than forum posts or polls on Detnews), I came across an organization called Public Policy Polling that conducts state-level polls about voter perceptions of political candidates. In May of 2010, they included questions about Rich Rodriguez for their Michigan poll. They repeated those questions in their Michigan poll this past week. The results, both from May and from December, are very interesting and may be surprising to some.
First of all, the usual caveats:
- I am not affiliated in any way with Public Policy Polling (site)
- I am not advocating one way or another anything about “CC” - I am trying to bring some accurate data (and new information) into the discussion
- The survey does not go very deep - it simply asks some basic questions about favorable or unfavorable opinions about RR, and about allowing RR to continue or having him replaced
- The survey does not claim to be representative of any particular subgroup other than the categories it specifically asks about. In other words, this poll is not representative of the UofM student body, nor of alumni. nor of former players, etc. It is representative of registered voters in Michigan who identify themselves as UofM fans, and of those fans as broken down by political ideology, party affiliation, age, ethnicity, and gender.
- The May Michigan survey was conducted May 25-27, polled 890 people, and has a margin of error of +/- 3.3% (source)
- The December Michigan survey was conducted December 3-6, polled 1224 people, and has a margin of error of +/- 2.8% (source)
- One of the questions specifically asks whether the respondent is a fan of UofM, MSU, or neither. The questions about RR were only asked to those who identified themselves as UofM fans. This also means that the margin of error for questions about RR is higher, because the sample size is smaller.
May 2010 Results
First of all, let’s look at the May results, after a 3-9 and 5-7 season, and concurrent with the announcement by Michigan of the self-imposed penalties for the NCAA violations (UofM announced those penalties on May 25).
1. Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Rich Rodriguez? Based on the May results, it appears that there is a small group of people (20%) who had a favorable view of RR, and a slightly larger but still fairly small group of people (26%) who had an unfavorable view of RR. The majority (54%) were unsure.
The polling organization noted that this is a low favorable rating for one’s own coach. They compared it to the favorable rating that North Carolina fans have for their arch-rival Duke’s basketball coach (46%). For RR to have such a low favorable rating from his own fan base is “exceptionally bad,” according to the polling organization. (source)
2. Would you like to see Rich Rodriguez continue to be Michigan’s football coach this season or would you like to see him replaced? This is a very interesting result - a majority (51%) of people wanted RR to continue for the 2010 season, which implies that a majority of Michigan fans who were “Not sure” of their opinion on RR still wanted him to be the coach. In fact, there was a smaller percentage of fans who wanted him replaced (20%) than who had an unfavorable opinion of him (26%), which implies that even some of his detractors either wanted him to continue as coach this year or were unsure.
Digging a little bit deeper, although this poll doesn’t say anything specifically about UofM students, alumni, current players, or former players, it is possible to address whether age has anything to do with one’s positions on RR. A claim that I have heard on this blog is that RR’s detractors are probably older fans who are more comfortable with traditional power football, and not inclined to support a coach who brings a modern offensive philosophy to the table. In fact, this data appears to show just the opposite - the older the fan, the stronger the support for RR in May. It is the group of fans in the youngest category (18-29) who are the most polarized and who have the strongest negative views on RR.
Why is that? One possible explanation is that the idea of keeping something the same or making a change may be related to one’s political ideology - and that as of May 2010, having RR as the coach was already seen as the status quo. Assuming (the polling organization didn’t publish this specific data) that older fans tend to be conservative, and further assuming that conservatives prefer to keep the status quo, that might partially explain why older fans preferred to keep RR as coach back in May. In that sense, one could argue (although the data doesn’t necessarily say this) that RR was already accepted by those older fans as “a Michigan man” in the sense that his status as football coach was seen as the status quo.
One final interesting result from the May survey. There does appear to be a significant divide in support for RR based on ethnicity. The polling organization didn’t put forward any possible explanation for this ethnicity gap, and I honestly can’t come up with a rationale myself. It is what it is.
A lot has happened in Michigan since May, both in football and in politics. Michigan elected a Republican governor by a large majority, and the UofM football team experienced a winning season under Coach Rodriguez, but suffered double-digit losses to MSU, Iowa, Wisconsin, and OSU.
So how did the events of the past 6 months affect RR’s favorable rating among UofM fans?
There remains a small core of people (20%, just as in May) who continue to have a favorable opinion of RR, while the group that has an unfavorable opinion has increased (from 26% in May to 38% in December), apparently almost completely from the “Not sure” camp in May (down from 54% in May to 42% in December). The surprising result, for me, is that the largest group (42%) is still “Not sure” about their opinion of RR.
Given that many “Not sure” fans in May still wanted RR to continue, and even some of the fans who viewed RR unfavorably in May didn't necessarily want him replaced, do fans want RR to continue as they look forward to 2011?
Again, there has been a shift in opinion away from a majority of people who wanted RR to continue back in May, to a statistically even split among those who want him to continue (32%), those who want him replaced (35%), and those who are unsure (33%). As in May, there may be some people who have an unfavorable view of RR but do not necessarily want him replaced (38% v. 35%).
Attempting to tease out where those unsure of their opinion of RR stand with respect to having him keep his job, I made a couple of admittedly invalid assumptions:
- All those who want RR to continue have a favorable opinion of him
- The difference between the larger group of those who want RR to continue v. the smaller group of those who have a favorable opinion of him consist completely of those who are unsure of their opinion of him. In other words, if 20% have a favorable opinion, but 32% want him to continue being the coach, that extra 12% of people who want to keep RR is coming from those who are unsure of their opinion of him.
Not sure of their opinion of RR but want him to continue
Again, this is probably a stretch in terms of interpreting the published data, but it appears that RR’s support for keeping his job among “neutral” UofM fans has eroded significantly.
Digging a little deeper, the May results suggested that the youngest fans (18-29) were the most strongly divided and had the highest percentage of people wanting to replace RR. By contrast, the oldest fans (65+) wanted to keep RR back in May, by a large margin. Has this age profile of support for RR changed in December?
This is a significant change. Not only has RR’s overall support eroded, his support among the “blue hairs” has completely flipped, where more of the oldest respondents (65+) want him replaced than want to keep him.
Respondents age 65+
What about the youngest respondents, who were the most divided back in May? It appears that they are now very unsure of whether they want RR to continue being Michigan's coach.
Respondents age 18-29
What about political ideology? Do even conservative fans, who theoretically would prefer to keep the status quo, still want to keep RR in his position?
Again, this shows almost a complete inversion of the results in May. Back in May, liberals tended to want to replace RR while conservatives tended to want to keep him; now in December, it’s the opposite.
And for the sake of completion, do we still see a dramatic gap in support for RR based on ethnicity?
Although there is still an ethnicity gap, it has narrowed significantly to the point where it appears that one either wants RR to continue, to be replaced, or is unsure - regardless of one’s ethnicity.
Finally, one additional question was asked in the December poll, about who the respondents would like to see as a replacement. No surprise about who leads the pack, but I should point out that Brady Hoke is running a distant third, behind even an “unnamed” candidate.
I’ll be the first to say that it is dangerous, even maliciously deceptive, to extrapolate into the future using data that is not intended to be used that way. So I believe it would be inappropriate to say anything like, “if current trends continue...”, or “another season like this one would probably result in favorable ratings of...”, or “if we lose to MSU and OSU again next year, the percentage of fans who would want to keep RR would probably be...” The data makes no claim to predict the future - it is simply 2 snapshots in time that reveal how opinions have changed since May.
I hope this diary qualifies as “bringing new information” to the table, and also brings forward some reasonably accurate opinion survey data that we can talk about, rather than statements made in a vacuum claiming that “98% of former M football players still alive despise RR” or the idea that “players that played 40-70 years ago...are not a fan of the spread offense...” (thread ref)