at least it's not just us?
I posted this information on an MGoBlog thread, that seems to have been buried, and was apparently little-noticed. I'll repeat it here, in a Diary entry.
There is, I think, something of a technical explanation for some of the effect seen at the OSU game.
For about four or five years now, beginning with their drawn-up master plans for the stadium renovations, the Athletic Department has planned to perform in-bowl renovations to match the outer-bowl new construction in the form of the two major structures on the east and west sides of the bowl.
The design and the progress of the outside-of-the-bowl is obvious for all to see. The plans for the inside-the-bowl renovations were mostly invisible, until last Saturday.
AFTER the completion of the two giant outside structures, with a large amount of new seating available, the Athletic Department plans to proceed with inside-the-bowl renovations, including widened aisles, and, to the best of my knowledge, widened seat spacing. As a result, some seating within the bowl will be lost, to be made up in terms of total numbers by club seating and other premium seating. In other words, in case you didn't know it, the new premium seating will add several thousand new seats, but the old-bowl renovations will eliminate several thousand seats, with only a small net gain in total seating.
With those long-range plans for the in-bowl renovations, the Athletic Department has been "banking" all of the non-renewed season tickets. With those "banked" seats, the Athletic Department plans to be able to do the aforementioned aisleway widening, handrail addtions and (hooray) widened seat-numbering, with a minimum of inconvenience and movement to existing season ticket seat holders. Some season ticket holders might be moved, but with all of the "banked" seats at its disposal, the Ticket Office thinks it can minimize any inconvenience to season ticket holders who, for instance, currently have seats on an aisle that will be lost to aisleway widening. They had to utilize that same process, on a slightly smaller scale, in order to be able to construct the handicapped seating mezzanine.
In the meantime, it means that the Athletic Department has larger numbers of individul and/or package tickets to sell.
All of which were converted from abandoned season ticket subscriptions. And those package/game tickets can be picked up by anybody.
If you had wanted to conduct an experiment at the time of the OSU game, all you had to do was ask to see the tickets of any of those OSU fans; I have every presumption that in most cases, thetickets held by Buckeye fans would surely have been small and white, not the larger color photo-background tickets that go to season ticket holders.
This problem will be less and less of an issue in the future, as season-ticket assignments within the bowl get settled after renovations are completed.
Now, if anybody doesn't believe me, or doesn't want to believe me, or simply wants to maintain a kind of mythologized class-war about Michigan Stadium patrons, I sincerely suggest that an interview with Marty Bodnar of Joe Parker on this subject will be the best way to test my theory and reporting. If Brian wants to deputize me for the purpose, I'll be happy to make a call to the ticket office.
As for big blocks of OSU fans in Michigan Stadium: Michigan has long prided itself on being the most hospitable stadium in the Big Ten to visiting fans; nobody makes available more visiting-team tickets then we do. The block-seating areas include (and have always, always done this for OSU, MSU and other nearby rivals) the lower-row seats in Section 44, which go to opposing coaches' and players' guests. Also the top rows of the South endzone sections (generally opponent-students), as well as a block in the lower-center area of the South endzone (generally opponent alumni and boosters).
Lastly; as many have observed, on chilly days, Michigan fans are liable to be wearing navy sweaters and jackets. The OSU scarlet really stands out. (cf; Notre Dame.) And, for people in Columbus, the Michigan game is the biggest day of the year. They smelled blood in the water this year, and many of them made the effort, got the tickets, and came north. Do not for a moment think that ticket brokers missed an opportunity to purchase a package of tickets that included Eastern and Delaware State, simply to get ahold of OSU tickets, and sell them in Columbus. Those tickets, the package tickets, are quite likely part of the "bank" of tickets that the Athletic Department is holding only until 2010 or 2011, for the completion of the stadium renovations.
Pop quiz hotshot, who has the best offense in the Big Ten? If you don't know the answer or want to follow along with some simple stat manipulation, read and find out.
As usual, 12 data points is not enough to draw solid conclusions but if you didn't enjoy making statistical interpretations about college football you probably wouldn't be reading mgoblog.
As everyone knew, going into the OSU game Michigan had the best scoring offense in the Big Ten. Unfortunately that 10 spot we put up drops us all the way to 4th. How do we drop so quickly from 1st to 4th? What it really means is that we are in the 1st tier of offenses and a virtual tie for 2nd. If we had made that field goal (or gotten a safety) we would have been 2nd place in the Big Ten.
So how does the Big Ten stack up? Well, Wisconsin is the best scoring offense in the conference. Penn State, Michigan State, Michigan and Ohio State make up the rest of tier 1. Purdue*, Northwestern, Indiana and Iowa are the tier 2 offenses. Finally, Minnesota and Illinois bring up the rear.
|Points per game||Standard Deviation|
The main point to take away is that our offense was comparable to the Big Ten's offenses this year. Would you have said that last year? The other important thing to note is the standard deviation. Michigan was the most inconsistent of all Big Ten teams. Shocking statistical analysis there. Isn't it a good thing we can look at the numbers to see things we could never have known by watching the games?
Cupcakes aren't a high fiber diet
Again as everyone knew, part of that number 1 ranking was built out of baby seal carcasses. Michigan wasn't the only team that played a cupcake though. How can we adjust for these blowout games?
Well, one possibility is to look at performance against average points allowed. However, this takes some work and is already covered in great detail by The Mathlete. I prefer a quick and dirty approach. We take out the high and low score for each team to get more of a sense of what the consistent performance of the offense is.
|Adjusted PPG||Std Dev|
The only change in the adjusted points per game is that Michigan drops from 4th to 6th. It still remains in tier 1 though, along with Wisconsin, Penn State, Michigan State, Ohio State and this time Purdue. Northwestern falls more in line with the tier 2 offenses along with Indiana and Iowa. Minnesota and Illinois are still tier 3, although Illinois should probably be it's own tier 4. By the way, who wants to guess how many of the high scores that got eliminated were scored against Michigan?**
What does this all mean?
Everybody will have their own interpretation of these stats. When combined with the eyeball test, I think that it means our offense has made a lot of improvement over last year. It's not quite the offensive juggernaut we hope to see soon, but a lot of that could be explained by a true freshman QB and Molk's absence. We'll see how much more they improve next year, but I think there is a real reason for a lot of hope on the offensive side of the ball.
* Purdue is hard to judge because it is basically in between tier 1 and tier 2. There is a gap between the tier 1 teams and Purdue so I made them tier 2. I probably should have included the Boilermakers in tier 1 though, as we'll see in the next section.
** Trick question. Surprisingly, only Wisconsin scored their season-high against us. Although, Illinois and Indiana came within a touchdown of their season highs when they played us.
Sales managers, and other people for whom salesmen work, like to say that "making the number" is not the only thing that's important when measuring annual performance. They'll point to the size of the funnel, the number of deals, how many calls (whether in person or by phone) have been made, proposals generated, etc. And, to a large degree, that's all true. Considering that in many businesses, including mine, less than about 5% of all leads generate a sale, the entire game boils down to those other metrics. But, at the end of the year, (in some companies, much earlier) the sales manager is going to have a serious conversation with his or her reps about whether quota will be or has been made. If you work for a company like Oracle, you get about one calendar quarter of "grace period" before the cash register had better start ringing. Often. Larry Ellison is not a patient man, and that attitude is pervasive in the Oracle corporate culture.
Its not for nothing that so much pressure is placed on sales people to make quota. People's livelihoods are at stake, and not just the sales rep's, or the executives. Most sales people, unless they truly work for themselves, are well aware of the responsibilities they shoulder. One of my favorite jokes about sales in the last 10 years was a send-up of Jack Nicholson's fiery tirade on the witness stand in A Few Good Men:
Sales: “You want answers?”
Finance: “I think we are entitled to them!”
Sales: “You want answers?!”
Finance: “I want the truth!”
Sales: “You can’t handle the truth!!!”
Sales (continuing): “Son, we live in a world that requires revenue. And that revenue must be brought in by people with elite skills. Who’s going to find it? You? You, Mr. Operations? We have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom.
You scoff at sales division and you curse our lucrative incentives. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what we know: that while the cost of business results are excessive, it drives in revenue.
And my very existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, drives REVENUE! You don’t want to know the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at staff meetings … you want me on that call. You NEED me on that call!
We use words like comps, migration, discounts, flex licensing, global purchase agreements, up-sell. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent negotiating something. You use them as a punch line!
I have neither the time nor inclination to explain myself to people who rise and sleep under the very blanket of revenue I provide and then question the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said “thank you” and went on your way. Otherwise I suggest you pick up a phone and make some sales calls. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you’re entitled to!”
Finance: “Did you expense the lap dances?”
Sales: “I did the job I was hired to do.”
Finance: “Did you expense the lap dances?”
Sales: “You’re goddamn right I did!”I think the sales profession is a useful analog for determining whether Rich Rodriguez is making progress with the team. While "sales funnel" and "deals closed" makes no sense in football, other indicators beyond wins and losses can demonstrate whether the program is moving forward or backward.
For instance, if superior talent generally wins the most ball games, then we need to look at his "pipeline" of recruiting classes as one indication of whether he's "doing the right thing," and can be reasonably expected to return Michigan to national prominence. Scouts Inc. reports that of the 20 verbal commits for UM's 2010 class, there are five 4-star, fourteen 3-star, and one 2-star prospects. Only one (Devin Gardner) is in the top 150 in the nation.
Compare these numbers to Ohio State's current 2010 verbals: seven 4-star, five 3-star, one 2-star. While there are only thirteen commits, four are in the top 150, and two are HS All-Americans. The Penn State 2010 class is just sickening. Among Joe Pa's 20 commits, there are 11 four-star, and nine 3-star prospects. Eight are in the Top 150, and there are four HS All-Americans. Of the eight in the Top 150, six play defense, including all of the All-Americans.
Its clear from reports on this board, as well as what I've read from Sam Webb, that Coach Rod is focusing like a laser on 2011 and beyond. We have one verbal for 2011 already, a CB, who is among the ESPN Top 150 (rated by Scouts Inc.). Those are very positive signs that the "funnel" is reasonably healthy. However, it will have to improve to consistently compete with OSU, USC, Florida and others. We won't know that for another 2-3 years at least.
However, talent is only one indicator. Penn State's recent classes (excepting the 2010 verbals) have not been especially awe-inspiring, yet they have put together two respectable seasons in 2008 and 2009. Notre Dame has had ridiculous classes, (on paper) on par with Ohio State and USC, and can only be considered to have underachieved.
What I'd like to see is a measure of how all that incoming talent is developed beyond the obvious "Ws" and "Ls", bowl appearances, etc. A possible indicator of the development of all that talent is where individual players and their squads (offense, defense, special teams) rank in the conference, and nationally, and whether they are moving up in rank, or down. This would be analogous to measuring how many deals going into the sales funnel make it through various deal stages toward a successful close. I won't do that here, since I see my diary is getting pretty long. I'll leave that to someone else. That's probably an imperfect metric, so perhaps "mathlete" or "jamiemac" have some better ideas. If there are any operations research folks in the crowd, they'll almost certainly be able to find a good KPI for the purpose.
Ultimately, though, all of that will eventually have to translate to wins, losses, bowl appearances and national ranking for the team. I think we're at least 2-3 years removed from that point. However, a good measure of the development of talent should provide a leading indicator of whether the program is advancing, or regressing.
I'm curious what others think.
The announcers were talking about Tate Forcier hitting the wall this year late in the season. And I was wondering whether a whole team could hit the wall.
What has bothered me the most about this team this second half of the season is their complete inability to take advantage of opportunities and their tendency to collapse at the most inopportune times.
Obviously in the first four games (but also Michigan State and Iowa) it felt like they could still make plays when they needed to; like they were going to keep fighting until the end. I can take the losses of MSU and Iowa, like the wins against Indiana and ND, because it felt like we played hard and were in it right until the end.
But in this slide is just didn't feel that way. Whenever the defense played well the offense struggled. If the offense made a big play the defense immediately gave up one.
Today was just another example. Tate just inexplicably fumbles and gives Ohio State 7. We can't make a short FG. The defense plays well but the offense goes three and out. When we do move the ball Tate throws a pick in the endzone. The score may have been close but I never felt we were going to win this game - maybe that is my lack of faith - because we gave OSU the perfect set up: protect a lead and wait for Michigan to make a mistake. It worked.
Maybe it is because there are so many young players - Forcier is still a freshman after all - but it just feels like this team picks the worst possible time to make critical mistakes.
Ohio State is a good defense, and they played conservatively on offense, but five turnovers?!?! Three with the game hanging by a thread.
I don't know if it is inexperience, mental and physical exhaustion, or trying to do too much. But this team found ways to lose rather than finding ways to win and it wasn't always clear that it was due to lack of talent.
One thing I will be looking for next year is a sense that those who return will play smarter and within the system. I am not sure I can take another year of massive turnovers and the overall lack of poise and discipline.
P.S. For the record I am totally against firing RichRod. I think continuity is a must right now. We need as many returning players as we can get plus as many recruits as is possible. This team needs to continuing building not start over again.
I don't blame this inability to find ways to win games during conference play primarily on the coaches - the players were in a position to make plays but didn't. But I do think next year this team has to show composure and discipline or I will begin to wonder about coaching.
(Needless to say, that was the summer of '98, when I had National Championship hangover. it was a good time to say goodbye)
I think people have touched upon various aspects of Ohio State fandom, and have gotten their aspects quite correct. As Brian notes, most fans resemble Woody Hayes, and can condone a childish immaturity and subsequent disrespect.
Others have noted the lack of anything else notable in the Ohio sports world. The repeated failure of Cleveland area professional sports teams - and the lack of one in Columbus.
Some say that it is a lack of more than one rivalry game. While Michigan has bitter tests against MSU and ND as well, OSU has only the game. Obviously, their focus remains exclusively on their one bitter enemy - not divided among three.
Yes, these are all contributing factors. But the weirdest thing to me involves the role of non-student fandom in Ohio. I have actually met few Ohio State student fans. And those I have met, were mostly reasonable. But there is something weird about the condition of being an Ohioan that forces one to irrationality.
1) Thanksgiving, 1998.
I was at a party reunion over Thanksgiving with my high school class. None of them went one to OSU. My high school was a big funnel to Miami U (Not that Miami), and Ohio University (it was a private high school, and most kids were too smart to go to OSU). We had just lost 31-16 in Columbus. I arrived to the party to a chorus of jeering. None of these kids went to OSU, but felt compelled to act as if they did. When I called them out on it, all I got in return was "Fuck Michigan".
2) Thanksgiving, 2000.
My parents made a tradition of flying a Michigan flag over my childhood home for every football game, and every time I visited, a tradition they kept until they moved 2 years ago. We won, 38-26 in Columbus. I was working that weekend in Ann Arbor, and was watching the game at a friend's in Troy. The neighbors ingrate children chalked some derogatory messages on their sidewalk - "Fuck Michigan" and "Michigan Fags". My parents witnessed the chalking and confronted the parents. But the parents shrugged it off, saying it was part of the rivalry, and giving tacit approval that semi-hate speech, if against Michigan fans, is OK. BTW, the parents were not OSU graduates, nor did their children end up attending OSU either.
3) Octoberish, 2000, The game 1997, and some random party 2005.
In short, the three different episodes of substance I have had with OSU fans. In 2000, I was part of the Michigan Big Ten Bass Fishing Team (Big Ten Champions). We invited the lone OSU fisherman over for beers and had a reasonable evening with them before kicking their ass on the lake the next day.
In 1997, I was a freshman in Alice Lloyd. I was coming home from a party several sheets to the wind in the early morning hours when I saw a DPS officer telling three OSU students they couldn't sleep in their car on Observatory. I let them into the lounge on my floor and gave them a bathroom key, telling them that they were in Michigan now, and something about hospitality.
During a party in grad school at Michigan Tech, some kid walks into my house in an OSU hat. After engaging him in conversation, I find out that he is not only not an OSU alum, but only lived in Columbus for a short time. I go out of my way to keep his glass full and introduce him to girls. Point blank, I ask him if he would ever show the same hospitality to a Michigan fan. "No." was the answer.
Somehow, as great as the University of Michigan is, it does not inspire devotion to its residents. The most vocal part of the fan base is its students and alumni. In Ohio, every resident non-alum seems to display some sort of rabid, irrational defense of the football program. The students, who have actually seen a bit of education, are not as bad (usually). But what explains it?
Just Woody? No. He has been too dead and too irrelevant for too long.
No other game in town? Yeah, OSU has been good. But they have provided one National title, and a lot of tooth gnashing since.
Lack of a rivalry? Maybe some. But in recent years OSU has done a good job of scheduling respectable non-conference home and home series. It takes the early season focus off, at least.
So, yes, these initial 3 reason play a small role. But unless you have done hard time in Ohio, you may not be able to quite put your fingers on its pulse.
Cedar Point if as far north as it could get away. It's a state that struggles for a motto. While the cradle of presidents and coaches, it also nurses a historical abundance of serial killers.
It's a place with a huge inferiority complex.
Ohio knows it didn't deserve the rock and roll hall of fame. But they will defend it in Cleveland, as they still smart from their burning river and giving birth to the modern environmental movement.
Ohio still feels wounds from losing the Browns. The state supported building a new stadium before fixing the crumbling school system. Their reward? Mediocrity. And the Bengals.
But instead of the sports metropolis's of Cincinnati and Cleveland pulling the state apart, they are instead galvanized over the central location and figurehead that is tOSU Buckeyes.
It is my belief that a state with an identity crisis follows basic psychology, and has turned itself inward. They can circle the wagons around the scrap of identity that is OSU, and epitomized by a horseshoe. Yes, Cincinnati may be good now, but it is a fad that Ohioans know will pass, like Drew Carey and Skyline chili.
So with every punch thrown, 'Fuck Michigan' shirt sold, and blogosphere comment submitted, Ohio fans are treading a simple line: that college football proves the worth and relevance of their state and lives.
As I said, I got out. But I did some hard time.
Michigan football means a lot to me. But it is not my seasonal crutch to ameliorate my crappy life in a terrible state.