in town for free camps
The Beginning of an Era
As many of you know by now this year is supposed to be the turn around year for the Michigan Wolverine football program. Rich Rodriguez has had two years to bring his players into the system and get his offense/defense style into effect. The past two years have been dismal but showed improvement from year one to year two. Quarterback Tate Forcier is erratic but shows signs of greatness. We have a strong D-line and an amazing receiving core. All improvements aside, this is the Hot Seat year for Rich Rodriguez. Most of the players in Ann Arbor are his players so this year we will see how good his system is working.
Last years recruits for Rodriguez had many good players come into the system. Tate Forcier no doubt the most helpful as he showed he can lead this team and with effort, could become the Michigan Savior we all want. Although he was very erratic he threw for over 2,000 yards with 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. With a 58% completion rate, maybe he will be able to get that TD-INT ratio a little bit better.
Denard Robinson was another good recruit Rich brought into the system last year. He was not a very good QB. He had only 2 touchdowns with 4 interceptions but did not get anywhere near the playing time Forcier did. While Robinson may not be much of a starting QB, he definitely poses a threat whenever Michigan decides to run the Wildcat formation (even if it is only a couple plays all year long), Gardner has exceptional speed and is very agile.
Vincent Smith promises to be a good running back. He was second on the team with 5.8 yards per carry behind senior Carlos Brown with 5.9.
This years recruits are not amazing (with the turndown of Demar Dorsey) but some are attracting a lot of hype, such as Devin Gardner. The ESPNU top 150 recruit and Under Armour All American is predicted 3rd string but many think if Tate and Robinson falter, he could be moved up in the depth chart.
Rich Rodriguez will need to improve Michigan's defense if he wants to have a better year than last years 5-7 season. Michigan ranked 91st in rushing defense last year, 67th in passing defense, 77th in scoring defense and 82nd overall. This will have to be improved if Rich wants to get to a bowl game this year.
Although we lost Brandon Graham, who had more sacks than the rest of the line last year, this year our D-line is looking to be a strong one (although not as strong as last years) with the rest of the D-line returning.
With Donovan Warren and Boubacar Cissoko gone, J.T. Floyd and Troy Woolfolk will need to step it up this year to make our secondary not as horrendous as last years.
Rich Rodriguez will need to win at least 7 games this year if not more if he wants to coach the Wolverines much longer. While i doubt Michigan will fire him if he goes 5-7 again it will definitely be discussed at the end of the season if Rodriguez cannot turn things around in Ann Arbor. Michigan has a very easy non-conference schedule with the exception of Notre Dame this year. Starting the season off with Connecticut, Notre Dame, Massachusetts, and Bowling Green respectively. The Maize and Blue faithful will be expecting 3-1 at the VERY, and i stress very, least. After that we begin the always tough conference schedule with Indiana, although not strong they did compete with us last year. Then we have Michigan State at home, Iowa, and Penn State in Happy Valley. We than have easier games, although not definite wins with Illinois and Purdue. We then finish off the season with Wisconsin and a trip to the Horseshoe to battle Ohio State. Rodriguez will need to beat Ohio State if he wants total job security at the end of the year.
This is going to be a crucial year for Rodriguez. He will need to impress the fans more this year than ever. He will have very little excuses this year unless we have injury trouble.
This is looking to be an exciting year for the Wolverines. We have many good prospects coming in to go along with old ones still trying to prove they have what it takes. I personally think the Wolverines will go 8-4 this year, challenging Ohio State to the last minute, earning a bid to the Alamo Bowl or the Champs Sports Bowl and winning it. Anything less and i will be very shocked. I think Tate will develop into a better than average QB this year with very few erratic moments. I also think our secondary along with our D-line will step up to make our defense in the top 50. This will be a very important year for Rich Rodriguez and Michigan Football.
Apparently the Big Ten Network's website is running a poll to determine which Big Ten team has the "best home-field advantage". Popularity contests do not good data sets make, so I figured I'd apply a lot of counting and a little math and see what I came up with.
- For each Big Ten team, I tallied up their total wins over the last 11* years, and seperately tallied how many of those wins came at home.
- I ignored nonconference games. Those will naturally boost home winning percentages as you invite the baby seals to get clubbed at your house, and play home-and-homes against teams that might actually beat you.
- I wanted to compare how well a team did at home compared to how well it did on average, rather than just totalling home wins and saying "golly, Ohio State must have the best home field advantage because they won at home a lot". Well, unfortunately, they won on the road a lot too, so it doesn't tell you much.
- Of course, the inverse of saying a team has a "Strong home field advantage" would be to say that same team "Sucks on the road". I'm looking at you, Indiana.
*I had planned to look at the last 10 years, but made my spreadsheet a big too large and went on my merry way entering in data. I was all done by the time I realised my mistake and I saw no reason to discard the 1999 season just because it was one more than I had planned to look at.
First, and just for the record, here's your overall Big Ten winning percentages for the last 11 years:
|Rank||TEAM||WINNING %||Home Wins||Home Wins Rank|
Yeah, I know. I don't like it any more than you. Anyhow, as you can see, there's not a lot of difference between a team's overall rank and its rank in terms of raw number of home wins. A bad team is a bad team at home or on the road, and ditto for a good team.
Surely there must be something to the fearsome reputations to such locations as Beaver Stadium and the Horseshoe though, right?
At first, I tried expressing home field advantage as the percentage increase of home winning percentage over total winning percentage. However, I found that this simply weighted the home success of bad teams much higher. Instead, I totaled the number of wins each team had at home, subtracted the number of wins each team had on the road, and averaged over 11 years to yield a number I'm calling the Expected Increase in Wins at Home (EIWH). In other words, every year each team plays 4 Big Ten home games and 4 Big Ten road games. How many more wins, on average, does a given team expect to claim at home than it will on the road? The results are as follows:
The results have some suprises. Iowa, a slightly-above-average team overall, earns an average of one more win at home than it does on the road, as does celler-dwelling Indiana. Indiana has only won five Big Ten road games in the past 11 years. Iowa has a reputation as a tough place to play, especially at night, but the Indiana results are inexplicable.
On the other end of the spectrum, Illinois has only earned 16 of its 30 victories at home, which makes for an interesting contrast with Indiana in spite of the two school's proximity at the bottom of the overall standings. Strangest of all, the feared Horseshoe in Columbus grants a very modest advantage to the hated Buckeyes. They have less of a home field advantage than such teams as Northwestern (a school which, from my personal experience, barely fills half its stadium with home fans) and Minnesota (who played in the sterile Metrodome for all of the period of this study).
What's the message here? It seems that the level of hype attached to particular stadiums has little relation to the advantage those stadiums grant to the team playing there.
I was thinking a bit about the Reggie Bush stuff at USC, and whether we should compensate football/basketball players beyond their scholarships. Many people hold to the traditional ideal of the student-athlete: these guys are just students who just happen to have freakish amounts of talent; they participate in our school's athletic teams, and in return are given a scholarship to pay for their education. Others advocate for a more pro-style approach: the players entertain millions of tv viewers and make a lot of money for the athletic department, so they should be paid.
I used to fall firmly in the first camp. While at Michigan I was on an academic scholarship, and I had certain requirements to uphold - maintain a certain GPA, etc. As long as I did that, my tuition, room and board were paid for. The only difference between me and the guys on athletic scholarship is that their requirements had to do with the field, and mind had to do with the classroom - right? However, I was being compensated in the same field in which I excelled: I was a good student, so my schooling was paid for. Athletes are different, though. Their potential lies on the field, but we compensate them by paying for their education. They have much more work than I did - to earn their scholarship, they have to not only do their coursework and maintain a minimum GPA, but ALSO put in the ridiculous amount of work to be involved in collegiate athletics. It would be like my scholarship requiring me to hold down an unpaid part-time job in addition to my coursework. In that sense, the traditional notion of the student-athlete is a bit ridiculous.
Aside from that, I think we have to consider where all the money goes in the current system - money that is made based on the exploits of these players. Coach salaries are escalating every year. Schools are investing tons of money into facilities - some investments are necessary (*cough cough* Crisler renovation), but others are just an arms race to impress recruits (e.g. Oregon's locker room, which reportedly has personal xboxes in each locker). Compared to those extravagancies, tuition + room and board for the athletes seems like a fairly small amount.
I think there's a way to compromise without overhauling the entire system, though. Had I wanted to make extra money aside from my scholarship, Michigan offered opportunities for students to get paid while working for the school: work-study. Why not offer student-athletes work-study money for the time they invest in sports? Most work-study jobs benefit the school (research assistantships, landscaping, etc.) and athletes arguably benefit the school as much as anyone. They entertain students and alumni, raise huge amounts of money for the athletic department, and act as ambassadors for the school. Athletes do a lot for the University - why not compensate them while working within the existing system?
I see a couple problems, but I think they could be worked around. First, there are a lot of athletes at the university who aren't on scholarship - should they be paid too? I would say probably no; make this work-study opportunity available only to athletes who are on scholarship. I know it doesn't seem fair, but the work study money would be a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of a full scholarship. This really wouldn't be much of a change from the status quo from a financial standpoint.
The other issue is how much to pay student athletes. I think that's actually pretty easy. I believe there's a fixed hourly rate for work-study jobs (correct me if I'm wrong), and Michigan fans are all intimately familiar with the countable hour - seems like this would be a fair way to do things.
I've written, and tweeted, quite a bit about QB Kevin Sousa, from Lake Nona High School in Florida. I figured that Michigan would eventually start recruiting him, because most of the quarterbacks Michigan had offered, weren't that interested in Michigan.
I received an email from Kevin today, and it said the following:
I called coach (Rod) Smith today, and they are going to recruit me. He is meeting with coach Rodriguez tomorrow as to a possible offer. He said that the guys they were recruiting are no longer interested in Michigan, and they have opened it up again as far as looking for a QB.
This probably gives you a clear picture on the status of Cordale Jones, and it has been known for awhile now that Marquise Williams isn't picking Michigan. Kevin keeps in constant contact with me, and has been hoping for a Michigan offer this whole time.
I had an update on Kevin, back in March about visits he was taking, and how his coach felt about Michigan. Kevin's coach said:
He's a perfect fit for a Michigan, West Virginia, or Oregon type offense....Kevin and I both think that Michigan is on the top of that list.
Here's the most recent film on Sousa, from Lake Nona's Spring Game in May:
Kevin had this to say about a potential commitment.
I wouldn't commit until I sat and visited with the coaches, and talked it over with coach Paradiso (Kevin's coach). As much as I am impressed with the tradition of Michigan, I still would like to talk face to face, and see the facilities first.
Michigan has a really good chance here, they're just a little behind on building a relationship with him. The coaches were supposed to come down to see him in the spring, and didn't make it. They did apologize for that, and Kevin told me he's excited to start building a relationship with coach Smith and Rodriguez.
Despite my earlier two posts, i think i finally got it right, after thinking about it more clearly, OSU and UM would need to be in the same division because the game would lose hype if we got to play each other just a week later. Also an east-west split would be a lot more competitively balanced than a north-south split, and 4 way divisions are just too complicated. So i think this time i finally got it right. Here is how the divisions would look.
At first glance it may look like the East is a little loaded. But if you look at the records for the past 10 and 25 years, they are pretty even
Michigan State 60-62 (0.492)
Illinois 45-73 (0.381)
Michigan 81-43 (0.653)
Northwestern 61-61 (0.500)
Penn State 77-46 (0.620)
Wisconsin 86-43 (0.667)
Ohio State 102-25 (0.803)
Iowa 80-45 (0.640)
Purdue 67-57 (.0540)
Minnesota 62-62 (0.500)
Indiana 39-78 (0.333)
Nebraska 84-44 (0.656)
That equals out to be 426-311 (0.578) for the East and 418-328 (0.560) for the West.
If you look at 25 years it comes out to 1074-704-22 (0.597) for the East and 963-812-23 (0.536) for the West.
Every team would play the other 5 teams in their Division. That gives them 5 Conference games so far. That leaves 3 more games to schedule against people that are not in the division.
|Rivalries||Protected / Unprotected|
|Michigan State-Penn State||Protected|
|Ohio State-Penn State||Protected|
All but 5 major rivalries are protected with this setup.
Those 5 are:
Illinois- Ohio State
Minnesota Penn State
With the 3 non-division conference games that are scheduled all of these games could be made. Although Minnesota and Illinois would only have 1 different team to play every year.
Conference Championship Game?
The winner of the East Division and the winner of the West Division would play each other for the Conference title.
Also with this setup, Michigan and Ohio State would NEVER play each other a week later. They would be playing each other for a shot to be in the Big Ten Championship Game, which would give the game more hype, not less, like playing them a week later would (as i have had in my previous posts).
Hearty Tip o' the Hat to On the Banks, NCAA '11 rosters are available online. You have to register for TeamBuilder and go through several unnecessary steps, but I've made it much easier on you, and here are all the gory details for the MICH roster:
- #5 (Tate Forcier) 86 Ovr, 85 Spd, 88 Throw Power, 85 Throw Accuracy.
- #16 (Denard Robinson) 81 Ovr, 92 Spd, 90 Agility, 96 Acceleration, 90 Throw Power, 77 Throw Accuracy
- #7 (Devin Gardner) 76 Ovr, 90 Spd, 76 Break Tackle, 94 Throw Power, 75 Throw Accuracy
- #14 (Conelius Jones, I assume) 66 Ovr, 80 Spd, 87/74 Throw Power/Accuracy
- #2 (Vincent Smith) 85 Ovr, 91 Spd, 92 Agility.
- #20 (Michael Shaw) 85 Ovr, 87 Spd(?!).
- #15 (Mike Cox) 85 Ovr, 88 Spd, 80 Trucking, 82 Stiff Arm.
- #28 (Fitzgerald Toussaint) 82 Ovr, 95 Spd, 77 Break Tackle.
- #23 (Austin White) 67 Ovr, 90 Spd, 96 Acceleration.
- FB #44 (Mark Moundros) 80 Ovr.
- #12 (Roy Roundtree) 86 Ovr, 93 Spd, 94 Agility, 93 Juke.
- #9 (Martavious Odoms) 85 Ovr, 92 Spd, 94 Agility, 94 Acceleration.
- #21 (Junior Hemingway) 85 Ovr, 87 Spd, 90 Jumping.
- #22 (Darryl Stonum) 84 Ovr, 94 Spd.
- #19 (Kelvin Grady) 78 Ovr, 83 Spd, 93 Jumping.
- #6 (Je'Ron Stokes) 76 Ovr, 92 Spd, 92 Agility.
- #8 (Terrence Robinson) 75 Ovr, 88 Spd, 85 Agility.
- #18 (James Rogers) 70 Ovr.
- #83 (Jerald Robinson) 66 Ovr, 92 Spd.
- #82 (Ricardo Miller) 63 Ovr, 87 Spd.
- #86 (Kevin Koger) 84 Ovr, 83 Spd, 95 Acceleration, Spectacular Catch 60.
- #80 (Martell Webb) 78 Ovr, 85 Spd, 92 Spin.
- #88 (Brandon Moore) 82 Ovr.
- LT #65 (Patrick Omameh) 86 Ovr.
- LT #77 (Taylor Lewan) 84 Ovr.
- LG #52 (Stephen Schilling) 84 Ovr.
- LG #57 (Elliott Mealer) 78 Ovr.
- C #50 (David Molk) 96 Ovr(!).
- C #63 (Rocko Khoury) 79 Ovr.
- C #64 (Christian Pace) 68 Ovr.
- RG #56 (Ricky Barnum) 83 Ovr.
- RG #76 (Quinton Washington) 77 Ovr.
- RG #74 (John Ferrara) 77 Ovr.
- RT #72 (Mark Huyge) 85 Ovr.
- RT #79 (Perry Dorrestein) 85 Ovr.
- #68 (Mike Martin) 90 Ovr.
- #95 (Renaldo Sagesse) 87 Ovr.
- #73 (Will Campbell) 85 Ovr.
- #92 (Greg Banks) 80 Ovr.
- #54 (Freshman - One of Ash, Talbott, Black, etc.) 75 Ovr.
- #88 (Craig Roh) 91 Ovr, 85 Spd.
- #53 (Ryan Van Bergen) 86 Ovr.
- #58 (Brandon Herron) 82 Ovr.
- #33 (Freshman - Jake Ryan?) 77 Ovr.
- #39 (Will Heininger) 74 Ovr.
- #45 (Obi Ezeh) 81 Ovr.
- #8 (Jonas Mouton) 81 Ovr.
- #7 (Brandin Hawthorne) 80 Ovr.
- #42 (JB Fitzgerald) 79 Ovr.
- #27 (Mike Jones) 79 Ovr.
- #52 (Kevin Leach) 79 Ovr.
- #3 (Freshman - Antonio Kinard?) 77 Ovr.
- #25 (Kenny Demens) 74 Ovr.
- #30 (Freshman - Davion Rogers?) 67 Ovr.
- FS #5 (Vlad Emilien) 84 Ovr.
- SS #32 (Jodan Kovacs) 80 Ovr, 81 Spd.
- FS #15 (Freshman - Carvin Johnson?) 78 Ovr.
- FS #40 (Mike Williams) 77 Ovr.
- SS #14 (Cameron Gordon) 77 Ovr.
- SS #31 (Jared Van Slyke) 71 Ovr, 88 Spd.
- #29 (Troy Woolfolk) 84 Ovr, 94 Spd.
- #12 (JT Floyd) 81 Ovr, 89 Spd.
- #2 (Justin Turner) 78 Ovr.
- #24 (Freshman - Cullen Christian or Courtney Avery?) 75 Ovr.
- #4 (Freshman - Demar Dosey :sadface:) 74 Ovr, 96 Spd.
- #17 (Tony Anderson) 67 Ovr.
- K #34 (Brendan Gibbons) 85 Ovr, 85 Kick Power, 88 Kick Accuracy.
- P #7 (Will Hagerup) 81 Ovr, 85 Kick Power, 80 Kick Accuracy.
Anything strike you as crazy? Denard Robinson's speed is #1 for me.