Mike Lantry, 1972
When we look at WV records below, we see a dramatic improvement from 2001 to 2002. After the 2002 season it remained pretty constant until 2005 when Slaton and White saw playing time.
My thoughts on the shift in records from 2001-2002 and from 2004-2005 are as follows: The first shift appears mostly do to RR's spread implementation and having the right players in the system (perhaps similar to what we are seeing in Michigan from 2008-2009). The 2004-2005 change is the one i find most interesting. It appears that until Slaton and White came to WV the team was stuck in 8-9 wins and could not muster enough to compete for a BCS title. After White and Slaton took over the offense, the team won 10+ games every year.
I make these points simply in observation because i see some posts that assume we should be competing for a BT title and the like by year 3. I am not saying we won't, but based on RRs trajectory at WV, it seems that he needs the right talent to work his voodoo magic with his offense. If that talent is not there, a linear projection of continuous improvement might be wishful thinking. And i say "right" talent because Slaton and White were both 3 star recruits even though Slaton ran a blazing 4.3 40.
Anyway, I'm I smoking crack or is there a valid relationship between the 2004-2005 jump in wins and the playing time of Slaton and White?
(Thanks to I Blue Myself for the content)
2001: 3-8 overall, 0-5 vs the top 30 and 0-2 vs the top 10.
2002: 9-4 overall, 3-3 vs the top 30 and 0-1 vs the top 10. WVU beat BC, Va. Tech, and Pitt.
2003: 8-5 overall, 0-3 vs the top 30, 0-3 vs the top 10.
2004: 8-4 overall, 0-3 vs the top 30, 0-1 vs. the top 10
2005: 11-1 overall, 2-1 vs. top 30, 0-1 vs. top 10
WVU beat SEC Champ Georgia, Louisville. Lost to Va. Tech
2006: 11-2 overall, 1-1 vs. top 30, 0-1 vs. top 10
WVU beat #12 Rutgers, lost to #5 Louisville (wow, how times have changed)
2007: 11-2 overall, 1-1 vs. top 30, 1-0 vs. top 10
WVU beat #5 Oklahoma, lost to #20 S. Florida.
I've heard a lot of excuses after last night's disaster; some valid and some not so much. My favorite was Tate isn't use to playing in cold weather. As all of you know, Michigan is the only northern team that recruits southern players. But I digress.
Last season was Paul Johnson's first year as head coach of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. I guess I really never payed attention but I assumed Johnson had a lot of talent to work with. Afterall, he did go 9-4 his first year while RR went 3-9. So Johnson had to have tons of talent ready to go when he took over, right?
Not so fast my friend. Here's a little information from Johnson's bio:
"On December 2, 2008, Paul was tabbed ACC Coach of the Year by the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association (ACSMA). Georgia Tech, ranked 14th in the BCS standings and 15th in the Associated Press poll, finished the regular season with a 9-3 record, remarkably better than every preseason projection. Sports Illustrated predicted Johnson's first Yellow Jacket team would win just three games, and Tech was picked to finish fourth in the ACC's Coastal Division. With a 5-3 record in ACC play, the Jackets tied Virginia Tech for the Coastal Division title."
"Johnson, who came to Georgia Tech in December after a highly-successful, six-year tenure at Navy, inherited a roster low in scholarship numbers and overloaded with youth. Only 76 players are on scholarship, including three senior walk-ons who were awarded scholarships prior to the start of the season, below the maximum of 85 scholarships. The roster includes 75 freshmen and sophomores, and 16 of 22 starters are either freshmen or sophomores."
So, Johnson had 76 players on scholarship and 75 were Freshman and Sophomores. Any coach who goes 9-3 with mostly Freshman&Sophmores would do so ONLY if the young players were made up of 4 & 5 star recruits. Right? Here is GT's recruiting rankings over the last few years.
2005 - 48th (two 4* & six 3*)
2006 - 49th (one 4* & six 3*)
2007 - 15th (nine 4* & nine 3*)
2008 - 37th (one 4* & sixteen 3*)
2009 - 32nd (four 4* & twelve 3*)
I think it's obvious that GT's recruiting classes over the past 5 years don't compare to UM's. Even with all of the departures, UM still has more talent on both sides of the ball. So why has Paul Johnson's transition been so smooth and successful while the Rich Rodriguez takeover has been nothing short of a disaster?
RR brought the spread to Michigan & PJ the triple wishbone to GT. Both are new and unique to UM & GT. So we can't really use the "not the right type of fit" excuse. So what is it? Maybe GT plays in a weaker conference. Maybe GT caught some lucky breaks. I don't know, but I do know GT is playing some damn good football right now while UM is struggling to not look like the football version of the Bad News Bears.
I'm not jumping off of the RR bandwagon and will give him my full support, but I can take my maize and blue goggles off long enough to see that there a quite a few new coaches who have won more with less. Paul Johnson, Brian Kelly & Jim Harbaugh all come to mind.
Thank you for your support,
Rich Rodriguez's first class shortly after taking over and Dantonio's first full class. The Dantonio effect is noticable as State pulls in 11 of the top 26 players in the state and also wins a couple head-to-head battles with Michigan. This will unfortunately be a trend in the next two years. Nick Perry was a HUGE loss, and I don't know what happened with Ingram. Perhaps he was long gone by the time RR came, but not quite sure why the previous staff wasn't in on the guy.
So basically what we've seen since Dantonio's taken over is an extreme focus on getting in-state talent. He's picked up 22 guys in the last two classes, but to be fair about half of those guys Michigan would never offer. Has it paid off for him? So far yes as Larry Caper was a guy we wanted, didn't get, and he scored the game winning TD on us. We'll have a better vantage point as these last two classes grow up, but as I said in the last post, when you get a guy from your own backyard not only is he on your sideline, he's not on the other one either.
Dantonio's had some success in head-to-head matchups with us, but I don't think that means we can't get more guys in-state. It's obvious that we don't have the same philosophy he does and I think he probably uses that as a pitch.
Here's my conclusion: '07&'09 were years the state was pretty deep in talent, and we struck out on most of those guys. There were 18 in-state recruiting battles in those years and we only won 7. 4 guys we won were 4-star and up, 3 were 3-stars. Here's the key: every player we lost was 4-star or higher, and we're not including '08 guys Nick Perry or Mark Ingram.
Keep in mind that '07 was Lloyds last year so that may have had a lot to do with the multitude of guys leaving the state. Also, transitioning head-coaches is a difficult thing, there's our 3-9 debacle, and a total offensive system change to keep in mind that would leave some kids out of the picture as bad fits.
We've always been able to recruit nationally, and we should always continue. We should get the best players possible for our team. But, there is something to what Dantonio is doing over there at MSU. Also, not to say Rich Rodriguez doesn't recruit Michigan, he does. The point is not to single out a coaching staff, but to demonstrate that us as a program have not been stellar in recent years at getting kids from our own backyard. It hurt us in the MSU game, and I think could be factor in years to come, especially in that rivalry game.
END NOTE: In '03 & '04, each year produced 7 in-state 4-stars. In '03 we got 4/7, none-went to MSU, and we didn't offer 2. In '04 we got 4/7 again with MSU picking up 2 and ND getting 1. We didn't offer any of the guys we didn't get. So from '03-'05 we went 4/5, 4/4, and 3/3 with in-state 4-star guys. That's 11/12 '03-'05. In '06-'09 we were just 9/24!!!
The actual quality of the game was OK. Not great, not horrible, just OK. I was expecting a little better than what the quality actually was because of the web sites claim of "games with a clarity that is comparable to high definition". The archived games have a little better quality but still not getting into the realm of comparable to high definition.
Commercials and breaks in the game when they go to the big ten studios are a little weird. During would-be commercials the screen changes to a message about the game returning after the break. They put a clock on the page and show the seconds counting which seems like not a big deal but actually is because the counting indicates that the stream is still going and your feed hasn't frozen. This isn't too bad except for half time. No half time show at all just the message and the clock. I would have at least like to see the band or something. The in-game breaks to show other game highlights aren't shown either. The feed just stays on the game and pans the audience. I realize that this is because the feed is from the game and not the actual TV channel but other highlights would be nice.
The archived games are nice but not complete at all. There is no UofM/ND game or UofM/Iowa and speaking of Iowa, they only have 1 game for viewing. I'm sure this has something to do with the TV contracts, but i figured all of the conference games would be available no matter what network it was shown on.
Overall I would say that service is worth it and hopefully will only get better over time.
If anyone has questions about it, let me know.
What this all means is that there are 6 guys who were 4-star or higher that we lost out on and should be playing for us right now. 5 of those guys would most likely start. Imagine this defense:
E - Brandon Graham
T - Mike Martin
T - Joseph Barksdale (If we kept him on D)
E - Nick Perry (will include him in Part II)
SLB- Stevie Brown
MLB - Chris Colasanti
WLB - Eric Gordon
CB- Donovan Warren
CB- Ronald Johnson (he'd probably have the Woodson role)/Dionte Allen
S Aaron Gant (why is safety always a weak point?)
S Troy Woolfolk
I believe if we want to be an elite program again, we have to start getting elite players, especially in-state. I like Dantonio's approach because when you get a player from your own backyard, not only are you adding him to your team, but keeping him off the other sideline as well. Rich Rod has said it's A priority, but I think it should be THE priority. It's clear that we can and should recruit nationally, but if we want to get back to prominence we need these guys we've been missing out on since '07. A good coach and a good system can only take you so far, you need good players.
Here’s the situation: Your team leads 21-20 with 2 minutes left in the game, has just scored a touchdown to go up 27-20, and your head coach kicks an extra point to take a 28-20 lead. Seemingly every coach kicks this extra point in all similar game situations that we’ve witnessed – it’s a no-brainer, right?
Back in my video game-playing days – it’s been a few years, but I’d bet that I’ve played football video games for over 1,000 hours of my life – I used to always go for 2 points in this situation in an effort to build an insurmountable 9-point lead. My logic was this: in practice, at least in the NFL, no team that scores a touchdown to put them down 1 point in a game-ending situation goes for 2 points to win the game. (I believe this has happened less than 10 times in the (brief) history of the 2-point play in the NFL, which represents a negligibly small percentage of similar game-end situations). Therefore, the difference between a 7- or 9-point lead to me was far greater than the difference between a 7- or an 8-point lead; at 7 or 8, the other team has a chance to tie in regulation (but not win, given my assumption), but at 9 the game is effectively over.
In the intervening years I’ve gone along my merry way just assuming that all coaches were making suboptimal decisions with respect to this situation. Now in my first year as a PhD student in a business program, my brain is starting to work a little bit differently. Thinking of this situation earlier this week, I developed a simple model to help infer whether either strategy here is dominant.
- Your team is Team A, the opponent is Team B
- Team A has just scored a TD with 2 minutes left in regulation to take a 27-20 lead; PAT/conversion pending
- There is only one meaningful possession remaining in regulation, for Team B, starting with Team A’s kickoff to Team B
- We assign a probability of β to represent the likelihood that Team B scores a TD on their possession (0 ≤ β ≤ 1)
- The probability of either team successfully converting a 2-point conversion is 44% (I believe this is the NCAA historical average conversion rate)
- The probability of either team making an extra
point is 100%
- If Team B scores a TD on their possession to reduce Team A’s lead to 1 point, they will kick the extra point 100% of the time*
- If the game goes to overtime, both Team A and Team B have an equal 50% chance of winning the game
* - I expect this to be the most controversial assumption, as in college there is always some consideration with respect for going for 2 in this situation (e.g. the Michigan-Michigan State game this year). I submit that this is a very matchup-specific assumption at the college level – a heavy underdog is more likely to take their chances on a conversion attempt than on overtime – but as noted above, the assumption should be uncontroversial for the NFL, where going for 2 and the win is a nonfactor.
Probability of Winning – Go for 2
There is a 44% likelihood of making the conversion, which makes the score 29-20 and results in a win likelihood of 1 given our assumptions (i.e. one possession remaining in the game). If the conversion attempt is missed (56% likelihood), we consider that Team B will score a TD with β probability. If they score, this results in a 50/50 chance to win in overtime; so, in this state, Team A will win with (1 – β/2) probability. Therefore, the Total Win likelihood is (.44)(1) + (.56)(1- β/2), which reduces to: 1 - 0.28 β.
Probability of Winning – Kick extra point
There is a 100% likelihood of making the extra point, giving Team A a 28-20 lead. In order to lose the game at this state, the following has to happen: (1) Team B scores – β probability; (2) Team B makes a 2-point conversion (44% likelihood); (3) Team B wins the game in overtime (50%). The total loss likelihood is therefore 0.22 β, meaning that the Total Win likelihood is: 1 – 0.22 β.
Umm…Brian’s bolded alter-ego, is that you?
No. Brian’s bolder alter-ego has long, curly hair; I’m bald. Get it?
Well then. What’s next is that we start playing with β.
It’s not. We can now calculate the β at which these two decisions provide an equal probability of winning, which is clear from looking at the formulas: only when the other team has a 0% likelihood of scoring a TD are these two strategies equal.
How, exactly, does this help us?
What this tells us is that, given these assumptions, we have a dominant strategy. If we set β equal to 1 – that is, there is a 100% likelihood that Team B will score a TD on their drive – we find that going for the 2-point conversion in this situation provides for a 72% probability of winning, whereas kicking the extra point provides for a 78% chance of winning. Lowering the β into a more realistic region – for convenience, say 0.5 (i.e. 50%) – we find that that going for the 2-point conversion provides for a 86% chance of winning, while kicking the extra point provides for an 89% chance of winning.
It’s important to not dismiss this difference out of hand and treat the strategies as equal – if you told a coach that a particular decision would increase the chance his team loses from 11% to 14%, I’m quite certain that the difference would be meaningful to him. And it’s also important to keep in mind that these are just fun game theory assumptions that would need to be modified for each specific scenario; for example, I might have had a play on Madden that I knew would work on a 2-point conversion 80% of the time given the poor game AI. In that situation, my decision to go for two was probably rational.
Which leads me to the following conclusion: given that real game situations will have realities that diverge quite a bit from the basic assumptions in this model, over the course of thousands of games there must have been individual circumstances where teams were at least as well off attempting a 2-point conversion in this situation as kicking the PAT. In fact, it seems likely that there would have been at least a few instances where they would have been better off attempting a 2-point conversion – say, in the college football fringes where PATs are not ~100% propositions and where weak kickoffs will lead to greater βs . However, in my football-watching experience, I can’t recall ever hearing a discussion as to whether a team should go for the deuce in this situation.
I discussed my “model” with an experienced PhD student, and his feedback was invaluable. One major issue that he raised was that there is a covariance between (1) the likelihood of Team B successfully converting a 2-point conversion and (2) β, the likelihood of Team B scoring a TD on their final possession. The point being, the strength of Team A’s defense (and Team B’s offense) will cause these values to be related.
There are also economic concepts of utility and risk-aversion which are being ignored here. And of course, the emotional and psychological implications that any given Result A will have on each team, thereby potentially influencing the outcomes of Result B.
So, minor quibbles with assumptions aside, through a very, very simple economic model I’ve provided evidence to help answer a question that’s been bugging me for some time. Unfortunately, the results are inconclusive – while I find no fault in the general strategy of kicking the extra point in this situation (indeed, a dominant strategy in this model), I have to believe that the ingrained nature of this decision and the strict adherence to the conversion chart has caused a few coaches to make suboptimal decisions. In any event, hopefully this creates some fun discussion, and hopefully a future look at a different question will provide a more conclusive and illuminating result.
Thanks to my friend Andy for catching an embarrassing error with my initial model and thereby proving the immense value of editors. If there are any less-than-minor quibbles with the assumptions or any other issues with the model, please let me know – constructive feedback is welcomed.