Is our mascot useless*?
Being a student of U of M and being raised in a house where an entire bathroom was created into a shrine for all things maize and blue, I certainly know of the tradition of the Victors, "GO BLUE", and anything else possibly Michigan in character. However, besides a cheap, furry, stuffed "wolverine" with an M on the front, I can't really say I identify anything about the wolverine creature with the great University of Michigan. Is it possible we need to simply can the mascot, and be "Michigan"?
I must admit, one of the factors in my analysis is that, unlike many other (debatably) great sports schools, we really don't do anything with our mascot. We don't have any hand signals (like the Gators or Longhorns), no prancing mascot on the sideline (thank God), or even a wolverine that shoots lasers out of its eyes! With the exception of "the Claw" that we do on fourth down (and I rather liked the straight-up chop better), it seems as if anything related to the wolverine is missing from the University of Michigan.
* Please, at this point, consider my good health and your conscience as a fellow MGoBlogger before negging me into a bottomless pit where the minions of the emperor of space will feed on my soul.
- Michigan's midwest recruiting base has not been Rodriguez' territory during his tenure at West Virginia, Tulane, etc. Here, he's competing not only against MSU for state recruits, but against the perennial challenge of pulling recruits from Ohio against OSU's turf. He has some leverage against Pennsylvania, perhaps, and some against Ohio because of his stint at West Virginia, but overall he will not find many 5 or 4 stars in the Midwest.
- Rodriguez' preference for the spread-option scheme inevitably pushes him to recruit in talent-rich southern states, in Texas, and in California. These areas, like the Midwest, feature powerful programs that draw the highest rank recruits, leaving our program to fight for those not committed to LSU, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, USC, Texas, UCLA, Cal, etc. Drawing 4 and 5 star recruits to Ann Arbor from the south and west has always been a staple of Michigan recruiting, and will continue under Rodriguez. But it will not increase significantly under Rich Rod unless he shifts his balance from emphasizing "scheme" to "raw talent regardless of scheme." He won't do that.
- Compared to other high-profile coaches, Rodriguez strikes me as more doctrinaire. Oddly enough, Bo, Mo, and Lloyd were more willing to try different offensive schemes during their careers. Among current coaches at established powerhouses, Tressel, Carroll, Saban, Meyer, Stoops, Mack, Meyer, Miles, etc. strike me as more adaptable, more flexible than Rodriguez. Put simply, it is impossible to talk about Rodriguez as a coach without immediately jumping into his success with the spread. But it is possible to talk about some of the best of his peers without identifying a single offensive scheme. Were the spread to become the pros preferred offensive scheme, I think we would double the number of 4 and 5 star recruits. Until that happens, college coaches who continue to be more flexible in offensive philosophy will probably draw more of the higher ranked recruits, because there will be more opportunities for larger, less nimble players, players with great talent but not well-suited to the spread.
Note: This Diary comes with the standard disclaimer that recruiting ratings are subjective, and that this amusing exercise is not intended to answer the fourteen unanswerable questions.
Several mgocolleagues have objected to my disturbing avatar, the congenial visage of Gothmog, the Morgul lieutenant from the Lord of the Rings movies (not, for fellow nerds out there, to be confused with his namesake, Gothmog, the Lord of the Balrogs, from more ancient Tolkien history). I have a potential replacement for this avatar: Sylvester McMonkey McBean of Sneetches fame.
Why McBean? Well, Mr. McBean adds and subtracts stars with his Star On and Star Off machines, which is the exact skill set that we are looking for if we would like to answer the Pat White question once and for all.
Our new coach arrived in Ann Arbor with a reputation for finding diamonds in the rough, and for turning three stars into five stars with one part eye of newt, one part Mike Barwis, and two parts mad offensive genius. Was this by necessity or design? Rich Rodriguez appears to have an aptitude for spotting hidden talent and Mike Barwis is clearly able to turn 45-year-old couch potato fantasy leaguers into Ray Lewis, but are we making lemonade out of lemons? Has Rich simply been forced in the past to settle for a kettleful of lower-rated players and relied on outliers in a normal distribution to produce the occasional Pat White? <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
The debate has intensified since, after a three and nine season, Michigan recruiting has begun to resemble West Virginia recruiting a little too closely for comfort. The optimistic among us believe that Rich Rodriguez can create a juggernaut from three-star players that are a perfect fit for his philosophy and also happen to possess that killer attitude not present in such players as Gabe Watson or Alex Mitchell. Said killer attitude, combined with said killer, Mike Barwis, may be the foundation of Rich McMonkey McBean’s purported eye for diamonds.
How do we move this question from the realm of water cooler optimism to something more analytical? That is the purpose of this post. I am proposing a collaborative, ongoing post-recruitment rating system that will allow us to determine if, in the Rich Rodriguez era, perfect-fit three-stars are more desirable than random four-stars. Of course, we all acknowledge that perfect-fit four-stars (or perfect-fit five-stars, for that matter) are better than perfect-fit three-stars, but all these questions can be addressed with a system that continues to rate recruits after they begin playing football at the University of Michigan
Here’s where the mgocommunity comes in. As the work of one grotesquely deformed orc, this enterprise would hardly be taken seriously. However, if the career ratings that follow the recruitment ratings are the consensus of what can be objectively described as the most sophisticated and knowledgeable football blog community out there, then we might have something. I am not polishing the apple here; anyone who reads the Diaries on a regular basis knows that this is accurate.
The point here is that we want to expose where recruiting ratings were/are wrong. In the 2002 class above, for example, Rivals was slightly wrong about Gabe Watson and very wrong about David Harris. There was no malice or incompetence in their being wrong; they just were off in projecting those players. It is an inexact science. It is also important to note that this uses the recruiting ratings in a specific way: as a college career projection and not a snapshot of their status at the end of their high school career. Only in this way can the information be useful to us.
What now follows is a request for feedback regarding preliminary judgment calls I have made to launch this system. Which needs a name. Perhaps McBean Rating, but I am open to suggestions here.
The definitions are critical. These career ratings must mirror the intent behind the recruiting ratings for our conclusions to be useful. (Note: All recruiting ratings used are from Rivals.)
Question 1: Do you agree with these definitions for the two rating systems? If not, please suggest changes.
Question 2: What should be done about players that leave the team? Consider 2008. Dann O’Neill was a four star player coming in; does he count when he leaves after a year? What about a Justin Feagin, who played a little and was kicked off the team? Clearly, Taylor Hill or Marcus Witherspoon, who never put on a uniform, should not count…but is this so clear? Should there be no penalty for recruiting someone who leaves? Remember, the ranking of the class coming in is based upon Dann O’Neill and Taylor Hill being there.
This is a critical question in my opinion. If we start removing players who don’t play much or at all, then we’ve messed with that cryogenically preserved Team Ranking that is a touchstone in the Pat White debate. <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Michigan has had six players from 2008 leave, including four 4-stars. Newsflash: that drops that class to 15th or 16th, all other classes staying the same. Which, of course, all other classes are not the same. Who the hell knows what Alabama’s ranking after the fact truly is? We obviously can’t re-rank the Rivals rankings; we must work with signing day class.
For purposes of making a start, I have judged that if the player sees the field for more than a cup of coffee, they get a rating. With this model, O’Neill, Wermers, Witherspoon and Hill do not get a rating from McBean, but Feagin and McGuffie do. The star calculation for a class over time, then, compares the final average from Rivals to only the McBean rated players. In the 2002 class above, all 21 players produce an average of 3.52 stars. The McBean average is 3.37 stars using a denominator of 19, not 21. Thoughts?
Question 3: Check my conclusions for lightly used players. This is where the mgocommunity will be critically helpful. I could barely remember some of these players and Googlestalking was marginally productive. For example, did Quinton McCoy and Tom Berishaj in the 2002 class ever play? The greatest inaccuracies will be for those players who played a little, like Feagin, but I don’t remember because it was years ago.
Question 4: If you disagree with my McBean rating for any player, please educate me. I am getting old and my memory is not what it used to be.
Here are the first three classes in which all the players have a final McBean rating (none are playing college ball any longer). It would seem, based on a preliminary review using the tentative rules that Lloyd’s classes underperform slightly. It will be very interesting over time to see how Rich’s classes do.
Here are the next two classes that have incomplete McBean ratings.
I will somehow compile the feedback and present a final McBean Analysis for each “closed” class. As each class becomes closed, I will present the final after feedback. Hopefully, Rich produces guys on the left.
“SE HABLA MGOBLOG?”
This is the sixth entry of the 2009 MGoShirt Alert, a design project that will enable MgoBlog readers to vote for upcoming designs in the brand spankin’ new MGoBlogStore.
I also considered going with this, suggested by who I regretfully admit I cannot remember. If this is really what you want, tell me and we'll run that one too.
I asked for suggestions on Friday for what the MGoCommunity would like to see on a Tacopants shirt. Ah yes, Tacopants, the possibly imaginary and certainly omnipresent eleven-foot tall former best friend of Jason Avant, whose job it was to pluck the ridiculously uncatchable ducks thrown from the fresh arm of Chad Henne. And while Chad is gone, our boy Tacopants seems to have unlimited eligibility. Figures.
I had quite a few ideas of my own, for Tacopants... Tacopants/Furrha for Student Body President, a pictographic rendition of Tacopants (the pic of the taco, the pic of the pants, as created by Zero), and even the Tacopants Has Left the Team, citing Family Values and Better Quarterback Play (also recently suggested). There's quite a few ways to go with this, and several readers suggested ideas, but no one really rallied around any of them. I finally decided to go with this eleventh-hour design, created in tandem by Brodie and Formerly Anonymous-- just because it seemed catchy-- I added the back design of the shirt to bring the idea back to MGoBlog. It's kinda weird without, y'know, English-- my only concern would be that people might think Brian's blog is en espanol.
As for my own idea, I was watching a DVR of the Friday night BTN broadcast, and no matter how hard I looked I didn't see Tacopants anywhere out there with an Adidas practice jersey. Got me to thinking... and long story short, I have a new Tacopants shirt that I'll be rolling out this week. And that'll be the end of this Tacopants business. Hell, we didnt' even get to Barwis yet.
So, time to vote! What do you guys think?
|pollcode.com free polls|
|What do you think of MgoShirt #6?|
|Five Stars Four Stars Three Stars Two Stars One Star|
***** Five Stars: Viva el Brodie y Formerly Anonymous!!
**** Four Stars: Me Gusta
*** Three Stars: Bueno, no muy beuno
** Two Stars: El meh.
* One Star: como se dice "sucks ass??"
Place your votes, and thanks for the suggestions Friday and over the weekend! It's worth noting that I did create some designs based on reader suggestions. See you tomorrow for another round of-- MGoShirt Alert!
I'm a life-long Packers fan and grew up with Brett Favre as my hero. He was my role model for sports - playing with passion, for the love of the game, never quitting unless you had a leg cut off, and leaving it on the field no matter what.
Then all this happened. When the drama with the Packers happened last year I felt kind of bad for Favre but completely agreed with the Packers. Part of me died inside - it was as if my childhood love of sports was partially torn away. Here's a brief rundown of that drama:
- Packers had Aaron Rodgers that they had to either get trade or start.
- The Pack told Favre to decide before the draft (where they drafted 2 other backup qb's cause he retired).
- They then gave him another chance a month before camp to come back. If he came back they had to trade Rodgers, if not they had to change their schemes to accommodate his skill set. Favre deep down wanted to go to Minnesota (hence the tampering charges later) and said no thanks to the Pack.
- Right before camp started Favre said he wanted to be unconditionally released so he could go to the Vikings. Pack said dream on. He then said he wanted to come back to the Pack and the team said "well we have another qb you can compete with" which was obvious posturing but take it for what it's worth.
- After all the ensuing drama they said "go to the Jets". Meanwhile Aaron Rodgers did quite well (but the Packers went 6-10 due mostly to injuries on Defense) and the Jets did what they did.
One little note to all this is that most people may not realize that, during Favre's years in Green Bay (especially the earlier ones), the Vikings along with the Cowboys were far and away the biggest rivals. There are many great teams and great games between these teams. Seeing Favre in purple is almost as if Lloyd Carr wore a sweater vest.
I know most of Michigan nation doesn't care about either of these teams, but I'm sure people have opinions about all this. Sound off. I'm personally pissed, somewhat heartbroken, and feel like my childhood hero just exposed himself for what he really is.
Just hope the Pack can beat the Vikings (but that'll be tough thanks to Adrian Peterson and the Vikes #1 defense).
After reading Hannibal's excellent review of Michigan's bad scheduling luck in the Big 10, I was curious to see what the results for our non-conference games would look like through the same lens. Thanks to James Howell and Chris Stassen, all the data required is readily available. In keeping with Hannibal's treatment, I have considered all non-conference games since the Big11Ten entered its current format in 1993. Michigan's game against each team has NOT been subtracted from that team's record, because (1) our game against each team was part of that team's overall level of success that year, and (2) I'm lazy. The only team whose overall win-loss record was likely to be impacted significantly over the course of 16 years just from playing us was Notre Dame; their 6-6 record against us over this span is slightly lower than their net 0.616 success percentage over the same span (success percentage defined as (wins+0.5*ties)/(wins+ties+losses). If I get ambitious, maybe I'll run the numbers again with games against us subtracted out, but I suspect it won't change the conclusions much.So without further ado, here are the numbers:
Team Game score Record 1993-2008 Cumulative
Utah L 23-25 13-0 (1.000) 130-61 (0.681)
Miami (OH) W 16-6 2-10 (0.167) 106-83-1 (0.561)
Notre Dame L 17-35 7-6 (0.538) 119-74-1 (0.616)
Toledo L 10-13 3-9 (0.250) 118-70-2 (0.626)
The Horror L 32-34 13-2 (0.867) 148-56 (0.726)
Oregon L 7-39 9-4 (0.692) 130-65 (0.667)
Notre Dame W 38-0 3-9 (0.250) 119-74-1 (0.616)
Eastern Mich W 33-22 4-8 (0.333) 56-125 (0.309)
Vanderbilt W 27-7 4-8 (0.333) 50-127 (0.283)
Central Mich W 41-17 10-4 (0.714) 83-103 (0.446)
Notre Dame W 47-21 10-3 (0.769) 119-74-1 (0.616)
Ball State W 34-26 5-7 (0.417) 84-100-2 (0.457)
Northern Ill. W 33-17 7-5 (0.583) 81-104 (0.438)
Notre Dame L 10-17 9-3 (0.750) 119-74-1 (0.616)
Eastern Mich W 55-0 4-7 (0.364) 56-125 (0.309)
Miami (OH) W 43-10 8-5 (0.615) 106-79 (0.573)
Notre Dame L 20-28 6-6 (0.500) 119-74-1 (0.616)
San Diego St. W 24-21 4-7 (0.364) 77-110 (0.412)
Central Mich W 45-7 3-9 (0.250) 83-103 (0.446)
Houston W 50-3 7-6 (0.539) 74-113-1 (0.396)
Notre Dame W 38-0 5-7 (0.417) 119-74-1 (0.616)Oregon L 27-31 8-5 (0.615) 130-65 (0.667)
Washington W 31-29 7-6 (0.539) 95-94-1 (0.503)
Western Mich W 35-12 4-8 (0.333) 98-86-1 (0.532)
Notre Dame L 23-25 10-3 (0.769) 119-74-1 (0.616)
Utah W 10-7 5-6 (0.455) 130-61 (0.681)
Miami (OH) W 31-13 7-5 (0.583) 106-79 (0.573)
Washington L 18-23 8-4 (0.667) 95-94-1 (0.503)
Western Mich W 38-21 5-6 (0.455) 98-86-1 (0.532)
Bowling Green W 42-7 2-9 (0.182) 100-83-2 (0.546)
Rice W 38-7 3-8 (0.273) 76-95-1 (0.445)
UCLA L 20-23 6-6 (0.500) 109-83 (0.568)
Notre Dame W 26-22 5-7 (0.417) 119-43-1 (0.616)
Rice W 37-3 5-6 (0.455) 76-96-1 (0.445)
Syracuse W 18-13 7-5 (0.583) 97-92-1 (0.513)
Notre Dame L 20-36 9-3 (0.750) 119-74-1 (0.616)
Syracuse L 28-38 8-4 (0.667) 97-92-1 (0.513)
Eastern Mich W 59-20 3-8 (0.273) 56-125 (0.309)
Hawaii W 48-17 0-12 (0.000) 100-101-1 (0.498)
Colorado W 27-3 5-6 (0.455) 114-81-1 (0.584)
Baylor W 38-3 2-9 (0.182) 58-123 (0.320)
Notre Dame W 21-14 7-6 (0.539) 119-74-1 (0.616)
Colorado W 20-13 10-2 (0.833) 114-81-1 (0.584)
Boston College W 20-14 5-7 (0.417) 120-75-1 (0.615)
UCLA W 38-9 5-6 (0.455) 109-83 (0.568)
Virginia W 18-17 9-4 (0.692) 117-79 (0.597)
Memphis W 24-7 3-8 (0.273) 81-105 (0.436)
Boston College W 23-13 4-8 (0.333) 120-75-1 (0.615)
Boston College W 34-26 7-4-1 (0.625) 120-75-1 (0.615)
Notre Dame W 26-24 6-5-1 (0.542) 119-74-1 (0.616)
Colorado L 26-27 11-1 (0.917) 114-81-1 (0.584)
Washington St. W 41-14 5-6 (0.455) 93-95 (0.495)
Notre Dame L 23-27 11-1 (0.917) 119-74-1 (0.616)
Houston W 42-21 1-9-1 (0.136) 74-113-1 (0.396)
Cumulative opponent records in years we play them: 329-318-3 (0.509)
Cumulative opponent records for 1993 - 2008: 5117-4522-36 (0.531)
The difference in success percentage of only 0.022 here is about a quarter of a game per opponent per year. Whether or not this difference registers as "statistically significant" (I didn't check), common sense tells us that a quarter of a game per opponent is probably meaningless.
So the conclusion is, over the course of 16 years, our non-conference opponents have done, on average, no better or worse in years we've played them than they have over the course of the last 16 years as a whole. Sure, we've played a few teams who were unexpectedly playing lights-out (Utah undefeated last year; 10-2 and 11-1 Colorado teams in the mid-'90s), but we've also hit our share of otherwise decent teams having dismal years (0-12 Hawaii, 3-9 Toledo (granted they beat us, but that's not the point), and a couple of underperforming Notre Dame teams). In the end, it seems to work out about even.
EDIT: Added two games I previously missed.