I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
Today on ESPN.com I read an article discussing Joe Paterno's comments on the expansion of the Big Ten to 12 teams. The winningest coach wants to get more TV time for the conference at the end of the season and reduce the length of time between the end of the season and the Bowl season. He suggests some north east teams like Syracuse, Rutgers, or Pitt. Would this be a possibility? I think that it would do the Big Ten some good to have some later games, as far as exposure and adding to strength of schedule. However, I feel it is really unlikely that it will happen at all, much less bringing in a team like those mentioned. It would more likely be a team from a mid -major and they would be a punching bag for a few years for the other teams in the Big Ten. I do not see any conference willing to give us a team, and geographically any team that would benefit from a conference change wouldn't make sense. It would be nice to bring in the Golden Domers, unfortunately the chance of changing the tradition of the Big ten and Notre Dame is even more improbable than any other suggestions made on this topic.
I do think that this idea has it good points, one being that it is backed by a coach who has been around since before the forward pass.
When at West Virginia, the coaching staff had a certain set of players available to them as potential recruits. Because of the limitations inherent in that set of players, they would quite often have to take risks on kids with baggage of one kind or another, or they would simply have to take a flyer on some kids with potential who may have been overlooked. “Talent + issues” or “10% chance of being an overlooked 4-star player” simply equated to being better in the overall analysis than “mediocre but serviceable boy scout.” West Virginia’s set of potential recruits is inherently riskier than, say, USC’s. Another way to put it is USC is looking for ways to pare down their universe of recruits, while West Virginia is looking for ways to expand theirs. In the end, USC’s batch of incoming recruits typically has a smaller zone of variability than West Virginia’s does.
Then WVU clearly made two other decisions to help mitigate the limitations of their recruiting pool.
First, they decided to outwork the other guy, or at the very least not allow the other guy to outwork them. Enter Barwis and the OL running to the line of scrimmage in the 4th quarter, etc. I’m not suggesting this was successful or not, just that they clearly believed it to be something they had to do. When you have less talent overall, or more inherent variability, you have to wring out every last drop of effort.
Second, they implemented a particular specialized offense. The WVU spread is even different than other spreads. Why? I would argue it is another attempt to expand the set of potential recruits. By taking some subset of your 85 scholarships (15? 20?), and making them fit characteristics of players that other teams don’t value, you’ve just dramatically reduced the amount of work you need to do to fill a roster with 85 good athletes.
Let me explain that some more. The slot receiver characteristics seem to be fast, fast, good hands, fast (in that order.) When that is your only criteria, and the offense is designed to make that profile of kid succeed, you don’t need the #3 wide-out in Florida. You can take Rivals’ #93 WR from wherever and you’ve probably filled that need with a 5-star for your system. WVU just made a 5-star recruit from basically nothing, because they changed their objectives and recruited a kid who has a high probability to succeed in that particular role. Now you have just reduced the risk of recruiting failure by looking for something (someone) different than the other guy.
Now, is that philosophy going to beat USC? I don’t know and neither do you, but it beat the snot out of Oklahoma once. The risk of pursuing this strategy is that the system you crafted can be attacked or beaten in some fashion, that is, it is a weaker overall offense than something else. But so far, so good for the spread.
What does that mean for Michigan?
I think the mindset to outwork the other guy is going to be a major factor in the program’s future success. As much as I love the Wolverines, I think we had lost something somewhere and this coaching staff will bring it back. They clearly believe they will, at the very least, not be outworked.
I do not believe they have fully adjusted to their new recruiting reality. This is not to say I think they are doing a bad job, I don’t. But I also don’t think that they realize they can recruit a fast, fast, fast, tall or at least not short slot receiver yet (and lots of other recruiting possibilities as well.) I say this because those philosophies were very deeply ingrained and it is very difficult to change your paradigm that quickly. As they become accustomed to Michigan’s set of potential recruits, they will begin to manage the risk differently. I interpret the commitment of Drew Dileo as the coaching staff not yet properly managing the risk of their new situation. They don’t have to take a flyer on this kind of player, they can get someone more dynamic for that specialized position, or change the position's role in the offense entirely, and they simply haven’t realized that yet. They will.
A week after talking a solid 3 star DB out of signing with us we follow that up with a marginal (as soon as we saw he was a white boy playing receiver we knew that) 3 star recruit that only has one other choice, Stanford? Really, that is the direction we want to go? Out of our 20 recruiting class we are going to have 4 good WR, and 4-5 marginal WR/RBs, 2 QB's, and a small assortment of others? Really? Again we have to remind Belein and Rodriguez that they are at a major university. Maybe even a top 5 University and penciling in just anyone who actually has their picture on Scout/Rivals is not satisfactory. Look at what those losers in Columbus are doing? They have a ton of kids begging for a scholarship offer right now, but they are going to make sure every 4-5 star they can wring out of this recruiting class signs first, and then give the 2nd string a chance. 150 scholarship offers out there, Really? What happens when all we have signed is the 130-150 of that list, and we don't have room for the top 130 that actually have people competing for them, so they can't make a decision yet. Someone call Torrian Wilson and ask if he has a little brother we can recruit in a couple years, because by the time he gets around to selecting a school, because he actually has alternatives, the best we are going to be able to do is preferred walk-on status. Really, Torrian, we can sign you as preferred and if you play your cards right you may get a scholarship by your Sophmore year, Really.
Avast ye! Though I may be best “known” for philosophical musings and general nonsense, I do dabble in quantitative studies from time to time.
To the Number Crunching Gods, I offer up my crude financial analysis, so that we all may be enlightened regarding the scheduling practices with which we are so dissatisfied.
In FY08 M made $139,410,000 in Other Auxiliary Enterprises [heretofore referred to as "OAE" -ed.] Revenue -- which consists of revenues generated by "intercollegiate athletics, parking, student unions, university press and student publications." The order of that list, I am sure, puts the biggest moneymakers first and goes down from there. I'm not going to bother trying to figure out exactly how much athletics contributes proportionally, and it doesn't matter a whole lot, as we shall see.
They give some detail in terms of Auxiliary Enterprise Revenue, enough to figure out how much each category contributes to the total. OAE contributes 6% of the total revenue for this category.
Now, here is the weak spot in my analysis. They do not give detail for Auxiliary Enterprise Expenses (just the total figure), so I assumed that the proportions of costs in each category were distributed according to the proportions of revenue generation. This is almost certainly a false assumption, but it gives us an approximation to work with, and is probably not terribly far off.
So, with that in mind, I estimated OAE Expenses to be $133,760,370. Subtracting costs from revenues shows a yearly operating surplus of $5,649,630 for OAE.
What does this have to do with our emasculated football scheduling practices? Yes, that's right, now we are getting to the good stuff.
Using attendance figures and an estimate of 20,000 student tickets per game, and not counting validation stickers (data unavailable) I calculated the average revenue generated per home game at $5,455,438.14. The least profitable game was Miami (OH) at $4,876,700.00 and the most profitable was MSU at $6,399,490.00.
Given our estimate of the operating surplus for OAE (of which athletics is only a part – albeit the most significant part, financially) we find that the average revenue per home game is 97% of this surplus. So, on average, one game creates almost the entire operating surplus for those activities (see above to be reminded of other programs/departments under the auspices of OAE, in addition to the other sports under the athletic department). Even the lowest revenue generator (Miami) constitutes 86% of this surplus.
Behold the power of football.
No wonder Bill Martin is unwilling to have another away game, which would basically discard the entire operating surplus for the athletic department et al.
So it seems that Brian is right: It’s hopeless.
But not entirely! As you can see from the table below, variability in ticket pricing leads to significant results. A high-profile game like MSU cost $65/ticket while the average ticket price (excluding MSU) was $53.83. If we get a big-name team to play, then surely the ticket price could be jacked up enough to compensate for a good portion of lost revenue from the subsequent away game (see the table: total revenue for the MSU game was more than one million dollars above the average, again excluding MSU from the recalculated average). Given the positive externalities generated by these high-profile match-ups (namely, being taken seriously as a national power, which leads to increased revenue in the long-run) it seems reasonable to schedule them once in a while and make adjustments (in costs –do you really need another opium den, athletes?— and ticket pricing) to minimize the harm from lost revenue.
But will this happen? I doubt it, as the stated reason for the Endless Domer Duel (EDD) and the data available indicate a highly conservative financial philosophy… they just don’t seem willing to take risks. However, when (if) the economy rebounds and the financing of the new stadium construction becomes more manageable, we may see a decrease in this conservative approach. Let us pray.
With a title that made most of you go "Wait what? Ohhhh... I get it," Steven "Roundtrip ticket" Threet will be likely holding a clipboard in the desert. ESPN reports that former University of Michigan quarterback Threet, not to be confused with current walk-on University of Michigan quarterback Nick Sheridan, will go not to Nebraska... or Oklahoma... or Texas... or USC... but to the Arizona Sun Devils and wait out a mandated one year via NCAA rules. While this transfer makes no sense to many, rumor has it he will earn a 1.0 credit of Independent Study coursework for his paper "Reliving Manifest Destiny Through Football"
This leaves many speculating Threet may again fail in 2010 to get the starting position and instead play backup to this guy:
a walk-on who has spent time on the sidelines learning the offensive set apparently better than a scholarship athlete. Note, however, that the fire indicates he may in fact be fiery and fast...
Read more here or, well, here:
Quarterback Steven Threet, a redshirt freshman who started eight games for Michigan last season, has decided to transfer to Arizona State, a source close to Threet said Monday.
Threet also considered Oregon State but developed a relationship with the Arizona State coaching staff and had an excellent visit over the weekend.
Threet wanted to fit into a pro-style offense after having been previously enrolled at both Georgia Tech and Michigan.
The move remains confusing as John Effing Elway's son left ASU saying there was too much competition at the position, most likely the exact reason he left Michigan when RR's 'chosen one' came to campus. SO basically one can presume Threet is transferring more for this:
Travis Williams recently took a visit up to Ann Arbor, and decided that would be the last place he needed to look. Williams is a cornerback/athlete from Florida, and saw nothing but good things at U of M. Here's what he had to say about his recent commitment.
TOM: So are you officially committed, or just high on Michigan?
TRAVIS: I'm committed. I talked to Coach Rodriguez today, and told him the news. They just told me to call him back after the Spring. He wants me to make sure that I made the right decision, and not make a bad move.
TOM: So what was the final aspect that made you make your choice?
TRAVIS: Just everything really. It was just incredible. The Big House, the locker room, and the practice facility. It was just amazing. Once I saw all that, it just put me over the edge.
TOM: Where did they say they see you playing? I recently saw on Scout that you run a 4.9 40, is that accurate?
TRAVIS: They want to use me as a cornerback. They like my stride, and my overall speed. I need to talk to those guys, because that is definitely not right. I ran a 4.49, a 4.56, and a 4.7 at all the combines. The 4.7 was when I was injured too. So, that's definitely not right.
TOM: What's the time table look like? When will this be officially official?
TRAVIS: I'm not really looking at any other schools. I'm just going to wait until after Spring, and then call Coach Rodriguez. They had three kids decommit last year, so they don't want that to happen again.