During the Purdue meltdown, the announcers made mention of Michigan's fragile psyche and how the team seemed to collapse when a play or two went against it. Right about the time we surrendered the ill-covered on-side kick, followed by a 50+ yd TD bomb to a wide-open WR, I started thinking about what this Michigan team reminded me of.
Not exactly the 2005 UM team, Lloyd's worst team that finished 7-5. I only wished that we could have that team back again, at least their record. That team blew 2nd half leads to Wisconsin, Minnesota, OSU, and Nebraska in losing gut-wrenching games. Without the Henne-to-Manningham TD at the end of the PSU game and a great catch by Jason Avant in OT at Iowa (which set up the winning TD), we would have lost 6 games that we led in the 2nd half. But, that team still did deliver a few beautiful wins, including two on the road. (I was at both the PSU win and at Iowa for the OT win in back-to-back weeks.)
So...just who did 2009 UM resemble?
Well, consider the 2005 MSU team. They started with a few easy wins and then a thriller of a win at ND in OT. You might recall that a few zealous Spartan players promptly planted the S flag on the ND field (a mighty classless act that has NOT been duplicated by any RichRod teams in the past, even going back to WVU).
Sparty then rolled to victory two more times, including a blowout win at Illinois. UM stumbled into East Lansing a humbled 2-2, playing Sparty at 4-0. This was finally the chance to bury UM and possibly send them home without a bowl game at all. The game went back and forth, before UM blew a chance to win at the end, when Garrett Rivas shanked a short FG, similar to the Olnesavage shank yesterday vs. OSU. Sparty missed a FG (barely) in OT, and Rivas drilled the game winner.
Sparty proceeded to lose 4 of the next 5 games and then faced a must-win home game vs. PSU. Sparty played well but lost 31-22. Sparty QB Drew Stanton had a bunch of turnovers, similar to Forcier yesterday. Sparty ended home for the year, even though UM felt down after the season, losing an uninspired Alamo Bowl game to a Bill-Callahan-coached Nebraska team (Callahan = Ron Zook w/o the recruiting ability).
While NO bad season revolves around 1 or 2 bad plays, most seasons that turn sour seem to have a key southward-turning point. MSU's undoubtedly occurred during a classic John L meltdown at the end of the half vs. OSU. MSU had a surprising 17-7 lead and was trying a FG on the last play of the half. MSU had 10 men on the field and the FG was blocked and returned for a TD. MSU fell apart and never recovered. It seemed that the final blow wasn't the OT loss to UM, but the bumbled FG and subsequent meltdown at OSU. One play turned about an entire season. Once things bombed, morale sank to the depths of the ocean floor. Even a great coach would have struggled helping that team turn it around.
Our meltdown moment was that 1st and goal vs. Illinois, up 13-7, ready to go up 20-7. Nothing went right the rest of that game and, except for a quarter here or there of good play, we melted. Just like if Sparty hadn't blown the FG vs. OSU in 2005, I think they would have probably found a way to win enough to make a bowl game. Ditto for 2009 UM.
What needs to happen between now and September 2010 to avoid the "John L" fate?
Well, for one, RichRod should KEEP his staff together (as he stated he would). If improvement is only a matter of guys getting more time in his "system" then keeping the system the same makes sense, even if it isn't popular. I'm tired of change. All I want is improvement.
Second, RichRod needs to be more of a Dr. Phil in the off-season. Bo was always easier and supportive of his players when they were down. We don't really need anyone transferring out right now. Let's face it, Tate's unscripted text messages show how down he feels! Yelling has a place in this world of coaching (laziness, silly personal fouls, etc.), but this team seems (at least on the surface) to be together more than it is not.
Finally, enough of the "hey we're improving even if you don't see it on Saturday" comments! Be specific. If a guy is making great strides in practice, tell everyone who and what. After a game, mention the plays/situations where we made improvement from 2008-09. I'm hoping to here RichRod say sometime next year: "last year, Tate would have thrown it here and not waited for a another second or two, and that's why we got the winning TD today."
UConn will be ready to roll next year when we open up the new Big House. We have 10 months to get ready.
I sat in row 26 and he was in 39 which I didn't realize until I reached my seat that the section was four or five sections away from the OSU supporters. Great I thought I have to put up with these clowns for the game. I was shocked to my stance on how many Buckeye fans attended that day. The enitre top section that was about eight sections away was all scarlet and grey. I shook my head in digust and looked to the person next me and said "what can you do right?" He nodded and the pregame started and ended then it was kickoff time. Osu of course chose to recieve (typical). I sung when "The Victors" played and cheered "Let's Go Blue" when the band started playing it. I loved my view of the field though and I got a perfect view of Pryor's interception and Smith's touchdown. The rest of game play wise was tough to watch. Hearing the mimics when Tate threw those pics lit my fire and soon I started to kind of mimic back. When OSU fans started chanting O-H-I-O I interupted by chanting O-R-E-G-O-N. I can tell you that a lot of people got a kick out of it and yelling "How are those Browns doing?" also caught some glares. I couldn't help it because I like to even the playing field when it comes to insults. At the end of the game I walked up to my friend's section and stayed for "The Victors" then left. I will admit that I really didn't see any of the causes of the fan ejections. I saw someone in my section leave escorted by and usher and officer. He looked drunk by the way he was walking and he was of course a Buckeye. Despite the loss I had a great time. It's always great going to Michigan Stadium and talking with new people about the game and team. It's a treat to go to the Big House anytime you have a chance to go and even if it ends in a loss you can still appreciate the fact your there. I hope to go to more games next year and I'm hoping that I also will have the grades to transfer to the campus and go to the game every Saturday next fall! Untill next year fellow Wolverines I look forward to yet another year of Michigan football! Here's to 2010!
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.