The notion of the comeback is distinctively unfamiliar to a program that is first in all-time wins and winning percentage. But as we continue to rebuild in order to regain that top status, we will find ourselves, unfortunately, in the comeback position in many games this coming year. A lot of comebacks require a 2 point conversion along the way, and that in turn requires some decision making. Various interesting decisions arise as to 2 point conversions. I want to address a specific kind here – one that, in my opinion, just about every football coach gets wrong.
The Setting: It is the first game of Coach Rod’s era at Michigan. There are about 9 minutes left in the game, Michigan is down 25 – 10 against the Utes but marching down the field with surprisingly crisp execution. Then, Steven Threet hits Junior Hemingway in the corner for a 33 yd touchdown. Michigan has cut the 15 point deficit to 9. The score is 25 – 16. What now? Before the touchdown, everyone’s thinking we need a 7 point conversion, an 8 point conversion, and the defense not to give up any more points. So far, so good. But does the order matter? Yes! Not only does it matter, almost every coach chooses the wrong order! In his first game, Coach Rod also chose the wrong order, and went for the 7 point conversion before the 8 point conversion. Ultimately, it didn’t matter in that game, but that doesn’t mean it won’t matter in other games.
The Principle: It’s better to have a small chance to win than no chance to win. The 8 point conversion attempt must come first.
In Coach Rod’s first game, Michigan happened to score the second touchdown with 6:26 left in the game. So, Michigan had ample time to overcome Coach Rod’s mistake. As noted, choosing the right order in that game would not have made a difference. But suppose instead, that Michigan scored the second touchdown with 26 seconds left in the game. Now, if Michigan fails to convert the 2 points, Michigan is out of luck. To recap, MI scored TD + the kick after with 9 mins left. Then, MI scored w/ 26 seconds left, failed the 2 point conversion, game over.
Switch up the order. MI scored with 9 mins left, but now goes for the 2 point conversion right away and fails. The score is 25-16 with 9 mins left. The deficit is substantial but not insurmountable. To compare, 25-23 with 26 seconds left is much, much more substantial (i.e., almost no chance to win). It is better to have a small chance to win than no chance to win.
Essentially, in any comeback where the coach believes that a 2 point conversion is necessary to win the game, it is better to attempt it earlier than later. Put another way, the likelihood of converting the 7 point conversion and the 8 point conversion is the same in the two scenarios. It is more probable than not the 2 point conversion will fail. It is better to give the team more time to address that likely failure than less time.
I can think of two major objections to my position. First, attempting the conversion earlier and failing deflates the team’s momentum. Second, delaying the conversion is better because maybe the team won’t have to make that decision (i.e., fortuitous events such as a pick 6 make it unnecessary).
This post seems ridiculously long already, so I will stop here instead of diving into further analysis. I will note that I have thought about those two objections, and, one, I do not think they outweigh the force of my argument, and two, I do not think they are the rationale of coaches when they select, what I believe, is the wrong order.
I'm listening to the "recruiting roundup" podcasts from WTKA, and I've been downloading (and seeding) old games from MGoVideo.
I keep thinking, for some reason, of the first time Tyrone Wheatley played at UM stadium and the usher in my section saying "Wow he's gonna be good!" after he scored his first TD.
I cannot get enough "Tate or Denard" posts. You guys negging people for posting them are in the wrong, it's a legit discussion! Get used to the never-ending debate until a true starter emerges (if one does).
I got it bad, folks! Good thing I'm going on a short vacation this week or I'd be going crazy in anticipation! I'll have to find some internet access up in Munising, and check in on things if I can find time.
While many of us love watching Michigan sports, we sometimes overlook the process of providing the coverage. One of the key people in the process of providing you Michigan sports is the sports information directors (SIDs). These people work endlessly to make sure you the fan get all the information and access you can get. I've worked particularly close to one SID, Matt Fancett, over the course of the last few months as I covered the baseball team. Good fortune also had him covering the volleyball team, the team that inspired the start to the mgo-non-revenue posts.
So as a service to you fans who may not know just how the inner-workings of the media relations part of Michigan Athletics works, I thought I'd provide you with a brief look inside. As a bonus, Matt's got a pretty interesting story behind his relationship to Michigan.
What exactly is an associate sports information director? What are some of the major and minor tasks you do?
Associate and Assistant Sports Information Directors handle a variety of tasks in our Media Relations Office. The biggest responsibility I have is to serve as a liaison between both the baseball and volleyball programs and the media. I handle all the media requests for interviews for those two sports for both the coaching staff and the student-athletes. Day to day, I work to maintain the MGoBlue.com website for those two sports, writing recaps or events, features, blogs, etc. On game day for each I run the press areas for each sport which is both a ton of work and a ton of fun. I deal with all the media that cover our teams at both home and road games but at home I basically make sure they all have the information they need to be able to do their job. If they have a random question during a game, my job is to be able to answer it. I also handle all the official statistics for both volleyball and baseball. Along with a team of people I assemble for each sport, we are the ones that key in every play that eventually makes up a box score.
I work closely with the TV crews when we are on TV, and radio crews at nearly every game to make sure they have everything they need to pull off a great broadcast. When we are on the road, I serve as the play-by-play voice for volleyball and baseball. I love doing it because I do have a background in that and as the SID I am already privy to a ton of inside information so I feel like I am able to put on a good broadcast for the fans that are following.
I am also responsible for the creation of the weekly notes/releases about each sport to aid in the media’s coverage of the teams as well as the media guides. SID’s also do things like schedule the photographers for all the games, go through the countless images after the games, create media credentials and decide who will receive credentials for games, etc. I also handle things like Twitter for the two programs.
Where did you attend college and what major/concentration did you study while there?
I graduated from Eastern Michigan University with a degree in Public Relations and a minor in Broadcast Communications. There was not Sports Management undergrad program at EMU when I was there, so the next closest thing was the PR/Communications program. I was fortunate to be able to spend three years working in the Sports Information Department at EMU as an undergrad and was given the responsibility to be the main contact for baseball my senior year. I am also nearing completion on a masters degree in Sports Administration from EMU.
What job did you take out of college? Where have you been since there?
My first job out of college was with the Ann Arbor Visitors and Convention Bureau, doing Sports Marketing. There were no local SID jobs available when I was done with school and I wanted to stay in the area, so I took the job and basically hated it. I wanted to be a SID so bad and I was miserable doing what I was doing. My job was basically to find sporting events (AAU, Youth, etc.) and try to bring them to the Ann Arbor Area. I spent 9 months doing that until a SID job opened at Concordia University in Ann Arbor. It is a tiny NAIA school, but I so badly wanted to be back in that field that I went after it very hard and got that job.
How was it that you came to Michigan?
I got to Michigan by “toiling in the minors”. I spent one year at Concordia and then was lured away by Madonna University, another NAIA school in Livonia, Michigan. Still a small school, but one with much better athletic success. I envisioned myself staying there for a couple of years and moving on because I really wanted to get back to Div. I level, but it turned into 7 years. The first five as SID and the last two as Asst. AD for Media Relations. I was responsible for 11 varsity sports there including great volleyball and baseball teams. My work there basically prepared me to be able to handle the duties here at Michigan because I was a one man band. I was the SID, the marketing rep., the facilities coordinator… you name it, I did it.
I applied for a couple of jobs at U-M over the years, but there are always hundreds of people applying for jobs at Michigan. Finally when the volleyball/baseball job came open I called Tom Wywrot (men’s basketball SID) who I had known from his time at EMU and my time serving as PA Announcer for U-M basketball and told him I was interested. I went through the process again and this time the combination of the sports, and the timing of the job (It didn’t post until August which is very late to hire a SID) were a great fit. I interviewed and was lucky enough to get the position.
What sports have you covered other than baseball and volleyball at Michigan?
Baseball and Volleyball have been my only two sports here at Michigan since last year was my first year, but we all help out from time to time with other sports. I have helped work football and men’s basketball and this year I am overseeing our interns as they handle swimming.
Of the sports you cover (or covered besides football), which do you feel have the most active fan bases?
I think that one of the special parts about Michigan is that all of the sports have great fan bases. I think that volleyball has a very underrated and growing fan base. It is a very fun sport to watch, especially at the level that Michigan performs. The success of the team over the last couple of years has really gotten the fans to come out, and I think that our marketing department, especially Katy Jackson who handles marketing for both volleyball and baseball, have done a great job to make a great fan experience. When Keen Arena is full it can be a very hostile environment, especially with The Zone (student-section).
Other than volleyball, I think that hockey has a great fan base… men’s basketball has gotten better and better as the team has improved and I think that the baseball program has very loyal fans that will sit out in the cold and watch great baseball at a great facility.
What is the favorite part of your job at Michigan?
Having grown up in Ann Arbor I was a Michigan fan my whole life. I have a lot of great memories of different games. Most of them involve men’s basketball because my dad was the PA Announcer during the Fab Five era… so I was at all those games and it was a very exciting time. Probably my favorite memory is my first game as the PA Announcer for basketball at Michigan. I had done PA work at EMU as a student and when my dad stepped down as the PA guy here, they contacted me to see if I was interested. I just remember being so nervous and having the ushers and stuff looking at me like “who is this young kid”. And then after the game, there were fans and stuff that came up to me as I was leaving telling me that I sounded just like “the last guy”, so that was a pretty surreal moment… one that as a kid sitting at game with him I always hoped would happen and it did.. .it was great.
Matt, I've definitely noticed a change in the way mgoblue.com has approached the emerging social medias. Your press releases have a slightly different style than years past, and I'm really digging it. How do you approach those?
One of the things I have tried to do is incorporate my own style into the weekly releases for both volleyball and baseball and try to get a little more in depth with some of the stuff. I am a numbers guy, so I like to break down the numbers and find meaning to them. I think that is one of the really cool parts about sports is examining the statistics and finding trends in them. It is pretty easy to do with baseball and I have had great help from Jim Schneider who held my job with baseball for over 30-years. The guy is a legend, a walking encyclopedia of Michigan baseball and he has been a great asset to me since I started here. I also realized that those weekly releases are read more by the fans and by bloggers than they are by the mainstream media, so I try to incorporate things that they will care about as well. I will say that pumping out those weekly releases can get to be a pretty big grind, especially for baseball. When you consider the amount of games they play in a week and especially this season with more mid-week games, it becomes very tough to update all the information with such short turnaround. Volleyball is a lot easier because they only play twice a week, so during the season the majority of my time is spend on those releases, so I am glad to hear someone likes them!
Do you have any short term career goals? I know you've mentioned more features such as interviews and player blogs, are there other bigger picture ideas you can share with us?
There are a ton of things I would like to do, the trick is actually finding the time to carry them out. I would love to go more in depth with feature stories in both sports. I firmly believe that each of the athletes has a unique story. I would also like to do things with alums of each program because I think fans would be interested to see what some of them are doing now. The player blogs were very well received this year and I will continue to do that with my two sports, and hopefully be able to do them more frequently. You never know how things are going to change… look how quickly Twitter has exploded for instance, but I think down the road we will always look at the technology that is available and figure out how we can use it to our advantage to promote our teams and student-athletes here at Michigan and help give the fans the best insight we can.
You can catch more of Matt at mgoblue.com and at all Michigan volleyball games.
Since the time of the ancient Romans people have been captivated by sport. In ancient times the sports were somewhat different, though the devotion of its loyal fans was much the same.
They gathered in thousands to watch the gladiators, chariot races, Olympics etc. and they were as raucous a bunch as any sports fans today. Legend has it the gladiators would often times behead the losing combatant and wave the severed head in the air to the crowd’s joy.
Though sports fans have been around for centuries, what draws a person to the sport or teams is often unique. For me the year was 1992 and I was 16 years old. I turned on the TV one Saturday afternoon, and there was a football game on so I decided to watch it.
It wasn't NFL but since there was nothing else on I would suffer through it. It was Sept. 12. The Michigan Wolverines were playing the Irish of Notre Dame. It was a slugfest that ended in a 17-17 tie, and I was left very disappointed.
How could a guy who simply turned on a TV. and watched a game he cared nothing about be disappointed afterward you ask? Well during the game something interesting happened, the maize and blue had stolen my heart. Was it the uniforms?
Perhaps it was the players with names like Hayes, Toomer, Law, Wheatley and Grbac?
In fact, for me it was the winged helmet. There was something about it that simply caught my eye and by the end of the first quarter I hated anyone that stood in the way of Michigan and victory, on this day it was Notre Dame.
My first season as a fan was a great one. We finished 9-0-3 and won the Rose Bowl, thanks in large part to a massive game by one Thyrone Wheatley. In the end, he ran for 235 yards on 15 carries and had three touchdowns on his way to being named the Rose Bowl MVP.
What a season, I loved every minute of it. I couldn't imagine how I had survived the previous 16 years not having seen a Wolverines game.
The local cable companies drew my ire many a time when they would televise some ridiculous Big East matchup instead of my beloved Wolverines. Still, there was the radio. I could listen to them play if nothing else.
Loving the Wolverines while living in Nova Scotia, Canada would prove to be trying at time as NCAA football was relatively unheard of here. I ached when I couldn't watch the maize and blue go to battle on Saturday afternoons.
I would sit by the radio or gaze like a zombie at the sports tickers to keep up to date with the game. All I can say is thank heavens for the miracle of the Internet (which I was soon to receive).
No one I knew could figure out my love affair with the Wolverines. Saturday afternoons were off limits for everyone. My girlfriend was the only one that was allowed with me, and she had to wear a Wolverines jersey and sit in the exact same position throughout the game (unless Michigan started losing, then she would obviously have to change positions immediately).
I had maize and blue coursing through my veins and I was loving it.
Over the years some very big names passed through the hallowed halls of the Big House. Names like Woodson, Law, Wheatley, Perry, Brady, Griese and list goes on and on.
I lived and died with our boys on the grid iron each Saturday. I would watch each play with bated breath. There has been many good times and some bad times but never have I wavered in the face of adversity.
I would find myself on Saturday afternoons making some absolutely insane agreements with God almighty himself. "Please God; if you just let Michigan come back and win this game I will do anything.
I will start going to church or doing those ten things that are written in the bible. You know, the not killing and things."
I was never going to kill anyone anyway, how hard could that be. I would even throw my other favorite teams under the bus for them. "God please, let the Montreal Canadiens, or Toronto Blue Jays lose....even the Chicago Bulls, but just please let Michigan win."
Over the years I would pledge to give up sex, smoking, drinking, even my left testicle because hey, there was always the other one...Honestly, I would be a saint right now if Michigan had won all those games and I had lived up to my end of the bargains.
Alas, many times God saw through my schemes and the Wolverines lost. I would be gutted and no one would dare be around me for days. I would go into a deep depression and the only thing that could get me out was for Michigan to win the next week, or their rivals to lose as well.
As the Wolverines went, so did I.
Now, almost 20 years later the future is bright for Michigan fans. We have new names, new systems and new (or renovated) facilities but the same old winning tradition of Michigan. Our future rests on the shoulders of young men with names like Minor, Forcier, Graham, Warren, Mathews, Robinson and their coaches.
It is my belief that these young men will once again lead the Wolverines to glory and back to the winning tradition of the past.
To conclude I would like to go back to ancient times and resurrect one of the traditions of the gladiators of Rome. Can anyone deny how great it would be for Rich Rodriguez to parade around the big house holding Jim Tressel's head in his hands after Michigan trounces OSU (I know, a little gory but I couldn't resist).
That would make last year all worthwhile.
So to the reader I ask these questions:
1) What prompted you to be a Michigan fan?
2) How long have you been a fan of your favorite sports team?
3) What have you pledged in order to see Michigan win a game?
4) What would you give to see Michigan win a NC?
For the past few weeks, I’ve been pretty vocal about my rooting interest in seeing Denard Robinson become Michigan’s starting quarterback, and have often gotten asked why. Scanning MGoBoard this morning, it appears as if the masses are suddenly all a-twitter about Mr. Robinson as well. Before the inevitable Denard-backlash strikes, I’d like to briefly explain my enthusiasm for the young man:
1. I enjoy rooting for the underdog. Unlike Tate, Denard wasn’t bred to be a quarterback, and hasn’t had the benefit of private lessons from the time he was weaned from breast-feeding. Tate was immediately tabbed the presumptive starter by many people on the internet – from commenters on this blog to Brian himself (check the tagline on the site). Obviously, I felt this was somewhat premature, given that Robinson had yet to set foot on campus. Tate has the benefit of years of additional training, and months of additional practice time in the offense – I think it’s a cool story that Denard is able to push him, and it says a lot about Denard’s competitiveness and overall talent-level that he’s able to do so.
2. Many here know me to be a contrarian. Would I derive a healthy amount of satisfaction seeing the legion of amateur-quarterback coaches on this site who write authoritative scouting reports based on 90 second highlight films to be proven wrong? I absolutely would. The gap between Robinson and Forcier, clearly, was oversold by these people from the jump, or the “competition” as it exists, wouldn’t be as intense as it apparently is.
3. Shoelace = Awesome.
4. By far, the most important factor, for me, is that Robinson is exciting. From the little we’ve seen, and the bit more we’ve heard, Robinson’s game is, for lack of a better word, sexy – he’s a touchdown waiting to happen. Forcier’s highest praise, really, is that he’s extremely fundamentally sound. To me, I know which one of those sounds more fun to watch – I’d prefer to watch a dynamic game-breaker than an effective game-manager. I was excited when Michigan hired Rodriguez, because, FINALLY, we had a coach that would find us a quarterback who would inflict as much running-QB trauma on the opposition as we’ve suffered at the hands of Dennis Dixon, Vince Young, Troy Smith, Donovan McNabb, Armanti Edwards, and even such luminaries as Jarious Jackson. Well – we’ve GOT one of those – Denard Robinson.
I want to be clear, however: I’m not a football coach. I know nothing about throwing mechanics. My opinion, really, is useless. What I’m laying out here is not “why Denard Robinson is better” – because I am thoroughly unqualified to say such a thing. What I’m saying is why I prefer Robinson.
My praise of Denard really drew out alot of dickheads on this forum, and you all know who you are. You know, the same ones who will be saying they knew all along how great Denard was gonna be.
I will say it again for those of you with selective memory and those who still have Forcier's shlong in their mouths.. ITS ALL ABOUT DENARD, and remember, it was DICLEMEG who has been telling you so since MARCH.