to play football, not to play trumpet
The subject of that diary was about how Cissoko looks to be the second coming of Todd Howard. In some ways that will give you nightmares and in others it might leave you feeling mildly content a couple of years from now. But that wasn't what struck me when I read that Diary.
What struck me was that in the past 15 years Michigan has always had a lock-down corner on the field in every year but three. Here's the rundown:
- '92 - '94 = Ty Law
- '95 - '97 = Charles Woodson
- '98 - '00 = ???
- '01 - '04 = Marlin Jackson
- '03 - '06 = Leon Hall
- '07 - ?? = Donovan Warren
The two primary corners during that gap in '98-'00 were James Whitley and Todd Howard. Whitley was supposed to be a stud recruit and I remember a quote from Woodson where he talked about Whitley potentially being better than he was. Well, that obviously didn't happen. Whitley will forever be known as a guy with decent speed and size who could run step for step with recievers but never make a play on the ball.
You'll also remember this era as when Plexico "Rikers" Buress dominated Michigan to the point where Carr desperately put David Terrell in the game at CB in an attempt to slow him down. This did not go well:
So why am I bringing this up? Well, there was an interesting Detroit Lions Notebook today in the Detroit News:
(Sidenote - Who knew that Carson Butler was only now being cut from an NFL practice squad? And who knew that he is still considered a defensive end instead of a tight end? Ahh Carson, what a weird trajectory your life has taken.)
But the shocking thing to me from this notebook is that the Lions starting corner named Will James is the former Will Peterson of the 1997 Michigan National Championship team. He left the program for reasons I can't recall (academics?) and went to Western Kentucky. Since then he's been in the NFL for 8 seasons and has been a starter for part of that time.
If you look at that original chart I put up you'll see that he would have been on the team during that post-Woodson void of a lock-down corner. Maybe he would have been that guy? It made me wonder what would have been different for Michigan had he been able to stay on the team. Whitley would have been a good #2 CB and Howard would have been an excellent nickel back.
So I end this diary with a challenge to the readers: What other former UM players can you think of who ended up having solid careers but didn't last at Michigan? Imagine how things could have been different if these players had stayed a full four years. I'll get you started with some classics:
- Trevor Pryce - He turned into a dominant NFL pass rusher after leaving Michigan. If you look at the lack of elite pass rushers in Michigan history you have to wonder how great he could have been had he stayed.
- Justin Fargas - Probably the most memorable Michigan defectors of all time, he's had a solid NFL career at RB after he could never figure it out at Michigan and actually spent time at safety before transferring to USC. I still can't figure out what happened (besides the injury) with his inability to be an effective RB for us.
- Jon Ritchie - Despite being somewhat of a tool (personal experience from living in West Quad at the same time as him), he became an excellent NFL fullback and would have been a valuable asset for Carr had he finished his career there.
First of all, I want to state the obvious: Yost is awesome. The building is beautiful, the crowd is crazy, the team competes for championships year in and year out, and the only times we have seen a sports atmosphere like it are a select few football games (2003 OSU, 2004 MSU, 2005 PSU, 2009 Notre Dame). I have been going to games for almost fifteen years, first as a kid whenever my neighbors had extra tickets, and now as a student. I love Yost and we absolutely do not want anything about it to change, but I think it can be even better.
Last winter, after traveling to several road games and NCAA Regionals in Bridgeport, my friend and I decided that there should be a hockey student organization equivalent to what Maize Rage is for basketball. Our intention is not to change the Yost experience or impose ideas on the student section in any way. We are not trying to script the cheers because, let’s be honest, nothing beats a clever cheer that starts spontaneously (“Potato famine” against Notre Dame for example). However, there are some easy things we can do.
Our primary goal is to make it easier for students to travel to road games, CCHA playoffs, and NCAA playoffs. Last year when we went to Bridgeport, our friends were the only active students in the crowd. We know there are plenty of fans out there who would love to make the trip given a more obvious opportunity. There is no reason why we couldn’t fill up a charter bus or two, get a cheap rate for a block of hotels, and have an unbelievable weekend. Similarly, CCHA playoffs are less than an hour away and almost half of our conference opponents are within two hours of Ann Arbor (MSU, Bowling Green, Ferris State, Western). We have discussed our plan with the athletic department and they are fully on-board. There are logistics to work out, but they want to provide buses to games in Detroit and potentially others far away. They want to work with us if we can make this happen.
In addition to road trips, we want to try to make the student section more cohesive. In my experience, nothing makes a group closer than traveling together, but there are plenty of things we can do in Ann Arbor. The athletic department has told us that they have plenty of money for promotions and events. There could be pre-game tailgates, like the preseason hockey barbecue. One idea they had was a tricycle race tournament before the game in the parking lot, with the semifinals and finals on the ice between periods. They also want to do more t-shirt giveaways and other promotions. Not only does the athletic department want a student group to work with and bounce ideas off of, we can serve as an outlet for student ideas and facilitate a dialogue with the athletic department.
Although we came up with the idea and are working to get it off the ground, this group will not work without popular support. The last thing we want to do is impose our ideas and our will on the rest of the student section. We are open to any ideas and, more importantly, we are looking for other students who want to get involved. Although we have an idea of what our goals are, we want as much input and help from other students as we can get so that this becomes a group for all of Yost and all students, not just the two of us and the athletic department. There are several ways to get in touch with us and become involved. Join our facebook group called Michigan Hockey Student Section, send us an email at [email protected], talk to us at our table at the student ticket hockey barbecue this Thursday, or, most importantly come to our mass meeting in the Union Tap Room on Tuesday October 6 at 7:00 PM. Go Blue!
Defense - Pass+
|Off||G||Expected Points||Actual Points||Diff|
|Def||G||Expected Points||Actual Points||Diff|
Note: The spectacular rollercoaster start to the season distracted me from our McBean effort. Back to work. Source Material: Original Post, Definitions, 2002 Class, Problems.
There was a flurry of concern about how our definitions, particularly the proliferation of McBean two-stars when we rarely recruit any Rivals two-stars, necessarily results in an overall decline in performance for any given class. This is a big deal when you recall that the purpose of this project is to allow us to judge whether a staff’s recruiting and talent development exceeds or falls short of expectations. We can say right now that they will almost always fall short of expectations; the question is how much. One day, we may adopt a variation of the proposed formula from wolfman81 to solve this problem (I say variation because I don’t think it goes far enough to compensate for the two-star problem – see the 2003 class RMS below, which narrows the gap as it should for a great class, but not enough…I think somehow weighting five-star players may be the answer):
Lastly, you asked me about my formula. It's really just the Root-Mean-Square. So add up for each player (star rating)^2. Then divide by total number of players. (This is the mean of the squares.) Now take a square root so that the numbers are comparable.
Example: Compare these 2 person classes (2 4 stars, vs. 1 5-star and 1 3 star)
2 **** -> Avg = 4.0, RMS = 4.0
1 ***** + 1 *** -> Avg = 4.0, RMS = 4.123
I'll ask the question this way. Would you prefer a class that is half 3-stars and half 4-stars (remember, I'm talking about McBeans here--so 12 All-Conference players and 12 servicable backups) or a class that is half 2-stars and half 5-stars (so we have 12 All-Americans in a single class and 12 guys who never play)? I know what my answer is (especially if we consistently recruit and develop that kind of talent).
I am rolling out this stat below the averages for your consideration.
In the end, we decided to finish out our McBean rating effort and go from there. With three classes in hand, we will be able to gauge the two-star problem and either wallow in that misery, as UMFootballCrazy wants, or create an algorithm to compensate the relative value of players, as wolfman81 wants. The Team Ranking analysis for the 2003 class demonstrates the two-star problem clearly…
…but we’re going to finish and circle back. I will probably even finish the 2005 class, even though we have active players.
Here are the first two final classes, 2002 and 2003:
For the 2003 class, Kraus was bumped to a four star, which was near unanimous except to UMFootballCrazy, who doesn’t like to ignore the NFL draft in this instance. I have felt bad for SanDiegoWolverine in the past because he keeps passionately arguing for certain guys and not getting his way – in this instance, he wins as both Rivas gets moved to a four-star (you can’t use the NFL draft as a tie-breaker for kickers/punters and he is a multi-year starter) and Richard gets reclassified as N/A.
JimHarbaughScramble is clearly still grappling with extreme Mundypobia, but sorry JHS, I can’t make a drafted DB a two-star no matter how many times you see this running through your mind:
Here is the preliminary 2004 class, which is our last class that we can call complete (the 2005 class has six active players). There are plenty of issues, and most of them seem to result from overrating our favorite players, like Henne and Hart.
There's a lot to debate in the 2004 class.
I'm going to preface my case for why NFL football can never hold a flame to college football by saying that it is entirely possible my perception is warped. I grew up in/near Detroit. The Lions have been god awful the vast majority of my life. Michigan has been bad for one year of my life. This surely skews my fandom of NFL football versus NCAA football. I haven't paid much attention to the Lions for five years now since following Art Regner's lead and being "Lions free."
Also: I don't necessarily think I'm going to convince anyone of my position, nor do I want to necessarily. I just feel the need to explain why the NFL is a relative bore as compared to college football.
There are probably dozens of reasons I could come up with if I sat here and just thought and thought and thought about this and just typed them as they came to me. However, what follows are the main thoughts that have lived with me for several years now.
1. The NFL offenses/defenses are just boring, anymore.
Maybe I was spoiled and turned off of the pro-set offense and the 4-3/3-4 offense and defense combinations by the Carr/DeBord era but I have trouble watching NFL games anymore because of the sheer boredom. There are three types of offense (or so it seems in the NFL) the power run game , the spread pass game, the west coast offense. The most innovation that has come out of the NFL in the past decade is the wildcat and the implementation of the spread offense in the passing attack (see NE Patriots). I theorize this is the case because of the fear of losing one's job and/or the relative level field between all the different teams' talent so that you don't have to make up for your roster of 2 and 3 star talent versus mostly 5 stars. Nothing was more exciting to me than watching a WVU game when RichRod was there, or watching Florida or Oklahoma do their thing or Nevada and the pistol or GaTech and the triple option resurgence. coaches are willing to mix things up in college either due to necessity or lack of prsssure or whatever it may be. It makes the games a lot more entertaining... it even makes picking games/previewing games more interesting...there are infinitely more matchups in terms of offensive styles vs. defensive styles to account for in college than the pros and its fun to see which way it will all shake out.
2. The traditions. The NFL has traditions, sure. But it seems like so many of them are just soulless and more a fun novelty than an actual carried on legacy attached to a program or team.
3. Rivalries. The NFL has rivalries, sure.... Denver and Oakland, Green Bay and Chicago, Indianapolis and New England, the NFC East. But the rivalries feel so muted and more novelty than reality when you take into account the college game. M v. MSU, M v. ND, M v. OSU, OU vs. Texas, Florida vs. Florida State, Miami (that Miami) vs. Florida State, etc. these are games that we live and die by, these are games that some people remember forever. There's so much more history with these collegiate programs and their rivalries than the NFL ones.
4. No Fun League. Some people think some of the things players do (see: Ochocinco) are over the top and should not be a part of the game. Some of his and TOs antics I would agree, don't belong in the sport. That's not to say that celebration or the natural release of emotion after a huge play or a huge victory doesn't belong. I see there being a difference between MANY NFL players and the celebrations that occur in college. The NFL celebrations seem to calculated and designed and directed at creating controversy and attention rather than just being elated at the fact that you scored or that you're helping your team's cause. The NFL takes itself very seriously and a lot of that kills the joy in it for me. The contract nonsense of holdouts and trade demands etc is just ridiculous. There's no loyalty or pride (in the good sense) from either the management/coaches or the players.
I still watch NFL football a lot of the time. I will not go so far as to say that I dislike it. However, largely I watch it for fantasy football. I really enjoy that aspect of it. I feel no attachment to any NFL team, probably because of the Lions awfulness for my entire life. I just watch as a bystander in every NFL game with no vested interest. My fantasy team is the team I root for...That's a lot less satisfying than cheering U of M on Saturdays. Or listening to the radio when I'm at work and not wanting to miss a moment of it. and rushing home after work on Saturdays to watch my DVR to see exactly how everything went down. I'm not sure there's anything the NFL could do to persuade me back to their side of the argument. College football's product is better, its more fun to watch, it has more creativity, more passion, and more risk taking than the NFL has had for decades. Saturdays are the holy days to me. (and no, I'm not a jew)
My co-worker, a good number of years older than myself, witnessed Bo’s Michigan personally. Meticulously drilled offensive linemen, who needed to know only one thing. If they could drive their defensive counterparts back four yards, they had done their job. Under Bo, he says, if you weren’t good enough to do that successfully four quarters out of every game, then you simply weren’t good enough. Perfect execution meant 3.4 yards per play, and anything less on any given play meant a good chance of a failed drive.
Under Bo, he says, if an opposing team went up with just a few moments remaining, well, evidently Michigan wasn’t good enough on that day. This isn’t to say that Michigan was perfect under Bo, he says. No, actually, far from it. But Bo’s teams’ victories were usually known from the start, and their losses could be tasted on the air before the opening coin flip had landed on the field. Deserving to win meant execution on the field. There was little playmaking, because there was one play. There was one rule. Dominate, or lose.
I, being a little younger, and only having the vaguest memory of the Moeller years as my earliest Michigan recollection, have a little different perspective on the nature of Michigan football. I know Bo ran more than one play, and so on, but it’s hard to argue with my co-worker’s overarching theme. During a five year grouping assembled randomly from Bo’s career (scores courtesy Wikipedia), the following data points emerged.
Average Margin of Victory: 22.84 Points
Average Margin of Defeat: -6.86 Points
Biggest Victory Margin: 57 Points
Biggest Defeat Margin: -23 Points
Margin of Victory Appearing Most Often: 35/38 (3 occasions each)
Margin of Defeat Appearing Most Often: -2/-10 (3 occasions each)
Many people would point to this simply as evidence that Bo was a very good coach, and was always in games. This is probably pretty true, in that only one loss during that period (above mentioned -23 loss margin) was greater than two touchdowns (next nearest was -11)). However, I feel that it also shows something else. Bo had 44 wins during that period, and only 12 of those, or 27.2% were by less than two touchdowns. Furthermore, only six total, or 13.6% were by less than one touchdown. If Bo were going to win a game, he was going to win it big. He was going to play well, he was going to execute, and he was going to grind the opposition to dust.
I believe that Rich Rodriguez recent commentary that he would like to be good enough to play poorly and still win is good for the team. It’s a modern era, and Michigan isn’t the only powerhouse anymore. We are running a highly difficult to execute offense and we’re simply not always going to have the players to make it work right. Games are going to be 38-36 and 36-33. MAC teams are going to score on us, and keep us out of the end zone. Our average margin of victory might be one field goal instead of three touchdowns.
We’re not used to it because Bo played Bo football, Gary played Bo football, and Lloyd played Bo football. Execute or fail. Dominate or Lose. It looks scary. Sometimes it looks bad. But with a combination of playmakers, cleverness, and proper coaching, sprinkled with bits of dilithium, it will produce success.
So the next time somebody says a certain player, unit, or the entire team looks bad, you can safely reply that yes, that is true, but it doesn’t mean we won’t win. And it doesn’t matter how you get them, wins make everyone happy. Even Bo.