TO THE HOT TAKE CANNON
In the doldrums of the offseason, a lot of interest was generated over the prospect of adding another team to the Big Ten. Recently, the SEC and the Big XII have experienced success after picking apart the old SWC, and the ACC raided the Big East for some of the top teams of the conference. The Big Ten experienced more success after adding Penn State, and the question was ultimately raised whether a new member would be wanted in the conference, and whether or not this would help shore up the Big Ten's image and if it would help the conference in the long run. Delany has said "no thanks," but it seems that most coaches want the expansion.
What teams would there be is the critical question pertaining to this discussion. A few basic parameters should be set:
The university must be in a BCS conference. There are no teams in the region with the success that the western mid-majors had.
The university should be within reasonable geographic location.
This leaves the only candidates (alphabetically): Boston College, Cincinnati, Iowa State, Louisville, Maryland, Missouri, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Syracuse, and West Virginia.
We can eliminate Notre Dame because it has not expressed desire to be in the Big Ten. It would be a lateral move for Missouri from the Big XII (maybe even a step down) and they'd lose all of their history and rivalries nonetheless (no, Illinois does not contribute.) We can eliminate Iowa State because they historically have been a bottom-dweller in football and basketball. Maryland can be eliminated as well for similar reasons to Missouri. Boston College moved conferences just recently so a pretty nonsensical situation. Cincinnati would not add a larger T.V. market, and this move is not big enough move for the conference to make. Louisville is similar.
That leaves: Pitt, Rutgers, Syracuse and West Virginia.
This would be a great move for the conference to make, it's a school with good academics, it brings in a good media market for the T.V. network, they have a traditional rivalry with Penn State, and they'd help the Big Ten in football and basketball prestige. Step up for them.
Also a pretty popular choice. it would give a pipeline to the New York/New Jersey viewing area, it’s a big school, and the school is up-and-coming in football. Basketball is another matter, but this would be a huge move for them and the conference, as it would move them into the big time.
A decent choice, they'd be an instant credibility boost in basketball, and football would be... iffy. Big market, good tradition compared to the nouveau riche Rutgers, and very similar to Pitt. They'd also be rivals with Penn State should the move happen. It is a good choice academically.
They'd be an instant rival with Michigan... kind of. Not a phenomenal school or a very large one, but they've had success lately on the playing field (thanks to Rodriguez). Basketball is fine, but the media market would not be great.
Overall, I'd choose Pitt; the move is the best for the school and the conference.
Financially, expansion would help the Big Ten Network gain a much larger viewing area, generate more interest and revenue with a conference championship game (Detroit and Indianapolis would be perfect locations geographically, as well as top-notch stadiums.) The new team would potentially bring in more revenue into the conference with bowl game appearances; and the money would definitely help the conference. Really, there is not a financial reason that would seriously inhibit the Big Ten from adding a twelfth member.
A major question arose over the divisional setup or even if there shouldn't be any divisions and keep the current round robin system that misses two teams per year and add another conference game. 9 conference games in a year has really hurt the PAC-10; the teams lose revenue with the loss of a 1-AA (MAC, mid-major whatever) and a home game every two years, replacing this with a conference road game (which makes it harder to become bowl-eligible too.) A round-robin would not be the smartest idea; it hasn't worked out well for most of the teams in the PAC-10 (who all have to play USC every year) and it probably would not benefit anyone in the Big Ten either, the middling to lower-echelon teams would possibly get another loss making it harder to become bowl eligible, and the powers that be would lose tons of revenue by playing a maximum of 7 games at home every other year.
No clear-cut conference divisional alignment makes total sense if it is just a clear-cut round-robin. The major rivalries in-state and out west cannot be kept this way. I’ve worked out the solution and a geographical divisional alignment is easily produced (avoiding the messy ACC.) The caveat is a SEC-type ‘permanent rival’ from the other division so one team plays a team in the other division every year to uphold historic rivalries.
It would look like:
Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, and Pittsburgh
Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Northwestern, Purdue, and Wisconsin
The permanent rivals would be: Indiana-Purdue (obviously), Michigan-Minnesota (Little Brown Jug), Ohio State-Illinois (Illibuck), and Michigan State-Wisconsin, Penn Sate-Iowa, and Pittsburgh-Northwestern (the final three may be rearranged).
A sample schedule for Michigan would be all of their divisional teams (Indiana home, MSU away, OSU home, PSU away, and Pitt home), Minnesota away, and Wisconsin at home and Northwestern away. The next year would be the same but all of the games would be flipped home/away. Then Wisconsin would be replaced with Purdue and Northwestern with Iowa or something.
EDIT: In response to those who seem to want Missouri for whatever reason, the division alignment would look something like this:
Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, and Purdue
Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Northwestern, and Wisconsin
Permanent rivals: Michigan-Minnesota, Ohio State-Illinois, Northwestern-Indiana, Penn State-Missouri, Michigan State-Wisconsin, and Purdue-Iowa.
Yes, the dual title is a shout-out to “Rocky and Bowinkle”.
Although this post should be totally unnecessary, idiocy abounds and the madness must be stopped. Short of writing personal checks to players (or some equivalently massive set of rule violations), Rich Rodriguez WILL NOT BE FIRED by season’s end. He will live to fight another day and to coach another year in Ann Arbor no matter what happens on the field this season.
I was listening to WTKA recently and they had some airhead running his mouth about how RR is on the “hot seat” this year, that he needs to have a winning record, etc. I got ticked by his obvious ignorance of what exactly constitutes the “hot seat” and his general lack of analysis, betraying a lack of understanding of the state of M Football. But I dismissed it for what it was: talk radio. They’ve gotta talk about something to justify their existence. And the more simplistic, inane, and agitating, the better.
Then Brian linked a Phil Steele article from the Orlando Sentinel in which Phil lists RR as the #7 coach in I-A (FBS) on the “hot seat” and I couldn’t take it anymore.
FIRST of all, let’s start with the definition of the euphemism “hot seat”. In sports, “on the hot seat” means “you’re about to get fired unless you produce like now.” The last word in that sentence is where Phil (and others) must be getting confused. It’s not “yesterday” or “last year”, because that’s “you WERE fired.” It’s not “in the next 3-5 years”, because that’s a seat that’s just not hot. Hot Seat = NOW … or else.
SECOND, let’s look at what Phil said about RR.
· Phil expects M to be an underdog in 7 games. By implication, that means Michigan would be a favorite in 5 games. No one in Wolverine Nation would be thrilled by a 5-7 finish. But RR won’t get fired over it either. Why? Because Michigan AD, Bill Martin, is a patient man. Bill knows that his football coach is only in his second year of getting his players and his system in place. Bill waited through 5 years of Tommy Amaker, he’ll certainly wait through 3-5 years of RR.
· Phil thinks RR will get us to a decent bowl and make major strides just like he did in his 2nd year at West Virginia. We would need to go 6-6 to go to any kind of bowl, 8-4 to go to a “decent bowl”, as Phil says. Why would that get RR fired? That sounds like the kind of progress everyone is hoping for.
· Phil thinks that a lot Michigan alumni mistakenly assume that RR’s spread offense is a pass-first, run-second scheme (like, who exactly, Phil?). Even if that were true, it would have exactly ZERO effect on RR being fired this season.
I'm sorry, Phil. Why exactly is RR in your "hot seat"?
THIRD, even a major catastrophe on the field this season would not result in RR being fired. Hypothetically, let’s envision Michigan going 0-12 this year. That means we lose to Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Indiana, and Delaware State all at home. Let’s just focus on those four games. Imagine the plausible scenarios by which we would accomplish this level of devastation. Here’s what comes to mind:
· Injuries to every starter AND Nick Sheridan and David Cone and … (Zoltan can play QB and we still beat Delaware State)
· Everyone who returns kicks/punts fumbling the ball (cf. the 2008 Wisconsin game)
· Coaches using a Ouija board to decide what plays to call
· Opponents discovering kryptonite to neutralize Zoltan’s super powers
· Pre-game F-16’s piloted by Bucknuts crashing into the Michigan bench kamikaze-style
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Last year, we beat Miami Ohio, the moral equivalent of Delaware State. Last year, we beat Wisconsin after turning the ball over 5 times in the first half. Last year, Nick Sheridan (bless his heart) led us to victory ON THE ROAD against Minnesota. Last year, we had the worst football team I’ve ever seen, and we still won 3 games.
There’s no way we do any worse than last year. Everyone on the roster has as much (true freshmen) or more (everyone else) experience as last year’s team. Which means we make some (or “significant” according to Phil Steele) improvement this year (somewhere between 4-8 and 8-4). Which means RR will not be fired this year. Which means RR is in no way on “the hot seat” this year.
So give it a rest, folks.
And don’t start talking about those Michigan fans who blindly defend RR at all costs. I’m not saying he’s the second-coming. Heck, we’re probably looking at a 6-6 season. I’m just saying there’s no plausible on-the-field scenario by which he gets fired by season’s end. Get used to the idea that RR will be our coach for 2009, 2010, and probably at least 2011 before he’s at risk of being fired. Like I said, Bill Martin is a patient man, even if you’re not. Use your heads and cool your jets.
And GO BLUE!
Well, I've heard talk of early season momentum and early season letdowns so often over the years, I wanted to see if there was anything at all to this thing. As such, I visited the NCAA football website and got some stats. I had originally planned to map this over many years, but as I got looking, I saw that this was one statistic that was really quite consistent year in and year out, so I've only got the data points for last season. Should equate fairly well to any year.
The first thing I needed to establish was how many games made up the "start" of the season. I hung that one up at 4 games, because by that point, the kinks should be worked out and pretty much every team should have played at least one conference game, or one or more highly challenging OOC games. I then divided the teams by total games won (Regardless of bowl games/longer seasons), and figured the respective group's records in the first four games of the season. Results below:
Group A: 10 - 13 Wins Group B: 8-9 Wins
20 Teams 31 Teams
4-0: 13 Teams, 65% 4-0: 5 Teams, 16%
3-1: 6 Teams, 30% 3-1: 16 Teams, 52%
2-2: 1 Team, 5% 2-2: 8 Teams, 26%
1-3: 2 Teams, 6%
Group C: 7 Wins Group D: 6 Wins
14 Teams 7 Teams
4-0: 3 Teams, 21% 4-0: 0 Teams
3-1: 4 Teams, 29% 3-1: 1 Team, 14%
2-2: 5 teams, 35% 2-2: 4 Teams, 57%
1-3: 2 Teams, 14% 1-3: 2 Teams, 29%
Group E: 5 Wins Group F: 4-3 Wins
16 Teams 20 Teams
4-0: 0 Teams 4-0: 0 Teams
3-1: 4 Teams, 25% 3-1: 1 Team, 5%
2-2: 6 Teams, 38% 2-2: 7 Teams, 35%
1-3: 6 Teams, 38% 1-3: 11 Teams, 55%
0-4: 1 Team, 5%
Group G: 0-2 Wins
4-0: 0 Teams
3-1: 0 Teams
2-2: 2 Teams, 22%
1-3: 5 Teams, 56%
0-4: 2 Teams, 22%
Now, taking this data, we can make some projections. If Michigan were to have a "Fast Start", as the experts are saying is necessary, and we assume "Fast Start" to be 3-1 or better, then we can see where the chips are most likely to fall.
Excluding a 10-13 Win season, startin 3-1 or better makes 8-9 wins the most likely. That seems obvious. You have to win a lot of games to get 8-9 wins. However, it seems interesting that a team winning their first four is more likely to win only 7 than 8-9 total. Similarly, it's odd tht those going 3-1 in their first 4 are more likely to fall to 5 wins overall than reach 6, by a substantial percentage margin. And as can be seen from the 2-2 mark, this is not because those teams are winning more.
I also wondered if the Big 10, with a penchant for scheduling weak non-conference games in the early season, might be less than reflective of the sport as a whole. As such, I checked that out.
2 Big 10 Teams, 4-0&3-1
3 Big 10 Teams, 4-0, 3-1, 3-1
2 Big 10 Teams, 4-0, 3-1
1 Big 10 Team, 2-2
3 Big 10 Teams, 2-2, 2-2, 2-2
Big 10 Teams fell into the 4-0 Win total 27% of the time. Average over all groups containing 4-0 Teams was 34%.
Big 10 Teams fell into the 3-1 Win total 36% of the time. Average over all groups is 26%.
Big 10 Teams fell into the 2-2 Win total 36% of the time. Average over all groups is 31%
The Big 10 lands a little below average in one win category, a little above in another, and just about dead on in the third. The total falls slightly over the national average in wins for the first four games, but not substantiantially. As such, Michigan's expected final win total shouldn't be grossly inflated or deflated because of OOC strength. Big ten teams don't perform noticably better than other conference teams during the OOC portion of the schedule, and so Michigan shouldn't get noticably worse (in wins and losses) during the conference season.
What conclusions can we draw from this? It looks like Michigan does indeed need to win as many early season games as possible, but only in that it bolsters their win total overall. About half of all 7 win teams did not have a "fast start" (3-1 or 4-0) record, and likewise, a quarter of all 5 win teams had a fast start (and 2/3rds had at least an even record after 4), and failed to put forth a winning season.
So if Michigan loses 2 or 3 of their first 4 (I hope not) and somebody tells you their toast, tell them the stats only say, "Eh... maybe". Likewise, if they go 4-0 and somebody tells you the've got it made, tell them that 21% of 4-0 teams last year barely made a bowl game.
Just take the season one game at a time, and take a "W" for what it is. A "W".
However, I'm wondering whether a more compelling split would be if the conference divided along North/South lines, a la the Big 12. In this scenario, Michigan, Minnesota, Northwestern, MSU, Wisconsin, and Iowa would comprise the Big Ten North, and (possibly) the new team along with tOSU, Indiana, Purdue, Penn State, and Illinois would make up the south. This would probably require the Big Ten expansion to involve a team that was more definitively south (like remember when we thought Texas might be interested? or Notre Dame if they ever come to their senses...). Rutgers would in this instance become a more desirable scenario as well, and Syracuse less so.
In the Big Ten's current state this split seems to carry the more intriguing power structure: Michigan, if and when it returns to its expected strength, would be the flagship program of the Big Ten North. Battling with UM for Big Ten North titles would be any one of Iowa/Wisconsin/MSU/Northwestern/Minnesota (all of whom appear to be, if not competitive, then on the verge of being competitive post-2008). In the south, Penn State and Ohio State would be like the Texas/Oklahoma tandem in the Big 12 South, routinely sparring for supremacy (possibly with the new school), occasionally with Illinois as a legitimate challenger and Purdue and Indiana bringing up the rear.
It seems to me that it is in Michigan's interest to have the Big Ten divide North/South. What do all of you think?
Thanks to http://statsheet.com/cfb/conferences/big-ten/map for providing a good visual of where the Big Ten teams are situated geographically.
Western Michigan- 24
This game will be tougher than expected, but there's no way I'll predict a loss to a MAC team.
Notre Dame- 14
I know I know, I'm going out on a limb on this one, but we should have had this one last year and I think we'll put on a show here.
Eastern Michigan- 7
I'll be at this game, let's hope I'm right.
We won't lose to Indiana! well..... hopefully not. 4-0? I like the sound of that.
Michigan State- 20
Those glasses seem to be coming back on....
Iowa will be tough, We'll be coming off a big win, I see us dropping this one.
Delaware State- 6
It could happen, or it could be Appy State.
Penn State- 21
A defensive battle, that we lose. It'll take another year until WE OWN PENN STATE again.
We come a lot closer, still just short.
Little payback for last year, HE PITCHED IT IDIOT!!!!! arrrrgggghhhhh
Now they get a little payback.
The big one:
Ohio State- 13
Do I believe it? Maybe not, but really how could I predict a loss here? I won't do it.
So 8-4, Bowl Game undecided. We win it and it's secondyearwvuesque. can I coin that phrase?
Go Blue!!! let's hear some thoughts.
Welcome to my new way of doing things.
I have begun a new blog, covering the recruiting history of all of the schools in the Big Ten. The rules for how I am doing things can be found there, as well as the schedule of events. Every Michigan post will be cross-posted here, for your viewing pleasure. If there is an especially impressive class at another school, I will also post it here, with plenty of added references and M comparisons and what-not.
Set the Stage:Coach: Bo Schembechler
1980 Performance: 10-2, Rose Bowl Victory, Final Ranking: 4th National, 1st Big Ten
1981 New Blood Count: 24
Mini Recruiting Board Lives Here:
The 1981 class was recruited coming off of the wings of a great 1980 season, which culminated in a Rose Bowl win. The class included 12 offensive and 12 defensive players, a very balanced 24-man class. The lack of a quarterback is explained by the presence of Steve Smith, who was the starting QB for most of the games for the first 3 seasons of this class. There was obvious weakness in both the linebacker and offensive line cores, which Bo hoped to fill with this class.
How They Did:Overall Record: 42-17-1
Varsity Letters: 56
Graduated on Team: 18
Started a Game: 15
Full Eligibility: 11
5th Year Seniors: 8
- Kevin Brooks, All Conference 1983 1984
- Brad Cochran, All-American 1985, All-Conference 1985
- Mike Hammerstein, All-American 1985, All-Conference 1985
- Eric Kattus, All-Conference 1985
- Mike Mallory, All-Conference 1984 1985
- Clay Miller, All-Conference 1985
- Alan Sincich, All-Conference 1983
- Kevin Brooks, 1985, 1st Round, 17th Overall
- Brad Cochran, 1986, 3rd Round, 80th Overall
- Mike Hammerstein, 1986, 3rd Round, 65th Overall
- Eric Kattus, 1986, 4th Round, 91st Overall
- Clay Miller, 1986, 12th Round, 306th Overall
Of the 24 players recruited, 18 made it to graduation as members of the team. 15 made starts, and 11 played for their full four years.
The worst year for this class was in its senior year, 1984, when 12 players from the class made 114 starts and the team went 6-6. 1985 was an excellent year, in which 5 of the 8 remaining redshirt senior players made All-Conference and two made All-American honors (both of whom could have gone on to be cops). The 1985 team made it to the Fiesta Bowl, which they won, bringing their final record to 10-1-1. The caliber of the players in this class was sub-par compared to years surrounding it, shown by the general mediocrity of the team’s record.
Unfortunately for Bo, only 3 of the 7 OL recruits made any starts, one of which made one, one of which was a starting senior, and one of which converted to a DT and became an All-American. 5 of the 7 LB recruits made impacts on the team.
The shining point of this class was the defense. Of the 322 starts the class made, 201 were on defense. The two All-Americans were Brad Cochran, DB, who made 36 straight starts in his last 3 years, and Mike Hammerstein (Magnum, P.I.?), DT, who was MVP of the 1985 defense, which allowed a whopping 8.1 ppg. The three defensive players who were drafted went in the 1st, 3rd, and 3rd rounds.
Overall, the 1981 class built a strong defensive core, which allowed Bo to focus on the offense in the next year's class.