to play football, not to play trumpet
[Editor's note: I am headed to a wedding in Milwaukee this weekend, and thus won't be able to put together mgo-worthy content for the rest of today. Instead, enjoy this excellent, research-heavy diary.]
First time poster, long time lurker. While procrastinating on various work projects, I’ve been dithering around with a data set on college football win-loss records. I’m the sort of guy who actually thinks HBS case studies are kinda neat, so futzing with this seemed like fun in its own twisted way. Then one of our fellow mgobloggers put up a really nice monte carlo simulation of the 2009 season (using a $500K piece of software no less) and I felt a little guilty about not posting some of my stuff online. So, here goes …
What sent me down this path was the whole topic of what our expectations should be for next year’s win total. Seems like the general consensus is somewhere between a 3-5 win improvement for next year. I am a Bill James devotee, so I began to wonder how realistic that was in a historical context (i.e., how many teams really improve that much in one year). My instinct was such occasions were not all that common. So, I spent a couple of hours pulling some data (30 years worth of W-L records for every D1A team, to be exact). Here are some summary conclusions and some things that I intend to research a little further and post about whenever the procrastination bug strikes again.
Turns out that big improvements in win totals from one year to another are more common than I thought. There were roughly 300 such cases since 1980. Considering that the data set is about 3300 team seasons, I thought this was pretty remarkable. In essence, the average team has at least one 4+ win improvement season every decade. Score one for optimism here.
Digging a little further, I took a look at extreme win total improvements (+6 wins or more). There were quite a few of these as well – 63 (or more than 2 per season). And they weren’t all MAC and Sun Belt teams either. 28 of those seasons were from teams in one of the six BCS conferences. The Big Ten had 6 such seasons:
- Northwestern 95
- Purdue 97
- Ohio St 02
- Penn St 05
- Illinois 07
- Minnesota 08 (EDIT: Missed the MN season in the first draft).
For those dreaming about the possibility of warm weather for New Years, at least there’s some historical precedent. Also, RichRod is responsible for one of those 63, West Virginia '02, which was +6. Which also happened in his second year after a 3-8 first season. I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin’ …
For those who are curious, the biggest turnaround in the study (and most likely in college football history) is Hawaii 99 (+9). At +8 were Florida 80, San Jose St 86, Bowling Green 91, South Carolina 00, and Central Florida 05.
I also was wondering if the optimism about a BCS game in two years was rooted in reality. [Editor's note: I would have gone with "vague hope" instead of optimism.] For this, I am assuming the requirement is an 11+ win season. So, if we start with the assumption that this year ends up at 7 wins, we need another 4 win improvement next season to reach that.
Here, the historical precedent is less encouraging*. In the study there are only 5 cases of teams recording 2 consecutive seasons of 4+ win improvements: Colorado St in 89 and 90, Fullerton St in 84 and 85, Georgia Tech in 89 and 90 (culminating with a shared national title), UNLV in 83 and 84, and one other.
This last one should be your reason for optimism, as it is Tulane in 97 and 98. With OC Rich Rodriguez. 2-9 Tulane 96 became 12-0 Tulane 98 under that offense. The historical numbers may be stacked against us, but this staff has defied them once before.
Lastly, I wanted to highlight the three Michigan seasons that were caught by this analysis: 85, 97, and 06 (all +4).
See any themes here? If you named the three best defensive teams of the last 30 years, this is probably the list (with the possible exception of the 80 team). Does this sound like the 09 team to you? Yeah, me neither. Bummer.
I do see some decent parallels to the 85 and 06 teams, though. Both the 84 and 05 teams were plagued by injury hell and were extremely young, as was 08. Both the 85 and 06 teams ushered in a new era of offensive strategy (Bo discovered the forward pass with Harbaugh in 85, the zone stretch changed the running game in 06). For all intents and purposes, 09 is the first real glimpse we’ll have at RichRod’s full playbook so I’m willing to buy that as a philosophical change.
The defense going into both 85 and 06 had only two established stars (Mike Hammerstein/Brad Cochran, Lamarr Woodley/Leon Hall) and a bunch of question marks. Could Graham/Warren count as established stars? The 85 and 06 teams had unheralded defensive players become stars (Mark Messner, Andy Moeller in 85, Alan Branch, David Harris in 06). Could that happen here? Mouton? Martin? Spinner/deathbacker to be named later? Surprise freshman stud (Turner? Campbell? Emelien?) Maybe it’s a stretch, but if you want to be an optimist, I think this is what you look to …
So, that’s all I have for now. I am going to take a closer look at the impact of coaching changes on the big spikes in W/L. Current hypothesis says you get the biggest pop in year 2, but let’s see what the data says. Also going to look at the other side of this coin, seasons of -4 wins or more. Could give some retrospective insight into the whole WTF situation that was 08. If you want me to look at anything else, I am open to suggestions.
* Really this should look at 8+ win improvements over two years, not just consecutive 4+ win years. However, it is late and I’m too tired to do that now. Maybe next time.
[Editor's note: Something struck me as I read this: check out those bounce-back seasons there. Minnesota was 1-11. Illinois was 2-10. Northwestern was 3-7-1, Purdue 3-8, Penn State 4-7. Only OSU -- 7-5 in 2001 -- went from mediocre to very good, and the 2002 OSU team were the luckiest sonsabitches in recent college football history.
Everyone else was bouncing up from horrible to average, which seems much easier to do than to go from average to very good. So, yeah, a crappy bowl beckons.]
Rare as in vintage, rare as in Lions win?
In less than 48 hours we have octupled the existing the visual evidence that the Lions were a) indeed good at one point, b) not that into analyzing the ypc effectiveness of their off-tackle runs.*
For a guy who counts Bobby Layne among his sporting heros (undies “22", and you can’t really make this out but my sig is the self-portrait of an Iraq war vet whose glass eye sports the Lions logo**) its nice to see more than the same 90 seconds of highlights repackaged and rolled out on the rare occasion he’s discussed. If NFL films/network runs a 3 minute piece on Bobby Layne you see the same touchdowns plays 5 times.
1952 Championship highlights
1953 Championship highlights
After watching those I suddenly want a Miller Highlife.
What a potential treasure trove Garrard “Buster” Ramsey has left the sporting world, particularly Lions fans with nary a sun lamp for reflected glory basking. You’re not going to find may pre-1957 tilts on ESPN classic or NFL channel’s “Game of the Week”. And major props to his family for taking the excruciating time to make these conversions of 16 mm to the net. Haven’t had a chance to review much of these yet but looking forward to it.
This isn’t an appropriate Diary topic, but I fiddled with me “create content” for awhile and couldn’t get to a place where I could post a forum topic. Perhaps that is somehow connected with the new points system? I haven’t kept up with those posts very well.
I don’t have time to read many of the forums or diary topics, but enjoy most of them when I do, and will make the time for certain posters or topics. I don’t know if there’s any sort of rift over OT posts choking out or obscuring M sports related user generated content, but my guess is that there is not. The core Mgoblog fan community came for football but has likely stayed and coagulated for just as many other reasons. Although, if there were room and formatting compatibility a separate “OT Forum” may not be a bad idea.
*I’m not even ½ way through the first segment before the first halfback pass sighting from Doak Walker. For all the ex-QBs Rod is bringing aboard, I’m I crazy for thinking there’s a lot of upside in making that a staple of M’s offense? Staple as in 2-3 per every couple games. I wonder if smart football or anyone else has ever looked at the risk reward factor of that play. Probably not enough sample data.
**How annoyed was he with logo change?
I know there have been posts about JT getting in. Hope he does... These tests seem to be important to test reading skills, but its not like most of us solve for x in the real world. When I graduated HS in Michigan there was a merit test that you had to take and I believe that you got a small scholarship, but passing the test was not mandatory. All I actually remember is being bored and that one of the questions involved a picture of the state of Utah and asked you to identify it.
According to achieve.org and USA Today, 26 states in the US have graduation exams. Their data shows that in some states as many as 40% of HS graduates end up taking remedial english classes when they get to college. Likewise, there are three types of graduation exams that exist:
1. Pass the test or else.
2. Pass the test or do a project/complete other criteria.
3. A two tier system where you still get your "local" diploma, but you do not get certified as a HS graduate based on state standards.
Overall, the system in my opinion is mostly a school by school progress report and a "guarantee" by educators that they are not just flipping diplomas to get kids out the door.
Some states that have graduation tests are: Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio, and Texas. So this will likely come up again in the future with recruits. It seems that these tests mainly cover the three core subjects -English, Math and Science
Sample questions are on the Ohio website and I posted a few below for fun.The Reading sections are too long to post in here and many of the Science Questions have graphs and other tables that are hard to copy. If you have some free time and want to check it out, the link is provided. Below are a few sample questions.
Don't let your alma mater down...
Answers are provided on the website, but I figured you would want to challenge yourself.
Sample Questions Mathematics
1. The table below contains the results of a
Record of Blooms
Week 1 2 3 4 5
Number of Blooms 3 9 27 81 b
Assuming the pattern shown in the table
continues, what is the value of b?
6. A set of data contains 10 negative numbers
and 4 positive numbers. Which one of these
statements must be true?
A. The mean is a negative number.
B. The median is a negative number.
C. The mode is a negative number.
D. The range is a negative number.
3. Which equation is equivalent to
3(2x – 5) = 4(x + 3)?
A. 2x = –27
B. 2x = 27
C. 10x = –27
D. 10x = –3
Sample Questions Science
2. Architects are working with
engineers to build a lecture hall.
How can they design it so that
echoes are reduced and speech is
not heard as garbled sounds?
A. build smooth marble walls,
ceilings and polished floors
B. construct many flat walls,
angled ceilings and smooth
C. use an ultramodern design of
metal walls, pillars and seats
D. build walls out of porous
materials, upholster the seats
17. Two processes that allow cells to
release energy from food are:
A. mitosis and meiosis.
B. excretion and diffusion.
C. fermentation and cellular
D. osmosis and spontaneous
OK kids - this is the first edition of the exciting new game: NAME THAT MGOBLOGGER!
Here's how it works: we go back into the annuals of MGo history and find a particularly, um, interesting point of view, story, or comment and we rehash it for our amusement! All you have to do is take a guess at which MGoBlogger said what! So easy a blogger could do it! Wow that was lame!
And now........for NAME THAT MGOBLOGGER!
100 MGoPoints goes to the person who can correctly name the MGoBlogger who wrote this! (no fair using the search bar!):
When I was in high school I once had a game where I made 18 tackles or such, we lost by 2 points. coach came to me the next day and mentioned that I had a pretty good game. I replied, 'not good enough'.
winning is more important.
WHO SAYS THAT? Well, it's up to you to figure it out. Again, no fair peeking with use of the search bar. You just have to come up with this off the top of your precious little MGoBrain. SO.
DO YOU KNOW?
Try your shot at: NAME THAT MGOBLOGGER!!!!
For those interested in cheering the buzzer and becoming befuddled you do, in fact, have the ability to run the board entitled 'Spike Lee' after having seen absolutely zero of his movies, a 2006 alum/returning grad student to the U will be on the great American game show Jeopardy tomorrow. Have no idea how she does but I know the girl's smart as hell... but given that's coming from me that might not be a stirring recommendation.
Ah well, it's OT season and we can always hope there's an OSU alum who just colors on his Final Jeopardy question.
And for the "fill 200" requirement's sake:
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Maurice Clarett was charged with carrying a concealed weapon after a highway chase early Wednesday that ended with police using Mace on the former Ohio State running back and finding four loaded guns in his sport utility vehicle.
Officers used Mace to subdue Clarett after a stun gun was ineffective because the former Fiesta Bowl star was wearing a bullet-resistant vest, Sgt. Michael Woods said.
"It took several officers to get him handcuffed," Woods said. "Even after he was placed in the paddy wagon, he was still kicking at the doors and being a problem for the officers."
The complaint police filed when they charged him with carrying a concealed weapon without permit said he had a 9 mm handgun under his legs in the driver's seat of an SUV.
At this number it seems the far and away favourite would have to be Chris Hutchinson. He started for 38 games as a DT and his best season was 1992, his senior year, where he set the single season record for sack yardage  and tied for number of sacks in a season . He is second on the career sack list with 24 for 188 yards. He was co-captain and team MVP for the year. In addition to earning Big Ten Lineman of the Year and All-American honours for athletics, he was an exemplary student, a three time Academic All Big-Ten award winner, earning both the Dr. Arthur D. Robinson Scholarship Award (given to the team's leading senior scholar), and an NCAA post-graduate scholarship which used to attend UM Medical School. Here is a man who embodies all the best of what we think when the word "student athlete" comes to mind. Does anyone else have any other suggestions?
Here is the list of #97's
97 Boyden, Joel M. T 1957
97 Grein, Wilfred J. T 1958
97 Doersam, Paul H. T 1959
97 Frontczak, Stanley N. G 1962-64
97 Berline, James E 1965-67
97 Moore, Edward M. LB 1968-70
97 Armour, James OG 1971
97 Perlinger, Jeff DT 1972-74
97 Taylor, Robert J. MG 1976-77
97 Jackson, Jeffrey OLB 1978
97 Kelsie, Tony MG 1979-80
97 Needham, Ben ILB 1981
97 Shimko, Martin OLB / DT 1982-84
97 Holland, Joseph H. OLB 1985-88
97 Mandel, Dave TE 1985-87
97 Hutchinson, Chris DT 1989-92
97 Holtry, Jeff OLB 1994
97 Ziemann, Chris DL 1995-96
97 Ostrom, Lance TE 1997
97 Lazarus, Shawn DE-DL 1998-2002
97 Perl, Luke K 2001-03
97 Johnson, Will DT 2004-08
97 Pollock, Max OLB 2004-05
97 Schrimscher, Scott PK 2007-08