I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
I was planning on simply responding to Seth 9’s diary, but this became way too long.
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With Barry Alvarez openly saying that the Big 10 is serious about adding a twelfth team, it is an interesting exercise to try and determine which team the Big 10 would add, given various constraints that either do or supposedly exist. I did some extensive searching, and could not the find Big 10 bylaws, so we have to go off what the greater internets tell us is the truth. There are two constraints I’ve seen thrown out:
1. Membership in the American Association of Universities (AAU)
2. Located in a state already in the Big 10 footprint or adjacent to the Big 10 footprint.
Assuming the bylaws won’t be changed and no one is added to the AAU, here are schools that meet both criteria (and play Div 1-A athletics:
<?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Iowa State
The little bit of research I’ve done does not suggest that entering the AAU is as easy as those of us interested in Notre Dame might think, although Notre Dame has improved markedly in academics and would definitely meet the Big 10’s general criteria of a strong academic institution. That said, Notre Dame is clearly the obvious choice should NBC decide not to renew their TV contract in 2015. If the Big 10 were desperate enough, the Big 10 and Fox Sports could make an exception and let Notre Dame keep the TV deal for its home games.
The general assumption is that the Big 10 is interested in expanding solely to create a football Championship Game, with the goals of added revenue and increased national exposure after Thanksgiving. I believe that better basketball and non-revenue sports are secondary, but desired. To me, this means that the ideal candidate has a strong football program, a TV market without a Big 10 team, and strong recruiting base.
The base criteria—specifically football strength allows us to pare down the list to something like this, give or take a Syracuse:
Personally, out of those six teams, four are in good to excellent situations right now. I firmly believe that leaving the Big 12 would hurt Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska. Their recruiting base is primarily Kansas south into Texas and only Nebraska even comes close to being a true national recruiter. Losing TV exposure in Texas would leave those schools with small local populations and a difficult road to hoe trying to pry athletes from Texas. Plus, TCU would likely be the school the Big 12 would add, which is a better choice for a BCS conference level Texas recruit—further diluting those schools’ recruiting bases. The Big 10 simply doesn’t have that great of an offer for a Big 12 team. Leaving a goliath conference with guaranteed schedules and a championship game for another goliath, etc isn’t a great sales pitch.
Maryland is in a similar boat, and really doesn’t have much in the way of historical ties to the Big 10. However, I see Maryland as a stronger option for the Big 10 than the Big 12 teams simply because their membership means more exposure in the fertile Maryland/DC recruiting region.
Like Seth 9, I see Pitt as a very strong candidate that the Big 10 has something to offer. The Big East has relatively little exposure nationally, no championship game, and only eight teams. Big East teams have to schedule five non-conference games and have a crappy TV deal. The Big Ten can offer eight conference games and a great TV deal, plus Ohio recruiting. Pitt provides the Big 10 with a (relatively) strong football team, good basketball team, and the Pittsburgh/Philly market. Win/Win situation.
Rutgers also has a lot to provide the Big 10, minus the strong basketball. Furthermore, it expands the conference footprint into New Jersey/New York, which would be great for recruiting and TV dollars. The Big 10 offers Rutgers better TV, a championship game, and Big 10 footprint recruiting—which combined with New Jersey and New York gives the Big 10 a much stronger recruiting base. To me, Rutgers is the best choice given the above constraints.
How would this break down into divisions? Let’s assume that the Big 10 decides to operate like the SEC and guarantee one cross division game per year and three rotating games with five games in each division. Like Seth 9, the East-West Divisions would break down like this (substituting Rutgers for Pitt):
This division breakdown does not have much parity, so the North/South is probably better, and might look like this:
To me, this works better parity-wise. Michigan would still play Ohio State, Iowa could still play Minnesota, and Penn State could keep its huge rivalry with Little Brother alive. Unfortunately, splitting Michigan and Ohio State up likely means moving the game to earlier in the season to prevent likely championship game rematches the next week.
There are tons of better teams out there that might be swayed by Big 10 TV money or other factors. Texas would be great for the Big 10, but would never happen ina million-billion years. Personally, I’d like to see us gain a foothold in the south by stealing Vanderbilt or Kentucky from the SEC. Unfortunately, like the Big 12 and ACC teams, the Big 10 doesn’t have much to offer.
ed: Response to comments about the importance of TV markets in today's hyper-media age.
The New York TV market is the largest market in the country. According to a blatently pro-cable study (http://www.arbitron.com/downloads/cabletvstudy.pdf), about 61% of Americans have cable TV in their home. If anything, a blatently pro-cable study is going to guess high, IMO. According to the census, about 7% of Americans don't watch TV. This leaves about 32% of Americans without cable TV. Assuming those numbers are relatively constant across the United States, this means that several million people in New York/New Jersey don't have cable.
Adding Rutgers means ABC would likely televise a Big 10 game in New York during a time slot with an ACC game (Boston College vs. Virgina Tech) and a Big 10 game (Michigan vs. Iowa). If even a couple percent of those people tune in with their digital TV converter box, that is a few hundred thousand extra viewers, which means more money, etc.
Quick refresher on how this works-everything here is listed in terms of points versus average performance. For more info you can go here.
Wanted to do an overview of the leading Heisman candidates, look at a few of the interesting fringe candidates, and throw in a few controversial candidates (one especially around these parts).
The defensive candidatesI have struggled with how best to evaluate defensive players. My numbers give every play a value based on the success of the play relative to competition, down and distance and field position. For offensive players its pretty easy to assign value to RB's on running plays and QBs and WRs on passing plays. Sure there is a substantial effort put in by the blockers and fakes and the like, but overall, this works pretty well for offense. For defense, it's a little trickier. The 11 players on defense have a much fuzzier role in the outcome of any given play. A tackle is a tackle in normal stats, whether its after a 20 yard gain or for no gain. What I ultimately decided on was that players should be rewarded for making a play that has a negative value change for the offense. Sure a touchdown saving tackle could be a huge play even if its after a 20 yard gain, but for the most part a play that puts the offense in a worst position should be credited to the defensive player or players who made the tackle/forced the fumble/made the pick. All of this is limited by the quality of the play by play information available to me.
Players are awarded points in two categories, quantity and quality. A big fumble or interception can be worth up 10 points depending on the length of the return and the field position of the offense. That play has huge value, but is somewhat of a fluky hard to repeat type of play. By looking at both the quantity and quality, you are evaluating defensive players based on their ability to consistently make plays (quantity) and their ability to make really big plays (quality).
Obviously the scorching hot candidate this year, currently leading 1st place vote getter.
The rankings tend to favor linebackers, but that didn't stop Mr. Suh from tearing up the numbers. For the season, he was good for 72 negative plays (2nd nationally) and nearly 43 points of lost value on those plays (6th). Overall his total of 115 points (not sure if this is the right way to combine them, welcome to any thoughts) puts him 2nd overall. An absolutely outstanding year for a member of the #2 rated overall defense, worth 12 points a game as a total unit.
The Beast of Mgoblog has obviously not gotten any national attention, but let's look at how his numbers compare nationally.
Graham made 53 negative plays on the season, a respectable 23rd nationally and those plays took away 41 points in value from opposing offenses. 94 points overall ranks him 9th overall.
What becomes debatable is whether this 9th overall rating is more impressive considering Michigan's total defense was ranked 70th in the country or less impressive.
No matter what your take on the team defense issue, it is clear that whether you are looking UFR or By The Numbers, Graham was truly a beast and its a shame that the team's lack of success has limited his exposure.
Wide ReceiversNo Receivers are getting much attention this year, but the ones that are getting a bit of pub seem to be getting it deservedly so.
Danario Alexander, Freddie Barnes and Golden Tate hold the top three spots in my rankings and are 3 of the 4 receivers noted to be receiving votes. The fourth is the scorned Mardy Gilyard who comes in at 28th overall, but is also the key return man on the nation's #2 kick return unit.
Running BacksMy numbers value quarterbacks much higher than they do running backs. The top QBs are directly worth 10-12 points per game above average while the top RBs are "only" worth 4-5 points per game.
With that said, there is a clearcut leader in my tightly backed running back rankings, and it's not the guy who is going to win tomorrow. Toby Gerhart of Stanford is the only running back that has rated out +5 or better on the season.
Mark Ingram comes in at a respectable 7th and is 5th of players from the Big 6 conferences. However, the 2 point per game gap between Ingram and Gerhart is the same as the difference between Ingram and the 75th rated running back in the country. And this is after you account for competition. If you look at the unadjusted numbers, Gerhart comes in second to Donald Buckram of UTEP at nearly +7 while Ingram stays around +3. The gap between them is now as big as the gap between Ingram and the 150th rated RB in the country. If you are going to pick a running back this year, Ingram is a good choice, but Gerhart is clearly the best choice.
For those interested, CJ Spiller only checks in at #25 and stays just outside of the top 5 if you add in his prowess as a kick returner.
QuarterbacksSo I tell you the QBs are where all the action is at but then I put up what feels like a Simmons-esque length before even talking about a single one.
Both finalists are obviously big name quarterbacks for name schools. They had good years, but neither had individual seasons that I would deem Heisman worthy.
Colt McCoy finished the regular season at +9 which is good for 9th nationally. Tim Tebow was good for +7 (19) on the season and that is factoring in his top 10 quarterback rushing rank.
So who does that leave left?
I think if Tony Pike from Cincinnati didn't get hurt midseason, this award would be all his. The combined QB play from the Bearcats was worth 10 points a game and would have ranked 5th overall if it would have come from a single player. Case Keenum from Houston (+12, 1st) and Max Hall from BYU (+10, 4th) had outstanding years for quality mid-major programs but they couldn't get the defensive help they needed to get the wins required to garner the national interest. Kellen Moore of Boise (+7, 16th) had a highly efficient season but his competition was too weak to keep his numbers high enough. Jimmy Clausen (+9, 5th) did all he could to give us more Weis but quarterbacks don't win the Heisman going 6-6. But there was one name that really surprised me that was at the top of the rankings all year long. Ryan Mallett. Before adjusting for competition, he had a very respectable +8 and 12th overall rating. But when you factor in the SEC defenses he did it against, his rating leaps to +12, a sliver below Case Keenum. The Michigan transfer put up one of the least talked about great seasons in recent memory. In SEC play, he played 7 of the top 35 pass defenses in the country and still he managed one of the top seasons by either traditional or modern statistics. Ryan Mallet posted a nearly 150 quarterback rating facing the number defensive strength of schedule in the country.
My Ballot(s)If I had a ballot here is how I would rank the 5 finalists.
If I had a ballot (and balls) this is what it would look like:
I know news organizations like to lionize college athletes who are also successful in the classroom - see Myron Rolle - but this is still pretty cool. You kind of hope that schools like Northwestern, UM, and ND also appeal to kids like this - smart guys who are good athletes but also realize that even if they play pro ball, they still have 40+ years of their lives to live once they hang up their cleats, and studio analysts positions aren't a given.
Joe Schad is reporting that ND and Randy Edsall have mutual interest. What interests me is that this is coming out as Kelly to ND was apparently a "done deal." Maybe not so done after all. I don't know much about Edsall but he seems like a good coach given what he's done with UConn. It'll make our games with UConn and ND interesting this coming season if he takes the job.
"Smith added that most people in the NFL assume that players are expected to know how to tackle before they reach the league. In fact, it's harder to find players who are used to practicing tackling as frequently as some might suspect.
It doesn't happen nearly as much in college, where the NCAA limits practice time. Also, collegiate defenses have to cope with the ubiquitous spread offense. That formation, as Texans defensive coordinator Frank Bush said, 'makes defenders get used to tackling at all sorts of weird angles.'"
Interesting article on ESPN. I know for last several years, many a Michigan fans have lamented the decline of Michigan's tackling abilities, most notably from 2003 on. Lots of possible factors: mediocre defensive talent, advent of the spread offense, more elusive RBs, etc... Well, looks like the NFL is getting hit hard too. Of course, the NFL is made up of these guys from college, so if players' tackling abilities are bad in college, it will probably translate the same into the NFL. So yeah, looks like Michigan ain't the only team with tackling issues...
So correct me if any of this information is wrong:
The BIG TEN not the NCAA put in the rule to eliminate over signing or back-counting early enrollees.
Assuming this is accurate and the reasoning is to prevent the forced attrition of Saban et. al. why would they do this to schools that don't have full scholarship classes? Couldn't they have achieved the same effect by putting in a scholarship threshold that you can't back-sign if you're over? (i.e. if you have 80 or more scholarships you're not allowed to back-sign anyone, etc.) It seems to be a pretty moronic rule anyway...I guess it serves the purpose but I think its punishment before a crime is committed. Any school in the Big Ten now is hurt doubly by any and all attrition. This affects Michigan obviously as we're severely below the scholarship max and would need several years of full classes and no attrition aside from graduation/NFL. What about the Sparties? Didn't they just kick 10 players off their team? Now they're down 10 scholarships and there's nothing they can do to recover them until the incoming classes start out numbering the attrition by leaps and bounds.
I know there's nothing we can really do about it because the Big Ten (or NCAA whomever set the rule) can and will do whatever they want but its just something that boggles my mind as nonsensical by whatever body that created this rule.