I’ve been wondering lately about Michigan’s modern coaches (i.e., from Bo on), and how their winning percentages stack up when we consider the quality of the opponents they’ve played. Just off the top of my head, it seems to me that:
- Lloyd Carr was a much better coach against ranked opponents than we give him credit for, but lost more games than he should have to unranked teams.
- Brady Hoke thusfar has done well in winning the games he should win (i.e., vs. unranked opponents), or at least has done better than Lloyd Carr did.
- Gary Moeller and Lloyd Carr went through an absolute gauntlet of a schedule in the 1990s.
But I wanted to see if those notions are actually supported by the stats. So I started looking at Michigan’s coaching from 1969 to 2012 against ranked teams. I should start out by explaining that “ranked” here means the AP Top 20, as the AP did not rank teams 21-25 until 1989. I’ve therefore disregarded all 21-25 rankings of opponents.
Here are our heroes’ (and anti-hero's) overall M records:
*All Hoke stats are through 2012 only, as we don't have final AP rankings for 2013 yet.
Here’s how U-M’s coaches have stacked up against teams ranked at game time:
|vs. AP 1-10||vs. AP 11-20||vs. Unranked|
|Bo||16-19-1 (.458)||21-12 (.636)||159-16-4 (.899)|
|Mo||7-5-1 (.577)||5-1-1 (.786)||32-7-1 (.813)|
|Lloyd||19-9 (.679)||19-11 (.633)||84-20 (.808)|
|RR||1-5 (.167)||1-4 (.200)||13-13 (.500)|
|Brady||0-2 (.000)||1-2 (.333)||18-3 (.857)|
Some obvious points jump out:
- RichRod and Hoke, and even Moeller to some extent, have small sample sizes. Keep this in the back of your mind for all that follows.
- Lloyd had a VERY impressive record against the AP Top 10. In fact, he started out on a huge roll. From 1995-2002, Lloyd was 11-1 against the Top 10 at game time.
- Lloyd lost a substantial number of games against unranked teams. Brady’s done pretty well against the unranked. Bo really killed the teams he should have killed.
I know, I know, pre-season bias in rankings, especially early. But let’s not completely discount game-time rankings. Though some of them, particularly early in the season, are just plain wrong, some might actually be good indications of a team’s quality as of the time you played. For example: some of Glen Mason’s Minnesota teams were pretty good as of Michigan week, but then plummeted through the rest of their seasons, perhaps from psychological issues, after losing their red-letter games for the Jug. Were those teams better when Michigan played them in week 5 or 6 than those teams’ final unranked status would indicate? Very probably.
But of course, rankings at game time, particularly early in the season, don’t tell the full story about the quality of the team you’ve played. The season’s final rankings are probably most illustrative (except for Minnesota-like situations as described above):
|vs. AP Final 1-10||vs. AP Final 11-20||vs. Final Unranked|
|Bo||6-25-1 (.203)||16-8 (.667)||172-15-4 (.911)|
|Mo||2-7-1 (.250)||7-2 (.777)||35-4-2 (.878)|
|Lloyd||10-14 (.417)||14-6 (.700)||98-20 (.831)|
|RR||0-8 (.000)||0-3 (.000)||15-11 (.577)|
|Brady||0-3 (.000)||1-1 (.500)||18-3 (.857)|
Final rankings may give you a better overall picture by removing most of the pre-season bias, but with final rankings a big caveat also applies: When you beat a team, its final ranking drops. When you lose to a team, its final ranking rises. Beating a good team makes it look worse to the poll voters. So in general, the coaches should have worse winning percentages against teams in the final rankings than they'd have against teams ranked at game time.
- Bo’s REALLY kicking ass against the unranked dregs (Mo and Hoke too), but not doing so hot against teams having great seasons. It makes sense that a coach’s record against the final Top 10 should not be great, but Bo’s was pretty dismal. All of the bowl losses certainly didn’t help him.
- Lloyd’s 10-14 against the Final Top 10 is still pretty darned impressive, and his combined 24-20 against the Final Top 20 is fairly impressive as well. But again, he’s lagging behind in beating teams having unranked seasons.
- RR of course was absolutely dismal against teams finishing in the Top 20. Wisconsin’s 2008 team was not able to crack the final Top 20 to put a single mark on the board for Coach Rod.
So it looks as if my first two initial thoughts were generally right. Thusfar Lloyd was a pretty good big-game coach, taking his whole career into account (I’ll save comparisons of early career vs. late career for another piece). And Brady’s not losing to a lot of teams that he has no business losing to.
But what about the schedule strength? On average Bo faced fewer ranked teams in the days before 85-scholarship parity (in 1970 he didn’t face a single team ranked at game time or in the final rankings) and before the resumption of the Notre Dame series and the scheduling of Miami and Florida State. Also, even in some of his best seasons the Big Ten didn’t let him go to a bowl game. How many of their games on average did our coaches play against ranked teams?
Based on the game-time rankings:
|% of Games Played vs. AP 1-10||% of Games Played vs. AP 11-20||% of Games Played vs. Unranked|
Based on final rankings:
|% of Games Played vs. AP Final 1-10||% of Games Played vs. AP Final 11-20||% of Games Played vs. Final Unranked|
- It looks like Mo’s schedules were indeed murder, whether you look at the game-time rankings or the final rankings.
- Bo’s and Lloyd’s schedules got significantly easier when you look at the final rankings.
- RichRod’s schedules became brutal when you look at the number of teams he faced that finished in the Top 10. But again, if you lose games, the teams you play look better in the final standings. And of course it’s a small sample size; if RR manages to beat Utah in 2008, Penn State in 2009, Iowa in 2009, or Wisconsin in 2010, those numbers look different.
- Hoke hasn’t played a lot of high quality teams. Thanks, down Big Ten and watered-down non-con scheduling.
Given the disparity in schedule strength, let’s look at the coaches’ winning percentages as if Lloyd’s 13-year schedule is the measuring stick for schedule strength. I think that’s fair, as 13 years is a pretty good sample size, Lloyd had both some really good and some bad seasons, and Lloyd’s tenure was the time in which Michigan’s schedule entered into our current era of weaker non-conference scheduling and greater parity as the effect of the 85-scholarship limit has fully set in.
For example, we’re going to take Bo’s .458 against the Top 10 at game time and assume that he’d played as many games against the Top 10, on a percentage basis, as Lloyd did, and so on. How do our coaches’ career winning percentages stack up then?
Based on the game-time rankings:
|Actual Win %||Win % Adjusted to Lloyd's Strength of Schedule||Change|
Based on the final rankings:
|Actual Win %||Win % Adjusted to Lloyd's Strength of Schedule||Change|
- When adjusting for schedule strength, Lloyd suddenly looks pretty good. He’s only around 20 points lower than Bo’s storied/heralded/legendary career. A swing of just four games in Lloyd’s career would’ve put him above Bo. If Lloyd goes 126-36 instead of 122-40, Lloyd becomes the Michigan coaching king when percentages are adjusted for schedule strength. And that’s not too big a stretch at all. Think about it: if Michigan had gotten few breaks in the 2000 season (i.e., Hayden Epstein doesn’t miss an extra point and a 24-yard field goal against UCLA; Michigan scores more than a field goal in the second half at Purdue; the A-Train holds on to the ball at Northwestern), and if Michigan hadn't given up just one of the several fourth-quarter blown leads in 2005, Lloyd would’ve had a better career winning percentage than Bo, equalized for schedule strength. But more on this later.
- Again, Mo’s schedules were murder. His percentage rises when compared to Lloyd’s schedule strength.
- RichRod’s also up in the final rankings, again because of the many opponents he played that wound up in the final Top 10.
- Hoke doesn’t look so hot. But rebuilding and fusion cuisine and all that.
In the comparison of Lloyd to Bo above, we’ve adjusted Bo’s 1-10 percentage and 11-20 percentage to Lloyd’s frequency of playing in those games. But playing the national No. 1 is usually a much tougher game than playing the national No. 10, or even No. 3. I haven’t taken the time to adjust the winning percentages by frequency of playing every single spot in the rankings, but I have collected some info on how those guys did against the Top 2 and against the Top 5 at game time:
|Record vs. AP 1-2||Record vs. AP 1-5|
|Bo||3-6-1 (.350)||8-12-1 (.405)|
|Mo||0-3 (.000)||2-4-1 (.357)|
|Lloyd||3-3 (.500)||8-3 (.727)|
|Brady||0-1 (.000)||0-2 (.000)|
Those are some great numbers from Lloyd, but all of those games are 2003 or earlier, when he started 11-1 against the Top 10, aside from games against No. 2 Notre Dame and No. 1 Ohio State in 2006. For what it’s worth, U-M hasn’t beaten an AP No. 1 since Miami in 1984.
So how often did the coaches play in really big games (using game-time rankings)?
|% of Games Played vs. AP 1-2||% of Games Played vs. AP 1-5|
So Bo played really big games just slightly more often than Lloyd did, and Mo’s murderous schedules are apparent here as well. I’m not sure this difference between Bo and Lloyd is significant. I’m still comfortable saying that Lloyd is only a touch behind Bo in terms of impressiveness of career. Sacrilege? Perhaps. But in terms of wins, losses, and quality of opponents, I think that’s a fair statement. Now, that's not saying anything about what Lloyd could have achieved, or how maddening it was to watch some of his games. Of course, Bo sustained that level of success eight seasons longer than Lloyd did, and there's something to be said for that.
What do we get from all of this? I think the stats support the wisdom of the ideas set out above: Lloyd Carr was pretty darned good against ranked teams, but not as hot as he should’ve been otherwise; blame the 85-scholarship parity era for that. Brady Hoke has generally won the games he should win. And the 1990s schedules, particularly Gary Moeller’s, were potentially the most brutal stretch Michigan has ever faced.
And don't worry, I'll say it for myself: Cool story, bro.
[Edited to correct Brady Hoke's 2-year record to 19-7 instead of 18-7. All stats accordingly corrected.]
A number of times I have had questions about who coached what position at Michigan, and I have seen others on here with similar questions. Because of that, I have put together the beginnings of a spreadsheet giving a year by year look at who coached various position groups. I say beginnings because there are a number of blank spots, and I haven't even attempted to figure out who coached what before 1969. My hope is that this can be improved on by others and potentially, even added to the site (e.g. similar to the editable depth chart) if the format works, and it's deemed worthy. Here is a link to the google doc:
I have gathered this information from MGoBlue.com, Wikipedia, Rivals, various coaches' profile pages, and old media guides. There is also this somewhat helpful resource on MGoBlue that lists the coaches year by year, but fails to finish the job by including their respective positions.
A Note on Formatting
This process got a little dicey when it came to the offensive line, defensive line, and linebackers. Often the coaching responsibilities for the various parts of these positions are divided. In some cases, I found two coaches listed for the same position, but no indication of who coached what portion of that position. Because more information is needed, I listed both coaches at both positions with a "/" between them. For example, in 1991 both Offensive Tackles and Interior Offensive Line are listed with Les Miles/Jerry Hanlon.
In other cases, I found evidence that a coach was only in charge of one aspect of a position. For example, Bob Chmiel coached the Inside Linebackers from 1981-84, but I never found anything about who coached the Outside Linebackers from that time.
Finally, if a coach was listed as the "linebackers coach" I put his name in both categories.
The Special Teams coach can get really confusing. For 2006, I found evidence that the position was handled by at least three different coaches. Until there is better information, I have elected to leave that blank. However, this might be more common than I realize, and maybe that position should also be broken up into more distinct categories.
I was hoping for a few anecdotes to add here, but everything I came across was pretty straight forward. The most interesting thing I found was how in years gone by it seemed more common for coaches to switch from one side of the ball to the other. Gary Moeller is a prime example.
He came with Bo in 1969 and coached the defensive ends. He then moved up to defensive coordinator in 1973 before becoming the head coach at Illinois. He came back to Michigan in 1980 as the quarterbacks coach, and then again became the defensive coordinator in 1982. After five seasons in that position, he moved back to the offensive side of the ball as coordinator for three seasons, and from what I understand, retained that position even after he became head coach in 1990.
I think like players, coaches have become more specialized over the years. We would probably all be shocked if Mattison retired, and Borges was named the new defensive coordinator. I suspect that the further back you go, coaches stuck to one side of the ball less often, and the lines become more blurred between who coached what position.
I welcome all updates, additions, or corrections to this file.
If Bo Schembechler was Bo;
And Gary Moeller was Mo;
Then Lloyd Carr was Lo (I thought people were straining when going there);
Is Brady Hoke going to be called Ho?
Or will the tradtion of making Bo lineage coaches have a nickname that rhymes with Bo die a merciful death?
[Ed-M: This is really board material]
I've only been able to make it to ONE Michigan Bowl game in my life, but it was a fine game at that --- the January 1, 1991 Gator Bowl.
My brother lives in Daytona Beach, and I usually visited him around NY's Day. This year, it happened that UM had beaten a woefully-coached Cooper OSU team on a last second FG by JD Carlson (why ON EARTH would a coach sent slow, David-Cone-style Greg Frye on an option on 4th and 1 from his own 29????)
UM faced Mississippi, the school that (at least then) proudly strutted out the Confederate Flag (OK...didn't that War end in something like 1865????).
Anyway, I had easy access to UM tickets so my "bro" and I (my "bro" is a dual UM/MSU grad, please don't flame me for that one) decided to go to the game, sitting in the Michigan section.
Michigan got off to a good start and a TD to go up 7-0. Ole Miss got a long FG to get to 7-3. Then, all hell broke loose, at least against the ""Rebs" (gotta love a team that names itself after the LOSING faction in a cataclismic batlle --- did you ever hear off the "Goldwaters" or "Dukasis'es"). Desmond Howard, in a preview to the 1991 Heisman, toasted a slow, white Ole Miss DB for an easy TD on a bomb.
Michigan set its modern day record for most yds in a game at something like 715 yds of total offense. If not for a few turnovers, we would have won Civil War II by more than 32 points.
I remember thinking, after the game, that we had just beat a mid-level (Minnesota in those days) B10 team.
Let's hope we can repeat some history this coming January 1st!!!!!
We all view the past in Rose Bowl colored glasses. Why don't we honestly reflect on the past, while we debate our current coaching situation.
My first memory of Michigan football: watching Raghib Ismail run up and down the field at will. My first memory of Bo was the following joke: "Why can't Bo eat Cheerios? Because he always chokes at the bowl."
Bo's national championships: 0
Bo's bowl record: 5-12
Bo's Rose bowl record: 2-8
Lloyd Carr national championships: 1 (4th & 5th-yr players were Moeller recruits)
Lloyd Carr's Bowl record: 6-7
Lloyd's Rose Bowl record: 1-3
Lloyd Carr record vs FCS (I-AA) opponents: 0-1
In 2005, we went 7-5 with a team full of seniors in a program that was virtually unchanged for 35 years.
This is not to disparage anything in the past, it's just to point out that all those who think that anything less than national championship contention is a failure, apparently have never been happy being Michigan fans. We have been pretty good for a long time, but rarely great.
For those who are up in arms because we have lost 3 straight to Jim Tressel, how about the following facts:
Jim Tressel Big Ten losses since RR took over: 3
Jim Tressel Big Ten losses in last 6 years: 5
Big Teams to beat Tressel in consecutive seasons: 1
Michigan record versus OSU in 4 years prior to RR: 0-4
How can people be upset that RR has lost three in a row to OSU, when the great Lloyd Carr lost four straight, with the likes of LaMarr Woodley, Mike Hart, Chad Henne and Jake Long, just to name a few? It is preposterous.
JT has had an amazing tenure at OSU. This level of success is unmatched by anyone north of the Mason-Dixon line. Even when we beat OSU on an annual basis, in the modern era, they have been a more important figure in the national picture. They have consistently out recruited us. This year's OSU team had 24 seniors and three more potential seniors left early to play in the NFL as juniors. We only had three drafted last year, and one was a punter. They have more seniors than they can even start.
Our program was going to be in a major rebuilding process before RR took the job, combine that with a massive exodus of players who didn't want to work, couldn't make the grade, didn't really attend high school, or were criminals, and you have what we've seen for the past three seasons. How much better would our secondary have been with Donovan Warren, Boubacar Cissoko, and Troy Woolfolk?
What has RR done that's so terrible aside from 1. practice too much (and trivially so), 2. lose games against good opponents with an inexperienced skeleton crew, 3. had the number 2 kicking prospect unable to make a 30-yd chip shot, and 4. invite the media into the program only to be stabbed in the back by that self-hating POS Rosenberg.
RR has done a lot to turn this program around. Our D has stuck together and made improvement each game this season. Our offense is awesome, with a kicker and a slightly better defense, yesterday would have been a low scoring slug fest like those we all remember. The team had a winning record. The team is in excellent physical shape and can maintain their speed right down to the last snap.
This season Michigan has beaten the teams they were expected to beat and lost to the teams they were expected to lose to. We all would have loved an upset or two but it simply wasn't in the cards. Michigan caught no breaks from the football gods. Did anyone honestly think we'd beat OSU back in August? Did anyone think we'd beat anyone when we found out about T-woolf's ankle?
A coach can only do so much. He can prepare the people to be in the position to make a play, but he can't do it for them. He can't take back a fumble, ha can't make a catch, can't even make a tackle anymore. RR can take this program to places it has rarely been. He himself is a walk-on type who has forged his success with his own blood, sweat and tears. He didn't come from a pedigree. Daddy didn't get him a spot on the roster. He has excelled because he understands the game and because he has busted his nuts. The man turns 3 star recruits into 1st round picks. He needs time. Most of all he needs your support.
Support your coach.
After some thought, and reading some of the replies generated I have thought better of this post and am removing it myself. Plus no one else had ever heard the rumor I was bringing up, so its best to just let it lie.