Peppers at 10, which seems low.
We can debate all we want how much we like our non-conference schedule, but today ESPN called us out, calling us part of the "Little Five," and labeling us the easiest schedules in the nation this year. Along with Michigan, Indiana, Northwestern, Wisconsin, and Penn State get named. Illinois gets complimented for having a top 10 schedule. You can read more in the link.
I understand the revenue flow, but we have to split it with 11 teams anyway, Lets go get our one big game back, especially with Notre Dame being a power ranking drag every year.
The main reason Bill Martin is offering for the crappy non-conference schedules that he's lining up is that we need the revenue from as many home dates as possible, and BCS conference teams always demand return home games in exchange for coming to Ann Arbor. Hence the now-steady diet of MAC teams, UMass, Delaware State, and other assorted tomato cans... and supposed tomato cans like App State.
How many of you that are frustrated with this situation would be willing to accept some form of limited stadium advertising — such as silent digital ads confined to the scoreboards — if it meant we could have home-and-homes every other year or so with teams like Georgia, LSU, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Va Tech, or Stanford, just to pick a few? I have no idea whether the revenue from this kind of advertising would make up for a lost home date, but if it did, what would you be prepared to accept?
So, I do a lot of schedule analysis for my own purposes for hockey, and, I was just doing something similar for basketball, and figured, well, why not sign up for an account at MGoBlog and let other people see my work? So, I hope to carve out a little niche here and post analysis of schedules and figure out what the basketball team must do to attain a ranking, and which other teams must lose for them to get one, and what the Michigan hockey team must do to advance in rankings.
Some weeks I might do Basketball on Monday and Hockey on Tuesday, but, that seems silly since hockey's heading into a break.
As a general rule, I'll only talk about the 5 teams above us in the rankings. Unless we're not ranked, in which case I'll talk about teams 21-25 and those with more votes than us.
So, a hockey mini-analysis:
This weekend, we swept Michigan State. It was awesome. As a consequence, we moved from #14 to #12, and cracking the top 10 is always nice. We don't play until the GLI, so, there's no way to analyze our schedule here.
So, teams that can affect us just by losing that play this weekend:
#11 Vermont plays at St. Lawrence, just on Saturday. St. Lawrence? Not very good. Not terrible. Just sub-.500. Vermont probably leaves with a win. Doesn't affect us.
A very important Saturday/Sunday series to watch is #10 Colorado College playing at #2 Minnesota. A Minnesota sweep could mean Michigan leapfrogs CC without even playing.
No games for #9 Cornell, #8 Boston College, or #7 Princeton.
So, the skinny: The best Michigan can hope for is Minnesota sweeps Colorado College at home and Michigan is #11 next week. There's a very off chance St. Lawrence wins, and, if both things happen, we may just crack the top 10.
Basketball is way more complicated.
In the USA Today Coach's Poll, we're a theoretical #30. In the AP Media Poll, we're a theoretical #28. Our only game this week is Saturday against a one-win Eastern Michigan at Crisler. 4:00, BTN. I'm excited. Not really. Should pick it up easily. And by that I mean, WE MUST KILL THEM IF WE WANT TO BE RANKED NEXT WEEK. A NARROW WIN WON'T BE GOOD ENOUGH.
This is the part where you skip to the last paragraph, unless you're a ridiculous die-hard. Trust me, you'll do it pretty soon.
I'll start with the non-ranked teams that separate us from the Top 25. For the rest of the article, I will list rankings in the same order I listed ours. If its only a theoretical ranking, there will be a "T" before it, and if a team's ranked in one poll and non-ranked in another, I'll mention their non-ranking. So, if a team was a theoretical #31 in the USA Today Poll and non-ranked in any fashion in the AP Poll, they'd be listed as "T#31/NR".
T#29/T#31 BYU: Two games this week, one against Boise State on Wednesday, one against Portland on Saturday, both at home. Neither team has votes of any sort, also, neither team has more than two losses. Losing to both? Unlikely. Losing to one? Not unreasonable.
T#28/T#35 Wisconsin: The Badgers (who we happen to open Big Ten play against) play tomorrow against a two-win Idaho State team, and play Wisconsin-Green Bay on Saturday. WGB is 5-2 (2-0), but, that doesn't mean I'm impressed with any of their wins.
T#27/T#26 Dayton: Losable game on the road at 5-2 Creighton Wednesday. Easy win at home against Coppin State Saturday.
T#26/#22 Baylor: Easy game Saturday against Prairie View A&M. Can't see them falling from AP, may enter USA Today.
T#31/T#27 Clemson: Game Saturday against South Carolina State. I anticipate a Clemson win. SCS is over .500, but, Clemson is undefeated.
#25/T#29 Miami (FL): Florida Intl. on Friday. Robert Morris on Sunday. Win. Win.
#23/#25 Kansas: Saturday v. 1-win UMass. Win.
#24/#24 Marquette: Saturday v. crappy IPFW. They're 3-5, which means I don't care about them enough to look up what that stands for. Win.
#22/#23 Davidson: Would you look at that, a real contest. Tuesday Davidson plays a 6-1 West Virginia team (and, while it's basically irrelevant, they're T#39/NR. The T#39 ties them with Florida St. at 1 vote, last in the poll). So, they could lose that one. Saturday, 1-win Chattanooga. Win.
#21/#21 Ohio State: I don't know why, but OSU has only played five games this season. Saturday they play their sixth in Columbus vs. an undefeated Butler. Butler could definitely win. I'm not sure they will, but they could.
So, the skinny:
We can hope for an Ohio State loss. We can hope for a Davidson loss. We can hope for a Dayton loss. We can hope for two BYU losses. If all of those things happen, and we KILL EMU, by my estimation, we still end up something like T#26/T#26, unless we get lucky. Next week, we beat Oakland at a "neutral" site (I imagine it'll be a slightly pro-UofM crowd), then we might be talking ranking.
I'll post Thursday-ish saying how goes it so far. Until then, good night, don't let the Tommy Amakers bite.
Anybody more ambitious than I that can look up teams with open dates on Oct 17, 2009?
As we sift through the ashes of the 2008 Michigan Football Season we’re all wondering what this new era will bring. How do you set expectations for future seasons? What do you do on New Year’s Day when there is no Michigan football to watch? Even though you know it is prudent to give Rodriguez time to mold the team, how much patience will you be able to show when Michigan loses to an inferior opponent in 2009?
So I set about trying to figure out how optimistic we can be for next year. I’m trying hard to find reasons to get excited for next season as opposed to bracing ourselves for another bowl-less finish. (Note to reader – your health and sanity would probably be better off if you set your expectations low for 2009 and even 2010.) Personally, I was a skeptic when they hired Rodriguez and was thinking 6-6 as the over-under for win-loss record but I got pressured into optimism by pieces like this before the 2008 season. So take this with a grain of salt:
Reasons for Optimism:
1. Time – Year number one in a coaching change is always going to be hard, no matter what school, coach, or system you’re running. This year was going to be particularly tough with the returning talent level and the radical change in system. Another year in the program for the players will only help.
2. Depth Chart – When you’re basically starting six freshman on offense, you’re bound to fail. This isn’t basketball where you can get away with that. In football experience counts for a LOT, especially on offense. They return EVERYONE (sorry Pat Massey) from offense. If you look at every position group you’ll see that the only one that clearly suffers a loss is at DL. In twelve positions five of them should get definitely better and only two will likely be worse. That’s reason for optimism.
• QB – IMPROVED.
Threet is more experienced, Sheridan never sees the field again, we have more than one division 1 quality QB in the depth chart. Forcier and Beaver are freshman, but they’re division-1 talent, unlike Feagin and Sheridan.
• RB – IMPROVED.
Assuming no one leaves, the top six running backs return. The top four backs all lost significant time due to injury. That’s not going to happen two seasons in a row. Even losing McGuffie wouldn’t be the end of the world with three freshmen coming in.
• WR – IMPROVED.
The three starters return, two of whom will no longer be freshman. Robinson and Hemmingway should have been significant contributors but sat out the season hurt.
• TE – SLIGHT IMPROVEMENT.
Koger will be improved as a sophomore and full-time starter, but the depth chart is thin.
• FB – NO CHANGE.
Moundros was arguable the best offensive player this season and will be around again.
• OL – IMPROVED
The top thirteen, that’s right – THIRTEEN offensive lineman return. While some of them may be mediocre, a year of experience never hurt anyone. And now all of those red-shirt freshmen are available to challenge for playing time.
• K – SLIGHTLY WORSE
Unfortunately Lopata wasn’t as good in 2008 as he was in 2007, but he was still competent. Turning the duties over to a true freshman or Bryan Wright is likely a downgrade in this position….but not definitely so. Lopata was only 10-15 and that’s not a difficult percentage to match.
• DL – WORSE
Anytime you lose three and maybe even four starters you’re in for a rough transition. Vanbergen and Martin showed excellent potential, but they’re still young and raw. The freshmen will be asked to contribute and that’s not always a good thing at this position. If Graham does stay the down grade won’t be significant, however.
• LB – NO CHANGE
Mouton got better as the season went on and will be a starter from day one. Ezeh is still mediocre, but he won’t be any worse and might get a little better. The third spot is a wild card, but Thompson won’t be hard to replace.
• CB – NO CHANGE
This was the most disappointing position on the field in 2008 so it is hard to think they could get worse. Warren should be better and Cissoko showed promise – at least as much as Trent. The nickel spot could be a wild card.
• S – NO CHANGE
I suppose this could get worse with Stewart and Harrison departing, but I can’t believe this unit could possibly play worse than they did in 2008. Our favorite punching bag will still be around and probably not any better, but there’s hope that he learns from 2008. The other spot is a total wildcard, but it wouldn’t take much to match Stewart’s level of performance.
• P – NO CHANGE
Is there a way to extend Zoltan’s eligibility?
3. Turnovers – It simply cannot be possible that Michigan can match the turnover problems of 2008. If so, that will be the best ever documented proof that there is no all-powerful God. I honestly think that if Michigan would have performed at league average in the return game that they would have won two more games. The previous six seasons Michigan lost an average of 10 fumbles per year. This year they had 18. Imagine picking any 8 fumbles from 2008 and pretending they didn’t happen. The parade of fumbles returning kicks cannot, and will not be repeated in 2009.
4. Schedule – It is hard to say what the level of competition will be in conference, but in 2009 Michigan won’t be playing a top ten Utah team and will be playing Notre Dame, Penn State, and Ohio State at home. MSU loses their workhorse running back and doesn’t have much else going for them. We replace Northwestern and Minnesota with Indiana and Iowa – probably an even swap.
5. Luck – This is a general term meant to summarize Michigan’s performance in close games. In 2008 Michigan went 1-4 in games that came down to a couple of plays. They could have easily won the Utah, Toledo, Northwestern, and Purdue games. Assuming 2-3 more wins from these types of games is not unrealistic. On top of that, the Notre Dame and Michigan State games were decided by 5-8 plays and it isn’t a stretch to think that Michigan could have won one of them. That leaves only the OSU, PSU, and Illinois games as blowouts. In all of those three games Michigan was within a touchdown at half time. Going 9-3 is highly unlikely, but looking at the 2008 you can see how 7-5 is possible.
Those are some fairly convincing arguments for why 2009 could be a fairly dramatic turnaround. The ceiling is probably 8-4, but the floor isn’t 3-9 it is probably 6-6. But before you start looking for hotels on New Years Day, there are a couple of big reasons for pause:
• Beaver and Forcier are significantly better than Feagin and Sheridan, but they’re still going to be true freshmen and that’s never a recipe for success in big time college football.
• It is sadly quite likely that there will be unexpected defections by players who were going go be counted on to contribute in 2009.
• The defense was supposed to be solid in 2008 and was frankly quite bad. A year of experience by the coaches and some modest improvement at LB and S should help, but it is hard to make an argument that the defense will improve.
• Expecting improvement by the OL and WR is very realistic, but they were so inconsistent and poor in 2008 that it is hard to expect them to become above average by 2009.
What other reasons for optimism can you think of? Am I looking too hard at this, are there more reasons to be worried?