"Rodrick Williams Jr.'s 10-month old, 2-foot-long savannah monitor named "Kill" gets the RB some strange looks when they go for walks together."
On Thursday I posted my impressions of the luxury boxes going up in 2010 and offhandedly mentioned that Michigan is constructing a money factory, or "mint." A reader challenged those assumptions with numbers:
I am quite surprised that you describe the stadium expansion as a "money factory" or anything like it. Remember, the cost of this project (even if it comes in at budget) was set at $235M. [Editor's note: He later corrected this email: the overall cost for the renovations was $226 million.]
Looking at the Athletic Department numbers, and assuming they sell every seat and find folks to pay for everything they put a price on for naming rights, I don't see this as anything more than a break-even proposition. They list $56.3M in naming rights ($33.45M of which is apparently spoken for), which gets the amount they need to finance (I am assuming they are financing it, but even if they are not, there is at least an opportunity cost for the money they are using) down to $178.7M (235 minus 56.3). Taking your $5.7M number for the Suites revenue per year, you can add $1M for Indoor Club Seats (250 @ $4000 per), $6.2M for Outdoor Club Seats (2750 @ an assumed average of $2250), and $1.3M for Chairback Seats (650 @ $2000). The annual total is approximately $14.2M. At that annual payment, it would take 30 years to pay off $178.7M at a 6.88% interest rate. At a 5% interest rate, it would take 20 years.
In 20 years, these "luxury" places will need considerable renovation, I would guess. If they do not sell all of the naming rights or all of the seats, they will have to pay for a longer time to get this paid off. Even Mr. Martin never said this was to be a money maker. He claimed it was the only way to pay for needed upgrades to the existing stadium. However, now, the aisle widening (which I do not really understand, because the bottlenecks are the entrances to the sections, and I don't think they can do anything about those) is not happening as part of this original project (which is to be done in 2010), and the seat widening may not happen at all. I agree that they seem to be doing a first class job of what they are doing, but, other than to provide a few rich guys with fancy digs, I do not see this project as a financial winner. Please help convince me I am missing something.
I thought the assumptions above were pessimistic. Not all of the money in the renovations is going to the boxes and holding revenue constant over a period of ten or twenty years is excessively conservative. Also, the assembled media was told specifically that the seat widening was on and given a timeline for that process. But I am not a business guy and I don't have the numbers at my fingertips to dismiss his point out of hand.
So I asked a guy who goes by the handle "rekker" who's close to the project and has been providing solid information on the construction since it was announced. He responded like so:
This guy is reasonably coherent, but his analysis contains a couple of big, incorrect assumptions and logical flaws. I’ll start with the analytical problems. I’ll then present what I think of as the proper way to consider this project.
1. Your emailer assigns the entire cost of the project to the luxury boxes and club seats. That’s wrong. The project consists of three distinct elements. Because they are intertwined, it is difficult to assign a precise share of the cost to each piece, but these are approximations.
- Long-neglected maintenance – including replacing all foundational concrete, replacing all benches, replacing all mechanical systems, replacing the press box, which is structurally unsound, etc.
The approximate cost of this (absolutely necessary) work is $60-75 million. Even if it there were no stadium renovation or premium seating, this work would have to be done over the next few years.
- Improvements that make the game day experience better for everyone. This includes new (double-decker) concourses, wider aisles, wider seats, new and more bathrooms, new concession areas, etc.
The cost of these “improve everyone’s experience” is about $75-90 million. So for items (a) and (b), we are now up around $150 million.
- The cost of the towers, which contain the club seats, luxury boxes, and the new lounges. [Editor's note: also the new press box.] The incremental cost of these is around $75 million.
2. The cost and financing details are much friendlier than proposed.
- The project cost is $226 million, not $235 million.
- The athletic department is covering $36 million of this cost out of existing reserves. They also plan to raise $40-50 million in naming opportunities ($33mm is in hand). So the net debt needed for the project is actually about $140 million (not $178 as he suggests).
- Because of the financial crisis, the AD was able to get a great rate on the bonds it issued for the project. They came in at just over 4%. Because the interest rate was so low, the AD decided to finance a total of $190 million, but this allowed it to retain about $50 million is cash reserves as a cushion. Net borrowing (since the cash reserve can be used at any time to pay off the debt) is $140 million.
- The carrying cost of $140 million at 4% (assuming a 20 year payoff of the principle) is $10.3 million.
3.The likely donations from the boxes and club seats are likely to be higher than the minimum required.
- The 82 boxes will provide a minimum of $70,000 per box ($5.7 million), but the AD estimate is that top-up donations given to secure better locations will bring this up to between $7 and $8 million.
- His estimates for the club seats are reasonable, but again too low. He presents the absolute minimums.
Club seat (and chairback revenues) will total at least $8.5 million. In reality, competition for the better seats it driving donations up. Zone 1 club donations are averaging about $5,000, vs. the minimum requirement of $3,000. This likely won’t play out over all seats, but the AD is confident that the club and chairback seats will produce more than $10 million in incremental revenue.
- So the total incremental revenue will come in at between $14.2 million and $18 million.
How to think about the project
UM has a large need. Maintenance had been neglected for decades, the bathrooms are medieval, and the flow in and around the stadium is horrible.
The AD could undertake a $150 million stadium improvement project with no luxury seating (items 1a and 1b above), and no clear way to pay for it. This would mean about $100 million in borrowing and a roughly $7.3 million annual financing cost. Or the AD could add luxury seating for an additional $75 million cost ($225 total), and ask those 4000 rich people people to cover the cost of the whole project.
Option 1 would require something like a $10 per game surcharge on all 100,000 tickets sold for every game for the next 20 years (7 million per year, 7 games, 100,000 tickets per game).
Option 2 has no surcharge for regular ticket holders. The overall project costs about $10.3 million per year to pay off, but the luxury seating crowd generates somewhere between $14.2 and $18 million per year in incremental revenue.
The AD has been generating annual surpluses of $5 million to $9 million for the past few years. Adding $4 – 8 million to this while covering the entire cost of the stadium expansion seems like a pretty great investment. And remember, this is all being done with no cost to the 100,000 plus people who will sit in the bowl each week.
Before someone objects that not all the seats are sold, I’ll admit they are right. But 70% of both the boxes and club seats are sold. And this is with a year to go. Even if not one more seat is sold, the current reservations would generate $9.9 million, just a few hundred thousand short of the carrying cost for the entire project. I’d bet on the over on this one.
While the project is perhaps not literally a “money factory”, it is about the closest thing we’ve seen in Michigan for many years.
[/insider, back to me]
We all love the Big House but we've probably all got horror stories about missing half a quarter because of congestion or excessive lines or (especially for women) bathroom overcrowding. And then there's always that one guy—you know that guy—who will battle you for every millimeter of space in your seat. And don't get me started on Incredibly Pointy Knee Guy.
When I took the tour, the SID repeatedly pointed out the new walkways, concourses, and points of sale across the stadium. The seat and aisle widening will be complete by 2013. And the entire stadium will be brought into ADA compliance. And the net cost to the bowl is zero, with the AD netting somewhere between $4 and 8 million per year above and beyond paying off the loan. Whatever issues you have will Bill Martin—and I have a few—financial acumen cannot be one of them.
All formats and locations will be ours. A reader requested that I MGoBlog available on the Amazon Kindle, so I duly signed up. I have now been vetted and show up in the store. A word of caution: when I checked out the preview it didn't seem like a compelling product. It obliterated images, formatting, and even blockquotes. Maybe it's better now.
Even if it's not you get a 14-day free trial before the dollar per month—the lowest price they'd let me set—kicks in.
Also, you may have noticed that the Bucknuts link on the left sidebar went haywire a few weeks ago. Bucknuts implemented a new software system and the transition did not go as smoothly as hoped. Insert your own Ohio State "the files are in the computer?" joke here. The link now works and This Week In Michigan returns sometime today. [Speaking of things I write named "This Week In X": This Week In Schadenfreude will be a TSB joint this season. That was probably obvious.]
More research I didn't do. The streak of diaries in the range from useful to awesome continues. There is of course Misopogon's uni-tournament that got front-paged on Friday. (If you're interested in getting front paged take his posts as a model from his posts: they're attractive, use pictures, and organize their information well.) There's also more outstanding research going on.
MCalibur posted a followup to his earlier post on running QB fragility that expands his earlier study from one year to a definitive five. The key chart (chart):
No. of QBs
Avg. Games Lost
QB Inj %
3 (Pat White)
0 (John Navarre)
Interestingly, the hiccup from MCalibur's first study holds up. Group 2 quarterbacks are the most likely to get injured; group one quarterbacks are the least. Extreme pocket passers and rushers fall in the middle.
The numbers show an slight uptick in QB injuries for run-heavy quarterbacks. Extreme rushers are 3% more likely to miss a game than a pocket passer and heavy rushers are 13% more likely. I don't think either of those numbers is significant statistically or strategically*; MCalibur has successful debunked the idea that spread quarterbacks are more vulnerable to injury than your John Navarres.
Elsewhere, Hannibal quantified something Michigan fans have known for a while: if you rotate off Michigan's schedule you will be terrible. This is a law of nature. I mean, seriously:
Winning percentages in the "did not play Michigan" years: .188
Winning percentages in the "did play Michigan" years: .745
How does that happen if not for the black hand of Angry Michigan Schedule-Hating God?
The net, with Michigan games removed:
Winning percentages in the "did not play Michigan" years: .371
Winning percentages in the "did play Michigan" years: .494
That's just weird. This year Michigan misses Minnesota and Northwestern. Beware hyping them.
*(I know there are more serious statisticians that myself out there, so please correct me if I'm wrong.)
World so cold (world so cold!). A long profile of Tim Hardaway Jr. appears in the Miami Herald. I don't remember the careers of Larry Brown and the elder Hardaway intersecting but maybe he just got this by osmosis:
Hardaway Jr. takes more pointers from the games of Dwyane Wade and LeBron James than he does from his dad's. But the elder Hardaway still sees similarities between their skills. Hardaway Jr. may not be a point guard. But he's still the son of a point guard.
``You know how people say, `Play the right way?' He plays the right way,'' Hardaway said. ``He understands the game inside and out, because I'm always talking to him about it.''
The story's mostly about the Hardaways' relationship—senior was too demanding, doves cried, now it's cool—and not so much about the younger Hardaway's game.
Burger King bathrooms excluded. AnnArbor.com has an extensive look at John Beilein's role as the head of the NCAA's basketball ethics committee. It doesn't sound like they've gotten to the point where they can talk about specific issues they'd like to fix:
“That is really the biggest challenge right now,” Beilein said. “Is to get a clear agenda of what are important issues. But you will be focusing on one issue and something real and very important can come up that nobody ever thought of before.
“I don’t think there’s a science to this thing. We just have to chop away at being persistent in trying to identify the biggest problems.”
Rothstein couldn't get much in the way of specifics out of the half-dozen or so coaches he surveyed but Dane Fife, now IPFW's head coach did say some frank stuff:
"Reggie Minton just says ‘Don’t willfully break the rule.’ That’s my main focus, you can’t willfully break a rule. There’s probably more time spent trying to circumvent rules than time spending [sic?] within the program for some of these coaches.
"I think it’s part of the business, part of the game. I really do."
They never drop the names, though.
Lies! Rodriguez on the quarterback situation:
“Everybody can go ahead and be patient cause there will not be a starter named until right before the first game,” Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said. “Maybe even be a game-time decision.”
Forcier is already running with the first team and is not stained by last year; file under coachspeak. We now return to your regularly scheduled Tatehype:
"It’s weird," Molk said. "I never see the kid crumble. Once in a while you’ll see a quarterback and they’ll start to get kind of shaky, but he’s pretty solid."
Forcier's poise sounds akin to Chad Henne's, which once prompted me to call him a robot. May it be so.
Etc.: Smart Football moves to swanky new digs; DocSat picks Penn State to win the Big Ten, has Michigan 7th and a bowl team, doesn't understand the Michigan State hype. The Smoking Musket, a West Virginia blog. is skeptical of the Eers' move away from the spread 'n' shred.
Note: I'm going to use the term "spread offense" to refer to lots of different types of attacks, though I'm aware of the differences between pass-first, read-option, and pistol schemes. Since the spread's detractors refer to the spectrum of schemes as "the spread," I'll debunk in favor of "the spread," and not a single implementation of it.
Ever since Rich Rodriguez came to Michigan, Wolverine fans have been bombarded with assertions by the media, opposing fans, and even the occasional opposing coach that college defenses have "caught up" to the spread offense. Like almost all criticisms of Rich Rodriguez, this will go away if he starts winning. But is there any merit to these claims?
Have Defenses Caught Up to the Spread Offense?
This is an easy debunk, one that's often cited on the internet. Behold: last year's top 10 offenses in the college game. I also included QB rushing yards, since the quote that prompted this post mentioned the quarterback run specifically.
|Texas Tech||531.00||4||43.77||3||Passing Spread||32%||-15|
|Nevada||508.54||5||37.62||t-12||Spread 'n' Shred||58%||1140|
|Oklahoma State||487.69||6||40.77||9||Spread 'n' Shred||64%||585|
|Oregon||484.85||7||41.92||7||Spread 'n' Shred||60%||967|
(*Colt McCoy led his team in rushing yardage with 561 yards. Also, note that these stats count sacks and scrambles as passes and are slightly tilted towards the run.)
Zero teams that operate mostly under center appear (Nevada does use the pistol, FWIW), and half of the top ten saw their quarterbacks rack up over 500 yards on the ground.
It's clear that defenses haven't done so much of the catching up. Even if Tulsa, Houston, Nevada, and Rice are playing against worse defensive talent, are they not doing so with comparable offensive players? Also, take into account Florida, #15 in total offense and #4 in points scored last year. The SEC has a reputation for some of the toughest defenses in the land, yet the Gators managed to put up plenty of points with the spread offense.
The problem with Michigan's offense last year was not defenses "catching up" to the scheme, but rather a lack of talent and execution. Take it from Rodriguez: "This whole thing about catching up to this, it's all about execution."
Can Defenses Catch Up to the Spread Offense?
Now that it's established that the spread offense is not obsolete, we should determine whether that is even a possibility. Is the spread offense successful only because of its novelty? As Smart Football says:
"The book "Spread Formation Football," written by Coach Meyer, begins with the line: "Spread formations are not new to football." Very true.
Wait, I should have been more specific. "Spread Formation Football" was written in 1952 by Coach Dutch Meyer of TCU.
So, there must be an aspect other than novelty that makes the spread offense so successful. Why haven't defenses caught up to the spread yet if it's been around for more than 50 years - longer than the West Coast offense? Why is there no talk about how the West Coast offense is now obsolete? Other than the fact that it would be completely stupid, there isn't one.
Is there something about the spread offense that makes it easier to defend than pro-style attacks once you "catch up" with it? Since defenses haven't caught up with the pro-style offense, with all its tight ends and fullbacks (or at least, they're not bragging about it), there must be something about the spread that make it an inherently weaker scheme than the pro style. If you ask Anonymous Ohio State Coach, it's the quarterback run. But quarterback runs were a key part of the attack for half of the top ten offenses in the country last year. If they've caught up, they must have done it sometime after January.
The only other key aspect of the spread offense is the use of a lot of receiver-heavy shotgun formations. So this must be what enables defenses to catch up with the offense. The bigger, tougher athletes in the pro-style must be better able to move the ball than nimble spread linemen and skill players. Of course, the evidence shows that this isn't the case. Defenses can't "catch up with" competing against smaller players, or they would have by now.
There is no right or wrong answer as to which type of offense is the best in college football. It's all about creating matchups between players, and teaching them to execute well enough to win those matchups. The spread is here, and all evidence points to it being here to stay. The biggest factor in success, though, is execution.
The point of the diaries! Leading off: a fantastic diary from MCalibur on the increased vulnerability of spread option quarterbacks, or, apparently, the lack thereof. "Do spread quarterbacks get injured more?" is a question I've abdicated on before, citing the lack of a reliable injury database that could provide a comprehensive answer without good old fashioned grunt work. MCalibur grunted his way to a money graf after splitting quarterbacks into four quartiles based on run/pass ratio, with group 3 your Pat White sorts and group 0* your John Navarre sorts:
On a percentage basis the only group that suffered an out of norm injury percentage were level 2 QBs which I think of as QBs that are used like running backs (Juice Williams) or QBs that are too slow to be running in the first place (Steven Threet). All other groups suffered injuries at about a 23% clip. Meaning about 1 out of every 4 QBs in a given category lost playing time due to injury in 2008.
Though I don't agree with totally dismissing the increased injury rate of "group 2" QBs, the numbers here are small enough that it seems like an outlier. The Pat Whites got injured at at the same rate as groups 1 and 2, and group one was by far the hardest hit in terms of man-games lost. There is definitely no clear correlation between lots of runs and injury.
Caveat: as noted, the sample size here is small. The numbers are suggestive but not definitive. It's not impossible a larger study would show a better correlation between runs and injury. It is, however, pretty unlikely. Outstanding work; I have bestowed a bonus 100 (meaningless!) points. Misopogon also picked up the bonus for the numbers post front-paged last night. At some point these will be useful, I swear.
*(Dollars to donuts this means MCalibur is a coder. He's zero-indexing his arrays.)
Meanwhile on the roster. Michigan applied for three medical redshirts last year and news reports had confirmed that two of them—Adam Patterson, now a redshirt junior, and Junior Hemingway, now a redshirt sophomore—had been approved. The third was Kenny Demens, who the roster now lists as a redshirt freshman. Obviously inference: Demens, too, got his redshirt.
The whole enchilada from Rich Rodriguez's appearance at Big Ten media days:
Transcript here if you don't want to bother with the video. I read it and decided against it; there is zero of value in there. There is also creepy dark cell-phone video from The Big Ten Network talking to Mark Ortmann and Stevie Brown:
Mesko doesn't talk, he just saves the planet. There is also more of Rodriguez talking.
Can we get in on that? Yankee Stadium is poised to host outstandingly competitive games between Notre Dame and Army—why do you hate America, Notre Dame?—starting in 2010. This has caused Army to sign up a half-dozen future Yankee Stadium games against other East Coast schools and Yankee Stadium to start thinking bigger and possibly more competitive:
The Daily News has learned that there have been discussions between the NCAA and high-ranking Yankee officials, including managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner, about the possibility of establishing a postseason bowl game at Yankee Stadium, beginning in 2011.
And… hey… can we get in on that? And in a meaningful way, not a goofy Motor City Bowl sort of way? I would love the opportunity to watch some other Big Ten team freeze its ass off in New York against some warm-weather team and caveman their way to astounding victories. Hell, if Michigan ended up in it I might even go depending on just how Christmas-impinging the thing is. Why don't we boot the Alamo Bowl to the curb—cold or not, there is no comparison between San Antonio and New York—and take on any comers in the frozen northlands?
(HT: Doctor Saturday.)
Erm? I've never had the Erin Andrews-level obsession that much of the rest of the college football blogosphere has with stat ninja Phil Steele, but I do respect his research-mad ways and how he eschews the sort of punditry that can best be summed up with the word "Cowherd."
So, um, Phil, what?
7. Rich Rodriguez, Michigan – The Wolverines could be an underdog in as many as 7 games this year and they really must have a winning season. I think Rodriguez will get them to a decent bowl and make major strides just like he did in his 2nd year at West Virginia. Amazingly there are a lot of Michigan alumni who think Rodriguez runs a pass-happy spread offense! In his last 6 years at West Virginia his teams averaged 270 ypg rushing the football (148 ypg pass) while Michigan in that same span had 229 ypg PASSING and just 163 ypg rush.
Not only does that "7" represent Phil Steele's placement of Rich Rodriguez on his top 13 "hot seat" list—ahead of Charlie Freakin' Weis!—but I would like to meet the Michigan fan not in a coma that believes Rich Rodriguez piloted a pass-happy spread offense featuring Pat White.
Never fear, though. Sensing a threat to their hard-earned possession of 2009's Dumbest Statement About Michigan Football, CFN strikes back:
2009 Preseason All-Big Ten Defense
DB - Stevie Brown, Sr., Michigan
DB - Kurt Coleman, Sr., Ohio State
DB - Donsay Hardeman, Sr., Illinois
DB - Torri Williams, Sr., Purdue
That's right. Stevie Brown, who isn't a defensive back anymore, and oh by the way was mindbogglingly awful last year, is first-team All Big Ten. You win, CFN, you win.
(CFN HT: MattC87 around these parts. What, you think I read it?)
More scheduling bits. I have no idea about the veracity of any of these rumors, but the following five schools have been kicked about the internet in the wake of Rodriguez's announcement that Michigan would likely find a BCS school to have a home-and-home with. In ascending order of plausibility:
5. Duke. In a word: no. Michigan could get a Duke-level opponent without a return game, and has in the recent past when they scheduled Vandy. Duke's existence in the list of four teams batted about (all listed save UConn) reduces the plausibility of the rest of them.
4. UConn. UConn isn't Duke but they aren't a ton better from a program perspective. (They're obviously better on the field.) It's hard to envision Michigan playing at 40,000 seat Rentschler field. And it's hard to envision UConn agreeing to another neutral site game after their sellout series with Notre Dame was met with resistance from the state legislature and brokered down to six games from the original ten with a provision that the Huskies play at least six true home games each year. Also, they'd have to move or cancel a game with Northeastern. Also also, the recruiting exposure would be nil.
3. Pitt. This was addressed yesterday: in 2010 Pitt already has Miami and Notre Dame scheduled, with ND on the road. Even though they've got an extra nonconference game because they're in the Big East, that would be a foolishly challenging setup for either Wannstedt battling for his job or the new guy looking to get off on the right foot.
2. Oregon State. Oregon State is a plausible opponent, but they'd have to accept a nonconference schedule of @ M, Louisville, and @ Boise State to go with their nine-game conference schedule. Has any college football team not named USC (or Troy, I guess) been that ballsy since the adoption of the 12th game?
1. Virginia. Virginia is a plausible opponent and was #3 on my list from yesterday.
An attempt to schedule Michigan "fell through." Not sure if that would have been for this year, and that's why we had to scramble to get Eastern Washington. Tedford did say that he doesn't want to play too many good teams and prefers A, B, C scheduling. He stressed he always wants a home-home series, and that they're "not interested" in playing somebody without a return game. In regards to a suggestion that we play Notre Dame, Sandy Barbour, who used to work for Notre Dame, added, "The Irish are afraid."
Downgrade Cal in your betting pools.
Blunt. I was taken aback by a Rittenberg headline that read "Rodriguez sees chemistry built, entitlement vanish," but did indeed Rodriguez drop "entitlement" more than once:
"Are you hungry to prove yourself and not have a sense of entitlement? We talked quite a bit about not having the sense of entitlement," Rodriguez said. "It's good to have pride, but when that pride becomes too much, you're going to get humbled pretty quick. I think, in a sense, that happened to us."
There have been gigabytes spilled about this very topic on Michigan message boards from one end of the internet to the other: had Michigan fallen into complacency as Carr aged and the spittle ceased to fleck? What is this program, who does it belong to, and what is "being Michigan"? At what point do people start to kick ass again? And by "people" we mean "us"? That's not a question.
Right: This is Barwis culture shock in a couple sentences from the head man, and speaks to the difficulty Rodriguez had adapting Carr's culture to his. This has to be better now; anyone who hasn't transferred should be in for the long haul.
Etc.: Three people emailed me this so it must be important: Kirk Herbstreit had someone burn down his house for a tax break. It was the fire department. It didn't work. AAU remains so far beyond sketchy it strains believability.
Uh… is there any?
I've been fretting about Michigan's future APR scores for a while now without actually looking at the numbers."Wah wah wah," I wah, "APR mumble bits mumble." There's a possibility I'm mildly concerning all of you for no reason, so there's no time like the present to put some numbers behind the concerns.
Varsity Blue has helpfully listed the full dossier of transfers and departures since 2008, when the APR scores leave off. (Actually, the Spartan Tailgate "Rodriguezed" thread is more complete. In retrospect, this is obvious. Warning: useful content goes to zero after post #1.) With this information we can divide and multiply our way to knowledge, like they did in the olden days.
I'm still a little unclear on how this thing is calculated. The NCAA's explanation:
The APR is calculated by allocating points for eligibility and retention -- the two factors that research identifies as the best indicators of graduation. Each player on a given roster earns a maximum of two points per term, one for being academically eligible and one for staying with the institution. A team's APR is the total points of a team's roster at a given time divided by the total points possible.
This seems insufficiently detailed. Do walk-ons put on scholarship count? Do walk-ons count in general? What happens when a player like Mallett transfers halfway through the year? What about early NFL draft departures? I've searched the NCAA's web site and haven't found explanations. (I do have my second attempt at an email in; the first went unanswered.)
Let's make some common sense assumptions in the meantime:
- Walk-ons count if they're on scholarship. It would be hard for the NCAA to distinguish between a recruited player and a walk-on who earned his way onto the team.
- They do not count if they are not on scholarship. Allowing any walk-on to count would allow teams to pack their rosters with 5'7" chemical engineers.
- A transferred player only hits you once.
- There are two semesters with 170 points available in each, for a yearly total of 340.
A sanity check on that last point: the NCAA has stated a 925 APR corresponds to about a 50- or 60-percent graduation rate and .925 to the eighth power is about 53%. It goes by terms.
Should You Be Mildly Concerned?
Under those assumptions, Michigan's yearly APR maximums for Rodriguez years one and two:
Three transfers (VB missed Quintin Patilla), two medical scholarships—which don't count against M since both players remained in school— and one Marques Slocum 0-for-2 leave Michigan down a minimum of five points. Since the decisions of Ciulla, Mitchell, DeBenedictis, and Gallimore—AKA the entire 2004 offensive line recruiting class—to leave early were not accompanied by transfers I don't think they'd count against Michigan unless any of those guys left school without a degree.
Then there are the departures of Adrian Arrington and Mario Manningham for the NFL. I'm not sure what the NCAA does in the case of early entries. A review of the Greg Oden stuff at Ohio State is inconclusive:
Oden was classified an "0 for 2" in APR jargon, meaning he left school without completing the term and was ineligible for the following season when he left. An "0 for 2," combined with a program's overall APR score of less than 925 (about a 60 percent graduation rate), triggers such a penalty. …
The early departures of Mike Conley Jr. and Daequan Cook are not believed to have negatively affected the score because they completed spring quarter in 2007 before leaving.
Wait, what? Oden gets 0 for 2 for leaving for the NBA but the other two guys don't affect the score even a little? That's odd. I'd guess at least one of the receivers left ineligible; if both did that would cost Michigan another four points.
In the worst case, 331/340 = 973 APR. Even the improbable double-worst case where every player who left Michigan did so with a 0.0 GPA, the attrition only gets Michigan down to 958.
Those numbers immediately makes me think this calculation is goofy even if you factor in some unpublicized dings from players who exhaust their eligibility but don't graduate. But the sanity check is the sanity check. If they were grading this out of 170 points per year the graduation rate they are shooting for would be 75%.
Nine transfers—Hill, Clemons, Babb, Chambers, Horn, McGuffie, Threet, Wermers, and O'Neill—have shoved off. Wermers left ineligible, so Michigan is down at least ten points. Others could have left ineligible, too; we wouldn't know because they'd have to sit out as they got their grades up due to the transfer anyway. I'm willing to bet many dollars that Carson Butler left ineligible, which would make the number 12.
Andre Criswell left the team but remains at Michigan as a grad assistant, so he got a degree and won't count against them. Jason Kates left the team but may not have left school, in which case he wouldn't count. Taylor Hill is also an interesting case since he left after about two weeks and immediately transferred to Kent State. If he got out by the drop/add deadline there's a possibility he doesn't count either.
And then there's the strange case of Marcus Witherspoon, who apparently enrolled enough to invoke transfer rules when he moved to Rutgers, but managed to do so without being eligible, but managed to enroll and redshirt at Rutgers despite supposedly not being eligible, which I guess he wouldn't have to be except then he'd… well. I don't know.
There's a lot of gray area here. The bare minimum is 12 , which would be a 964 APR. The maximum reasonable loss—not everyone left ineligible—would be around 20, which would be a 941 APR.
These numbers appear too optimistic. Michigan's rate of attrition under Carr seemed considerably lower than it does in the first couple years of the Rodriguez era, and those teams checked in with APRs near the worst-case scenario of Michigan's 2009 Transfer Spectacular. Either I'm calculating these wrong or there's a big unknown minus from players who run out of eligibility but leave without a degree. I lean towards the latter pending someone from the NCAA actually responding to an email.
Well, Should You?
If we can squint at the grim transfer parade of last year, make the maximum reasonable negative assumption, and then tack on another six points for non-graduating seniors—which would be over 50% of the class, well outside the Michigan norm—and still get a 923 APR, Michigan is going to be fine.
Even in this unlikely worst-case scenario, that one-year number is barely below the line and should be surrounded by years much higher than that. Rodriguez's attrition should drop considerably as the guys who didn't sign up for this Barwis nut leave the program via means natural and un-.
While Michigan's APR will continue to dip over the next couple years, it probably won't even approach the Mendoza line, let alone dip below it.
I was back visiting Michigan last weekend, and I was able to catch the hockey game on Saturday against Miami (of Ohio). I haven't seen any hockey games this season since I'm at a grad school where hockey doesn't exist. I was wondering about the addition of a second referee on the ice. My friend pointed that out to me at the beginning of the game, and I asked him if he felt more calls were made this season since there is another pair or eyes on the ice. He said that it didn't seem so, and someone around me said that it may actually make the game flow better(!?). Well, that didn't seem to happen as Michigan ended up with like 11 penalties.
So I was wondering if you could drag up the penalty minutes from the last couple of seasons and compare them to this season so far, and see if the extra ref has significantly impacted the number of calls or has changed the game somehow.
Via collegehockeystats.net, per-team penalty minutes per game the last three years:
|Year Before That||19.01|
Survey says… eh, not so much. While teams are taking most of an extra penalty a game this year the numbers are actually down from the two years previous. Of course, the NCAA's overreaction to the Robbie Bina hit, which led to virtually any hit along the boards being an automatic major for a year, and their intermittent obstruction crackdowns play a role in the numbers. The moral of the story appears to be "do not expect remotely consistent enforcement," which isn't surprising to anyone familiar with the travails of college hockey refereeing.
Recently, Sports Illustrated had a series of articles on recruiting and how Florida is a gold mine for D1 recruits. In one of those articles, Jimbo Fisher had this to say about recruiting:
Florida State's Fisher doesn't deny that he offers a chilly warning to southern skill-position players thinking of crossing the Mason-Dixon line. "I don't know if we ever said, 'You'll freeze.' But the landscape of playing, especially if you're a skill guy, is not as conducive as it is in The South," Fisher said. "The weather can prohibit you from using all your skills at times and prevent you from getting the numbers and recognition and things you want. I think it is a significant difference."
I have been a big fan of Rich Rod since the Clemson days and thought he was a top 5 coach in the country at WV. I even picked them to win the National Championship in 2007. Good ole' Wannstache…
During Rich Rod's top years at WV (05-07), I remember a few late season games where the Mountaineers couldn't hold on to the football and it cost them. I had a feeling that this was attributed to his recruits being from the Deep South and not being accustomed to playing in cold weather conditions. And then this year Odoms couldn't hold on to the ball for his life during that nasty NW game. So after Jimbo's quote, I thought that there may be some serious truth to this argument.
So I went back and looked at the stats from WV's 2007 November games (I didn't look up game time temperature but they were all November games in cold weather locations including three night games) and found that WV had put the ball on the ground 13 times in those four games while losing 8. Twice (including the infamous Pitt game that most likely led to our hire of Rich Rod instead of Les Miles) they had 5 fumbles, losing 3.
Would you review the games from 2005-2007 and see if there is any correlation between the late season colder temperatures and putting the ball on the ground. With RR ravaging Florida for recruits and Michigan being a colder place than WV, I am worried that this could be an issue for us in late season games.
First: the Jimbo Fisher stuff is just talk. If you can play, you can play. Even if it's cold. The parade of Michigan receivers in the pros (Toomer, Alexander, Edwards, Avant, Breaston, Streets, uh… Terrell nevermind) in recent years suggests that Fisher's statement is more snake oil than anything. The NFL will find your ass if you can play football.
As far as the fumble theory, it's going to be extremely tough to prove either way. We don't know how cold was for all these games. We're looking at extremely random events in just a few games. Statistical significance laughs at us from afar. But here you go:
No, wait, sorry. I tried, but the NCAA doesn't have the relevant 2005 games' boxscores up. Sorry. I did find that in 2006 WVU had 8 fumbles in 4 (possibly) cold weather games, but four of those game in a game against Cincinnati during which the Bearcats also fumbled four times so I dunno, maybe they didn't kill the ball properly and it was running around squealing all night or something.
Does this help your troubled heart any?
That's West Virginia's turnover margin in the last three years of the Rodriguez era, when Pat White was the quarterback and WVU was goooooood. Even when WVU coughed up the ball 15 times in 2007 they were still top-10 in TO margin because they ran so much and had so few interceptions.
I think people are attempting to come up for an explanation for last year's epic, defiant-Pharaoh-style plague of fumbles when the most likely explanation is that there just isn't one. It was mostly randomness combined with youth and poor talent level at certain positions like tackle and quarterback. There is no grand pattern of Rodriguez teams coughing up the ball a ton. In fact, the numbers above suggest the opposite*.
*(Although, again, TOs are rare and even the seemingly wow numbers above are by no means definitive.)