"Northwestern fans can be both heartened and disheartened by the loss to Minnesota just like how nineteenth-century resurrectionists were heartened when they pried a heart from a freshly-buried corpse and then disheartened it when they sold it to a disreputable anatomist."
Moe (1) and Jabrill (2), via.
In last week's roundtable on the state of the conference I pulled out this table grading the new Big Ten's teams on their 2013 seasons (by Fremeau Efficiency Index) and their futures (by composite 247 score for the 2012-'14 classes):
West | East School FEI Grade Rcrt | School FEI 2013 Rcrt Wisconsin 13th A C+ | OSU 8th A A+ Iowa 30th B C | MSU 9th A B Minnesota 49th C D+ | Michigan 29th B A+ Nebraska 51st C B | Indiana 62nd D+ C NW'ern 60th C- C | PSU 65th D+ B Illinois 75th D C- | Maryland 74th D C+ Purdue 114th F C- | Rutgers 98th E- B- AVG 56th 2.0 2.0 | AVG 49th 2.1 3.0
That's about how I feel: A conference baseline of "C" (ie ranked around 50th) teams with one division recruiting at a "B" level and the other "getting the most out of" C level recruiting.
This I pulled from a spreadsheet of FEI and recruiting data that I'd like to mine further, because if you're looking at a chart it still counts as doing work.
Recruiting = legit, yo/maybe not so legit. So here's a new look at the old stand-by: recruiting on the Y-axis, performance on the X-axis, and a nice, heavy trend line with an R-squared of 0.46 to show an inconvenient-for-narratives correlation. Performance is FEI expressed as a percentile. The composite ranking is a bit more complex: the 2009 (5th year seniors) is weighted at 0.5 the 2010 and 2011 classes at full, the 2012 class at 0.40 and the 2013 at 0.10, which are arbitrary values I assigned based on expectations of how much a class contributes to a given team.
Blicking on it makes it cig.
It says they're correlated, but doesn't necessarily mean one is causing the other. FWIW the r-squared of the Rivals composite determined the same way was .4135; I haven't done Scout or ESPN yet. Look at how the correlation of recruiting %-ile of each class and 2013 performance %-ile changes by year:
|Class||247 R-Squared||Rivals R-Squared|
|2009 (5th yrs)||0.3681||0.3204|
The highest correlation is to the freshman class, and the 3rd-highest is to the class that's not even on campus yet. There's a strong echo effect going on here, wherein the teams that are good today are getting the highest-ranked recruits. The diminishing returns from seniors, I would posit, are because they're the classes hit hardest by attrition, and most likely to have been recruited by a different coach or to a program in very different circumstances.
The other thing that immediately jumped out at me about that chart is look at all the color on top of the black trend line. Those gray dots are mid-major programs, who are largely outperforming expectations from recruiting, versus only one SEC team managing to do so. I bet that's a system bias in the recruiting rankings: there's little to parse between an under-the-radar guy who commits to Purdue versus one going to NIU except one of those is a Big Ten school.
[Jump for MEETING EXPECTATIONS and THE FUTURE]
The Peter Principle Has Its Limits...
...those limits include allowing 62 points to Arizona State, apparently. (Photo: USA Today)
USC fired Lane Kiffin upon his return to Los Angeles after the Trojans fell 62-41 at Arizona State, their seventh loss in the last 11 games. The method? Coooooold bloooooded.
Lane Kiffin remained on the bus when a #USC administrator blocked the gate and stopped bus, asking Kiffin to step off
— InsideUSC (@InsideUSC) September 30, 2013
Lane Kiffin told bus to stay but adminisrator told driver to go to #USC with Kiffin's briefcase still on the bus
— InsideUSC (@InsideUSC) September 30, 2013
Pat Haden then fired Lane Kiffin in parking lot at Landmark Aviation at LAX. A football staff member then got sent to USC to get briefcase
— InsideUSC (@InsideUSC) September 30, 2013
The InsideUSC feed is a font of Kiffin schadenfreude; the players are just as happy as the admistrators to get rid of him, it appears. When you're done enjoying that, it's time to address the truly important question: how does Kiffin's firing affect Michigan's recruiting?
In all likelihood, not a great deal. Kiffin's firing at this juncture not only boosts USC's morale for the rest of the season—more importantly, it gives them a jump start on reeling in a big-name replacement, and the Trojans program carries enough cachet that the list of potential successors is quite distinguished. USC may experience a dip in recruiting efforts while they wait to find the right replacement; if they hire a coach worthy of the program—and I'm assuming they will—then they should be back to full speed for the 2015 class. Those in need of an example of how this works at powerhouse programs need only look at Michigan's recruiting efforts once Brady Hoke got to recruit for a full cycle.
There is, however, an opening in the 2014 class, as USC is one of the schools competing with Michigan for CA ATH John "JuJu" Smith—the childhood USC fan had already read the tea leaves, per 247:
Similar to five-star Adoree’ Jackson, Smith is one of the most highly recruited uncommitted prospects out west and is a five-star prospect that could play either side of the football. Also similar to Jackson, Smith is a major USC priority and hails from a talent factory at Long Beach Poly.
“I already knew it was coming. So it doesn’t change anything until they do something.”
Smith seems to have cooled on USC since Kiffin's job security came under serious question; while the right hire could get the Trojans right back in the mix, there's a real chance that he heads out of state, with official visits already lined up to Alabama, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Oregon. UCLA is also in the mix. Pulling blue-chip recruits out of California is never easy, but Michigan's done so before, and Smith is actually in contact with one such player who hails from the same high school, per The Wolverine's Andy Reid ($):
"Michigan hasn't offered a kid from Poly since Donovan Warren. I'm the one that's next. I've talked a bit to him, good kid. Just saying the name 'Donovan Warren' is like saying Michigan right off the bat at Poly."
That's a good sign, as is Michigan getting Smith's final official visit. With such fierce competition for his signature—look out for Oregon, as Smith cancelled an Ole Miss official to get them on his schedule—and five visits to go, his recruitment could go in just about any direction; that includes USC if they make the right hire at the right time.
[Hit THE JUMP for Wilton Speight's thoughts on Da'Shawn Hand, a wrapup of Michigan commit performances from last weekend, and more.]
In the future they'll call them Lonbrays. You know who else has joined the Braylon Edwards Historical Reenactment Society? Braylon Edwards:
In other facial hair news, Mustaches for Michigan is launching the 2010 campaign.
I would like to subscribe to your newsletter. Not really, desperate newspaper executives, but Darren Everson provides some reason for hope going into year three of the Rodriguez era:
Year three, statistically speaking, is when it all starts to come together—when the no-longer-new coach's recruits and systems settle into place, and the team reaches new heights. The records of college football's current major-conference coaches bear this out: They had a .548 win percentage in years one and two combined, then a .627 mark in year three.
This bodes well for our current head man, Rich Neuheisel, Bo Pelini, Bobby Petrino… and uh… Paul Wulff.
Right before practice. This is probably the second-best thing in the history of MVictors' trawling of Michigan's football heritage, a form Fritz Crisler had one Tom Harmon fill out before the 1939 season:
#1 is still the drunk guy trying to tackle Harmon, but it's close.
Half the specialists should be fine. Excellent dairy from "Wonk" addresses Michigan's punting situation by looking at the recent track record of true freshman at the position. It's not exactly quarterback:
The total averages for all of the years:
- Average Rank: 73.42
- Average Punting Average: 39.30 yards (editors note: yecch)
- Average Rivals Rating (for those who were actually rated): 5.21
So a true freshman punter is going to be just a little below average, as you might expect, and Hagerup comes in with more recruiting pedigree than anyone save Zoltan (38th in 2006) and Wisconsin's Brad Nortman (32nd in 2008). Hagerup should be fine.
Another winner. The first time a coach does something self-evidently petty and dickish, you can write it off as generic coach stuff. They've very stressed people. The second time approaches a trend, and Derek Dooley has just executed Dick Move 2 in his first offseason as Tennessee's coach:
As of Tuesday, a Tennessee spokesman said that request had come without a face-to-face meeting with Dooley, who seemed to confirm to the Knoxville News-Sentinel that he hadn't talked with the younger Brown at all throughout the saga: "The reason it has continued on (since the spring) is because Bryce has not come to me, looked me in the eye and said 'I want a release to so-and-so school.' At some point, that's got to happen." Arthur Brown told Schad, however, that there was a meeting between Dooley and Bryce last Saturday, before Bryce returned home to Kansas, which Dooley mysteriously asked the family to keep under wraps.
So not only is he not releasing Bryce Brown to Kansas State—who is not on Tennessee's schedule for the duration of his eligiblity—but he attempted to keep a meeting between the two parties secret, then lied to the media about whether it had taken place in an effort to make his decision seem more legitimate. This comes on the heels of his petulant decision to make Aaron Douglas transfer at least eight hours from Tennessee's campus (and his home). Douglas ended up at an Arizona JC; hopefully he'll cool his heels for a year and then stick it to Dooley by transferring back to the SEC.
Tennessee hasn't even played a game since the unceremonious end of the Kiffin era and the tune is already sounding disturbingly similar when it comes to euphemisms:
This story does once again confirm the notion that Dooley plays things close to the vest, having met with Brown on Saturday but denying it in the media.
Lane Kiffin Knows Exactly what he is doing
…Kiffin's schtic [schtic sic] in the SEC did exactly what he wanted it to do. Gain attention for his program, he admitted as much in Part II of my interview with Kiffin at the Pac-10's media event here in NYC.
Sure he does. Note: USC is down to 71 scholarship players and will lose 20 seniors this offseason, of whom they can replace 15. They'll be down to 66 next year if they miraculously suffer zero attrition.
(HT: Team Speed Kills.)
Fiutakin' it. Via WolverineWill, Rick Reilly takes up the banner for Lane Kiffin. It was inevitable that some sportswriter would do this eventually, and it was just as inevitable that it would be shoddily argued to the point that it could appear on CFN:
And don't forget, Kiffin knew USC was about to be hit with some whopper sanctions by the NCAA over the Reggie Bush case, sanctions he had no hand in creating. He came anyway. And now that the sanctions are twice as bad as he thought they'd be, is he leaving? Is he complaining? No, he's trying to make filet mignon out of horse meat. He's stuck with 71 players when every other team with have 85. He's stuck with trying to sell kids on a school that will have no bowl games for two years and a Swiss-cheese roster.
Lane Kiffin told every high school kid in America that USC was going to get a stern look and a belly rub from the NCAA, so either he didn't know USC was going to get nailed or he merrily lied to USC's entire recruiting class. Also he is complaining. Rick Reilly is Fiutakin' it, man.
Etc.: GS continues its series on the instate recruiting war by looking at some recent history. You probably already know the way this ends—recruiting 40% of the top-quality instate prospects and a bunch of the rest gives you a program that looks a lot like Michigan State.
Time-lapse photography. Ace has compiled a slideshow of Bo's team pictures over the years. It's like the Johnny Cash "hurt video" but team-specific:
They multiply and are fertile. We should film a version of that Nike ad with a bunch of soccer players thanking the US team for being inspiring. Ours would have folks in front of spreadsheets running regressions thanking Misopogon and the Mathlete. MCalibur's latest was FPed yesterday and I'd be remiss if I didn't mention El Jeffe's study of how important first down yardage is. It is very math-heavy, but here's a straightforward analysis of Michigan versus itself under Carr, WVU under RR, and OSU:
Note how small the margins are here despite the huge differences in the aggregate and observationally. This is the '09 team, remember, not the Threetsheridammit '08 offense, which would make your monitor bleed in strategic points like "-4 to –1" yards on first down.
The biggest difference? "Turnover on series," which is almost double for '09 than it was in the staid Carr era and considerably above either the OSU or WVU lines. The other figure that jumps out is the percentage of plays that lost yards: almost 15 for Michigan '09 and around 9 or 10 for everyone else. If Michigan can stop those two things they can have an excellent offense. That will depend largely on the performances of both tackles and both(?) quarterbacks.
Gah, that's not how it's supposed to work. After a brief period of salivating over the USC defensive backfield when the Trojans' sanctions were announced, things went quiet on the yo-ho-ho front. Then a couple of backups started lighting out for greener pastures, and one of them is going to show up in Michigan Stadium next year. He won't be playing for the right team, though:
Junior fullback D.J. Shoemate told ESPN Thursday night he is transferring to Connecticut.
He said he is making the move because he wants to play running back, and because USC has such depth at the position, he didn't think he would get the chance. USC has used him as a wide receiver and at fullback. He was expected to compete for the starting spot in 2010.
Connecticut returns leading rusher Jordan Todman and his 1188 yards but loses Andre Dixon and his 1093 yards. UConn runs a lot. Shoemate was a Rivals 100 guy as a recruit and could see a few carries against Michigan. Hopefully none of them will go for 85 yards.
- Free parking at Pioneer.
- Enter through Gate 2 on the south side of the stadium.
- WTKA will broadcast live from the event.
There is no word on whether the troughs have returned to the men's bathrooms, but I'm guessing no.
It is more meaningful to score. Hockey numbers guy Gabe Desjardins maintains "NHL equivalencies" lists for all the major feeder leagues that supply hockey's big time with players. These have long maintained that an NCAA point is worth considerably more than a CHL point when it comes to projecting that player's NHL scoring. This has something to do with the average age of both the player in question and his opponents, which are both on average older in the NCAA.
Oilers blog the Copper and Blue has drilled down with some additional age breakdowns that have very low sample sizes but are interesting nonetheless:
Once you get past 21, jumping directly to the NHL becomes rare and generally unsuccessful. Before that the players (all forwards in this study) maintain their scoring rate considerably better than juniors of an equivalent age. Again, low sample size due to the focus on jumps to the NHL. Would be interesting to see about AHL equivalencies since that's a far larger pool of players.
This won't happen. USC's proposed 2011 Kiffin Bowl with Tennessee in Atlanta isn't going to happen for obvious reasons—Tennessee is pretty full up on real games already and is in a position to lose most of those—so the organizers are casting about for someone else. Cue the sexy names and entire conferences:
Regardless of the opponent, Kiffin still wants to bring the Trojans to Atlanta, hopefully for the 2011 kickoff game.
“They’re interested in playing people other than Tennessee," Stokan said.
But who? Notre Dame, Michigan, Big East and Big 12 schools are under consideration.
Notre Dame's presence of a list of potential USC opponents instantly invalidates said list, but it says Michigan there so here's this blurb. Michigan does get the ND/PSU/OSU trio at home in 2011 and could conceivably head to Atlanta without killing the home schedule, but if they were going to schedule USC they'd probably just order up a home-and-home instead of playing thousands of miles away from either campus.
Rub those barrels. Remember last year when Lane Kiffin was running around doing very derp things and otherwise well-adjusted UT folk were sounding increasingly unhinged as they attempted to justify Coach Derp's derpity doo*? Tables have turned. Here's a Conquest Chronicles response to the release of Seantrel Henderson:
Coachspeak aside, this remains a small victory for USC. Even more so in the wake of the NCAA sanctions, USC remains a "big boy" program reserved for athletes with killer instincts and intense competitive spirits, who are driven and motivated to become the best players possible. The right players for this program are not, however, motivated by the possibility of playing in one or two bowl games, as Kiffin echoed the other day.
That statement must have been made with a shotgun in the author's lap. He caresses it gently, telling Wallace the Gun that, coachspeak aside, he remains a very good gun with shiny barrels. One day Wallace might make a very loud noise, and that, too, will be a small victory for USC.
Rocky Top Talk is staging an intervention:
We know from experience the dilemma a fan experiences when Lane Kiffin takes the reigns of your beloved program and that it can drive you to the edge of insanity, but hopefully you come to your senses before walking off the cliff.
*(Att'n Penn State bloggers: you could successfully lob the irony grenade at me here.)
Cancer updates. The latest on Vada Murray is up at their Caring Bridge site. They're on vacation in the UP:
We are making a trip to a local hospital up here every day for bloodwork. Vada's liver enzymes normalized last week and he was able to go back on the trial, but promptly taken off again two days later. Vada's oncologist is able to monitor him closely from afar and although it sucks to have to go to a hospital while we are on vacation, it's just what we have to do.
Vada is slightly better since my last post. The challenges we currently face are controlling his pain, his liver enzymes, & his cancer.
Phil Brabbs, meanwhile, has gotten a second bone marrow transplant and did an interview on WJR fresh out of the hospital. The interview is on WJR's site. Meanwhile, his blogging pace will be slowing down as he recovers from the various treatments he's undergone. Alarm not necessary.
Etc.: Tennessee probably just landed a major violation.
Historian! Haven't had a new one in a while from the great archivist of the internets. 1981 Minnesota; check it out if only for the totally sweet introduction:
Assorted Kiffybits. Have received some heat in the comments for my blanket assertion yesterday that Lane Kiffin was in some way responsible for the MASSIVE INSTUTUTION-WIDE CHEATFEST that USC undertook through the aughts, but I can't really understand why. In a time of major NCAA trouble you fire everyone and let the rest of D-I sort 'em out. Permanently cutting ties with anyone in a position to have observed or participated in NCAA violations is a bare minimum standard when you get hit with major sanctions. And USC isn't just bringing back any old assistant coach, they're bringing in a guy currently under investigation. It's indefensible.
The Michigan equivalent would be putting Perry Watson on Tommy Amaker's staff, or hiring Magee after firing Rodriguez because the NCAA came back with a major infraction from the practice stuff. Either move would be totally beyond the pale.
Side note: I don't really blame Kiffin for leaving, and think Tennessee's reaction has been hilarious. Kiffin didn't have any control over when the USC job opened up. Meanwhile, the chaotic scene in Knoxville when he left was testament to the college football fan's ability to delude himself about the guy in charge*. If I was a Volunteer fan this would be the happiest day in 14 months. Tennessee got off easy, and can now hire someone with a resume stronger than "hot wife, reptile brain."
This week in witch trials. Meanwhile, Kiffin's departure for his dream job has caused no end of hysterical reactions in the media. Sally Jenkins's painful "Chucky" comparison is the most tortured column—hiring Kiffin is easier than "hiring someone less illustrious"—I've come across, but there are many others. Here's old friend Jemele Hill "bringing the real"—seriously those were the words on the screen—about the situation:
Since college football fans are paying top dollar to attend these games and boosters are signing blank checks to bolster their athletic teams, they need reassurance they are supporting not only a winning program, but also a brand.
That's why college football programs have gladly backed up the Brink's truck for Bobby Petrino, Rich Rodriguez, Brian Kelly and Nick Saban -- all top-notch coaches whose combined lies could outweigh an ocean liner.
Leaving aside Rich Rodriguez, who has had all of two jobs in a decade, why does poor Brian Kelly get lumped in here? Kelly spent most of the last month of the season going out of his way to provide rambling non-answers to questions about Notre Dame just so he wouldn't get stuck having said something untrue. When the time came his public statement about it was "I am listening to Notre Dame." Even Rodriguez—less of a job-hopper than anyone on that list—issued a quote about being around West Virginia for a long time after his Alabama flirtation. Kelly walked around with a sign that said "Please Hire Me Notre Dame" for two months and still can't win.
Meanwhile, Jemele Hill jumped at the opportunity to bring the real at ESPN instead of hanging out at the Free Press. Physicians, heal thyselves.
*(Over/under on Ohio State blogs that repost this sentence for lol: 4.)
Correct. Michigan's former players are always asked about Michigan's current coach and most of them have the same answer. It acknowledges the difficulty in transition and expresses frustration at the current state of the program. Depending on how the phrase it, this can come off as attack or support. They're all basically saying the same thing—let's win this year plsthx—but they seem different. Victor Hobson shades towards the support side of things:
As a Michigan fan, it’s easy for me to sit back and say he is not taking the program in the right direction. As a football player, though, it’s easy for me to see that Rich has a different approach to winning than Lloyd Carr, which requires different personnel. Patience is the key to allowing the program to blossom once again. The dilemma is that Michigan is an extremely prideful university that isn’t used to losing, so I don’t know if that patience is going to happen.
South Florida. It's not quite official yet, but the word from a couple days ago that Skip Holtz was likely to be the guy at ECU is nearing it by the minute:
Holtz was contacted by USF athletic director Doug Woolard about the job Sunday and interviewed with USF officials Tuesday in Orlando.
A source close to East Carolina told the Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer on Wednesday night that a deal between Holtz and USF was close but not done yet. "But they're moving in that direction,'' the source said.
A deal could come as early as today; it sounds like this is all but inevitable. This leaves Calvin Magee at Michigan. Magee did talk to USF, but I don't think he interviewed formally.
They're back. Some of them. Michigan State's PREWB appears to be resolved by a number of additional departures from the team. RB Ashton Leggett, DE Jamiihr Williams, LB Brynden Trawick, and DT Ishmyl Johnson are out. All the receivers are back, as are a couple guys you've never heard of. The end result here is fairly satisfying: six guys out the door, including a couple probable starters next year, is a stiff price to pay. The other guys are "reinstated" and "on the team right now," though there remains the distant possibility that legal action will cause some of the other guys to pick up further suspensions (lasting, of course, until next year's Michigan game).
Meanwhile, State is getting Greg Jones back for his senior year—bad NFL draft grade?—so they've got that going for them.
Crater omission. Doctor Saturday ran down the top five "sharpest turning moments" of 2009 and touched on Notre Dame taking out Charlie Weis and Ohio State picking it up after Purdue. This guy was genuinely surprised to not see "Roy Roundtree tackled at one yard line." That's 90% blinkered homerism, but it certainly seemed that few teams took as radical a U-turn as Michigan did on that fateful goal line stand. They went from a team making totally satisfactory progress to a smoking crater hosting a civil war in the course of one replay review.
Etc.: Apparently the ridiculous Rodriguez-to-Tennessee rumors were serious enough for Angelique to debunk them with the help of RR's agent. RR talks to Andrea Adelson about 2010—bowl promised! Bacon runs down the top sports moments of the decade. UMHoops runs down a bunch of stuff; most interesting is that the Big Ten is the least free-throw happy of the BCS conferences. Also for God's sake don't look at the scatterplot.
I posted about this on The Sporting Blog so this is going to be a rehash, but since this is the Leno-Conan tiff of college football right now I haven't thought about much else: holy crap in a hat, USC hired Lane Kiffin.
There are a thousand different ways in which that statement can be taken: wow, what a snake. Wow, Al Davis was right. Wow, even Charlie Weis shot down USC. Wow, I love hot dogs. In all ways the hire makes no sense, and the rest of the blogosphere is busily examining all of these angles plus dongs on a rock. Last night I had the same giddy reaction that the rest of the universe did. USC hired a guy who rose through the ranks thanks to nepotism and has time and again proven himself an idiot of the highest order. Woo.
Today, though, I'm bothered. That USC had to stoop so low as to grab Kiffin indicates the coming sanctions are harsh, but taking Orgeron and maybe picking off Chow and the thing stuck in my craw indicate that maybe USC is going to get off easy. The thing that is currently stuck in my craw is the thing I had to resort to all caps to properly express over at TSB:
LANE KIFFIN WAS THE OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR AND RECRUITING COORDINATOR WHEN REGGIE BUSH WAS ON THE TAKE AND JOE MCKNIGHT COMMITTED TO USC. USC is hiring one of the guys—possibly the guy—who was most responsible for the NCAA coming down on the program.
Can this be interpreted as anything other than a taunt? USC is going to get penalized in two different sports in February. They've fired one coach for directly paying a runner and lost another because he managed to ignore agents in his locker room. And they bring in Lane Freakin' Kiffin, a guy who
- has racked up seven or eight very public secondary violations in one a year at Tennessee
- is currently under investigation for employing Tennessee undergrads as a sort of USO show from sea to shining sea
- pursued and acquired Bryce Brown when his recruitment and sketchy AAU-style handler became too much for Miami, which I remind you is Miami
…argh… Spock… herecomethe… ALLCAPS
- LANE KIFFIN WAS THE OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR AND RECRUITING COORDINATOR WHEN REGGIE BUSH WAS ON THE TAKE AND JOE MCKNIGHT COMMITTED TO USC.
USC is getting hit with football violations and they have just hired the guy most directly responsible for those violations occurring as their head coach. He is bringing Ed Orgeron and possibly Norm Chow back with him, giving USC more than one coach who had full knowledge of the shenanigans going down in LA and did zero to stop it.
USC has just double-dog-dared the NCAA to do something meaningful. They've thrown away the idea of contrition in favor of defiance. They are saying yes, we have had three separate incidents in two sports in a matter of years, but this is not a lack of institutional control. It is the institution. Insofar as we can, we cheat.
This is the NCAA's Waterloo. If USC does not suffer severe repercussions that make it all but impossible for them to compete on a national level for five years in both major sports, the idea that the rules mean anything is over.