in town for free camps
In re: "who are you optioning?"
This is a weird formation, right? Lewan is eligible receiver, Kwiatkowski is not?
It's a little weird. Neither Lewan or Kwiatkowski are eligible in that formation. Lewan wears an ineligible number; Kwiatkowski is covered up by a receiver outside of him. I call these formations "unbalanced" when I talk about them.
They're not that weird, though. Teams do it to screw with the defense's alignment, test various things, etc. If the play ends up being a pass you've declared that you've only got four receivers, but since the tight end can pass block you're still playing 11 on 11.
Occasionally you'll see Michigan line up with two receivers on the line of scrimmage to the same side. This drives me nuts since the slot guy may as well not exist. This was more common under Rodriguez but IIRC Borges did do it a couple times last year. These are always runs, and usually short ones if the defense notices the alignment, which it seems like they always do.
Why do coaches do this? They're trying to mess up a defense's alignment keys and get easy yards. It's the same principle at work whenever a wide receiver lines up at fullback and motions out to the flank, or when a running back ends up lined up way on the outside.
Join our flaming crater!
What effect do you think the 'Bama game will have on recruiting? Much to my surprise many fans think neutral or positive.
I don't think it will have much, if any. Michigan's down to a couple of scholarships in the next class. By the time the 2014 kids start committing in numbers, Michigan will have played 12-13 additional games and the Alabama debacle will be a lot less relevant than it seems right now.
If it's going to hurt, it'll be with Derrick Green and LaQuon Treadwell. I don't think anyone was optimistic about Green after Auburn popped up even before Saturday; Treadwell is more of a mystery. We'll see.
In general, short-term results are not the be all and end-all in recruiting. See Charlie Weis, Ron Zook, etc. You either have it until such point as your job is under threat or you're at Kansas, or you don't.
An update on the Stubhub thing.
Just a quick heads up that UM still appears to have their relationship in place with StubHub. I received an email on Friday from the Michigan Ticket Office proclaiming, “Don't forget to use our online Marketplace (in its second successful year in service) to easily resell your tickets electronically.” I know you mused about whether this relationship was still in place after StubHub referred to UM as a former partner, so I wanted to pass along.
False alarm. Still amazed at that MBA who managed to make counterfeit tickets incredibly easy to manufacture unless you were selling through Stubhub. Probably laughing moooooohahahahaha right now in a lair somewhere.
Inversion. Also, this section sponsored by Slanty the Gecko, inexplicably the first hit in Google Images for "line slant football," or at least it was a year ago.
Steve Sharik, a former high school who you may remember posting some great diaries a couple years back, sent me an email about what happened to the defense; I responded with a question, and he answered. So let's put me in a yellow box:
It looks like Michigan is slanting the DL a lot to get their guys in gaps between the massive OL and set up an obvious cutback lane in which the LBs are supposed to be 2v1, but rarely do both of them get there. It's so consistent that it almost seems like I have to be wrong. I want the LBs to absolutely tear ass for the gap behind the slanting DT (usually they leave the DE to contain the backside). Instead they check up for cutbacks constantly that seem like the DL's job. Am I crazy?
Slanting does two things to zone blocking:
- If I'm an OL zone blocking to the right, and the guy on my outside who I'm supposed to block goes left, there is a natural tendency to go after my guy.
- More importantly, slanting the DL gets penetration, which wreaks havoc on zone blocking.
Recall how effectively OSU slanted against us in 2007 (yes, that screen shot).
the most infamous
What would continually happen was the ball would show in a hole a LB was supposed to fill, which was done fine, but the hole was created so well that there essentially are two gaps where there was once one: there is space on both sides of the lead blocker, so the filling LB has to pick one, meaning the extra LB/S/C has to fill the other one. Consistently this second, unblocked defender was late and too far away, creating a seam in the run defense.
[ED: This came up last year too. I complained about Brandin Hawthorne not getting past a blocker against EMU. Michigan has been short on free hitters.]
BONUS: we also had a discussion on that seam route Alabama hit early and Floyd tackled immediately on. I am still in a yellow box.
Sharik: Even the normally reliable Kovacs was bad. Demens was in the wrong gap a few times, Morgan doesn't have a great feel for when to attack now or where to fit, and Kovacs and JT Floyd were very tentative. In other words, our extra run defender (when the QB is turning around and handing it off, they're playing 10 v. 11, so we should have an extra, unblocked defender vs. the run) was late to the party or in the wrong gap, creating the huge seams you saw. Even vs. the pass, on their conversion on a 3rd and long, Kovacs went to wide and too aggressively to re-route a seam, and ended up being outside the numbers and too close to the LOS, thereby giving up the seam right behind him.
I caught that Kovacs thing, but thought the problem there was a crappy chuck on the guy. If he really jams him there the blitz should have time to get there or Floyd has time to get over. yes/no?
Against the pass, the defender responsible for the seam must stay on that seam--reroute the receiver off the seam. You do this with both your horizontal and vertical position. When Kovacs was so aggressive he took himself outside of the seam and stayed too close to the LOS, creating an open window for the seam. The technique is to not gear up to hit the guy, but to shock, catch, and run. If a guy is running in the seam, it almost looks like man coverage if the defender is playing his technique correctly. (Actually it does look like man, the way to tell man or zone is by what other defenders are doing.) Also, Floyd can't come over b/c he has deep 1/3 and the outside receiver was running a go route.
If Kovacs stays in the seam window, he doesn't have to take his eyes off the QB and he can eliminate the possibility of a throw without touching the WR. And if their QB holds the ball b/c the seam isn't open, the blitz gets home (or at least has a better chance).
Actually, I think the designed route was an inside skinny; designed to be behind the Mike and in front of the Free. The WRs job is to clear the seam defender, then post to the middle at about 10-15. (Different coaches teach different depths, and different defenses command slightly different depths, as well as the drop of the QB--3, 5, 7 step.)
I am now out of a yellow box. When Steve mentioned that the slot defender on the seam often looks like man coverage, it made me think back to Courtney Avery consistently carrying receivers deep on similar routes, and wondering if that was what the intent was. We eventually figured it was—this was a BWS debate—and then last year Mattison flat out said so after Avery carried a seam route deep and Iowa got a 44-yard gain out of a simple crossing route; we asked what happened there and he said Countess got out of position.
Thanks to Steve for the input. Long way to go.
I’m guessing you have received various emails about this subject, but I’m wondering if you are read anything into Coach Hoke’s comment in his 8/21 presser regarding BWC practicing at 3-tech? Do you think this is an issue of Campbell not producing at the 1, or is it Pipkins showing that he can play immediately? Is it more related to issues with Beyer (assuming Clark is out of the picture for the near future) or Black forcing a complete reshuffling of the line? Or am I completing overanalyzing as I haven’t seen an honest to goodness live Michigan football game in over 8 months? Is it best to seek therapy or self medicate with bourbon? Have I asked enough questions, or did you stop reading after the first 3?
My hope is that it is Pipkins practicing well and a realization among the coaches that he is a talent that needs to be on the field now. Hopefully this would take some pressure off of BWC, who I think most would agree is the key to D-line play this year.
Anyway, thanks for all your work, you truly provide both great writing and pertinent information for all levels of Michigan fans.
Here's the quote in question:
Well, we’ve been throwing Will a little bit more at the three-technique … Richard Ash and Quinton Washington and Ondre and Ryan Glasgow have been playing a lot of the one. We felt we needed to -- Jibreel’s going to be able to play the three. At times you’re going to need a little heavier package in there, bigger guy, and Will gives you that. So we’ve kind of been trying to get as multiple as we can.
I read that as a short-yardage/goal-line/MANBALL offense package. In those types of GRAARGH plays Black's size is proving a liability and they want a couple of fire hydrant types at those DT spots.
Pipkins may be forcing that move, but remember that one of the surprises of the spring game was Richard Ash popping up in the backfield to blow up running plays a few times:
Richard Ash made a couple nice plays, which I was not expecting. One was an excellent string-out on a stretch play that forced the tailback to awkwardly cut behind him. I was beyond not expecting that. I don't think John Gasaway will get on me if I say I was shocked. Yeah. Later he showed up two yards in the backfield directly in the path of an iso; he got blocked from the side but the bounce he forced saw Marvin Robinson chop poor Vincent Smith down for a one-yard loss.
It's not out of the question that he turns into a player—as a recruit he briefly had big time offers. He's got a chronic medical thing that has slowed him, but if he's finally rounded into shape he retains the body type to be a quality nose tackle.
A darker possibility: Black is not cutting it and Michigan is preparing a backup plan in case an Alabama lineman sits on him for the entirety of the first drive. Any and all of these are possibilities.
CHL union business.
Would this have any effect on the NCAA hockey schools in terms of making the CHL more or less attractive to prospects? Further, whether the CHLPA succeeds or not, what kind of precedent could this set for NCAA athletes to do something similar? It seems the CHLPA's argument for more pay, etc, is pretty similar to what NCAA athletes could claim.
A semi-related question: Would you be for the Big Ten breaking off from the NCAA in hockey and forming their own semi-pro league similar to what you have proposed for baseball? I hate the NCAA, and Big Ten hockey is more competitive than Big Ten baseball, so I think they could actually make more money via BTN and other endeavors.
Go Blue from Cairo,
If a CHL union does get off the ground and forces the owners to pay them a reasonable amount, that could do any number of things to the NCAA's efforts to recruit against them. More money obviously makes junior more attractive, but if the end result of all this is some sort of strictly-enforced cap on how much any particular kid could get that might help the NCAA with the top end kids. Even if there isn't a hard cap, CHL teams forced to pay third-liners some variety of wage would have less to spend on the
Troubas Jack Campbells of the world.
Unless it's a lot of money I don't see it making a big difference. CHL kids are gambling that their hockey career will pay the bills; NCAA kids are betting the education they get is more valuable than whatever stipend they would get in junior.
I don't know what the NCAA's argument is re: the CHL, but they probably have a better leg to stand on because they're affiliated with nonprofit educational institutions instead of out-and-out businesses. IANAL.
About Big Ten breaking off in hockey: what? There are only six Big Ten teams, and going semi-pro only increases costs. Who would they play? Why would they make more money as semi-pro teams (more high profile players I guess, but I'm skeptical)? It only makes sense in baseball because NCAA baseball is stacked against Northern teams so insanely. Playing the first month of the season on the road and never ever getting a Southern team to come to your place is a handicap you just can't overcome. There are no similar problems in hockey, and it's tight-knit enough that Michigan has rivalries with North Dakota, BC, Notre Dame, and to a lesser extent others. I award you no points for this idea.
LOInjury. That's LOI, not LOL.
With all the early offers out there, this seems like it is a discussion worth prepping for. what happens if a commit who has not yet signed his LOi has a career ending injury prior to joining the team? Would UM honor the commitment somehow even if he cant play? Is that allowed by NCAA? Is there a track record of this? Formulate a response now and pray we never have to use it.
We'll get to see how Michigan responds to this next year when Austin Hatch does or does not join the basketball team. It seems like a pretty easy solution: sign the guy and medical him as fast as possible. If you have to carry the guy for a year, that doesn't seem like a huge burden—most of the time you're just throwing that scholarship to a walk-on anyway.
In his interview with Grantland, Coach Hoke revealed his music tastes. "To this day, those records are the ones I still listen to — Hall & Oates, early Stones, REO Speedwagon, Aerosmith. I love Hall & Oates. "Rich Girl" and "Sarah" can bring a tear to my eye."
It's now clear who Hoke learned his epic point from:
Coincidence? I think not.
Jake, on the other hand, gets sixty-seven points.
1: pew pew pew 2: a man Al Borges isn't 3: an alternate universe
I think there is no way Mario O plays. A ton of guys could be put on field before him. Several combos could fill the WDE spot better, eg Ryan-Cam Gordon combo puts our best, or at least most experienced, backup on the field, Ryan-Avery is similar, or how about flip back Roh for a Roh-Brink/Heitzman/Wormley/Black(?) replacement. Given how important a redshirt could be to Mario, I would think coaches will be creative.
I agree with you philosophically. Ojemudia should get a redshirt. I get frustrated when certain players have theirs burned for what seems like no reason. I'm with you, man. But… I don't see how he doesn't get on the field if Clark's issues are severe.
The problem with the above scenarios is that they reduce Michigan's specialization by flipping guys around and they still leave Michigan an injury from putting Ojemudia on the field. Is that injury reasonably likely? Yeah. So it seems to make more sense to leave Ryan at SLB full time, where he is still getting a grasp on all the particulars, and Roh at SDE, where he needs every snap he can get to figure out how to deal with his size limitations. The immediate payoff here seems real, and given the way Michigan is recruiting they figure they will be able to insert a Taco Charlton or 2014 kid into the lineup when Ojemudia graduates without losing too much. Of course, Mattison just told everyone that he was comfortable with the idea of Ryan at WDE in practice and proclaimed his faith in Cam Gordon's ability, so what do I know?
But even with that move, you're still juggling just three players between two positions. That's not tenable. If the coaches know Clark is going to be back relatively promptly, then I can see holding Ojemudia out the first couple games and getting him the redshirt. If Clark's out until Notre Dame or later, I think you have to blood Ojemudia and worry about the consequences in the distant future.
This may be a non feasible idea, but why not kill two birds with one stone by creating a triple option package for Denard and company? Everyone says its really hard to prepare for Air Force, and we could prepare our defense while surprising the crap out of Alabama. Think about it, our RB, FB, QB combo are familiar with zone reads and are a lot better than any combo air force will ever have. We surprised Ohio with the inverted veer last year, and Bama's young defense won't know what hit 'em.
In addition, I can't help but think kicking and coverage teams, plus Denard's (hopefully) reduction in interceptions will make up for the fortunate 80% fumble recovery rate. The special teams will likely improve with the influx of talent and depth we are getting, or negated by rule changes. Either way its a net gain for Michigan in special teams.
Unfortunately I think we have to file that under "not feasible." Triple option is not something you can go into halfway. Hell, Michigan's speed option last year was mostly a Denard run off-tackle that had little if any chance of getting to the tailback. The one time Denard pitched it was a fumble caused when a blitzing linebacker met him after he'd taken one step playside. While it had the excellent benefit of keeping defenses honest and shooting Denard into secondaries, calling it an "option" is being generous.
Adding a true triple option and trying to get him to better understand Borges's West Coast passing attack is way too much to bite off in one fall camp. Since Borges is what he is, he's going to do what he does, and that's get Denard to throw more accurate balls that are less frequently intercepted.
The inverted veer is a different business because it's a handoff. The worst thing that happens there is you make the wrong decision and you eat some yardage. We almost saw the worst thing with the option last year, and that's the last thing an offense trying to cut down on turnovers needs.
IN RE: making up for fewer fumbles recovered. I'm not sure the special teams will be much better than last year except in the realm of punting. Gibbons is still Gibbons, kick returns just got nerfed, and it's damn hard to have an impact punt return game these days what with everyone spread-punting their way to seven gunners. Punting should be better because Hagerup will either get his foot on straight or a quick hook for the steady Wile, but we're talking a few yards a game.
The interceptions, sure. Denard's interception rate dropped over the tougher second half of the year and he should improve somewhere between noticeably and spectacularly in year two with Borges. That still leaves Michigan treading water even in the most optimistic turnover scenario, and the schedule has taken a turn for the bear-like.
pre-bama thought experiment. in december of 2006, alabama offers rich rodriguez their head coaching job. he accepts. what happens to both alabama and michigan from then on?
Well, let's start with Alabama. They struggle through an RR-at-WVU transition year probably a little bit worse than their initial 6-6 Saban year, with Star Jackson taking over for the Bama bangs QBs midseason. Jackson doesn't end up transferring to nowheresville and becomes something like Pat White but probably not as good. No one gives six hundredths of a crap about the academics of RR's incoming recruits or Rita's jaguar pants, but RR probably still makes his fatal "I don't need Casteel that badly" error. With a somewhat more secure powerbase and money-providing demons, he does not hire GERG on try #2 and cycles through one of the then-available proven SEC DCs (Jon Chavis, for example).
This plus the better fit with his recruiting makes his defense not the worst ever assembled at the school he's coaching. He gets his QB a year earlier and has considerably better talent than he inherited at Michigan. He's replacing a total loser, one of many such since Bear. He does at least okay, probably pulls off an SEC title game or two, maybe wins it once, and sees a BCS bid or two.
He's probably still at Alabama in a Pelini-esque state: decent success, the fanbase is relatively happy with him, but they'll start to sour after a subpar year and two means you're out, buddy.
Meanwhile, Michigan finds itself adrift in the middle of the Les Miles/Bill Martin boat thing without a seemingly A-list candidate willing to jump. At that point I have no idea what they do. At the time I was muttering about how Jim Grobe mutterings were just the worst. Ferentz was out, Schiano was out, Miles was out, and Tedford was seemingly uninterested. Michigan clearly had no idea where to go, whereupon Rodriguez fell into their lap.
If Rodriguez is not there… does it matter? I'm not sure it matters. Lloyd was not Bo but he did have an impressive winning percentage, a national title, and the continuation of a record bowl streak. Would a pro-style coach have been able to turn Threet/Sheridan/no OL/nobody at all into a bowl appearance? I don't think so. At that point you're working from behind the eight ball and you have to be really fantastic to pull yourself out of that tailspin. Would Hoke have survived that? I doubt it; at that point his resume was a bunch of .500 seasons at Ball State. Would any outsider Michigan could have acquired have managed to hang on? Maybe by another year or two.
Even if we have no clue about who takes the reins in RR's absence in 2008, we can hazard a guess at their fate: similar hammering by OSU, flameout in 3-5 years, replacement. That's the way of things whenever you replace a legend, and if Carr wasn't a legend (debatable) he was definitely the continuation of Bo. It would have taken a truly A-level coach to not bomb out with no quarterbacks and no safeties and no offensive line, and it didn't look like any were available.
In the end, both programs are probably happy with the way things turned out. Alabama's case: duh. Michigan's: Rodriguez was such a terrible fit that Michigan rejected it in three years, at which point Hoke was just plausible enough to show up and shock everyone by doing everything right for going on 18 months.
Sometimes I make my girlfriend read me MGoblog articles while I'm doing something else. That way, she learns a little more about football, and I get to multitask.
Today when she was reading to me the Hello: Ross Douglas post, she came up with a pretty good question. She wanted to know: does Douglas project to nickle-corner, vs. boundary or field-corner only because of his size? Her rationale was that with gurus praising his technique and reliability, but not labeling him a star because of his lack of big play risk-taking, wouldn't it serve better to put a CB who is more of a gunslinger risk-taker in the nickel role where he has safety help at all times, and line Douglas up outside at either field or boundary corner?
Don't worry, I know I have a keeper on my hands if she was able to come up with a question like that. :)
Size is a suggestive but not determining factor. When we do these things we're peering at the roster and seeing where player X fits in and trying to figure out how the coaches see their players, but often the coaches are surprised when the kid shows up and they figure out what they actually have. If Douglas is the best guy to play on the outside, he'll play on the outside.
With bigger and more touted corners in the same class it would be an upset if he's the guy tasked with running down the Michael Floyds of the world. Insert mental image of Boubacar Cissoko trying to do that here. Sometimes this happens: Desmond Morgan isn't the ideal size for WLB, Craig Roh is probably going to be a little light for SDE, etc. In an ideal world it seems like Michigan wants six-foot-plus guys on the outside.
That's easier said than done. Michigan is swinging for the fences with Conley and Stribling, hoping they can be 6'2" cover corners the NFL has a riot about. If that doesn't work out, Lewis and Douglas are less risky prospects with lower upside.
In re: wanting more of a gambler underneath with the solid and unspectacular guys outside: I don't think defensive coaches think like that. They give you an assignment and they want you to execute it, and not executing it is always very bad. If player X comes to college doing this thing a coach doesn't want, the coach will try to stop it. In Douglas's case that may be taking advantage of his athleticism and being more aggressive. In hypothetical gambler's case that would be not giving up big plays. Whether a corner is on the inside or outside, I bet they prefer the former.
I'm watching the a rerun of Under the Lights game on ESPN and watching some highlights of the 97 defense on my computer…
…and I can't stop thinking about what would happen in a matchup between Floyd and Woodson. Woodson has the speed and size to keep up with Floyd but then again Floyd looks so much bigger and stronger than CW. I know it's a huge hypothetical but what do you think would happen there?
And what size should we be looking for at corner to stop big receivers like Floyd in the future?
Also, I notice Mattison has a tendency to slant the DL pretty often in the 97 highlights and honestly, it's working. Is this the style of slants Mattison we should expect to see this season?
Thanks for the time and Go Blue!
- AJ, UM 2014
Woodson took on a huge, elite outside receiver in 1997: David Boston. He is 6'2" and went 8th overall in the next NFL draft. Floyd is 6'3" and went 13th overall. Boston had a body-building/roid freakout at the next level, but in college he was at Floyd's level. What happened in the 1997 game between the two was one Woodson slip and fall leading to an OSU touchdown and nothing else. Michigan won with 189 yards of offense.
Woodson's gone on to prove himself an NFL hall of famer (7 times all pro). Let's not forget how ridiculously good he was and is. Woodson probably would have fared a little worse than he did in 1997 since the personnel surrounding him wouldn't have been as good, but you can pick a college receiver in the past 20 years and I'm taking Woodson and the points.
In re: cornerback size, see above. Woodson is listed at 6'1", and Michigan is hoping to put out a steady stream of 6-foot-ish cover corners. Again, easier said than done.
In re: DL slants. Yeah, one of the advantages of the under is that you can have the line go one way, drop the WDE into coverage, and send the SLB. By doing this you've flipped your defense at the snap, and this is often confusing to opposing OL. I don't think it'll be much of a problem for Bama and its veteran, All-American-laden line; others may have a bear of a time trying to figure out exactly who they're supposed to block on any given play.
The upside of having a couple of undersized guys at the five and three is that Michigan will be much better able to play games that shoot guys into the backfield unblocked. The downside is when that doesn't work and someone gets manhandled one-on-one. The linebackers are going to have to take on a lot of blocks this year.
I spotted this graffiti on the back of a stop sign near my office in Los Angeles. Could Taco Pants be considering a transfer to USC?
A "these are my readers" moment.
A little something I made for you guys
Made it for my dad, who lurks on your blog. Thought I would share. You can use it if you like. There are definitely bronies reading the blog.
I have no idea.
On fumble recovery rates (again).
A sentence in Blue Seoul's recent Nebraska recap led me to re-visit
your claims that fumble recoveries are random. I got data from
teamrankings.com and drew a graph that you may (or may not) find
useful (see attached for 2012 opponents).
In addition, I estimated a simple linear model using fumble recovery
rate in year t to predict fumble recovery rate in year t+1. The model
also controls for the baseline recovery rate of each team by allowing
intercept shifts. Two things stand out. First, past recovery rates
explain relatively little variation in current recovery rates
(R-squared=0.13 in a model with lagged DV and team fixed effects).
Second, the relationship between recovery rates last year and recovery
rates this year is *negative* and statistically significant. If this
general pattern holds true in the case of Michigan this year, we
should expect the team to recover fumbles at a slightly lower rate
than its baseline for the 2002-2012 period (i.e. 61.57%). Obviously,
this is a ridiculously simple model, but it reinforces whatever
evidence you were basing your previous comments on.
The oft-repeated claim here that Michigan's fumble recovery rate in 2011 was a gift from the fickle gods of chance is not one that has gone down smoothly with many readers. The above lays out the numbers case. The previous year's fumble recover rate has very little effect on next year's and what relationship there is tends to take the rate back towards average.
But numbers don't seem like enough for whatever reason. I think I may have given doubters ammunition when I came back from the Glazier clinic reporting that Mattison told a room full of dudes that Michigan emphasizes turnover recovery:
Bonus: For those looking for a reason other than blind luck that Michigan recovered 80% of opponent fumbles this year, in practice all incompletions are live balls. Mattison credited this practice for getting players moving towards the ball at all times and being in position to scoop up live balls in actual play.
I thought this was not that convincing; several commenters seized upon it as a workable rationale why Michigan would be able to continue their fumble-procuring ways, Michigan's coaching does help them recover loose balls, but every other program in the country does something similar. Just because you work at it doesn't mean the results are predictable.
Blue Seoul points out RVB hustle that lead to a fumble recovery against Nebraska…
Ryan slaps the ball out. Check out how far away from the ball Van Bergen is. But he's got his head up, he's disengaged from his blocker, and he's pursuing the ball.
One funny bounce later and it's in RVB's hands. Brian keeps saying that fumble recoveries are just luck and 50-50 propositions. I would disagree and say the fumble recovery percentage is more of a function of the number of each team's players near the ball when the fumble happens. In this case, we were a little lucky because Nebraska had more guys near the ball. But if RVB isn't hustling and getting off his blocker, our chances of getting that ball go from slim to none. So yes, luck plays a part, but I don't believe it's JUST luck or that it will always regress to the mean..
…and Mattison did spend a slice of time describing his deep-seated hatred of "loafs." But so did the tweaked-out LB coach from Illinois who spoke in ALL CAPS. The tweaked-out LB coach from Illinois bellowed his distaste of loafs to three rooms, only one of which he was occupying, for about twenty minutes. The differences there are not great. They're certainly overwhelmed by the fact that these fumble recovery rates are across a sample of 15 or 20.
Here's a last stab. Look at those Alabama numbers, which stretch back to a time when they were run by incompetents. Now they're run by Nick Saban, collector of all first round draft picks and ruthless destroyer of offense. Saban's arrival has coincided with Alabama's fumble recovery rate going… nowhere, maybe getting a tiny bit worse. If coaching had a significant impact on fumble recovery rates, wouldn't Alabama be a perfect case study?*
I think that coaches think they have an impact here, but the things they do are all the same things: run to the ball and be alert. There's no technique and no strategy, so the impact they can have in this department is limited. Therefore Michigan's recovery rate last year was an anomaly and we should not expect it to repeat, or even expect it to be significantly above the 50.3% national rate.
Of course, I said the same stuff about this during the Rodriguez era and the thing stubbornly failed to turn around. If the universe is determined to make me look stupid at least this time I'm hedged properly.
*[I know one team's rate is a hopelessly small sample size but this argument is addressed to people who aren't going to take the numbers to heart.]
I'm not answering this guy's PSU question.
We're all tired of the Penn State tragedy that has been occupying the headlines since the fall. Some are talking about the conference removing the school as a member. While we've heard such an idea echo throughout the sports world, no one has actually talked about the criteria for the Big Ten actually removing a member. We've also been inundated with schools switching conferences over the past few years and the procedures for making such departures. So, by now, most of us can recite the hoops a school needs to jump through in order to swap conferences. My question is, what is the Big Ten's procedure for removing a member from its ranks?
I don't know if they even have one but I assume it's something along the lines of getting everyone together to vote on stuff, and then giving them a bunch of money for breach or just to prevent the inevitable lawsuit.
But… seriously? We're talking about removing a university with 40k people involved with it because of one very, very tragic event? I get that the Penn State athletic department had warped itself into a place where common human decency took a back seat to covering your ass, but the people responsible will be held accountable and the culture of the place will change radically. The unique situation PSU found itself in will not repeat. As long as they take the proper steps to assure that, let's just grimly recalibrate how we feel when we look at the Paterno statue and move on. A start: apply the same FOIA laws to Penn State that apply to public universities everywhere.
Annihilating the PSU program is pointless. Maybe I can see hobbling it for a bit, but when we start talking about booting universities from conferences or cancelling their nonconference games and forcing them to play on the road for two years or the death penalty or the NCAA fate worse than death, you lose me. While I've been pretty uncompromising in re: JoePa himself, at some point you have to think of the town, the university, and the program as things that aren't just JoePa. There's a massively damaged community out there whose only crime was to believe in Joe Paterno. They've been getting the 2009 Illinois treatment for going on a year now. At least give them the escape of a crisp fall day against Wisconsin, conflicted though it must be.
I'm all for the symbolic eviscerating of Paterno's record, and if you want to slap some other sanctions that erase the "one of two schools never to have been hit with a major violation" claim, fine. Burning down the program doesn't affect any of the perpetrators more than jail and death does.
It can't happen here?
What nags at me about Penn State is this: How far is the "Grand Experiment" away from "This is Michigan"? Obviously, I don't mean, "Do you suppose we've ever aided and abetted a predatory pedophile?" But let's face it: We've seen "the good of the program" used to defend some behavior we wouldn't countenance in another context.
I think in this case what allowed the culture to develop was the cloistered nature of Penn State, culturally and geographically. The main reason this most likely couldn't happen in Ann Arbor is there are a lot of people in and around Ann Arbor who couldn't care less about football. "This is Michigan" on an optic-yellow T-shirt might mean Bo or Desmond or Yost or Man-Ball. But "Michigan" means JFK and the Peace Corps on the steps of the Union, the polio vaccine, and Space, Bitches, Space. I'm not saying everyone in State College loved football; I'm not saying everyone affiliated with the Michigan football program "just lugs the damn refrigerator" as quietly as they should. I am saying enough people of non-athletic consequence pass through Ann Arbor for one reason or another that a sports coach who spends too much time saying "look at me" is going to get his comeuppance before a jury is hearing 48 counts of criminal sexual conduct against one of his assistants.
No one who puts any stock into the importance of "the program" is immune from having his perspective skewed a bit, of course; the Florida A&M band was big enough that they could initiate newcomers however it wanted -- until one of them got killed. But I feel like a cosmopolitan locale -- be it a state capital or a cultural center -- provides a deterrent on any one entity getting TOO big. In State College, there was no adequate deterrent. The Sandusky scandal was likely a perfect storm for which the ingredients will never again exist: Among other things, we've likely seen the last of the 40-plus year football coaching tenures. But I think the next time we're walking toward Stadium and Main on a Saturday afternoon and we pass someone walking in the opposite direction -- toward some library or lab or city hall -- hauling some figurative fridge we'd never care to bother with, it's worth thinking gratefully, "This is Michigan."
Mostly I just posted this so people could read it. Comment follows out of obligation.
Michael Weinreb described the strangeness of this event after growing up in State College beautifully for Grantland*. His piece tends to confirm your hypothesis. I believe that if we were to transport Bo into an anachronistic Whole Foods at the height of his popularity, at least half the people in there would wonder who the jerk making fun of the meat was. Any sports fan who spends a lot of time in Ann Arbor has had the sort of mutually jaw-dropping conversation with someone from the opposite pole of sports/art.
Meanwhile, the university itself is sometimes kind of sort of at war with the athletic department in a way common across the country. Rodriguez fought with the admissions department, sure, but so did Lloyd Carr. Lloyd Carr! And he lost from time to time. The local media is all up in Michigan's business. Carr (Lloyd Carr!) had to deal with the local paper bombing Michigan's practice of giving athletes easy classes, soon followed by the Free Press stretching the most minor of major violations into a leathery program condemnation. Unlike Penn State, Michigan is subject to open records requests. So, yeah, It can't happen here.
But it is an extreme outlier. It's easy to feel good about not having that be possible. Maybe we should take this as an opportunity to learn from what went on at Penn State and adapt to prevent things in the 1-5%-as-horrific range from happening here. Michigan complies with FOIA requests but charges outrageous prices to do so, blocking certain investigations. When the Daily asked for 400k employee purchasing card records they were quoted a price of "unspecified thousands of dollars"—the same records cost $200 from MSU, $181 from Iowa, and were free from Illinois and Ohio State. That is a pale shadow of the PSU secrecy that should be dispelled.
Other than that concrete suggestion, I'm not sure what actions Michigan could take, or even what the problem might be given that Michigan's coach has been around one year and probably won't make it past 15 before retiring.
*[Yes, he was sour about Michigan's team at some point over the last year. Let's get over it.]