Not the most compelling matchups tonight, but it is football nonetheless:
7:30 PM - TCU vs. Texas Tech on ESPN
7:30 PM - Troy vs. Arkansas St. on ESPNU
7:30 PM - Tulane vs. Louisiana Tech on Fox Sports 1
We've had some pretty good insight and answers, so I figured I'd continue this thread through the non-conference season. By that time, the team will be the team and we'll have a much better idea of what we're watching.
That said, game 1 has some 1st game jitters/mistakes...also we were missing a couple key players. Game 2 was a big time rivalry game in front of a record crowd. I think Game 3 should finally give us a solid look and Game 4 on the road should do the same. The non-conference schedule actually sets up nicely in preparing the team for the B1G season.
So, what are you looking for vs. Akron? What do you hope to see?
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Amazing. Words fail to describe the weekend I had in glorious Ann Arbor. Met Marlin, Perry, Braylon, even David Pollack. And now I'm stuck back in Pennsylvania like a desperate heroin junkie with a condition that can best be described as an addiction for the Michigan Difference.
Love that team. Love that place. And I love Meeshigan Football.
Finally, thanks to the MGoTeam for a really fun and unique experience on Friday.
THE BLOCKHAMS™ runs (typically) every week here at MGoBlog and on its official home page. Also, don't forget to check out the Friday Fun, my weekly single panel comic based on trending Michigan events, available on Twitter and the home page every Friday.
As some of you may know, I went to the game last weekend. In the car was Da’Shawn Hand (and father), Tim Settle, Matt Burrell (and father), Coach John Harris, Coach Richard Mcfee(David Terrell’s high school coach), Kevin Johnson of Team Ascension (personal trainers for the kids), and Reid McCoy (Richmond Atlee QB) (and father). The drive was interesting because Burrell and Settle had played each other than evening, so there was plenty going around about who got the best of who. We left Virginia around 1 am and met Coach Singletary at the team hotel at 10 am. We met with all of the coaches in the lobby as they took the team out for a walk-through. We had breakfast with Singletary and a couple recruiting coordinators. Beilein and staff were in the hotel having breakfast with some players as well and made their way over to speak and jo0ke around with the guys. Bacari Alexander has a great sense of humor and challenged Burrell to a game of 1 on 1. Coach Jordan lobbied Singletary to get out on the field, saying he had one redzone-jumpball-toe-tap in him if he were needed. He had pretty big hands, I think he might’ve done well, but fortunately he wasn’t needed. After breakfast, Da’shawn and his dad went to go take the academic tour again, and speak with advisors. This trip was a little divided because Hand was on his official and the other guys were on an unofficial. So everything from breakfast, team dinner, hotel room was paid for by the recruits except for Da’shawn and his dad.
I would like to point out that Singletary was very aware of everything going on with our trip. He made it a point to keep Coach Harris informed as to what was allowed and not allowed according to the NCAA and even little things that I’m sure could’ve slid by, he stayed on top of. It was nice to see, and it makes me even less of a believer of those who claim ignorance when caught. Even the next day when Da’shawn told him who he hung out with, he already knew.
After watching the start of the UVA game, where Oregon took no time in making people lose interest in the game, we left the hotel around 4 pm to head to the Junge Center for dinner. Once again, we had to drive separately and pay for parking to stay compliant. We went inside, where we got our tickets, and a delicious meal and we hung around there until 7pm. The recruits filed in with their parents and coaches, and I despite everything I have read, it looked like a reunion of sorts. So many people knew each other (and of course I’m pointing out all the guys to Burrell and Settle, because I’m THAT guy) and were very close. It really had the family atmosphere that everyone spoke of. Parents were introducing themselves to other recruits and making friends with other parents and it was as comfortable a room as one could’ve expected. The coaches came through a little later including Mattison’s wife ,who Da’shawn asked for some of her famous cookies…and Coach Mattison replied that he doesn’t get cookies for body slams or sacks until he gets to campus. I also saw Chris Perry, (who I do not know personally, but we did attend the same high school and know many of the same people from there) and while we spoke, he was asked to leave by the compliance staff, because apparently…right.
This is when things got surreal. Da’shawn steps outside the Junge Center and once he was noticed, there is a rush of people to the gate. People were screaming (grown men) and yelling and taking pictures, shaking hands, and giving their best pitches for Michigan, most of which included (You gotta choose us” ‘It’s the only choice” and the ever so eloquent “pleeeeeease come here.” It was interesting watching the other players sit back and marvel at how much of a celebrity he already was. And for me, it was the first time I had personally seen Da’shawn embrace and experience how big he really was. He was having fun taking pictures, although he was told not to do any autographs, he was pulled back inside for the pregame speech from Singletary. Singletary gave a teary non Rich-Rod-esque speech about the campus and the tradition after showing a video, and then we were ready to hit the field. We filed out of Junge, and onto the field, to a chorus of cheers from the fans around. We walked down the tunnel and onto the field and it was great watching these kids see the field for the first time. There were only about 30,000 fans in the stands at the time, but the environment was incredible. Da’shawn walking with George Campbell, Drake Harris, and Wilton Speight walked past the student section and began to shake hands and hi-five those who were chanting for a commitment. We stood out on the field talking and taking pictures until the band came out. Da’shawn and Wilton were sitting next to each other on the front row, Jashon Cornell was a row behind them, and I was Section 23, Row A, which is 3 rows back on the 48.5 yard line. For those who were there, the game was spectacular, it was loud, and all of the recruits around me seemed to genuinely enjoy the game. I was sitting beside the DC from Cass Tech who was under the impression that HE was Brent Musburger and commented after every play on all of his former players.
After the game, we walked out on the field and back through the tunnel. I won’t name any names, but there were more than a couple people back at Junge who mentioned to Da’shawn how badly we need a pass rush specialist.
The next morning, Professor Needs-A-Raise met with Da’shawn and his father for breakfast at somewhere swanky I believe, and then he went to go watch film with Coach Mattison and Hoke. When we arrived at Schembechler Sunday around 11, Hoke was in his office speaking with a few parents. I noticed he took time to talk to the committed guys and their parents, not just the uncommitted ones. At the time we left, he had been in his office with Mone and his family for nearly 40 minutes.
It was another awesome experience, I don’t believe Settle or Burrell received offers on the visit, but the coaches and Mrs. Mattison knew who both of them were and where they were from which puts her in the category of greatest wives of all time (along with Carmela Soprano among others.) They were told that they only expect to take 15 in the 2015 class, so offers will be hard to come by. As far as which schools they like the most, I can’t speak on, but they both loved Michigan. They didn’t know that much about the school, but aside from the environment, it was a unique experience to each of them, and I would expect that they are both hoping for a Michigan offer.
In the pictures: Hand in the camo (he doesn’t wear school colors on his visits), Burrell with dreads, his dad looks like him but supersized, Coach John Harris (who has worked with Da’shawn, Matt, and Tim) is in the gray Michigan shirt, Coach McPhee (David Terrell’s high school coach and good friends with Hoke and Fred Jackson) is in the black shirt with yellow pants.
I’ve been wondering lately about Michigan’s modern coaches (i.e., from Bo on), and how their winning percentages stack up when we consider the quality of the opponents they’ve played. Just off the top of my head, it seems to me that:
- Lloyd Carr was a much better coach against ranked opponents than we give him credit for, but lost more games than he should have to unranked teams.
- Brady Hoke thusfar has done well in winning the games he should win (i.e., vs. unranked opponents), or at least has done better than Lloyd Carr did.
- Gary Moeller and Lloyd Carr went through an absolute gauntlet of a schedule in the 1990s.
But I wanted to see if those notions are actually supported by the stats. So I started looking at Michigan’s coaching from 1969 to 2012 against ranked teams. I should start out by explaining that “ranked” here means the AP Top 20, as the AP did not rank teams 21-25 until 1989. I’ve therefore disregarded all 21-25 rankings of opponents.
Here are our heroes’ (and anti-hero's) overall M records:
*All Hoke stats are through 2012 only, as we don't have final AP rankings for 2013 yet.
Here’s how U-M’s coaches have stacked up against teams ranked at game time:
|vs. AP 1-10||vs. AP 11-20||vs. Unranked|
|Bo||16-19-1 (.458)||21-12 (.636)||159-16-4 (.899)|
|Mo||7-5-1 (.577)||5-1-1 (.786)||32-7-1 (.813)|
|Lloyd||19-9 (.679)||19-11 (.633)||84-20 (.808)|
|RR||1-5 (.167)||1-4 (.200)||13-13 (.500)|
|Brady||0-2 (.000)||1-2 (.333)||18-3 (.857)|
Some obvious points jump out:
- RichRod and Hoke, and even Moeller to some extent, have small sample sizes. Keep this in the back of your mind for all that follows.
- Lloyd had a VERY impressive record against the AP Top 10. In fact, he started out on a huge roll. From 1995-2002, Lloyd was 11-1 against the Top 10 at game time.
- Lloyd lost a substantial number of games against unranked teams. Brady’s done pretty well against the unranked. Bo really killed the teams he should have killed.
I know, I know, pre-season bias in rankings, especially early. But let’s not completely discount game-time rankings. Though some of them, particularly early in the season, are just plain wrong, some might actually be good indications of a team’s quality as of the time you played. For example: some of Glen Mason’s Minnesota teams were pretty good as of Michigan week, but then plummeted through the rest of their seasons, perhaps from psychological issues, after losing their red-letter games for the Jug. Were those teams better when Michigan played them in week 5 or 6 than those teams’ final unranked status would indicate? Very probably.
But of course, rankings at game time, particularly early in the season, don’t tell the full story about the quality of the team you’ve played. The season’s final rankings are probably most illustrative (except for Minnesota-like situations as described above):
|vs. AP Final 1-10||vs. AP Final 11-20||vs. Final Unranked|
|Bo||6-25-1 (.203)||16-8 (.667)||172-15-4 (.911)|
|Mo||2-7-1 (.250)||7-2 (.777)||35-4-2 (.878)|
|Lloyd||10-14 (.417)||14-6 (.700)||98-20 (.831)|
|RR||0-8 (.000)||0-3 (.000)||15-11 (.577)|
|Brady||0-3 (.000)||1-1 (.500)||18-3 (.857)|
Final rankings may give you a better overall picture by removing most of the pre-season bias, but with final rankings a big caveat also applies: When you beat a team, its final ranking drops. When you lose to a team, its final ranking rises. Beating a good team makes it look worse to the poll voters. So in general, the coaches should have worse winning percentages against teams in the final rankings than they'd have against teams ranked at game time.
- Bo’s REALLY kicking ass against the unranked dregs (Mo and Hoke too), but not doing so hot against teams having great seasons. It makes sense that a coach’s record against the final Top 10 should not be great, but Bo’s was pretty dismal. All of the bowl losses certainly didn’t help him.
- Lloyd’s 10-14 against the Final Top 10 is still pretty darned impressive, and his combined 24-20 against the Final Top 20 is fairly impressive as well. But again, he’s lagging behind in beating teams having unranked seasons.
- RR of course was absolutely dismal against teams finishing in the Top 20. Wisconsin’s 2008 team was not able to crack the final Top 20 to put a single mark on the board for Coach Rod.
So it looks as if my first two initial thoughts were generally right. Thusfar Lloyd was a pretty good big-game coach, taking his whole career into account (I’ll save comparisons of early career vs. late career for another piece). And Brady’s not losing to a lot of teams that he has no business losing to.
But what about the schedule strength? On average Bo faced fewer ranked teams in the days before 85-scholarship parity (in 1970 he didn’t face a single team ranked at game time or in the final rankings) and before the resumption of the Notre Dame series and the scheduling of Miami and Florida State. Also, even in some of his best seasons the Big Ten didn’t let him go to a bowl game. How many of their games on average did our coaches play against ranked teams?
Based on the game-time rankings:
|% of Games Played vs. AP 1-10||% of Games Played vs. AP 11-20||% of Games Played vs. Unranked|
Based on final rankings:
|% of Games Played vs. AP Final 1-10||% of Games Played vs. AP Final 11-20||% of Games Played vs. Final Unranked|
- It looks like Mo’s schedules were indeed murder, whether you look at the game-time rankings or the final rankings.
- Bo’s and Lloyd’s schedules got significantly easier when you look at the final rankings.
- RichRod’s schedules became brutal when you look at the number of teams he faced that finished in the Top 10. But again, if you lose games, the teams you play look better in the final standings. And of course it’s a small sample size; if RR manages to beat Utah in 2008, Penn State in 2009, Iowa in 2009, or Wisconsin in 2010, those numbers look different.
- Hoke hasn’t played a lot of high quality teams. Thanks, down Big Ten and watered-down non-con scheduling.
Given the disparity in schedule strength, let’s look at the coaches’ winning percentages as if Lloyd’s 13-year schedule is the measuring stick for schedule strength. I think that’s fair, as 13 years is a pretty good sample size, Lloyd had both some really good and some bad seasons, and Lloyd’s tenure was the time in which Michigan’s schedule entered into our current era of weaker non-conference scheduling and greater parity as the effect of the 85-scholarship limit has fully set in.
For example, we’re going to take Bo’s .458 against the Top 10 at game time and assume that he’d played as many games against the Top 10, on a percentage basis, as Lloyd did, and so on. How do our coaches’ career winning percentages stack up then?
Based on the game-time rankings:
|Actual Win %||Win % Adjusted to Lloyd's Strength of Schedule||Change|
Based on the final rankings:
|Actual Win %||Win % Adjusted to Lloyd's Strength of Schedule||Change|
- When adjusting for schedule strength, Lloyd suddenly looks pretty good. He’s only around 20 points lower than Bo’s storied/heralded/legendary career. A swing of just four games in Lloyd’s career would’ve put him above Bo. If Lloyd goes 126-36 instead of 122-40, Lloyd becomes the Michigan coaching king when percentages are adjusted for schedule strength. And that’s not too big a stretch at all. Think about it: if Michigan had gotten few breaks in the 2000 season (i.e., Hayden Epstein doesn’t miss an extra point and a 24-yard field goal against UCLA; Michigan scores more than a field goal in the second half at Purdue; the A-Train holds on to the ball at Northwestern), and if Michigan hadn't given up just one of the several fourth-quarter blown leads in 2005, Lloyd would’ve had a better career winning percentage than Bo, equalized for schedule strength. But more on this later.
- Again, Mo’s schedules were murder. His percentage rises when compared to Lloyd’s schedule strength.
- RichRod’s also up in the final rankings, again because of the many opponents he played that wound up in the final Top 10.
- Hoke doesn’t look so hot. But rebuilding and fusion cuisine and all that.
In the comparison of Lloyd to Bo above, we’ve adjusted Bo’s 1-10 percentage and 11-20 percentage to Lloyd’s frequency of playing in those games. But playing the national No. 1 is usually a much tougher game than playing the national No. 10, or even No. 3. I haven’t taken the time to adjust the winning percentages by frequency of playing every single spot in the rankings, but I have collected some info on how those guys did against the Top 2 and against the Top 5 at game time:
|Record vs. AP 1-2||Record vs. AP 1-5|
|Bo||3-6-1 (.350)||8-12-1 (.405)|
|Mo||0-3 (.000)||2-4-1 (.357)|
|Lloyd||3-3 (.500)||8-3 (.727)|
|Brady||0-1 (.000)||0-2 (.000)|
Those are some great numbers from Lloyd, but all of those games are 2003 or earlier, when he started 11-1 against the Top 10, aside from games against No. 2 Notre Dame and No. 1 Ohio State in 2006. For what it’s worth, U-M hasn’t beaten an AP No. 1 since Miami in 1984.
So how often did the coaches play in really big games (using game-time rankings)?
|% of Games Played vs. AP 1-2||% of Games Played vs. AP 1-5|
So Bo played really big games just slightly more often than Lloyd did, and Mo’s murderous schedules are apparent here as well. I’m not sure this difference between Bo and Lloyd is significant. I’m still comfortable saying that Lloyd is only a touch behind Bo in terms of impressiveness of career. Sacrilege? Perhaps. But in terms of wins, losses, and quality of opponents, I think that’s a fair statement. Now, that's not saying anything about what Lloyd could have achieved, or how maddening it was to watch some of his games. Of course, Bo sustained that level of success eight seasons longer than Lloyd did, and there's something to be said for that.
What do we get from all of this? I think the stats support the wisdom of the ideas set out above: Lloyd Carr was pretty darned good against ranked teams, but not as hot as he should’ve been otherwise; blame the 85-scholarship parity era for that. Brady Hoke has generally won the games he should win. And the 1990s schedules, particularly Gary Moeller’s, were potentially the most brutal stretch Michigan has ever faced.
And don't worry, I'll say it for myself: Cool story, bro.
[Edited to correct Brady Hoke's 2-year record to 19-7 instead of 18-7. All stats accordingly corrected.]