further adventures in Jed York being unsuited for his position
I have been having a debate with my friend all day about the Cotton Bowl should be a BCS bowl when the current rotation ends after the 2013 season.
Take away the BCS status of the Fiesta Bowl for a moment. Which one is the more prestigious bowl? The Cotton has had a long, illustrious history going back to 1937 while the Fiesta is relatively young, created in 1971.
The Fiesta was orginally the bowl where the WAC champion got an automatic spot, while the Cotton was the SWC vs SEC for years and then when the SWC dissolved, it became the Big 12 who gets the bid to the Cotton.
Per multiple twitter accounts, it seems MSU Defensive Coordinator Pat Narduzzi will stay at MSU. He had interviewed with Texas A&M for the same postion earlier this week.
Edit 2: Was rumored to be offered $600,000 to $750,000 at Texas A&M where at MSU his current salary (prior to expected raise) is $240,000
This time of year, there are many discussions about ranking various teams and who "deserves" to be the MNC. The discussion, and the way humans and computers rank teams, assumes that each team, or element of a team, has an absolute value (FEI, RPI, ranking, SOS x outcome, etc.). The job of the evaluator is to determine what that value is for each team. I think this is completely wrong. First off, when two teams play, there is a probability greater than 0 that each team will win. Whether that's two teams where the outcome seems 50/50, or where one team has almost no chance to win (but sometimes does). This is much like in nature, where sometimes the cheetah gets the gazelle, and sometime the cheetah starves. One can give odds in advance, but until the game is actually played, there's no actual "better team," there's only a probability that one team will beat another. In sports, there's no one better team, there’s only a probability field that fluctuates until the clock ticks to 0, the probability field collapses, and there’s a winner.
So let's look at the cheetah/gazelle thing again. Over time, one will win out more often than not, and either all the gazelles get eaten or all the cheetahs starve. Yet neither gazelles nor cheetahs are extinct. Why? That's because nature is not a 2-player game. It's more like rock-paper-scissors. Here's an interesting article discussing: Link. The bottom line is that there are always at least three species competing, and it's almost always an odd-number, just like RPS. Cheetah beats gazelle. Gazelle beats hyena. Hyena beats cheetah (by stealing his food). (Yup, look it up: Here).
So what does all this have to do with football and ranking teams? Well, first off, trying to pick which team is better based on results on the field, while the best method, is far from perfect. The sampling size is just too small. Secondly, even if results were absolute and replicable, RPS makes a hash of rankings. I don't believe the transitive property would apply, even if sampling size were large enough, because different teams, like different species, adopt differing strategies. UM regularly beat supposedly "superior" ND teams, which would beat MSU, which would beat us. While luck is involved, I think it was also that our teams were particularly well-suited to beating ND (Denard), but not necessarily well-suited to beating MSU (anti-Denard). A couple obvious notes should go along: 1) Teams "evolve" like species, so a team may be poorly-suited to beat a rival one particular year, or even in one week, but well-suited the next (See, Ohio 2010, 11). 2) The basis for what will make one team well-suited to beat another is not always obvious. Some manball teams do very poorly against spread teams. Others seem to do quite well. Coarse analysis will not work.
So what is the difference? I think that the items most often discussed (run offense v. run defense, etc) are all but useless. If they worked, Vegas would be broke. My guess is that the differences are often due largely to luck (oblong pork bladder, players’ fragility, and the law of averages discussed above). Some significant fraction of the difference, however, is based on metrics that are difficult, but not impossible, to determine in football. Here are some elements that I think might be relevant but are almost never discussed in game previews, though computer analysis would likely be required to prove/disprove:
1) Blocking style vs. defensive style: does the offensive team use reach-blocking? Does it pull linemen? Does it emphasize speed or strength? Does the defense emphasize speed or strength? How does it fill gaps—with LBs or DBs or DL? How are players pad levels? How well does it emphasize tackling in space? Notice that none of this necessarily has anything to do with 3-4 vs. 4-4. It has to do with how one team's philosophy/scheme matches another team's. It's why a team like Iowa may do well against UM but not MN or ISU.
2) Running style vs. containment style: Do runners tend to run North-South or bounce-bounce-bounce? How often do they cut back in open seams vs. following blockers? How fast is the D to the corner? How aggressively does it attack gaps? Does the defense sell-out to the LOS? How well do CBs come off blocks?
3) Aggressiveness: Does the team tend to gamble? In what situations? Is it predictable? How good is the other team at predicting? A good example on this one was Borges calling conservative plays against Illinois. Seeing how well the Defense was playing, a conservative approach was appropriate. Against Ohio, not so much.
Note that each of these metrics, which are themselves neither exhaustive nor all-encompassing, impact each other. The running style of the offense under #2 is affected not only by the scheme of the defense, but also by factors under #1, e.g., the blocking style of the offense and the DL style.
What does this mean going forward and in reviewing the season past? I have a couple thoughts based on my memory, but I would be interested in discussing others’ views: 1) Our offense tended to do well when it either could take advantage of having extra blockers or else could manhandle the DL. It did poorly against MSU and VaTech because our emphasis on line play and speed in space (exacerbated by injuries vs. VT) was a poor strategy against their personnel and schemes but a good strategy against other teams. 2) Improvements on our defense this year are too great to be explained solely by greater experience, increased talent and improved coaching. A big part of the difference is that our survival strategy changed. My theory is that 3-3-5 works against teams spreading the field. In that sense, I think the 3-3-5 is not dissimilar to VaTech's defense, which is good at stopping lateral spreads and offenses based on speed. It did very poorly in the B1G. 3) Borges’ potluck approach this year is good in an environment where one plays a number of different types of teams, but would be less effective against very good teams that require a very high level of competency in a specific strategy (See, Bo’s teams, success vs. Cooper). 4) Given the complexities involved, and how teams develop over a season, it's no surprise that pre-season predictions are so horrible. Going into the season, I thought we would be best served with a Coker/Hopkins-type-substance that emphasized power. Over the season, we were best served by Fitz’ slashing-type running, based on an ability to see the holes developing. He didn’t even have the vision necessary going into the season. Finally, naming a MNC, or even coming up with a ranking, is an exercise in futility. How do you rank rock vs. paper vs. scissors?
I know this was long, but I felt a need to get this down, as it seems like much discussion assumes that one team will be better than another based on some absolute value. LSU is a 10. Bama is a 8. LSU therefore will beat Bama. I think reality is much more nuanced, and that one must break out particular values for numerous variables to have any real guess as to what team will beat another most often, and even at the end of that process, there is no one "best" team. I’d be interested in what others think are relevant metrics and what strategies would work best in the B1G generally and against Ohio and MSU in particular.
AFC Wild Card
Steelers vs Broncos-
Bengals vs Texans
Steelers vs Ravens
Texans vs Patriots
Ravens vs Patriots
NFC Wild Card
Lions vs Saints
Falcons vs Giants
NFC Divisional round
Lions vs Packers
Giants vs 49ers
NFC Championship Game
49ers vs Packers
Ravens vs Packers
Superbowl Champ: Ravens
Michigan will be getting a big-time unofficial visit from a junior OL this weekend:
To everybody that texted me yes Tomorrow i will Be traveling to the University of Michigan and go to the basketball game sunday— Logan Tuley-Tillman (@LoganTillman) January 6, 2012
I'll look to get a reaction from Logan after this weekend. He already has taken visits for both the Nebraska and Ohio State games, and named Michigan his outright leader, so things are looking very good on that front right now.
Camp Hill (PA) Cedar Cliff tight end Adam Breneman is one of the most sought-after prospects in all of the 2013 class at a position of major need for Michigan. The junior already holds offers from Alabama, Boston College, Duke, Florida State, Maryland, Miami (YTM), Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Penn State, Pitt, Purdue, Rutgers, South Carolina, Stanford, Temple, Vanderbilt, Virginia, and Wake Forest. Breneman's early rankings reflect that impressive list of suitors, as he is on the ESPN150 Watch List and already ranked as a four-star to Scout and 24/7, with the latter listing him as the #32 overall prospect and top tight end in the class. I had the chance to chat with Adam yesterday, and here's a full transcript of the interview:
ACE: You just committed to participating in the 2013 Under Armour All-American Game. What does that mean for you to be honored as one of the top recruits in your class?
ADAM: It's really exciting, and it's a great honor to be wanted by both the elite all-star games, the Army Game and the Under Armour Game. It's a huge blessing to be asked to participate on those big stages, and it was a really tough decision for me and my family, to decide whether I was going to play in the Army Game or the Under Armour Game. At the end of the day, I thought that the UA Game was the best place for me to go to, and I wanted to commit to a game before this year's game since I got early invitations, so I decided that it would be best for me and my family to go down to Orlando to play.
ACE: In terms of your recruitment, I know you've got offers from, well, just about everywhere right now. I won't make you run through all of them, but what schools are contacting you the most right now, and who's standing out to you?
ADAM: I don't really have a top schools list yet. Some of the schools that I think pretty highly of right now would be Maryland, Virginia, Miami, Rutgers, Michigan, Michigan State, South Carolina, Notre Dame, and Alabama, just to name some of the ones that I've been in pretty constant contact with, and I've developed some pretty good relations with those coaches. It's still very early in the process for me, I'm nowhere close to narrowing anything down yet, but those are some of the schools that have gotten off to a good start. There are quite a few places, and I don't have a timetable at all, but those are some of the schools that have definitely gotten off to a great start.
ACE: With Michigan specifically, who has been in contact with you from them, and what is your general impression of the coaching staff, the school, and the program?
ADAM: Coach Montgomery is the defensive line coach—last spring, when I was a sophomore, he came to my high school to visit. He offered me then, he told me that they had seen my tape and they wanted to offer me. My recruiter is Curt Mallory, Coach Montgomery just happened to be in Pennsylvania and stopped by the school, but I've developed a good relationship with Coach Mallory. I talk to him quite a bit. Actually, I'd say probably a month ago I had, I guess you'd call it a conference call, with the coaching staff, and I talked with Coach Hoke for a while. That was the first time I got a chance to talk to him, and he seems like an awesome guy and it's just great to see what he's done at Michigan so far in a short period of time.
ACE: Just to talk about your junior year real quickly, can you recap how the year went for you, where you felt you got better on the field, just how the season went for you this year?
ADAM: We finished 9-3 on the year. We lost in the quarterfinals of the playoffs to the state champion, lost by three points. When we look back on it, we play in the biggest classification in Pennsylvania, but we're actually the smallest school in that classification, so to do what we did, there's a lot of things to be proud of that we accomplished as a team this year. Individual-wise, I made first-team all-state, I finished the year with 72 catches for 1,120 yards and 12 touchdowns, and making first-team all-state was one of my goals at the beginning of the year. Team-wise and personal-wise, it was a great year and certainly an exciting year.
ACE: If you had to do a self-scouting report, what would say are the strengths of your game right now, and what are you working on to get better for your senior year and on to the next level?
ADAM: I think in the receiving aspect I'm very good at the tight end position. I play a lot of wide receiver in high school—I think I actually have the ability of a wide receiver but I'm in a tight end's body. I pride myself in never dropping passes and beating linebackers one-on-one—it's just a lot of little things, running routes the right way, those are some of the things that I work really hard at. Moving forward, right now I'm about 6'5", 220, which is fairly thin for a tight end, so obviously moving on to the next level I'd like to put on some more weight, get stronger, and become the kind of tight end that can put his hand in the dirt and block. I do a good amount of blocking in high school, but obviously when you get to the next level the players are a lot bigger and a lot stronger, so just moving forward I'd like to just let my body develop more, put on some more weight, which I'll probably do naturally. I'm only 16 years old, so I'll probably put on a good bit of weight in the next couple of years, and I'll become a better blocker.
ACE: In terms of the offseason for you right now, do you have any idea, in terms of junior days and camps, places you'd like to visit before your senior year?
ADAM: Nothing is scheduled at all yet, nothing finalized. I know that I'll be going to Maryland for a basketball game and I'll definitely be visiting Miami—I haven't visited there yet, so I'll be going to Miami for a visit with my family. I'm about 95% sure I'll be coming up to Michigan, too. I don't know if I'll be doing a junior day or just a normal visit, but I'll be up there. Whether it's in February or in the spring I don't know yet, but we'll definitely be out there.
ACE: You said you don't have a timeline or anything right now, but in terms of just what you're looking for in a school, what are the ideal traits that you're looking for when it comes down to picking a school?
ADAM: A big thing for me is the kind of offense that I'd be playing in. Actually, it's not so much the kind of offense, but how I'll fit in to the offense. I love catching the ball, I love having the football in my hands, and I want to go to a school that's going to allow me to do that and allow me to be a playmaker from the tight end position, so I definitely want to play for a coach that has a history of tight ends and has a history of throwing the tight end the ball. Another thing is academics. Academics are a big part of my life—I carry a 3.9 GPA, so I take academics very seriously and I want to go to a place that's going to prepare me for life after football. Third of all, definitely the relationship that I have with the coaching staff—I'm going to be spending a lot of time with those guys, and if we don't get along it's going to be a long four years. That's definitely important, and just a place that fits me best athletically, spiritually, and academically, just having everything fit me in all three of those areas, that's where I'll wind up.