that is nice bonus change
I'm supporting Hoke but dude
touching kids MOTIVATIN' MICHIGAN MEN.
[Ed-M: Bumped for excellence]
OK, this is not actually a work of staggering genius. You should definitely read the Dave Eggers book it refers to, though - good stuff.
Rather, it is a brief and simple explanation of everything that has happened or will happen in Michigan football. It is based on one simple idea: if you win a lot, you are a genius. If you win most of the time, the fans will grumble but tolerate you. If you lose a lot, you will get fired. I think we all know this.
To make this case, I have simply plotted the wins and losses over the years on the following bar chart, broken down by margin of victory. Here is the graph:
As you can see, the years increase over the x-axis (horizontal direction), and the number of wins and losses are plotted on the y-axis (wins go up from 0, losses go down; ties, when they still happened, are split as half for a win and half for a loss). Wins are broken down into three categories: wins by 15 or more (navy blue), wins by 8-14 (blue), and narrow wins by 7 or less (light blue); losses are similarly split apart, and ties are left white.
I think the graph shows a few important things. First, what an amazing run we had as fans. For almost 40 years, watching Michigan football meant losing a couple or three (close) games, and winning the rest; I wonder if there is any stretch like that in modern football history.
Second, and perhaps most key, is the era that spoiled us: Bo's first five years. What a f***ing first impression that man made! After a "pedestrian" 9-3 season in which he upset the best OSU of all time, Bo's next four years featured: a 1970 loss (by 11 to OSU), a 1971 loss to Stanford (by 1 in the Rose Bowl), a 1972 loss to OSU (by 3), 1973 tie (with OSU, and you know how that story ends), and a 1974 loss to OSU (by 2). Wow!
For those of you not old enough to remember (and this includes me, barely), can you imagine such an era? With a little more luck, Bo could have won three or four national championships. Simply stunning, and what a great way to turn yourself into a legend.
Third, the graph shows I think that in the following years, Bo settled into the pattern we are more used to, with a few losses here and there, and one Year of Infinite Pain before such years were named and blogged about. That year of course was 1984, a year in which Bo went 6-6, almost beat "national champion" BYU in a bowl game, and caused Bo to rededicate himself for his final stretch run.
Fourth, I think the graph shows why some people were unhappy with the Lloyd Carr era - though the general year-to-year record remained very similar to Bo's steady state (which I will demonstrate further below), there are a lot more close wins; in other words, the team continued to win at about the same pace, but more of those wins were in games that could have gone either way. And this makes sense: think back to all those last-second wins against Penn State, Michigan State, and others - we were continuing to win, but not in as dominant a fashion as we were used to.
Finally, I think the graph shows why RichRod was in no way going to get a chance to continue: too many losses, and too many of those in non-competitive games. It was just too much.
Anyhow, to sum up each coach, I also made a plot of their overall win/loss percentage. It is available here:
Instead of just showing Bo's entire history smashed into one bar, though, I separated it into the first 5 years and the rest. The first conclusion from this graph: how similar Bo, Mo, and Carr were, once you take away Bo's first five years! Almost identical, except for that one small difference: that Carr had a noticeable number more of close wins, and both Mo and Carr had a few more not-so-close losses.
And though it's unfair to take Bo's first five years out, those five years were so crazy and unusual, they should be separated and celebrated for what they were: one of the best five-year runs in modern football history. It is those years, I think, where we derive our modern expectations. We think we should always be like that, when in reality it's quite difficult to expect such near-perfection year to year. I think that expectation is what drove all the Carr grumbling, and perhaps caused us all to look to "reboot" the program instead of just "maintain" it.
Imagine a different universe where Bill Martin, instead of looking for the best national coach, was looking for someone steeped in the Michigan way, to maintain its current glory? Who would he have hired? Would one young coach at Stanford, full of Michigan spirit and not yet too full of himself, be considered for the opening? One can only wonder at what might have been, had we been happier with what we had.
[Edit: when I talk about Bo's first "five" years, I mean 1969 through 1974, which as you might have noticed, is six years.]
[Edit (2): Replaced stupid imageshack links with links to Picasa. Imageshack banned the photos; apparently too much traffic!]
In light of Denard's public announcement of his Michigan love, I thought I'd start a thread celebrating him as a true Michigan Man.
Here is my contribution:
Whether he ever officially becomes a member of this group, i believe he still belongs among them.
Summary for anybody at work tomorrow:
In an interview with MGoBlue Television, Robinson said, "People were getting in touch with me the whole time, and making sure I made the right decision, not trying to rush things and not trying to force anything.
"My teammates, we talked, and I told them, 'You know I just can't leave you out there.' I've been around these guys two years and we've bonded and it's like a family here. There's nothing like this."
Robinson, who shared his thoughts after the team's 95-minute meeting with Hoke Sunday night, also took to heart advice from his father.
"My dad said if you can play under two different coaches and two different offenses and you can learn and be successful in it, you can do good anywhere."
Alright, so, I was a supporter of Rodriguez right up through the bowl game, at which point, I couldn't take it anymore. SOme fans were strong supporters, some were very much against Rodriguez. Some changed over time. I have a bit of a different question.
While Rodriguez held the position, he took a lot of flak from the closely connected MSM, it is rumored that Mary Sue Coleman wasn't a supporter of his, we know Lloyd Carr wasn't big on the decision, and many former players were less than friendly to the program during his tenure, with others supporting the program, but few voicing support for Rodriguez directly. I've even heard it rumored that John Beilein, who knew Rodriguez from WVU, was not on great terms with him.
Whenever somebody talked about Rodriguez, they said he was a truly upstanding guy, a great guy, wanted to win as much as anybody, etc, but in all the time he was here, I never really noticed him making new friends among those that weren't huge supporters of his. Clearly, the W/L had something to do with that, but still...
Since Brady Hoke has been in town, a ton of former players have supported him, Desmond Howard just came back to visit, he's getting love from all over. There seems to be nothing and no one "against" him. As with Rodriguez and the W/L record, I'm sure his "Michigan Man" heritage has something to do with that, but still...
It just seems to me that if Rodriguez had so much trouble making allies, if guys who weren't Michigan Men at all themselves, like Beilein weren't fans of his, if everything turned so suddenly, there must be SOMETHING that 99.9% of the world does not know. Did he rub certain people the wrong way? Did he have a caustic personality in private? Did he make poor choices in personal matters? It just seems like too much to ALL be W/L and the Michigan Man thing.
7-5; losses to MSU, Iowa, Neb., OSU.
No, that's not a summary of 2010. Substitute "Loss at home to Nebraska," for "Loss at home to Wisconsin." It's a prediction for 2011. Not my prediction; I don't do predictions and I'm not very good at them.
It's the long-winded prediction of one "Jon Machota" who is apparently a "Special Writer" for the Detroit Free Press. I think "Special Writer" means, "Guy from whom we can get some occasional page-filler, without keeping him on the payroll and enrolling him on the Freep Blue Cross policy."
Anyway, to fill up nearly an entire page of the largely content-free Sunday Free Press sports section, they asked Mr. Jon Machota (who seems to drift between the Dallas Morning News and the Free Press and wherever else in between that he can sell his stories) to do a "Future Watch" consisting of a game-by-game rundown of the 2011 season. It is a silly exercise, regurgitating every one of the common 2010 myths about every team on Michigan's upcoming schedule, and of course defining in precise terms a Michigan team that nobody, I'd suppose, knows much about, yet.
The Freep sports editors had the chutzpah (or the self-effacement) to say this about the Machota feature:
So clip and save, because you read it here first:
Now, I am not going to worry about a season's worth of predictions, almost a year in advance, and I recommend that you don't, either. Who knows what will happen? But what got me was the way the guy ended the predictive-summary of the OSU game. It was essentially the last paragraph of the article. I've added my emphasis in the block quote:
Prediction: Pryor and his buddies are not returning for their senior years so that U-M can end its seven-game losing skid to OSU. Even at the Big House, Hoke's gang won't have enough for a Bo-like first-year upset. This will be a closer game -- only a nine-point difference -- than in the last few years. Despite the same 7-5 record as 2010, the U-M fan base will feel energized and like the defensive progress.
"Energized," eh? And the metric for our feeling "energized," is what, exactly? As ever, "Michigan," as the topic of the day, just rules for the Freep. It's mo-ney. Cover stories, complete sections, in-depth analyses. They pulled in a half a dozen writers for the five-and-a-half full pages that they devoted to the Hoke-a-mania hiring day in the Sports section, not including Michael Rosenberg's column that occupied the paper's front page below the fold -- only because the Hoke-a-mania headline occpied the space above the fold.
Anyway, here's to 7-5, and losses to MSU, Iowa, Nebraska, and OSU. With the "Michigan Man" who is now beloved by our favorite local newspaper. Oh, and feeling energized, too.
In the hope that no one will feel the need to look up the Machota story at Freep.com and give them the page-click that they want from us (you really won't be missing anything), here is the rundown on the Machota 2011 Prediction:
Western - W
Notre Dame - L
Eastern - W
San Diego St. - W
Minnesota - W
Northwestern - W
Michigan State - L
Purdue - W
Iowa - L
Illinois - W
Nebraska - L
Ohio State - L