this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
http://www.mgoblue.com/allaccess/?media=422512 Here's Al Borges's awaited Tuesday press conference. Seemed to take more of the blame for the recent offensive struggles this week, than he ever as.
To take your mind off the board spiraling into despair, there is MACtion.
It is already in progress actually - the Western Michigan Broncos are playing your MAC West champion NIU Huskies over on ESPN2.
As we speak, we're about halfway through the first quarter and NIU has not yet scored, but then neither has WMU.
Anyone hear about this -- Minnie using its natural advantage of being named after gophers to use an Internet sensation, which actually is a chipmunk, to distract opposing kickers. But they had to wait until last Saturday to do it, because every other opponent's FG attempt this season (home games only, natch) faced away from the scoreboard.
Seems that's a little unfair -- what's next, vids of naked coeds? (Not at Minnie, of course. Ewww.)
Yes, distraction from all things Hoke, Peppers, the coming beatdown, etc etc etc. I've sort of had it with football this week; Tom's performance (second half and OT only, of course) on Monday night has been about the only redeeming item to the entire week. Srsly, I actually found myself today wondering: If USC doesn't hire Ed Orgeron, would he make a good... no, wait, maybe Charlie Strong... STOP THE PAIN! Gimme -- Dramatic Gopher!
I've been here over five years, which includes the depths of Michigan Football in '08, and as an alum, for the Horror and other sad occurences, but I'm thinking today may be the day that is the most Emo of all on this blog. Brian's post(s), the Peppers visits, the Hoke/Borges comments, the anticipated defeat/humiliation Saturday, have combined to put the emosity meter at somewhere between the Goth kids on South Park, Meat is Murder era Smiths, Debbie Downer from SNL, and that teenage girl who screams "I hate you," after Mom washes her jeans.
"Oh no," you might say, "after Saturday it will be even worse", and I will disagree. Saturday we expect to happen, and really there is no deflating scenario possible that we have not already imagined to ourselves. But today? Today we hate everything, love nothing, and fear all things. We make plans for future Saturdays without Michigan Football, we debate the meaning of "fair weather fan" (J'accuse!), and we cast our envious eyes toward our rivals future this season.
But boys, I'm calling the stock market bottom today. I'm making the decision that it's up from here, if too slowly for our pleasure, and with many false starts. I'm not falling for the "it will always be like this" mentality by God, sure times are tough, and sure, many of us are pussies, but Goddamn it, we can imagine being men right? Imagining is the first step to believing, which is the next step to accomplishing, which is the next step to... something, something tough and manly. So let's stop sniffling in the corner, hold our heads up, and march out the auditorium, because, as we know, it wasn't over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor, and we're a good OC away from rising up. We can do it, who is with me?
Ok, I'll see you at the bowling alley Saturday.
This might be the worst t-shirt ever
I still remember the first time someone asked to see my ID. I was a junior in college, and walking into a casino. I proudly withdrew my Michigan driver's license and handed it to the bouncer. He looked at me, saw my beaming face, and chuckled. He knew what I didn't: that I would start to hate being asked for ID after it happened approximately twice more; by then I just wanted to get where I was going or buy what I was buying without having to reach into my pocket and pull my ID out of my wallet. Leave me alone, man. I'm old enough.
Of course, these days, I take more pleasure in being carded. It rarely happends, but when it does, I'm pleased to reveal that I have been older than 21 for...a long time.
This diary will examine the experience of our overall roster. I decided I wanted to go beyond the O-Line and look at the whole picture. This concept basically occurred to me when I realized I was no longer completely committed to BRADYHOKE4EVER. I love the guy, and think he can be successful, but our offense is approaching the ineptitude that our defense achieved under RR, and that is indefensible. But I want the facts before I judge.
I'm wading into some dark waters here. Some people are going to see this diary as an effort to indict (again) Rich Rodriguez. Right here it says that's not what I'm doing--in fact, RR is a great coach, and I wish he had succeeded at U-M. Others will see it as an apology for Al Borges; NO. Al Borges deserves no apologies. After Saturday, I am no longer in favor of giving AB another year. Don't get me wrong--I'm not calling for him to be fired, but I'm not against him being put out to pasture. If he's replaced, however, it better be with someone who has a similar philosophy, because, as this diary shows, transitions can SUCK.
Here are the raw numbers for Michigan:
|Yr||# of players||%||Walkons||Scholars||%|
On their own, these numbers seem almost self-evident: RR and The Process left us with a roster that is almost completely useless for Hoke's philosophical brand of football. But how do they compare with other schools, and how do they compare with other schools that have recently undergone a coaching staff transition?
Because I have a life and lots of work to do that I can only justify avoiding for so long, I only studied the data of five other schools (because they were easy to find with the Googles): Wisconsin, Nebraska, Texas A&M, Ohio State, and Florida State. All of these programs have had coaching changes since 2008, and they are all relatively strong programs that compete for conference championships. Here are their breakdowns:
This is just for the scholarship players. While there is some variance across these five programs, there are some stark differences when comparing any of them to the Michigan roster. Only Texas A&M has a higher percentage of first-year players, but their second-year percentage is tiny. Ohio State is the only school to have more than two-fifths of their roster devoted to first and second year players, but at 54%, they are still 6.7 percentage points (12.4%) below Michigan. Here are the averages for the five, including the totals for players in their first two years and players and in their last three years:
|Yrs||Sample Five||2/3 totals|
Not surprisingly, players in their first and second years compose roughly 2/5 of the roster, with players in their third year or later accounting for about 60%. For Michigan, though, these numbers are drastically--and alarmingly--different. Over 60% of our roster is composed of guys who have been with the program for two years or less. Our roster is upside down. Here are the deltas for our roster versus the average:
|Yrs||Delta||% diff||2/3 delta||% diff|
Basically, we have almost 50% more youth and one-third less experience. We will require baby-sitting for another year.
What's even more striking is our dearth of experience on defense: we have just eight scholarship players in their fourth or fifth year in the program. Mattison has turned us into a competent defense despite lacking seasoned veterans, and next year he'll once again have just three fifth-year players.We have, on average, 28.4% more first-year players and 76.5% (!!!) more second-year players. The third year is the least significant difference, where we are about 19% behind the average. In years four and five the difference is vast, but nothing like year two.
Conclusions and Error Sources. We are ridiculously young. Our proportionally gigantic second-year class will be helping to even things out next year, but we'll still be real short on fiftth-year players.
For me, this gives me hope for Hoke. I like Brady; I think he's a genuine, good-hearted man with a teacher's heart. He's a strong recruiter, and he doesn't make the public misstatements that so often tripped-up his predecessor, but he must get this offense turned around or he'll face the same fate. To be honest, I'd rather have a good man as our head coach than a douche who can win games. The trick is finding both, and both you must be if you want to satisfy perhaps the most demanding fanbase in all of college football.
Obviously, youth alone is not enough to tell the story. But it obvious that Hoke inherited a roster that was ill-equipped to handle his demands. I belive that must be a factor when judging his performance.
The obvious error source is the small sample size of the average. That said, Wisconsin has a brand new coach, Ohio and A&M have second-year HCs, and Jimbo started at Florida State in 2010. Only Bo Pelini has more than four years on the job (started in '08). I suspect, if anything, these rosters are more youth-slanted than average, especially when you consider the impact of Ohio State's switch to the spread-no-huddle.
TL;DR - Michigan is extremely inexperienced, and only next year will we have a roster of normal proportions. Greg Mattison has made it work anyway. Hoke has a valid reason for under-performance so far, but starting next year that begins to fade. At this point, even accounting for youth, I can't stand behind Borges anymore.