100% hot nerd action
From left: Brady Hoke & Jerry Kill in 2011 [Upchurch], Les Miles and Cam Cameron at the 1989 spring game [Bentley], and James Franklin as a coordinator [courtesy Maryland Athletics]
For HTTV this year I did a study on Big Ten and SEC, and the factors that led to a marked disparity in football success that grew up between them since 1999. One of the most stunning differences I found was in the splashiness of coaching hires.
Someone on the board early this morning asked whether high-profile candidates are such a big deal. The original study answered this emphatically: "Yes!" I thought I'd extend it to the rest of the Power 5 hires since '99 and see if that's still true.
Methodology: I looked at the circumstances at the moment of hiring of every coach (156 total) who started a tenure at a currently Power 5 program since 1999, and put them into one of three (plus one) categories:
- Strong: Stealing another BCS school's coach, or the heir apparent at a power program, or grabbing the year's hottest candidate, or being the school that finally pries a legendary mid-major coach away when everyone else has been trying for years. Universally, these are headline-grabbing guys who probably needed a major monetary incentive to pry them from their last position.
- Average: A guy who was obviously responsible for turning a mid-major into a perennial 9- or 10-win team, a successful NFL or power program coordinator, promoting your own heir apparent (not after firing his boss), etc. These are the hires that you nod at and say "that makes sense" or "B+".
- Cheap: Promoting a coordinator you didn't plan on, grabbing a mid-major coach with mediocre success or success that's not obviously his. Grabbing a washout from the NFL or the Power 5, or a guy who wouldn't have been on any coaching radar except yours.
- (Interim): Don't count unless they were made full.
- These are of course debatable, since they're the opinions of one dude who's been obsessively following college football over this time period, so you can only draw so much. I didn't remember all of them, obviously, but I was able to jog my impressions by reading articles on coaching searches around the time. This is one instance when my life was actually made better by the annual proliferation of "we grade this year's hires" articles from mainstream outlets. When I couldn't decide, I defaulted "average."
- I welcome your suggestions for changes, so long as they fit the criteria (hindsight must be irrelevant).
- The data:
[After the jump: what we learned]
Somebody's gonna give me credit for drafting C.J. Brown.
So we tried doing this big draftageddon thing to be all informative. Some people liked it; other people said they only care about their own fantasy teams. Fine. I get it. Some people like to read an average novel's worth of bloggers infighting over Rutgers offensive linemen, and some people prefer to use their football knowledge to make money for themselves.
To everyone but the 9 of you who voted for my Draftageddon team, if you think you can beat me, then I implore you: beat me. See that team above? That is my team for Week 1 of our fantasy partner Draft King's, now-totally-accepting-entries, college football contest, or "CFB $10K REDSHIRT" game as it's apparently named.
/offers to be official naming things guy.
/changes that to Executive Vice President of Titling Operations
My team. Yes, I took all Big Ten players except tight end because I feel like I've watched so much O.J. Howard while scouting Nussmeier's offense that he might as well be one of us. Can you do better? No. You can't. I'm so sure of it in fact that if you beat me I'll give you $5 off the MGoStore.
Your team. Details on the game in bullets:
- You're just drafting guys who play on Saturday afternoon, 8/30. No picking Nits who play at 8:30 a.m. in Ireland, etc.
- $10,000 prize pool.
- $2 entry fee. Entry is free if it's your first deposit.
- $1,000 1st Place prize.
- Top 1,150 are paid.
- Starts on Saturday, August, 30th at 12:00 EST.
- Salary Cap Style Drafting. $50,000 to select 9 spots.
- Roster Format: 2 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 Flex.
- First time depositors at DraftKings receive a 100% bonus up to $600
Details on the contest:
- If you beat me (tie goes to the dealer yo) this week I'll email you with a code to use in the MGoStore for $5 off anything. Shipping still applies.
- Only one coupon per person. If multiple teams beat me (like that would ever happen) you still can only use the code once on your store account.
- BiSB isn't allowed to enter, else we'd have to give him the MGoStore.
Weird thing: You can still draft Jake Butt. Braxton Miller too but at least they have the red circle thing next to him to warn you not to draft him. Jake Butt: nothing.
Other weird thing: No NORFLEET?
/offers to be official Michigan roster insider guy
/offers to come up with a kickass name for that position.
Last week I did the thing you're not supposed to do: I got into an argument with a Tennessee fan about conference strength. Actually it started as a conversation about how cute my 1-year-old dog is but all conversations with SEC fans are really conference strength conversations. Before the inevitable deterioration into Woodson-Manning (which is particularly impossible with him because he knew Peyton in school and has an incredible story about how nice of a guy Peyton Manning was) I thought to test his assertion that the SEC has been dominant, except for 2005, since Bear Bryant's day.
Attempting to debate this, I stumbled onto sports-reference.com's SRS statistic. It stands for "Simple Rating System" and was borrowed from the NFL guys. What it represents is how much that team should beat an average team:
So every team's rating is their average point margin, adjusted up or down depending on the strength of their opponents.
This generally works for the NFL because of relative schedule parity. But it proved useless for comparing college football teams and conferences over history because they lacked that. I'll explain why, but first lets apply SRS averages of the conferences since 1964 to our debate, which demonstrates… that I just totally screwed myself:
Well yeah, but we admitted this: until Penn State joined and some of the dreks got their acts together it really was the Big Two-Little 8. Let's see mostly Michigan-Ohio State against Alabama et al.:
It stayed pretty even except when Michigan wasn't good. There's a reason for that: Michigan (35 times) and Ohio State (33) teams account for over two thirds of Big Ten's 100 representatives from the last 50 years. Alabama teams are counted 28 times, with Florida (18), Tennessee (15), Georgia (12), Auburn (11) and LSU (11) all ahead of the next Big Ten team, which is Penn State (8). Until the '90s, the bottom half of the Big Ten sucked way worse than the bottom half of the SEC, according to SRS:
What really happened here: the SEC teams were playing easier schedules until the Big Ten caught on and started scheduling bodybags, and then things were even until the Big Ten started actually sucking. I explain, after the jump.
[The jump, after which I explain, as I just explained]
The rosters are here! The rosters are here! The big news is Blake Countess will be #2 cause…
(artist: Ted Watts)
That’s got to be a new legends number, right? Nobody got 11 or 21, FWIW.
The incoming freshmen were all bequeathed their digits as well. I give them here with a few notables to have worn the digit at that position in the past. I’ve chosen to include the freshmen who were here in spring; a list of just the fall arrivals is here, courtesy Wolverine Devotee. Burn these into your memory so that it will hurt more when they’re changed to Legends numbers in a few years.
|Ian Bunting||94||TE||6'7"||223||Matt Studenski was the last TE. Massey, Horn.|
|Juwann Bushell-Beatty||76||OL||6'5"||295||Steve Hutchinson, and Brandstatter|
|Freddy Canteen||17||WR||6'1"||170||Forgotten great end (1930s version of WR) Ted Petoskey. Personal fav Carl Tabb.|
|Mason Cole||52||OL||6'5"||275||Rod Payne. Schilling.|
|Michael Ferns||51||LB||6'3"||233||John Duerr and a Brackins. (Everitt on offense)|
|Noah Furbush||59||LB||6'4"||229||89-90 linebacker Alex Marshall. The Sarantos my friend dated.|
|Drake Harris||14||WR||6'4"||180||Closest I can think of to a receiver getting PT is Andy Mignery.|
|Lawrence Marshall||93||DE||6'4"||230||Hoban and Jackson in the '70s. I see 93 I think Sam Sword.|
|Bryan Mone||90||DT||6'4"||315||Norm Heuer was a DT. Feazell, Jamison, DeFelice.|
|Brady Pallante||54||DT||6'1"||255||Donnie Warner. Imagine if Rudy actually become a really good starter, and was real.|
|Jabrill Peppers||5||DB||6'1"||210||Jersey manufacturers, start your presses. Coleman Wallace is the best CB, competition is Whitley. Think Jabrill will keep it all 4 years?|
|Wilton Speight||19||QB||6'6"||230||The other Forcier. And Harry Newman's backup.|
|Jared Wangler||19||LB||6'2"||215||Early '70s "Wolf" safety Darrell Truitt|
|Brandon Watson||28||DB||5'11"||185||Early '90s hard-hitter Deon Johnson.|
|Maurice Ways||85||WR||6'3"||192||Curt Stephenson and Marcus Knight|
|Chase Winovich||58||LB||6'3"||216||Dave Brandon Endowed This Position With His Own Name Not Kidding Cornerbacks Coach Roy Manning. Also '80s OLB Keith Cowan|
Please only give this number to tiny safeties and huge running backs from now on forever kthx.
Heitzman Expansion Principle
This is the corollary to the Heininger Certainty Principle: a person, once removed from Hoke’s defensive line, will apparently grow 1 or more inches in height as his body adjusts to the difference in pressure. Heitzman is now listed 6’4”, one inch taller than he was in spring.
Didn’t spot any. Weights haven’t been updated yet.
This hurt. [Fuller]
Longtime readers will know the MGoBlog policy on sacking: sacks and sack yardage should be counted as passing, because they are pass plays, not rushing, as the NCAA and thus everybody else is wont to do. Counting sacks as passing leads to a better understanding of success and where yards come from, and prevents problems like the computer in the NCAA videogames passing every play because the sacks that generates keep making the rushing numbers look progressively more awful.
For the Hail to the Victors preview books (kickstarter coming soon) each year we put these "At-a-Glance" boxes into the opponent previews, complete with offensive and defensive stats that we've adjusted for this. Having done the calculations for that, I thought I'd share them with you.
First, the difference it makes to passing stats:
|Team||Pass Att||Pass Yds||YPA||Rk||Sacks||Sack Yds||YPA||Rk|
By counting sacks as passing Michigan drops from 8.15 yards per attempt (good for the best passing team in the conference last year) to a more realistic 6.85 YPA, dropping them to fourth. Minnesota's passing game dropped from middling to awful, Iowa's climbed from the bottom to the middle.
And the difference to running stats:
|Team||Rushes||Rush Yds||YPC||Rk||Sacks||Sack Yds||YPA||Rk|
Michigan's awful running game is still awful, but it no longer looks like the Scheelhaase option-running game was a disaster. Ohio State's 7.27 YPC isn't just first among the conference; OSU and Wisconsin were the #1 and #2 rushing offenses in the country. Michigan: 115th out of 125 teams.
This isn't perfect since quarterback scrambles still can't be pulled out of rushing stats, but that's not so big of a deal considering a running QB should be contributing to your rushing success.
[Jump for Devin Garder's passing season and profiles of next year's opponents]
That is 2,728 pounds—1.24 metric tons—in the box for those weighing at home.
On 1st and 10. MANBRAAAHHHLLL!!!
Before the Minnesota game I tweeted that I'd be perfectly content if Borges debuted a completely new package and used it to beat up on the Gophers at home a la 2011. So here I am, being content.
The unbalanced stuff I'm sure Brian will picture page and Space Coyote and Burgeoning Wolverine Star will peel it apart as well; since they know more about that stuff I'll leave it to them. What I would like to do is look at the heavy formations in the macro: how Big did Michigan actually go, how effective it was on a yards-per-play basis, and whether it matches the personnel.
By "big" I mean fewer receivers in the formation. The lower that number, the more backs and TEs, and thus the "heavier" the formation. How big?
Average Receivers in Formation:
|2013 games 1-4||2.30||2.29|
|2013 Minnesota||1.83 (!)||1.79 (!)|
That is big—like we should all have pronounced brow ridges and live in caves and the equipment sponsor is Mousterian big. I counted Funchess as a WR when he was in a 2-point stance; if you file him as a half tight end (you shouldn't) it gets even heavier. A lot of the three-wide was on the time-sensitive last drive of the 1st half—that you should count.
Did it work? Did it work better than the stuff Michigan has been doing until now? Did they always run to the side they unbalanced? We see after the jump.