this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
Don't listen to anyone in the Netherlands who says otherwise: "Dennis Bergkamp neemt de bal aan" is Dutch for "Denard Robinson picks up a block!"
Between the WMU run and this week's bitterly unsatisfying conclusion we coined and created new uses for words like "Shoelace", and "Dilithium", and "ERMAGHERD", and "Eating" and "Robinson to Roundtree." Every sharp cut and rocket acceleration by his gangly, graceful legs created another moment pregnant with so much meaning you could utter gibberish about it in another language and the guy next to you would understand exactly what you're trying to say.
Think back on the Michigan you knew the moment before the camera first panned to 'Lace's shoes. Think how utterly un-Michigan it all looked: a Floridian freshman who couldn't throw the ball stepping into a role occupied by artillery pieces and disciplined option men since as far back as any reader of this site can remember, dropping the snap, wandering over toward the sideline, then hyperdriving through a field full of men bigger than he is. It used to be other teams' little jet mites doing that to our colossuses.* It was too astounding to be repeatable. How are we to crush souls if every few plays this sprite is jetting off to the end zone, then smiling at everybody? Doesn't he realize scoring touchdowns is just giving the other team more time of possession?
Here at the end we're all not sure what it is we just saw. The thing that turned some practice observers in 2010 into raving lunatics on these boards never stopped being a source of some sort of controversy, from spreadvocates who'd rather Borges run an offense he doesn't know than see him waste such a talent, to insufferable puritans who called him a running back.
To those last to whom circumstances and mankind's ill-planned brachial nervous system ultimately gave them their wish, I give you 100-ish yards on 23 carries, and a ho, and a hum, and a little secret…gonna have to lean closer…a bit closer…I need to whisper…DENNIS BERGKAMP! DENNIS BERGKAMP! DENNIS BERGKAMP! AAAAAAAHHHHH!
*If I'd said "it used to be other teams' Vins doing that to our army of Koloss" would anyone have gotten the reference?
CHRISTMAS IS STILL RELEVANT. Enough so at least that there remains much to be gained in mistersuits's X-mas Eve basketball roundup, which does things like compare this team to last's, and compare this team to the Fab Five, and publishes the schedule reorganized by expected KenPom difficulty, and lots of analysis and good formatting and stuff. I was out on holiday (and watching SEC football) and missed the chance to bump it—even now it's front page material by a good margin, just a little bit outdated. The diary describes an SEC-like gauntlet of Top 15-ish teams that Michigan and Indiana will both have to navigate.
FILE UNDER NO FRIKKIN WAY: TSS has found an NCAA rushing stat that Michigan leads the country in. Seriously. He calls the statistic "open field rushing yards" and it tracks how many yards you got on top of every rush of 10 positive or more yards. Indeed when Michigan managed to get the ballcarrier into the secondary this year, more often than not he'd be going full DENNIS BERGKAMP! Or losing a shoe. Minnesota was second-to-last.
Actually that stat is just a byproduct of his real effort, which removes the Bergkamping after 5 and 10 yards and gives credit for the first bits back to the O-lines. Relevant results cropped:
Note Michigan's the huge outlier in "AOFY" which is "adjusted open field yards" to the OP, yet still hanging at the bottom of the conference with "AALY" which is basically how many yards per play the offensive line might take credit for. Of course they're also hindered by RBs missing cuts or being too small to carry momentum through a linebacker. Yeoman's work here, with scatterplots and a lot more than the above. Diary of the Week(s). Read it.
[The Jump: lots more diaries, and stuff, and stuff, and by now you should realize I always leave something nice for my clickers-through.]
Programming Note: No Dear Diary next week unless you guys spend Christmas making diaries or something.
Trevor Miller of Hammer and Rails this week queried the bloggerati of ESDBS's boards to create a programming schedule for a fictional BTN2. Among shows like Hoarders: Jim Delaney Edition and a thing where Rutgers fans run around Manhattan trying to find someone who knows they exist, there was this idea:
11-midnight - "Why We’re Your Rival, Now." - Each school gets to explain why they are a Most Hated Rival of another.
I pointed out in the MGoBoard discussion that this would quickly turn into a Jerry Springer episode where Michigan's in the chair while they keep trotting out progressively more disgusting ladies who say they're our girlfriends.
That thread was perhaps was the impetus behind MGoSoftball embarking on a quest to ask every Big Ten (plus Notre Dame) blog to rank their rivalries. I'm excited for the results, though I don't think any fanbase is truly united on this front. For example Brian would put Notre Dame 2nd, while I think he needs to step outside of WTKA's signal for a day and see what's it like among the Sparties. One man's Michigan rivalric rundown:
- Actual Rivals: Ohio State, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Minnesota.
- One-way hate, them: Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, OHIO!, West Virginia, Princeton, Delaware, Rich Rodriguez, SEC, the Cleveland Indians
- One-way hate, us: USC, Wherever Nick Saban is coaching, Lou Holtz, Duke, Notre Dame's president and athletic department.
- Schools who aren't rivals but we have that one thing we'll never agree on to provide an infinite hate well: Nebraska ('97 N.C.), Tennessee ('97 Heisman), Penn State (JoePa, and because we each find each others' fans completely insufferable).
- Rivals only in the sense that one can be rivals with a paraplegic neighbor who's always asking you to punch him in the face: Eastern Michigan
- Hey, you forgetting someone? Like YOUR BIGGEST RIVAL who you got players suspended for and beat you that one time with a totally unsuspected onside kick???: …? On to the diaries. Where there were only three diaries, plus something I bumped from the boards, and they're all still on top. On to the rest of the board.
The Rest of the Board
THE MAYANS WERE RIGHT!
The world did not end in fire or flood or the mountains caving in; it ended it matte. Futzing with the helmet is a sure sign of the end times, as if maize numbers with blue trim wasn't. Relive the freakout above, or join the mass hysteria in threads dedicated to changing the look of the end zones, or defending David Brandon.
On that last, a suggestion for those about to start threads they think will be unpopular: don't lead with "I know you're all going to neg me for this," or by telling everyone who disagrees with you that they're Brian Cook's sheeple. Make your points, address only the best possible form of the opposing argument, and then stand by to politely debate your assertions, being ready to modify, improve, or even back off your position if you get stumped. Cypress has a valid argument that maybe we've been too hard on Dave Brandon for turning our favorite amateur team into the 2nd biggest franchise in college athletics, since all of those nickels and dimes are building cathedrals for sports most schools can't afford to carry (and consequently giving M the inside track for the Directors Cup). But then the OP's presentation of that argument is overly contentious. It's exactly this kind of contempt for people with other opinions that makes the difference between a great debate thread and a messy flame war the moderators have to clean up.
THE THING I BUMPED FROM THE BOARDS
Your diarist of the week is Asgardian for picking through the last four classes worth of Rivals rankings to find positional trends in who gets the higher stars. For some reason Midwest offensive linemen are getting proportionally higher rankings. It could just be the biases of recruiting analysts who think skill players have to come from the Southeast (imagine the difference in Toussaint hype if he was from Florida instead of Ohio) or it could be they're sick of Iowa and Wisconsin consistently pumping out NFL linemen from guys they rated a 2 or 3, and are making an adjustment. I'd like to see the sample extended back to 2002.
[After the jump, NCAA may be letting Oregon off the hook or taking the first steps towards finally nailing Ohio State for the stuff everyone knows about, and I seriously consider buying something Brian is totally going to make fun of me for.]
In a hole called Le Moyne College, there coached a hobbit. This small Jesuit school in Syracuse's shadow's most distinguishing campus experience is everybody gets drunk the first day of spring. (Nearest Michigan equivalent: the first 50-degree day in April when everybody pretends it's 70 degrees and skips class to throw Frisbees in the Law Quad).
Beilein spent almost a decade there, twice that of anywhere else, turning the moribund program into a regular Division II playoff team. From there it was five years at Canisius, which you remember because in 1996 your bracket suddenly had Canisius on it and you weren't used to various Gonzagas and Xaviers being on there yet. Then it was Richmond for five years, which you also remember because in '98 they popped into your bracket and then beat South Carolina.
At this point in the story I turn you over to ClearEyesFullHart, your diarist of the week and a guy making a bid to become the diaries' official basketball columnist guy. Gale Catlett, the Mountaineers' coach for over two decades, was being ousted as sanctions were coming down and his replacement was barely there long enough to celebrate Chanukah (8 days)…
Long story short, a laundry list of coaches turned the job down after that (including Bob Huggins) until John Beilein took on the challenge. He was tasked with rebuilding the program as well as the culture from the ground up. That is exactly what he did, taking West Virginia to the Elite Eight, the Sweet 16, and winning an NIT Championship in his 5 years as West Virginia’s coach.
Five years each step of the way since Le Moyne, and here we are at six, facing Bob Huggins and the program he took over after Beilein transformed it into something Huggins would find worthwhile, and with Beilein having transformed Michigan into something that both Lloyd Carr and people who rank basketball teams find worthwhile.
Except when they're letting Arkansas stay in it too long|Upchurch
CEFH also wrote a preview for Binghampton that turned out to be way more entertaining than watching Michigan play Binghampton.
"Football isn't statistical enough," –MGoBlog readers. Football, especially college, is the ultimate low sample size sport. You're barely into your first set of rank-determining games before the season ends. A single play's expected points swing is often greater than the final margin of victory. That and the NFL's aesthetic need to standardize their product across brands into a package experience targeted at the meanest possible demographic has led to the sport being a heaven for platitudes. Platitude is the enemy of the MGoBlog diarist.
For example, take "our only goal is to win the game." Not so says biakabutuka experience, because truly, assigning an arbitrary time point to the general goal of scoring more than the opponent needlessly removes good data. I mean other than specific scenarios of trying to kill clock before a go-ahead score at the end of a game or maneuvering to have the last possession of the half, aren't coaches always playing for the lead? What if the score of every play could be used to calculate team strength, wouldn't that multiply the available samples significantly? You see where he's going with this? I wonder if he can't add an expected score component so that teams get credited with advancing toward the end zone since coaches aren't trying to get a touchdown every play. Also he needs to figure out a way to scale the importance of any given point by scenario since teams do give up, and because the final score is ultimately the goal.
Etc. The guy who keeps shamelessly plugging his wife's website shares a harrowing tale of Ohio sports fandom (at a Browns game but everyone immediately says "that's so Columbus!"). Western Kentucky offering a parking spot for Bobby Petrino's hog draws out the THE_KNOWLEDGE. Brian already covered the Avant gif but here it is the thread from whence it came. I still haven't given up my quest since college to call him "Shoop", an onomatopoeia for the sound his hands make when a football is near.
Best of the Board
ANARCHY IN FIVE…FOUR…THREE..TWO…ONE…
No that is not a gif of Nick Sheridan's first throw vs. Utah, or even Russ Bellomy's first chance to do something other than pad a blitzer from Lincoln's field turf last year. What you are seeing is our moderating team telling the board that at least for a couple of weeks before we get back to bowl and recruiting season the in-season off-topic rules are lifted. To encourage appropriate pos-banging the mods offered a contest of gif posting. I went for Sound of Music…
Denard as Kal-El and Denard on Wife Day
Magic: The Gathering Mouton and Ezeh
Sparty's new helmet and hating on Rod
I can't believe that I call this my job!
Also a reminder to thank your local mods—imagine having to spend hours deleting 85 reposts of a NSFW Kate Upton gif so that everyone can still enjoy the rest of the thread.
EPIC HOKE DOUBLE-POINT TO WISCONSIN WOLVERINE
Think of the most epic player pics from the last few years turned into threshold iphone wallpapers.
The real version of the Jake Ryan photo above is gonna be the next HTTV cover BTW.
MICHIGAN ENGINEERS ARE NERDS OF AWESOME
The M-gineers made a somewhat Pythonic video of a torch lighting ceremony to announce the 2013 Mr. Engineer Contest, which they're getting Denard and Kovacs to judge. If you don't recognize the scenery it's because that is North Campus; don't worry LSA student you don't ever have to go there except when your artist friend has a showing.
Every snap video of South Carolina-Arkansas for more scouting pleasure. Expected visitors this weekend from robbyt003. Cal trying a logo other than a seal = fail; Michigan need not worry since the Block M works for the university as well as the athletic dept.
Your moment of zen:
'Tis the Season. So I meant to take a picture of this but you guys filled filled a poor woman's entire office (as in the computer is on top of an Amazon box) with gift donations for Adopt a Shelter, which is tomorrow. I still need some volunteers if you're free in the morning and wanna help throw a Christmas party for homeless kids.
I also inadvertently opened the flood gates for good causes going on this holiday season.
- Athletic Angels: This is Barwis (eeeeeeee)'s foundation that is doing something similar to the above but is donation-based, providing a catered dinner, clothes, and some toys for impoverished kids in metro Detroit. Their party is next Thursday. Video of the 2010 event.
- Merit: David Merritt stopped by to plug his new venture that's kinda like those feel-good shoes everybody has nowadays, where they make fashionable clothing and 20% of every purchase goes toward a scholarship via the Jalen Rose thing.
- Big House Big Heart: Brandon responded in AA.com about the Big House Big Heart Champions for Charity run he nixed, explaining he'd rather the university run it than a for-profit organization. People in this thread say the profit is small but I don't know where those #s are coming from; the greatest evidence that Brandon is just being a grinch is the event's director is all like "if they want it they can have it and we'll do all the work anyway; it's for charity!"
- People for Hoops Information Against Starving Dylans: UMHoops did their annual drive to keep them viable and made their it. I miss the old hardwood look but love everything else they've done with that place. Now about that photo above…
Bacari calls them his motivating shoulders. There's one floppy-haired coach's head that's still unused next to (director of basketball operations) Travis Conlan on the far right and FabFiver is taking suggestions; I vote S&C coach Jon Sanderson.
Yeeeeah. This man is going to kill me. Just like our dominating Big Ten team is going to murderate a puny SEC team, says ClearEyesFullHart in his Arkansas preview. BIG TEN! That's it for the cagers in the diaries, now back to the world where our conference has five 'N's.
[After the Jump, the BIG TENNNN! that was, Meeting South Carolina, and the Best of the Board]
Zoltan ponders how the gradient potential of his latest punt lines up exactly with that of collateralized debt obligation investment products in the 2008 bubble, and if they are correlated, could this end prostate cancer and teach cats to play ping-pong?
Somewhere in the Pisces-Cetus Supercluster complex, about a Yottameter from the Great Attractor, on a wet, rocky satellite of a smallish yellow star on the belt of a medium-sized Virgo Complex galaxy, there was a football game. In the first half, despite the best efforts of their opponents, Michigan's offense gained enough yards to traverse the Hoover Dam; in the second half they barely made it the length of a 747.
Millions who witnessed a representation of this occurring on stacked LCD pixels went online to find the similarly sized (and metaphorical) grain of salt, or compare the offensive coordinator's brain to the like-massed Paramecium. They tore out hair follicles, pounded their couches to release thousands of silt and skin particles which had settled there, and angrily flicked the transistor gates deep within their electronic devices to exclaim how this loss hurt to their very DNA.
In the abstract, a loss to Ohio State, even if largely expected, was too horrible to countenance. And so the Diarists burned glucose deep into the night while attempting to make sense of what was essentially the movement of a whole lot of atoms but to us a whole lot of matter. Zoom far enough in or out and you no longer have to see it.
The Micro. For the real quantum foam of the events in question, again I quote bronxblue…
The whole gang was back, to give the OSU faithful one more opportunity to cheer on a myth, a delusion about its history that seems painfully obvious to everyone not wearing crimson and grey.
So between the first and second quarters of the final game the 2012 Buckeyes will play, a premature finale caused by Mr. Tressel’s behavior during his years in Columbus, the fans in attendance gave him a standing ovation, one of the biggest cheers of the day. … The narrative went, at least in some circles, that most schools would have done the same, that fans love to cheer on winners and that most of those players were completely above board and played fairly, won every game that season, and, let’s be honest, Miami was no saint either. The thinking went that this was a team that the school should be proud of, or at least should be able to recognize publicly.
…who is going to keep winning Diarist of the Week until such point as BlueSeoul comes back to game wrap (with pics). I sat high up in the student section where freshmen who were probably 7 years old for 2002 cheered louder than the alumni. One kid in a black longcoat who spent most of first half with cheap nacho cheese on his chin yelled "Fuck Michigan!" at us through it all. This is Ohio State in a nutshell: cartoon bad guys oblivious to how stupid they look.
ST3 boiled Inside the Box Score down to Borges quotes. On the boards, Profwoot narrowed it to the script. And caup took it to the O-Line coach. Hypothesis: the more you know about football the deeper down the coaching ranks you can find blame. Theory: the 2003 team would have been national champs if it wasn't for (student mgr) Jeff Levine. Damn you, Levine!
Shane Morris puts the game in perspective.
[After the JUMP, we zoom out far enough to see the Space Emperor's Mustache]
Being a sports fan means having very little control over a meaningless thing that can profoundly affect your life. I'm not even sure which year this started, but for 365-ish days after beating Ohio State life is a little better to live, while the same after losing to them makes life a little worse. Until recently I thought I was maybe mistaking the general depressing of age, the Cooper run having coincided with the years between the onset of puberty and the onset of responsibility. Then Courtney Avery picked off Braxton Miller and I felt 20 again.
There are few active metaphors left in entertainment for some old fashioned we're the good guys/they're the bad guys. As your focus shifts from defeating Skeletor to survival, you begin to gain perspective, which is anathema to such absolutes. In this new adult relativity, goodness is a thing you strive for, not something bestowed as a natural and obvious state. You learn too that two things opposed are rarely easy to identify as more good or less evil. We strive for a thing, they strive for a thing, this is all relative. We're for tradition, and culpability, and a really fast guy from Florida who says "WHAAAAATT?!" and will smile for anybody in the world. From all we can see, the thing they seem to be most for is them.
The last time Michigan won in Columbus it was 2000. I was about mid-way through my collegiate career, and John Cooper was nearing the end of his. I sat in the student section and fielded death threats and projectiles while Drew Henson and Marquise Walker and David Terrell played the kind of offense we always imagined they could. The fans around us started looking ready to make good on those threats, and we bolted before the end, a fresh fallen snow covering our escape.
For the first time since, I'll be returning to Ohio Stadium tomorrow. I've been advised to not make my allegiance too obvious, to not respond to the taunting, and to maybe pick up a red hat with a gray O to leave in my Michigan plated car so that I won't return to find the tires slashed and garbage in the gas tank.
There are awful awful Michigan fans out there, and wonderful people who root for Ohio State. But this is sports. It's a big, blatant, color-coded metaphor for the subtle battles we fight, including—especially—good vs. evil. Caveat relativity and caveat scale, but one program defines itself by the good it strives to achieve, and the other program defines good as itself achieving. Tomorrow during the last game of their bowl-banned season, Ohio State will be officially honoring Jim Tressel and the 2002 National Championship Team whose accomplishments might too have been erased but for the statute of limitations. It couldn't be more clear if we were eight.
Beat Ohio Stats
Not counting, you know, real life, only two things happened in the world in the last seven days: the Big Ten added two more Indianas, and Michigan prepared to play Ohio State. The former was dealt with in the diaries with grief counseling, the latter with statistics, and both were handled in this diary by Gordon that reimagines The Game since Bo if divisions (rather than… sense? tradition? goodness?) had existed all that time. The useful chart at right (click big) is by Coach Schiano and neatly sums up the results. Most of those years Michigan and Ohio State would have re-matched. Sparty would have played in 3 of the last 4.
I want to also recognize ehatch, a tempo-free fan who's been trying to apply some of those Kenpommish ideas to football. Some of the relevant among the results:
By the conventional measures Michigan has the best defense in the Big Ten. However, once we adjust for our slow tempo, we find that the defense drops to 5th. We love our defense how is that possible? I think there are a couple potential explanations: 1) Throw-God Trevor Simien and the elusive Colter -- Northwestern was Michigan’s worst performance of the year. 2) Michigan always seems to have one or 2 bad drives per game regardless of how bad the offense is (Illinois need not apply). MSU, Iowa, Minnesota all had 2 long scoring drives where it was completely out of character for both them and us. And since they are so bad offensively that bad drive is enough to put them above their average. In other words, Michigan has yet to put together a full game defensively.
Emphasis on "has yet to." Like I have yet to see the new Abraham Lincoln movie. Hey defense, what're guys doing tomorrow like noon-ish?
CoachW did a common opponent comparison. He didn't give a winner for each but I will. Give Ohio a slight edge for MSU since that was on the road, give Michigan that back for shutting out Illinois, and it comes down to Nebraska and Purdue. Michigan lost big but that may not be relevant unless Bellomy becomes so again; Ohio State gave up a lot of points but blew the doors on offense and won by lots. Michigan handled Purdue, who took OSU to overtime but that's not relevant since Miller was hurt. I guess edge OSU since they picked the better game to go without the centerpiece of their offense. But the margins are awful close.
Another study by glewe showed OSU's pass defense may be within the established Garder-KILL range. Docwhoblocked got bumped from the board for his study on punts to suggest Michigan ought to have both a deep and short guy. Like Dileo is short to fair catch the bouncers, and Gallon stands deep in case there's a return possibility. Also we're returning too many kickoffs (I figured) but I've been fine trading five yards of field position for that feeling you get when Dennis Norfleet has the ball in space.
LSAClassof2000 took five diaries to put out some charts and tables of the most basic stats. They're pretty straight-up, the kind of numbers you'll see put up on TV (my bias is toward the tempo-free above), but succinct. The QB one is worth a glance if only to see the Gardner effect, and the opening chart of the defense one is useful for quoting stats like "Michigan doesn't get as many sacks but we're averaging 6 TFL a game to OSU's 5.2." You know, if you talk like that. Here's the cliff's notes:*
Table of LSAClassOf2000 Diaries This Week
|Diary||Michigan And Ohio State - 2012||Michigan And Ohio State – Last 10 Yrs||Michigan And Ohio State - Defenses||Michigan's Rushing Game - 2001-Present||Michigan QBs - 2001 To Present|
|What we learned||Both even in rush/pass split, but theirs gets a 100 more yds a game.||Our respective passing offenses have been weirdly joined at the hip from Troy Smith on.||Pretty similar until we get to sacks, where they have John Simon and we don't have John Simon.||
Holy Molk's junior/senior years rushing Batman!
|Good good good good great okay DEATH okay great good good.|
*[This section has been edited from its original. See the comments if you care.]
Buckeye etc. (non-statistical): The k.o.k.Law memories trip continues with '76 and then through the '80s. THE_KNOWLEDGE pontificates. Lanyard program progrifiates. Jonvalk wallpaperates. Blockhams burninates.
Rationalizing Rutgersyland. History was made this week when Delany became the first commissioner to voluntarily add teams that weaken the average strength of his conference (oakapple). Course nobody around here
believes wants to admit that these guys are so utterly out of touch and/or incompetent as to grab a couple of debtors for the Weak-ass Woody Division, flip Illinois to the Bo, and spend the next 14 years trying to convince New Yorkers to care. Gameboy says it's about TV markets, and shows us the numbers he thinks the Big Ten was looking at. Turtleboy talked about the scheduling situations that large conferences create.
This last got me thinking about another reason Maryland and Rutgers might become a net benefit to the conference: they can be trusted to lose. If you figure they pretty much have to go to 9 conference games now, a few extra Indiana's on the road could go a long way toward making the top of the conference look more Top Ten-ish and playoff-viable (see: SEC this year and how the top half has capitalized on beating up the wretched bottom half).
[Jump, then Weeklies, then lots of Ohio and expansion carping on the boards]