"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
META first: Happy to announce that Ace's thing was diagnosed and he's gonna be fine.
Out of the Blue. It was refreshing, wasn't it, when Hackett killed off the Michigan Man Bler.
Bo retired with a cult of personality because he was great at coaching football, and great at improving the lives of people around him. Trusting him and his guys served Michigan well enough so long as he and those guys and their guys continued to do things well and righteously.
|Camus on why Candyland is the greatest game ever. [Existential Comics]|
Hoke was righteous; he didn't do well. Outside Michigan circles there was general bewilderment that Brady could come to this year's football bust, sit beside the men who fired him for fielding progressively worse football teams, and receive a standing ovation. Winning football games can you earn you a lot of respect, but it's not the only way to get it.
I too want to move on from the Cult of Bo, and I too concede that most football coaches out there are good guys. I don't see any problem with recognizing these things and also recognizing that Brady Hoke stood out among his coaching peers. You see it in his players. We'll see it again in the coming years when there are more transfers and more off-field things to wag fingers at, because Brady is an extraordinary human who genuinely cares about people beyond the normal good guy capacity. That quality isn't what got him fired; it's what got him a shot at his dream job in the first place.
We needed to get out of this Blue Bler and relearn how to make decisions with something other than faith in a dead man—sadly it took the people in charge two transitions to realize it. There's no way to eradicate the bler people; fortunately there is a home run-seeming candidate who grew up around the program and quarterbacked it for a time.
Ultimately the question on Harbaugh is 100% "Will he?" Communist Football made the case for the thing we want to believe. If it happens yay for Michigan and the world and the ozone layer. If not, we're…
Into the Black. If we're not looking for the next Bo Schembechler to run Bo Schembechler's program, what are we looking for?
Nobody's telling us. In his Highlander movie-themed discussion of Michigan's pursuit of Harbaugh, I think Gameboy absolutely nailed the coaching search process, which goes:
- Big list of candidates
- Whittling of candidates into a pool
- Precision ranking and clarity among top tier
- Pick the guy
Because fans don't get to be part of the process, the bits that leak out make no sense. We are the mortals who keep finding bodies beheaded by swords all over town, plus a few bread crumbs left by those who seek to use us for their own ends, and start drawing conclusions.
Rock and Roll is Here to Stay: In looking for a new paradigm a lot of us have settled on Urban Meyer's regime and coaching tree. Copying a successful rival is as good a strategy as any; in fact it's exactly how Canham chose Bo in 1969.
In that vein, Kyle Whittingham is the next Urban Meyer-like candidate to get the alum96 treatment. Among Urban-like names being tossed around, Whittingham is probably the most palatable to the residual bler in Michigan's brass—Mullen carries the stench of the SEC and we have no idea whether they see the things in Herman that we do. Like Harbaugh, his candidacy is more of a "Will he?" than a "Can he?"
[After the jump, there's more to the picture than meets the eye.]
Let's go right to the hot subject shall we?
(FWIW I doubt we'll get Old Butthead out of Arkansas)
Fun Times in Cleveland: If you're in a certain radius of Cleveland you're probably seeing this ad I made last week linking to a January 12 MGoEvent. That's because the Cleveland Alumni Association is having Brian, myself, John U. Bacon, and former player Thom Darden at the Winking Lizard in Bedford to talk football and hoops, then watch the college football NC game. You get zero points for pointing out one of those speakers isn't likely to be as interesting as the rest.
CC: We probably don't need to keep labeling things with the "Coaching Change" tag, since it's pretty on-topic. Then again, it's useful so I guess keep it up. Also useful: all the reader content on candidates. Eye of the Tiger keeps ranking the top 12, which is as good a starting spot as any. He also continued his CC roundups with the fringe guys, getting only as far as Bob Stitt before getting into the jokes (Schiano, Chryst, Butthead, and Lane Kiffin). ReadYourGuard (a guy who played with Harbaugh by the way) recapped the firing process from Concussionaganza to today.
|But what if Mullen is actually just like his old boss except fiercely ethical, and we get another 10-year war before Urban assaults a Clemson player? Did you think of that? [AP via NBC]|
The other guy who's been providing consistent content on coach candidates is alum96, who went through the Football Outsiders stats on Dan Mullen, comparing him to Kevin Sumlin's star last year and suggesting the MSU (NTMSU) success comes from schedules with very few comparable teams:
12.5 months ago Mullen was sporting a 4-6 record with 2 games to go in year FIVE of his regime. Those 4 wins were over baby seals Alcorn State, Troy, Bowling Green,and soon to be 2-10 Kentucky. He did beat 3-9 Arkansas and won the Egg Bowl over 8-5 Ole Miss to finish off the year 6-6 before the bowl. So his regular season included 1 win of note...in year 5. Bret Bielema has done better in year 2 of his regime at Arkansas IMO in terms of upsets.
Miss State seemed to play a lot of really awful teams (which they beat) and a lot of really good conference teams (which they almost always lost to). The gist of the concern here is it may take Mullen four years to build a winner, by which time Michigan will have found enough reasons to run him out of town like we did the last two dudes.
I don't think it will take so long. Brady Hoke has left a team in relatively good shape; in the years to come we'll be talking about the devastating 2015 class (which fell apart because Hoke didn't win in 2013 and 2014), quarterback, and the safety and defensive line depth charts, the latter of which is another losing-related thing. As for the offensive talent, these guys were actually kinda good at running zone by the end of the season; you can absolutely teach them to do that in a spread offense. Also offensive line starts happen to be one of the better predictors of offensive success, and Michigan returns a ton of them in 2015 and 2016.
Shane Morris would probably fare better in a spread because the decisions are way easier, his legs are good enough to be something defenses have to account for, and his arm is more than adequate to be scary downfield. Malzone's talents are best used in a passing spread.
Etc. CLord on the karmic relevance of OSU maybe missing the playoffs for JT Barrett's injury. Basketball stats so far. Best and Worst. Inside the Box Score. Coach Schiano muses about stuff while waiting for the splosions.
[Jump for, well, more CC]
There won't be another one after. Not for Gardner. Not for Jake. Not for Hoke, for whom the accumulated effects of progressively worse seasons will mean the end. Not for a Michigan team that has less talent than their star ratings gave them, but far more than their record demonstrates.
As we come to the end—there will be no bowl game barring a miracle—for the Brady Hoke era, the tragedy is all of that wasted talent. That precious snaps with Denard Robinson and Vince Smith and David Molk and Patrick Omameh were wasted on Power because dogma. That Devin Gardner was never given the coaching or the system or the stability or the offensive line to be more than a freshman who runs around a lot. That Jake Ryan, who would have been Lawrence Taylor if he lived 30 years ago, spent his senior season having to learn a very hard thing he wasn't made to do. That Blake Countess is a coverage nickel because the cornerbacks play man all day. That Devin Funchess was a tight end, and then a bubble screen slot bug, until it was too late to care. That Dennis Norfleet was dancing around on the sidelines while A.J. Williams whiffed on blocks of defenders who wouldn't have been in the box otherwise. That senior seasons of Mone, Wile, Dymonte , Hurst, Gedeon, Houma, Delano, RJS, Ojemudia, Pipkins, Drake Johnson, Raymon, Da'Mario, Jarrod, Norfleet, Jourdan, Brandon Watson, Taco, Bolden, and Shane effing Morris were traded for a bare handful of freshman snaps that other guys might have taken.
That four years of Michigan football were wasted on Brady Hoke, and that here, at the end of all things, we're still not even sure those in charge will consider something besides unwavering faith in the gospel of "Michigan" in the next J. Ira and Nicki Harris Family Head Football Coach.
The next guy. These are now a week out of date but Eye of the Tiger put together a couple of roundups of the coaching candidates in our crosshairs. Factors are: Potential upside, Potential downside, Transition costs, Overall desirability, and Chances of him coming. Both start with Harbaughs; the first has Jim, Les, Mullen, Graham, and, uh, Belichick? Second has John, Patterson, McElwain, Herman, and…okay so the fifth guy is always some joke.
Alum96 added a defense of Les Miles to answer some guy made of straw who goes around saying LSU has regressed lately. Straw men are stupid. The main arguments against Les are that he's too old, and his coaching style is a better fit for LSU, which is near the extreme of anything-goes for college football, versus Michigan, where the local press turns you in for accidentally practicing an extra 20 minutes.
[Jump for seniors departing, a new basketball stat, and college football parity]
Foote in mouth. Larry Foote claimed, forgivably inarticulately, that Michigan's problem is we don't recruit enough kids who are used to a tougher road. I found a site that will take places in a spreadsheet and plot them on a map, and did so with the 2001 (Foote's and my senior year) and 2014 rosters, minus non-Kovacsian walk-ons. Yes there are errors still. Go ahead and zoom in.
Yellow is 2001; blue is 2014. Fullscreen
It sometimes does weird things like put Warren, Michigan, in the Upper Peninsula and I am fixing those one by one as I spot them. Findings:
- Lloyd had four guys from the Memphis area while Hoke did much better in Southwest Ohio. That's where those guys are from.
- Carr was able to penetrate deep into SEC country while Hoke has only managed to pick around the edges.
- Hoke gets more kids out of private schools and magnet schools (e.g. Cass Tech) than Lloyd did. This is because when I was in high school the big prep programs weren't recruiting as much as they do now, so talent wasn't as concentrated.
The differences are minor and speak less to changes in Michigan recruiting than general trends. It all amounts to mostly nothing.
Off the top of my head, the players Michigan has who come from 1% means are Wilton Speight, who's a redshirting freshman right now, and Matt Wile, who burned his redshirt because of Hagerup and waited patiently for three years behind a guy who probably shouldn't have been on the team. Foote's starting QBs were Tom Brady from a nice place in California, and John Navarre from Cudahy, Wisconsin, which is suburban Milwaukee on the Lake Michigan coastline. Meanwhile Devin Gardner went to Inkster, which doesn't even exist anymore. If Foote had been 13 years younger it's likely he'd have been picked up DCD (Mo Ways), OLSM (James Ross) or Cass Tech. Talent comes from all over; Michigan's talent comes from where it used to.
Bye week is wife day, as per Six Zero's family tradition. The espoused among us are encouraged to move back from the football for a moment and pay service to whatever your weird marital tradition might be. If she'd like you to lose an entire Saturday to outlet stores, that's rough, but she's worth it. If your wife would rather just get random butterflies from you and spend Saturday helping you rake leaves, then you're married to the bestest in the westest. Congratulations only me.
[Jump: on the Wisconsin coach we can't steal and the LSU one we probably shouldn't]
"There's a starman waiting in the sky. He'd like to come and meet us,
but he thinks he'd blow our minds."
November is the period when "pretty sure he won't be at San Fran" (neither Harbaugh could make the playoffs this year) can mean "he's gotta come!" So, dear diarists, let's dedicate a post to the starman waiting in the sky. This week resident coaching search guy in the diaries alum96 decided to look into Jim's meteoric rise. He included a table in there of split passing/rushing stats for offense and defense. I've taken this opportunity to recreate those as S&P+ ranks (total yardage ranks in parens) because there's a discrepancy in the passing:
|Season||Coach||Record||Rush O||Pass O||Rush D||Pass D|
|2006 Stanford||Singletary||1-11||105th (115)||107th (95)||94th (117)||47th (60)|
|2007 Stanford||Harbaugh||4-8||37th (102)||88th (70)||86th (77)||84th (84)|
|2008 Stanford||Harbaugh||5-7||6th (19)||15th (103)||104th (77)||99th (83)|
|2009 Stanford||Harbaugh||8-5||12th (11)||7th (70)||89th (55)||104th (98)|
|2010 Stanford||Harbaugh||12-1||30th (17)||2nd (29)||24th (19)||30th (16)|
|2011 Stanford||Shaw||11-2||18th (18)||10th (22)||32nd (3)||14th (73)|
|2014 Michigan||Hoke||4-5||45th (67)||70th (105)||6th (25)||44th (36)|
Major disagreements between S&P and the standard stats: the passing game in 2008 and 2009 (bolded) was extremely efficient, just not used very often. Thus total yardage looked awful, but in terms of what happened when they passed, it was very good even before you could explain it away as Andrew Luck. This is a common theme for Harbaugh reclamation projects; the former quarterback is the master of the pick-your-spots passing game. This is also a lesson in tempo—Stanford would plod along, depressing total yardage.
Let's not do this again until my find-on-page searches for "Michigan" don't have to progress past MSU and several directionals to get to ours.
Hokespeech Generator. A guy named MeanJoe07 has apparently found something on the internet where you input the text of Brady's press conferences, add a few nouns (like balsamic vinegar) and a name (like Rhonda Jones) and get back something that makes sense only to people used to digesting soylent blue. The diary is too weird to be of much interest, but the same guy has been responding to comments all over the site with his tool, with quite disconcerting results.
Etc. Basketball back wallpaper. Michigan is probably not going to a bowl game. Best and Worst. Inside the box score. Wolverines in the NFL, and NBA/NHL/etc., when are we getting the former quarterback who coaches an NFL team?
Best of the Board
PUT IT ON THE MAP
A startup that makes realtime maps for local festivals and such is letting us use their software to give the MGoCommunity a more functional method of sharing their spots with each other on gameday. Events around campus, best watering holes, open tailgates for MGoReaders, where the band warms up, etc. all go on the crowd-sourced map. If you want to organize a meet-n-greet or game-watching party in your town, go ahead and add it to the map (it'll be off camera for those in Evanston).
[Jump for some stuff I believed in as a kid]
On the nature of Hoke, life, the universe, and everything. Upcoming Christopher Nolan movie Interstellar went to great lengths to produce the above image, the best yet of what a black hole looks like based on the mathematics of relativity—not just the lensing of space behind it but the surprising twisting of the accretion disc around it due to the warping of space where it's formed.
What's spooky about it is the thing you're seeing isn't the thing that exists. What exists is a disc around a spinning supermass, like Saturn's rings. What you're seeing however is space itself getting so warped by that mass that you can see it in 4D, bending space like a piece of paper.
Best and Worst posted a trailer for Interstellar and raved about the "our place in the dirt" quote while neglecting to mention the one in there by Dylan Thomas:
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
This is how I want Michigan to finish the season: certain of its own mortality, fighting anyway. Last year's blowout to MSU was an apocalypse, but at that moment I was profoundly mad, not embarrassed. I was embarrassed when they went out flat and uncaring against Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl. Whenever I wonder if we were right to can Rodriguez when we did, I remember that act of cowardice. Whenever I wonder if we're being too hard on Brady, I think on how he gives up without looking like giving up. Bronx had a different explanation:
This might be semantics, but I don't think Hoke is a quitter. He's (sadly) calling the game the same way in the 1st quarter as he is in the 4th quarter. He's like the worst movie version of artificial intelligence.
So he's a robot who faces adversity by going back to his safe place, i.e. the way Lloyd Carr would coach a 1st quarter. I'm not buying it. I think he closes up shop when he thinks it's hopeless, and believes we're not smart enough to notice it.
Ron Utah nevertheless argues that at least that Brady is an essentially good man. I subscribe to the DFW method of rating people: their expectations of other people tend to be the greatest insight into how they themselves think. For example the dude on the board who thinks everything is about political warfare is just a really partisan dude. Brandon's emails were relevant not because they explain how he alienated fans—if he wrote 300 of these that's still a thousandth of the 300k waiting list his policies expunged. Rather they showed us how arrogant Brandon thinks his critics are, thus how truly arrogant Brandon is.
Hoke's goodness is best exemplified, perhaps, in his weaknesses as a coach. He doesn't ever seem prepared for enemies who want to gut him, because he doesn't have that killer instinct. Perhaps he doesn't push his players hard enough—maybe that comes from not expecting other coaches to be doing so. His players seem stunned when there's a cheap shot against them—we look at that like "where's your spirit?!"" but it could just be they're not the type of dudes who expect the other team is trying to scramble their brains.
It is a mistake to see the obvious flaws in Hoke and assume we would make better head coaches. It is not a mistake to see these flaws and assume more successful head coaches would make better head coaches. Perhaps it was our own naivety to think Michigan's particular advantages could compensate for the weakness of goodness.
This football program is as doomed as matter in an accretion disc. Some of the players in it won't be here (Peppers at least said he will be the last to leave), and there's no guarantee that the next step will take us to the dark core of the black hole or shooting out into space to form a new star. Michigan looks headed to 4-8 by Massey estimates, which LSA matrixcised.
This is mathematical reality. The above is how the universe is arranged. But what separates life from every other arrangement of matter is how we approach our doom. Life doesn't just ride the mathematics arc until it spirals into nothingness. Life rages.
It probably won't change anything, but the players on this doomed team plan to rage against that probability. It almost certainly won't change anything, but most fans have chosen to march back to the Big House, and the other home field in Evanston, and even down to the darkest place in the universe, and rage against the dying of the light.
If you'd like to do so and don't have tickets, head to this thread before 3pm today and tell us about the crazy thing you've done. I'm now up to 8 tickets to give away.
[Jump for metaphysical beings—ghouls, goblins, zombies, etc.]