Mike Lantry, 1972
"Whatever you need to make you feel, like you've been the one behind the wheel, the sunrise is just over that hill."
—Cursive, The Gentleman Caller, The Ugly Organ
How about some good news regarding Michigan's football team? One runaway success you can attribute to this coaching staff is they've managed to hold onto their players, especially the ones they recruited. Better news: the thing about a lot of the teams that finished in the Top 10 in 2013 were they had lots of upperclassmen starters. Experience is still a big deal, and the only way to get that is to go a lot of years in a row without losing half your roster. Better better news: Michigan is (likely) going to be one of those teams in the not-too-distant future. Let's go right to the table:
% of PLAYERS REMAINING AFTER X YEARS FROM RECRUITING CLASSES 1993-'13
|Class||Recruited by||Class Size||1 year||2 years||3 years||P.O.E.*||Usage**|
|Average for 1993-2010||21||92%||85%||74%||58%||77%|
*(Played out eligibility, i.e. nonredshirted Sr's who played 4 years + guys who played 5)
**(Eligible seasons the class netted divided by 4 x class size)
There will be attrition from Hoke's classes as the position battles shape out, but for awhile there Michigan was regularly coming into a recruiting class's redshirt sophomore season with a third of that class already departed. As of now the only guy from that awesome 2012 haul not on the roster is Kaleb Ringer. You have to go back to the class of 2000*, which didn't qualify Reggie Benton, to find a class to make it this far as intact. It was so long ago that a guy from that class is now one of Michigan's coaches.
Plot the retention of the 2012 class to this point with the state of the classes before it coming into their 3rd season. It's stunning:
Years after coaching changes seem to witness an exodus spike, followed by a return to normal, which is to be expected. The last few years though…
*Even better was 1998. Henson (Yankees), Terrell (early NFL), Fargas (transfer to USC) and fullback Dave Armstrong (unrenewed 5th) were the only losses, and that was just a year of eligibility from each of them. Considering they were recruited after the championship year that's astounding.
[Jump for lots more charty charts.]
Selfie: Go save Christmas again.
Kids! Gandalf the Maize's follow-up on which factors seem to be the most predictive of offensive line play compared the r-squareds of 19 things, from o-line experience as a whole, to their recruiting stars, to the left tackle individually, depth, QB talent, how much the team goes long, etc., and found the ONLY factor with relatively high significance is…
Interior. Offensive. Line. Experience!
Let's get a DotW to the wizard, and tell Funk to put some years on his charges, RIGHT NOW.
Ron Utah followed up by showing the relative age of Michigan's whole roster versus teams of significance.
Part II by dnak438 on Michigan's offensive regression this week went back and added 2011-12 to the study of YPP versus opponents, tracking it by dividing Michigan's yards per play each game versus the average that team gave up. The results are charts that really show the history of Al Borges's various offensive strategies:
Here's the progression:
[after the jump]
Hypothetical activities by a 67-year-old Jimi Hendrix if he were still alive | Lies, Deceit, & Stuff
I spent most of today trying to play with this diary by airvipermb, which spent some time yesterday on the front page before I knocked it back. For those who don't remember the Jimi-headed versions from last year, the OP did a tremendous job of going through Big Ten rosters and putting down how many upperclassmen each team was projected to play as starters and on the two-deep. What this doesn't do is provide any predictive information.
For that reason this isn't front page material. Not yet at least. But I'd like to help it get there.
First, upperclassman starters in 2011, in table format. I changed it to percent; starter % of upperclassmen is out of 11, two-deep is % of upperclassmen out 22. Because I'm pretty sure this is how airvipermb did it (likely reasoning: too hard to find data otherwise) a redshirt sophomore is an underclassman while a true junior is an upperclassman.* Your most experienced Big Ten two-deeps next year (UPDATE: added deltas):
|Team||'11 Starters||Delta||'11 Two-Deep||Delta|
The author was optimistic but this says Michigan's defense is still the youngest in the conference excepting younger siblings. Does that matter? The O.P. suggests it does; the data say NSFMF.
Here's how this all looked last year:
|Team||2010 DFEI %ile||2010 Yds/G||2010 Starter%||2010 Two-Deep%|
I showed the Yards per game because that's the sorting metric the author used. I'm gonna talk DFEI from here on since I'm an advanced stats fan but if you're not such, mentally upgrade Penn State and Wisconsin for hard-nosed grind-it-out game planning, and downgrade Illinois, Indiana and Purdue for "not getting it." It doesn't matter because these numbers are all over the place:
HOWEVA, if you do the same thing on pure recruiting the results are also bouncy. Here's 4- and 5-stars recruited by Big Ten teams from '06 to '08, out of 22 spots available:
Actually this is pretty un-bouncy except Nebraska and Iowa outperformed by a lot and Penn State and Michigan (infinite ARGH!!!) underperformed. Iowa is our super-duper experienced two-deep so maybe that explains them and Michigan's young roster explains Michigan. But then what's Penn State's problem? This study doesn't say. Future study: I would love it if we could get a spreadsheet of all of the Big Ten players on the 1- and 2-deep.
* Let's use Nebraska 2010 as an example for how this can throw us off. You appropriately call them a great defense and rank them second to Ohio State, which I think we can concur on. Here's Nebraska's defense as of this date last year. I count six upperclassman starters there. However Cam Merideth, Baker Steinkuhler, Sean Fisher, Will Compton and P.J. Smith are all from the Class of 2008, i.e. they're redshirt sophomores. Also from that class: Alfonzo Dennard, counted as a junior. See the problem? You've got returning starters three years removed from high school counted the same as Courtney Avery (a true freshman who was a QB in H.S.) last year, despite there being vast difference between their respective expectations of experience-based contribution.
Still Raining, Still Dreaming
Jimi eat galaxy.
Until a few hours ago, it looked like the SEC was ready to swallow up one of the last quasi-worthwhile bits of the Big XII that doesn't have its own channel. This of course sparked another round of speculating how many galaxies the Big Ten must own to keep up, from oakapple and justingoblue. This being the Big Ten, it's not who would come (except Notre Dame) so much as who can fit the academic criteria without being a.) Ivy League, or b.) Athletically challenged.
Justin took it from an academic expenditure perspective, which is an interesting way to get around having to use academic rankings like U.S. News & World Report's, and avoids the weirdness from endowments-based ranking. The candidates are Duke, UNC, Virginia, V-Tech, Pitt, Rutgers, Cuse, Mizzou and Notre Dame, though all but Duke, UNC and Pitt would be near-bottom in the conference at research spending.
For the wargames route, consult oakapple, who took a more pragmatic, dominos (NTD's) effect approach. After six previous dominos it's the Big Ten's turn and…
VII. What Does the Big Ten Do?
The short answer, at least for now, is: probably nothing. The Big Ten is already in a position of strength. It has no particular need to expand. There are only two institutions that could improve the Big Ten’s current product: Texas and Notre Dame. The Irish have chosen repeatedly to remain independent, and for reasons noted above, the Longhorns are more likely to choose the Pac-12.
Galactic plans are on hold until such time as the Pac 487 annexes China and the Big East is trying to teach the French to play football, or Zoltan demands such, whichever happens first.
Scoreboard! Thanks to M-Wolverine at Fan Day, and M-Wolverine's camera.
EGD had some thoughts for a Top 10 (which means 11 not 12) other ideas for Jerel Worthy tattoos. I'm surprised nobody suggested just getting a chip drawn on his shoulder. I'm also surprised it wasn't the 2008 scoreboard, because that's exactly what my MSU friends/family still troll me with (the reminder of 2008 is what stings). Anyway these are good but I want pics! Those of you with Photoshop/GiMP, or who are Samara Pearlstein, get on this!
And THE_KNOWLEDGE is apparently using up the last miles on his current time machine lease to predict the standout of the 2012 class will be… well I can't ruin it.
Let's take some small sample sizes and extrapolate wildly. It will be fun. Here's Bill Connolly breaking down expected improvement from teams that return varying numbers of defensive starters:
So Cincinnati returns 11 defensive starters. That's probably a good thing, right? But how good? And how much can a bad defense improve in one offseason just because of experience? Let's take a look, shall we?
Average Change In Def. F/+, Last Three Years Starters
N Avg Chg in
1 1 -12.4% 2 4 -10.9% 3 10 -8.4% 4 32 -2.1% 5 53 -1.1% 6 69 -0.5% 7 85 1.1% 8 56 1.5% 9 37 4.2% 10 9 6.0% 11 3 5.4%
So basically, if you return between five and eight starters, you are likely not going to change much, but three or fewer is a problem, and nine or more is a good thing.
F/+ is Connolly's advanced metric; it's play-based instead of drive-based like FEI. Don't be fooled by the % symbol—the metric is percentage based and from context it's clear the difference is meant to be added to the score, not multiplied. Since the best defenses are around +17% and the worst around –13%, 6% is about a fifth of the entire scale.
Michigan is, unsurprisingly, right at the bottom of that scale at 115th. They were 12% worse than an average defense down-to-down. The good news is they return 9-ish starters, losing Greg Banks, James Rogers and Jonas Mouton while reacquiring Troy Woolfolk. (They also lose Ray Vinopal and Obi Ezeh, but Ezeh had been replaced and Michigan should get JT Floyd back so let's call it a wash.)
The numbers are thin at both ends of the spectrum but, hey, extrapolating wildly from small sample sizes. Doing so says Michigan's defense will storm forward from 115th nationally to…
I have no source for this, unfortunately.
But wait! Our sample sizes are not small enough and our extrapolation is not making out with other nubile young extrapolations in front of a television camera. Bill added a second factor, the previous year's defense, and finds that a defense with an F/+ under –10% that returns nine starters should expect (for a given confidence level that is not high at all) to improve by 8.6%, which would see them get to…
You might be able to argue that Mike Martin wasn't right and the team was even younger than the average team that returns nine starters and GERG is rubbing stuffed animals on the faces of other stuffed animals at a tearful tea party and for the first time in a long time they'll just run one damn defense per year and that they should expect to improve even more. You're probably setting yourself up for disappointment. Like installing the spread 'n' shred, digging out of a hole this big is a multi-year project.
Ridiculous wallpaper part 7. Via user monuMental and his ridiculous talents:
How could this possibly happen? So when people say things along the lines of "could we really have the worst defensive talent in the Big Ten" and I say "yes," no one believes me. This is usually because one sophomore four star in the starting lineup at a particular position looks like talent and two fifth-year-senior three stars do not. Here's the Iowa two-deep on defense:
There are 22 players. Five of them are underclassmen, only one of those a starter. Nine are seniors, and this is minus a senior starting linebacker who would shove a freshman out the door. Michigan's starting lineup has as many sophomores (Floyd, Kovacs, Roh) and freshmen (Gordon, Gordon) as the entire Iowa two-deep, and where Iowa has seniors backed by seniors or sophomores backed by juniors in many places Michigan has freshmen, freshmen, and more freshmen. This is why it's impossible to tell anything about Greg Robinson yet. You could take an established genius and give him this roster and the results would be, oh, I don't know… somewhat depressing:
|Pass Efficiency Defense||92||139.01|
|Tackles For Loss||66||5.83|
That's not Michigan. It's USC. USC's secondary:
- Senior CB Shareece Wright, a top 50 recruit
- Freshman CB Nickell Robey, a top 250 recruit
- Sophomore S Jawanza Starling, a top 250 recruit
- Sophomore S TJ McDonald, a top 50 recruit
This is a "talented" secondary. It is also awful because it has one upperclassman; they're trying to bolster things by moving freshman and starting WR Robert Woods to nickelback. That sounds familiar except in Michigan's case it's a guy who should be a linebacker moving from wide receiver and being forced to start instead of being Courtney Avery.
Michigan does not have near that amount of recruiting mojo, nor does it have the veteran consistency of Iowa. Yes, if Michigan is not more experienced and less awful next year it's time to focus the firey finger of blame entirely on Rich Rodriguez. Not quite yet, though.
Parachute in. While everyone was looking at that guy in the parachute he was looking at us:
AIM FOR THE YELLOW.
Alabama-rama. Some final thoughts on the Alabama game, but first Dave Brandon:
"I just thought it was a terrific opportunity for our team, our coaches and our fans," Brandon said. "But we got the numbers right, we worked really hard to make sure there was plentiful availability of tickets, because we wanted to get that right for our fans. We hope to think of this as a preseason bowl trip where we can bring lots of people and really make it a special Labor Day weekend."
Booting the Notre Dame game is not an option, so Michigan will go on the road to face Ohio State, Notre Dame, Nebraska, and Alabama (sort of) in the same season. Have fun, senior Denard. Anyway, thoughts:
- I am almost certain the reason introducing a middleman is preferable to a home-and-home are the messed up TV contracts. If Michigan plays a home and home with Alabama they split the extra TV money with the rest of the conference. It sounds like by doing this neutral site thing they are getting the financial windfall all to themselves. If you dislike this trend—and as a guy who would rather travel to Tuscaloosa than Dallas, I do—the only solution is to let teams keep all the profits from their nonconference games to themselves.
- As to why it's in an irrelevant place like Dallas: when ND started its "barnstorming" games it quickly discovered it couldn't play anyone in a relevant location because TV contracts prohibit anyone from playing a neutral site game in their conference's geographical footprint unless that game is going to be on the appropriate network. The result was ND-Washington State in Texas.
- This will be the biggest nonconference game played against anyone other than Notre Dame in…a very long time. Maybe the 1996 Colorado game? Michigan accidentally played a 13-0 Utah team in 2008 but in terms of pregame hype that pales in comparison. Washington was #9, IIRC, so Alabama will outstrip that.
Etc.: Hockey has a critical road test against UNH this weekend. People are still projecting us for New Year's Day. The Daily takes a look at college amateurism and whether it can or should go away. BWS picture pages the Webb TD.
Correction. The recruiting profile of Richard Ash brought up Jason Kates because he's the canonical recent example of a guy whose weight problems prevented him from becoming a player. In that post, I mentioned that Rivals had 'won' that evaluation since they issued two stars to Scout's four. I got that backwards. It was Scout that was skeptical and thus won.
The underbelly of disaster(!). Tim is taking in the official media bit of the tour (lunch!) and is tweeting brooding photos of empty stuff. Full post coming up later today; for those who can't wait UM Tailgate got in way early and already has the first of what will be dozens of galleries posted today. Swanky:
Meanwhile, Michigan has released this year's box-engorged seating capacity: 109,901, which puts it back in its rightful place as the largest in the country. Wikipedia was updated in nanoseconds:
Michigan Stadium's capacity will drop next year when the seats and aisles are widened but should still check in #1.
Beam me up. I can't control when I get the weird photoshops of recently graduated players, but here's this:
His people are Patriots. Thanks to Corey Ray.
Also in graphic stuff, TRSaunders expands his library of MS Paint crazy photo stuff with Cam Gordon.
Raid your own stadium. Tickets for the Big Chill are all but officially sold out as Michigan holds back the last few blocks for incoming freshmen. Unless you head to Michigan State's ticket department, that is. Buy away. Plot in the message board thread.
In graphic form. A poster named BlueMonster threw this chart up on Rivals. It speaks for itself:
Steele can be wobbly on certain things but not wobbly enough to get Michigan out of the overall cellar when they're so far behind the nearest competitor, especially since Steele's evaluation of Michigan's starters is significantly more veteran than the actual lineup will be.
Interesting to note that UConn, which had a rep as a very veteran outfit, comes in towards the bottom of the list. Penn State, meanwhile, checked in next to Michigan at just below average on the Steele experience ranking but is well up the rankings here. Everything else looks to be about what you'd expect, with that Notre Dame game looming large as an opportunity to start off in a non-flailing fashion.
Expansion of the other variety. Everyone else has an opinion, so I should too: the NCAA has announced that the four play-in games will be contested in two groups: everyone who used to be a 16 seed plays for two spots and the last four at-large teams will play for the other two. So everyone gets slid down one more notch and the three teams that are added have to play for a spot with the team that would have been the last at-large in a 65-team tournament.
I was against any sort of expansion from the start and still think 68 is goofy, but if they're going to do it this is the best way. The 16 seeds are invariably weak opponents and bidding another one goodbye is not going to make anyone shed a tear. While the occasional interesting team finds itself a 15 seed, usually the worst 15 seed is no threat against the best 2. Meanwhile, having the last few at-large bids face off against each other will reduce the "what about X" complaining every year because X will have an opportunity to play Y, settling the argument on the court. More of those third place Mountain West or A-10 teams will get the opportunity to prove themselves better than Clemson or Minnesota.
The Artist Formerly Known As Big Ten Wonk dislikes this, calling it "dumb":
I realize many pundits are fine with this today, but wait until they see it in action with actual team names inserted into these brackets. Inevitably a five-seed will lose to a 12 that emerged from a play-in game and we’ll hear all the usual talk about the “advantage” and “momentum” the 12 had from playing already. And as for talk of 10-seeds being in play-in games, mark me down as absolutely terrified. I’m already on the record as thinking that tournament seeding has far too little to do with reality. (And note that today’s decision only raises the stakes that will be riding on a team’s seed.)
Now, if you’re talking about a team seeded as high as a 10, there’s a good chance that said team is way better than the selection committee could have realized. To require a team that good to win an extra game while every year the 64th-best team in the field is guaranteed a comparatively easy six-win path is antithetical to what’s made the NCAA tournament the best postseason spectacle in major American team sports. We’ve trusted the tournament’s outcomes precisely to the extent that the courts have been neutral, the brackets have been balanced, and the opportunities have been equal.
I think that's an anticipation about talking heads doing the thing where they have a fierce disagreement over a petty issue because of Stephen A Smith and not an actual argument that this will be a factor, but even so I must dissent from Gasaway's dissent. A case where the second to last at large spot is actually a 10 seed will be exceedingly rare. The equivalent would be the last at large in the current tourney being a 10, which I'm pretty sure has never happened. Meanwhile, the 64th-best team has earned something (the auto-bid) the last teams in have not. It's not entirely fair but if it keeps a bunch of small teams from getting shuffled to "TruTV" in favor of major conference mediocrities, I'm in favor of it. Seeds are mostly guesses and a small conference team that won its championship and avoided the play-in has proven itself better than a subset of college basketball; major conference teams that finish seventh have not done this.
The committee did the best possible job given they had to assemble a 68-team tournament and include a cable channel no one's even heard of.
Leader for real. Now that the World Cup is over it can be said: ESPN has shed its Mark Shapiro skin and has returned to something that people can both love and hate instead of just the latter. Not once during the 2010 tournament did I pine for the Univision that I had in HD in 2006 but not 2010, and this is despite the fact that Univision is such terrific fun that I would occasionally flip on replays of games I'd already watched just to hear someone's head explode because of Diego Forlan. Also, 30 for 30 is an unqualified success, the sort of original programming that ESPN always should have done instead of "I'd Do Anything" or literally everything else Shapiro ever came up with. (His latest trick: running Six Flags into the ground.)
Everything from the play by play to the studio crew was fantastic—even Alexi Lalas was genuinely fun when he ribbed the English. My only complaint was the time spent showing replays when action was going on, and that wasn't even ESPN's fault since FIFA controls the feed. There has never been a greater turnaround between consecutive broadcasts of a single event. Last year we were stuck with Dave O'Brien and Marcelo Balboa.
Why can't they do this for other sports? Well, if you took ESPN's top four college football announce teams (PBP: Musberger, McDonough, Franklin, ?) they would probably come close to the four excellent teams put together for the World Cup. When you get to #8 it's Pam Ward, and by #12 it's that awful Rod Gilmore/Trevor Matich color pairing that had a combined IQ approximately the equal of tapioca pudding that went 12-20 in 15 years as as boxer. Plus ESPN had the pick of any English announcers they wanted. If you could put together an All-Star roster of college football from ESPN, CBS, Fox, and, uh, NBC… well… you'd get Verne Lundquist. Never mind.
Initial NCAA impressions. If you're like me and have gotten tired of EA's consistently lame NCAA franchise, I suggest you check out GameShark folks Bill Abner and Todd Brakke's "Nut and Feisty Weasel," where they'll be posting their annual stream of consciousness reviews of the latest edition. These are always unvarnished and far more useful than any review ever is.
The first impression, as always, is promising. This is something that I don't know if an NCAA game has ever managed before:
John Clay had 88 yards on 20 carries. He was hard as hell to tackle. Michigan? I shut that team down with impunity. I had a chance late to get the ball back against Wisky and they marched 30 yards to nail the coffin shut.
Against UM my DE Cam Heyward was UNBLOCKABLE. He was KILLING whoever the Michigan RT is. 3 sacks, multiple pressures, etc. In years past this would raise a quick red flag. This is a potential pattern that could really kill the game because before--something like this simply meant...the AI blocking sucks.
Against Wisky? Heyward was as non factor. And believe me...I tried.
Abner is an OSU fan, unfortunately. Let's hope the game's projection for Mark Huyge is pessimistic.
Etc.: Pittsburgh and Philadelphia get the 2013 and 2014 Frozen Fours. Fine by me; at least Pittsburgh is drivable. Boston fans are complaining about the FF's long absence from their neck of the woods—by 2014 it will be a decade—and I would have some sympathy if the Detroit FF was the first time in forever that the perpetually-screwed CCHA had gotten to host one. Rivals ranks Michigan a job-saving #41.