I've been slowly building and picking through an all-plays database built from NCAA.org's play-by-play data. The easiest thing to pull out so far has been penalties, so let's play with those.
The benefit of the all-plays is you can tell the difference between penalties, since a personal foul says a different thing about a team and does a different thing to them than, say, a delay of game to set up a punt. I broke the various penalties up into "Violent" and "Non-Violent" behaviors.
- Acts of violence: Clipping, crackbacks, facemasks, illegal blocks, illegal use of hands, kick catch interference, pass interference (?), roughing the kicker (15), roughing the passer, tripping, and unnecessary roughness.
- Non-violent behaviors: Delay of game, encroachment, false starts, holding, ineligible receiver downfield, intentional grounding, kickoff out of bounds, offsides, running into the kicker (5), sideline interference, substitution infraction, too many men, unsportsmanlike conduct, and illegal fair catch, formation, forward pass, motion, participation, shifting, and touching.
Michigan last year was remarkably good at avoiding the latter type. I tracked the Big Ten plus our 2013 opponents and Michigan had fewer of the non-physical (yellow) calls go against them than any other team:
I don't know if I want to count PI since its application can get downright chintzy, so that's broken out. Either way Ohio State managed to lead the study in infractions despite playing a game or two fewer than most of the others. Reason why this is? Online poll says:
4.5% of people who take any online fan poll are Buckeyes
I was surprised that Michigan State appeared to have their pugilistic streak in relative check, i.e. they were only among the leaders, not far ahead as I supposed from watching them. It takes a while to gather all the data but minus the regular season Wisconsin game (data wasn't available) their 2011 penalty numbers were high but their personal foul quotient wasn't: 31 violent (11 of those pass interference), but a ridiculous 60 non-violent. Wanna guess where a disproportionate of those came from? Offsides. #JerelWorthyJumpsEarly.
Michigan vs. Average
We're dealing with smallish sample sizes so conclusions are shaky. That said there are things to see when you look at which penalties Michigan was getting called against them versus a typical team on their schedule.
Non-violent things per season:
|Illegal Offensive Stuff||4.6||-||5||5||5||-|
|Delay of Game||3.3||-||5||3||1||4|
|Special Teams Derps||0.4||-||-||1||-||-|
Michigan's veteran offensive line was good for something last year: remarkably few false starts and none of those illegal formation/procedure things that plagued us in various offensive transitions. That's a feather in Al Borges's cap: the offense had their fundamentals down about as well as you can ask. If you want to correlate offensive line experience with success at avoiding pre-snap penalties (I haven't proven this. Further study: is it experienced OL or just experienced tackles? Inquiring 2013 offensive lines want to know.
Violent crimes per season:
|Various Illegal Blocks||4.8||8||8||4||6||-|
|Roughing the Passer||1.0||3||2||1||-||3|
|Kick Catching Interference||0.6||2||-||1||2||-|
|Roughing the Kicker||0.3||-||-||-||2||-|
Average, the only thing standing out being chopblocks. There were a few of these called against Michigan last year that I thought were horsecrap (Mealer's v. UMass and Gallon's vs. Minnesota), and here's one that was legit (on Gordon):
If you don't spot it in 10 watches, watch it 10 more times.
I'm declaring Michigan a very average team at this.
Home Field Advantage?
There is one, usually. Michigan was almost twice as likely to get a penalty called against them on the road—that was an outlier. You could say it's because we got hosed on the road, or because Michigan Stadium is a major home-field advantage. Given the paucity of calls per game that went against the Wolverines in the Big House, I'd have to say that appears the more likely:
PENALTIES PER GAME
|Team||Tot/G||Home||Away||Neutral||% Diff on Road|
But it could as well mean Michigan is more well-behaved at home. Interesting that being on the road actually helped some teams, particularly Michigan State.
This week in football coaches make obvious statements about how recruiting rankings are not guarantees:
Michigan State's Mark Dantonio wary of star rating systems used to classify recruits
"If you come in as a four‑star recruit, really doesn't serve any purpose," Dantonio said.
Last year in football coach talking about a guy in his recruiting class:
"For the third straight year, Michigan State gets the top player, perceived top player by the media in the state of Michigan."
(This was Aaron Burbridge, who turned out to be MSU's only receiver not toting bricks around for hands. The previous two were Lawrence Thomas, last seen playing FB/TE/DL/horrible mutated fly-man, and the wildly overrated but still long-term starter and NFL draft pick Will Gholston.)
I mean you guys at some point we're going to get all the football coaches in a room and carefully explain to them that we don't think the rankings are iron-clad guarantees, either, and that if they could just take that as a given we could all talk about something else for once. In any case, Dantonio won't have to walk a fine line between being a hipster about rankings and trumpeting his acquisition of the top player in the state this year.
The Game 1974 via Bentley
With the new bowl lineup I thought I'd delve into the conference's history with the things this week. Chart of sane bowl names is here.
We whomped Stanford in 1901 so bad they canceled bowl games for a decade.
Rose or Bust.
For a time there was only the Rose Bowl. Then others began to pop up and the Big Ten wouldn't let teams go (Ohio State snuck over to Pasadena after the 1920 season but that was it). Then they said only one team may take a bid from the Rose Bowl.
It's been nearly 40 years and yet any Michigan fan over 50 still shakes with anger at it: In 1973 Michigan and Ohio State met in one of the more epic battles in that epic ten-year war. After Michigan missed three field goals in the 4th quarter the game—and thus the Big Ten title race—ended in a tie. In the process the Wolverines' starting quarterback Denny Franklin was busted up. Woody Hayes, never a particularly classy individual, made an uninformed remark to the media that he's sorry Franklin wouldn't be able to play in the bowl game. In part because they believed Michigan would be without Denny, the conference's athletic directors voted to send Ohio State to the Rose Bowl.
The following year Michigan did make their game-winning field goal, but the officials missed it and there was no replay, and Ohio State again went to Pasadena. Since the Big Ten wouldn't let its teams attend any other bowl, both times a more deserving Michigan had to stay home. Overall Franklin and the Wolverines managed to go three years (1972-'74) without a bowl game despite going 30-2-1 over that span.
The whole concept was as mind-blowingly ridiculous as it seems, and the following year the conference finally got rid of the rule that had become outdated due to...
The conference deigned to allow its teams to go to bowls again only after WWII, and then it was "you can only go to the Rose Bowl if they invite you." Once the Big Ten released its members it sparked a new round of bowl expansion (click to inbigmatate):
Note the Y axis is "Bowl Teams" not games—divide by two to get # of games. Some oddities: Michigan wasn't in the Big Ten from 1907 to 1916, not that it made any difference. Having one yellow dot in the bowl picture looks ridiculous. Michigan State went to an Orange Bowl before joining the conference. Penn State and Nebraska obviously went to plenty of bowls before they joined. Ohio State turned down its Rose Bowl bids in 1960 and '61 because of academics(!); Minnesota went in their stead.
Since the bowl field expanded, the Big Ten's tie-ins have gone through a series of confusing shifts, order only recently having been brought into the process. Owing to its TV draw and instant draw the bowls have typically taken Michigan almost as soon as they're allowed to. As a result when you look at the conference's bowl history you can see Michigan tends to go early even in its rough years.
This is ordered by selection (starting from the left). Historically Michigan has been selected higher than its standing in the conference, the more so the lower down we get. For example in 1984 Michigan received an at-large Holiday Bowl bid—effectively the conference's third selector after the Rose and then the
Cotton Peach took Purdue as an at-large—despite finishing behind Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin, and tied with Michigan State, whom we lost to that year. Since then there have been progressively more stringent so-Michigan-State-won't-cry rules placed by the conference on the bowls for which teams they can select. Before it was they have to be within 1 or 2 losses of each other. Under the new system there's a tier:
The New Lineup and the Golden Vagina:
1. Teams selected by the playoff committee go to the Golden Vagina Playoff.
2. If the champion is still around they go to the Rose Bowl (vs Pac-12 or at-large), or the Orange Bowl (vs SEC or at-large) in years the Rose are the playoff hosts (2014 and every three years after).
3. BCS bowls can extend an at-large bid.
4. Citrus Bowl (SEC), Outback Bowl (SEC) and Holiday Bowl (Pac-12). Those bowls will unofficially switch off who gets first pick but really the conference will be sitting there negotiating who gets which school with the goal of rewarding better teams and changing things up a bit. Said Delany:
"Someone will obviously select first, but they may or may not get the team they want because that team may have been in that region two years in a row. We're trying to make sure there’s freshness. It's hard when a team goes to say Florida five times in six years to get them really excited."
5. Gator or Music City (SEC), San Francisco (Pac-12), and Pinstripe (ACC). The first two switch off with that bid.
6. Heart of Dallas or Ft. Worth Armed Forces Bowl (Big 12), Motor City Bowl (TBA)
The only way the Big Ten champ will play the Pac 12 champ is if both are seeded as such in the playoff, or both miss the playoff. I am guessing it will not happen very often. The tier system is a rather eloquent method of handling the problem of Michigan State's blubbering over bowls falling over themselves to avoid them. See? You're on the same tier. Everyone on the same tier is the same.
The new system does have its problems:
- Not all of the payouts on each tier are equivalent right now—that seems like it can be negotiated.
- In a scenario where Michigan State beats Michigan in the regular season, thus winning the tiebreaker to get into the Big Ten Championship Game, and MSU subsequently loses that game and is no longer BCS eligible because they're ranked too low now, and Michigan is still ranked high enough for a BCS bid and gets one, Michigan State will still cry.
- In any given scenario, Michigan State will find a reason to cry.
If you've missed the bumping, Ron Utah has been following Borges's coaching history up and down the Pacific coast, and through about 14,000 plays called. Time to play catch-up:
Part I: A young Albison Issaquary Pirate Borges (that isn't his name) began coaching at Salinas High School as a 19-year-old assistant. He spent a year as an assistant at Cal, then went was a tight ends/receivers coach at Diablo Valley College. Then he was OC there, then at Portland State, then was at Boise State when they were making their transition up to Division I-AA. Then it was Oregon and UCLA.
Part II: Borges's ship is attacked and he is forced to join his hometown Cal Bears for the awful pre-Tedford times. After the mistake of joining the Indiana of the Pac Ten, Borges was ready to join the Indiana of the Big Ten, which was entering its DiNardo phase. Side note: Brian is going to be on a panel with DiNardo at a Chicago alumni event in July, the week of the Big Ten meetings. Raise of hands (or hooks) for those who think Brian will start asking DiNardo about Borges, and Gerry will be like "who is this guy?" Anyway then Borges went to Auburn and that's in there too.
Part III: After getting blamed for Auburn's awful 2007 offense under Tuberville, Borges took a year off then got a call from this guy who was taking over at San Diego State.
Part IV: Finally to the data, with career run-pass numbers and his far more efficient passing offense. We also go through his quarterbacks, and a lot of receivers with gaudy YPC numbers (evidence he likes the bomb) and running backs who mostly regressed. Ron also mentions Borges isn't really a recruiter. In the comments he mentions Borges's success on opening drives. Part V?
Diarist of the week assuredly.
Conference of the Crappy QBs.
Last week we welcomed back one of the great diarists from yesteryear, MCalibur. Fed up with passer rating, which as a standalone statistic can't differentiate between Chad Henne and Tommy Rees (see end of the diary) the diarist who is not a sword turned completion %, yards per attempt, touchdown % and interception % into passer ratings, and then used standard year-to-year improvement to project How Gardner should fare this season. He followed up this week by going through all the Big Ten's quarterbacks, and then the rest of the guys on the schedule this year. Here is his data on 11 quarterbacks assembled into a table (rank among the 11 is in parentheses).
|1||Devin Gardner||Mich||132.8 (6th)||176.3 (1st)||177 (1st)||98.3 (9th)||146.1|
|2||Joel Stave||Wis||129.8 (7th)||168.6 (2nd)||125.9 (6th)||152.4 (3rd)||144.2|
|3||Braxton Miller||OSU||127.3 (8th)||144.5 (3rd)||137.8 (3rd)||158.4 (2nd)||142.0|
|4||Taylor Martinez||Neb||143.5 (3rd)||140.1 (4th)||142.6 (2nd)||124.8 (7th)||137.8|
|5||Kain Colter||NW||169.1 (1st)||102.5 (8th)||130.4 (4th)||146.3 (4th)||137.1|
|6||Tommy Rees||ND||158.9 (2nd)||124.4 (6th)||123.4 (7th)||119.3 (8th)||131.5|
|7||Cameron Coffman||Ind||138 (4th)||119.2 (7th)||107.1 (8th)||145.7 (5th)||127.5|
|8||Andrew Maxwell||MSU||101.9 (10th)||102.3 (9th)||96.4 (9th)||171.3 (1st)||118.0|
|9||Chandler Whitmer||UConn||124.5 (9th)||132 (5th)||90.6 (10th)||94.3 (10th)||110.4|
|10||N. Scheelhasse||Ill||137.4 (5th)||96.3 (11th)||78.6 (11th)||125.1 (6th)||109.4|
|11||Philip Nelson||Minn||88.2 (11th)||100.4 (10th)||128.9 (5th)||81.9 (11th)||99.9|
Kudos to LSAClassof2000 for algebraically finding the individual-year APRs for the rest of the conference. Since we have rivals who aren't so good at algebra here's a table of their constituent scores versus ours over the last eight years:
|Year||Michigan||vs MSU||vs OSU|
To Sparty trolls: our oldest constituent score is a major outlier. Let's high-five for being just about even this year in a metric that measures attendance and retention.
To Urban Meyer: It's true that Ohio State was trouncing Michigan since getting trounced itself in 2006…until you arrived.
LSA was also the subject of Six Zero's latest MGoProfile feature, where he explains why he's the only guy here with an adorable pony avatar other those being punished by the mods for avatar infractions. 100% percent agree on the power to delete or edit one's own posts.
Etc. And Michigan's massive endowment isn't so big when you consider other academic factors (like that we have twice as many students as comparable schools).
Best of the Boards
BEST OF THE LOOT
The thread of Michigan swag owned by the readers got huge, and makes me feel pretty crappy about my collection, which is really just a folder full of my old Michigan tickets and old copies of the Daily. Here's MgoBlueD's basement:
And here's the guest room that Wolverine Devotee keeps for when the Buckeye relatives come to town (I'm guessing):
One guy named Stonecoldwolv said his '97 national championship ring.
BIG TEN WATER WAR
You know how Alabama installed a water fountain in their locker room? And how EDSBS suggested what other schools should do? Well 1484 covered the Big Ten. Northwestern's gonna be pretty pissed when they realize Mark Huyge's on our side.
ETC. Pipelines discussion is useful—would love to see a diary on M pipelines through the years and what happened to them. Avant's Hands discusses blowout decorum in anticipation of Spain versus 11 athletic-looking tourists Tahiti kidnapped from a cruise ship that was going by. UM Solar Car Team written up on FoxNews. Vincent Smith and Brandin Hawthorne want to play you on Call of Duty. I'm too old for that, but anyone from Team 120 wanna play Goldeneye?
Your Moment of Zen:
The recruits are grateful for the warning.
(Don't Don't Don't) Don't Stop The Beat
Everybody, a-move your feet and feel united. Oh oh oh.
Michigan four-day technique camp concludes today, and while coverage is still trickling in, there are already offers to report for both the 2014 and 2015 classes.
Let's start with the 2014 class, which had offers go out to a pair of high school teammates in WR Freddy Canteen and CB Brandon Watson. Both prospects attend Elkton (MD) Eastern Christian Academy, which is essentially this sport's answer to hoops factory Oak Hill Academy—the academy itself is built entirely around the football program and attendees take their coursework through a larger online program. Their quarterback is David Sills, whom you may remember as the (then-)13-year-old who committed to USC, and now you exactly why USC offered such a player so early: his father, David Sills IV, is the founder of ECA. The program only played three games in 2012, as five opponents cancelled planned matchups, so what you see above—serious technique work (that's Canteen talking at the start of the video)—is what largely constituted their season, and now they're hitting the camp circuit very hard.
It's of little surprise, then, that Canteen and Watson were flying a bit under the radar heading into camp. It's also of little surprise that Canteen is really, really good at running routes. Here's 247 on Canteen from earlier this spring [emphasis mine]:
11) WR Freddy Canteen – Elkton (Md.) Eastern Christian Sills and Canteen connected often during this weekend. The 6-foot-0, 175-pound receiver was very difficult to defend and his routes were some of the best out of the entire camp. Canteen did plenty of talking on both days, but he backed it up every time.
GBW's Kyle Bogenschutz on Canteen's performance on Day 3 of Michigan's camp ($):
Catching GoBlueWolverine’s eye in the morning 1-on-1’s and 7-on-7, Canteen is extremely quick and very difficult to slow down off the line. Still developing from a technique standpoint with his hands, something that can be said for all high school wide outs, Canteen took some coaching and implemented it right away in the top group for the afternoon 1-on-1’s, blowing by corners attempting to press, sprinting across the field on quick slants. Canteen is around 6-0 and has the frame to add some muscle but maintain that speed of his, undoubtedly earning his Michigan offer and one of the true highlights on day three at camp.
One of the top corners in the 2015 class said Canteen is the toughest receiver he's covered. Canteen's coach, meanwhile, went as far to say that he's "perhaps the best route-runner in the country," in an interview with Sam Webb ($).
The big question to arise from Canteen's offer, of course, is how this affects the current scholarship situation; while we previously thought Michigan would take one more receiver—Artavis Scott, hopefully—it appears that's not the case:
"Rutgers is still high with me," said Canteen, who was told the Wolverines would be taking two additional receivers in the class of 2014. "I don't know why people don't think that. You could still say Rutgers is my favorite school. There are a lot of mixed emotions when I really think about everything, but the top three are Rutgers, Michigan and Tennessee.
Watson's offer raises similar questions about defensive backfield recruiting—with Jabrill Peppers in the fold and Parrker Westphal a presumed commitment, space in the secondary appears tight, especially if Michigan is a serious player for CA DB Adoree' Jackson (and I believe they are). Westphal's recruitment has gone oddly quiet, so perhaps there's been some cooling off from one end or the other, which would explain why a longtime presumed lock has yet to pull the trigger—I'd compare it to the Tommy Doles situation, but Westphal's initial offer and fit with the team made a lot more sense in the first place.
Regardless, Watson has his offer, and he sounded quite excited about it when talking to 247's Steve Lorenz ($):
"Michigan is definitely right up there," Watson noted. "It's Michigan. They have top of the line facilities and academics and an amazing football program. They pretty much offer everything you're looking for. I am still going to take my time before deciding, however. I'll be up at USC pretty soon and then want to visit a few schools that I am considering most. I hope to decide before my season starts. Michigan will definitely be a return visit."
Watson missed a golden chance for a "fergodsakes," but maybe he'll learn about that on visit number two. Canteen also expressed a desire to return to Ann Arbor before making a pre-season decision; if both players make it back to campus, it sounds like the Wolverines have a good shot at adding to their class. Even if they don't, it looks like the coaches are making inroads with a program that's churning out D-I prospects.
[Hit THE JUMP for the latest on 2015 offers, including a legacy who could pull the trigger imminently, and much more.]