Meram is scoring some sweet-ass goals of late
With my office reopening for the first time since pre-Christmas it feels like the world's worst Monday. By 8:30 tonight it'll feel like Saturday. But the new 2012 calendar with the puppy photos says it's Tuesday, so COLUMN!
I thought with the Sugar Bowl tonight maybe it'd be helpful to go back through some of the spreadsheet-y Musedays from earlier this year and update to see if the conclusions maybe shifted through the year's progression. To sum up the updated talking points:
- Hoke is the best first-year Head Coach in Big Ten history, unless Ara Parseghian is.
- Mattison is more aggressive in selecting number of pass rushers than his predecessor but you'd be surprised to know he has changed his strategy dramatically over the course of this season
- Borges learned to shotgun with Denard and Co., then unlearned that, then re-learned that.
- Our defense is spectacular at stopping short situations.
10/4 – The Gary Moeller Effect
Premise: Coaches who take over a B1G team with Big Ten experience tend to do better than those who don't. So I compared a number of coaches of good memory against their predecessors, and overall.
Findings: Too much noise except the guys who had experience recruiting the Midwest seemed to have much more success than those who didn't.
Update: Another year made Dantonio and Bielema look better. 2011 Michigan's final SRS of 16.85 (pre-bowl) is about even with the Moeller teams of '93 and '94 (as well as 1999, 2000, and surprisingly 2006). Here's the Top Ten single year-to-year improvements (by Simple Ranking System, which is a measure of expected victory margin over a middling team) by a first-year coach in the Big Ten since 1953:
|Rank||Coach||School||Year||SRS||Previous Coach||SRS (Pre)||Change|
|1||Ara Parseghian||Northwestern||1956||8.57||Lou Saban||-9.95||+18.52|
|2||Brady Hoke||Michigan||2011||16.85||Rich Rodriguez||1.39||+15.46|
|3||Phil Dickens||Indiana||1958||6.13||Bob Hicks||-7.86||+13.99|
|4||John Jardine||Wisconsin||1970||9.09||John Coatta||-3.8||+12.89|
|5||Hayden Fry||Iowa||1979||7.26||Bob Commings||-5.5||+12.76|
|6||John L. Smith||MSU||2003||7.95||Bobby Williams||-2.67||+10.62|
|7||Mark Dantonio||MSU||2007||6.69||John L. Smith||-3.14||+9.83|
|8||Earle Bruce||Ohio State||1979||21.71||Woody Hayes||12.99||+8.72|
|9||Joe Tiller||Purdue||1997||8.49||Jim Colletto||-0.09||+8.58|
|10||John Pont||Northwestern||1973||4.52||Alex Agase||-3.5||+8.02|
Holy Uber Alleles Batman! Don't read much into this; the worst dropoff among 82 careers charted was Pat Fitzgerald in 2006. The rest of the Hall of Shame: Lou Saban (Northwestern '55), Gerry DiNardo (Indiana 2002), Tim Brewster (Minn 2007), Rich Rod '08, Gary Moeller (Illinois '77), Jerry Burns (Iowa '61), and for all the lolz, Luke Fickell. ALL the Lolz!
Jump for Mattison's aggression tendencies, the I-form vs. Shotgun numbers updated, and which Pink Floyd album best describes Michigan's 3rd and short defense
For those tracking Denard's passing acumen the tale has been one of major progression before 2010, followed by regression in 2011 followed by re-progression as he a.) grew more comfortable in Borges's offense, b.) played more out of the shotgun, and c.) gave his staph infection time to heal.
If you were reading the weekly previews this season you would have noticed the space for Michigan's passing game was consistently fretting about Robinson's accuracy. This would be followed by a game with some flash of the laser precision he seemed to possess at times in 2010, followed by a bomb that overshot Hemingway/Roundtree by 20 yards. This was our concern. The more intelligent announcers talked about where his shoulders and toes were at their release, and Borges pressers reiterated the footwork theory.
Then sometime around Purdue-Iowa-Illinois, said all, 2010 Denard worked his way back. I'd like to use this space to test if that was really the case.
The Hennechart you know (screens and Snackycakes have been removed):
|2009||2009, All Of It||1||7||4||2||4||4||-||-||?||44%|
That's lots of numbers. The easy metric to break these down metric is Brian's Downfield Success Rating at the far right. That's Dead-Ons and Catchables divided by all the rest (marginals are excised). But a few years ago, while trying to get a handle on what we had in Forcier, a few users thought to visualize this. I try that now with Denard's career:
I centered in the middle of the marginals to show how good the very goods were and how bad the very bads got. You kind of have to look hard to see it, but there is a regression apparent. Denard seemed to level off in the Big Ten season last year to a good chunk of accurate balls, one or two bad reads, and as many inaccurate as were dead on. For a good part of this year it was that one temptress of a perfectly thrown ball, one to five bad reads, and almost as many balls to Tacopants as the vicinity of his receivers. By Ohio State, on pure downfield success rating, it was just outside the UFR-era hall of fame (on many fewer attempts):
FTR by this metric, the Michigan State game this year is 3rd all time in the hall of shame, better only than Sheridan in the Badge of Fandom Endurance game vs. Northwestern, and Threet versus Purdue. Sheridan being on both lists was one (happy) fluke between games his coaches hardly let him throw more than a screen for fear of triggering an early duck season. 2011 Denard's is the opposite: one bad game amidst a bunch that range between mediocre and okay. His games aren't in the Junior Henne/Early Forcier range; they are about on par with Big Ten Forcier as a freshman, and he's better than freshman Mallett. This is without the legs.
There was also wide variance in number of throws, partly due to game-planning, but also having a lot to do with Borges leaning somewhat more on the running game when Michigan led. Look at the paucity of passes for Michigan against Purdue and Illinois, versus huge stacks for MSU (look at their pressure metric!) and Iowa. The percentages chart below can adjust for that a bit:
Click it to embiggen. I took out a few more bad defenses to make that one if you're wondering why fewer bars. Also those marks are the rankings by FEI of that opponent's pass defense—the worst pass defense would be at the very bottom, the best at the very top. Take with a huge grain of salt since FEI's weird this year. (No way Iowa and Purdue have the same secondary, nor do I believe either are 40 spots worse than Minnesota). Anyway it shows the metric is at least defense-independent.
This one has the story we've been telling: 2010 was fairly static, while 2011 was a dropoff followed by progression in the new offense (and a stinker in a trash tornado in the middle). Denard also maybe scrambled a bit more at the end of the season (the white bars). Overall you'd almost expect the two years to be flipped, with the hard learning and scrambling a sophomore campaign and the leveling off near the peak of the previous year the work of an upperclassman. If you consider time in the system, it's more like the work of a redshirt freshman followed by a true freshman.
The reads are another thing that fixed over time (Nebraska's weekly BR looks bigger in a small sample). The % of bad reads this year all told took a rather scary dip from pushing Sr. Henne to Threet-ish:
I'm ready to believe this was related to the footwork thing. If the staph infection affected him, it couldn't be more than the beating he took last year blamed for the perceived reduction in Big Ten play. There is evidence of greater pressure—the 7 categorized "PR" in the MSU game is one fewer than Brian gave for all of 2010—and all that.
How much this regression "hurt" Michigan this season can be overstated. Using all plays charted in UFR, Denard averaged 6.93 yards per play, as opposed to the 7.25 yards per play in 2010. That's not about bad defenses; against real opponents Denard's 6.55 YPA is better than his 6.30 in 2010. This is a result of the long passes against Notre Dame (10.09 YPP – which is ridiculous), but if we normalize every play longer than that to a cap of 20 yards, this is what he looks like per passing attempt (2010 schedule futzed with to match comparable games):
|Notre Dame||6.00||Notre Dame||7.77|
|Penn State||6.29||SD State||5.88|
|Michigan State||6.10||Michigan State||3.17|
|Ohio State||???||Ohio State||7.35|
Including only non-theoretical defenses (No FCS, EMU, BG, Indiana, WMU, NW), and again, counting everything over 20 yards as 20, Denard was getting 6.47 yards per attempt last year, and got 5.96 per passing attempt this year. That's still good. And it's a good bet, with a second year fusing with Mr. Borges, the performance level he got back to from Iowa through Nebraska is conceivable for the bowl game and beyond. If he can somehow sustain what he did against Ohio State he would be inconceivable.
In 1997, back when 7-point leads were comfortable and safeties were meant for hitting people while corners did the covering* undefeated and no-brainer No. 1 Michigan went to the Rose Bowl. That was pretty cool. We faced Washington State and Ryan Leaf back when he was Ryan Leaf and not Ryan Leaf, Woodson made that interception to
stop the comeback keep Michigan in striking distance (wow I forgot that context), and woo forever.
Meanwhile the conferences that weren't the Big Ten and Pac Ten were into their third year of a "bowl coalition" to match up the best two teams possible. Undefeated kick-ball-in-OT-vs-Mizzou Nebraska went to that and beat the tar out of Tennessee. The AP declared the next day's Daily cover something to hang on your wall forever, the coaches gave Osborne his send-off gift, and it didn't matter that there was a co- because starting next year there would be the perfect championship system to determine an unquestionable champion…for 1997.
* This wasn't at all true unless you literally had Charles Woodson in your backfield. Dude should win an award for that or something.
Getting' Jiggy With It isn't working. This has been the BCS's problem since its inception. In 1998 it was the perfect system to pit the last big conference undefeateds against each other, but then it left out an undefeated minor conference team and arbitrarily selected one of several similar 1-loss teams to face unquestioned numero uno Tennessee. Every year there was at least some complaint they patched with an overreaction on the next one. Team A beat Team B beat Team C who got in? Overrate head-to-head and dump half the computers. Too influenced by pollsters? Let's get more computers. Teams running up the score? Dump the margin of victory. AP and Coaches No. 1 USC left out of a three-horse race? Overrate the polls. Undefeated SEC team left out of a three-horse race? Overrate schedule strength. Boise State keeps going undefeated by playing Wyoming 12 times? Autobid the little guys. Two Big Ten teams about to rematch? Oh the pollsters can jig the system. Wait the pollsters are jigging the system? Kick 'em out and get our own pollsters. Two SEC teams about to rematch? Dammit.
This is what a process looks like when it has no forethought. I could say the same about many playoff proposals. Every year there's a perfect system that would be perfect for that year if we had that system. What we should be asking for is a system that would be good enough every year.
Good enough is good enough. Math says if you found the best team in a 120-team league after 12-13 games of unbalanced schedules, you just got lucky. What we're shooting for here is something where only the homeriest homer of Domer will be claiming their team got duked. The last team in should have an ironclad case, were they to emerge victorious, to be the No. 1 overall team, but the first team out should not have a very good case to be given that chance.
Autobids are bad (for this). This includes conference champions, sorry. The championship games help clear things up by giving contenders an extra bellwether. However a two-division format means 8-4 teams can beat 12-0 teams they lost to the first time. The Big Longhorns Conference still technically exists. So does the Big East. Bowl tie-ins for conference champions are great and should stay but nothing should be automatic about a playoff.
The right process is some kind of playoff. I'd be fine if it just went back to bowl games and polls to determine the National Champion, but the game has gone national and there's money to be made.
The question is how many teams should be in it. The current system has two teams. The Plus-One proposal discussed by the conferences last year is basically four with some measure of flexibility. Brian wants six, which is the fewest that will accommodate undefeated mid-majors most years. Hinton proposed 10, which reasonably fits most of the good 2-loss teams.
What I'd like to do here is UFR the BCS years past and see which of these playoff systems, the BCS, a Plus-One, Brian's, or Doc Saturday's, would have been best.
1998: Slightly similar to this year, with one undisputed team on top, then lots of 1-loss teams to pick from. Four-teamer is #1 Tennessee (12-0), #2 FSU, #3 Kansas St, and #4 Ohio State. Six teamer includes #5 UCLA and #10 Tulane. Ten teams nets #6 Texas A&M with 2 losses, #7 Arizona with 1 loss, #8 Florida with 2 losses, and #9 Wisconsin with 1 loss (the Big Ten Champ). Ideally: Brian.
1999: The first obvious matchup of two undefeated BCS teams, #1 Florida State, and #2 Virginia Tech. Clear #3 Nebraska stands apart from a ton of 2-loss teams like Tennessee, Bama, Michigan, Wisconsin and MSU. 1-loss KSU is in there too. 10 teams works if you take Marshall over 3-loss Florida or Penn State. Ideally: BCS
2000: #1 Oklahoma, #2 Florida State, who lost to #3 Miami, who lost to #4 Washington. #5 V-Tech, and #6 Oregon State also had 1 loss each. After that is a lot of 2-loss BCS teams. The BCS system generated all sorts of controversy for teams 2-4 being mostly indiscernible, and lo more overreactive rules were written into the BCS codec. Ideally: Brian.
2001: Another year where 1 is clear but the rest ain't. #1 Miami, then #2 Nebraska, #3 Colorado with 2 losses but who just beat Nebraska, #4 Oregon with Joey Harrington. Getting to six includes 2-loss SEC teams #5 Florida and #6 Tennessee. You're leaving out 1-loss Illinois and 2-loss Texas here but 2-loss Tennessee was a shoe-in for the national championship game until falling in the SEC championship. An expanded field of 10 also draws in Stanford and Maryland. Ideally: Plus-One.
2002: #1 Miami, #2 Ohio State, HUGE GAP, #3 Georgia, #4 USC, #5 Iowa, #6 Washington State. This is the year you want to just skip to an N.C. game because the top two are undefeated and everyone else has 1 or 2 losses against easier schedules. A 10-team playoff includes Oklahoma, Kansas State, Notre Dame, and either Texas or Michigan. Could you really build a strong argument that the 2002 team is a national title contender? Ideally: BCS
2003: A top tier of three 1-loss teams: #1 Oklahoma, #2 LSU, #3 USC, then and easy cutoff between #4 Michigan and #5 Ohio State, #7 Florida State. Again you're picking between 2-loss teams for the 6th spot. Here I drew in FSU over Texas for winning their conference (not an auto-bid but it can count). Whichever team that is would have to play in Ann Arbor under the Brian plan to avoid having a repeat of M-OSU in the same place a week after The Game. The next four teams would include Texas, Tennessee, Miami (YTM), and either K-State or 1-loss Miami (NTM). This is a great case for a 4-team playoff, a decent case study for a 6-teamer, and shows how a 10-teamer is getting down to 1-loss MAC teams. Ideally: Brian.
2004: Again a clear top tier: #1 USC, #2 Oklahoma, #3 Auburn. A fourth is #5 Cal or #4 Texas, a sixth undefeated #6 Utah. Undefeated #9 Boise State is out there too. Expanding to 10 includes 2-loss Georgia, Virginia Tech, and 1-loss (not Big East yet) Louisville. Ideally: Brian.
2005: #1 USC, #2 Texas, BIG GAP, #3 Penn State, #4 Ohio State, #5 Oregon, #6 Notre Dame or maybe #11 WVU? Like '02 this is a "just play the NC" year. Twice in four years is enough to write a fix into the system for this sort of thing (more on this below). A 10-teamer includes Georgia, Miami (YTM), Auburn, and either VT, WVa., or LSU, or ??? – there are fully 10 two-loss BCS teams. Ideally: BCS.
2006: A one and many situation again. #1 Ohio State, then pick one from #3 Michigan (no need for shenanigans), #2 Florida, #5 USC, #4 LSU, #8 Boise State. I slotted in undefeated Boise over 1-loss Louisville and Wisconsin, and also moved USC over LSU for winning their conference. Going to 10 includes them plus probably Auburn and Oklahoma; after that is Brady Quinn's 10-2 Notre Dame who don't belong near an NC game except in ND fans' minds. Ideally: Brian.
2007: Sixer would have #1 Ohio State, #2 LSU, #3 Virginia Tech, #4 Oklahoma, #5 Georgia, and #10 Hawai'i. This might as well be 2011 with another pretty sure-fire #1 and some confusion after that. This would be a hard call between a BCS game (LSU's a strong #2 while the other 1-loss team is #8 Kansas) and a 6-teamer. Going to 10 includes Mizzou, USC, Kansas, and West Virginia, who are indiscernible from Georgia and VT but cuts off before 10-2 Arizona State. Ideally: Doc Sat.
2008: This was the season that wasn't played. Henri the Otter of Ennui wins. Okay fine this is a mess of seven 1-loss teams at the top and two undefeated mid-majors, one of which played Michigan and respectable MWC schedule. Sixer ends up with #1 Oklahoma, #2 Florida, #3 Texas, #4 Bama, #6 Utah, and #5 USC. Sorry #9 Boise State. After that there's 1-loss Texas Tech and Penn State and 2-loss Ohio State. If you're okay with leaving out Boise for USC it's Ideally: Brian.
2009: It's not 2004 despite three undefeated BCS teams since the Big East was by now a mid-major. #1 Alabama and #2 Texas in easy, and #3 Cincy and #4 TCU after. Going to six includes #5 Florida and #6 Boise State. Only Florida among the six has a loss. The next four are Oregon, Ohio State, Georgia Tech and Iowa, all with 2 losses so 10 teams would only muddle things that are fine, but this year would work well as BCS, Plus-One, or the Cook Six Plan. Ideally: Brian.
2010: Top two are easy #1 Auburn and #2 Oregon. Top six hauls in #3 TCU, #4 Stanford, #5 Wisconsin, and #6 Ohio State. Again this is tailor-made for six teams (three undefeated, three with one loss). It's tempting to go with the NC format, TCU be screwed, but six is just fine. The 2-loss Sooners and Razorbacks, and 1-loss MSU and Boise would draw into a 10-team field. Ideally: Brian.
2011: Two is a rematch of #1 LSU and #2 Alabama. Four is #3 Oklahoma State, plus either #4 Stanford or #5 Oregon who beat them. And #7 Boise State, now with BCS scheduled teams and TCU. I'm giving Boise the entry in a six-team system over Arkansas so we don't have half the field from one conference. Ten teams would be a bitch (Hinton includes Clemson in there—the BCS standings would have four SEC teams in a 10-team field). Ideally: Brian.
So you're saying the boss's system is better?
Yeah, I…wait I have a bolded subconscious alter-ego too now?
No I'm Ace's bolded alter-ego, filling in.
The coaches like me better. Boom BCS'ed!
He got bored right around the time you started going over every year since 1998.
:( So final score is Brian 9, BCS 3, and 1 each for a Plus One and Doc Saturday's 10-team bowlstravaganza. So six is the best solution, but far from a perfect solution. This makes sense when you look at an average season. For this I can even give you a
..art of how many of each type of contender we've had in 14 Final BCS Standings:
|Team type||Avg. per season|
|Undefeated BCS Teams||1.4|
|One-loss BCS Teams||3.4|
|Two-loss BCS Teams||5.8|
This is a loose argument for a six-team playoff. There's a reasonable chance of having four or five undefeated or 1-loss BCS teams, plus one perfect mid-major, every year. Those mid-majors aren't going away with TCU and Boise joining one of the recently pilfered BCS leagues; you can see Marshall and Tulane popped up before they did. However any given year should expect plenty of 2-loss BCS teams, more than you want to pick from to expand to a field of 10. Six draws an imaginary circle around the top three rows and suggests most years you can get between 5 and 6 comfortably competitive playoff contenders.
But then you still have 5/14 years when that's not ideal in just this little sample. Is that acceptable?
No it isn't. Even if you figure the perfect Plus-One year and the perfect Doctor Saturday year wouldn't bother too many people if we rammed them into a six-team field, what's unacceptable are those three BCS wins. It's better than the BCS's 3/14 but hell some years you just wanna see Ohio State versus Miami (YTM), or Florida State versus Vick, or the Pete Carroll's Hollywood All Stars versus the Vince Young Show. So:
Let's have that!
Let's propose the six-team playoff system I'll call Brian-Plus:
- Six-team field chosen by a select committee/cabal like in basketball
- #3 and #4 hosting #6 and #5 respectively in home field quarterfinals the week after the conference championships (mid-majors who get in will almost certainly fall in that that 5- or 6-seed range to preclude too much blue turf in Round 1)
- Semifinals in Sugar and Orange Bowls on Jan. 1.
- Final a week later in the Rose Bowl.
- All other bowls left alone; bowls can schedule Round 1 losers. Rose Bowl can have its regular game a week earlier with the parade.
…but that seeding committee can also choose to declare a clear national championship game. So basically when they meet they decide a.) Is it two or six this year, and then b.) If it's six who gets in and how are they seeded? On years when there's a clear two-team BCS game we revert to something like the current system, with bowl tie-ins for the regularly scheduled bowl games.
I would also suggest removing one game from the regular season schedule (if only this would solve the FCS problem) so that the conference championships are played over Thanksgiving and Round One of the playoffs be a week after. Maybe that's pushing it.
Right: One the fruits of this week's "Virginia Tech" googlestalking.
First there was the Rose. At this point let's not pretend like this wasn't a marketing ploy because the entire point of the Rose Bowl was to prove to skeptical Easterners that it really is sunny and 70 in January in Pasadena. But at some point the marketing went from "come see our lovely town" to how much can we annoy you. This is where I come in. I carry a keyboard.
When there were fewer bowls the funny names were okay, especially when they matched the local industry. The Citrus and Tangerine and Orange and Gator screamed Florida. The Peach was very Georgia. The Liberty Bowl at least began in Philly and had a logo of the Liberty Bell. The Refrigerator Bowl was in the Refrigerator Capital of the World—if you knew where that was you could place the bowl game.
With naming rights to bowls now going for less than Pryor made in extra benefits (oh snap!) it is time to revolt.
This should have been done before a company called Mine-hickey Care Bear or some such sullied one "hallowed" bowl with that name, let alone its second (map by Hinton):
Going with this week's theme of whining about things that will never happen, here's my plea to readers and bloggers alike for dealing with the billions of bad names and barnacle-like corporate monikers affixing themselves to your bowls.
Why care? Without getting into the mercenary finances of the bowls I don't care that companies buy naming rights. I care that they are very bad at it, and that this makes the bowlscape very unhelpful. It is not my intent to restrict or confine or dictate language. I'm just tired of having to Google where the Maaco Bowl is.
Just Add 'Bowl': Rose. Orange. Sugar. Fiesta. Cotton (no need to add "classic"). Liberty. Holiday. Alamo. Gator. Sun. Poinsettia. Oh they all have title sponsors who've tried to affix their names but you can pretty safely ignore them, especially since the sponsorships almost never last more than half a decade or so.
Fine with the Sponsor: Fight Hunger (leave out Kraft, it's an image wash anyway). Outback. Y'know what, "Hall of Fame" bowl in its day never really impressed me. On the other hand Outback Steakhouse did the sponsorship thing right by not adding the extra two syllables, allowing the bowl to evoke the Aussie desert instead of a restaurant that doesn't believe anything could be over-salted. I don't know what Tampa, FL, has to do with interior Australia but for some reason this doesn't bother me at all. Board? Hall of Fame or Outback for this one?
Never Change: Peach. Tangerine. Citrus. Copper. The chicken guys are insidious. Watch this logo progression (thanks Chris Creamer):
It ate the whole peach!
The Tangerine is now called the Champs Sports Bowl and was a zillion other things too but it's easy to remember as the Tangerine because it's still the other Orlando bowl after the Citrus. As for the Citrus itself, until such time as Capital One casts Michigan State in one of their marauding commercials, then has them sack a dorm while Kirk Cousins turns to the camera and says "what's in YOUR wallet?" this should always remain the Citrus. The Copper Bowl is the one that's now in Tempe and used to be in Tucson. It's been the "Insight" for a time but I can't stand .com names.*
What Was Wrong With the Old One? Pop quiz hot-shot: where was the Aloha Bowl (1982-'00)? Oh you guessed it. It was obvious. So why is it now the Hawai'i Bowl? By the way it was the Pineapple Bowl from '39 to '51, and the Poi Bowl from '35 to '38. Amazing that this bowl's predecessors go all the way back to when the BCS bowls were starting up.
Use the City: Virtually all of the rest of them. There is no way you should be responsible for remembering what bowl is currently the Franklin American Mortgage Company Bowl. Call it Music City or Nashville. The one in Mobile is Mobile. The one in Birmingham is Birmingham. Las Vegas. Detroit (or Motor City). Boise (you can call this one Potato if you like). New Orleans II. New Mexico. Tampa II (the one they're now calling Beef 'O' Babies or something, and is in St. Petersburg. So Tampa. Tampa II. Like the defense). Charlotte (the old Continental Ire, then Mein Kitty Carb Scare Bowl, now Belk). The "Armed Forces" and "Military" Bowls are currently battling it out to see which one can be the most Captain America:
…but until that is settled you are not going to remember which one is in Ft. Worth and which one is in D.C. So they're D.C. and Fort Worth ("Dallas III" gets confusing with the Cotton Bowl and Cotton II both in the tri-city area).
Special Cases: The "Pinstripe" Bowl can be that or the Bronx Bowl, or the one they're playing in Yankee Stadium. The bowl that's moved into the old Cotton Bowl is best referred to as Cotton II (not Ticketcity)
If you're in need of non-sullied bowl logos, the following is a collection of such created by bloggers (except the Rose: a Rose is a Rose).
* Unless you guys want to take up a fund to start the MGoBlog.com Bowl. But then we'd just call it the MGoBowl. Man who do we invite? I mean after Slippery Rock.
UPDATE: Handy Chart.
|They Call It||You Call It||Started||Location||Payout|
|Alamo Bowl||Alamo||1993||San Antonio, TX||$2,250,000|
|Armed Forces Bowl||Fort Worth||2003||University Park, TX||$750,000|
|BBVA Compass Bowl||Birmingham||2006||Birmingham, AL||$1,000,000|
|Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl||Tampa II||2008||St. Petersburg, FL||$1,000,000|
|Belk Bowl||Charlotte||2002||Charlotte, NC||$1,000,000|
|Capital One Bowl||Citrus||1946||Orlando, FL||$4,250,000|
|Champs Sports Bowl||Tangerine||1990||Orlando, FL||$2,125,000|
|Chick-fil-A Bowl||Peach||1968||Atlanta, GA||$3,350,000|
|Cotton Bowl Classic||Cotton||1936||Dallas (Arlington), TX||$6,750,000|
|Famous Idaho Potato Bowl||Boise||1997||Boise, ID||$750,000|
|Fiesta Bowl||Fiesta||1971||Glendale, AZ||$18,000,000|
|Gator Bowl||Gator||1945||Jacksonville, FL||$2,500,000|
|GoDaddy.com Bowl||Mobile||1999||Mobile, AL||$750,000|
|Hawaiʻi Bowl||Hawai'i or Aloha||2002||Honolulu, HI||$750,000|
|Holiday Bowl||Holiday||1978||San Diego, CA||$1,000,000|
|Independence Bowl||Independence||1976||Shreveport, LA||$1,100,000|
|Insight Bowl||Copper||1989||Tempe, AZ||$1,200,000|
|Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl||San Fran or Fight Hunger||2002||San Francisco, CA||$825,000|
|Liberty Bowl||Liberty||1959||Memphis, TN||$1,350,000|
|Little Caesars Pizza Bowl||Detroit or Motor City||1997||Detroit, MI||$750,000|
|Maaco Bowl Las Vegas||Las Vegas||1992||Las Vegas, NV||$1,000,000|
|Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas||Houston||2006||Houston, TX||$1,700,000|
|Military Bowl||D.C.||2008||Washington, DC||$1,000,000|
|Music City Bowl||Music City or Nashville||1998||Nashville, TN||$1,700,000|
|New Mexico Bowl||New Mexico||2006||Albuquerque, NM||$750,000|
|New Orleans Bowl||New Orleans||2001||New Orleans, LA||$325,000|
|Orange Bowl||Orange||1934||Miami Gardens, FL||$18,000,000|
|Outback Bowl||Outback||1986||Tampa, FL||$3,400,000|
|Pinstripe Bowl||Bronx||2010||Bronx, NY||$2,000,000|
|Poinsettia Bowl||Poinsettia||2005||San Diego, CA||$750,000|
|Rose Bowl Game||Rose||1901||Pasadena, CA||$18,000,000|
|Sugar Bowl||Sugar||1934||New Orleans, LA||$18,000,000|
|Sun Bowl||Sun||1934||El Paso, TX||$1,900,000|
|TicketCity Bowl||Cotton II||2010||Dallas, TX||$1,200,000|
"Without effort, he had learned English, French, Portuguese, Latin. I suspect, nevertheless, that he was not very capable of thought. To think is to forget a difference, to generalize, to abstract. In the overly replete world of Funes there were nothing but details, almost contiguous details."
---Jorge Luis Borges, Funes, the Memorious
The above reference is to a short story my 11th grade English teacher (Hi Mrs. Bruton!) would be very proud I remembered. In it a fictional JL Borges speaks of conversations with a young autistic savant named Funes. Funes is so mathematical he invented his own way of counting. Then he dies of congestion of the lungs. So it goes.
The other pic is from an early M presser with Al Borges when he was asked how he would use Denard. There were contiguous details: You gotta use him. We'll think up some ways to utilize those legs. We're going to run our offense. The voice was sharp, mocking.
And through the season the thoughts of the young Borges were realized:
They were ways, but not the way.
We have all moved on from the last three years. We have t-shirts and memes and a competent defense and a win over Ohio and a new spiteful way of referring to our rival. Yet until Shane Morris is zipping DOs to myriad tight ends in the flat there is going to be a Godwin's Law*-ishness about discussing the offense that best fits the offensive personnel at Michigan because we fired the guys who invented it.
* Technically it's a corollary.
First a note that advanced users can skip: I'm using formation because each formation comes with a set of strengths and weaknesses selected by the guy calling the plays. Once the ball is snapped all hell breaks loose and it's way harder to judge decisions or coaching. Of the relevant formations, the I-form is great for running because you get two backs (one usually a lead blocker) immediately moving toward the line of scrimmage and your play's chosen point of attack, but not great for passing because either you're committing two eligible receivers and precious QB time to a run fake, or you're immediately showing pass when the RBs are bailing out of the QB's drop line. The Ace is basically I-form but you swap the FB for a WR or TE. It's a compromise formation, slightly better for passing, not great at either.
The shotgun's fundamental running flaws can be somewhat mitigated by: 1) Zone Blocking, which lets the runner scan for creases like a QB instead of hitting a certain spot ASAP, 2) Backs who can see and accelerate quickly into those gaps, 3) A run-threat QB who can keep the defense from teeing off the tailback, 4) Spreading receivers out so that their defenders are too far away to help the inside running game, and 5) Optioning and the threat thereof, e.g. Rich Rodriguez's zone read.
These are kind of very specialized things to get, and you need like three or four of them just to get shotgun running on par with the natural advantages of I-form running. If you can run out of an I against eight in the box you are indefeatable; if you can run out of a shotgun AND your running QB can pass you are indefeatable. So it's not like the way is the only way. The reason your friendly bloggers are always yelping "shotgun! shotgun!" is because by the above rationale, a team with Molk, Toussaint, and Denard, and which used to have Rodriguez himself coaching them, should be pretty awesome at running from the shotgun, which is still the best passing formation.) /tutorial.
Chart of formation tendencies (pass & run)
Excised: Plays when the score differential >16, 4th quarters, plays inside the M or opponent's 3 yard line.
|San Diego State||62.1%||29||82.8%||13.8%||3.4%||-||-||-|
The games where Michigan was 25% I-form were, as predicted, at the beginning of the season. The Fritz took its place against Minnesota and then it was all shotgun ru…
Okay so it was inexplicably becoming a team that passes 60% of the time in a trash tornado against MSU and then two game-plans which look absolutely identical. Because Purdue's defensive ends were pliant this worked brilliantly against Purdue as Borges called mannish plays to the end. The thing is for some odd reason he didn't stop I-forming the Purdue game away until it was the 4th quarter of the Iowa game.
Here's a weird thing though: when I run the same numbers for '09 and '10, Rich Rod was way I-Form against Iowa as well. 20% I-form in fact, when he was 96% gun all other games combined. He did it both years, and only for Iowa. Is there some Lloyd-Ferentz pact to run substantially more I-forms versus each other every year?
Anyway it went away. Illinois looks like an intermediary step but 7 of the 8 plays from the I were during that interminable 14-point lead after the defense had established itself as 2006-ian. Following that game it almost disappeared from 1st downs (chart in excessive charting area post-jump*). It's the same story just more dramatic. Red Zone is more so, as the I-form was largely abandoned in the red zone during relevant plays of the last three games of the season:
So it is at this point where Funes the Manballious makes his impression on the young Borges, or vice versa, and the rational meets the abstract, and the result is sublime.
(click the little pics for previous entries)
We're talking about these seniors. And I figure now's as good a time as any to specify exactly what we're thankful for. It's not simply loyalty to an institution: that for its own sake can lead to otherwise good institutions looking the other way when their members do awful things (see: MSU, OSU, PSU, SEC). Except for an extremely abstract and debatable conceptualization of Michigan as a "good guys" program, what our seniors have done by sticking through the "least rewarding Michigan careers in decades" is not a good because of a higher universal cause it served.
Whom it served was themselves (for they did get degrees), their fellow teammates who stayed, and most importantly for our purposes, us. We thank them for this because Michigan football, for reasons we can't quite articulate without sounding at least a little bit foolish, is massively, massively important to us. And while you can debate whether Michigan's football is—relatively or absolutely—a beacon of morality, or whether caring this much about the athletic derring do's of 22-year-olds is a healthy thing, what nobody is debating is that this thing called Michigan could have become something much less than it is today, and that these seniors, these seniors, saved it.
JUNIOR-JUNIOR JUNIOR JR.
Kenneth Earl "Junior" Hemingway had his own personal angry X–hating god. Services were split on him, depending on whether leaping (tremendous) or speed (sub-mendous) was the high school scout's attribute of choice. Part of that disagreement was, as you probably guessed, because of an injury his junior season. At times in his Michigan career Junior was sidelined with a bum shoulder, sometimes mononucleosis, sometimes a pulled hamstring, sometimes a sprained ankle, sometimes a sprained knee, sometimes an "abrasion," and sometimes another bum shoulder. And sometimes…
The mono struck shortly after that tantalizing catch in '08. Hemingway wasn't allowed to go near his teammates, except his roommate Mike Williams, and even then they had to label their videogame controllers so as not to spread the Junior juju. That was Junior's low point, but the resulting medical redshirt did give him this season (he played as a depth guy in '07).
A National Honor Society member and academic achievement winner, as the story goes (I haven't confirmed this but it matches most students' experiences including mine) he earned enough credits before the end of the '08 season to qualify for "junior standing," meaning Junior spent three years (academically, chronologically, redshirt-) as a junior, which I find fascinating. Possessed of remarkable body control, when Hemingway was available he was Michigan's go-to possession receiver who got tons of YAC, some inexplicable, some simply inconceivable:
"Junior always wants to make big plays," [Denard] Robinson said. "I think he's one of the best receivers in the country."
The same year Hemingway arrived, Michigan's offense transitioned to a zone running scheme. While MANBALL likes centers with enough mass to move massive nose tackles out of the hole, the perfect zone center is a guy who's really strong but also really nimble and really smart. A zone center who can get playside of a DT who's lined up playside of him, and seal that guy off—this is called a reach block—has pretty much created an instant 6 yards for the offense. It is also the hardest block for any offensive lineman to make. I learned this in October of 2008, when somebody first said that David Molk is the best offensive player on the team.
I have a thing for short people. My wife is a generous 5'0. Desmond Howard made me a Michigan fan. When Mike Hart graduated I never thought another player could ever displace him as all-time favorite Wolverine. Because football is weird the guy who would was already on the sidelines.
At one point Molk was a 5'6, 175-lb high school freshman. Then he discovered the weight room and it was love at first lift. Whereas most of Michigan's on-hand interior guys were a terrible fit for Rich Rodriguez's spread 'n shred and Barwis's legendary weight room, this hit-loving, high-motor, high-attitude, high-academic, low-elevation lineman was born for it.
In 2008 Molk never missed a single offensive play. The ones where he reached some dude and Brandon Minor went RAGE-ing into the secondary were interspersed with plays where the whittle guy got tossed into the backfield by various Ogbu monsters and inadvertently kicking Sheridan in the dong (3&O). Molk responded by getting stronger, winning the Iron Wolverine Award as the best-conditioned Michigan lineman. By his sophomore year he was a Lombardi and Rimington candidate and Michigan's offense came alive. Then he broke a foot against EMU, Moosman moved to center, and the offense wasn't as good. Molk came back from the foot (and surgery) for the first series against Penn State and Michigan went 70 yards in the opening scoring drive that consisted almost entirely of 7-yard gains. During that drive Molk tore a ligament in his knee, God canceled Christmas, and all things that ever happened again were the bad things.
If you are concerned that Molk's impending graduation means the dong-punching will start again, this is not an unreasonable fear.
Molk did return in '10—said he: "It's been almost eleven months. Somebody is going to pay."—and was a Rimington finalist and First Team All Big Ten, leading the way for Denard Robinson's Heisman candidate year despite more injuries that Molk refused to talk about. The one we knew knocked him out in the 3rd play versus Iowa. That hurt the rest of the year, though you'd never hear that from Molk. Here's a snapshot of Molk from half-time of the Wisconsin game:
David Molk decided to pull himself up, and he wanted his teammates to come up with him. They were slumped in their stalls, ready to concede, when he stood up and marched around the room. "Hey, Michigan! Are we fucking scared? Because we're playing like it! We are all on our fucking heels. ALL OF US!
"We gotta drop our fucking nuts and MAN UP! We are NOT lying down! We are NOT scared! We will fight! We will FIGHT! And we will GET AFTER THEM!
"Everyone STAND UP! Stretch out! I mean it!"
"Get up!" Van Bergen said, and they did.
"We're gonna hit 'em in the fucking face," Molk said, "and they'll cry! They'll bleed! NOW LET'S GO!"
The offence went out and played the best half against the Badgers that Wisconsin saw all year. But the defense played the worst and Michigan lost 45-28.
Then Rodriguez was fired. Despite the accolades Molk's stature and the NFL's style didn't make a jump to the pro's likely. Not that Molk ever thought about it…
"A lot of thigns had to happen to go 3-9—not because of the coach, but because of the transition. Every guy who had a chance to leave, left. That tore our team apart. We lost starters, backups, you name it. There were only half of us left.
"We're a family. I love all you guys. No matter how much shit I give you—I love you. If we don't' stay together, we'll never make it. This program stays together. I don't want to see anyone leaving. If you do, we'll be crappy for three more years.
"I love Coad Rod. He did everything he could. But now it rests on us."
JUST JUMP ALREADY … (after the jump)