I did not make this headline up
There's been some question over the no-catch ruling on Virginia Tech's 3rd down overtime prayer to receiver/punter Danny Coale. The play was ruled a touchdown live but overturned on review.
The setup: On 3rd down and 5 from the Michigan 20 in the first possession of overtime, Virginia Tech QB Logan Thomas attempted to hit Coale on a corner route in the end zone. Coale had Michigan's coverage (by safety Woolfolk and cornerback Avery) beat to the outside but the ball was slightly overthrown. Coale dove for what would be a spectacular one-handed catch, bringing the ball in just as he, and it, hit the ground just inbounds. The side judge ruled it a touchdown, but on review it was overturned and ruled an incomplete pass because the receiver did not have control of the ball when the ball hit the ground.
The rule: You can find it on Pages 72-73 of the NCAA rulebook (emphasis mine):
ARTICLE 7. a. Any forward pass is incomplete if the ball is out of bounds by rule or if it touches the ground when not firmly controlled by a player. It also is incomplete when a player leaves his feet and receives the pass but first lands on or outside a boundary line, unless his progress has been stopped in the field of play or end zone (Rule 4-1-3-p) (A.R. 2-4-3-III and A.R. 7-3-7-I).
The argument: The debate centers on whether or not Coale had "firm control" of the ball when it touched the ground. If the ball never touches the ground it's a clear reception, but since in this case nobody is arguing that the ball didn't touch the ground, the standard we're debating is whether or not Coale had established this firm control before the ball touched turf. For that we will consult the video.
With the grit of 40 Ecksteins, two Welkers, and half a Dileo, Coale reaches out and gets a hand underneath the ball. This is not "firm" control.
Coale now brings the ball between his forearms. This too would not be confused for "firm possession." However at this point he has a chance, if he can bring the ball to his chest and get it crooked in his arm, to prevent the ball from hitting the hard thing that is rapidly rushing toward him very fast.
So big and flat and round, it needs a big wide sounding name like 'Ow', 'Ownge', 'Round', 'Ground'! That's it! Ground! Ha! I wonder if it'll be friends with me?
Here is the money shot (clickening embiggens). Coale's elbow has hit the turf (just inbounds) but the ball is still between his forearms, not in his hands. It is hard to tell but the ball has now hit the ground as well, a nanosecond after the elbow.
The announcers were focusing on the elbow but the question is still one of whether the ball was firmly controlled by the player before it hit the ground.
A good test of this "firm control" (this is a sanity check not the final arbiter) is whether the ball moved when it hit the ground. It stands to reason that if the receiver had firm control of the ball when it came in contact with the ground it won't move that much.
If you recall, this is what doomed Junior Hemingway's TD catch attempt while down 8 in the closing seconds of the Iowa game. Hemingway actually managed to get two hands under the ball and secure it against his chest and arm a moment before coming down atop it. The "firm control" test in that case seemed to have been passed, but the catch was ruled incomplete because the reviewers saw the ball move in his possession after it hit the ground.
As you can see in the screenshots below, at the zero moment (when a part of the body made the player down) Coale's level of possession is way less than Hemingway's.
What controversially damned Hemingway was that after this the ball rotated about 90 degrees after the nose of the ball hit the ground, or so it was supposed since Hemingway's body blocked most of that. With Coale however the movement after contact with ground was pretty clear.
The ball is between Coale's forearms and possession only becomes firm long after the ball has impacted the ground. This I believe is what the review officials saw.
Incomplete! Time to bring in the 3rd string VT kicker who has been 4/4 today for an easy field g…oh snap!
But it's too close to call/not enough evidence to overturn! If someone is saying this to you they are confusing a Law & Order episode for reality. They have conceded that "incomplete" is the correct call, and are essentially complaining that it should have been ruled incorrectly because of a technicality in the literal meaning of the review rule. You cannot complain about calls the refs get right; that's not how complaining works. If you think the video is "inconclusive" you are conceding the call could have gone equally either way and saying it should be one or the other makes as much sense as whining that a flip of the coin should have been heads.
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.