"Jim's a tough guy and you can see his personality is all over this football team," Fitzgerald said.
“Sometimes, there's a man, well, he's the man for his time and place. He fits right in there. And that's the Dude, in Los Angeles… But sometimes there's a man, sometimes, there's a man. Aw. I lost my train of thought here. But... aw, hell. I've done introduced him enough.” –The Stranger, The Big Lebowski
In mid-2010 I got hired by a bank to be a
Customer Service Representative teller. This put me on the front lines of the never-ending war between people’s money and the financial organizations that hold it. I learned very quickly that there were two things that could turn a mild-mannered citizen into a venom-spewing troglodyte: bank fees and Rich Rodriguez.
I loved when people came into the bank wearing college gear because it meant I’d be able to easily strike up a conversation about football, and people are a little less likely to verbally assault you when you’re able to find some common ground. The operative word in that last sentence is “little,” but I digress. By the fall of 2010 people were so fixated on the abject disaster that was Michigan’s defense that they willfully ignored how incredible the offense was. This was the fuel they needed to turn the “RichRod isn’t a ‘Michigan Man’” fire into a raging inferno, and it got so out of control that I talked to people who were even criticizing Rodriguez’s wife for not being Michigan-y or Michigan-ish or something crazy like that. At one point someone complained to me about her having blonde hair.
The Microscope of Public Scrutiny was so zoomed in on Rodriguez and everything surrounding him that Dave Brandon was able to make the Free Press look stupid and then lie in wait. At some point in 2010 Brandon’s opinion aligned with the bank’s clients; to them, the Rodriguez experiment had failed. Enter: Brady Hoke.
Hoke represented everything that the anti-Rodriguez movement wanted: familiarity with the program, a defensive background, and the mixture of self-oriented humility manifest in his claim that he’d walk across the country for the job and the program-oriented bravado in the interminable fergodsakes claim.
The honeymoon phase lasted a full season, but by the end of Hoke’s fourth year the program was in a place similar to where he found it, a place all too familiar to Michigan’s fanbase. One side of the ball was above average, but the other side was in such shambles that the team collapsed under the dead weight.
"Once we get the power play down, then we'll go to the next phase. You know, because we're gonna run the power play."
Brady Hoke, 3/23/2011
The transition from Rich Rodriguez to Brady Hoke was like switching from cold brewed coffee to run-of-the-mill drip coffee; a move away from the newer, higher-octane movement and toward what felt more traditional, the tried and true. The fallout from this was immediately apparent in the speculation that one of the most dynamic players to every don the winged helmet might transfer to a school with an offense better suited to his talents (i.e. a school that wouldn’t put him under center and have him hand the ball off).
In what may be one of the most significant events in program history (more on that later), Denard stayed. Al Borges still tried to put Denard under center and Michigan did rep power, but there were enough zone reads incorporated to allow Denard to continue waking up opposing defensive coordinators in cold sweats. You know all of this. You watched it unfold. That also means you watched crimes perpetrated against manpanda and an offense hell-bent on skinning its forehead running against a brick wall before finally, mercifully, abandoning their MANBALL-big-boy-football-noises ideals and exploding out of the shotgun.
This piece is intended to be the counterpoint to the memory’s emphasis on the spectacular. The intent isn’t to accuse, but to take a more calculated look at what exactly happened to Michigan’s offense over the last four years and see where things went well, as well as where and how things stopped functioning.
[After THE JUMP: charts and tables]
I am the proud father of a ferret.... Give me name ideas for her! pic.twitter.com/aoYSBBMlOf
— Wyatt Shallman (@WyattShallman) May 11, 2015
- Ferret Tecmo Bowl Bo Jackson
- Ferret Queen Elizabeth
- Ferret, James Ferret
- Ferret Canteen
I also have names that don't start with "ferret," but those run the risk of having your animal misidentified as a marmot.
- Sir Toothsalot
- Not A Marmot, Esq.
- Aussie Punter
I would suggest you leave your candidates in the comments but I'm completely certain that would be superfluous after the bravura performance above.
They're #3. Softball gets the soft-quivalent of a one-seed in the tourney. (They only seed 16 of the 64 teams because they regionalize the tournament to save money.) That means a home regional and, should they win that, a home super-regional. Michigan has a real shot at it:
— Zach Shaw (@_zachshaw) May 11, 2015
Michigan plays Oakland at 6 on Friday. It's on ESPNU for those out of the area. Cal and Pitt are the other teams headed to AA.
This is a very Michigan softball record. Congrats to Sierra Romero for setting the NCAA record for grand slams. She is a junior.
This is kind of about sports. I've actually read this Daniel Kanheman book about the way brains work, and liked it. It has lots of things like this in it:
Professor Kahneman discussed an intriguing finding that people score higher on a test if the questions are hard to read. The particular test used in the study is the CRT or cognitive reflection task invented by Shane Frederick of Yale. The CRT itself is interesting, but what Professor Kahneman wrote was amazing to me,
“90% of the students who saw the CRT in normal font made at least one mistake in the test, but the proportion dropped to 35% when the font was barely legible. You read this correctly: performance was better with the bad font.”
I thought this was so cool. The idea is simple, powerful, and easy to grasp. An oyster makes a pearl by reacting to the irritation of a grain of sand. Body builders become huge by lifting more weight. Can we kick our brains into a higher gear, by making the problem harder?
Then he checked it.
The dot at the top is every study combined. The effect does not exist. Why do I bring this up instead of coming up with more ferret names? (MC Furo. There's another one.) Several reasons.
- I get irritated at sports stats that actively try to be interesting. Whenever a team goes up by score X and they have an interesting record, the sports people will tell you DETROIT is SIXTY BILLION AND ZERO when they LEAD BY A GOAL on TUESDAYS SINCE 120 AD. There are so many teams and so many events that somebody's got a stat like that. So they cherry-pick the outlier. You never see all the completely un-fascinating stats.
- You should be suspicious of anything that's cool and intuitive. These are just as likely to be accurate as anything that gets published. (When your sample size is 40: not likely.) They are way more likely to be picked up and passed around by frizzy-haired Explainer Laureate types. So many holy-crap stats evaporate when you try to replicate them… and those are exactly the things you're likely to hear of.
- Stats that sound crazy unlikely are almost certainly not checked. This study. Or a report from the CDC that autism has gone up 30% in the last two years that I looked up during an argument about how prevalent that was. That same article uncritically relates that the autism rates in New Jersey are four times higher than they are in Alabama. I read that and immediately think "all these numbers are horseshit." People in charge of numbers are just in charge of them. Etc.
There was a sports in there.
Sir you got some jay in your walk. Michigan reported some minor boo-boos to the NCAA since Harbaugh's hire. These include Mike Zordich accidentally mentioning Wayne Lyons at a press conference and this doozy:
Separately, on March 18, Jim Harbaugh sent an autographed team helmet and jersey to an auction organized by a former high school classmate of his to benefit suicide prevention and awareness. The donation was not reviewed beforehand by Michigan's compliance office, and the items that were auctioned ended up being used to assist a scholarship fund in the name of a student who had committed suicide, something Harbaugh was not aware of, according to U-M's self-reported violation. …
Per NCAA rules, programs/coaches may not personally donate items to benefit high school scholarship funds.
I mean, I get the potential issue there—welcome to St. Thomas Aquinas's NICK SABAN TOE AUCTION—but you gotta be kidding me.
On grad transfers. Stewart Mandel hits on the goofiest part of the NCAA's PR campaign against grad transfers:
In short, it's patently absurd for officials who claim to have athletes' best interests in mind to be threatening one of the most athlete-friendly rules in their book, not to mention one that specifically incentivizes players to graduate. No, most of them don't go on to complete their master's degrees, but that doesn't mean they don't better themselves.
The rule gives guys who may otherwise be dubious about getting that degree a major reason to do so. You have to decide whether that's helping your achieve your goals or not. If you actually want players to graduate it is.
Jim Delany 0, always 0. Mere days after he stuck up for satellite camps whilst running down a number of activities both worthy of attention (oversigning) and not (recruits decommitting), this happens:
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Someone was going to give Jamel Dean a shot. In stepped Auburn coach Gus Malzahn.
Dean, the former Ohio State cornerback who was medically disqualified by the Buckeyes before ever playing a game in Columbus, announced on Friday that he will be enrolling at Auburn with the intention of playing football for the Tigers.
That's just the way things go these days. Annual signing limits, please.
Etc.: Arguments against the end of intentional fouling are not real good. Michigan is courting 6'8" Brent Hibbits as a preferred walk-on. Hibbits has a number of MAC-level offers. Wagner doing things at the U19 level. Steve Shields joins Michigan as a volunteer assistant. My goalie buddy who follows these things very closely thinks that's a big help.
Georgia's AD is jealous of "Third Down For What." Larkin at the World Championships. Everett Golson has been barred from transferring to "a number of Big Ten schools." I guarantee you one of them is M.
Henry was not the same kind of risk Chris Barnett was [Bryan Fuller]
Fliers actually a good thing?
You mentioned in the last UV that "If Michigan hangs onto 8-10 guys
they could add a few fliers and be fine. The guys they hang onto are
actually touted recruits instead of the mess that was Rodriguez's last
It seems like a large percentage of the big names on the team today
were fliers in the Hoke/RichRod class and Hoke's first class. Names
that immediately came to mind as late offers that panned out better
than expected are Norfleet, Morgan, Taylor and Henry. I wonder if
taking a few more chances on last-minute fliers wouldn't pay off for
this recruiting class?
There's a difference between late fliers you take after scouting them in secret for a while and the kind of late fliers Michigan took after Brady Hoke was hired and they needed to cram ten guys into Rodriguez's battered final class. Morgan was a Rich Rodriguez add after extensive scouting; Henry was a Hoke add after the same; Norfleet was a highly touted spread guy Michigan had room for on Signing Day; he was well known.
Here are the guys Michigan added after The Process concluded in early 2011 (minus Chris Bryant, because Bryant was on the verge of committing to Michigan for months beforehand):
- Chris Barnett (flamed out before fall camp)
- Frank Clark (check)
- Thomas Rawls (never played, now CMU feature back)
- Russell Bellomy (third string QB)
- Antonio Poole (pec injury forced retirement)
- Matt Wile (kicker)
- Keith Heitzman (backup to AJ Williams)
- Raymon Taylor (check)
- Tamani Carter (transferred after one year)
They got two players out of eight swings and they got one of those because Frank Clark went from 210 to 280 like guys who get drafted from MAC schools. That's not a great hit rate, and that hit rate was about as expected. Only Taylor, one of the two hits, had a recruiting profile even on the 3/4 star borderline. All others were fliers picked away from Vandy, Minnesota, Purdue, etc.
Now combine that with the rest of the class, which featured four more guys who didn't make it through year one (Greg Brown, Chris Rock, Kellen Jones, Tony Posada) and that's a 20 commitment class in a year you could have taken 25 that has way too many washouts.
This year is different. A guy coming in at the same time Hoke did last year would only need to add four or five guys and the guys already in the class aren't particularly likely to flame out, because that's the thing Hoke has been terrific at. They would not desperately need the the late flier guys to work out, and that's a good thing because they would not be likely to.
It shouldn't matter in a class that looks like it'll top out at 15. So I'm just sayin' if it's January 1 and Michigan has just installed a new AD I wouldn't necessarily think Hoke is safe.
[After THE JUMP: anti-mascot concept art]
Immediately place your mouse here, tap your index finger, and be whisked away to my all-time favorite series of preview diaries: EGD’s Four Plays. He draws up two base offensive plays for Michigan and two base offensive plays of the opponent, shows how each team defends those plays, and then breaks down the individual matchups. A sample:
WDE Frank Clark: Gap-exchange with WLB Joe Bolden; backside pursuit of RB Devontae Booker
NT Ryan Glasgow: Defend backside A-gap against LG Junior Salt
DT Willie Henry: Defend playside B-gap against RG Isaac Asiata, constrict playside A-gap
SDE Brennan Beyer: Defend playside D-gap (outside TE) vs. TE Westlee Tonga; backside pursuit if QB keeps, set edge point and force run back inside if QB gives
WLB Joe Bolden: Gap-exchange with WDE Frank Clark; defend backside C-gap vs. LT Jeremiah Poutasi, set edge point and force back inside if QB keeps, backside pursuit if QB gives
Make this part of your preview regimen. In other O’s, Brhino mini-UFR’d the Shane Morris plays (both rollouts so pocket presence information is unavailable).
Coaching searches are like recruiting: five stars wanted. The other big diary this week is resph1’s look at all the coaching searches among Power Five programs since 2007.
|Coaching search lesson 1|
By year four most guys in the study had their programs in better shape than the previous three seasons. Also very few of them were still around:
Only half the coachs on our list of 36 are still at their schools. It gets worse as you go farther back in time. Of the 8 coaches hired for the 2007 season, Nick Saban and Mark Dantonio are the only ones still around. A whopping 5 were fired and another (Harbaugh) left for the NFL.
Even among the 14 “winners” covered above, the story is not much better. 5 guys capitalized on their success and moved on to other positions, and 2 were fired (one scandal, on failed to sustain their initial success), only 7 remain (Snyder, Saban, Briles, Hoke, Kelly, Fisher, Cutcliffe).
I did a somewhat similar study of Big Ten and SEC coaching hires since 1999 in this year’s HTTV, breaking them into categories of “Strong” (like stealing another BCS team’s HC for unholy money), “Average” (like upgrading a proven mid-major coach or BCS/NFL coordinator) or “Cheap” (what Purdue does). Of the SEC’s 30 head coaching hires, 18 were in the “Strong” category, while economy class was reserved for only Vandy, Kentucky, and Arkansas needing a one-year stopgap; only three (Rodriguez, John L. Smith, and Urban) of the Big Ten’s 22 hires rated that, and 13 were on the cheap.
Etc. Gulo Gulo reviewed betting lines, Ron Utah reviews the last few years of Michigan football and wonders if maybe we just should feel sorry for ourselves, LSA on where Michigan stands in basic stats.
Bill Connelly a few years back created a new uberstat for receivers called RYPR (receiving yards/total team plays *Passing S&P+). His description:
Below, you will find a measure that attempts to answer the following questions about a given pass-catcher:
- 1) How much do you produce?
- 2) How important are you to your team's passing game?
- 3) How good is the passing game to which you are important?
- 4) And how much is the forward pass featured in your team's offense?
The idea was to simply multiply the following four factors together: a player's Yards Per Target, his Target Rate, his team's Passing S&P+, and his team's pass rate. Target Rate x Yards Per Target x Passing S&P+ x Pass Rate = RYPR.
Let's skip right to Michigan
I went through several iterations trying to match exactly what Connelly had done, so this may not match the results I reported beforehand. Here's the breakdown of Michigan's targets with NCAA averages in parentheses:
|Target #||Receiver||RYPR (NCAA avg)||Yards/Tgt||Target Rate|
|1||Jeremy Gallon||178.0 (102.6)||10 (8.6)||32% (23%)|
|2||Devin Funchess||97.0 (68.8)||8.1 (8.1)||21% (17%)|
|3||Drew Dileo||22.6 (49.5)||5.8 (7.8)||7% (12%)|
|4||Jake Butt||30.5 (36.6)||8.7 (7.7)||6% (9%)|
|5||Jehu Chesson||28.7 (27.0)||9.2 (7.2)||6% (7%)|
|6||Fitz Toussaint||26.3 (20.9)||10.2 (6.7)||5% (6%)|
|7||Jeremy Jackson||9.2 (17.1)||7.1 (7.0)||2% (5%)|
Funchess's 97.0 was 22nd among teams' second targets though his yards per target were average for No. 2 guys. The max protect stuff in the season's third quarter (Indiana through Nebraska) bore out in the numbers, with that third receiver (Dileo) far under the typical third receiver's usage.
Best Receivers in a Bad B1G
Gallon wasn't the only long term top receiver to graduate last year, and the conference wasn't very deep on receiving talent to begin with. The result is not many wideouts left in-conference to have cracked that 100 (average for a team's best receiver) mark. In 2013 the Big Ten average RYPR for its teams' top three receivers was 69.5, last among major conferences and just ahead of the Sun Belt and Conf USA. When I removed all seniors the Big Ten was behind the MAC (Conference USA was still very worse). Here's the best among those that remain.
|Receivers||Team||Tgt||Rec||Yds||YPT||Tgt Rt||1st Dn%||RYPR|
|Devin Smith||Ohio State||#2||44||660||9.0||20.9%||34%||88.7|
Maryland has lots of receivers. Northwestern's Joneses were pretty productive, and could be more so in a Trevor Siemian offense. The tight ends:
|Tight Ends||Team||Tgt||Rec||Yds||YPT||Tgt Rt||1st Dn%||RYPR|
|Jeff Heuerman||Ohio State||#4||26||466||12.9||10.3%||44%||62.6|
|Jesse James||Penn State||#3||25||333||8.3||10.2%||33%||39.0|
Remind me to draft Heuerman in the draft-o-snark.