west virginia is a post apocalyptic wasteland
You probably already covered this but:
It is suggested that Rich Rod can do more with less and our current lack of high star recruits is related to the 3-9 record so as Rich Rod began to put winning seasons together at West Va did his recruiting classes increase in its ranking? Does/will a Rich Rod program attract a highly ranked recruit or does his program with its level of intensity scare them away (ie Justin Boren = Seantrel Henderson)?
When Rodriguez was hired I touched on this in Rodriguez's Profile In Heroism:
That 2008 class would finish #23 as well, so there was a noticeable uptick in WVU's recruiting rankings towards the tail end of Rodriguez's career there. (The 2006 class was very small, and recruiting rankings are always biased towards large classes; that dip is an anomaly.) Bill Stewart and Doc Holliday (mostly Holiday) have continued that trend. How much of that is courtesy WVU's increased national profile and how much is on the supposed recruiting aces on WVU's new staff no one will ever know.
Meanwhile at Michigan, Rodriguez added nine recruits to Carr's final class and all of them except one or two, IIRC, had four stars on one of the two major sites. His second class finished #6 nationally after Rivals accounted for losses to academics and baseball and whatnot (cough cough Ole Miss). Rodriguez, clearly, likes high profile mofos about as much as any other coach around, and when positioned at a school like Michigan can do a pretty good job of acquiring said high profile mofos. The reputed intensity of the program might be a turnoff to some but to others, like Craig Roh, it's a selling point.
Long term I expect Rodriguez will recruit on about the same level as Carr did. This class isn't going to be a great one because of 3-9, not any desire or deficiency on Rodriguez's part.
More on that:
Given our early season success, it is apparent that this season has more upside than most of us had anticipated – both in terms of wins and the corresponding (generally) positive media attention generated. In your opinion (e-pinion?), if we were to theoretically get to 9-10 wins (including a bowl game), will the fact that we took so many commits early have limited the upside of our recruiting class? It seems like a lot more guys who weren’t giving us a look prior to the season are now at least considering it, and we may or may not have room for everyone we would have liked to have taken.
Conversely, is it possible that OSU has limited the upside of their class by taking too few players prior to the season now that they are in a state of semi-turmoil? (Maybe I’m overestimating internet grumbling here, but the current pub can’t be doing great things with recruits.)
Apologies for the over-use of parentheses, and thanks in advance for any thoughts!
Phillip Zinda ‘05
Well… yes, theoretically. But probably not really. I've followed recruiting a long time and it's almost an iron law that an implosion-type season will be followed by a relatively weak recruiting class.
Holding out in the hopes of turning your fortunes around doesn't help that much. With the accelerated recruiting timetable, kids you like but aren't great would go off the board and then you'd be hoping 1) your turnaround would happen like whoah and 2) there would be enough open-minded folk out there to fill up your class. Not likely in the current environment. I do expect that Michigan's turnaround will provide a small bump, but these days the relationships you build happen when players are juniors or younger, at summer camps early and summer visits and fall unofficials as juniors.
1) I am a little worried about the defense and time of possession in the spread offense. Do defenses on spread teams get more worn down (more plays, etc)? Are there examples of excellent defenses on spread teams from the past? I can't think of any off the top of my head.
2) Has anyone attempted to empirically test the changes in noise level on the field after the lux boxes went up? I would imagine somebody has measured decibels in the past (although I wonder if decibels is the best measure of the impact of crown noise on an opposing team.
Thanks for all your hard work on this.
1) Do you count Florida or Oklahoma or Texas as spread teams? Last year Florida's defense was better than its offense. Oklahoma's warp-speed attack wasn't as successful but there are some false assumptions built into total yardage numbers. Oklahoma and their opponents averaged almost 13 possessions a game last year, 20% more than Texas did. Adjust for that reality and viola:
Oklahoma’s offense is now rated a more reasonable shade under 11% better than Texas’ offense. And whereas Texas’ defensive advantage was nearly 27% it is now just over 8% in the new analysis.
That still wasn't great, as Texas finished 51st in total defense, but how much of that had to do with the Big 12's offensive explosion last year? It's hard to tell.
As far as pace and time of possession and Michigan go: this year, 90-yard touchdowns or kick return touchdowns are going to result in defense fatigue, walk-ons hitting the field, and poor defensive performance. It's not a coincidence that the defense gave up two long touchdown drives immediately after Notre Dame had a long field goal drive and Stonum returned that kick. So, yes, the severe lack of depth this year might make it more sensible to keep things at a leisurely pace. Long term, though, powers should be doing what Oklahoma did last year. More possessions reduces overall variance by increasing the number of trials and makes it unlikely an inferior team can hang with you.
2) Not to my knowledge.
I'm not sure to what extent you've already addressed this, but I am wondering what your thoughts are regarding Devin Gardner next year. From what I've heard/seen Gardner is a phenomenal athlete, and has recently improved his throwing motion to the point where I believe rivals has him the highest rated QB in the country. I really appreciate what Tate has brought to the table this year, but I think he is limited by his physical abilities. I don't think it's reasonable to sit Gardner just because Forcier is doing a good job if Gardner lives up to his potential. Do you see a two quarterback situation in the future? Assuming Forcier continues to play well, and Gardner keeps playing like the #1 QB recruit in the country, what do you foresee happening in the next 3 years at the quarterback position?
Michigan should try its hardest to redshirt Gardner next year. Getting two years of separation between him and the freshmen will be really important down the line. He's not likely to be better than Forcier fresh out of high school, especially if he doesn't enroll early. (Current status of that: maybe, maybe not.) In 2014 you have these choices at quarterback: fifth-year senior Devin Gardner or Anyone Else. I'm going with Gardner.
Assuming Michigan does manage to get a redshirt on the guy, in 2011 and 2012 he'll be available. At that point you probably turn Robinson into a bizarre hybrid of Antwaan Randle-El and Percy Harvin* and Gardner into Tim Tebow circa his freshman year. Forcier plays the Chris Leak role. Implementing a Michigan version of the Gator Heavy gets Gardner playing time, fills a potential hole in Michigan's offense, and promises the occasional awesome jump pass. Also… goal-line sets with both Forcier and Gardner on the field promise to be chaotic fun. Fade to Gardner? Wolverine Heavy? Hell, let's throw Robinson in there too and do a triple-reverse play action jump pass. WOOOOO.
*(Hhhyarrrrr! It has four legs and four arms and can run around the sun!)
After reading the Dinosaur Schematic Advantage and the Smart Football smackdown of Tressel, I've been thinking about what this means for the U-M/OSU rivalry in both the near and long term. I know it's early to already be thinking about this year's game (then again, maybe it's never too early), but do you see this current Michigan team being close enough in talent to OSU to be able to win it based on home-field and schematic advantage? There are obvious concerns with the defense and depth, but maybe Tressel isn't capable of fully exploiting them?
And for the long-term, do you believe that Rich Rod's innovation and tactical mind will be able to make up for the institutional advantages that OSU has (money, better home state, less competition for recruits in-state comes to mind) to give Michigan an edge in 2-3 years when the program has maximized its potential? My best case scenario is a Carr over Cooper or Tressel over Carr -style domination eventually. I would love to hear your (mostly speculative) thoughts.
Mike Forster, Class of '05
The short term in a word: no. Ohio State's good at lining up and out-executing folk they have a talent advantage over and that will be true in spades when their offense is on the field. And their defense is going to be very difficult for Michigan to handle with so many young kids everywhere and without a true deep threat on the roster (unless Stonum gets way better or Hemingway is faster than he seems).
In the long term: that is, indeed, the best case scenario. It's not likely to happen just because of math: both recent streaks have seen their share of flukes where the other team should have won but for life-on-the-margins type stuff. The edges of binomial distributions are uncommon. And those streaks were helped along by poor coaching from the other side of the aisle. Tressel may not be Urban Meyer but he's not Lloyd Carr over the last few years of his term. His decline phase is just beginning if it's beginning at all and at his age (56) he can probably coach another 8-10 years before becoming an anchor.
Wow [/walken]. I spent last year posting Garfield Minus Garfield strips in the game previews instead of kittens. At first this was a commemoration of the new era and the shift in program philosophy we'd been waiting for—we went from cats to the specific, willful omission of them. As the season progressed, however, the lack of Garfield became, to quote Garfield Minus Garfield itself, "a journey deep into the mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against loneliness and depression in a quiet American suburb."
We're going back to kittens this year for obvious reasons. Kittens are cute. They work better than lack of cat. The switch was probably responsible for at least two special teams fumbles.
But here's one last lack of Garfield for the road, if only because it's theme-appropriate:
Historian! My RSS feeds got screwed up somehow and I stopped getting Wolverine Historian's torrent of clips in my reader. Fixed now; WH brings you the 1982 Purdue game:
Anthony Carter's last game at Michigan Stadium.
Hello again, Mr. Harbaugh. Jim Harbaugh's tendency to talk without regard to potential future consequences has once again brought him to the attention of the Big Ten, but this time($)…
You're not a fan of teams from other leagues playing two FCS schools.
Some of these teams are playing Delaware State (as Harbaugh's alma mater, Michigan, is) or Towson (Northwestern).
You know, somebody really ought to take notice of this stuff. You have eight or nine wins and so you're a great football team? Well, what if you played four patsies in your nonconference and then you only won half your conference games and so you get to go play in the Alamo Bowl and everyone says you're a great team. That's what happens. There's no question that the Pac-10 doesn't get that respect for playing teams out of conference of like caliber. Maybe some of these teams have a 1-AA team in there but it's rare.
…I couldn't agree more with him.
I guess it's a little bit of a cheapshot to mention Delaware State when Michigan is far from the worst nonconference scheduler in the league (cough wisconsin-minnesota-indiana cough) but I'm guessing it was just one of the foremost inter-division matchups in his mind since 1) he's an alum and 2) the Delaware State game has been held up as an especially stupid example of these sorts of things since DSU has forfeited a conference game to line up their payday. Northwestern gets it right in the face (Lake the Posts is displeased).
He's right on with the rest of it, and totally correct that the Pac-10 doesn't get the respect they probably warrant in the polls because they play a round-robin. Does everyone remember Hawaii in the BCS? That's the clearest evidence that not nearly enough attention is paid to schedule strength we've got. The more coaches that rail against stupid scheduling tricks, the better off fans will be. Even if it's obviously self-serving.
Merph merph. I'm more okay with the UConn deal now that it seems to have caused the Huskies' ridiculously unbalanced schedule with ND to evaporate, but this is still a much-preferable matchup:
The Hartford Courant reported on Saturday that Connecticut has booked a football home-and-home with Michigan. The Huskies open next season at the refurbished Big House; the Wolverines return the trip in 2013. According to a Michigan source, Pitt was in negotiation with the Wolverines for a similar arrangement but UConn was more flexible on the return date.
Pitt fans are terrible, so this would have allowed myself and 30,000 of my best friends to descend on Pittsburgh and take in the game. I'm not driving to Connecticut.
Maybe if I squint real hard and pray we'll get better. Another argument for Rodriguez's all-encompassing run-murder-death offensive abilities can be found in what happened to his old digs once he left. West Virginia returned Pat White, Noel Devine, and six offensive linemen with extensive starting experience. This happened:
I'll divide for you: the dip in run tendency does not account for the decline of the rushing yardage. In 2008, WVU averaged 5.3 YPC. Across the rest of the White era, WVU averaged 6.0. In 2007, the nearest comparable, it was 6.2.
This seems like a good place to mention that When Carcajous Attack(!) has researched the Rodriguez offensive line in-depth.
Elsewhere in the Northeast. This NYC bowl getting knocked around may involve a Big Ten team:
The sources said that Mark Holtzman, marketing director of Yankee Stadium, discussed the possibilities of a bowl game at a meeting with the Big East athletic directors. Mark Lamping, CEO of the New Meadowlands Stadium Company, expressed his facility's interest.
If the bowl game comes to fruition, it likely would match a Big East school against an at-large team, preferably from the Big Ten, which has millions of alumni in the metropolitan area.
That is what I am saying. I'd rather deal with the cold for a couple hours and then be in New York than be in San Antonio or Nashville or Orlando… ever.
The article makes it sound like this would be a real rinky-dink operation, though, with the last-ish bowl-eligible Big East team versus anyone who's floating around without a tie-in. This will be a Big Ten team approximately once in a zillion years. Iowa missed out on a bowl at 6-6 a couple years ago, but I don't recall any other eligible Big Ten team escaping the gravitational pull of the Motor City Bowl.
O RLY? Apparently some Ohio State assistant was spouting off to some guy at the Dispatch—possibly ESS EEE CEE guy—about how defenses have caught up with the spread. Rodriguez decided he wasn't going to run it any more as a result oh wait no not really:
"I could care less what he says," Rodriguez said. "Everybody's opinion is an opinion. We study everything, and our ultimate goal is to win. We sit down as a staff, and coaches and say what can we do that gives us the best chance to score points and win ballgames. For us it goes back to running the system we know."
Rodriguez is one of the gurus of the spread-option offense and has spent years adjusting it.
"This whole thing about catching up to this, it's all about execution," he said at the Big Ten media days in Chicago last week. "They said the same thing about West Coast offenses, pro-style offenses. If you've got better players, you execute better, you'll win 100% of the time, no matter what system you run."
The exact term in the article above is that offenses have "caught up to the quarterback run." This is coming from a coach at Ohio State, which had Terrelle Pryor pass 165 times last year… and run 135 times. Fail? I think this is fail.
Are these measuring the same things? Black Heart, Gold Pants points to an article on Iowa's athletic budget that indicates how the Big Ten is doing relative to the Joneses, and by "Joneses" we mean SEC:
The $19.8 million in budgeted Big Ten income reflects Iowa's share of the ESPN contract and BTN profits. It's also nearly $4 million more than SEC schools stand to make under their new Leviathan deal with The Worldwide Leader, despite the fact that the Big Ten receives half as much from ESPN for television rights (just as expected).
The 4 million number is right…
Florida, like every SEC school, will receive about $16 million in total television money for the 2009 season, $11 million of which comes from ESPN.
…if those are measuring the same things. (That same article claims the Big Ten gets 100 million to the SEC's 150, which okay whatever.) I don't think they are. The quote that $19.8 million comes from:
Iowa will receive nearly $19.8 million through the Big Ten and NCAA, mostly through television contracts. That’s an increase of nearly $700,000.
Mostly? So greater than 51% but less than 100%? Where is the link to the PDF? Argh. I don't think a 4 million dollar gap is realistic, since if that encompasses every dime coming from the Big Ten and NCAA a decent chunk of it has to be bowl revenue. I'm guessing the overall money just from TV is essentially equal.
Which is still a major difference from what a thousand newspaper articles trumpeting the eternal hegemony of the secessionists would have you believe. (That's right: secessionists.)
Etc.: Rodriguez is "a little better than JoePa" at tweedle-dos.
I run mgoblog. I will bet you your entire year's salary that Rich Rodriguez does not get fired after this season. Since you believe it's "obvious" he will be fired, this is an opportunity for you to make a cool fifty bucks.
It's satisfyingly goading, and when the twit in question fails to respond it's a tacit admission that the assessment in the subject is correct.
First, it's pretty obvious to me this is going to be Rich Rodriguez's last season as the head football coach at the University of Michigan.
The rest of it is a bunch of one-sentence paragraphs that end up with Rodriguez landing at Marshall. It's not coherent enough to bother fisking, but one of the sentences says the alumni "hasn't" warmed up to Rodriguez. (No, guy on the message board thread, that's not proper usage. Alumni is a plural noun—alumnus is the singular version—instead of a singular noun (like "flock") that describes a group.)
We'll see if he takes me up on the offer. I bet he doesn't.
Light day today due to Spain-USA. May we die with honor. Braves and Birds previews it for you.
Times and dates. A press release containing every exciting Big Ten matchup against Towson has been C&Ped into the diaries. Michigan games listed:
- Western Michigan at MICHIGAN, ABC, 3:30 p.m. ET
- Notre Dame at Michigan, ABC, 3:30 p.m. ET
- Eastern Michigan at MICHIGAN, Big Ten Network, Noon ET
- MICHIGAN at ILLINOIS, ABC, 2:30 p.m. CT
Yes, Western Michigan at Michigan is a 3:30 ABC game. Woo! It's not like there's anything else going on but Jebus. If the rest of the schedule wasn't dire enough to get WMU @ M on ABC I'd put in my usual complaint about a home 3:30 start really impinging on my ability to see games around the country.
Also: was it widely known that the Illinois game would be a 3:30 ABC affair?
We were good except for the eighty yard touchdown we gave up six times. I couldn't dig up a specific instance of this concept in the archives, but I'm pretty sure at various times last year I described the defense as doing pretty well except for the four long touchdowns. Michigan wasn't a team you drove the field on, it was a team you mostly failed against until someone in the secondary or one of the linebackers screwed up and then you ran for a long time and got seven points. Sometimes this happened most of the day (Illinois), sometimes it didn't.
It turns out there are numbers to support this idea:
The most interesting name on this list is Michigan. They were seventh in Success Rates+ but 62nd in PPP+ [Points Per Play]. That suggests that they played pretty efficient defense overall, not giving up consistent gains, but the breakdowns they did suffer were large ones, and they gave up far too many big plays.
There aren't any helpful glossary links that explain exactly what goes into these metrics, unfortunately, so I can't tell you if they attempt to account for the terrible field position Michigan found itself in time and again, but even that can't explain all of this discrepancy.
So: the stats point a finger squarely at last year's safeties, with some bonus points accruing to the sloppy linebacking.
More metrics for good. The Free Press summarizes Steele's metrics on Michigan, all of which point in the right direction. Many of them will be familiar to readers of this blog:
- Teams coming off extremely negative turnover years improve 80% of the time.
- Teams who lose three or more close games than they win improve basically 80% of the time.
- Michigan returns many starters.
- And holy hell the offense has to be way better.
Steele predicts an improved season for the Wolverines, the fourth-most improved season nationally, trailing only Illinois, Ohio and UCLA. He also sees them in the Champs Sports Bowl against Miami (Fla.).
Raise your hand if you'd take that right now. That appears to be everyone.
Another bullet in the head. Man, this coaches poll thing… eh… not so good:
the Coaches poll is a different story. Only 5 of the 18 non-BCS teams have a positive average, meaning that the overwhelming majority of non-BCS teams drop further in the Coaches poll after a loss than the average team does. (It’s true that in general, the Coaches drop teams further for a loss than the AP, but not by that much – it’s a difference of 0.2 spots.) In fact, the Coaches dropped non-BCS teams more than the average in nearly 2/3’s of their losses. Looking at it one final way, all of the BCS teams combine for the average 0.0 in the Coaches poll – non-BCS teams combine for a -1.6 average, losing a spot and a half more per game than BCS teams.
And Carson went forth amongst the Hittites, and slew many, and gloried in the destruction, whereupon he was released from the football team to the annoyance of his high school coach. Minor PR fire at Detroit Renaissance arising from an interview with its head coach. First, the facts: Ren's Antonio Watts is being interviewed by "Hondo," who's a Spartan-slanted (and apparently unemployed now) TV guy the RCMB mocks.
First he references Carson Butler—"now with the Green Bay Packers"—as one of the major athletes in Renaissance's past, at which point Hondo asks why everyone loves Dantonio, at which point Watts says, in effect, "Dantonio shows up."
Then there's some garbled ungrammatical stuff from Hondo about the current Ren kids at State; Watts launches into this apropos of nothing—Hondo never mentions Michigan:
"I had two kids who went to the University of Michigan with Lloyd Carr and when Rodriguez took over last year, in my opinion they weren't done well. They weren't treated well. Carson had to leave early… to the NFL, and Andre Criswell, who's still up there, he's a graduate assistant who's not doing anything. And that hurt my heart. And I have a kid at West Virginia who's not very happy there. And I feel that."
Well, then. One: don't expect anyone out of Ren to go to Michigan in the near future. But let's not confuse this coach's slant with reality. Criswell is a great guy but he was the last guy in his recruiting class, a guy Carr offered on signing day because he had an extra scholarship. He came in as a fullback, never played under Carr in three years, and never played under Rodriguez. As mentioned, he's currently a grad assistant. I'm finding it difficult to see how that can be spun as anything negative. I'm even assuming his withdrawal from the program was entirely his decision: Michigan has extra scholarships this year. So what the hell?
And Carson Butler… well. Carson Butler is the most embarrassing program alum in the last decade. He punched a Notre Dame player last year. The year before that he participated in the St. Patrick's Day Nerd Massacre, was kicked off the team by Carr, and only let back on after he managed to evade legal consequences. At the time it seemed clear that Carr would have rather washed his hands of him then and there but couldn't justify it since he was acquitted. On the field the guy was a false-start prone headcase whose interest in blocking was nil.
And the stories that have hit my inbox about him have been either hilarious or disturbing, or both. There's a typical Carson Butler story in that thread linked above; I've heard three or four others of similar vintage. Unless this is an amazing hoax, the guy is a sociopath who got far more consideration than he deserved from Michigan.
So over it. A couple of weeks ago, Rich Rodriguez called up a couple of guys in West Virginia in an attempt to bury the hatchet. Here's how that went:
My wife is not a sports fan.
Recently, though, she read the front page article by the Daily Mail's Jake Stump about Rich Rodriguez, the one where the former West Virginia University coach said how much he loved West Virginia and hoped the tension between him and hard-core Mountaineer football fans was fading.
Her observation after reading the article was, "Who is this man? What a pitiful, whiny, self-serving creature."
You, sir, have a very dramatic wife. Who likes adjectives.
Teeny tinies are the trend. Some of the roiling sea of consternation about Michigan's future is about the tiny wide receivers and their unsuitability for the NFL and that sort of thing. Maybe this helps?
Though there were no wide receivers taken in the first round in 2008, 10 went in Round 2, and a quick look at their first-year statistics paints an interesting picture. The success among the smaller guys was led by 5-10, 182-pound Eddie Royal of Denver, who embarrassed then-Oakland cornerback DeAngelo Hall in the season opener on Monday Night Football to the tune of nine catches for 146 yards and a touchdown. That was just the opening salvo in a season that saw Royal finish with 91 catches for 980 yards in 15 games.
Philadelphia's DeSean Jackson is another example of a small receiver having a big impact as a rookie. At 5-10, 175, he finished with 62 catches for 912 yards, but only two touchdowns. Even the surprise first receiver taken in 2008, 5-11, 184-pound Donnie Avery of St. Louis, had a stellar debut. He had 53 catches for 674 yards and three touchdowns, not too shabby for a 'rook.'
Meanwhile, all the big guys from that draft haven't done anything. Now, none of these guys are 5'2" or whatever Jeremy Gallon is, but they are in the range that of a Je'Ron Stokes. And if you're one of these guys you're probably going to go to the school that can best deploy your tiny windmilling legs, right?