"Jim's a tough guy and you can see his personality is all over this football team," Fitzgerald said.
2010 bowl season
For a number of years now, it has been a popular position that the time off between the end of the regular season and the beginning of bowl season is excessively long, and leads to poor play early in games. Certainly I have found this to be an attractive explaination for the prodigous quantities of DERP we saw this bowl season.
But DERP is subjective, and the plural of anecdote is not data. Is there any substantial quantitative support to the notion that bowl games start off unusually sloppy? There are a great many factors at play; I chose to look at relevant statistics on a quarter-by-quarter basis. I don't have the massive database that seems popular around these here parts, and the typical box score doesn't give a per-quarter breakdown of anything but score. Bummer. Well, maybe if we go ahead and look anyway at a
chart of percent of total points scored per quarter, we can find something elucidating. All bowl games are included. Each team's per-quarter scoring is normalized by their total score in the game. Averages and standard deviations are then computed, based on the entire bowl team population. It seems plausible that excessive pre-bowl layoff will result in a substantially higher standard deviation in the early part of the game, when either offense or defense might be DERPerrific.
|U of A||70.00||0.00||30.00||0.00||10|
Well, hmm. We could weight the per-quarter score fractions by the total number of points scored per team (0-3-3-3 is less telling than 0-21-21-21), but we find that this makes little difference. In the unweighted case, we find that the first half standard deviation is 29% higher than the second half standard deviation. The first quarter standard deviation is about 16% higher than the average quarter.
This seems to lend mild support to the idea that bowl games start off unusually sloppy. How does this compare to regular-season results? I compared to games from weeks 12-15, but only if the game involved two teams that ended up bowl-eligible (I counted Arizona State, because I graduated from there and it was Wisconsin's/SJSU's fault anyway and if you don't like it then tough). I toyed with the idea of removing rivalry games, because rivalry games are weird, but I did not.
|U of A||48.28||17.24||10.34||24.14||29|
|Fresno||thanks for breaking the chart Fresno||0|
|U of A||0.00||0.00||70.00||30.00||20|
Stupid Fresno. Anyway, we continue to see elevated stdev for the first quarter of regular season games between bowl eligible teams, but by a lesser degree. For these regular season games, the first half standard deviation is 10.8% higher than that for the second half. The first quarter standard deviation is about 11% higher than the average quarter.
There are certainly some serious issues with this methodology. Does a sloppy defense give up more scores to a sloppy offense than when both are playing carefully? I don't know the best answer, but I'm sure it varies on a case-by-case basis. There are also many late-game effects for which I have not accounted - a prevent version of a dominant defense might give up the only score of the game in the 4th quarter when the game is out of reach (hi there Sparty!). This would give a large standard deviation value to the 4th quarter, erroneously implying sloppiness. I do not know how to account for these sorts of errors with the data set I have available. Further, I do not suggest that this is an all-inclusive list of methodological problems.
Still, 29% vs 10.8% seems vaguely compelling, give 70 bowl and 98 regular season scores. My statistical background has faded badly since undergrad, so I'm going to refrain from a hilariously misguided attempt at error bars. The sample size is large, but boy those data are noisy. Any time my standard deviation is as big as the average, I start to feel a little woozy...
Hail to the Doomed and Purple Rain
As another rabid college football fan, I was bursting at the seams of my favorite polyester pants in anticipation for the 2010-2011 bowl season. Many criticisms have been leveled at the NCAA for the current way division I-A chooses to participate in a post season, many of which I agree with. The players, without them there would be no bowls, seem to be locked into a NCAA led masochistic agreement with this year’s A-list clients in the way of sponsors for bowl games. It seems every year that any mongrel that has a dollar and something to push gets an added bowl. I am expecting and dreadfully waiting for the soon to become real Maxi-Pad bowl between 3-9 La-Monroe and 2-10 Washington St Cougars held in Flagstaff, Arizona to drive home the “stays dry” selling point.
Anywhoo, enough with doom predictions, there is enough doom to go around after this bowl season. The 2010-11 bowl season kicked off in New Mexico. The Mormons of BYU versus the upstart UTEP Miners. The result of this dull game gave a menacing outlook for the rest of the bowls. After cashing in a lackluster performance in the regular season, the Mormons pulverized UTEP into smithereens. I of course picked UTEP in a friendly college bowl pool. No worries, 34 more bowls to go, and a heavy stash of mood and reality enhancers to get me through it.
As the appetizers of the bowl season rolled on, I realized that I judged this bowl season about as right as those taking Jim Cramer’s advice on Bear Stearns did. Not only did the teams I expected to win, lose, but they lost it in Mel Gibson fashion.
12/28/10 would be the first time for the B1G on the national stage for bowls. The background for this game couldn’t be much worse for Iowa. Players transferred, arrested, and shamed after the swine busted them for a “drug house”. It is a shame, because I am guessing the Paterno household contains more drugs than any early twenties kid could handle without getting vampire bats high in their attic. I of course listening to the solar winds of the universe picked Missouri to stomp Iowa like a one eyed child orphaned by Satan himself. I was wrong, and again I cursed the Mormons for setting the tone. Iowa slugged Mizzou all game long with the use of the demon infested halfback named Coker and play action passing that could have fooled Bobby Fischer if the game was held on a chessboard. By halftime I thought it was over and I might as well finish my drink and go to bed. Thankfully Lou Holtz opened his mouth and I had to have more of my liquid coping mechanism. Mizzou came out, put up a respectful fight with a surgical passing game. Coker, however, would not be denied. It was as if a methed out Mack Truck driver was at the wheel just running over any hippie that dare get close to him. The Missouri quarterback tried hard to imitate Stanzi and succeeded, except it was the Ricky Stanzi of 2009. The two interceptions thrown at the end put the dagger through the heart of the Missouri team. Ricky Stanzi and every other corn fed, long hair haters were thoroughly impressed and satisfied. Could the B1G be vastly underrated? We all here in Michigan nation hoped so.
After a night of total debauchery, I woke to a stern looking Jack Russell Terrier staring at me intently. Obviously the love seat that I finally succumbed to because of the toxins in my body was his regular sleeping habitat. Strange way to start the new year indeed. After piecing myself back together and getting necessary sustenance to carry on, I was ready for the New Year Day’s bowl schedule. The first taste came from Tampa Bay in the form of the Outback Bowl. It aggravated me to no end that this bowl was now on at 1pm. I became accustomed to waking in the second quarter of it when it was televised at 11am. The Gator Bowl started at 130pm. I was in a houseful of PSU fans that had just got done pleasuring themselves over the JoePa/Meyer interview by Jon Gruden. Of course they came away with glowing reviews of his genius while I was still trying to figure out if the man was alive and someone was just pulling strings above the set to make him move.
Finally the Gator Bowl began and I commandeered the remote away from the ring leader of this strange cult, my best friend. The Bowie knife on my side became all in one day a great deterrent and evidence in a surely coming criminal trial. After suffering for weeks upon weeks of coaching change talk, I was ready for an impressive show by Denard & Co. that would have Rich Rodriguez deniers begging to lick the fromunda cheese build up he has been saving them in his upper taint region. I busted open a little hair of the dog and also had a dog wearing a Michigan hat over its hair sitting close to me in case any of these rat bastards tried to go for the remote or my jugular. Michigan got the ball first. I was actually hoping they would go on defense first. I would be able to tell if we had a chance if the defense was on the field first or if I would have to reach in my bag of goodies early in order to be able to tolerate the Neanderthals that surrounded me.
The first drive was something to be seen. Nothing would deter Denard and Michigan from scoring. Not the Miss St defense, not the humidity of a Jacksonville afternoon, not five million fucking cowbells these yeoman farmers brought from their last farm show, not even Mormons could have stopped it. Denard showing flashes of his early performances of the year drove the team down inside Miss St’s 20 yard line. The first touchdown of the game came when Denard tossed a pass as beautiful as Katy Perry to Roundtree. I had about the same reaction as if Katy Perry would have been delivered to me in such a way, with complete insanity and reckless abandonment. I danced with the dog in the Michigan hat (Huxley aka Schnauzer), threw back another Jerry and Coke and got ready for the redemption of the season to continue with the same zeal. It was then bit of a let down when Miss St scored on their first drive. Things became a little darker on the field and in my mind. After another special teams mishap on the punting team, I thought for sure this was it. Game over. Fire Rodriguez and his band of hoodlums. I was wrong, at least for a quarter. The defense bent, but didn’t break and held the Bulldogs to three points. The ensuing drive, Michigan scored on a freak catch by Odoms. I then wondered if this is what it would look like if the archangel Gabriel caught the pass. Doubtful. Odoms is above Gabriel’s level. At the end of the first quarter Michigan led 14-10! Let the good times roll!
The second quarter on brought a harsh reality to all of us Michigan fans. Nothing has changed when we play challenging teams this year. We start out in a competitive fashion, but then finish like a three legged mule destined for hell. Miss St took total control of the game and Michigan became demoralized very easily and gave up. I have seen this before during the Wisconsin, MSU, and osu massacres.
Nothing has changed. Our defense lacked the discipline and integrity of a Pop Warner team, our offense folded in the pressure of trying to make swan napkin figures out of shit logs, and our kicking team continued to take the short bus to Terrell Pryor’s school for beginners class.
At this point I also started to notice the propaganda commercials every break from Values.com that told us how to be good citizens and people. How far had our society fallen to be told how to be compassionate and truthful? How far has this team fallen to be pitied and empathized rather than feared and hated? After a little research I found that the Mormons had a hand in the Values.com commercials. After a little self reflection and mind altering substances, I have figured out that someone must roast on a pike while being shot in the eye with cobra venom for the embarrassment that Michigan has become. Michigan lost the Gator Bowl 52-14 and I then lost my patience and sanity.
After watching Michigan drag itself off the field and when the powers of mescaline and devil’s lettuce took hold, I began watching the Fiesta Bowl with my best amigo and Huxley. This was it. It seemed nothing but evil prevailed on New Year’s Day. The ESS EEE SEE spanked the B1G in an aggressive way, not an exotic way. All I wanted now is for these boys from UConn to surprise the Okies from Norman. At the time of this writing, I have yet to see anyone hit harder and throw their bodies as hard as the kids from Connecticut.
While the game progressed, my friend and I began a lively discussion at knife point on the state of the B1G. In the end I could not argue with his assessment of the conference this year. The B1G had turned into the B1G MAC. Huxley didn’t add much to the conversation except for blank stares. He must have still been reeling from the Michigan loss or got into my blotter sheets again. It could not be argued the B1G was anything more than pretenders this year. The clowns from osu are yet to play, but I don’t expect much from them except embarrassment. Even if they won, it doesn’t excuse the poor performance of the B1G this year. Three co-champs that have turned out to be three co-chumps.
I then remembered watching the Rose Bowl and listening to the commentators talk about purple rain and the TCU defense treating Wisconsin like fresh meat in a maximum security prison that had just dropped the soap. Purple rain, it was more than just the TCU defense, but a weird description of the 2010 season. No one would have have expected purple rain to fall from the sky, or the B1G with three co-champs going down like Pamela Anderson on a random rock star. Bad craziness. Nothing but the feeling of helplessness and shame could be felt from Pennsylvania to Nebraska. What will happen next year?
I never meant to cause you any sorrow
I never meant to cause you any pain
I only wanted one time to see you laughing
I only wanted to see you laughing in the purple rain
I never wanted to be your weekend lover
I only wanted to be some kind of friend, hey
Baby, I could never steal you from another
It's such a shame our friendship had to end
Honey, I know, I know, I know times are changin'
It's time we all reach out for something new, that means you too
You say you want a leader, but you can't seem to make up your mind
And I think you better close it and let me guide you to the purple rain
I am not a professional fan at other B1G schools, but I am for Michigan. I want someone to roast in a slow painful public death or a good tar and feathering for the final game. I was an avid RR fan, but it actually looked like the team regressed into a Special Olympics team instead of making any progress after a long period to prepare. There better as hell be changes within the next couple of days or AA can expect a revolt the size of the July 26th revolution. If RR is gone, well, that's the way the cookie crumbles in this line of work. He may be a nice guy, but this culture, society, and game do not acquiescence to a nice guy as a coach. If not, the defensive staff better be put in pillories to feel the humiliation we all felt the past three years. I want someone that breathes fire and shoves their boot up Tressell’s and Dantonio’s ass so far that when they cough at the site of a Michigan TD the refs take their wheezing as a fucking whistle that inadvertently blows giving Michigan a free penalty on the next possession.
As New Year’s Day came to a close and I was in the thick of an extreme bender of multiple mind altering substances, I turned to a CNN documentary about John Lennon. It turns out his killer was a religious obsessive fan that thought he became more John Lennon than John Lennon. After finding out about his comment about the Beatles becoming bigger than Jesus, he started a downward spiral of psychosis and murderous tendencies. I then wondered before I slipped into comatose if that is what most of us have become.
We became enwrapped with the image of an invincible Michigan image that no matter what, we were Michigan and no one was better than us. To tell the truth, this fanbase is not accustomed to losing and to see it three years in a row, it seems a downward spiral has transformed us from a fanbase that was spoiled by a century of winning tradition to a fanbase that practices cannibalism amongst each other within three years. A sad sight to see and participate in indeed.
In the end of the John Lennon story, a man was eliminated from the Earth that could have given more to us that we could comprehend. I don't want to see the same thing happen to the talent that is on this team right now. No matter what direction this program takes, I expect there will public execution of someone responsible for our malaise and a coach that will bring immediate hope to a fanbase that so needs it. What I don’t want to see, is a Michigan fanbase become so obsessive that they become the rudder that steers the ship right into a giant fucking rock. That would be a Notre Dame type tragedy. All we can do right now is imagine, but I know I'm not the only one. Mahalo.