TO THE HOT TAKE CANNON
Two years ago, we were fortunate enough to be in South Bend to watch Michigan defeat Notre Dame. It was a great college football atmosphere. We were sitting in the middle of ND established fan seating, as we were guests of friends whose child is on the ND band. Though we were dressed in maize and blue, the spirit of good sportsmanship and prevailing sense of a common love of the game (with deserved mutual respect for each other's programs) meant we had a good time among the ND faithful.
Fast forward to THIS year, and the atmosphere was different. We should have been tipped off by the abc.com article the Friday before about ND's efforts to make their home field louder and more advantageous. Still, we were surprised when the game commenced and the amount of pumped in music was DRAMATICALLY louder.
But, hey, we're used to noise in the Big House, right?
Yet we AREN'T used to piped in music being played CONSISTENTLY even AFTER the opposing QB had STARTED HIS SNAP COUNT. In fact, I had NEVER seen that happen consistently at any football game I had previously attended, on ANY level.
The shenanigans didn't stop there: our friend's child on the ND band told us after the game that, for the first time ever, their band was microphoned the week prior as a warmup to Michigan.
For the Michigan game, ND used DOUBLE the microphones from the week before. All for the sake of amplifying the crowd noise, and irresponsibly TIMING the amplification beyond decent sportsmanship.
Why am I (re)writing about this now? Because throughout that game, we heard repetitively fake ref whistles coming from the crowd. They were subtle enough that they were hard to precisely localize, but they seemed to come from the same part of the field. And occurred throughout the entire game. I had supposed that the whistle was too faint to effect gameplay, because the refs weren't commenting on it... ... until the second half, wherein Michigan fans will no doubt recall the refs threw a flag against Michigan on either a false start or offside, but took the unusual step of announcing that there would be no penalty assessed against Mich due to a whistle from the crowd causing undue/unfair confusion.
No formal penalty nor warning was issued to the fans in attendance by the refs as was their responsibility.
Now, I recognize as much as the next football fan that when you have six turnovers, well, you get what you get and to blame the refs for the loss is tacky. So I'm not doing that.
But after tonight's Stanford game in South Bend, wherein, ESPN writes, "The Irish got a stop on third down, though the Stanford players CONTENDED THEY HEARD A WHISTLE ON THE PLAY AND STOPPED PLAYING.. They settled for Williamson's field and a three-point lead," given how critical that stop turned out to be, well, it seems something stinks in South Bend.
Once again, the refs failed to act, and in so doing, merely encouraged fake whistles in the future.
I've never seen a PATTERN like this before of outrageous lack of integrity. Isolated episodes? Yes, of course. But repeated stuff like this? No.
Am I being naive, and this fake whistle / amped music during snap count / overamplifying home band-stuff happen ALL THE TIME, and I'm only noticing it now? Because I've been to a ton of games at multiple levels and not seen this repeated crap before.
Am I the only one seeing this?
Are there other (in)famous examples of habitual stretching of "home field advantage" to questionable limits?Is this cheating?
If Ok St. jumps Alabama to get into the BCS NCG vs LSU, assuming Michigan is a BCS qualifier, what does that mean for us? The first thing it means is that Alabama is guaranteed a spot in the Sugar Bowl as there is an SEC tie-in. That also means the Fiesta Bowl has the first TWO choices. They have the first choice as a replacement pick for Ok St. and the next pick as their regular selection (Fiesta, Sugar, Orange).
Does the Fiesta select Michigan and Stanford? I guess another way of putting it is CAN the Fiesta select BOTH Michigan AND Stanford? Does the Rose Bowl have an exclusive in the BCS on a B1G-PAC12 matchup (aside from the NCG. If Alabama does not go to the NCG, there is a very good possibility that the FIESTA picks Michigan. Who would they be paired with. My guess is K-State for the same reason Alabama would go to the Sugar.
no comment. (I made my position clear back during the OSU game)
Coaching Change / Offensive Philosophy Change: Time of Possession v. Defense
I originally wasn’t going to post this because I thought it was just a question in my own head, and I didn’t find a signficant result. However, given the top item in Brian’s mailbag today, and since I had already done the quick analysis, I thought it would be worthwhile to share.
The question had to do with whether Michigan’s struggles on defense were related to the fact that its offensive philosophy often results in short possessions, exposing the defense to being on the field for a longer period of time. So I decided to see if there was a correlation between a team’s offensive Time of Possession and its defense.
R-squared is 0.03 - not significant.
“Ok,” I thought, “maybe the way that DFEI is calculated already takes Time of Possession into account. What if we looked at Time of Possession versus Total Defense (yards)? Surely there would be a correlation, especially since defenses that force short possessions by the opponent (3-and-outs, turnovers, etc.) would result in more possessions by their team’s offense, and more Time of Possession.”
R-squared is 0.14 - still not really significant.
“Fine,” I said, “maybe I should look at Time of Possession versus Scoring Defense - because that’s what really counts. An offense that can control the ball can help protect its defense, and keep the score down."
R-squared is 0.06 - not significant.
Finally, I reached back into one of the motivations for looking at this question to begin with. Why would anyone talk about Time of Possession on offense as if it were an important factor on defense, especially with respect to Michigan? Could it be because Stanford leads the country in Time of Possession, and one might try to argue that a CC that shifts the offensive philosophy towards a more ball-control, time-of-possession system would be a good way to help Michigan’s defense?
So what if we looked at the Change in Time of Possession from last year to this year, and compared it to the Change in Total Defense (least insignificant result from above)?
R-squared is 0.14 - still not really significant.
What this says to me is that there are too many variables that influence how a defense performs; one cannot boil it down to a simple thing like Time of Possession (or experience on a depth chart, for that matter). All of those factors may play a part, but no one individual factor is significantly correlated to a team’s performance on defense. Football is just too complex to boil down into simplistic truisms.
***** ADDENDUM *****
A related question has been raised - whether there is a link between the number of possessions and the performance of the defense. I used cfbstats.com to add up the number of 4th down conversion attempts, punts, passing TDs, rushing TDs, FG attempts, Interceptions thrown, and Fumbles lost to calculate the total number of offensive possessions (this may exclude offensive possessions at the end of each half where time simply runs out, and does not differentiate between an offense trying to score v. trying to run out the clock).
Looking at Offensive Possessions versus Defensive FEI:
R-squared is 0.004 - not significant.
What about Offensive Possessions versus Total Defense?
R-squared is 0.13 - still not really significant.
Finally, what about Offensive Possessions versus Scoring Defense?
R-squared is 0.12 - again, still not really significant.
Obviously, if the underlying parameters of a model do not show correlation, one should not expect a calculated value based on those parameters to show a correlation. Nevertheless, for the sake of completion, here is the Average Time per Possession versus Total Defense:
R-squared, as expected, is still only 0.12 - not really significant.
I'm afraid even looking at number of possessions rather than simply time of possession doesn't change the analysis. This suggests to me that the style of offense does not have a significant impact on the performance of the defense.
Nobody on the internet really knows whether or not Jim Harbaugh is truly interested in leaving Stanford, and nobody close to Harbaugh is talking. However, there is one potentially huge inducement (aside from a new $50,000 crapper in Schembechler Hall) for JH to leave Palo Alto and come back east: the absolutely miserable attendance at Stanford games.
"A nationally-ranked football team with a star quarterback, well-known coach and gorgeous stadium would translate to sellout crowds on most college campuses.
But not at Stanford, where thousands of seats sit empty on any given Saturday. The small crowds are an object of derision for opponents and a source of frustration for school officials, including football coach Jim Harbaugh. The situation has left others baffled.
"Their head coach is a force of nature. Their quarterback is a Heisman Trophy candidate. Their team is one of the best in the country, and they have 6.5 million people living here," said Andy Dolich, who has worked as an executive for the A's, Warriors and 49ers. "They've got everything going for them."
But the empty seats -- in 50,000-seat Stanford Stadium, more than 10,000 regularly go unfilled -- are no longer just a head-scratcher. They could cost the football team a berth in a major bowl game."