"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
After doing the first four years of this I took a break, but I've finally returned to it.
To start this one off I want to discuss my purpose and process for a moment. This is not a pure numbers survey, that's the bailiwick of The Mathlete. My goal is to approach the championship saying "What are the fewest teams that have a resume that entitles them to have a shot at the national championship?". So my human bias as an author does creep in.
One thing I want to stress, if I'm trying to do this from a need based approached. What is the minimum number of teams we need. Where can we draw a line and say: Everyone on one side of this line has a resume weaker than the people on the other side. Not what we as fans want to see. Basically if at the end of the season we do resume voting for just that season, how many teams took care of business in the regular season and should have a shot at holding the crystal ball.
To recap the results from last time, I found the people on the stronger side of the line was:
- 1998: 4 teams
- 1999: 2 teams
- 2000: 4 teams
- 2001: 4 teams
From that review I suggested that a four team playoff looks like the minimum you need. I did not find a season where you had a 5th team with a resume that made them worthy (although we come close in 1998 with A&M). I also did not find a season where you'd have trouble finding 4 teams to round the playoff out (although 1999 comes close when you have to settle for two loss Wisconsin or Alabama as the 4th, both teams choked on a cupcake and the #3 team only has one loss).
From the above as I go I'm using the hypothesis that: "In any given season you can eliminate two of the six auto qualifying conference champs and have a nice four team field." As I go forward I'll see if this gets supported or rejected and what the rising strength of the MWC does to this (because then I'm looking at rejecting 3 from 7 instead of 2 from 6). At least Notre Dame always sucks, so I don't have to worry about them.
Championship Game: #2 Ohio State defeats #1 Miami
Who Else Had A Claim:
Miami: Finishes the season 12-0. So they are undefeated and get the immunity idol. Miami beats two ranked teams in conference play and two ranked teams in OOC play (FSU and Florida). That's a nice schedule and they come out undefeated.
Ohio State: Undefeated as well. They defeat one ranked team in OOC play (Washington State) and three ranked Big Ten teams.
ACC: Maryland finishes ranked #13 and 11-3. The lose to ranked FSU teams and lose to an unranked Notre Dame squad in their season opener. That Notre Dame squad though finishes 10-3/#17 though. Florida State actually wins the division despite being 9-4. FSU goes 7-1 in division play (losing to NC State). Three of FSU's four losses are to good teams (Miami, ND, and NC State). NC State also finishes the season 11-3 and ranked, with losses too Georgia Tech, Maryland, and Virginia.
I can't really see arguing how anything out of this mess of teams has a resume to compete with a pair of undefeated conference champs. So I'm discarding the ACC
Big 12: Oklahoma finishes off the season 11-2 and wins the B12. They get five ranked wins over four teams (had to play Colorado twice) and losses to A&M and OSU. Some years this would be enough, but not in a year with two undefeated teams that each have four ranked wins.
PAC10: A 10-2 WSU and a 10-2 USC end up at the top of the conference. USC loses to WSU and a ranked KSU early in the year. WSU loses to Ohio State, Washington and then gets defeated by OU in the Rose Bowl. The PAC10 is like the ACC, where multiple teams had a chance to seize the day, win out, and finish the season with a good resume. They did't though.
SEC: Georgia wins the SEC, but a lose in Nov to #22 Florida robs them of an undefeated season. They end the season with four wins over ranked teams and defeat FSU in the Sugar Bowl for a fifth ranked win.
Independents/MWC: TCU and ND have decent years. The Domers beat four ranked teams but do trip against Boston College and lose to USC. TCU destroys almost everything in its path, but chokes on San Jose State (and loses its bowl game to Southern Mississippi). TCU's weak MWC schedule definitely haunts them here, along with the fact that two other teams go undefeated.
The Verdict on 2002:
This could have been an ugly year for selection. Maryland, FSU, NC State, OU, USC, Georgia, Washington State, Notre Dame, and maybe even TCU all end the season a couple of scores away from having the resume needed to play in the BCS Title Game.
The BCS is saved from too much controversy thanks to Miami and tOSU finishing out with four ranked wins each and no losses. Had either of those teams lost, then Georgia has a claim. In a four team system that would leave OU and Washington State with about equal claim to the fourth game. Notre Dame is right behind them (although through the transitive property WSU > ND). I'd also imagine some people making a case for the one loss TCU, but they do lack ranked wins.
This is a results based system though, so I'd say the final ruling is two teams.
Nice ink Maurice.
Championship Game: #2 LSU defeats #1 OklahomaNote: This was the year the AP gave the title to USC and the 21-14 snoozefest of LSU vs OU.
Who Else Had A Claim:
Oklahoma: Didn't actually have a claim. They didn't win their conference. They defeat three ranked teams in conference play, but lose to #12 KSU in the title game (KSU 35, OU 7). If you don't win your conference, you don't play for the national title. So OU is gone.
LSU: Defeats 4 ranked teams, but losses by 12 points to an unranked Florida team. Florida ends 8-5 and ranked at the end of the season, so that doesn't look too bad. Winning the SEC and only have one loss is fairly good, but lets see if anyone has anything better:
ACC: Florida State loses to a ranked Miami team (twice, they had to play them in their OOC schedule and in the Orange Bowl, urgh). FSU also loses to Clemson by 16 points (Clemson ends the year ranked). The following week they need 2 OTs to beat NC State (who finishes 8-5 and unranked). FSU's only ranked win is over Florida. FSU also beats Maryland early in the season before Maryland is ranked (Maryland finishes 10-3). So FSU finishes with two losses, but they do beat the team that beats LSU. Lets see what other conferences have to offer in their champion.
B12: A three loss KSU (complete with a loss to Marshall) beats OU down in the championship and wins the conference. But two of KSU's three losses are to unranked teams. Their third is to a ranked Texas outfit. They also beat ranked Nebraska and OU. What else do we have.
Big East: Miami finishes the season with losses to Tennessee (10-3, #15) and and Virginia Tech (8-5). They do beat Florida who in turn had beaten LSU.
Big Ten: Michigan finishes off the year with two loses. A four point loss to Oregon and a three point loss to Iowa. We defeat five ranked teams and then lose by two scores to USC. A 10-2 Ohio State finishes off the season ranked ahead of us, but we beat them so we have the tie breaker. As a side note I still remember chanting: "Capitol One Bowl!" at the tOSU fans as they left. Anyway Michigan finishes with two losses to ranked teams (although Oregon does not finish the reason ranked) and wins over five ranked teams (although by the end of the year MSU was not ranked).
PAC10: USC is a soulless killing machine, aside from Cal. They lose to Cal early in the season (in triple OT). Their biggest problem is a weak schedule. Their ranked games are Auburn and Washington State. Plus of course a two touchdown victory over a Michigan in the Rose Bowl.
Independents/MWC: A two loss Utah. They lost to Texas A&M and New Mexico State. They defeat a ranked Oregon (Oregon does not finished ranked). Considering the resumes of the other conference champions, I'm not really high on Utah.
The Verdict on 2003:
This whole season is a mess. LSU has the strongest resume, but it really doesn't separate them from the pack. After them you have a mess of teams like USC with only one loss, but only two ranked victories. Then there is Michigan at two losses but more ranked victories. Miami, KSU, and FSU all have slightly weaker resumes in terms of ranked teams defeated, but they aren't terrible.
This is definitely a season where people with different criteria will select different teams. Personally I'd say three teams have legit claims: LSU, Michigan, and USC.
Championship Game: #1 USC defeats #2 Oklahoma (vacated)
Who Else Had A Claim:
USC: Undefeated, soulless killing machine yet again. Solid resume. No issues with their selection.
OU: Undefeated manages to win their division this year. Solid resume. They're in.Note: The Big East gets much less impressive starting this year, due to the good teams bailing to the ACC.
ACC: Virginia Tech finishes off the season 10-2. They open the season against USC and only loss by a single touchdown. They also lose by one point to an unranked NC State team (who finishes 5-6). They defeat ranked WVU, Virginia, and Maryland teams. They lose to Auburn by 3 in their bowl game. A solid showing all around, although two loses are not so good when you have multiple undefeated teams in play.
Big East: Four conference co-champions. Including a 6-6 Syracuse (4-2 in conference play) team. I'm sorry but when a 6-6 is conference co-champ, no. Just no. (9-3 Boston College is the best of the lot).
Big Ten: Michigan finishes off 10-2. Losses to Notre Dame (who goes 6-6) and to Ohio State (who finishes up ranked but 8-4 overall). When we play them Purdue and Minnesota are ranked, but they do not finish the season ranked. We defeat an unranked Iowa who does finish the season ranked. Michigan losses to Texas by one point. We're in the same boat as Virginia Tech.
SEC: Auburn is undefeated. They beat four ranked teams in the regular season and a fifth in their bowl. All ranked teams are in the Top 15.
Independent/MWC: Utah is undefeated. They do not play a ranked team.
The Verdict on 2004:
If you had just two undefeated teams, this would be easy and a year you only need two to settle it all up. As it stands you have a clear Top 3 of USC, OU, and Auburn. following them up you have Utah (Point: They are undefeated. Counterpoint: They played a shit schedule) and the two loss ACC and B10 teams (Point: Stronger schedule than Utah. Counterpoint: Two losses a piece).
So I'm calling three as the final verdict here in terms of where I can draw the line of "everyone after this line has a weaker resume".
Any excuse to link to Marlin Jackson
Championship Game: Texas defeats USCNote: USC's official record for this is now 0-1. Alabama also gets itself in trouble and now as a record of 0-2. Ah vacated wins…
Who Else Had A Claim:
USC: Soulless killing machine. Defeats 5 ranked teams. Undefeated. Legit claim.
Texas: Undefeated. Defeats 3 ranked teams. Legit claim.
ACC: A four loss FSU team wins the ACC championship game. Had VT taken care of business a 10-1 VT team would have emerged from the ACC as the victor. Instead a four loss team does. No sale on FSU.
Big East: WVU is in fine form with a special someone at the helm. They lose to Virginia Tech early in the season (who finishes out 11-2 for the year). WVU suffers from three issues. First they start the season unranked. Secondly they lose a game early on, which means they are not ranked until the first weak of November. Finally the only ranked team they play is Louisville. They defeat Georgia in their bowl by three points.
Big Ten: Penn State finishes off 11-1. So close, yet so far. They defeat three ranked teams but loss to an unranked Michigan team (who finishes up 7-5). Thank you Super Mario.
SEC: Georgia wins the SEC with two losses. Both were to ranked teams. Georgia defeats four ranked teams. As a side note, had LSU won the SEC Title game, LSU would have come out of the SEC with only one loss and wins over four ranked teams.
Independent/MWC: TCU opens the season strong with a win over ranked Oklahoma. They then lose to SMU the following week. They play no one else who is ranked and finish off the season with a three point win over Iowa State in their bowl.
The Verdict on 2005:
Once again the BCS benefits from the fact only two teams went undefeated. You have someone drop a game here or there and suddenly selection gets really ugly really fast.
Final verdict is two.
The Summary So Far:
- 1998: 4 teams
- 1999: 2 teams
- 2000: 4 teams
- 2001: 4 teams
- 2002: 2 teams
- 2003: 3 teams
- 2004: 3 teams
- 2005: 2 teams
It appears every year you never have more four conference champions who cannot be separated from the others by the virtue of their resume. It so far you can throw out at least 3 of the 7 (counting the MWC).
What is different in this set of years though is when we have three teams there is now a problem selecting a fourth. In 2003 there is three times basically tied for fourth. The same in 2004. In 2002 and 2005, had one of the undefeated teams lost, a can of worms also would have been opened.
If we have a 4 team playoff:
In 2002 and 2005 there are multiple teams who can point to the teams that got the #3 and #4 seeds and complain they are equal to thos eteams. In 2003 and 2004 there are multiple teams who can point to the team that got the #4 seed and complain.
If you want complete fairness you go with a 6 team playoff to avoid this. The other possible response is to say to WVU: "Why yes you are comparable to PSU/Georgia However your resume is not comparable to that of USC or Texas. If you wanted to avoid getting screwed by the polls, go undefeated like Texas/USC did." It all depends on what you like.
If you go with a 6 team playoff:
This era (2002 through 2005) goes a lot smoother. However…
In 1999/2000 you're letting in two loss teams from the Big Ten and SEC as your 4 and 5 seeds. Your sixth seed is likely #10 Marshall, the undefeated MAC champion (Stanford wins the PAC with 4 losses). In 2000/2001 you're letting less three loss teams from the Big Ten and SEC in to your playoff. Ugh. (Or you're recycling teams who game in second in their conference.)
If you go above 6:
You're likely letting all those teams who choked in their conference championship back in. There aren't enough quality opponents coming out of the smaller conferences to really flush out a bracket, so some teams are getting a second shot. At that point we're not allowed to be outraged about Alabama getting a do over, but we can be outraged about not getting a do over against tOSU. Pick your poison on that one.
Also the 1999/20001 bracket and 2000/2001 brackets would look terrible.
I still have 2006 to the present to go, but so far is is what I'm seeing from the review:
A 4 team system works better for the first four years. It keeps you from having to seeding pretty bad teams into the playoff or seeding in people who did not win their conference.
In the next four years, a 4 year system does not leave a conference champ with a really strong resume out in the cold. It seems you can draw a cut off point at the #2 or #3 seed and say "Everyone who comes after this team has an inferior resume." You then end up with multiple teams squabbling for that last spots. A six birth playoff solves this.
Up Next: 2006 and beyond….
Over the past few days a lot of people have posted ideas for the playoff system. They've come up with a variety of systems to ensure balance and fairness and clearly a lot of thought has gone in to this. I want to attack the problem from a different angle though:
What is the minimum number of games we need to crown a national championship?
To determine this I'm going to review the BCS's history and determine who else had a valid to claim to play for the Dr. Pepper Crystal Ball (and then have to display it at Wal-Mart). In part I'll use what we knew at the end of the regular season for that year and in part I'll look at what we found out after all the dust from the bowl games settled.
The BCS needs to die simply for having this a contractual requirement.
I'm going to break this into three or four diaries, as these things get long. With that said, lets get going:
Championship Game: #1 Tenn defeats #2 Florida State
Other Possible Claimants*: Kansas State, Ohio State, UCLA, Texas A&M.
Are their claims legit?
First off Tennessee's claim is untouchable. They came out of the SEC defeated and beat 4 ranked teams before besting Florida State. For Florida State though the claim is hazier. They came out the gate strong, beating Texas A&M (A&M was #14 at the time, the Aggies finished the season ranked #11). The next week the Seminoles lost by three scores to North Carolina State. NC State finished the season 7-5. FSU though did go on to beat 4 more ranked teams, giving them a total of 5 victories over ranked teams.
So in 1998 we're looking to see if we can argue that anyone else can claim they should have finished #2 instead of FSU. First off KSU. They finished the regular season undefeated and beat three ranked teams. They ended up going to the B12 Championship game ranked #1 but lost to Texas A&M in triple overtime. In my view, if you can't win your conference, you can't win the title so KSU is out.
The Buckeyes lost to the Spartans (well really we all lost when a meteor failed to strike the stadium, but I digress) by 4 points (28-24). Otherwise the Buckeyes were undefeated and beat 4 ranked teams during their season. Michigan State finished 6-6. The Buckeyes went on to defeat Texas A&M in their bowl, making Texas A&M the Kevin Spacey of 1998. When compared to Florida State, Ohio State is close. Ohio State lost to an inferior team by a lesser margin (4 points vs 3 scores) but Florida State beat one more ranked team than Ohio State did. This one of those decisions you can argue about.
UCLA spends most of the season as the bridesmaid but never the bride. They finish out their conference play undefeated, but on 5 December lose to Miami (YTM) by 4 points. Miami finishes the season 9-3 and ranked (although Miami was unranked at the time UCLA lost to them). UCLA's major problem was they only had three wins over ranked teams.
Texas A&M has been covered about by virtue of their losses to FSU and OSU. Coming out of regular season play, FSU could claim superiority over A&M. OSU also went on to prove it was a better team in bowl season. A&M also lost to Texas and finishes the regular season with two losses. So Texas A&M is out due to my desire to avoid rematches and the fact they have two losses.
1998 Season Summary:
#1 Tenn cannot be disputed.
For #2 we have three teams that all lost to one team and have between 3 and 5 victories over ranked teams each. I'd say 1998 leaves us with a pretty clear argument for a +1 system. Tenn, FSU, OSU, and UCLA as division winners fight it out for the greater glory of their local Walmart (or Super Walmart). The Big 12 division winner is removed due to a lose to FSU
*I'm using claimants in the sense they had a claim to play in the title game, not claim a share of the title.
So Woodson is getting the Heisman and y'all are getting a ring the year after I leave? That's right Peyton, I'm also getting a Cup named after me.
Championship Game: #1 Florida State defeats #2 Virginia Tech
Other Possible Claimants: Nebraska, Wisconsin, Alabama
Are their claims Legit?
First off Florida State has an touchable claim on #1 this year. They finish undefeated and with 4 wins over ranked teams. Virginia Tech is also untouchable, finishing out the season undefeated and with wins over 4 ranked teams. Although I really do want to penalize Virginia Tech for their out of conference scheduling (namely: James Madison and UAB).
I'm going to handle Alabama (and thus the SEC first). Alabama finishes the season with losses to Tennessee and Louisiana Tech (We choked on a cupcake PAWWWWLLL). They lose to Michigan by one point in overtime at the Orange Bowl. The other option from the SEC is Florida (they lose to Alabama twice and once to Florida State). No rematches, so sorry Florida.
Wisconsin suffers from an early season loss to Cincinnati (the Alvarez Strategy of Scheduling Crap Teams suffers a rare backfire). Then the next week they lose to Michigan. Michigan finished off the season with an Orange Bowl Win and as #2 in the B10, so that's a terrible lose. Each loss was by 5 points. Wisconsin does beat 4 ranked teams.
Nebraska finishes off the season 12-1. Their only loss is a 4 point loss to to a ranked Texas squad. They beat two ranked teams (A&M and KSU) and then avenge their loss to Texas in the B12 championship game. So that leaves them with three wins over ranked squads and one loss to a ranked squad. Nebraska also beats a ranked Tenn squad in the Fiesta Bowl, the good old days of the Fiesta Bowl, back before we as a society had the computing power to make a bag of chips say dumb stuff.
1999 Season Summary:
This is one that the BCS gets right, although considering they had exactly two teams finish undefeated it isn't hard to get right. If either FSU or VT finishes with one loss then Nebraska has a legit claim on the #2 spot. At that point we'd have a clear #1 (the undefeated team) and a tie for #2 (the one loss teams). Had this happened I'd assume we'd once again need a +1 game, with Wisconsin getting pulled in to round it out to four teams. Wisconsin has the weakest resume of the bunch, but had Wisconsin won out they'd have had 6 wins over ranked teams and only one loss to an unranked team. So it wouldn't be a travesty.
It would have better if VT lost to the Georgia or Mississippi State
Championship Game: #1 Oklahoma defeats #2 Florida State
Other Possible Claimants: Miami, Washington
Are their claims Legit?
First off Oklahoma is undefeated, so they get the immunity idol. Florida State drops to Miami early in the season. FSU does defeat two ranked teams in the course of their regular season.
Miami wins the Big East and defeats Florida State, but losses to Washington. Washington is Miami's only loss.
Washington meanwhile beats Miami, who beat Florida State, but loses to #20 Oregon. Beside beating a ranked Miami team, Washington also beats a ranked Oregon State team.
As a side note, the B10 and SEC both experience down years and fail to produce a team with fewer than 3 losses.
2000 Season Summary:
Florida State has the claim of beating two ranked teams, as does Washington. FSU has the claim that their one loss was to a higher ranked team. Washington though has the claim that they beat the team that beat Florida State. It's a mess of quality of opponent versus the transitive property of wins.
Solution: The plus one system. Washington gets a chance for a direct win over FSU and Miami gets a chance to avenge a regular season defeat. All four of these teams are conference winners, so our worst case with a +1 is a potential out of conference rematch (Miami vs FSU). Since it was out of conference play that loss occurred early in the season and wouldn't be a terrible, plus both teams would have had to beat some other good teams to earn that rematch.
A rare photo in which Rick Neuheisel has hair and job security.
Championship Game: #1 Miami (YTM) defeats #2 Nebraska
Other Possible Claimants: Colorado, Colorado, Oregon, Tennessee, Illinois, Maryland
Oh boy, this whole season is a mess. With that said:
Miami is undefeated, so the immunity idol is theirs.
Now Nebraska and why I listed Colorado twice. Nebraska is the favored team in the polls, with wins over a ranked Notre Dame and Oklahoma (The Sooners are #2 when Oklahoma played them). The last game of the regular season though they are blown out by Colorado. Colorado 62, Nebraska 36. In the title game Miami takes care of business and wins 37-14.
Colorado meanwhile ends the season with losses to Fresno State (24-22) and Texas (41-7). Colorado avenges their loss to Texas in the B12 Championship Game though and wins (39-37). Their reward is to get the Fiesta Bowl, while Nebraska gets a shot at glory despite failing to win their division or their conference.
Oregon has a strong season with wins over 3 ranked teams in the regular season and then beats Colorado in bowl season. Oregon's one flaw is losing to Stanford by a touchdown. This is a Ty Willingham coached Stanford, but somehow one that finishes the season 9-3.
Tennessee has a fairly strong resume, but suffers from the fatal flaw of losing to LSU in the SEC Title Game. LSU has three losses at the time. If you can't win your division, no crystal football for you. So Tennessee is out.
Illinois finishes out the second with wins over three ranked teams. They do suffer a 45-20 defeat at the hands of Michigan, but finish the regular season 11-1.
Maryland gets mentioned here since they also finish the season with one loss. However they need overtime for their sole victory over a ranked team (Georgia Tech) and they lose to a ranked Florida State squad. Maryland is out of the picture due to their weak resume.
2001 Season Summary:
Colorado got screwed. They finish the season with two losses (one of them avenged). Oregon also gets screwed here considering they have three ranked wins and only one seven point loss.
I'd say you have four teams with legit claims when this season ends. Miami, Colorado, Oregon, and Illinois. They're all conference winners. Colorado does have two losses, but they did avenge one of them and they bombed Nebraska, so I'd say let them play.
The BCS remains the second worst thing to happen to buffaloes.
So The Mininum?
What is interesting is in this era you can't really argue about the #1 team. In these games the #1 team was undefeated and took care of business. The argument mostly comes down to who deserved the honor of having a shot at the #1 team. Perhaps this argues for #1 getting a first round bye in a larger format playoff system.
Anyway in terms of structuring a playoff where no one can complain they were screwed out of the #2 ranking between 1998 and 2001, by my count we're at:
1998: 4 teams, 1999: 2 teams, 2000: 4 teams, 2001: 4 teams
This of course is subjective and I'll freely admit I engaged in some resume voting with the above. What I did find interesting here was we're at a point with six strong BCS conference (Miami and VT are in the Big East at this point and FSU is enjoying the glory of a pre senility Bobby Bowden). 1998 is the year we come the closest to having five teams in play (if KSU beats A&M). It seems like most years you end up with two conference winners who can be fairly easily discarded. In 1998 for example A&M is out due to their two loses (in 1998 the winner of the Big East, Syracuse, had 3 losses and is eliminated).
When the fifth team threat emerges so far it has come from a team that did not win their conference (KSU in 1998 and Nebraska in 2001). In those cases you can simply invoke the "Win your conference if you want to win the title rule" and remove them (and in Neb's case: "Win your division").
As a side note, the BCS was good at picking #1s during this period.
So working solely off these four years of data, I'd argue in the direction of a +1 system. It seems in most cases you have four strong teams and anyone who comes the champion in a +1 playoff is going to have a resume that makes them the clear champion. This could change those if more 1998 scenarios happen (where KSU wins their conference and thus you end up with 5 BCS conference winners who have resumes worthy of letting them into a 4 team playoff). Keep in mind those, in the future we'll not only have 6 BCS conferences, but some possibly legit teams coming out of the MWC. So will 4 be enough?
So The 4 Team Playoffs:
1998: Tenn, FSU, UCLA, Ohio State
1999: FSU, VT, Neb, Wisconsin
2000: OU, FSU, Miami, Washington
2001: Miami, Colorado, Illinois, Oregon
The only two real objections here would be in 1999 if a two loss Wisconsin team runs the table (so a two loss Wisky gets the title over FSU and VT who would both be one loss) and the whole FSU-Miami rematch in 2000. FSU-Miami is an out of conference game during this time period though (Miami is Big East, FSU is ACC) and I don't want to penalize scheduling like a big boy for your out of conference schedule, so I say let it happen. In terms of Wisconsin winning it all, that's the downside of a playoff. The pro of the playoff is that it elimates arguments over if #3 or #4 deserved a shot at #1. The con is sometimes a weak #4 could get lucky and win out. We just have to hope the latter doesn't happen often.
I also can't see any fifth team that would have room to complain about getting the door slammed in their face for any of these games (include my standard: If KSU won in 1998 we'd have a problem disclaimer, but they didn't so I do what the results say I should do).
Quick Note: Please don't get too hung up on the #4. I'm not trying to set a standard playoff size from just these points. My goal is at the end of all of this to look back and say: "The median number needed since 1998 is X, and with X we'd have still had controversy in the following years...". For example with an X of 4, you likely have some controversy in 1999 when a two loss team got a shot at an undefeated team.
Up Next: To 2002 and Beyond!
(If I screwed up a fact in all this please call me out. I was multitabbing like a madman on College Football Warehouse so I may have messed up a score or record here or there. Hopefully not too frequently).
So we'll just go right in from the last diary.
First Off, Ear Wax
So yes I talked about the metal or wooden spike thing. As others in the thread comment there are all kinds of tools. My wife actually has little leather cases with arrays of tools in them. However allow me to present the Cadillac of Ear Cleaners from Japan.
We own one of those. We also own one that you can plug into your TV. That one only has a 720p camera on it though, so I'm told at some point we'll be upgrade to the 1080p model which hit the shelves recently. I have come home and found my wife and other Asian girls sitting in front of the TV talking excitedly in Korean about ear cleaning. I think they might record the video and break it down with some kind of UFR ("Here the ear hairs prevent this wax from moving deeper into the ear canal. Red shirt freshman ear hair almost loses contain but in the end forces it to cut back where the larger senior ear hairs are waiting. +1").
Now I want to cover some basic use and safety for the device:
First off, if you ever get drunk and go "Hey, I always wondered my sinus cavity looked like in 720p on a widescreen TV", let me stress: THIS IS A BAD IDEA. BAD! The tip irrates your sinuses and causes you sneeze with a giant metal spike in your head. Sometimes I'm amazed I lived long enough to make it to adulthood.
Second, while you may think it is a wonderful idea to stick the device in your wife's mouth so she can see the result of her wisdom teeth removal, she will not agree. You will get in trouble. Some people just don't appreciate scientific pursuits like they should.
Finally. While these devices do have many potiental uses (like checking to see if your keys ended up behind the stove), when your wife comes home and finds you dangling the thing she uses to clean her ears behind your fridge, you get in trouble. You also get supervised for 45 minutes while you sterilize it. The moral to this story (at least the lesson I learned) is wait until your wife is away at her 90 minute seminar class, then check behind the stove. Turned out I had some Legos back there.
As a side note, I showed this to my cousin who is a police officer. The police have little snake cameras they can slip through vents and stuff to monitor hostage situations, but the ones they have aren't even 720p yet. The Asian ear cleaning industry is higher tech than the American paramilitary industry. Go figure.
However when we're doing each other's ears will use the traditional cleaning methods (the cameras are so she can check my work or something). So one day I'm lying there on my couch with a spike in my ear and hear the words "Honey, why don't we go visit my family?". Now I'm confused. I like visiting Korea. My now wife's older sister is some kind of burgeoning model and has a bunch of model friends. They all like how I'm taller than the average Korean and they can wear heels and dance with me. So I end up going out to the club and dancing with a bunch of Korean girls. Just to be polite of course.
I have alarm bells going off in my head, since normally she only asks for things that might be objectionable when cleaning my ears. For the record she isn't trying to threaten me with a spike in my ear canal. Ear cleaning time is supposed to be relaxing, so she's just trying to get me in a good mood and then ask.
As it turns out, Korean workers in Mongolia are fairly come. The RoK and Mongolia get along fairly well, have a lot of shared hertigage (they're both Altaic people and lack the Austronesan genes that Han Chinese have). Plus the Korean monarchy had a lot of intermarriage with Mongolia (everyone just ignores the fact that Mongolia invaded Korean 6 times, killed off most of the Korean nobles and then intermarried with the survivors).
So after Mongolia got rid of its pesky Soviet and Chinese Communist influences they've been to hire in skilled Korean engineers to help with them national development projects, which is currently where a cousin my wife is really close to (as a side note, you never marry an Asian. You marry their family, and not just their nuclear family.)
So I'm going through the airport in Mongolia and standing there at customs as two customs officers are going over my paperwork. One of them speaks English and looks at me:
So you're American?
Yes sir, I'm from Michigan.
I have heard many Americans says they're Canadian because people don't like Americans. Here in Mongolia though we love Americans! Tell everyone you are American! Maybe some day together we'll fight the Chinese!
At this point I notice the guy is actually staring past me and I look over my shoulder. Turns out there are some Chinese businessmen right behind me in the line and judging by their facial expressions they speak enough English to catch what he said. (China currently controls Outer Mongolia, which many Mongolians are unhappy about.
I ended up in Ulaangom, a province capital on far western Mongolia that is a mere 75 miles from Russia. It's a scenic kind of place. A city nestled at the bottom of a mountain with a river on the other side. It also 22,000 people and its airport runways that do not appear to be regularly plowed.
Actually that isn't fair, they do plow it. The issue is that at our time of landing (2 pm, one of the warmer parts of the day), the temperature was -15 F. The low for that night was -35 F. So the runway is cleared, but at such low temperatures things to melt snow don't work. So the wind blows fresh snow across the runway. At the end of the day the pilots just learned to take off an land with snow on the runway.
On our trip to Ulaangom, the Mongolian businessman in front of me explained how during his last flight they skidded past the runway, but luckily for them there was a snowbank. See Ulaangom is also in a desert, so normally there is only enough snow to make the runway fatal to land on, not enough to plow into a snow bank. However they'd just recently had some snow, so they were saved from continuing on and slamming into a parked Russian cargo plane thanks to the snow bank.
This was also the time I discovered that Aero Mongolia does not server hard liquor (at least on this flight).
He also told me about the pre 2009 days when the runway wasn't paved. Those days were apparently when the real fun happened. After s 2009 rebuild though the airport now has indoor toliets and a paved runway.
My wife's response to all this was a dissimive wave of her hand "What? The Chinese have safety standards like this and there are 1.6 billion of them. Clearly not that many are killed. We'll be fine...".
We did land and walk away from the landing. Although there was some fishtailing and we had to turn around because we overshot our parking space. Ulaangom of course does not have a fancy airway thing that connects from the plane to the airport. They roll up some stairs to the plane, open the door, and smite you with the fist of a frozen god as -15 degree air comes into the passenger cabin.
There is something to be said for this approach. Unlike in America were everyone dicks around and takes 45 minutes to get off the plane, our Fokker empted fast. It's grab your stuff and haul ass out of there before you freeze to death.
The Bar Scene in Ulaangom
In Ulaangom in the winter there appear to be two major activities. Getting drunk and trying to get warm. The first one is possible, the second one is impossible, so most people on the first one. Bars are popular because heating costs are expensive, so people tend to congregate in public areas for as long as possible and go home to sleep.
What passes for booze in Mongolia is airag, which is fermented mare or cows milk. It's like what they'd made in jail if they trying to make bootleg Bailey's Irish Creme. It's nasty and has a sour "spoiled milk" aftertaste. When it is -28 though (and the mercury is falling), you drink it and are thankful for it.
I was an instant celebrity because I was white (or a snow demon as one little girl dubbed me. Best nickname I've gotten so far). So at the bar I'd often end up with a crowd of people around me. I educated them about America. Some key facts I taught them were:
"Your entire city would fill up about a fifth of my school's football stadium." I actually took my laptop to the bar and showed them all pictures of Michigan Stadium and the campus. One night we all crowded around the laptop and watched a copy of the Gator Bowl against Florida since they didn't have any soccer matches to show.
The worst part of America is Ohio. You should never go there, or if you ever get another Genghis Khan you should go there and raze it. We won't mind, really.
I own guns, however not every American own guns. I personally am okay with this, since the people who do not own guns will be lootable in the event society collapses.
I also met an officer in the Mongolian Army. Mongolia is a partner in the War on Terror and has troops to Aghanistan. The officer I spoke had a few interesting stories.
First off, you know all those talking heads on TV that talk about how the British and Soviets both failed to conquer Afghanistan. Well way back the Mongolians showed up the Afghans did their traditional retreat into the mountains thing.
The Mongolians, being from places like Ulaangom, were rather unphased by this (perhaps even excited. "Hey we can to climb mountains in temperatures that aren't subzero, hooray!"). They burned three cities and destroyed most of Afghanistan's crop land. Massive numbers of people died in the resulting famine. Tribes viewed as playing a key role in the resistance were exterminated. Afghanistan would remain under Mongol rule until the Timurids rose and took control of the region. So next time a talking head says you can't win in Afghanistan, you can. You just have to commit a bunch of war crimes.
According to this office, the Afghans still remember what happened last time they got the Mongolians angry and go out of their way to avoid picking fights with the Mongolian contigent. The officer remarked how much nicer the base in Aghanistan was than one he'd trained at in the Gobi Desert.
The more amusing story was how the Mongolians train Americans on using old Soviet equipment. The Mongolian military has a lot of 1970/80s era Soviet hardware, which is what Taliban also rolls with. All of which is low tech and sometimes hard for Americans to understand. For example he had this conversation with an American Marine:
Mongolian: So this is a RPG. You look through this eye piece and shoot it.
American: How do you aim it? Does it have a laser scope?
M: No. You just look at it, adjust the sight here and shoot it.
A: What if I miss?
M: You take 50 dollars to the local market place and buy a new crate of rockets.
He also had an American tell him that the RPG had to have a laser range finder on it because all the ones in the video game he played did. I now worry about our troops abit. Overall though he had good things to say about military, but it seems like some people just can't grasp lowtech.
It seems American troops who recently arrived in country are famous though for deciding to go out on mountain combat patrols with massive amounts of gear and you can "track them by following the trail of discarded gear as they hike up the mountain".
Life A Mongolian Nomad
The most interesting and surreal part of the this entire experience was my wife had somehow arranged for us to spend a weeked at a nomad camp. A fair percentage of the population is still nomadic. In the winter most of the nomads now move in to town, but some cling to the old ways and still settle in gers for the winter. (Yurt is a term of Turkic origin and was used by the Russians, so it is unpopular in Mongolia). They supplement their income by letting Western tourists hang out with him.
This means I spent three days in a ger with 10 Mongolians (three generations of a family) and my wife. The kids were great and know some basic American phrases to which I added "Hail To the Victors". I also left all my Michigan gear behind we left, so some where in Mongolia a little girl named Oyunbileg is running around in a Michigan hoodie and "Michigan Alumni" cap that are way too big for her.
In the winter livestock are let out briefly to graze and then herded back in to barns before it gets too cold. As part of my stay I got to help herd the goats, yaks, and camels. For this job I was given a horse and a rope pole (uurga) to capture the livestock.
At first I'm useless in this task. I can't get the rope loop around anything and mostly manage to piss my horse off by bumping him in the head with it. Much to the amusement of the Mongolians of course.
Finally after an hour or so of swearing and futilely chasing various livestock, I manage to get the rope pole around the neck of a yak. The yak prompty hits the gas and yanks me out of my saddle. Thankfully I let go of the pole and manage to land on my hands and knees without face planting into any large rocks. At this point my horse decides he's had enough of getting hit in the head with a pole and bails out on the process as well. This leaves me in the middle of a pasture as various animals stampede (luckily way from me). In the end the pros managed to catch my yak and my horse. I was demoted to riding around as a passenger on a horse though while our host's wife handled it. She'd go galloping around the herd and leave me hanging on for dear life. The entire time its subzero of course (a high of -11 that day).
The other fun fact is cameras don't work in subzero temps. In the trek from Ulaangom to the nomad camp all my batteries froze. So I dragged a DSLR and telephoto across Mongolia only to slap in a battery and have the camera fail to turn on. A camera pro later explained to me you keep the batteries in an insulated bag and tossed in hand warmers to keep them from freezing.
I also got to take part in traditional Mongolian wrestling and managed to redeem myself there. That's mainly because I have 5 inches and a good 40 pounds on most Mongolians so I was able to wrestle down in weight class. The yaks kicked my ass though.
One other thing to note is no these camps do not have running water. That means two things. You're living in a smokey ger with 11 other people who don't shower. There also are not heated bathrooms. It's an unheated shelter with a hole. If you wake at 2 am (temp -33) and have to go, you figure out a way to hold it until the sun comes up. Three days of this is about enough for anyone. If you're going to go, go in the summer, not over the winter.
From Mongolia we'd fly over to the Yanbian region of China to see some other family and annoy the North Korean border guards, which is a story for another time.
At the end of all this, I do have to recommend Mongolia as a tourist destination. It will cost you an arm and both legs to fly there and you'll definitely be roughing it, but the scenery is amazing, the people are awesome, and you can annoy yaks by poking them with poles.
Those of you may have remembered my diaries from early about my Korean girlfriend. For those if you who drink like fishes (Rodriguez Era? What's that? I just remember drinking all the tequila on Saturdays…) or weren't around back then, allow me to explain.
It's a nice peaceful evening at home. I'm drinking a beer and doing laundry. So I'm wearing some stained undershirt and whatever else happens to be clean (not much) when I hear a knock on my door. I open the door to find three generations of Koreans standing there.
These three generations of Koreans represent my girlfriend's (now wife's) younger sister through grandparents. They're fairly confused as when she gave them her address she neglected to mention the whole live in white boyfriend thing.
We'd assumed we were safe from surprise visits since her parents didn't really like America that much (they had visited Michigan in February once when it was something like -17 and expressed a desire never to come back, understandable). So when we moved in we figured we were safe from visits. Even more so the "Let's show up unannounced and surprise our daughter for her birthday" kind of visits.
So I met my future in laws while wearing a torn up undershirt, holding a beer bottle, and trying to keep a pair of Alaskan malamutes from rushing out the door and slobbering all over them. All while explaining to them that yes they did have the right address and their daughter does live here too. My introduction to the extended family was when my wife's little sister took a photo of me on her camera photo in said condition and posted it on her social networking profile. For bonus points of course my future spouse is at the office, so I'm flying solo.
Back in the day I had some posts up about meeting the family, showing them around Ann Arbor and the like. Sadly I got a little to free with the personal information and some of her students (who also read this blog) put 2 and 2 together and got her name. So they're gone, however she no longer teaches so I figured I can end the saga for those who care.
All that said, lets do a story
The Genesis of our relationship and CRex being rather ungracious in victory:
So I met my future wife when she was my GSI (I'd play Hot for the Teacher, but Special K stole all my glam rock CDs, you'll hear it at the Air Force game though). At the end of class I Facebook friended her and she accepted. I knew she'd all be Ann Arbor for the summer, but that was all I had to go on. I Facebook stalked the hell out of her profile of course, but all her posts were in Korea and back then I had to rely on Google translate. I was wrestling though with when I should ask her out. Right after class would be creepy, but if I waited too long…
My best in was once before class I'd be talking about car racing with a fellow student, she overheard, and she expressed interest in American cars and how fast they are. So the first week of June the car club I was in was renting an oval track and letting members run laps. With nothing better I sent her an email asking if she wanted to come and see some American cars.
For two days she didn't reply and I alternated between compulsively hitting the "refresh email" button my phone and straight tequila. After work it was all "tap, tap, Oh god I messed this up, I should have asked her to the art museum, aaaaaaahhhh, shot, shot, tap, tap…". Then the "Sure, I'd love to" email came. I spent the rest of the week compulsively washing and detailing my GTO. To the point of running a 100 feet of extension cord and a work light outside so I could wax my brake calipers at 1 AM. Ah the things we do for love. As a side note, only the painted outside of the calipers. Don't wax the pad or the rotor, it's a bad idea.
Then I walk out on Saturday morning to pick her up and find my neighbor's cat on my roof. The only reason I didn't walk back inside, get my rifle, and send that cat to great litter box in the sky was because I didn't have time to clean both paw prints and blood off the car before I picked her up. That was literally my thought process "I'm going to fucking kill you, no wait that would make a mess…". No ethnical dilemma on animal cruelty or firing a weapon inside city limits. Had I walked out twenty minutes early that thing would have eaten a 3 round burst from an AR-10. For the record/animal rights, now that we're married I've let my grudge against the cat go. Although I don't exactly rush to call the dogs off when they chase it.
I also spent the first half of the date trying to covertly sniff my hands and make sure they didn't smell like liquid wax.
We hit the track and everything is great. The only real downside to the day is my car is a manual and she can't drive a manual, so she was reduced to riding shotgun on the track. Until my Uncle walked over, handed her the keys to his two month old Corvette (which was automatic, I have no idea why you buy an automatic Corvette, but I'm thankful he did) and tells her to take it for a spin.
As my uncle said while she was doing laps "Look CRex I'm getting old and I might need a spare kidney or something soon. You'll be my first call and after today you better say yes." About three minutes after he said that she skids out and does a 180 on the track. So I guess I do owe him an internal organ of his choice (and some new tires).
I later found out she had been seeing a Korean guy for a few months before I asked her out. She'd actually been trying to come up with a polite way to decline, when…
She goes out for drinks at Ashley's with a group and wears a nice new summer skirt she bought. After they leave her boyfriend pulls her aside and chews her out for wearing such a short cut skirt and says he doesn't want his girlfriend looking like a sex worker. They fight, she goes home, and decides to take me up on my offer.
That same skirt was worn out when she came to the track. I was smart enough to compliment her on how fashionable it was. She officially dumped him about an hour after I dropped her off at her apartment. He would attempt to win her back, but he'd done a good job of burning his bridges already.
This also become relevant years later when I walk into the living room and say:
"Honey, how would you say prick in Korean?"
"Why would you need to know that?"
"I'm arguing with this guy online and I want to say he's a prick" (yes that was the best cover story I could come up with on short notice)
"Oh here, just use this…"
So I walk back in the other room, grab a wedding invitation and in Korean write out "Thanks for being a prick", sign it, draw a hand extending its middle finger next to my name, toss in our engagement photo and mail it. Closure bitches.
He did not attend.
Is not actually all that fun at times. For example lets say your significant other was taught English by someone that neglected to cover indefinites or the differences between past perfective and past imperfective. All kinds of openings for misunderstanding. Somewhere in Korea is a white dude who taught at her school and I kind of want to beat him with a hockey stick while screaming "There is a difference between I could care less and I couldn't care less". I'm weird like that.
Our best conversation though was when we at a Korean restaurant.
Her: I'll ask the server for a knife and fork.
Me: No I got this, I'm fine with chopsticks.
Her: No, no, let me ask.
Me: Seriously, it's fine. I'm getting the hang of this.
Her: You're so bad that all the Asians in the restaurant are staring at you, please use a knife and fork. It's so embarrassing to be seen with you.
She doesn't really do indirect hints that often.
The other weird thing East Asians do is clean each others ears. I think its trendiest in Japan, but it isn't really uncommon anywhere in East Asia. East Asians have really hard and flakey ear wax that you can scrap out, as opposed to the soft and gummy stuff most Caucasians have. So you take something that is basically a smaller chopstick and scrap the ear wax out. It's a bonding thing like giving each other a back massage. Or in Japan (Japan being Japan of course) you go to a salon and lay your head in a lap of a high school aged girl and have her clean it out.
I remain convinced this is a plot by Asian female kind. What they do is wait until you're laying there on the couch. You're helpless and they have a metal or wooden spike in your head, inches away from your brain. Then suddenly they have an announcement to make or a favor to ask. You damn well better agree if you love your ear drum at all.
The whole ear wax thiong sets up the trip to Mongolia, which I was hoping to get done but this Christmas season has been extra busy. So perhaps that will be pushed off until the offseason. My apologies. I normally try to stick around in these threads and answer questions, but I have a bunch of Xmas related stuff to do. So feel free to post a question and then check back in a day or two after I've had time to run down the thread and add replies.
Okay, we'll do the disclaimers first.
- Yes, this has spoilers. If you haven't finished 3&O, close this tab now.
- Yes, I realize 3&O has been out for awhile. I wanted to sit on it for a bit and gain perspective though. 3&O carries a rather heavy emotional payload, so I read it. Set it aside, watched us win 10 games, and then reread it. I was less suicidal the second time I read it. If you want to complain about this kind of diary reopening old wounds, close this tab now.
- I'm not going to cite things with page numbers or whatever. If I miss use a quote, call me on it. Consider 3&O to be a heavily cited work that gets the credit for most facts.
- It's long and doesn't have any pictures. I'm sorry.
Now then, why am I writing this. Because we're not entirely over RR. We have people who still are up in their caves, wearing their turbans and engaging in the Freep Jihad. We have people who scour every word written on the blog's mainpage and ranting at anything that might be critical of Hoke. We have people who take praise of Hoke to be an attack on RR. So I want to talk about the three years of sadness. If you feel an angry rant coming on, last chance to close the tab.
Right before Bo passed he said that once he died, we'd find out whole the real Michigan Men were. We did and it was damn ugly.
In the wake of Bo passing and RR being hired, we had three major players in Michigan football. Lloyd Carr, Bill Martin, and Rich Rodriguez. It would expand to 4 after MSC got involved and later Dave Brandon would replace Martin. However the tone of the era was set by the actions of the first three.
Lloyd Carr is the engima here. He was successful at Michigan. The only two coaches who had his number, Tressel and Caroll, ended up fleeing to the NFL one step ahead of the NCAA sanctions committee. He also won a NCAA title and 78% of his B1G games. He never lost more than 3 B1G games in a season and only finished below 3rd in the conference once. At the same time he took a lot of heat form the fans. Claims that he only won his ring with Moeller's players. Heat over his Rose Bowl issues and issues handling the spread. I still remember walking into the stadium one game and seeing an anti-Carr fan holding a sign. It read "Osama Bin-Lloyden is destroying Michigan football". The dude had a megaphone and was ranting. I just had to shake my head. Every year Tressel took him down, the fanbase got bitchier.
Since Carr has been silent (no comments in 3&O or anywhere else for the most part since he retired) it's hard to know what he felt at retirement. The evidence suggest he was burned out in 2006, but Martin had no replacement plan so he stayed on. The Horror happened and the heat on Carr was turned up. At the end of the day the best insight I have into Carr's mind comes from Bacon, who writes that Carr wanted to name his successor.
Here I'm going to make a leap. Carr felt like he'd accomplished a lot here and he definitely had. However the fanbase was pretty bitchy by this point and a lot of people were happy to see Carr retire. Basically it was a "Thanks for your service, here's your award, door is to your left" kind of retirement. No one exactly went into mourning when Carr hung it up. I see a potential situation where Carr felt bitter, underappreciated and not properly compensated in terms of legacy for his work. In 3&O, Carr tells Martin that someday a MAC team was going to beat us. Basically saying college football was getting tougher, more parity, and yet Michigan fans want to see the 100-0 scores that we'd manage in the early 1900s and when we didn't, we got bitchy. Carr did a lot for us and we photoshopped his face on Bin Laden's body. I can understand why the man might be bitter. Carr ends his career wanting DeBord or English to replace him, but after his last few seasons the fanbase would go nuclear if either of them did. Martin wisely says no to that. Carr's legacy ends him him kind of coming close to getting run out of town, despite his body of work. We all laugh at Minnesota for firing Mason despite his body of work, but we were dicks to Carr desite his. (As a side note I'm using we here because we're all part of the fanbase, even the retards).
So Carr is retired. Burned out, but not going since he was an Assoc. AD. Martin comes forward and coaching search begins. Miles is ruled out early (Carr says "Hell No" and MSC backs him on it, insert various rumors about why here). Martin screws up on a bunch of offers, Miles kind of becomes a hail mary option, Martin goes sailing and can't work his damn phone. Carr meanwhile reaches out to RR as kind of an end around on Miles and so he is kind of naming his own successor. Suddenly we have one of the top offensive minds in the country, a guy who won BCS games with WVU (while we lost ours), and a hot, young name in coaching.
We also have a problem. Carr is going off the reservation here and making first contact and from Bacon's work it carries the implication Carr did so on his own, at at the behest of Martin or MSC. In the Bo era if you went behind Bo's back, you paid. We're now at the point where a future Assoc AD is sneaking around behind his boss's back.
Martin's cluelessness with personnel decisions continued. When he interviews RR he tries to tell RR he has to keep Lloyd's entire staff. MSC though is now taking a role in the process (post Miles clusterfuck) and shuts him down. I want to break this down a bit though. Martin asks RR to keep the entire staff in a meeting with RR and MSC jumps on him. This wasn't something that Martin and MSC privately talked about on the way to the meeting. This was the President having to slap the AD down in front of a potential new employee. Way to plan ahead for interviews...
It also means something even worse. Think about what Martin said. "We love your spread and shred offense and want to hire you, by the way we want to you to keep DeBord on staff as the OC." Think about that for a minute. Bang your head into your desk. Later in the meeting when RR says it will take him awhile to install his system and Martin says that's not a problem, you really have to wonder if Martin had any clue what RR's system was. If Martin had any clue what he was getting into.
Martin of course then lowballs RR's assistants and fails to secure Casteel. So we arguably whiff on the second most assistant of RR's machine (I'd argue since RR is offensively minded, DC is more important than OC. Coordinators of course are clearly more important than posistion coaches). We also screw up the whole firing of Carr's staff. RR makes them wait in the hall and people like Gittelson (30 years here) are fired.
This is a failure for everyone. For Carr, for RR, and for Martin. Carr's about to become the Assoc AD for football operations. If he's so worried about his assistants getting treated fairly he should take a greater role in the process. Martin should be finding jobs for people like Gittelson (there has to be come kind of generic title we can give him, keep him on the Michigan payroll, and reward his loyalty. Barwis is now the man for football, we have dozens of weightrooms on the campus, we could have found Gittelson a place. Same with the others, stuff them in some AD job until they find coaching work. We're Michigan, we're supposed to be loyal.). RR of course really fails at handling the firings well. Carr of course ends up unhappy, somewhat openly advocating transfers, and the whole RR-Carr relationship goes sour.
We know how it goes from there. Freep columnists are harsh on RR, Carr era players attack RR in the media. Martin does nothing public, Carr does nothing public. RR says the wrong things, loses games, and finally Grobans himself out of a job. Plus of course getting bombed in the bowl didn't help.
My reason for rehashing this 3&O content was to show the actions of people and compare them to Bo. There was no "The Team, The Team, The Team". No concern for the players.
First off Martin flushed his legacy with the RR hire. The man put us in the black, he built a beautiful athletic campus. He set us up with the stadium suites that generate an amazing amount of revenue. We have the world's largest indoor practice facility because of him. Crisler doesn't look like shit anymore because of him (DB did it with his revenue). We could afford to offer Harbaugh 5 million a year because of him. We could pry Mattison out of the pros because of him. We have a massive bank account, a massive revenue stream, and top shelf facilities because of him. We also had the NCAA investigate us and a civil war because of his poor personal management. If we had a comptroller hall of fame, he goes in the first round. As it stands though he is remembered for going boating during a coaching search with a cellphone he could not operate.
I love Carr and anyone who bothers to read my posts knows I'm in the Carr defender category. Carr has done a lot for this University. On the field and off the field (namely his fundraising for Motts is really his greatest achievement as a human being since sick kids are a million times more important than kicking around an inflated pig's bladder). Yet when the time came he wasn't a Michigan Man. RR's teams were loaded with Carr's recruits. Yet he turned down 8 chances to speak to RR's teams. It's fine if Carr wanted to dislike RR. RR did fire all his friends and talk a lot in public, the antithesis of Carr. However when our fanbase errupted into a civil war it was the players, the players that Carr recruited who suffered as the program was ripped apart. Carr must have promised these kids B1G rings when he recruited them. Yet he shut up and didn't do anything when the program collapsed around them. It's almost as if he told them "transfer, because I'm cutting all ties and won't be around to help you after the Bowl". Bo was known for walking into people's offices and telling them "You need to shut up". Bo would have been defending the kids and the program. Carr was silent. At best he did nothing, at worst he was using his players and contacts to undermine RR instead of help him. I have no idea what Carr did during those three years, but he wasn't a Michigan Man because he definitely wasn't using his power to support the team.
I'm going to be brief on RR since we've dissecting him a million times on this board. He made a lot of mistakes on the field in terms of the defense. Off the field he really failed to win the political battle that comes with being the head coach at a name brand football school. Yes the deck was stacked against him, but even so he tended to make things worse, not better. For example RR played under Nehlen, a Bo assistant. He learned about "Those Who Stay Will Be Champions" from Nehlen and used it himself when he coached at Glenville State. Yet he never told those stories despite the fact they instantly put him on the Bo tree and made him more acceptable. More importantly is how quickly he broke down. His locker room destroying rage, this "fuck you" ridden tirades over his headset when Tate made a bad play. Yes it is projection, but you have to wonder if in year 4 or 5 he goes all Woody Hayes on a DB or Bob Knight on someone. I don't believe RR as a person would ever do that, but people do snap. At some level when you read how broken down RR was as Year 3 went from 5 and 0 to 2 and 5, you have to wonder if it was a mercy firing.
What we see there are three people who aren't bad people. Martin made us rich, Carr did a lot for the program and the school, RR wanted to make this his destination school and cared for his kids, and he did install the offense we hired him to install. Yet everyone had their flaws. Blindess with personnel hirings, a failure to support RR the way Bump supported Bo, and the inability to properly adopted Michigan mannerisms/fix the damn defense. No one is the devil here or an incompetent, but no one is Bo either.
Then there is the fanbase, us. That member of our fanbase who called a regent to complain that RR used "ain't" in a press conference (seriously, fuck you whoever that was). The fanbase who the minute Bo died, demanded someone else become Bo. Then when everyone showed they were mortal, not Bo, and could make mistakes we devolved into armed "Old Guard" and "New Guard" camps. Communist football vs primitive saurian Llloydball. We all agreed Martin was a moron who couldn't work a cell phone, picked a coach (RR or Carr) and tried to crown him as the new center of Michigan football. We also didn't exactly cover ourselves in glory.
That's what we need to take away from the RR era. Our dad died. Uncle Lloyd turned out be a distant and cold paternal figure. Uncle Rodriguez went through a rough time and had a melt down. Uncle Martin was busy clicking buttons in excel. So a lot of the fanbase regressed from Michigan Men into bitchy children who said mean things on the radio or wrote them, despite the negative impact they had on The Team.
As we enter the new era, 10-2, now willing to pay top dollar for top coordinators, with a guy who gets Michigan, and RR has a new job in a BCS conference, I think it may be time to let it go. At the end of the day we don't have a good guy and we don't have a bad guy. Martin, Carr, and RR all did a lot for this school and they all failed it. Any debate where you try to annoint one guy as the devil and one guy as the angel in this era is just going to generate a flamefest because each side has plenty of material to cite. The actors here were all humans who were successful in some areas, but unlike Bo they weren't successful in every area. No one was bad, they just weren't Bo and that is fine because being Bo is a high standard to live up to. As we go forward we need to stop looking for a new Bo. Bo's dead. But a new one will emerge. Just as it flowed from Yost to Crisler to Bo. Don't try and place someone on that throne by force though.
We should also remember how a house divided cannot stand against itself and more importantly how we hurt the players on the field with the whole civil war. We owe people like Graham and Moundros something. They gave it all on the field on Saturday while the fanbase was busy having a flamewar.
Oh and always remember Sharp and Rosenberg suck.
If we're going to keep one thing in our mind as we move forward, it should be that comment from Bo about how we'd find out who the real Michigan Men were when he died. We did and we need to remember what that cost us. It's up to us to keep it together now, because we won't have Bo to walk into our lives and tell us "You need to shut up now".
The purpose of this diary is simple, to track Hoke’s record against BCS team. One of the perks of being in the MAC is getting called in to BCS schools early in the year to be ground into a fine powder by more powerful teams and offered up to the Revenue Gods as Macrific.
So I decided to chart how Hoke did against various BCS Teams. One thing you might remember about playing MAC Schools is that by the Fourth Quarter those of us still in the student section are normally going “Whoa we have a SIXTH string quarterback?” as we watch some guy we never heard of put up Heisman like numbers. In an attempt to normalize for garbage time points I’ve also done my best to note games where the BCS Team was comfortably ahead, put it on cruise control and let Ball State score some pity points.
Result: 35-7 Loss
Ugly slow death by Ball State here. First quarter ended 7-7. In the second Mizzou got 14 unanswered and then 7 in each of the final two quarters. Ball State’s only points came off a 4 yard drive so the offense did nothing.
Result: 42-21 Loss
The first half was relatively even. No points for anyone in the first. 14 each in the second quarter (44 and 54 yard drives for Pitt, 46 and 80 for Ball State). Coming out of half though Pitt made adjustments and got 21 in the 3rd. 7 each in 4th, but Ball State’s last 7 came in the closing minutes of the game when Pitt was likely checked out.
Team: Boston College
Result: 53-29 Loss
The first starts out decently enough. 80 yard drive by Ball State and a 59 yard drive by BC. BC also gets a punt return for 14 total. Then just a steady steamroll by BC, 11,14 and 14 in the last three quarters. Ball State manages to put together some drives of decent length but it isn’t enough.
Team: Not That Miami (But Ranked #15 at the time)
Result: 49-3 Loss
The only ranked team Ball State played. Total ass kicking / incestuous Macrifice
Result For 2003:
Hey Not Bad For a MAC Program: 0
Macrifice: 4 (counting the loss to ranked ntM despite them being in the MAC as well)
Team: Boston College
BC leads 12-11 at half. In the second Ball State gives up one 53 yard drive and that seals the deal for BC. The 2004 edition of BC finished 9-3 and beat UNC in the Tire Bowl. BC beat PSU 21-7 the week after playing Ball State.
Result: 59-7 Loss
The 7 points came in the 4th when Purdue was likely in celebration mode.
Result: 48-0 Loss
Result To Date:
Hey Not Bad For a MAC Program: 1
Macrifice: 6 (I almost feel like I should count Mizzou and Purdue as double)
Result: 56-0 Loss
Kirk Ferentz cruises.
Result: 63-3 Loss
Hey I think I know what made Hoke decide to hire Al Borges.
Team: Boston College
Result: 38-0 Loss
BC gets 14 in the first and then off to the races in the 3rd and 4th.
Note: Ball State had 7 players suspended during Iowa and Auburn for NCAA infractions.
Result To Date:
Hey Not Bad For a MAC Program: 1
Result: 24-23 Loss
23-7 Indiana at half. Ball State gets 14 in the 3rd and manages to make a game out of it. Indiana started their second string QB but ended up playing their 3rd string for the entire game due to the suckitude of the 2nd stringer (he was pulled after 6 players). Thus this is a push for scoring purposes. Indiana is a cellar dweller to begin with and even worse once you start running the QB depth chart.
Result: 38-28 Loss
21-10 at half, and 31-13 at the end of the 3rd. So it looks like Ball State kind of put up a fight in the first half, Purdue makes adjustments and seals in the 3rd. A FG in the 3rd for Ball State and then 15 garbage points in the 4th. So no credit even though the final score was one two scores different.
Team: North Dakota State
Result: 29-24 Loss
We know how this one feels don’t we?
24-12 at half. 7 each in the 3rd and Ball State outscores 7-3 in the 4th. We played Henne the entire game. Now this has long been a question mark game for me. I was there and I really felt like Carr was being nice to his former assistant or else was having trouble finding the gas pedal for some odd reason. This was our 11-1 season and our team crushed everyone else. I’m going to give Hoke credit here and call it a not that bad win even though to this day I feel like Carr was simply too nice to go for the kill against his former Associate Head Coach.
Result To Date:
Not That Bad For a MAC: 2
The Horror (MAC Version): 1
Result: 34-31 OT Win
Competitive the whole way through, no last second rally when the other team went to sleep and the let other creep back into it.
Result: 41-40 Loss
This was in Nebraska’s shitty period but even so Nebraska needed to outscore Ball State in the 4th 13-9 to get win. A definite Not That Bad.
Result: 38-20 Loss
Indiana was in its normally sucky mode and desperate for a win to be Bowl Eligible. They got the win. Overall a decent game by Ball State but you don’t get credit for losing to Indiana by three scores.
Result To Date:
Not That Bad For a MAC Program: 4
Tim Brewster Nods Knowingly: 1
Result: 38-25 Win
Someone get Navy on the schedule.
Result: 42-20 Win
Indiana managed a total of 3 wins this year (Western Kentucky, Murray State and drum roll #22 ranked Northwestern [ouch]). Still a win over a BCS Program counts, plus I’ve been mean to Ball State so far so I’ll give them another bump.
Result: 45-13 Loss
Ball State did not score in the second half. You can argue they’re disappointed after losing to Buffalo in the conference championship and getting shunted off to the GMAC Bowl or whatever you want, but they still got punked by a C-USA Team. What CRex giveth for a Win over Indiana he taketh away for utter destruction at the hands of Tulsa. Actually no wait he won’t, since upon closer inspection Hoke had already bailed for SDSU.
Result For Career:
Not That Bad For a MAC Program: 5
I’d Talk Shit, But I have No Room To Talk: 1
At the end of the day I think the examiners bias here determines how you view these. One thing I’ve heard brought up constantly on the boards is that part of Hoke’s record can be explaining by the fact that he was forced to play at least 3 teams ever year that had access to better resources than he did. Overall he comes out as 5-11-1 and a WTFOMGDIVISIONIIBBQ loses thrown in the hell of it.
If you don’t like Hoke you’re predisposed to lean in the direction of “Wow look at those losses to Purdue, Missouri, Auburn and Boston College. If you like him you look at the 5 not that bad ones and the Push and cite them.
My personal take away from all of this is that whenever I hear Hoke’s record tossed out I’m not going to panic and mentally spot him a few more wins. If he’d Big Ten caliber recruits and facilities maybe some of those almost wins turn into wins.
It’s hard to read these tea leaves though, for example in 2003 he finished off the first quarter tied up 7-7 before Missouri took care of business. Finishes the first half tied with Pitt that year but then Pitt pulls away in the second. So either Hoke was ready for Missouri/Pitt and his MAC caliber players simply wore down or else Missouri and Pitt weren't taking Ball State seriously and spent a quarter or two fumbling around trying to find the gas pedal. If you like Hoke you’ll likely say his scheme managed to hold it together for at least a while. If you don’t like him you’re more likely to claim the other team just never bothered to shift it into gear.
Thus I’m not going to try to take much data from this, but I’ll post this in case anyone wants to find a use for this or simply for education purposes. For example that Auburn beatdown definitely helps explain why Hoke went hard after Borges and brought him along.