I did not make this headline up
Craig Ross must love scavenger hunts. On yesterday's WTKA MGoBlog Roundtable, he suggested that I look into Wu Tingfang, the Chinese minister who attended a Michigan football game in Detroit at the turn of the century. This is therefore something of a follow-up of the story of the 1925 Michigan-Northwestern game and the riots that followed (LINK).
The New York Times (November 3, 1901) preserves the basic facts (LINK):
MICHIGAN, 22; CARLISLE, 0.DETROIT, Mich.. Nov. 2.-The University of Michigan defeated the Carlisle Indian School football team at Bennett Park this afternoon before 8,000 people, by the score of 22 to 0. Wu Ting-Fang, Chinese Minister to the United States, occupied one of the boxes with former secretary of War Alger, who, at the close of the game, in response to the demands of the spectators, addressed them, congratulating Michigan on its victory.Michigan made three touchdowns, Shorts kicking goal twice, and scored five points on a place kick. Two of the touchdowns and the place kick were made in the first half. The Indians braced up wonderfully in the second half, and it was only by the hardest kind of line-bucking that Michigan scored one touchdown. Line-up:
Michigan (22.) Position Caslisle, (0.) Redden, Knight Left end Beaver, Bradley Coleman. White Left tackle Lubo McGugin Left guard Phillips Gregory Centre Schouchuk, Chesaw Wilson Right guard White Shorts Right tackle Dillon Hernstein Right end Hare Weeks Quarter Sheldon, Johnson Heston Left half Johnson, Beaver Sweeley Right half Yarlott, Saul Snow Full back WilliamsReferee--Louis Hinkey. Umpire--Ralph Hoagland. Time of halves, 27 1/2 minutes.
Minister Wu Ting Fang of China witnessed the football game between the University of Michigan and the Carlisle Indians, October 2. It was his first game and he certainly made satisfactory progress in knowledge of the sport. He entered the grand stand just after Michigan had pushed the ball over the line, leaving two redmen overcome on the ground.'"Are they dead yet?" queried Mr. Wu with polite solicitude, as he surveyed the spectacle."Oh, no!" said one of the party's student guides. "Look, they are getting up.""Marvelous tenacity of life," commented the distiguished visitor. "How many sudden deaths would it take to postpone the game?"Presently, as the game went on, Mr. Wu became philosophical."It is a beautiful thought," he said sententiously, after watching the game fora time, "to think that the fathers of these red men, a few years ago, were being shot down and hunted, and now their sons are taking strides in civilization, are given a helping hand by a mighty government, and, ---"Just at that moment the Indian full back, scopped in a hot punt, and had started up the field when the two Michigan ends came thundering down on him and dragged him back toward his own goal."And," continued Mr. Wu, "taken in the arms of the white man like a brother. There is no discrimination because of his color. It is a truly beautiful thought."Everybody agreed with Mr. Wu. After the game, won by Michigan, the minister made a little speech of congratulation to the victors, and condolence to the vanquished.
[Mr. Wu] laughed heartily when General Alger suggested that he was the mascot and brought victory to the Wolverine camp.
We have nothing corresponding to tennis and other Western ball games, nor, indeed, any game in which the opposite sexes join. Archery was a health-giving exercise of which modern ideas of war robbed us. The same baneful influence has caused the old-fashioned healthful gymnastic exercises with heavy weights to be discarded. I have seen young men on board ocean-going steamers throwing heavy bags of sand to one another as a pastime. This, though excellent practice, hardly equals our ancient athletic feats with the bow or the heavy weight. Western sports have been introduced into some mission and other schools in China, but I much doubt if they will ever be really popular among my people. They are too violent, and, from the oriental standpoint, lacking in dignity. Yet, when Chinese residing abroad do take up Western athletic sports they prove themselves the equals of all competitors, as witness their success in the Manila Olympiad, and the name the baseball players from the Hawaiian Islands Chinese University made for themselves when they visited America. Nevertheless, were the average Chinese told that many people buy the daily paper in the West simply to see the result of some game, and that a sporting journalism flourishes there, i.e., papers devoted entirely to sport, they would regard the statement as itself a pleasant sport. Personally, I think we might learn much from the West in regard to sports. They certainly increase the physical and mental faculties, and for this reason, if for no other, deserve to be warmly supported. China suffers because her youths have never been trained to team-work. We should be a more united people if as boys and young men we learned to take part in games which took the form of a contest, in which, while each contestant does his best for his own side, the winning or losing of the game is not considered so important as the pleasure of the exercise. I think a great deal of the manliness which I have admired in the West must be attributed to the natural love of healthy sport for sport's sake. Games honestly and fairly played inculcate the virtues of honor, candidness, and chivalry, of which America has produced many worthy specimens. When one side is defeated the winner does not exult over his defeated opponents but attributes his victory to an accident; I have seen the defeated crew in a boat race applauding their winning opponents. It is a noble example for the defeated contestants to give credit to and to applaud the winner, an example which I hope will be followed by my countrymen.
- Carlisle was paid $2000 for the game (Gerald Gems, For Pride, Profit and Patriarchy: Football and the Incorporation of American Cultural Values , pp. 119-120)
- Michigan had trouble with Carlisle's "move over" play, "in which the entire team is shifted to one side of center, thus confusing and weakening the enemy" (LINK)
- Redden, Michigan's left end, "was knocked breathless, but was ready and snxious to play ten minutes after the injury." (LINK)
- One of Carlisle's best players, Louis Leroy, didn't play in the game because he deserted the team on the day of the game, something that he did four times while at Carlisle (Jeffrey P. Powers-Beck, The American Indian Integration of Baseball , pp. 105-106)
Shop Smart Shop pointed out in a thread that there were only 10 players on the field during a punt against Rutgers but I didn't see any definitive screen shots on that thread so I thought that I'd use MGoVideo's video to grab some for the benefit of the board (GoBLUinTX usefully pointed out the key moment).
Here's the key image, labelled (click all images to embiggen in a new window). Norfleet is off the screen (I don't think that the ref is Dennis Norfleet).
Here are two shots from the end zone immediately before the punt (the clock isn't running because Michigan had called a time-out):
Just before the punt, the camera angle changes:
and with labels:
Just before the punt, Delonte Hollowell (#24, my number 3) moves to help out with the gunner on the top of the screen (the boundary) and Rutgers punts:
With labels (numbers are the same as above):
And here's the 11th player running onto the field late just before the punt, early in the 3rd quarter (the ball was punted at 12:58):
In another thread, I offered to post an e-mail exchange that I had with Dave Brandon about a year ago at the beginning of last season. I should probably explain that when it first happened I was too mad to think about posting it, and we were in the midst of a season, then prompty forgot about it during the off-season, when I should have posted it. But now Dave has pissed us off again, and with any luck we will be bidding him adieu soon, so it now seems relevant again.
So, to set the stage: it is the Friday before the 2013 season opener. Michigan had a big stupid Kraft noodle in Michigan stadium. The natives were restless, even MGoShoe. The noodle itself didn't upset me, but rather the slow creep of advertising into the stadium. So although I didn't think that my opinion meant all that much, I figured that I would let the Athletic Department know how I felt. I wasn't expecting a response at all, and I figured that if I did get a response, it would be some boilerplate like, "Dear X, thanks for your feedback and for your continued support of Michigan football! Go blue!" Instead I got snark.
I sent the same e-mail to Dave Brandon and to Brian Townsend:
Dear Mr. Brandon/Mr. Townsend,
As an alumnus and supporter of the University, I was upset to see in the Michigan Daily (http://www.michigandaily.com/
blog/game/football/8-new-) that the Athletic Department is apparently planning to allow Kraft Macaroni and Cheese to advertise inside the grounds of Michigan Stadium. advertisement-blocks-big- house-view-29One of the attractions and important traditions of the stadium experience, in my view, is the lack of advertising. Please do not allow this trend to continue. I would rather pay higher ticket prices than to be subjected to large orange plastic noodles and other such nonsense that significantly detract from my experience.Many thanks in advance and Go Blue!Yours sincerely,[my name]Associate Professor, [my department in the humanities, my university, which is in the AAU]
Dave's response (or perhaps someone in his office?):
[My first name],
I received your message and I am sorry you are "upset" over a noodle.
Clearly, this is a very troubling matter for you.
Perhaps the lesson here is for you to be careful not to believe everything you read. There was an event at the Stadium Friday and this promotional piece was included. It was removed at the conclusion of the event.
I suggest you relax and enjoy the football game today!
Dear Mr. Brandon,Thank you for your timely response. I am not upset about a noodle, however, but about the possibility of advertising in Michigan Stadium on game days now and in the future.I suggest that you drop the condescending tone.Go Blue!
Thanks for your very helpful input!!Much appreciated!!Dave
Brian Townsend's response:
[My first name],
Thanks for your feedback. Your message was heard.
We are looking forward to another exciting weekend in Michigan Stadium. Go Blue!
Dear Brian,Thank you! I was at the Notre Dame game (UTL II) and it was magnificent. I was very impressed with all the work that the Athletics Department does to make the games so enjoyable and seemingly effortless. I know that they are not effortless, and I want to let you know how appreciative I am of all your hard work!Go Blue!
Thanks [my first name]. We appreciate your compliment!
I was upset about Brandon's response. It made me feel more alienated from the University that I love, actually. But here's the thing: it's just really, really stupid of him. He can think one of two things:
- This guy is an idiot.
- This guy is a reasonable person with strongly-held feelings about the University.
If (1), then the best thing is not to reply at all or to send some canned response: "Thanks for your passion! Go blue!" If (2), then the same, or something conciliatory: "Thanks for letting us know you feel, the opinions of fans and alumni are important to us" blah blah blah. I would have been satisfied with that. The only other time I e-mailed the AD about an issue, I received a very conciliatory note saying something like, "Thanks, we are already talking about this internally and we appreciate your input."
What does Dave Brandon gain from picking a fight with an alumnus?
I also think that his response was disingenuous, however. The fact of the matter is that the Kraft noodle was in Michigan Stadium for a promotial event, sure. But that promotional event -- cleverly called "W.O.W. Friday" -- is actually all about football (here's the official description of it). So it's not any old promotional event, but actually one directly tied to the football team and program. And despite the promotional tie-in, they charged $10 a person for access to the stadium! It wasn't even free!
It sounds like other people have had similar experiences to mine, perhaps even worse ones? I'd be interested to hear what other people have to contribute.
A couple of days ago I compiled Hoke's win-loss record, looking specifically at road v. home v. neutral site and the differences between the Vegas line and the actual win differential. I was curious, though -- and maybe this was prompted by a comment I saw somewhere -- how other successful coaches at our rivals had fared recently. That is, was Hoke's downward trend normal? Abnormal? Is there, in fact, a normal?
Here are the results (click to embiggen):
- Hoke is most like Meyer: a string of victories at the start with a slow (inevitable) decline, although Meyer was able to string together an amazing 24-0 start at Ohio State.
- Kelly and Dantonio are more similar: a difficult first year followed by a fairly consistent improvement in overall record.
- Rodriguez is a real outlier: he never really got about .500, so never showed the overall improvement that Kelly and Dantonio did.
Hoke's downward slide looks ominous. What if we look on the brighter side, however, and project a 9-3 season, with losses to Michigan State and Ohio State but victories against the rest of the schedule? We get something like this (I'm not projecting the other coaches' records here):
That looks significantly better: essentially Hoke would be neck-and-neck with Kelly at the end of his year four, with a better overall record than Danotio's first four years. That's not bad.
Even if we project an 8-4 season this year -- say we lose to Penn State under the lights -- the overall record ain't too shabby:
The question, then, may be: is Hoke better than a .700 career coach? The difference between .700 and .750 is pretty palpable. Lloyd's career record was .753, Moeller's was .758, Bo's was .796 (at Michigan only for the latter two coaches). The scene of college football is significantly different now than it was in the 1970s and 1980s, but it's probably fair to say that Michigan fans and alumni reasonably expect to win 3 out of every 4 games, even if we were never happy with Lloyd or Moeller's tendency to drop the occasional game to undermatched opponents (a loss at home to an unranked Illinois in 1993, my first year at Michigan, still stings a bit).
There's no doubt that the end of last year and this year is a bit of a trough for Michigan football: we're rebuliding, not reloading, despite the addition of Peppers. At least that has to be the positive take, anyway; the negative take would be that in the coming years the slide continues, and Hoke's line on the graph above will cross Dantonio's in 2015.
My overall take is more positive than I thought it would be when I started: if Hoke can hold serve this year with a 9-3 record and continue to bring in top talent, then there is a good case to be made that things will rebound. If those things happen, then on paper Hoke and Kelly look awfully similar, and I think that we probably think that whatever Kelly's many faults, he's got Notre Dame football on the right track in terms of the on-the-field performance.
Yet as I type those sentences about Michigan they seem awfully optimistic... far more optimistic than I currently feel.
EDIT: Per the suggestion by LandonC in the comments below, here is Hoke's ten
year game rolling win percentage vs. Kelly's, Dantonio's, and RR's:
Some time ago I wrote a diary summarizing the wins and losses in the Hoke era. After reading that Michigan is 3-7 in the last 10 games, and 10-11 since Denard went out in the Nebraska game, I thought that it would be worth revisiting the data. Here they are:
First, the losses:
- Most of the losses are away (9) or at neutral sites (3), with only two at home (2).
- In most losses, M has been the underdog (11), with the exceptions being 2011 @Iowa, 2013 @Penn State, and 2013 Nebraska.
Next, the wins:
- 20 are at home, 6 away, 1 neutral win (2012 Virginia Tech)
- None of the away wins are against good teams: Northwestern (x2), Illinois, Purdue, Minny, UConn
- We have two wins in games in which we were not favored (2013 @Northwestern, 2011 ND)
The biggest letdowns:
- 2013 Akron: -34 difference between the line and the final score
- 2014 @ND: -27.5 difference
- 2013 @MSU: -17 difference
- 2013 @Uconn: -15 difference
- 2012 Alabama: -13.5 difference
The best performances (final score vs. the spread):
- 2011 Minnesota: +38
- 2012 @Purdue: +28
- 2011 Nebraska: +24.5
- 2012 Illinois: +20
- 2013 CMU: +18
Take-aways: things are getting worse and there is not much in the way of signature wins. The lows aren't as low as the Rodriguez or late Carr era, but the highs aren't very high. Here's one way to visualize the state of the program under Hoke: cumulative win percentage (click to embiggen):
In a past diary, I charted Michigan's offensive trends over the course of the 2011-2013 seasons. In that diary, I relied on a statistic that I will call YPPdiv. This is equal to the offensive yards per play (YPP) in a given game, divided by the average YPP allowed by that team on defense. Thus, for example, Michigan averaged 7.35 YPP against Ohio State, a team that allows on average 5.01 YPP. So, 7.35 divided by 5.01 = a YPPdiv of 1.47.
Space Coyote suggested that I track the entire B1G over the course of the 2013 season to get a trendline for the entire B1G against which to compare Michigan (and each team's) offensive performance over time. Now that the regular season is over, it seemed like a good time to put the numbers together. Without further ado, here are the charts (click to embiggen):
The story: Honestly I don't know. I think that Illinois might just be bad.
The story: Indiana ripped it up early in the year but didn't have much success against Wisconsin and Ohio State. I'm not sure why, and the Crimson Quarry blog didn't seem to have any good answers, either.
The story: Iowa was pretty Iowa all year.
The story: problems with the offensive line, Devin Gardner being beaten up, complaints about the coaching. The Mathlete has proclaimed that this is the offense with the 4th highest standard deviation since 2003 (I'm not sure what stat he's using to calculate this; presumably it's PAN). But calculating the standard deviation of YPPdiv also yields a very high number for Michigan (0.33) compared to the rest of the B1G (an average of 0.21, with a high of 0.28).
The story: Michigan State found an offense this year. Their first three games were awful, but they've shown clear improvement since then. Of course, they haven't played a really good defense, either.
The story: Minnesota is Minnesota. They like to run the ball.
The story: despite the many injuries to key offensive contributors, Nebraska managed to basically hold serve offensively. They ripped up MSU in yards per play, but they turned the ball over far too much.
The story: injuries to key offensive players, including Venric Mark, Kain Colter, and Tony Jones. There have also been complaints of conservative play calling.
The story: Ohio State's offense has improved over the course of the season. Between Miller and Hyde, the Ohio State offense has pounded away at their opposition, none of whom, it should be said, has a particularly great defense.
The story: Penn State played great against Wisconsin but has been sub-par most of the year on offense.
The story: Purdue is bad, and was mostly bad throughout the year. They're consistent, at least.
The story: Wisconsin's running game is fantastic, but Stave has been inconsistent.
So. The average offensive performance by B1G teams, week by week, is as follows:
Perhaps unsurprisingly, it's fairly flat, with consistent performances from one week to the next.
This suggests that an offense with a slightly negative slope isn't to be expected; we should perhaps expect a fairly consistent performance from week to week. This is something that Nebraska managed despite many injuries on the offensive side of the ball. The best teams in the B1G this year -- Ohio State and Michigan State -- both showed improvement on offense over the course of the year.
The Ohio State game taught us that Michigan's problem isn't a steady decline in offensive performance, but rather wild inconsistency due to youth and playcalling.