Mason NEEDS this, Pistons, after all you've put him through
Wanted to throw some numbers and charts up to look at the six candidates Brian outlined, the two that are in the media but off of his list and the dream candidate who won’t quite go away.
For the uninitiated or the those who used to know but haven’t seen anything for the last month or two (which would be all of you!) all numbers are in PAN, Points Above Normal. 0 is average +5 is really good and anything over +10 is incredible. It is adjusted for opponent/strength of schedule. The data I have goes back to the 2003 season but nothing before.
Coaches will appear in the order that Brian had them ranked. I looked at each coach versus who the program did in the two years preceding their arrival and the two years after in the case of departure. Where they were coordinators in some cases, I looked only at the appropriate side of the ball. Caveats apply in all situations depending on who was hired before or after. Stan Parrish can make my 2 year old son look like he can coach football but following a national championship season under Nick Saban is a tough act to follow.
#1 – Dan Mullen
Big increases in year 1 and from year to year 2. The offense improved by 3 points immediately in year 1 but stayed flat into year 2. The defense jumped 2 points in the first year and 4 more in year 2. Based on the Miss St experience, Mullen’s team has shown dramatic improvement, but not a ton (except against us) on his historical side of the ball.
Gaps between pre and post are pretty strong but asterisks abound on this one. First of all three of the four years Mullen was at Florida, they had this guy you might have heard of playing quarterback. At least he used the talent there as the cupboard was far from bare the last two years when the performance regressed significantly.
Utah was a similar story going from nearly +9 in 2003-04 to +3 in the two years after his (and Urban Meyer and Alex Smith’s) departure.
Lots of caveats apply but the guy can clearly coach with proven improvements at every stop and drop offs after his departure.
#2 – Pat Fitzgerald
Obviously off the table at this point. His numbers were nothing impressive but his “luck” has been off the chart. Northwestern finished this past year #1 in my annual luck rankings (luck = actual wins vs. statistical expectation) and is a clear number one over the last five years. NW has been the only team in the country to exceed expectation by at least a game each of the last five years and has been first or second nationally in three of the last four years. Guy is doing something right.
#3 – Gary Patterson
TCU total team PAN:
Patterson’s been at TCU as long as I have data for so their are no comparisons but the team has made consistent improvement over the years. Even though the program was ranked the year before he took over, it was the only time in 40 years that TCU had finished in the top 25 and they have been in the top 25 7 of 9 years and will probably be top 3 at the end of this year’s Rose Bowl winning run.
My personal first choice, FWIW.
#4 – Charlie Strong
Only one season, that followed the immortal Kragthorpe and always be wary when N=1, but man, that was a nice season Strong’s Cardinals put together.
Improvements of at least 4 points in all three phases of the game. Went from 104th in 2009 to 44th in 2010.
Florida saw a dropoff in their first year without Strong from +7 to +4 but also lost a host of talent from the previous year’s squad. One season means a change is highly unlikely and the results above may be an aberration but it’s about as good as you can expect for a one year change.
#5 – Chris Petersen
Another highly unlikely candidate but has certainly taken Boise to new heights after the foundation had been laid. As head coach he took the offense that he formerly coordinated from +4 to +6 but showed he knew both sides by overseeing a climb from +1 on defense to +6. Has a number of big institutional advantages but has exceeded the progress of those before him.
#6 – Kyle Whittingham
Haven’t heard much on Coach Whittingham and the move to the Pac-12 makes it that much less unlikely. Probably the toughest comp of the bunch being preceded by Urban Meyer and an undefeated season. Has shown modest improvements on defense and special teams since taking over but hasn’t been able to recreate any of the offensive magic of the Meyer/Mullen/Smith.
“Michigan Man” #1 – Brady Hoke
Better than I expected, actually. Slow steady growth taking the program from terrible to average over four years and then a big leap forward. The team obviously fell apart in two years under Parrish. The good news is that the team progressed well over a long period of time, the bad news is that during all the period at the helm, Hoke only produced one above average team.
San Diego St has shown nice improvement during Hoke’s time there. The Aztecs have improved by over 7 points each of the last two seasons. The big jump has been repairing a terrible defense (-11 in two preceding years) and turning them into an above average group by year 2. The offense has improved as well, but the majority of change has been driven by the defense.
“Michigan Man” #2 – Les Miles
Miles has been at LSU a while now and the comps are a little tougher. His Bayou Bengals have averaged +10 a season, the 10th highest program average over the same span. This is actually a decrease from what they have achieved in the two years prior, which includes the aforementioned Saban National Championship.
Oklahoma St saw a drop-off upon his departure. The Cowboys were +7 in 2003-04 under Miles and fell to +2 in Mike “I’m a Man” Gundy’s first two seasons.
What’s Your Deal – Jim Harbaugh
hitting refresh to check if status has changed
Michigan may or may not be out on this one, but the Harbaugh effect on Stanford has been impressive.
Improvement has come each and every year with big jumps in the last two. The only question might be defensively as the year’s squad was decent after two really bad years under Harbaugh.
What does it mean?
Heck if I know, this whole thing has turned into a disaster. Strong, Mullen and Patterson all seem like very good long-term prospects if we can get one of them. Obviously Harbaugh is first choice if Brandon can pull a coup. Miles would probably appease enough of the base in the short term but doesn’t have the upside of some of the other candidates. Hoke at least has indications he could be good, but there is also huge risk involved hiring someone’s who’s success is so limited at such lower levels.
Sorry I don’t have anything to satisfy the “who is going to be” question but hopefully this sheds some light on the pros and cons of the names being thrown around these parts.
On a peronsal note, probably won’t see many more posts from me in the offseason and very low likelihood next season. Just found out this week that my wife is having triplets this summer so I’ll be lucky if I even get to watch any games this fall!
Rush Offense vs Wisconsin
Michigan Off: +7, 2nd nationally, 1st Big Ten
Wisconsin Def: +1, 38th, 5th
D Robinson: +6 rushing, 1st in Big Ten, 2nd nationally
S Hopkins: +0, 7th in Big Ten
M Shaw: +0, 10th
V Smith: +0, 11th
Last week’s mud game was several points worse on the ground than any game for Michigan to date. Wisconsin’s rush defense has been good but their best performance came in the one game they lost. Will be interesting to see where Michigan’s ground game is at now with last week’s performance relatively meaningless.
Prediction: +6 Michigan – Michigan should be able to get some yards on the ground but needs to be good enough to bring safeties down and open up the passing game. Also, a big play on the ground would be nice, it’s been a while.
Pass Offense vs Wisconsin
Michigan Off: +5, 14th, 1st
Wisconsin Def: +1, 55th, 6th
D Robinson: +5 passing, 5th
R Roundtree: +6, 4th
J Hemingway: +6, 7th
D Stonum: +3, 18th
Other than blowing the doors off the Buckeyes, Wisconsin has been vulnerable to the pass during Big Ten play. The question is whether or not Denard (or Tate) can put together the consistent play necessary to take advantage.
Prediction: +4 and two get there Michigan will likely need Big Passing Plays – Interceptions to be at least +2
Rush Defense vs Wisconsin
Michigan Def: –3, 105th, 10th
Wisconsin Off: +3, 16th, 3rd
J White: +1, 3rd
J Clay: +1, 5th
M Ball: +0, 8th
After an underwhelming start in non-conference play, the Badger ground game has been consistently strong in Big Ten play. The ground game has been the backbone of the #2 rated red zone offense (92% of possible points scored) in the country. For reference Michigan is about average at 75%. Michigan will need to get off the field before the red zone because Wisconsin has not been a team susceptible to bend but don’t break defense.
Prediction: Wisconsin +6. Michigan is going to give up some plays but the key will be finding a way to get three good plays in a row to get off the field.
Pass Defense vs Wisconsin
Michigan Def: –3, 106th, 11th
Wisconsin Off: +3, 23rd, 4th
S Tolzien: +4, 7th
N Toon: +3, 16th
I don’t exactly know what to say about this matchup, we are probably doomed despite the nice number from last week. Hopefully it’s not as bad as last year.
Prediction: Wisconsin +6 and hopefully no worse.
Special Teams vs Wisconsin
Michigan: –2, 108th, 10th
Wisconsin: +2, 48th, 5th
Kicking: Big advantage Wisconsin, top 10 versus bottom 10
Michigan kicks: Slight advantage Wisconsin, Michigan is bad, Wisconsin below average
Wisconsin kicks: Slight advantage Wisconsin, Michigan is bad, Wisconsin below average
Michigan punts: Slight advantage Michigan, Michigan is really good, Wisconsin above average
Wisconsin punts: Push, both are bad
Over half of Wisconsin’s advantage comes from their kicker versus our disaster.
Predictions almost certain to cost you money if taken seriously
If Wisconsin brings their A game Michigan is done and Michigan isn’t good enough to play poorly and win.
This chart is both teams game scores ranked from best to worst. Wisconsin’s ceiling has been much higher and Michigan’s bad has been worse, but in the middle, these two teams aren’t that far apart.
In Madison our chances would be slim, but with Senior Day and home field it’s nearly a coin flip.
Wisconsin 38 Michigan 37
Iowa 26 Ohio St 24 – Iowa paves the way for Pasadena Sparty
Michigan St 28 Purdue 10 – Unfortunately Purdue doesn’t have the talent
Illinois 38 Northwestern 24 - [Name Redacted] gets a Wrigley reprieve
Penn St 31 Indiana 10 – Nothing like last week, but Indiana gets blown out at “home”
[Ed.: Instead of throwing my internet connection through a window I'm going to bump this Mathlete post. Thank you for your UFR-related patience. Also argh.]
In honor of Michigan’s final home game of the 2010 season, I decided to look a little deeper at the true value that home field holds.
The generally accepted value is that home field is worth about 3 points. Over the last 7 years that value has held fairly true. The average from 2004 to 2010 has been a 2.8 point per game advantage for the home team. 2004 and 2007 were big years for the home teams, with the home teams holding a 3.5 points per game advantage whereas in all other years the number was closer to 2.5 points per game.*
*All point references in this article are based on my PAN metric and are opponent adjusted, exclude games against FCS opponents and exclude garbage time situations.
Home field advantage is one of those things it is very difficult to pin point from game to game but it’s effects are very present over the broader scope. That isn’t to say however that there aren’t differences between how the effect plays out for different teams or even conferences.
Big House Advantage
Last year saw the Wolverines have their biggest disparity between home and road performance at nearly a touchdown per game. Most of the last several years have been between 1 and 2 points per game, less than the national average.
Michigan has seen more advantage come from the defense than the offense.
Although the overall level of home field advantage has been lower at Michigan than other places, the general splits are roughly in line. Teams tend to get a slightly bigger advantage from the defense than the offense and Michigan is near the middle of the pack in special teams and penalty disparity.
From 2004 to 2010 the WAC and Conf USA teams saw the biggest difference between the performance at home and the performance on the road. The Big East, MAC and even the liquored up SEC fans saw the lowest difference between home and road results, all coming in at less than 2 points per game over the last seven years.
For individual teams, home field has meant big things for some teams and been a disadvantage for a few. The lures of Hawaii and Las Vegas are perhaps too much for opponents as the Warriors and the Rebels lead the nation in home field advantage at more than double the national average. Bob Stoops at Oklahoma has come under fire for his road performance and rightfully so. This year the Sooners are fourth in home/road splits and they are third over the last seven years.
In The Big Ten
Since home field advantage isn’t necessarily about how well teams play at home but about how much better a team plays at home versus on the road, sometimes some unlikely teams pop to the top of the list. Iowa tops the list at over 4 points per game but Indiana and Purdue are in the top half of the spread. Michigan is one of the lowest in the Big Ten at less than 2 points per game. South Bend certainly wasn’t a decided locational advantage - the Fighting Irish are one of only five teams to average better performances on the road than at home over the last seven years.
What does it all mean
There is obviously an advantage to playing at home that affects all facets of the game. It is very difficult to pinpoint where the advantage is in any specific game but over a large set of games the advantages really start to show. Even though only five teams were worse at home than on the road over the last seven years, 102 out of 120 teams had at least one season where their road scores were higher than their home scores.
With two games left in the regular season the total picture is starting to come into focus, and it’s right where a lot of us thought it would be going in, 7-8 wins for the season. With a home date against Wisconsin this week and then a trip to Columbus, I have a 46% shot at staying at 7, a 48% chance of splitting and going 8-4 and a slim 6% chance of running the table.
Sure we got a little carried away after another hot start and we got doom and gloom during the rough October stretch, but with two games left, at the top level this team is where many of us expected. Yeah, the offense has been better than we hoped at times and the defense has been worse than we feared at times, but add it all up and for the most part it makes sense.
With all the turnovers generating field position for the offenses, this game had a 32-29 advantage for Michigan in terms of expected points based on field position. The offenses responded with essentially a 21-9 result. Michigan offense under performed the field position by 11 points (12 if you count the special teams costing an extra point) and Michigan’s defense held Purdue 20 points below their expected points, not too mention adding a touchdown of their own. Yakety Sax it was.
Michigan rush: +2
Michigan pass: +2
Purdue rush: +0
Purdue pass: –13
Denard: +8 pass, +1 rush, –1 punt!
Tate: –2 pass, –1 rush
V Smith: +2
S Hopkins: –1
M Shaw: –1
R Roundtree: +8
D Stonum: +0
J Hemingway: +5
K Koger: +3
M Webb: +3
Big Ten Race
Based on remaining win probabilities and my best understanding of the tiebreaker procedures, here are my Big Ten Auto-berth odds:
Michigan St: 30%
Ohio St: 19%
15% chance that everyone ends with at least two losses and craziness really ensues.
Based on suggestions last week I moved to a loss-penalty (-5 pts PAN) and am now ranking teams based on a loss-adjusted PAN.
|5||Oklahoma St||Big XII||19.6||2.95||1|
|8||Ohio St||Big Ten||15.2||-0.40||1|
|10||Michigan St||Big Ten||13.3||2.36||1|
|15||Texas A&M||Big XII||20.6||4.91||3|
FWIW Michigan checks in at #33
Rush Offense vs Purdue
Michigan Off: +8, 2nd nationally, 1st Big Ten
Purdue Def: +0, 54th, 6th
Denard Robinson: +7, 1st nationally
Michael Shaw: +1, 7th in Big Ten (RB only)
Vincent Smith: +0, 10th in Big Ten
For the first time all season Michigan put up a huge day on the ground without Denard having a big day rushing. Shaw, Smith and Hopkins all had strong days against a very good defense. Purdue’s defense has been consistently average. All of their games so far this year have been between +4 and –2.
Last week proved that the offense can be big even without Denard gaining hundreds of yards on the ground. Purdue’s consistent averageness makes a strong day very likely. Let’s hope that the backs can continue their progress from last week and Denard can limit his carries enough to make it through a full game.
Prediction: Michigan +8
Pass Offense vs Purdue
Michigan Off: +5, 10th, 1st
Purdue Def: +1, 48th, 5th
Denard Robinson: +5, 5th in Big Ten, 23rd nationally
Junior Hemingway: +6 5th, 28th
Roy Roundtree: +6, 7th, 34th
Darryl Stonum: +3, 15th
Despite two early interceptions and a host of drops, Michigan’s two-headed passing attack produced one of their top two games of the season. Roundtree and Hemingway produced most of the highlights but Stonum added several key catches as well. It was far and away Michigan’s best Big Ten performance since Indiana and considering the stakes last weekend, probably their best showing of the year through the air.
Purdue’s pass defense has been all over the map. They have produced very good games against Wisconsin and Minnesota but have been terrible against Illinois and Ohio St, two teams with mobile quarterbacks. If Purdue’s weakness through air has been due to a focus on running quarterbacks, it should be a fun day Saturday.
Prediction: Michigan +4 with the possibility for much more.
Rush Defense vs Purdue
Michigan Def: –4, 109th, 11th
Purdue Off: –0, 67th, 7th
Dan Dierking: +0, 8th in Big Ten
Michigan has had three really bad games defending the run against some of the best Big Ten rushing teams. Against more mediocre ground games the porous Michigan run defense has held up OK.
Purdue hasn’t put more than +1 on the ground in any Big Ten game and only did it once against Toledo in non-conference play. Purdue doesn’t look like a team that can do the damage that Illinois, Penn St or Michigan State did.
Prediction: –4 by the numbers but a good chance it’s closer to 0 barring another Siller-tastrophy.
Pass Defense vs Purdue
Michigan Def: –4, 110th, 11th
Purdue Off: –4, 107th, 11th
Sean Robinson: –2 average against Illinois and Wisconsin
No qualifying receivers
That’s a whole lot of ugly all around. Michigan has been in the –6 range for most of Big Ten play. The Penn St showing might start to look better as they put up a better opponent adjusted score against NW than they did against Michigan. Purdue hasn’t been better than –6 versus anyone that’s not Minnesota or Ball St.
Although this matchup looks like what we thought would happen at Penn St, Purdue has a more known quantity behind center and McGloin has proven for at least two games to be a significant upgrade to the Penn St offense which has been +10 opponent adjusted the last two games after being –5 prior.
Prediction: Push, Purdue does more than normal but no major damage.
Special Teams vs Purdue
Michigan: –2, 107th, 10th
Purdue: +0, 82nd, 8th
Michigan Kicks: Push, both teams are bad
Purdue Kicks: Advantage Purdue, we are not good
Michigan Punts: Big advantage Michigan, hopefully don’t need it
Purdue Punts: Advantage Purdue, they’re not good but they’ve been better than us
Kicking: slight advantage Purdue, they’re not good but they’ve been better than us
Purdue hasn’t been great at any special teams but they haven’t been the disaster Michigan has been, either. Hopefully our offense renders most of our special teams weaknesses irrelevant.
Predictions almost certain to cost you money if taken seriously
Michigan 35 Purdue 30 The Vegas number seems a bit high but even though the numbers are calling a 5 point game I think there is substantially more upside than downside with a depleted Purdue offense.
Illinois 31 Minnesota 10 – Illinois gets a nice cupcake to bounce back after last week’s tough loss
Iowa 42 Northwestern 20 – Sorry Jamiemac, still not buying NW this year
Ohio St 31 Penn St 21 – Walk-on Favre keeps it closer than the experts think and if the Penn St offense can keep up their strong performance of the last two weeks then I think Penn St actually has a shot to pull the upset.
Wisconsin 38 Indiana 20 – Another bottom feeder for the Badgers before their trip to AA next week.
You can’t count on more progress from the offense
Michigan is not going to get much better on offense. They can reduce turnovers, they can improve in the Red Zone, they can find a back who can reduce the load on Denard. All of these things can and hopefully will happen. But after two years of making the Rodriguez leap, this team is pretty close to the ceiling offensively. There are no more leaps to be made. Any progress at this point is incremental as this team already sits on good end of the bell curve, 2.5 standard deviations above the average team.
In 2008 Michigan was –5 PAN and ranked 102nd in the country in offense. Last year leap #1 happened Michigan jumped to +3 and 38th in the country offensively. This year the team has made an even bigger leap and is currently at +13 and second only to Auburn among all FBS offenses. Prior to this year, here are the offenses in AQ conferences that have exceeded +13:
Oklahoma 2008, +16
Florida 2007, +17
USC 2005, +16
Texas 2005, +14
Four teams from 2003-2009 did better offensively than Michigan has done this year. The offense will hopefully be a slightly more polished version of what you see right now. Another leap would mean a once in a decade offense, don’t think we can count on that.
So if we are going to progress, all the change is going to have to come from the defense. The goal is obviously to have a shut down defense to go with a can’t be shut down offense, but there is little chance of the defense turning around that quickly next year. For comparison I found three teams that had best in class offenses and average defenses (not good, not bad) and this is what I found.
The Test Cases
Florida 2007, +17 Off, –0 Def
West Virginia 2006, +13 Off, –0 Def
Auburn 2010, +14 Off, +0 Def
Florida 2007 lost three SEC games and eventually to Michigan in the Citrus Bowl. Those four losses were by an average of 6 points. It was good enough to get the Tebow Child his Heisman but going 2-4 in close games was the difference between the season being good and truly great.
With Rodriguez at the helm the 2006 Mountaineers went 11-2. This was the year that the Big East was good. Louisville had yet to be Kragthorped and beat West Virginia and South Florida upset West Virginia as the only team to hold the Mountaineers below 27 points.
Auburn still has 3-4 big games left and we may not know how this one is going to end depending on how Newton-gate ends. But at the current pace, Auburn is providing the best case that an exceptional offense and can keep you in the title hunt into November.
How plausible is a strong defensive improvement
This question obviously depends on who’s coaching the defense, does the system change, if it does is that a good or bad thing, how do the young players progress, how does Angry Michigan <Blank> Hating God fill in the blank and many other questions.
From 2003-2009 69 teams have been –6 or worse on defense. 59 of those improved the next year (law of averages, yo) and 17 or about 25% moved all the way up to the test case range –1 or better. The average team improved about 4 points.
Based on the amount of talent returning next year and the youth on this squad, a jump of 4 points would seem to be the minimum. Michigan road to average is starting at –8 right now. Strong showings in the last four games could improve that number slightly but nine games in the number isn’t changing that much. I would say the 25% chance of getting back to average seems about right. This defense should at least progress to 2009 levels (yeah?) and will have a shot at the average defense that would likely lead to New Year’s Day at the bare minimum.
An offense at this level plus an average defense in the Big Ten will probably mean at least ten wins. If the defense makes an average bad defense improvement, it will probably be more like 9 wins. If the defense can make a strong leap (entirely possible) to positive territory, Michigan could be a couple good breaks away from where Auburn is at right now. Let’s just hope somebody didn’t hear from somebody’s sister that Denard was asking Danny Hope to get paid.