MGoProfile is an oasis in the desert that is the Michigan football offseason. Misopogon was the interview I was most interested in reading and he didn't disappoint. I think his intellectual prowess is self-evident from his writing, but hearing how the genesis of his name comes from classical antiquity confirms it. The genesis of my name comes from 80's pop culture, which is the idiots version of intellectualism.
MGoProfile: Volume 3
Hello everyone, Six Zero here with the latest installment of:
SIX QUESTIONS WITH MISOPOGON
Inspired by the official site’s “Two Minute Drill” series and TomVH’s famous Q&A segments with potential recruits, this new weekly feature highlights some of the more famous personalities here at MGoBlog. Without pulling back the infamous veil of blog anonymity, we’ll get to know some of your favorite posters better and possibly shed some light on their definition of why it’s so darn Great, To Be, A Michigan Wolverine.
After previous features on TomVH and formerly anonymous, it was high time
we caught up with one of the most celebrated posters of the MGoCommunity.
And if you don’t believe me, just ask ESPN's Adam Rittenberg. That’s right,
it was my pleasure to sit down this week with Misopogon.
WARNING: I’ll admit, it’s not a brief interview-- but if that comes as a surprise
to you, then you mustn’t be that familiar with Misopogon’s work. And if you are,
you won’t care, because he’s a pretty interesting guy and a hell of a writer:
1. Semi-Annual MGoAwards Post of the Year Winner. Bumped to the front page too many times to recall. And yes, recently referenced by the Worldwide Leader In Sports. Your MGoBlog contributions are practically unparalleled. How did you discover the blog in the first place?
First of all I want to thank NBC and the American People...oh, we're not on TV. Sweet. [de-pants].
I discovered MGoBlog the day of the Northwestern game in 2007, back when old farts would say "I remember the Haloscan days" the way that old farts today say "I remember the blogspot days."
It was also when Comcast and the Big Ten Network were having their great dick-off, which, being a rather irate Comcast customer, meant I had to find a bar near my house to watch the game. At a bar in Berkeley, I ran into an old fraternity brother, who told me I gotta read this site because "After the Appalachian State Game, which he calls 'The Horror,' the dude made the whole site pink and put up kittens!"
We also remembered the same Every Three Weekly article by Brian from our college years in which Cook drew up several c. 2000 Michigan plays, such as "A-Train Hit in the Backfield," "Don't Let Us Stop You On Your Way to the End-Zone," and "Epstein Misses a Field Goal" (that's about all I ever remembered from the Every Three Weekly).
Anyhoosier, that night I read every U.F.R. Brian had ever posted (they were easier to get at back then). I lurked and lurked until I was moved to write an emo October crystal ball eulogy for 2008, in which both Kevin Newsome and Shavodrick Beaver get killed off and every other good player is injured. I sent it to Brian as an e-mail, and he said "you should post this as a Diary." So I did, and took shit from ameed for killing off our two QB recruits, and was about to go back to reserving my loggorhea for e-mails to my friends until some guy said my handle was cool. So I stayed.
2. Before we go any further, I’d like to get something out in the open, and in fact I believe I once asked you this several months ago in a thread. Where does the name “Misopogon” come from?
This is one of those great life mysteries, like where the Captain's from in Saving Private Ryan. $10 bucks gets you in.
Actually, I think I've answered it twice, once in a thread that I suspect was written specifically to draw me out.
The name far pre-dates MGoBlog, back to an ancient history course I took at M. Since about 2002 it's been my universal Internet persona (if Morpheus shows up and gives me the red pill, I guess that would be what everyone calls me).
Skip this paragraph if you already know, or have Googled it before: It's from a play that translates as "Beard-hater" written by then-Roman Emperor Julian "the Apostate." Jules was raised a Christian (who all shaved) but then became the biggest supporter for paganism in the empire, and so grew a kickin' beard. He made a visit to Antioch, where they generally hated his guts, and were staging plays to make fun of him. So he wrote his own play making fun of himself, called "The Misopogon."
It was so me: Beard, check. Philosophical, check. Self-deprecating, check. Guy who was educated as a Lloydist who then turned apostate, converting wholly to the Church of Rod, check. Emperor of Rome: working on it. He also was one of a few military leaders to try the queme-los-barcos idea, which ended very badly.
Plus, it's kind of a Michigan homophone.
(Note to readers: Insert random
' homophone' joke here. We'll move on.)
3. Certainly your grand opus has been the ‘Decimated Defense’ series. How long does it take you to put one of these posts together, especially with all the recent updated graphs and even Photoshop and/or Godfather work?
It totally depends on the content. With something that takes statisticating, like DDII and DDIII, it usually starts with me goofing around making spreadsheets. There's plenty of spreadsheets I've made while screwing around that never make it to a Diary. Eventually, one hits a critical mass of information usefulness, and I go to Misopogal to hash out a rhetorical theme to attach to it.
With the DD series in particular, it started around the time Cissoko left, with a list of post-Rod attrition on an MSU blog right, to which I added all of the 2005-'09 attrition to see, just for myself, all of the guys we had lost. Then I wondered if other schools had the same kind of attrition, so I compared Ohio State. Then Notre Dame. Yada.
The actual writing of the diary usually comes much later. With this most recent one, the spreadsheet was something I had been playing around with since the week before signing day. The last changes were made over a week ago. Once I get going, it's hard for me to stop. I spent much of Saturday afternoon writing parts, then we had a Mommaday breakfast all morning on Sunday, then I was back writing for a few hours Sunday afternoon, went to a Mommaday dinner, then I came home and finished it by like midnight. When we were at Misopogal's mom's place, her family asked if I was okay, cause I seemed in a daze, and Misopogal was like "he's in the middle of a blog."
It's kind of obsessive, I know. Once my fingers hit the keyboard, as anyone on my e-mail list will tell you, it's hard to peel them away. I tend to get lost in my parentheses; the "Countenance More in Sorrow..." blog is an example of what happens when I just sit down to write and get utterly lost. You know how Lactantius was bad about really long parantheticals? -- now picture someone giving him the unlimited parchment of the Internet.
As for the pics: I try to have a lot of pretty charts and images and stuff mostly to cover up the uselessness of my actual information next to that of guys like Sharik, who actually knows x's and o's, or the Mathlete, who knows more about statistics than I do, which is snippets from Stats 401.
If you look critically at my stuff, it's really just a pretty repackaging of others' work, like comparing freely available recruiting lists (Rivals did all the legwork), or taking the Hennecharts and making metrics out of them (Brian's UFRs did the hard part). Without the pretty distractions, I'd just be a human tl;dr.
The amount of time that goes into making them has been growing because I feel like I've established a ridiculous level of quality with the previous diaries, and want to maintain that level.
How, if all, has your scientific approach on ‘Decimated Defense’ changed your perception of the team? And if the actual coaching staff inexplicably asked if you could offer any analysis or advice, what would you say?
The thing about the Decimated Defense -- and I think this is really really important for understanding that series -- is that it doesn't change perceptions one bit. It's all just a great big confirmation of what we already know or suspected from watching recruiting and attrition over the years.
Do you need me to tell you that Michigan recruits better players than MSU? Or that attrition made Michigan's depth chart ludicrously thin in 2009? Or that recruiting a lot of players of high rating will yield a better team? No. It's just an affirmation, collecting all the data that you've already internalized into an argument.
Not that I think such things are useless. On the contrary, I think things that we take as givens are those that are most in need of re-proof. Otherwise, when we debate them, we're just giving our party line, and they're giving their party line. If we're right, we oughtta be the ones with the facts to back it up. The best you can accomplish with the DD series is to use it as a response to every asswipe poster after a Rittenberg column, minus the Summer Glau sig: "Oh, you think that? Well read <link>this</a>."
If Coach Rod asked me for any analysis or advice I would point him to Excalibur's chart that shows pretty conclusively that you get further with an A defense and B offense than the reverse, and to adjust his recruiting focus accordingly. I guess. I'm much better at entertaining fans than telling coaches what to do. Rich Rod knows more about football than 99 percent of professional football coaches -- what can I offer? If he's interested in getting a Jew to do his sabermetrics, and I think that would not be a bad idea, there's better ones than me. I'm just the guy who can stick his face on a Godfather cover.
Hey-- sometimes we all assume that no one of significance is reading this stuff, but you never know. Rich might love him some Shredder artwork on a rainy day, or read our work when he doesn't want to sift through the naysaying media's perspective.
4. So you obviously possess a talent for writing, and making words actually say meaningful things-- without divulging too much information, what sort of work do you do for a living?
I'm the publisher of a trade magazine. We take stuff written in the trade journals, which come out as 25-page academic papers that would tl;dr anyone not paid to read them, and synthesize it into practical language that our readers can take to their bosses and say "look-see, we need to get this technology because it will make us monnney." I write the words "climate change" a lot, and sometimes I go up to podiums in washed out hotel conference rooms and say the words "climate change" because there's not a lot of guys out there who are saying or writing that word and not trying to piss someone off.
I also still do some freelance (for beer money) in Michigan Hockey. Hopefully Phil will publish my Herm to Hockeytown article in the next issue, because I'm really proud of it: unlike most Herm to Hockeytown articles, mine actually asks Herm a question or two about hockey.
Wow—all that writing must work up an appetite. So ,as always, it is time to describe the perfect meal.
My pre-game special: Blimpy Triad with grilled onions and mushrooms, wedge fries and an IBC root beer. If I could bend space-time, I would add the 2009 bitter at The White Horse pub in Oxford.
Dessert: Misopogal's banana bread, which I call "bananner bread." It's like carmelized, candy-covered chocolatey bread-goo.
5. Can you explain why you are a Michigan fan?
Two events from childhood did it.
1. Every recess from 2nd grade through 4th grade (by 5th grade the Bad Boys turned us onto basketball) the boys in my grade would all play football. Each game would begin with picking teams, followed by 5 minutes of arguing over the fairness of the teams, followed by another 5 minutes of arguing which team gets to be "Michigan."
The acknowledged best athlete of 2nd grade (who ironically went on to be the mouthy Jewish kid on State's 2000 hoops championship team), back then would self-narrate his play at quarterback, calling himself Harbaugh. Players moving the football wouldn't just catch the ball and run: they had to announce which Michigan player they were when they did it. If you got the ball downfield you yelled "I'm Desmond Howard!" If you got a short pass, you yelled "I'M TONY BOLES" or "JARROD BUNCH!" or "LEEROY HOARD" and tried to bulldoze someone.
Only Jon Wills was Jamie Morris.
I don't think we knew MSU existed; enemies were Notre Dame or Ohio State or, because the second-best athlete in our class was from Cali, UCLA.
2. This sealed it: when I was 11, I was invited to spend a long weekend with my cousin, then an engineering student in Ann Arbor. We had the best pancakes I ever tasted at this place just west of the Nickels Arcade, then went to watch Desmond Howard singlehandedly demolish Indiana. After the game we bought a used copy of Alice in Wonderland from that book dude on State St., then warmed up over hot cider at the Brown Jug. After, I splayed out on a sleeping bag next to the couch in his apartment watching his two female roommates walk around naked. And I was like "This is it; I wanna go to Michigan."
Course, when I got there, the pancake place had become a bicycle store, Dez had gone on to the NFL, the Brown Jug no longer even remembered serving hot cider, and all the women were wearing clothes. But by then it was far too late. I was hooked.
6. What a story-- today I think that's called an SEC Official Recruit Visit. Finally, the last staple question, who's your all-time favorite Wolverine?
I bet this is true for every man: getting from 8 years old to 11 takes twice as long as it does to get from 21 to 30. For me, it just so happened that Desmond Howard was there for that entire childhood epoch (as was Alan Trammel), and thus got indelibly etched into my psyche.
In Heaven, I'm told, there's a room where you can go and watch Desmond Howard make plays for eternity. On Sundays, God has a deal worked out with the Devil to bus some of hell's overflow Ohio State fans to watch with you.
I don’t exactly recall when this piece ceased to be a Six Zero interview and became a full-fledged Misopogon creation, but I enjoyed being along for the ride. The more I do these pieces, the easier it is to see that the most passionate and entertaining MGoBlog members play their part simply because Michigan is such a deeply rooted part of who they are. MGoBlog is not just a web site, not a ‘blog;’ instead, it’s a venue for our fandom, an audience for our partisan opinions, and a place for all of us to let the Wolverine inside us breathe and run free and growl and type “Sparty, Nooo!”
Lastly, it’s a community, one full of colorful individuals that mere names and
avatars rarely truly reveal. I hope you’re enjoying getting to know some of them,
and I’ll see you next week for another exciting installment of MGoProfile!
great work. Especially since this is who I wanted to see get interviewed next. This is my own horn......Toot Toot!
By "Excalibur" I meant "MCalibur" of course.
Hate that I got one of my favorite posters' names wrong. Even his replies are awesome.
Others I wanna see:
I don’t exactly recall when this piece ceased to be a Six Zero interview and became a full-fledged Misopogon creation
Thank the 48th district court of Michigan's jury selection process, which leaves you in a room of 30 people for 2 1/2 hours and lets you bring a laptop.
that I suspect was written specifically to draw me out."
You doubt my motives?
I was 99.60% sure that's who you were talking about, and was going to edit it correctly say MCalibur (trust me, I'm also a fan)... and of course I failed to do so.
Sorry for missing it, Misopogon, or not contacting you to confirm.
I'd also like to see Magnus added to the list.....am I the only one who wants to know why he's so ornery all the time?
I'd also be curious to see an interview with Tater and determine if he's really as paranoid as he makes himself out to be or if his whole "Conspiracy Theory" personna is just an act.
shouldn't saving a TD be worth as much to winning as gaining a TD? the only way defense is more responsible for winning games than the other is if the talent spread is greater for defense than offense. i would want to see that proved pretty carefully.
Notice how there's a bunch of offenses on the scatterplot who were better than any of the national champions, but that the BCS champs all huddled on the extreme left of all defenses. The best defense on the plot was USC '08, who won the AP's vote even after getting denied from the BCS championship game.
If you want to win championships, you need a fantastic defense and a good offense. A fantastic offense and a good defense (those in the upper-right quater of the upper-left quadrant) has yet to win a BCS championship.
adjusted? also, what's up with the .500 line? if you give up the same yards as you gain, you should have a .500 expected winning percentage.
also, if it's true that defense yields more wins, that means it should take more talent to play good defense than offense. is there any indication teams recruit as if this were true? that'd be an awfully huge oversight for guys who don't overlook much and have negative incentives to screw up talent allocation. i would be far more convinced if the guys who get paid to do this stuff agree with you. moreover, didn't mathlete show that the QB is THE most important player, offense or defense? if you accept that all else equal the most experienced are the most talented, then the greatest divide talent-wise is on the offensive side of the ball.
1. I didn't make that graph. MCalibur did. Go harass him. :)
2. This is just a guess, but I think more talented players choose offense in high school. Think of all the high school QBs who got that job by nature of being the most talented player on the team. I suspect Pat White or Denard Robinson would make ridiculously good cornerbacks.
I would guess most top-level college players played both ways in high school, and it was their standout performance on offense that naturally got the gurus salivating.
That's why I think defense matters more, since offense is ultimately pulling from the richer pool. Finding kids who want to play corner or safety when they have the skills and body for receiver or quarterback, or getting them to play linebacker when they're the top-rated running back on Rivals is not easy (though the big kids prefer to play defensive line to offensive line). Thus the difference between the good defenses and the average defense is a lot bigger than that between the really good offenses and average offense.
Also, defense is far less erratic. So a great defense and a good offense will consistently beat opponents by a little bit, while a great offense and good defense will likely have a bunch of blowouts but two or three close losses.
This is Carr ball I'm talking about, of course. I see this as the nouggat of Bo/Carr thought that remains true. Where they took this too far was in trying to maximize the defense's performance by giving up offense in-game. It was the football equivalent of Joe Torre baseball (take lots of pitches early on then beat their relievers). Rather, I think the focus on defense should come during recruiting, while your offense is built NFL/NBA style.
Colin, the answers to a lot of your questions are explained in the original diary.
Look at where the BCS champions end up within the distributions along each axis; offensively they end up within about 1 standard deviation above average whereas defensively they are all 2-3 standard deviations above average. Those are pretty compelling trends, but I have a slightly different take than Misopogon. My opinion is that the defense and the offense need to be balanced relative to each other; not on an absolute basis (as in: we must have a top 5 defense). If you have an awesome offense, your defense can be less spectacular. BTW, all BCS champions since 2000 except Ohio St. have had top 10 defenses; OSU’s was ranked 23rd.
The point I was trying to make is that winning games depends upon both the performance of your offense AND of your defense. That is something that gets overlooked when discussing Rich Rod’s performance. People, hoards of them, have literally made the following argument: “our defense sucks, screw the spread option”! Sound logic, to be sure.
The chart is a description of how various combinations of offensive performance and defensive performance have fared over the last 7 seasons in terms of winning percentage. A Rodriguez-Meyer offense (450-ish ypg) needs to be coupled with a defense that can hold its opponents to about 295 ypg. A Mike Debord offense (375-ish ypg) needs to be coupled with a 215-ish ypg Defense—that’s like a 99th percentile defense; good luck with that.
The grouping of the BCS champions only really demonstrates that they have all been skewed toward defense (except for Texas) over the observed period; it doesn't say that an offensive juggernaught can not win. The analysis only shows what has been done; it infers what is possible.
hence the lack of comments. and i'm still trying to go through it somewhat quickly. so the stats aren't adjusted for turnovers? because you can convert turnovers into yards. which means offensive yards per game is inflated relative to defense. and that's why they don't match up? because they do need to match up. all else equal, a yard needs to be worth the same for both teams. which i'm pretty sure is what you're saying here.
i guess what i want to know is whether in fact yards per game allowed had a higher stdev than yards gained. i can't really tell that from the graph, but it doesn't look true. if that's the case and looks nice p-wise, i could be moved somewhat. if so, i would bet that as far as defense goes, it's a better indicator of a team's overall talent. I think the defense works more purely on a "weak link" theory level than does offense, where the quarterback is so much more integral to success.
how did you not include your model's equation? that would be very useful.
This post also makes me want Chick-fil-a.
I actually played for Chick-Fil-A in my last title-winning year of Little League. Red uniforms, complete with the big Bird head/script logo and everything. And yes, when the other kids went out for ice cream, we got chicken nuggets and plenty of them.
Sure, we were fat as hell, but we looked great.
so you take the reports from the engineers to the customers?
"getting from 8 years old to 11 takes twice as long as it does to get from 21 to 30."
For a moment I thought he was telling a story about how Lane Kiffin was recruiting him.
Kiffen almost assuredly uses better-looking girls.
No offense to any c. 1991 engineering ladies, or your nice perms.
Oh, wait, unless you meant their hair down..............nevermind.....
Philosophical, a bit fanatic, unusually profound, and always appreciated.
If I could bend space-time, I would join you for the 2009 bitter at The White Horse pub in Oxford.
I don't write or post much around these parts, but an avid reader since haloscan days. And Misopogon, you're right up there as one of the most entertaining posters on this blog. Great interview.
And thanks for the MGoProfile idea, Six Zero (so, who gets to interview you?).
Bravo my good friend. A tip of the hat good sir.
If I had been "recruited" by naked women prancing around, then got up to U-M, and all their women in bulky sweatshirts 9 months of the year, I would have been WTF!?! and maybe resented it more.
What's more disturbing, is I was a student during his 8-11 years, and I NEVER saw any apartments like that during my time here. :-(
Six Zero. This must be a lot of work, but I'm sure you are having a blast. ( I know I am just reading these.)
Thanks and nicely done.
thanks for the interview, it was really enjoyable. Your answers to #5 were great.
I had a bit of an Ego-tasting-Remy's-ratatouille moment when you were talking about your weekend in AA.