things go poorly
I've always looked at Phil Steele's returning starters as a guide to help betting early in the year. As we have struggled the past couple of years I have found myself continually waiting for next year as we have so many people coming back(I still think 2011 is the year for us to move back into the BCS permanently).
There was a post a while back summing up the returning starters in the Big Ten and I was surprised how many teams had similar amounts returning. Looking at say an Illinois who loses their 4 year starter at QB and their top WR I thought boy those 2 losses of returning starters sure hurt more than us losing G. Matthews and D. Moosman.
On the flip side saying Michigan returns 8 starters on defense sounds good until you mention the 3 we lose. So I tried to quantify the losses in my chart below. Obviously this has a lot of subjective analysis to it, but I think it helps quantify where a team is potentially headed.
I think it would be interesting to try and chart the other Big Ten teams in this way, but I don't think I have an intimate enough knowledge of their 2 deeps to make a thoughtful analysis, if anybody does I'd love to see you take a shot at it. Well here's my chart. Let me know what you think
- 10=Brandon Graham
- 8= All Big Ten
- 6=Pretty solid starter, helped more than hurt
- 4=Ok, but message boards are pretty fed up
- 2= Can someone plant dope in his room so we can go Saban?
- 0= Why are we playing walk ons??
|QB||5||7.5||Tate and Denard showed flashes last year, Frosh to Soph is biggest jump|
|RB||5||6||Hard to vote here, we should have been a 8 last year, but injuries killed us|
|WR||5||5||Replacing Stonum with Matthews seems like a push|
|WR||5||7||Time for Hemingway to shine|
|Slot||5||7||Depth, experience and some potential Odoms, Roundtree, Gallon, Trob should be good|
|TE||5||6||Koger was an 8 to start year and a 2 to end it. Between the 3 they'll find someone to step up if Koger falters|
|LT||6||5||Ortmann was solid..now who knows but talent is there.|
|LG||6||7||Last year for Schilling, usually you get real focused|
|C||5||7||Molk was hurt and Moosman was ok, it'd be an 8 for Molk but I'm not sure he'll be a 100%|
|RG||4||5||Moosman was ok but he was moved for most of the year|
|RT||3||5||A problem area all year, we have talent we just don't know how ready it is|
|TOTAL||54||67.5||I really like where this offense is going, RB's are a question mark and the OL hasn't quite matured, but I think the fact all these guys were able to grow in this system over the last couple years will help them be better than their individual talent.|
|LE||10||6||You can't replace a Gary Bartere….RVB will try hard we know that|
|NT||6.5||6||Martin was solid, but I think he was dinged up much of the year, I was hoping for more. Renaldo and Will should be ok.|
|DT||5||7.5||I think Martin for last years RVB will be a Big Step up|
|DEATH||4||7||Playing as a true Frosh at that spot is ridiculous, I expect him to explode this year|
|LB||3||5||Horrid has to be better, just because of continuity in system and competition|
|LB||3||5||Horrid has to be better, just because of continuity in system and competition|
|QUICK||6||4||Stevie was good for us last year, this year is unknown though I'm more hopeful than 4 (love Hawthorne) I'm trying to be realistic|
|CB||7.5||5||Warren was good, hopefully Turner lives up to the hype|
|CB||3||4||Boo Boo, Floyd, me, you, Troy whoever it was it didn't help us. I'll bump it to 3 since Troy held it for half the year, but it could have been a 1|
|BOX||2||4||Williams and Kovacks struggled it can't get worse they are back and have another year, if they get beat out even better|
|DEEP||4||6.5||Woolfolk should solidify this spot this year|
|TOTAL||54||60||I'm a big believer in actually knowing what you are supposed to be doing helping out, so I'm thankful we have Greg back.|
I'm a little surprised I had the offense and defense tied last year and figured I must have made a mistake, but Graham and Warren skew things a bit so I think it holds up as useful analysis. If anyone is intimately familiar with another Big Ten team, I'd be curious how it would shake out. I did this exercise to go inside the numbers of just returning starters to see if there was something more meaningful because Tate and Roh returning as starters is more important than Mike Williams and Perry Dorrenstein.
Let's look at a hand comparison in poker. Player A is 1 of the best poker players in the world. He is playing at a table with 8 amateurs with varying degrees of ability but none are in his league. After playing for 2 hours he picks up KK. He is surprised when 2 players before him push all in. From his expert observation he is positive these 2 morons do not have AA thus making it a statistical certainty that he would be getting the correct odds to call even though he is only has about a 50% chance of winning the pot against 2 random hands. So he should call right?? Well I think it is up to some discussion based on other factors. Let's look at 2 differnt scenarios
Scenario 1- He is in a cash game where he could simple rebuy in if he loses all his chips. He plays poker for a living and plays thousands of hands in a year and the odds tend to even themselves out so he calls knowing that over the long run if he continues to make smart decisions he will be rewarded by wining money. Easy call.
Scenario 2- He is in the WSOP. He has several side bets out and he desperately wants to win the bracelet. He knows the stats say he should call, but he is putting his tournament on the line on a coin flip. He knows that if he just plays smaller pots and hands that are in a stronger position he can build up his chip stack at a risk level that is better than 50/50. So he chooses to fold despite the odds being in his favor.
Now lets relate this to football. Let's say Florida is playing Kentucky and they are going to face a 4th down at their own 30. Based on the stats they say they should go for it, but let's look at maybe why they shouldn't. A football game is like the tournament in scenario 2. Over the course of time going for it may be the correct call, but if making it is heads and you run in to a string of tails you may have blown a game you had a decided advantage in because your sample size is so small. 2 bothched 4th downs against Kentucky blow a game you could easily have won. The next week you face another overmatched opponent in Mississippi State. This time you make all your 4th down conversions and you end up scoring 84pts and break a team record. The stats have proven correct and you have outscored your opponents by a huge margin......only problem is you are now 1-1.
If you went into season and you determined you were going for it all the time I think you would run into a game or 2 that you might blow that you shouldn't have. Maybe this strategy is better served in the pros where you have a larger sample size and more room for error with more teams making the playoffs or overmatched teams that have nothing to lose.
Back in the 80's and 90's poker had 3 types of players basically. The conservative math guys that new statistically what the right play was. The Doyle Brunson devotees that always applied pressure with aggressive betting and you had donkeys that gave these types of players money. College football was much the same you had your conservative programs like Michigan, Penn St, Notre Dame and much of the SEC consistently winning . You had the super aggressive teams taking over like Florida St , Miami and Nebraska with aggressive blitzing defenses and high powered offenses. These cultures clashed in spectacular fashion with merits to both successful styles. The donkeys like Indiana and Mississippi tried different things and continually got their teeth kicked in because they were not smart nor good.
Then the internet age came in with ESPN televising poker and we we're introduced to a new style of poker. This kid was scoffed at by the top pros with his small ball style of poker with small raises and playing 34 offsuit, he was labeled a donkey by the establishment. When he had success it was considered luck that could not be sustained. Eventually Daniel Negrenau won people over and a new style of poker emerged where you play a lot of hands and since it went against the grain of the popular styles it was wildly successful. This reminds me of a football coach that I like a lot named Rich Rodriguez. The spread was thought of as a gimmick and now it is wildly accepted. The thing I like the best is that while Rodriguez and Negreanu are thought of as innovators and wacky they really believe in old school beliefs and values but the fancy dressing throws people off. Rodriguez offense is founded in being physical and running the ball and you rarely see Negreanu making wild bluffs or calling bad bets that don't have value.
The interesting thing is that now we are past both these stages and now that both styles have been accepted as a credible strategy they are no longer just successful because they are contrarian, they are now part of the establishment. To me this age we are in is not about styles, but more about who is the smartest and the toughest and who is willing to adapt. Now the best offenses are no longer just spreads, or option or passing but blends of styles. Oklahoma, Florida and hopefully soon Michigan have a multitude of looks that can quickly attack a defenses weakness instead of pounding your style relentlessly hoping to outwill your opponent. Much like the best poker players are the ones that have adapted to the internet maniacs and have a style that they can adjust to the table or setting they are in. I have full confidence Rod is one of these poker players that will win for Michigan. He's not a lunatic like Weis or mathematician like Carr. I think he is a master play caller much like Holtz in the the 80's or Spurrier in the 90's that can and has already adapted to his teams strengths and other teams weaknesses while not straying from his core beliefs. Rod's a good poker player and now that he has added Forcier and Robinson he's getting some pocket Aces to play with making it a little bit easier to win with.
1. Vegas and other line settors are not smarter than any other analyst. There is no secret they are hiding. They are smart and do intensive research, but the game prediction you get from Brian is just as good a guess as the line they set.
2. They set the line to get even action not predict the game. A good game to watch this year will be the Florida-Tenn game. The line right now is set at 24. If I had to guess the guys in the backroom looked at all the data and said this game looks to be a 18 point spread. Then they discuss the other factors such as the perception Meyer wants to run it up on Kiffin and now he's got some key injuries let's jack it up to 24 (we need someone to bet on Tenn). As game week appproaches and the stories come back up and Herbstreit is on Sportscenter saying this could get ugly expect the line to grow and grow. You may not win but if you wait until kickoff and bet Tenn you are with the "smart" money.
3. The public is not smart. You may think that gamblers are reading Phil Steele and analyzing each teams strength and weaknesses. The truth is most are addicts or borderline gambling addicts that work all week long wake up Saturday morning look at some lines, call their buddies watch Herbstreit and start firing off bets to their bookie. Listen to the callers on The Ticket talk about UM, they know so little it is frightening. Listen to Terry Foster he's paid to know what's going on and he offers up garbage. People that are not gambler would be amazed at how little info a guy has before he plops $100 down. It's a different world.
4. Opportunity is there. I am not here to tell you that using my system will make you money or that it is a good investment strategy, but if you are going to bet, I think this may help you. Make your strike early in the year with some under the radar teams. If you do your Phil Steele research and look around the internet for team previews and find a team you think might do well hunt down that teams "MgoBlog" and learn all you can about that team. The lines early in the year are generally pretty conservative as nobody has any current info on a team so the lines are based on historical perspective (USC must be good) and preseason predictions( Minnesota returns 18 starters) so if you feel a team could break out you can get good value. A great example was 06 Mich coming off the disaster in 05. Most people here thought Mich would rebound, but the national media continued to pile on Lloyd. Made a ton of dough on that game. There seems to be another team that around here that is getting piled on nationally. If you think Mich is going to come out with a vengeance bet the early lines and pound Mich early. The W. Mich line will be pretty blah, if they come out and put up 50 on them people will take notice but the lines won't change much. They pound ND it's all over. Then the perception is it's Mich they are back and it won't make sense to bet them the rest of the year.
5. Name team vs "scrub" Keep a look out for games involving BCS vs Non BCS teams. A great example would be Nevada vs Notre Dame in Week 1. Everyone loves ND this year, who knows anything about Nevada??(That's that team that plays that wacky pistol right?) Truth is Nevada has a ton of players back and a stud at QB. With Michigan looming the next week for ND you may get great value on Nevada.
6. Hometown bookies are ripe for overbetting. Here in the D a bookie will move lines more fluidly than in Vegas as they have less of a sample size. A lot of UM homers will bet Mich regardless so the bookie may have to move lines that may not be recognized nationally. Good value if you want to bet against the Lions UM or Sparty.
Good Luck this year.
I tread lightly seeing the bashing the Mallett post took, but I am always fascinated with how every little decision or event can send your life in a different tangent and how it effects everyone else. Since it was the game I have most wanted in my entire life, I submit what if the ref doesn't call Crable for a late hit??
Michigan with their offense on a roll drives down to defeat the Buckeyes and the 06 game surpasses the 69 game in Michigan lore as they "win 1 for Bo".
Michigan then goes down and pounds Mike Hart into Floridas quick but light defense and we harass C. Leak all night on our way to a NC.
A spent Lloyd Carr almost surely retires and Long, Henne and Hart head off to the NFL. Lloyd Carr with his legacy restored and 2 NC's in his pocket is allowed by Martin to virtually name his successor.
That by all accounts leaves Miles out and we end up with Debored at HC and Loeffler running the offense and English running the defense.
Heading into 07 the team looks much like 08 did. A lot of holes on offense with a young oline and a QB battle between the older Forcier and Mallett, but experienced WR in Arrington and Manningham.
My guess is today on Mgoblog we would be discussing 2 "down" years while we were in the Alamo and Citrus bowls and how we need to fire Debored. In the meantime we speculate on the greatness of our next stud QB Nick Montana as Loefller rolls out the red carpet for Joe and his son and the ND nation recoils in horror at the prospect of Montana's kid coming to Michigan. Most are pumped about Montana coming, but there is another faction saying we need someone more mobile like Gardner because Loeffler has been down in WV studying the spread from Rodriguez, who is riding high after winning a NC in 08, and we are looking to incorporate some spread concepts into our packages.