he grew a beard
I'm not posting this in the hope that it will change anything. Since Dave Brandon came out in favor of moving the Michigan-Ohio State game to midseason there's been tremendous fan pushback, with opinion running about 10-to-1 against. It obviously doesn't matter, because the men in suits are ramping up the meaningless PR doublespeak to alarming levels:
…the reason the Big Ten is great is because of our fans. We had five and a half million fans come to games [in 2009]. Whether it’s the Rose Bowl or Ohio State-Michigan, we welcome that, and there’s an awful lot of discussion of, generally speaking, how our fans feel about what we do. We're not fan-insensitive, we're fan-receptive and are only interested in doing what is going to grow our fan base.
Whenever someone starts talking about how great the fans are, the fans are about to get it in uncomfortable places, especially when that's the first thing they talk about in the face of obvious, massive opposition. Meanwhile, the SID is trying to calm people over email by saying for Michigan and Ohio State to meet for the conference title they will "have to play their way into the championship game." If it was a trial balloon people would be walking it back by now after the reaction it's received. The thing is far enough along that Barry Alvarez is flat-out stating that Iowa and Wisconsin will be split up. It's actually happening.
So this doesn't matter. But here's why Michigan and Ohio State's athletic directors should be out in the streets rounding up pitchfork-toting mobs instead of rolling over like Indiana:
The financial benefits are almost literally zero. Dan Wetzel cites a TV executive claiming that at maximum, the vague possibility of Michigan and Ohio State meeting in a Big Ten championship game once a decade might be worth two million dollars a year ("it might be half that," he adds). Even taking the most optimistic number, the end result for Michigan is another 150k per year (the conference takes a share). Assuming an average of seven home games a year, Michigan could earn that by raising ticket prices twenty cents. Meanwhile, every other Big Ten team sees the same increase in their bottom line.
Michigan and Ohio State will almost never meet. The Plain Dealer looked back at the league since Penn State's addition and concluded that in the last sixteen years, a Michigan-Ohio State championship game would have happened all of three times.
In the future you can expect that to be far less frequent. Michigan will be guaranteed that 1) they play an outstanding Ohio State team and 2) three of the other five teams in their division do not. If the matchup is going to occur it's going to be the same for Ohio State. The loser of that game is going to have to overcome that deficit against teams that have a much easier schedule. The addition of Nebraska adds another historic power to the league. "Once a decade" is not hyperbole. It's a reasonable estimate.
As a result, you are turning M-OSU from something that will always have stakes to something you hope to do over. This is Delany's reasoning:
"If Duke and North Carolina were historically the two strongest programs and only one could play for the right to be in the NCAA tournament, would you want them playing in the season-ending game so one is in and one is out?" he asked. "Or would you want them to play and have it count in the standings and then they possibly could meet for the right to be in the NCAA or the Rose Bowl?
"We've had those debates. It's a good one. The question is whether you want to confine a game that's one of the greatest rivalries of all time to a divisional game."
Yes. Because the loser of that game is doomed and knows it. Moving it to midseason just makes it a particularly high hurdle that might not mean much—that the conference explicitly hopes doesn't mean much—at the end of the year, when the two teams can do it again, except indoors in Indianapolis. Doctor Saturday:
Keep the game what it's always been, the ritualistic culmination of an entire season in a single, freezing orgy of centuries-old hate that cannot be overturned or redeemed for at least another 365 days. In good years, the division championship (hence a shot at the conference championship) will be on the line, preserving the familiar winner-take-all/loser-go-home intensity that made "The Game" what it is in the first place.
You are doing something your fans hate. The kids don't get paid, the stadium doesn't have advertising, the idea that there is a Michigan Thing that it is possible not to "get" in a way that it is not possible Jim Schwartz does not "get" the Lions Thing: these are the things that separate college football from minor league baseball. For decades Michigan's season has had a certain shape defined by the great Satan at the end of it.
This is where the disconnect between the suits and the fans is greatest. Beating Ohio State isn't about winning the Big Ten, it's about beating Ohio State, just like the Egg Bowl is about beating that other team in Mississippi or the Civil War is about beating that other team in Oregon or any billion other year-end rivalry games that have been played since the Great Depression. M-OSU is the super-sized version of the old-fashioned rivalries based on pure hate. It's not Miami-Florida State, a game entirely dependent on the teams being national contenders for it to even sell out, but the Big Ten is treating it like the country's fakest rivalry game anyway.
It so happens that a lot of the time OSU and Michigan do decide the Big Ten, but did anyone want to beat OSU less in the mid-90s when Michigan limped into the game with 3 or 4 losses every year? Or last year? No. Would it matter less as an October game to be followed by three or four more? Necessarily yes. Is that the worst thing in the world? Yes.
I have no tolerance for anyone too dense to grasp this, much less see it as a potentially good thing, as Dave at Maize N Brew does. I said his post on the matter was the stupidest thing I'd ever seen a Michigan fan write and it remains so. Orson's post on the matter is also the dumbest thing I've ever seen him write. The reason college football matters in a way the NFL does not is the idea it has that some things are not worth selling. Once the date of the Michigan-Ohio State game goes the only thing left is the labor of the players.
I'll still be there. I don't have a choice, really, but the special kind of misery I'll experience when Michigan plays Ohio State at 8 PM in October and Special K blasts "Lose Yourself" during a critical review will make me feel like an exploited sap, not a member of a community in which my opinions matter. They clearly don't. This will matter in the same way erosion does.
AND NOW: A BUNCH OF UNAFFILIATED FOLK SHARE THEIR OPINIONS
Speaking as an Auburn fan on Big 10 moving M/OSU to midseason: If they'd tried that w/ the Iron Bowl I'd have burned SEC HQ to the ground
Because I have a soul, I've already firmly aligned myself with the "armageddon" crowd, made up of those of us who can't stand the thought of one side telling the other in mid-October, "We'll see you again when it really matters." Which probably means I've aligned myself with the losing side. Whatever the motivations of its less influential champions, the prospect of a Buckeye-Wolverine split only has traction among people who matter because the people who matter see a buck in it: If one Ohio State-Michigan game is good, two Ohio State-Michigan games must be even better, and I'm sure they have the ratings projections and accompanying ad rates to prove it. The rivalry has already defined and shaped the national perception of the Big Ten for the last 50 years; just think of the possibility of the rivalry-as-championship game as "expanding the brand."
Saving this game at the end is the culmination of a season-long crescendo.
Michigan-Indiana at the end of the year, for example, doesn’t offer the same cachet.
And it never will.
Are you kidding me? It's been played the last week of the season all but once since 1935, and it's the league's single most important franchise. You would think conference leaders would go to any length to protect it. …
Sometimes leaders make decisions without properly thinking through the issues. This one sounds like a case of over-thinking. Do the right thing, Mr. Delany, Mr. Brandon and Mr. Smith, lest the ghosts of Woody and Bo haunt you in your sleep.
Be warned, Big Ten: you move The Game, you will rip the heart and suck the soul out of the single greatest property the conference owns. And for what, a few more advertising dollars every few years when they do happen to stumble into a title showdown? One that will, incidentally, likely be contested in a sterile, domed, neutral location as opposed to yet another reason that The Game is what it is -- The Big House and The Shoe.
So… yeah. Join the Facebook page. Maybe it will help. It won't, actually, but maybe you'll feel better about it.
For those who are new around here, I chronicle the high school exploits of Michigan commitments over the course of their seasons in Friday Night Lights. It includes statistical recaps, game stories, and even some original video. Here's a primer on the offensive side of the ball.
|Lake Nona Schedule 2010|
|9-10||7:00||@ Lake Placid|
|9-17||7:00||Palm Bay Heritage|
|9-24||7:30||@ Lake Wales|
|10-29||7:30||@ Winter Haven|
Lake Nona, FL
Lake Nona High School
HS position: quarterback
Projects as: quarterback
Lake Nona had a rough inaugural season of high school ball, winning a single game on their way to a 1-9 record. Their only victory came over fellow 1-9 squad Celebration. That's understandable in their first season, one without many (or possibly any) seniors on the team as well. Sousa passed for 1346 yards and eight TDs, while rushing for 916 yards and an another five scores.
In year two of Lake Nona's existence, there's a good chance that they take a leap forward. Just like year two of a coaching change, the players are used to the coaches now (and are even used to each other, after coming from different high schools as sophomores and younger). Sousa will also be in his third year of football after growing up a soccer player. Lake Nona has added some talent as well, including RB Jarius Pace, so Sousa won't have to be a one-man show. That should mean more openings and better stats for him. I think Sousa has a chance to improve his rankings (currently a consensus 3-star) with a good year statistically.
I won't be able to catch any of Sousa's games live, but plan to follow his progress this year very closely.
|Birmingham Seaholm Schedule 2010|
|9-2||7:00||Bloomfield Hills Andover|
|9-10||7:00||@ Bloomfield Hills Lahser|
|9-16||7:00||Detroit Country Day|
|9-24||7:00||Auburn Hills Avondale|
|10-1||7:00||@ Hazel Park|
|10-22||7:00||@ Birgmingham Groves|
Seaholm High School
HS postion: wide receiver/safety
Projects as: wide receiver
Last year, Seaholm started the season by losing their first six games, before rebounding to finish with a 3-6 record. They missed the state playoffs, though they typically make it into the state tournament. Their quarterback issues prevented Conway from racking up gaudy stats. He finished the year with 79 receptions for about 800 yards with ten touchdowns.
Seaholm should be improved this year as Conway has the opportunity to star in his senior season, and their coach is on record expecting to win the league. Mick McCabe calls Conway the #17 player in the state of Michigan, and notes that his size/speed combo makes him a tough matchup. Still, unless Seaholm's quarterback situation get much better, he might not rack up serious stats. The lack of numbers will likely prevent Conway from seeing his ratings improve.
Seaholm is close enough to Ann Arbor that I should be able to make it out to a couple of Conway's games this year.
|Traverse City West Schedule 2010|
|10-2||6:00||@ Dearborn Edsel Ford|
|10-22||7:00||@ Traverse City Central|
Traverse City, MI
TC West High School
HS position: tight end/defensive end
Projects as: offensive tackle
Last season, Traverse City West went 4-5 in the regular season, missing out on the state playoffs. They run an option-based ground attack. Fisher played primarily tight end and defensive end for the Titans, accumulating 10 receptions (out of only 38 for his entire team) for 185 yards and a touchdown on offense, with four tackles for loss on D.
This season, Fisher will remain at tight end, though he's added plenty of size in the offseason (three inches and 20some pounds), so he might be more of a mauler up front and slightly less of a receiving threat. The TC West coach is dropping platitudes about character being important, so the team probably won't be that good. They received just one out of about 100 first-place votes for conference champions among local media. Since Fisher's still playing out of position in high school, he probably won't see his ratings get that much better.
I might get a chance to check out one or two of Fisher's games this year, but probably not.
|St. John's Jesuit Schedule 2010|
|9-4||1:30||@ Birmingham (MI) Brother Rice|
|9-24||7:00||@ Toledo Whitmer|
|10-22||7:00||@ Toledo Waite|
|10-29||7:00||@ Toledo Central Catholic|
St. John's Jesuit High School
HS position: defensive end/guard
Projects as: center
Last year, St. John's Jesuit went 6-4, but that wasn't good enough for them to make the state playoffs. The season included a heartbreaking 6-7 loss to crosstown rival Toledo St. Francis DeSales. [Update: your editor got confused by St. Francis DeSales claimed that was where Omameh and Rock were from; they're from Columbus. Not Tim's error.] Miller had 12 sacks for his team, but obviously didn't accrue any stats as an offensive lineman.
St. John's Jesuit is in their final year of the City League, and will be competing in a new conference by next season, so this is their Nebraska-like last chance to win. Miller will play on both sides of the ball for his team. The recruiting sites can't even agree on what position Miller will play, so if he excels on the offensive line this year, he could see his ratings move up a bit.
I should have a couple opportunities to see Miller play in person (including tonight! Follow me on Twitter @varsityblue for updates) and plan to take some original mgoblog video.
|Tampa Plant Schedule 2010|
|8-27||7:00||@ Manatee (ESPNU)|
|9-3||7:30||@ Tampa Bay Tech|
|9-16||7:00||@ Abilene, TX|
Plant High School
HS position: offensive tackle
Projects as: offensive guard/tackle
Last year, Plant was loaded, running up a 13-1 record and winning the Florida Class 5A State Championship. Posada was key a member of a line that racked up 2945 team rushing yards.
Plant is still loaded in 2010, with RB James Wilder and QB Phillip Ely committed to big time programs (Florida State and Alabama, respectively). They're the odds-on favorite to win a third consecutive state title. Posada should once again be a bookend for the line. With the amount of exposure that Plant gets, Posada will have to show some improvement in technique (and an ability to keep his weight down) if he wants to see his rankings move up.
I won't be able to see Tony play in person, however his team will be playing Manatee this Friday in a rematch of the 2009 state title game. The matchup will air on ESPNU.
Notes from Coach Rod's Wednesday presser.
The QB battle is close. The coaches haven't been able to taper down who gets snaps. As long as they get better every day, you can be pleased with the progress. Everybody is too worried about who the starting QB is. The second team gets almost as many reps as the first team.
Any of the three are capable of starting right now, but he wants them to play at a high level. "If they're able to do that and execute the offense, then all three will play." Will keep QB choice quiet for competitive reasons. QBs will know Friday night (before game). Nobody else will know until kickoff at 3:36 Saturday.
No particular RB (or two) has stepped to the forefront. The position gets banged up in camp, which limits development. "We have some talent there, we'll be OK." The top 2-3 guys will play. Certain guys run certain plays better, so they'll get in the game for that play.
Fitzgerald Toussaint practiced yesterday, but not today. He's had a neck stinger, now his knee is sore. He'll be banged up a couple days, but might practice friday. Michael Shaw is still taking "the class," working hard at it. He's been spending half of his time practicing, and half of his time studying.
The offensive line is "not set as far as starters, but I think set as far as, you know who the 8-9-10 guys that are gonna be in the rotation will be." RR feels better about up front than the past couple years. He would like to play at least 8 offensive linemen (5 starters, backup C, G, T), depending on how they're performing and the tempo of the game. He would love to have two whole groups at line.
Improvement on defense has to come from several places. One guy can't replace Brandon Graham by himself. "The thing I probably feel the best about our defense is that we have a bigger pool of guys I think are going to be playing. That's going to allow us to have a little more depth, do a few more things defensively." If a couple guys (Mike Martin, Jonas Mouton, and JT Floyd in particular) have a big year, it'll offset some of the losses.
Will Campbell wasn't in great shape when camp started. He's been playing himself into shape. Mike Martin and Adam Patterson are at NG, "if he wants to play he's gotta compete." Rodriguez wants senior Sagesse, Banks, and Patterson, to have their best years. They're having good camps. "Of course you've got Mike Martin up front too who's had an outstanding camp. I think he can have a great year at noseguard for us."
Moundros may be the starter at middle linebacker. Right now he's taking a lot of reps. Mark has at least seen the field, which gives him experience (even if it's at a different position). He has intangibles. He needs to learn technique and system, but he was able to do that mostly in the spring. He's made very few mental errors for being new to the position.
There are some potential answers in the secondary. "Coming from freshman class. "It's kind of scary when you think about true freshmen playing in the secondary, but there's some talent there." They're progressing well now that summer class is over and they can focus on football. 4-5 true freshman DBs will play this year.
Cam Gordon - "He didn't play as well as he had played in any other practice in the scrimmage," but he's had a good camp and the staff feels good about him.
JT Floyd will start at corner on one side. Other corner might be Jame Rogers, "this is the best football he's played," or young guys. Have to keep it simple for the youngsters.
Nothing's new at kicker; it's inconsistent day-to-day. Most days have been encouraging - yesterday was not one of those days. They've been practicing on the new turf in the stadium. It's unlikely that different kickers will be used depending on distance of the kick.
Yesterday was a scrimmage. The last three quarters of practice, only players, officials, and Rodriguez were on the field. Did every special team and offense v. defense. "Glad we did it, but we've gotta do it again." They'll do it again friday, less intense, and maybe a little tomorrow. "With so many young guys, especially on defense playing, we've gotta try to get them used to what it's going to be like in a game where there aren't coaches standing behind them or on the side of them telling them what to do." It's a different atmosphere then practice, with signaling plays, etc.
Troy Woolfolk had surgery yesterday. "Everything went well with the surgery. Certainly it looks like he's lost for the season." No reason why he can't be 100% next year, and Rodriguez thinks he wants to come back for a 5th year. "It's his decision, of course, but Troy loves football."
Have a good grasp on what the team can do. "Certainly offensively, we have a pretty good idea of where our strengths are. And I think defensively too, even with the young guys, it probably takes them a little bit longer to determine a young guy because they have not done it in a game." Some guys plays better in a game, some play too nervous.
Started installing for UConn at the beginning of camp. "Starting really yesterday, and certainly today, and a lot tomorrow and Friday, will be a lot of UConn installation in all three phases."
Quotes from some of Michigan's players at Sunday's Media Day.
"I wish [Troy Woolfolk] a speedy recovery, man. That was like my best friend. I looked across there and that was my man." Woolfolk has encouraged Floyd to keep his head up, and work to make the secondary as good as possible.
Floyd hasn't had to step up his leadership with Woolfolk going out. He's always been a high-energy guy, and will continue to be that way.
Floyd is excited for the opportunity to be the team's top corner. "Personally, I've worked hard for a very long time. I put a lot of time in this summer to work to get better. I just ready for the opportunity to really show what I can do."
Floyd had never played corner until he got to Michigan (he was always a safety in high school). He's now had two years at the position, and knows what to expect and how to prepare.
Stonum's biggest improvement this off-season has been in ball skills. He was already running good routes, had good speed, and was recognizing coverages. He just needed to catch the ball when it showed up. Contact lenses have helped with that, as did working hard individually this summer.
Stonum tried to get a little bit bigger, because he takes a lot of hits with kickoff returns and receiver duty. The team worked hard this summer to get into shape.
The whole wide receiver crew has worked hard to show that they can be the #1 guy. The competition makes everyone better, and makes the team better.
Spending a couple days in jail this summer was a learning experience. It's in the past, and it's something Darryl can look back at, making sure something like it doesn't happen again. Darryl, the coaches, and his family talked about it together, and made the best out of a bad situation.
Darryl and Junior Hemingway take a leadership role among the wide receivers. They're trying to show the younger guys the ropes. "Everybody's a leader. If you're doing what you're supposed to do, and you're someone that your teammate can look at and be like 'he's doing the right thing, he's doing what he's supposed to do' then you're a leader."
"Last year, I thought I was just going to play a role in the defense. I had no idea I was going to start." He didn't find out until Friday before the first game.
On whether there's more pressure to win this season: "More pressure? Nawww. We're at Michigan. We've always got pressure." The team just needs to go out there and play their hardest.
One of the reasons Roundtree came to Michigan is that he loves the tradition and academics (subtle Purdue dig?).
Even when he wasn't a big contributor last year, Roundtree was practicing hard every day. When he finally got his chance, he showed everyone that he had been working hard. "Now that I am almost like the head of the offensive corps, I still work my tail off and still the same things I did last year when I wasn't starting are the same things I'm doing now."
At first, Smith was a little worried about how his knee would hold up in practice. Now, "I'm just going out there to compete and just make it better and better every day." He's now feeling comfortable, and there's no pain in his knee.
Smith was never worried that his knee would never be the same. His lateral quickness means a lot to his game.
"It was pretty tough just going out there and seeing them playing" this spring, when he was held out of practice.
Everybody looked at Smith's size and height coming out of high school as negatives. Michigan saw more though, in his passion for football.
Despite Smith's size, he's more than just a third-down back. He's been preparing to be an every-down guy. He's gotten bigger and worked on the mental game this summer.
Michael Cox and Michael Shaw
Cox: "We've got a real good relationship with Coach J [Fred Jackson], we just gotta do what he asks us to do, and he'll be happy with us."
Shaw: "[Jackson] definitely knows what he's talking about. No question about it. Everything he says, you've gotta listen to it." The coaches have to be brutally honest in their constructive criticism, because that's the only way you'll get better and win football games.
Cox: The different backs give defenses more to prepare for. They can change up in the game and exploit different weaknesses.
Shaw: "I'm not gonna try to run over linebackers, but if Cox wants to do that - look at him - he's definitely a good fit for the job." Having a variety of roles for the running backs makes it better, because you can bring in a fresh pair of legs with no dropoff.
Rogers started the spring game with the ones, because Troy had just gone down with a finger injury. When that happened (and when Troy injured his ankle a week ago), Rogers knew he had to step up.
"I'm just here to play. I'm here to do whatever the team needs. I just get out here and I try to work hard every day." He can't worry about depth chart positions.
Rogers came in as a receiver, but told the coaches he was willing to switch positions to help the team as soon as he arrived in Ann Arbor. He's bounced around since.
Rogers is trying to prepare the young guys, and be a leader. Now that Woolfolk is out, he''ll have to step it up even further.
Woolfolk is a loose leader, and it helps calm down the players so they don't get too serious. Rogers's leadership style might not be the same.
Right: Goulet approves.
When I mentioned that the Big Ten had given the go-ahead for bands to be amplified, I mentioned off-hand that I didn't expect it would amount to much. During last year's period of complaining alternately about the band's addiction to opera and the horrible piped-in music that inagurated the "special k make michigan stadium wicked sweet dawg" tag a couple of different emailers identified themselves as sound professionals and said that amplifying a marching band in a stadium was a difficult project not likely to be undertaken.
Michigan is undertaking it, however. Michael Haithcock, the director of bands, emailed me to give the current status of the band "in an effort to avoid the uninformed opinions that so often characterize comments regarding the MMB." This is that status:
- Big Ten AD's voted to approve the change in conference rules several months ago.
- Prior to the vote and since the decision became final, MMB faculty and athletic personnel have been working with highly qualified sound engineers to design a system workable for the MMB and Big House.
- The goal is to enhance the natural sound of the MMB and disperse it evenly throughout the stadium not to make it sound electronic or "canned".
- Time will be devoted to working toward this sound goal for the MMB during upcoming stadium rehearsals the week prior to the UConn game.
- Assuming the technology meets the goal of enhancement, the sound system will be in place for the first game although some "tweaking" may prove to be necessary going forward. Please be patient as we work to get it right in a situation that can only be created on game days.
- Acoustical studies of the new facility scientifically show that the overall sound is louder but individual components of the sound are less distinct due to the "roar" of clashing sound vibrations. Therefore, it is harder to hear the band without this enhancement.
- Moving the band into the north end zone is under discussion for future years but is not as easy a transition as first thought. We need to see how this new system works and how the rule change plays out before acting on the cost associated with making such a move.
- The SEC allowed a similar type of amplification for two years but voted to rescind the rule due to numerous problems. Coaches led the move to rescind the rule. This is unchartered territory in most conferences.
- The purported divide of "quality" of sound versus "quantity" of sound is really an non-issue for acoustical reasons to numerous to elaborate. Good blog fodder, but nothing real to be gained in the dialogue.
Director of Bands
University of Michigan
Anything that makes the band audible everywhere in the stadium is welcome, especially if it means Special K and his iPod filled with 40,000 copies of "Here Comes the Boom" are put in a cannon and shot to East Lansing where they belong. Hopefully it works out.
My final entry for the preseason blogpoll.
A few responses to comments left for the draft ballot (and yes, a lot of them were legit comments related to the fact that I hastily assembled the draft).
USC is eligible for the blogpoll (to the best of my knowledge), but I made a conscious decision to exclude them. If they earn it over the course of the year, I'm not sure whether I'll rank them or not.
As for Oregon, the QB they plug in for Masoli should have at least some experience (Darron Thomas started part of 2007 after Jeremiah Masoli went down, redshirted 2008 and played backup last year, and Nate Costa is a 5th-year senior with some starting experience of his own). Plus, aside from the first game of last year, Chip Kelly's offense has rolled along, regardless of personnel.
I dropped Penn State way down, as I'm as down on them as anyone else coming into the year, but went with the familiar when scrambling to complete the ballot.
As for Alabama not being #1, I'm not a believer in "you stay at the top until you lose." They lost so much on defense, that even returning a running back with a Heisman (that he may or may not have deserved) can't overcome it.
I reserve the right to seriously backtrack on North Carolina if they end up losing players to eligibility problems. As of now, their defense is positively rockin', and as long as the offense doesn't screw everything up, they should be pretty good.
Bumped out Nevada, because their defense has been pretty bad. Still love Colin Kaepernick though. That made room at the end of the ballot for West Virginia.
The rest of the stuff is just minor shuffling. Feel free to comment on this ballot as well, so I can continue refining. Don't take it too seriously, of course, as preseason polls are a futile endeavor.
Back in April, I wrote a diary called Blue Moon in my Eye in which I developed a regression model that could be used to develop a projected win total assuming that reasonable estimates had been used as inputs. At the time I thought that the team would be capable of winning at least seven, probably eight, and maybe even nine out of thirteen games this season. Since then, things have, uh, how do you say … changed. With the loss of Woolfolk, how do those numbers change?
The New Blue Moon
Before I get to that, there’s a good reason to update the model. In April, I mentioned that turnover margin is meaningful factor in regard to outcomes, but I lacked enough data to break it out specifically and therefore decided to leave it as a lumped parameter; turnovers were doomed to fade into the ether that is Intercept. No more, the NCAA has finally included turnover data in its database and now there is enough data to mix into the model. The new model has an improved R-squared value (0.752 as improved from 0.675) using just three end-of-year factors: offensive yards per game, defensive yards per game, and total turnover margin. Last time I didn’t include the model because it was mine, my own, my … preciousss. That was incredibly lame and nerdy (both with holding the coefficients and referencing LOTR) but we’re talking stats here so no one should be surprised. Another reason for divulging the goods is, now that there are four dimensions, a chart would be useless. Behold, the Blue Moon Model coefficients:
- I left the P-Values in there for those who know what that is. For the rest of you, it suffices to say what I said last time: that ish be money, yo.
- The second column (Normalized Coefficients) is there to demonstrate the relative importance of each factor; in short, defense is a skosh more influential than offense and turnover margin is a little over half as important as both.
- The use of the model (first column) is simple, start with the intercept then multiply the other the coefficients with their interrogation values and add everything together. Use it to gamble at your own peril. Until such a time as you can accurately predict end of year stats for these categories, the model is only good for using as a platform to base sophisticated guesses off of.
Probable influential factors that are embedded in the 25% of the variation not explained by the model (1 – R_squared) are:
- Return Teams effectiveness. Good return teams will establish good field position thus reducing OffYds/G.
- Coverage Teams effectiveness. Bad units will allow the other team to establish good field position thereby reducing DefYds/G.
- Field Goal Kicking effectiveness. If you get into field goal position and miss, you’ll have a lot of yards but nothing to show for them.
- Penalties. Penalty yardage will increase/decrease your production depending on if they’re called on you or them but doesn’t necessarily change how effective each team is at controlling field position.
- In round terms, factor influence on winning percentage breaks down to 30% Offense, 30% Defense, 15% Turnover Margin, and 25% Other Things.
Shine Down on the Big Ten (and it’s self-absorbed neighbor)
Below is 2009 Big Ten Data and Blue Moon Model expectation (BMM Expect).
|Team||OffYds/G||DefYds/G||TrnOvrMgn_Tot||2009 Wins||BMM Expect.||Delta Wins|
Despite the coaching staff and team being in Europe, John Beilein still managed to snag a commit from 2011 OH SG Trey Burke today.
|3*, #22 PG||3*, #27 G, #127 Overall||95, #22 PG|
Burke joins fellow guard Carlton Brundidge in the 2011 class.
UMHoops does a much more thoroough writeup on Burke, so check it out (image also from UMHoops).
After Rich Rodriguez spoke to the assembled media on Sunday, I got a chance to talk to some of Michigan's assistants. I didn't talk to Calvin Magee or Greg Robinson because we've already heard from them in the past couple weeks, and I didn't get a chance to talk to Greg Frey or Adam Braithwaite.
Each of the three quarterbacks brings something different to the table. Tate's experience of starting 12 games is a significant factor, but the coaches need to make sure he stays disciplined. Denard is the most explosive of the three quarterbacks. As for passing, "he's worked on it, I don't want to say refined." He deserves a lot of credit for putting in the effort, and "he's picked up the offense a lot more than what he had last year." Gardner is a superb athlete who is getting better every day.
The competition is helping the team, because each quarterback has to work hard every rep or risk being replaced.
Though Tate acknowledged slacking a bit this summer, "He didn't come in bad shape. He passed all his conditioning tests." He's been willing to put in the work in practice so far: "I've been pleased with him this camp."
Denard has a much better idea of the offensive scheme and what the coaches are trying to accomplish. "You don't cloud your mind and slow up your feet, and that's what he was doing last year." Over-thinking contributed to part of his problems last year.
Denard does a lot of work in technique drills, but he's not consistent yet. The coaches work on tightening his mechanics from weight transfer to follow-through, which is the sort of stuff a lot of high school kids don't learn. He came in as an athlete trying to play quarterback, and the coaches are trying to turn him into a quarterback who's athletic. He's been willing to put in the work.
Denard's ability to pass will open up defenses, allowing him to rush for more than the 5.1 yards/carry he got last year. "Not just the passing, but I've opened up the playbook a little more to him. We knew what we were gonna do with him. I think defenses knew what was coming." He has the potential to score 4 out of every 10 times he touches the ball due to how explosive he is.
Both quarterbacks at reading the defensive end on the option play. They're prepared to make the read against all sorts of different defenses, so they'll be familiar with everything they face.
"I don't know yet" if Denard will be the starter. The coaches are repping all three quarterbacks while the media focuses on Denard.
Tate came in a little more polished out of high school. Denard and Devin have needed more work on their throwing mechanics out of high school. Both must have worked hard individually this summer to be where they are today.
The different skill sets among the quarterbacks all fit in with what the offensive staff wants to do. They don't want a guy to just stand there. All three quarterbacks have the necessary mobility.
(Short but sweet)
On Stephen Hopkins: "Before he's done here, he'll be another Chris Perry. Feet, shallow cuts, power. I mean, I don't know if Chris ever weighed 230 or not."
4-5 backs will get serious playing time this year.
"They're working extremely hard and doing well." Dews is a little more anxious to see how his guys can do compared to the past, because now there are people with three years in the system. They know the expectations of them.
Junior Hemingway and Darryl Stonum have been in the system since they were freshmen, and now they're able to help be leaders for the younger guys, because they've been there before.
As far as moving guys to the other side of the ball goes, Dews says "I don't worry about losing anybody if it's going to make our team better." It happens every year in college football, and if it's good for the team, "whatever's going to help us win and compete for BCS bowl games, I'm all for it."
Kelvin Grady has matured quite a bit. He's catching the ball well this camp. He looks a little bigger than last year, and is playing with more confidence. He is not one of the slot receivers who have gotten time on the outside.
Darryl Stonum "did come back in great shape. He's been kind of a piston. He's been out there rolling." Getting contacts has helped him catch better. He really started coming on in the spring, when he realized the opportunity he would have to be a starter. Wearing a cast on one arm helped train him to always catch with his hands. He understands the offense, but needs to refine his technique, and he's willing to do that. He's gorwn up and learned from his past mistakes.
Junior Hemingway has had a pretty good camp. "Junior has shown flashes for a couple years now. Obviously his biggest issue has been being on the field. Obviously when he's healthy and he's playing, he certainly can help us."
On Ryan Van Bergen - Works hard, always around the ball, "he's a great student of the game." He's bigger and stronger than last season.
Pass Rush with the three-man front is tough to evaluate right now. The Michigan offense doesn't have much drop-back passing, so they're hard to evaluate against. "It won't always just be three men rushing."
Craig Roh might be one of the guys adding pressure (from linebackers). GERG will put together some different packages to mix up pressure.
The freshmen have just finished school, and will be able to focus on football now. They're all doing well so far. Tall noted that there are five freshmen in his position group - Jibreel Black, Terry Talbott (Tall used to confuse the Talbotts' first names on recruiting visits), Richard Ash, Kenny Wilkins, and preferred walkon Chris Eddins.
Kenny Wilkins is working at defensive end. "He's pretty good-sized. He's probably up somewhere around 6-4, 270... He's got good size for a young player."
Tall wishes he could have picked a different number for Jibreel Black, so he wouldn't be compared to Brandon Graham so much. "55 was a very special player, and you don't want to put that on anybody."
Troy Woolfolk "was in great shape, he was having a great camp, you hate it for him." If there's any good to come out of his injury, it's that he gets to come back next year. It makes you sick to see a kid that's worked so hard go down.
"You know we can't sit around feeling sorry for ourselves because nobody else is going to feel sorry for us."
All the freshmen are playing hard. At free safety, Carvin Johnson is "doing a great job and has great ball skills." Terrence Talbott has been a pleasant surprise, and Cullen Christian has been practicing at both corner positions. All of them need to keep growing, and work on their tackling.
James Rogers has been playing well, but the second starting corner position is still up for grabs. There are still two weeks to prepare the guys to play.
Pissin' on the First Amendment. A note on a new message board policy: threads about the Free Press are now banned. Details on the board. Most of them saw a piece of me die, a lot of them were full of the sort of ugly ad hominems I delete from my posts about the paper, and they were all redundant since at this point I'm pretty sure the blog's readership has formed their opinion of them.
This might seem hypocritical a day after I posted some ad hominem at the Free Press myself, but I can control the frequency of that (very rarely). I can't on the board (every damn day).
Never forget. The meaning of this should be obvious:
But in case you need a legend, MGoUser "MGauxBleu" has a legend. A salute to all those who have dared the wrath of Angry Michigan Secondary Hating God but not lived to tell the tale.
MOLK! Okay, I didn't listen to all of the Media Day videos, but some guys did and they caught David Molk tellin' it like it is:
Q. How excited are you to get back on the field after sitting out the last few games of 2009?
A. I can't wait. The reason I like football is that I like to hit people. I hate everything else. I like to hit people really f___ing hard (laughs), and I haven't been able to do that for a really long time.
In the wild. The FAU-Michigan State game at Ford Field provides an interesting test case of what a game against a tomato can is worth when not parasitically attached to a season ticket package. Because it's technically an FAU "home" game—they had to move it because their stadium won't be ready—State can't do the parasite thing, and ticket sales are going as well as you might expect. Under 10,000 tickets have been sold because though Spartan fans did go to Michigan State, they didn't go to Ohio State and can therefore count:
With a sideline ticket going for $69 (and the most expensive ticket topping out at $79 or $88.10 with fees) the game just may be a little steep for the citizens of Detroit, whose economy is in ruins.
Many of the grumblings from Spartan fans I hear from is that the tickets are the most expensive of the season – sideline seats at Spartan Stadium go for around $49 - and they consider this to be one of the worst games of the season.
Not wanting to shell out 70-90 bucks to see FAU play MSU is less about an "economy in ruins" and more about having a shred of sense. If Michigan was playing Bowling Green at Ford Field and it wasn't part of the ticket package I wouldn't pay 80 bucks to see it. I might play 30, and I run a Michigan blog. End zone seats have just been reduced to 20 bucks—it won't be long until the whole stadium is that price.
What a bizarre system: teams radically underprice games against actual opponents and try to make it up with body bag games.
Fiutakin' it. This one is a doozy. From David Mayo of the Grand Rapids Press:
Forcier started every game last season. But he drew the ire of now-injured Troy Woolfolk when the senior cornerback chastised him publicly for skipping voluntary summer workouts, saying Forcier had lost respect of teammates and coaches, in part for practicing in a non-winged helmet.
If you are in disbelief this was actually written, a screenshot:
So… yeah. David Mayo of the Grand Rapids Press thinks Tate Forcier brought an unauthorized helmet to practice.