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|21 weeks 4 days ago||Great stuff||
Thanks much for the detailed and considerate response! As I said, I'm a rank amateur at this - I think my 1977 high school team had 14 total offensive plays. I learned the playbook as an emergency backup tailback in 2 hours the night before our first scrimmage when our top RB went down with a knee.
What I take away from what you say, in your main post and the Stanford-specific follow up:
- Most importantly, you can play very smart offensive football regardless of your base offensive set. You can force defenses to make choices, and then exploit those choices, via pre-snap or post-snap decisions. This is true whether you line up in shotgun spread, power I, or anything in between.
- Playing physical football is independent of scheme. Stanford and Ohio State - however different - are both undeniably physical offenses. The point of physical football is to give your mean, tough, highly conditioned players enough of a schematic advantage to beat their mean, tough, highly conditioned opponents to the point of attack. Manball is as much or more about coaching as it is about bad attitudes and big butts.
|21 weeks 4 days ago||Stanford||
RU: what style would you consider Stanford to be? The obvious answer is Pro Style, but having watched them a fair bit over here on the left coast, I think it's more subtle than that. They line up with extremely tight spreads in the OL, they use multiple TEs that can block and go vertical, they have QBs who use their legs strategically.
My very amateur analysis is that Harbaugh looked at the talent he had available, observed a league full of defenses oriented at stopping spread offenses, and designed something that could succeed by being highly contrarian. Just as he did in a different way in SF by using Kaepernick in the pistol, zone read, etc.
There seems to be a lot of CC thinking going on that prioritizes the kind of offense we can or should run, then finding a coach to run that. Really good coaches, it seems to me, are more tied to competitive advantage than to any particular system.
|22 weeks 1 day ago||Great Post||
Great post, bronxblue.
I share a lot of the concerns about Harbaugh. Thing is, there's no Urban Meyer or equivalent out there right now, so everyone has settled on Harbaugh. Firing Hoke is easy compared to finding an actual elite coach.
Regardless of who that next coach is, it is going to take some time for us to get back to the top. We might be losing only a few players from this team, but assuming Funchess leaves, we'll have lost our main playmakers on both defense (Ryan,Clark) and offense (the Devins). I look down the returning roster and I don't see a single player likely to be a pre-season all-B1G pick (Jourdan Lewis, maybe)? There seems to be a dearth of athleticism, explosiveness, playmaking ability on both sides of the ball. Certainly there are kids with upside - Lewis, Mason Cole, Peppers, etc - but no established stars. The next guy will have to work on Jimmies and Joes as well as Xs and Os.
|22 weeks 3 days ago||It's a shame||
It won't get me any upvotes, but I don't automatically root against individual Buckeyes anymore. Part of that is just perspective from being 54 years old. Part of that is my brother-in-law, who's both a Buckeye and one of the world's great human beings. And part of it is admiration for classy young people of any affiliation. I consider myself a fan of JT Barrett - He's not only obviously talented, I think he's conducted himself well under pressure, and he seems like a mentally tough and grounded person. Kind of like his Michigan counterpart, Devin Gardner. I have to wonder what Gardner would have done playing for Urban Meyer ...
Anyway, this kid's injury for me just makes this game gloomier. I'm hoping that the future points up for both Barrett and Michigan, and that he'll look back on losing to Michigan 42-41 his senior year as one of his career highlights :)
|26 weeks 1 day ago||I can see I missed much in my||
I can see I missed much in my TL;DR.
Yes, the big umbrella is an artificial construct. But people want to buy into it, nonetheless. That's the way it felt to me when I was a student, back in (ahem) '78-'84. It doesn't have to be perfect, but you want the university leadership to make a strong pretense in any case.
And yes, fans are certainly customers. But they are quite special kinds of customers, with a deep kind of relationship to the provider. Buying a pizza or a movie ticket implies a very different kind of relationship than buying season football tickets. The former is a simple transaction, the latter implies an emotional bond with the university and the program. Brandon seems to have missed the difference, big time. Even his most recent response to student discontent - dropping the ticket prices without any other significant moves - indicates very transactional thinking. He's gone, but it's up to us and the department he left behind to fix his broken thinking.
|26 weeks 2 days ago||The Community, The Community, The Community||
I posted this on the earlier diary thread:
Brandon did a good job of taking care of "his" team - coaches, athletes, donors, a segment of former players. He treated the rest of us as a "customer base" to be catered and condescended to. The natural net result is a fracturing of the M community along the lines of the Brandon insiders and outsiders. This is a toxic legacy of Brandon's tenure, and we should refuse to be defined by it - insiders and outsiders alike. A restoration of the big tent M community is what we're after.
|26 weeks 2 days ago||The Community, The Community, The Community||
Mike Rosenberg, who ought to know an asshat when he sees one, did a pretty comprehensive takedown of Brandon over on SI. He wrote that Brandon forgot Bo's first principle: The Team, The Team, The Team.
I think it's more subtle, but more important, than that. Watching the reactions to Brandon around the sports world, I'm struck by the disconnect between "insiders" and the rest of the community. Coaches, athletes, Dez Howard, Todd Howard, Brandstatder, Dierdorf, a fair number of former players - are Brandon supporters. Meanwhile, students, fans, alums, and their representatives in new media form the core of the naysayers. To put it simply: Brandon seems to have fine job taking care of his team, we just weren't on that team.
To speculate, this might have a lot to do with Brandon's business background. Consumers of an inexpensive, undifferentiated commodity like pizza have no emotional connection to the product or provider, and commit no deep thought or analysis to their decisions either. It makes sense in such a context to treat customers simplistically, using tools of mass manipulation. But college football fans aren't consumers first and foremost, they're tribalists. They're looking for an emotional connection to the University, to the team, to each other. They invest a great deal more energy, emotional and rational, in their allegiance than they do to mere product purchases.
Much has been made of Brandon's personality, and I certainly share a visceral dislike of that kind of arrogant style generally. But if we'd been put on his team - if he'd tried to unite the larger community instead of fracturing it - the personality would even have been an asset sometimes, and he might have had a chance to hire the next coach. Instead, this kind of insider/outsider divide is part of his legacy.
Anyway, this is the lesson for the next AD, and the department in general: it's about the community, the community, the community. That's the mission.
|1 year 22 weeks ago||I've thought quite a bit||
I've thought quite a bit about this, and I think it comes down to Borges' meta-philosophy about offense. It appears to me that Borges highly values novelty in an offense - he tries to keep defenses guessing primarily through a bewildering variety of plays and formations. He wants defenses to have no idea what's coming next, or ability to recognize it when it gets there.
This is not the meta-philosophy behind most high-powered offenses, whether you're looking at Alabama, or Oregon, or most other offenses along that schematic continuum. These offenses try to establish certain base premises that the defenses must react to, then they counter the defensive reaction. The essence of these schemes is tactical adjustment, between plays, before plays (audibles), and even within plays (e.g. read option or zone blocking).
The problem with Borges' meta-philosophy, it seems to me, is that there are a limited number of plays one can teach a college offense to execute well within the alloted practice time (ask Mike Rosenberg). So Borges is really making a bet with the opposing defensive coordinator that he's got enough variety to keep his opponent guessing most of the time. He's won that bet often enough - the '11 and '13 OSU games, for instance - but he's lost perhaps even more often.
The Tactical Adjustment philosophy, it seems to me, is much more suited to building a body of knowledge over time, and thus reducing the variability in results. After several years of running the same basic scheme, you've seen almost everything a defense can throw at you. You've developed countermeasures for all those things, and have drilled your offense on those measures ever since they arrived on campus. You have a good chance of immediately recognizing and adjusting to anything a defense does. You have much less chance that the defense will easily recognize and stuff a few of your key plays, and leave you without easy countermeasures.
Anyway, that's my shorthand explanation as to why Borges seems totally lost one game, totally dominant the next: he's not humble enough to acknowledge the agency of the opposing defense in his own success or failure.
|1 year 22 weeks ago||This was one of those||
This was one of those experiences which keeps me a college football fan after 40 years. I was hooting and hollering like a little kid. What a great game, and incredible finish.
|1 year 22 weeks ago||I also have to say it seemed||
I also have to say it seemed to me like the OSU defense was less well-prepared, and a lot less aggressive, than the defenses we saw the previous 3 games. We didn't see a lot of those troublesome A-gap blitzes until the second half, and it seemed the Bucks were more fooled by the cute draws and throwbacks. But no question, the execution was better, the blocking was better, and Gardner looked like he'd been freed once again to be Sandlot Superstar.
|1 year 22 weeks ago||From everything we can||
From everything we can determine as outsiders, Brandon, Hoke, and Borges have all bought into the same narrative: there is nothing wrong with our scheme, game planning, and play calling that better players, more development, and overall better execution won't fix. This game obviously helps reinforce that narrative, and thus has to reduce any (already slim, IMO) chance that Borges will go.
An equally interesting question is who would replace Borges. I'm 100% certain that we haven't seen the last of Mr. Hyde-Borges, and would love to see a dynamic new coordinator given the reins of a modern offense. But who's going to come work for a HC and AD apparently in thrall to antiquated MANBALL mythology?
|3 years 27 weeks ago||Casteel||
I'm halfway through the book (on Kindle app), but like Brian says, not a whole lot really surprising to those of us who followed the story closely from the beginning. Even a lot of the Carr stuff was rumored before, and his ambivalence toward RR was obvious from his public silence, if nothing else. The one really interesting, game-changing tidbit for me was that Casteel was ready to go, "had his Michigan phone already", but got convinced to stay at WVU by (slightly) more money and a guaranteed contract.
If Casteel comes, and the dysfunctional mess over the defense is at least substantially reduced, we maybe win 2-3 more games each year under RR and the world is very different now.
Edit: I should add that even if many of the details are not that surprising, I find it still a very compelling read!
|4 years 15 weeks ago||Thanks for embracing the excercise||
Your analysis is more detailed, and in many ways more well-thought out than mine. And I certainly agree the staffing and overall success scores go up with the Mattison hire.
As to Mattison, I completely agree he wouldn't have worked for RR - the personal connection with Hoke obviously played a major role. But I also stand by the assertion that this would have been a very unlikely move for Carr. Carr was not the type to hire a big name who has spent more than a decade outside the program, and he was quite explicit about his preferences that way. I remember reading an interview with him, maybe 7-8 years ago, where he mentioned his fondness for the business book, "Good to Great". It's a book I'm very familiar with, probably the best book ever written on successful business management practice because it's empirically based rather than a bunch of author's pet theories. Anyway, Carr cited approvingly the book's finding that internal development and promotion is generally more successful than hiring "stars" from the outside. I think Carr was over-applying that lesson in the context of college football coaching, but he obviously sincerely believed it, and his track record of coaching hires/promotions clearly shows that.
|4 years 15 weeks ago||Oh, it's all good||
I'm a former corporate exec type, and one of the formal and informal learnings from that was to separate substantive criticism from the emotion behind it. Watching the evolution of that post, you were substantively right. Live and learn. Learn faster, if possible :-)
And it is great to be a Wolverine, and it does feel like Christmas to see such a dramatic indication that this will not be a return to "same old, same old". For all my reserved reception of Hoke, and criticism of DB's public messaging, both deserve a lot of credit for this hire. Go Blue!
|4 years 15 weeks ago||Christmas indeed||
And BTW, you were right about the diary, too.
|4 years 15 weeks ago||Thank you||
|4 years 15 weeks ago||It isn't an issue of crossing a line||
Of course he's in a high position and there's a threshold he shouldn't cross in terms of publicly insulting his critics. And whether he crossed that threshold is a subjective criteria, and I'm not sure I'd say he did, either.
But his job, at this important inflection point in Michigan athletics, is not to avoid crossing the line. His job is to build support for his coach, and the decision to hire him. His job is, at least in part, to help convince those of us who are skeptical that 47-50 is not the important statistic that defines Brady Hoke, that Hoke possesses many important qualities of a winning football coach beyond the ability to give Marinelli-like pressers. I actually don't think that is a particularly difficult task for a competent executive - I could write most of the damn script myself.
So if you look at the comments on this thread, and objectively assess the content of Brandon's messages since the Hoke hire, you'd have to say he hasn't done a very good job of supporting his coach. Almost all of the support for Hoke has been generated by his impressive first presser, and the very natural desire to be "all in" now and not be hung out in maybe-land for another year. OTOH, "Trust me, I'm Dave Brandon, former CEO of a pizza empire" is not a message that works for most of this audience.
So, either Brandon isn't doing a very good job of being convincing to this community, or (very possibly) he's decided "f**k them, they don't matter." Either way, criticism of him is perfectly warranted, IMO.
|4 years 15 weeks ago||See my post below||
Many of us are coming to conclusions without knowing the facts - absolutely agree. I also believe it's Brandon's job to present the facts as he sees them rather than telling us to trust him, because I think that is better for him, the University, the fans, and the football program. But see my comment below, and tell me how much we agree or disagree.
|4 years 15 weeks ago||None of us are "outsiders"||
Apologies re the presser timing. Point stands:
I don't think Brandon would ever have dared condescend to his Domino's customer base the way he condescended to the M fan base - which is why I found it surprising. And Brandon is not in a position like Brian's. He's in a executive position where he is expected to show discipline and judgment in his representation of the University. It is completely human to be angry under criticism, but one of the absolute requirements of a leadership position like Brandon's is to rise above the urge to respond petulantly. I have been there, done that, and seen many more do it better, and I expected more from DB, and continue to expect more.
|4 years 15 weeks ago||Interesting explanation||
By this description, I would be an FP, while the more abbreviated descriptions in the chart might have made me part of The Rebellion. This post describes my attitudes almost exactly.
|4 years 15 weeks ago||I think the point of Brian's post||
was less about whether or not this was a "stupid hire", than about Brandon's public attitude toward those who question his choice. "I've got all the info, and you don't, so STFU and buy your season tickets" is an approach which is pretty much guaranteed to piss off a vocal segment of the fan base, and it's unnecessary at that. As I said in a comment below, it wouldn't take all that much for Brandon to explain his thinking in a straightforward, respectful manner - and it's exactly what a good leader and executive should know to do in this situation. Brandon clearly has let some of this criticism get the better of him. CEOs rarely get anything like this amount of direct feedback - people are just too afraid of them - and DB may not have the necessary skin thickness yet.
And FTR, Brian's "Hoke Reax" post came out after Brandon's initial presser, and so I think you might have gotten the cause/effect relationship between Brandon attitude and Brian "The Rebel" response backwards.
|4 years 15 weeks ago||The truth on Miles||
May be somewhere in between. It is very possible - common even - to make an offer without making an offer. For instance:
Brandon: "I've been authorized to offer as much as $4.25 million to our next coach. Does that number interest you?"
Miles: "Is that more than $3.75 million, cause that's what I'm making now? Are you sure? This stuff is so confusing".
Totally agree with Brian re the arrogant, defensive approach of DB to explaining the hire. All he has to do is say, "My criteria were A, B, C, and D. And when I measured all the candidates against those criteria, Brady Hoke came out on top." Instead, he's making it look like it was a Daddy knows best, gut reaction hire, which is not the way to unite a fan base behind a candidate with a not entirely impressive resume.
|4 years 16 weeks ago||We probably agree more than not, but ...||
"Congratulations on succumbing to your fandom and falling grudgingly into line."
I have no idea what that means. Please explain.
You certainly have a better grasp of Truman's history than I do at this point, and you're right, I was being hyperbolic. And if we want to pare down that list to what Truman did by age 40 (haberdasher, farmer) to what Hoke did by 40 (natl championship DL coach), then it would be far less surprising to see Hoke win a national championship as M head coach by age 56 than to see Truman as President. So we definitely have that going for us, and the comparison is "unfair" in a detailed sense.
Who I would prefer over Hoke is not actually central to the point of my post. I wanted a coach who could make me believe again in the possibility of Michigan football reaching its tantalizing, always just out of reach potential. Hoke has a track record - a far more relevant track record than Truman's, for purposes of this discussion - and parts of that track record are not the stuff of which belief is made, for me. For the record, I do think that a coach who had coordinated a unit which consistently achieved at a high level against difficult competition would have carried more credibility for me. But that dispute has been hashed many times over, and I think it is counterproductive to do so again. And my skepticism in no way means that I believe Hoke is absolutely destined for failure, nor does it mean that I think he's not an admirable person, nor does it mean, in a million years, that I'm rooting for him to fail. I'm just not thrilled that he was the choice - even if he was the best choice available - because I can't be thrilled with a choice that doesn't hold out the promise for me that we will really be "the leaders, the best" instead of "the leaders, the consistently very good".
The point I want to reiterate is, at the risk of redundancy, is that different fans have different backgrounds and experiences, and different notions of what constitutes an immediately satisfying hire. And for us all to agree on this is impossible and undesirable. And for our own health, and that of the team, it would be better to acknowledge and accept those differences than to insist on conformity.
|4 years 16 weeks ago||Oh, I've read that||
Two or three times, at least. Among several other tomes. And Truman was a tailor and a farmer until age 40, and he was never in charge, in an executive management sense, of anything bigger than that tailor shop. Kansas City party Democratic party? Senate investigation into military contract abuse? I suppose you could argue that those were executive-type functions. But they hardly constituted the kind of bottom-line accountability for results that I associate with executive positions.
But never mind, to quote Truman himself: "There are a million men in this country who could do this job, but it's my job, and I'm going to do it". I'm not holding my breath waiting for similar statements from Brandon or Hoke. The culture of 2011 will never permit such exhibitions of doubt and modesty from its authority figures.
|4 years 16 weeks ago||The best part ...||
of writing this is finding out how many MGoBlog followers are of my generation. I always had the feeling that I was this old, irrelevant baby boomer who was a peripheral hanger-on and had little to contribute to this community.
|4 years 16 weeks ago||P-Bell ...||
Was the first place I ever ate in A2. Sorry to say, memories are so foggy now I can't even bring up a mental image.
And, I do still have the feeling it's just "down around the corner". I've spent 40 years "waiting for a miracle", hoping to catch "lightning in a bottle" and "this is it". All old-fart song titles, for you whippersnappers. But I've got a certain distance right now, a certain wait-and-see skepticism, that pollutes my pure fandom. And, fittingly on MLK weekend, a doubt that I will ever cross over to the other side with my team.
And honestly, a recognition that my interests and those of Michigan's AD do not completely intersect. And probably never will, as long as the AD is an ex-corporate type like me.
|4 years 16 weeks ago||DE - possibly you missed the point?||
I don't like ridicule, either - in the sense of intended emotional harm to another person. But parody, sarcasm, skepticism, humor are simply part of how people understand each other and the world. And the greater the position of responsibility you accept, the more you must learn to understand that. I'm a former corporate type myself, and I know well that even the best explanations of any decision will not convince everyone - and thank god for that, because corporate types often do not tell the truth. Not because they are liars, but because they don't actually know the truth much of the time and are just guessing.
Brady Hoke is a big boy, in more ways than one. I don't know how smart he is yet as a football coach, but he is obviously more than smart enough to know that public opinion is far from taken for granted, and smart enough to manipulate it in his direction - vital skills for a Michigan football coach. I really don't think he needs you to watch his back, or that of anybody else. Remember - football is the most important game ever invented. The most important *game*. Adjust your behavior accordingly.
|4 years 16 weeks ago||Sent to diary||
Thanks for the vote of confidence. Even more thanks, for Stonehenge Cats.
|4 years 16 weeks ago||Thank you||
"Should go in a diary". Pardon my ignorance, is that me who needs to take an action, or some great diary manager in the sky?
Edit: Duh, never mind, got it. Would you believe that I'm a former software CTO? That's a rhetorical question, don't answer it.
|4 years 16 weeks ago||I don't know ...||
What constitutes "some level of fairness" for you, but I'm sure we'll never agree anyway. I've been coming here daily for the last 5 years for the unique combination of entertaining writing, critical analysis, and pure fandom - and I just don't think any of those factors are substantively different now than a week ago.
I'd suggest it's time for everyone to head over to EDSBS, and read the Digital Viking, and Spencer's recap of the title game experience. Those, we can all agree, are subjectively and objectively awesome, and if you disagree with me, you are totally and completely wrong, end of story.