For what it's worth (the supposed press conference firing)

For what it's worth (the supposed press conference firing)

Submitted by pdxwolve on November 29th, 2010 at 3:42 AM

I have been very curious about Monday, even though DB shot down any idea of a press conference. For what it's worth, a very good friend of mind who talks with RR regularly (newspaper person) said he doesn't know what the hell is going on, and that he knows of no press conference. Just passing it on. Can't say who it is, but this isn't some double-secret figment of my imagination. After hearing this, I feel a little more at ease that there will be no public lynching of RR tomorrow.

I await your verbal dong punches...

Possible Bowl Scenarios and Insights (No Pun Intended!)

Possible Bowl Scenarios and Insights (No Pun Intended!)

Submitted by bklein09 on November 29th, 2010 at 1:15 AM

I know several other threads have discussed this, but I wanted to feel special so here it is. Honestly, the prospects of potential bowl games just really excites me, especially after not going for a couple years, and I just wanted to share my thoughts. At least its not RR talk right?!


So without further adieu: 

The first real choice that a Big Ten bowl has is for the Outback, with Wisky and OSU to the BCS and MSU a lock for the Capital One.

The Outback Bowl could technically choose any other bowl eligible BT team because they are all 7-5 (assuming Illinois beats Fresno) and within one game difference in the BT standings.

Now, most are thinking Iowa will be the pick. And I agree. However, keep in mind that Iowa lost their last three games, including clunkers to Northwestern and Minny! I know we didn't set the world on fire in the last few weeks, but it has to count against Iowa that they look like a team that has already called it quits. Most Iowa fans had plans of going to Pasadena or some other BCS location. Will they travel as well as usual for a mid-level bowl game?

All those questions aside, lets assume that Iowa does slide into that Outback slot.

The next up in the selection process are the Gator and Insight. As mentioned by others, these two bowls will each submit their selection, and if they pick the same team, a coin-flip will determine who gets their pick first. It is unlikely that either Illinois or Northwestern would be chosen above Michigan and Penn State, so lets only focus on us and the Nittany Lions.

So let's say that both bowls select PSU. There would be a coin-flip, with the winner getting their selection. If the Insight wins the toss, they would get PSU, sending us to the Gator. Vice versa if the Gator won.

To me this seems like the most likely scenario, however, there is the possibility that the bowls both want Michigan or they pick different teams. Whichever way it shakes out, it seems to me that Michigan has a 50-50 shot at the Gator. Personally that would be my choice because of the NYD-Florida stuff, but either one would be alright.

Of course after those two bowls come the bowls in Houston and Dallas with the stupid names. I figure Illinois is the next pick, followed by NW because Persa being out makes them even less of a draw than usual. 

Anyways, thats my take on the whole situation. If I messed up anywhere feel free to correct me. Here's hoping for January 1st in Florida!



Rodriguez's 2010 Scoring Offense = 3rd best in his career thus far

Rodriguez's 2010 Scoring Offense = 3rd best in his career thus far

Submitted by markusr2007 on November 29th, 2010 at 12:53 AM

I know. I know. Nobody cares about offense, and "It's all about defense GODAMMIT!" 

Alright already. I get it. Sheesh!

As many fellow UM fans are surely sharpening their pitchforks and drenching torches in kerosene this weekend, I just thought it was interesting to note that Rodriguez's 3rd team at Michigan racked up 412 points this year.   That's his 3rd best scoring offense since he became a head coach in 2001 at West Virginia. The previous bests:

1st  - 2007: West Virginia 11-2 (515 points)

2nd - 2006: West Virginia 11-2 (505 points)

3rd - 2010: Michigan 7-5 (412 points)

4th - 2005: West Virginia 11-1 (385 points)

On the other hand, Michigan's defense surrendered 406 points to the opposition.   This is RR's worst ever scoring defense as a head coach by a wide margin (104 points).

Rodriguez's worst scoring defense at WVU was his 2nd team (2002, 9-4 record) when the Mountaineers gave up 302 points (13 games).    Rodriguez's defenses at Michigan have surrendered 347 (2008), 330 (2009) and 406 (2010).  Pretty damning, Godammit.





Pioneers of The QB Position: Dennis Franklin & Cornelius Greene

Pioneers of The QB Position: Dennis Franklin & Cornelius Greene

Submitted by MgoViper on November 29th, 2010 at 12:33 AM

Just a good video done by the Big Ten Network. Enjoy

Edit: something isn't working correct. It shows embedded on edit,  and not on the thread. Mods explain please?

A different look at the importance of experience

A different look at the importance of experience

Submitted by 2014 on November 28th, 2010 at 11:00 PM

This isn't supposed to be a defense of RR or an indictment. This is just a simple way to look at the importance of experience in putting together a winning team.

I took the top 9 teams in the BCS standings (3x3 fit my screen nicely in excel, that's why 9...) and also looked at 3 under peforming classic power houses (Michigan, Texas, Florida). I pulled the depth charts from

  Offense % Defense % Overall
Freshmen* 1 9% 1 9% 9%
Sophomore 1 9% 1 9% 9%
Junior 4 36% 2 18% 27%
Senior 5 45% 7 64% 55%
Junior/Senior 9 82% 9 82% 82%


  Offense % Defense % Overall
Freshmen 0 0% 0 0% 0%
Sophomore 3 27% 1 9% 18%
Junior 3 27% 4 36% 32%
Senior 5 45% 6 55% 50%
Junior/Senior 8 73% 10 91% 82%


  Offense % Defense % Overall
Freshmen 0 0% 1 9% 5%
Sophomore 1 9% 1 9% 9%
Junior 2 18% 2 18% 18%
Senior 8 73% 8 73% 73%
Junior/Senior 10 91% 10 91% 91%


  Offense % Defense % Overall
Freshmen 0 0% 0 0% 0%
Sophomore 4 36% 2 18% 27%
Junior 1 9% 5 45% 27%
Senior 6 55% 4 36% 45%
Junior/Senior 7 64% 9 82% 73%


  Offense % Defense % Overall
Freshmen 0 0% 1 9% 5%
Sophomore 2 18% 1 9% 14%
Junior 4 36% 5 45% 41%
Senior 5 45% 4 36% 41%
Junior/Senior 9 82% 9 82% 82%


  Offense % Defense % Overall
Freshmen 0 0% 0 0% 0%
Sophomore 2 18% 2 18% 18%
Junior 5 45% 2 18% 32%
Senior 4 36% 7 64% 50%
Junior/Senior 9 82% 9 82% 82%


  Offense % Defense % Overall
Freshmen* 2 18% 1 9% 14%
Sophomore 1 9% 2 18% 14%
Junior 4 36% 4 36% 36%
Senior 4 36% 4 36% 36%
Junior/Senior 8 73% 8 73% 73%


  Offense % Defense % Overall
Freshmen 0 0% 0 0% 0%
Sophomore 2 18% 4 36% 27%
Junior 3 27% 2 18% 23%
Senior 6 55% 5 45% 50%
Junior/Senior 9 82% 7 64% 73%


  Offense % Defense % Overall
Freshmen* 1 9% 1 9% 9%
Sophomore 3 27% 4 36% 32%
Junior 4 36% 3 27% 32%
Senior 3 27% 3 27% 27%
Junior/Senior 7 64% 6 55% 59%


  Offense % Defense % Overall
Freshmen* 1 9% 3 27% 18%
Sophomore 3 27% 3 27% 27%
Junior 5 45% 2 18% 32%
Senior 2 18% 3 27% 23%
Junior/Senior 7 64% 5 45% 55%


  Offense % Defense % Overall
Freshmen* 1 9% 0 0% 5%
Sophomore 4 36% 1 9% 23%
Junior 2 18% 6 55% 36%
Senior 4 36% 4 36% 36%
Junior/Senior 6 55% 10 91% 73%


  Offense % Defense % Overall
Freshmen 1 9% 1 9% 9%
Sophomore 1 9% 1 9% 9%
Junior 5 45% 3 27% 36%
Senior 4 36% 6 55% 45%
Junior/Senior 9 82% 9 82% 82%

A few takeaways:

  1. Every team in top 8 had 73% of their starters as either Juniors or Seniors. Bob Stoops should be coach of the year at #9 Oklahoma...the big difference with Oklahoma appears to be that the young guys are playing because they are just better than the vets. They have plenty of age on the two-deep.
  2. There are only 9 total freshmen starting for the top 9 teams.
  3. There are only 3 true freshmen (denoted by *) starting combined for the top 9 teams.
  4. As it stands today, 3 of our 5 losses have been to teams in the top 8 of the BCS. Those 3 teams only have 1 starting freshmen, and he's a redshirt.
  5. WTF with Texas and Florida? Especially Florida, they are an experienced team...I thought I would find that Florida and Texas are young, but not so much...

I didn't do the math for all of the BCS teams, but a quick look at the rest showed the same story, nobody outside of Oklahoma is even close to us in youth.

Feel free to do what you will with these numbers, IMO, it's more proof that the importance of experience can't be overstated. Conversely, the importance of roster management also can't be overstated so you don't end up in these kind of situations. That pretty much sums up the argument for/against firing RR. Yin/Yang and what not.

Traveling to the Bowl Game

Traveling to the Bowl Game

Submitted by mgoblue52 on November 28th, 2010 at 10:48 PM

I'm a recent graduate and I was in the MMB so when I did go to bowl games, it was on the University's dime.

Now that I'm a proud alum, I'm excited to go to the bowl game on my own!  Just one question for the more experienced bowl travelers:

I'm assuming they announce the invitations next Sunday, and mgoblue will have info regarding tickets.  Do people usually just buy through our athletic department?


Who else is going to Tempe (probably)?

Jim Harbaugh transition easier then you think?

Jim Harbaugh transition easier then you think?

Submitted by The program on November 28th, 2010 at 10:43 PM

QB - Michigan has a pro style QB in Devin Gardner (6-5, strong arm, will sit in the pocket) remember he turned Josh Johnson into a pro QB at San Diego.  If Tate transfers and Denard switches positions depth becomes an issue but other wise good.

RB- Mike Cox is a big back who can run and I think would do very well in a pro style system (I know he has not played much but has looked good when he has played and according to reports by rivals is the fastest of the RBs) not to mention that Denard might switch to RB and he would do well in any system.

WR - We are loaded with 3 guys that might play at the next level and would fit in any system (Roundtree, Stonum, Hemingway), plus lots of long term depth.

TE- We have two coming back (Koger and Moore) and given some time he might get get one or two Freshmen in this class not to mention that Watson might move back (if he is given a 5th year by the coaches) Overall they will be ok at this position next year but depth will be a major issue.

OL- The linemen are going to have to get bigger and stronger but there is a lot of experence coming back (4 guys with over a year of starting experience and by all accounts Barnum and Schofield are going to be good), though once again long term depth is a major issue.

DL- We return 3 starter that played in a 3-man front although Roh is undersized for a 3-man front.  Overall DL should be a strengh but  we have major depth issues. 

LB - We don't have a lot of 3-4 outside LB who have played but guys like Ken Wilkins, Jim Ryan, and Brandon Herron played similar rolls in High school and could transition well.  Guys like Kovacs and Cam Gordan may be asked to pay LB,  With Demens and Mike Jones I think we are ok up the middle but depth is a major problem at the two MLB spots

CB/S - We have a lot of expernece coming back given how many young players have gotten to play this year. Then with Troy and JT coming back I think this could be a position of strength. I could see Troy and JT at the corners (although I personally think the D is at its best when Troy is at FS) Ray at FS and Carvin at SS.  Depth at CB should be good although there could be a lack of depth at FS.

Special Teams - They have a really good punter, Stonum is a soild return guy and my hope would be that they let Odoms returns punts.  As far as the kicking game goes lets pray they get a good freshman; otherwise I think Ryan Van Bergen [Ed-M: RVB can kick?] gives us the best kicking option.

Offense overall- There is a lot to work with although building depth at both OL and QB will be very important to long term success.

Defense overall – Yes the D is bad but remember that Stanford’s D last year ranked 90thin the nation (not much better than ours) yet Vic Fangio (Stanford’s Defense Coordinator) has this years team ranked 24 and while there D is very disciplined  and tuff they do not have many athletes in the front 7 and still made major improvements.

InSight Bowl Opponent

InSight Bowl Opponent

Submitted by m83econ on November 28th, 2010 at 10:15 PM

Between ESPN & CBS, there are 3 possibilities for the opponent (yes, this assumes nothing strange happens and Michigan goes to the Gator Bowl):



Oklahoma State…

Not much hope for an easy opponent among those 3, but certainly 3 different styles.

OT: The Plymouth High kicker

OT: The Plymouth High kicker

Submitted by yossarians tree on November 28th, 2010 at 9:59 PM

I watched much of the Michigan high school football finals on TV over the weekend. I was extremely impressed with the competitiveness of most of the games in general and with a few players in particular. First and foremost:

The Plymouth kicker (Dan Brinza???). I don't know to what extent this guy was on Michigan's radar, but holy shit did we lose out on this kid. Here's a guy who can ride his bike to Michigan's campus, a school that is so desperate for a good kicker that we were going for it on 4th and 11 on the OSU 25 in the FIRST QUARTER!!!!

Anyway, the kid hit a couple field goals in the game, but the real story was his punting! I had to rewind my DVR at one point to make sure I was not delusional. The young man lined up to punt at his 17 yard line, his foot struck the ball at the 21, and FUCKING BALL NEXT LANDED ON THE GROUND AT THE GOAL LINE!!!

79 yards on the fly people. I saw in today's paper that he averaged 55 yards on 5 punts. Why is this kid not going to Michigan? Holy shite. The day bottomed out when I saw this.

In addition: A lot of Big 10 teams, us included, may end up rueing the day they did not go harder after the Ithaca QB, Niznak, a 6-3, 225 lb farm kid who hit 22-25 passes and ran for about 4 TDS. He is going to Central Mich.

Also, there is a sophomore for GR Catholic or somebody. 6 foot, 250 pounds already, a DL who was caving in the line all day, playing like a man possessed, and even blocked a FG. Who could use a guy like that in two years?

Experience vs defensive performance

Experience vs defensive performance

Submitted by ebv on November 28th, 2010 at 9:15 PM

Let me start this off by thanking all the players for their incredible efforts on the field this season.  Vincent Smith blocking JJ Watt is the defining image for me.  Vinopal stopping Leshoure for a loss on 3rd and 1 is right up there too.

So what is the purpose of this?

I want to explore how much of our defensive performance we can plausibly blame the coaches for, and what is an inevitable part of a young program.  Is there an uninterruptible progression in football ability from freshman to senior, or can good coaching get a kid to play like someone with 2 or more years of experience?  Everyone seems to have an opinion, but what does the data say?

How will you test that? 

I’ve scraped rosters for every FBS team from ESPN.  For each team, I calculate an experience score by assigning a value to each academic year (Senior = 4, Junior = 3, Sophomore = 2, Freshman = 1)  and summing over defensive players**.  High scores will go to big teams with lots of seniors.  Low scores will go to small teams with lots of freshman.  I then measured the correlation with the Football outsider’s defensive S&P+, an aggregate measure of defensive performance that does not (as far as I can tell) include experience.  If performance is predictable from experience, then there is not much the coaches can do aside from wait for the team to grow up.  However, if there is no correlation, then coaches can influence performance by increasing talent levels (recruiting) and ability (coaching).

What are the results?

The data takes on what appears to be a normal distribution with most teams in the middle in terms of both experience and performance, with just a few at the extremes.  Tulane is a major outlier in experience, with an experience score of 63.’s Tulane season preview starts by saying “Few units in America are greater coach killers than the Tulane D.”  More about them later.  The high end of experience features Navy, Nebraska, Army, Ohio, Kansas State, and Notre Dame, in that order.  Michigan has an experience score of 101 and an S&P+ score of 90.8, locating us near the peak of both distributions.

In the next figure, each point is a team, with its experience score on the x-axis and its defensive performance, as measured by Football Outsiders, on the y-axis.  The plot is roughly cone shaped: elite defenses are impossible without a certain level of experience, while at the same time, experienced defenses can be crappy.  It is interesting to note that the upper right is empty, indicating that a team can, somehow, be too experienced.  Could this be explained by the NFL draft?

There is a positive correlation with p = 0.026, indicating that it is not random.  Every year of experience leads to a gain of 0.2 S&P+ units.   In short, getting older makes the team (a little bit) better.

R2 is very small (0.042), meaning that experience can only explain about 4% of the variation in performance.  Most of a team’s defensive performance is not explained from its experience alone.

The red line shows the best fit linear regression model for the data.  Teams above the line are performing better than we would expect from experience alone, while teams below are worse.  The horizontal yellow line shows Michigan’s defensive performance. It is right about the same as Tulane’s (the leftmost point with an experience score of 63).  Coach Killer you say?  The vertical, yellow lines will be discussed after first covering some caveats.

Huge, conclusion altering caveats:

First, ESPN does not include data on redshirts, which would probably change the experience picture substantially.   Second, we can not separate the portions of a team’s defensive performance that are due to good coaching from those that result from raw talent / recruiting.  Third, ESPN does not give information about scholarships, so it is possible for the experience scores to be biased by players who will never see the field.  Fourth, the data does not reflect injuries so the team on the field may be much less experienced than the roster.  Finally, FO Data doesn’t include yesterday’s games yet, so if there were big suprises (cough, Iowa) thet might change this analysis somewhat.  Try to interpret the data with these limitations in mind (i.e. don’t take this analysis too seriously).

Ok, so what are the vertical, yellow lines?

The right one shows Michigan’s experience score.  Note the wide range of possible defensive performance scores at this level of experience.  Clearly, Michigan has suffered its share of injuries this year, so the vertical, yellow line on the left shows the experience score if we remove the defensive players from the OSU injury report (JT Floyd, Mike Jones, Jared Van Slyke, Mike Williams, Troy Woolfolk) and Vladmir Emilien.  Even removing these players, the defense is still playing below the expectation based on their experience.  Note that we are comparing Michigan with injuries to the rest of the FBS without injuries, essentially assuming that Michigan’s injury situation is a wild outlier – an assumption I’m not sure is true.  However, even making this assumption, the team is still performing below average.

Can now we draw some sweeping conclusions about the level of coaching at every football program in the country?

Finally, I wanted to look at who was doing well relative to their experience.  To do this I calculated an expected S&P+ from the regression model (the red line) and subtracted that value from the actual S&P+ score.  I then looked for teams with a large difference in performance and expectation.   If the difference is positive, it means the team is exceeding the performance expected given their experience.  If it is negative, then the team is underperforming expectations.

Who is doing well?

Top ten teams and the amount they’re exceeding expectations, in S&P+ units.

Boise State




Ohio State


South Carolina




Texas A&M




Mississippi State




West Virginia


Who is doing badly?

Bottom eleven teams, and the amount they’re underperforming expectations, in S&P+ units.









New Mexico State






Ball State


Middle Tennessee




Eastern Michigan


How’s the Big 10 doing?

Big 10 teams + ND and Nebraska and the amount they’re exceeding or underperforming expectations, in S&P+ units.

Ohio State






Notre Dame




Michigan State




Penn State












How about Michigan?

Michigan is ranked 93, below expectations by about 11 S&P+ units, even when removing the injured players listed above.  That is nearly a full standard deviation (sd = 13.3).  We’re barely outperforming Bowling Green, Baylor and Virginia, and are being narrowly outperformed by Rice, Florida International and Arkansas State.

And our friends at Tulane?



Actually, about what you’d expect, given their dismal experience score.  They're ranked 56th.


The correlation between experience and defensive performance is poor, which means the coaches should be able to have a great deal of influence over performance.  Michigan is a young team, but plenty of teams that are just as young are outperforming us defensively.  Even if we assume that Michigan’s is the only FBS team with injuries, the performance is still below expectations.  This points to an issue with coaching.

There is the possibility is that Michigan’s experience score is an illusion, and consists mostly of non-scholarship players who will never see the field.  If you know of a data source that has up-to-date rosters and lists which athletes have scholarships, I’d be happy to rerun the analysis, but as it is the numbers make it look like we’re being outcoached, at least defensively, by Tulane.


* Since Tulane is an outlier, I reran this analysis without that datapoint.  There was not a substantial impact on the best-fit model.

** Edit 11/29/2010 - When I originally posted this I said "and summing over the whole team".  Actually, the experience scores are only counted for players at defensive positions.