Dear Diary Recruits Robots

Dear Diary Recruits Robots

Submitted by Seth on December 19th, 2010 at 12:43 PM

michiganrobotpicture2 tock

I hope your monitor likes cyan…

Dear Diary,

I've never been much for criticizing someone else's taste in art. It's a fact of life that some people (my wife) will think a Chagall* is perfect where another person would have a motivational poster or, I dunno, someone's copy of the cover of the Michigan Daily from early January, 1998. Who am I to judge?

Of course, people can come to a general consensus on some art based on a particular work's evocation, effort, insight, execution, etc. For example, 90 percent of Big Ten fans who bothered to approach Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany this week think this is bad art:

Stacked Color <---bigtenlogosucks

And apparently, the commish is listening:

"I think we have enough experience with names, and expansion and development of divisions, to know that you never, rarely, get 90 percent approval rating," Delany said during the interview. "But to get a 90 percent non-approval rating was, you know, really surprising."

Six Zero, official MGoArtist, chimed in with a professional perspective on logo creation, stressing there's a lot more that goes into a logo design than creating something that looks good on a blog. Like writing all the documentation that goes with it, and various formatting options, and vectoring. Suffice to say, your version of Paint probably isn't powerful enough to design the next official Big Ten logo, let alone the accompanying paperwork:

For example, the UM sports department probably issued a new brief last year telling everyone NOT to use the block M with 'MICHIGAN' through the middle, and not to use the one with the blue stroke, and instead use only the single color block M. It might also say you cannot add to the mark, rotate the mark, use different typography for the mark, etc etc.  All of this has to be prepared, developed, and considered so that no handling or manipulation of the logo is open to interpretation.

Here's the available literature on Michigan's logo and use. It's enough to fill a small Web site, but it's really not so much that a savvy marketing student couldn't hammer out over a Christmas Break. From Six's description, the image side doesn't seem impossible for someone with the right Photoshop/GiMP/Inkscape plugins. His point, however, is well taken: the difference between putting up a cool-looking logo on MGoBlog and designing the Big Ten's logo is the difference between coming up with the name/logo/jersey design for the H.R.M. Jack Tars ("Halifax Jacks" for short) and starting a hockey team in Nova Scotia.

Of course, none of this excuses the sad and obvious lack of effort and creativity that went into the artwork itself.

On the other end of the spectrum, 99.9 percent of MGoBlog readers who have read more than one recruiting article since coming to this site agree that this is spectacular art:

Michigan's first battery powered defensive backfield recruit is welcomed by UMAmaizinBlue, who wrote an entire "Hello:" post for this guy, including guru rankings, the Scout screenshot above, offers, high school stats, fake 40 time, and Video? Video!!! Just put this thing on Lock-Down mode and watch all of your metaphors come true:

"His hips are always on a swivel: no seriously, his hips are welded to a swivel. As a result, Michigan Robot can allow his body to follow a tackle through to completion even if he doesn't get the initial stop on first contact, which never happens, so disregard that. How is this guy even legally eligible to play against humans?"

If you made it this far without clicking any of the above links to this excellent diary, my advice is click. This is what good art looks like: well thought out, satirical, pointed, and brilliantly executed. This is your Diarist of the Week.

And speaking of high art, y'all are gonna have a cow

More Cow Belle - 2011 Gator Bowl Wallpaper Preview

…for your weekly monuMental wallpaper. If you're heading south this New Year's, your standard MSU (YTMSU) jokes still apply.


* To be perfectly honest, I love the Chagall.


Oh Right, We Have Another Football Game!


As such, we continue with our regularly scheduled obsessing over Michigan's next football opponent. Obsessed Guy Number One, please step forward…

BlueSeoul: (waves) Hello.

Obsessed Guy Number One is a Wolverine-American wordslinger from Dictionopolis in the Kingdom of Wisdom, who enjoys watching Mississippi State's 2010 entire season and then shooting off game notes in bullets, to varying degrees of graphicality (yes, Windows Live Writer spellchecker, I made that word up). The barrage continues this week with Alcorn State (with pics), Florida, Alabama-Birmingham, and Alabama.

Thank you, Obsessed Guy Number One. Obsessed Guy Number Two, please step out here…

Enjoy Life: (thumbs up). Glad to be back.

Obsessed Guy Number Two is a maize and blue number cruncher from Digitopolis in the Kingdom of Wisdom. By this I mean he likes to take numbers and crunch them down so that hundreds of digits will fit in a diary-width graph:


A satisfying, tasty, mint-berry crunch.

EJ's weekly rundown of college football's sabermetrics predicts Miss St. a 5-point favorite. It's inspiring work, as it inspired this next guy too. Obsessed Guy Number Three, come on down…

Misopogon's bolded subconscious: Free Mo! Free Mo! Free Mo!

Miss St. Preview, and Bowl Watchability Index Using FEI

Remember last week when I used the Fremeau Efficiency Index from Football Outsiders and used it to calculate Bowl Watchability? At the time, the point of this exercise was twofold:

  • Cheating at my (ESPN confidence) office bowl game pool.*
  • Calculating how to maximize my enjoyment of Misopogal's 2.4 football games per week limit before asking why I spend so much time watching football in the bedroom instead of Real Housewives shows with her.

Then I realized the stats lend themselves very well toward predicting what the Miss St. game will look like as compared to other FBS Michigan opponents from 2010.

First, the Watchability Index revisited. I compared each bowl by three metrics of things I think make for a fun bowl-watching experience:

  1. COMP: Competitive (how close are the opponents in FEI?)
  2. PERF: Quality of opponents (total FEI of opponents combined)
  3. OFF: Lots of offense (each team's OFEI plus opponent's DFEI combined)

Google spreadsheet lives here. You can mentally add a 4th for Big Ten games and a 5th for stupid names (Chick-fil-A is a stupid name). I'm trying to make this universal. The numbers are percentiles, a 0 to 100 scale, so high is always better. The results:

Bowl Name






Peach South Carolina vs. Florida State 94.3 71.6 90.4 85.5
Orange Virginia Tech vs. Stanford 64.6 93.3 97.6 85.1
BCS Championship Auburn vs. Oregon 76.7 100.0 70.5 82.4
Sugar Arkansas vs. Ohio State 60.7 87.1 92.4 80.1
Rose Wisconsin vs. TCU 63.0 80.2 88.0 77.1
Independence Air Force vs. Georgia Tech 89.9 39.4 89.2 72.8
Hawaii Hawaii vs. Tulsa 84.7 30.3 97.2 70.7
Gator Mississippi State vs. Michigan 83.4 48.1 79.3 70.3
BBVA Compass Pittsburgh vs. Kentucky 80.0 56.6 68.5 68.4
Liberty Georgia vs. Central Florida 65.6 50.8 87.6 68.0
Pinstripe Syracuse vs. Kansas State 61.0 41.2 100.0 67.4
Capital One Alabama vs. Michigan State 62.3 78.6 57.8 66.2
Dallas Texas Tech vs. Northwestern 72.4 25.0 98.8 65.4
Insight Missouri vs. Iowa 34.2 73.0 86.5 64.6
Alamo Oklahoma State vs. Arizona 77.4 58.3 55.8 63.8
Poinsetta Navy vs. San Diego State 83.7 49.0 53.4 62.0
Armed Forces Army vs. SMU 66.3 25.2 93.2 61.6
Champs Sports West Virginia vs. North Carolina State 13.4 75.0 94.0 60.8
Kraft Fight Hunger Nevada vs. Boston College 56.1 46.9 72.5 58.5
Military Maryland vs. East Carolina 100.0 40.7 33.9 58.2
Cotton LSU vs. Texas A&M 28.4 74.2 68.1 56.9
St. Petersburg Louisville vs. Southern Mississippi 57.9 43.5 64.9 55.4
Sun Miami vs. Notre Dame 29.6 63.8 72.5 55.3
New Orleans Troy vs. Ohio 52.3 17.4 91.2 53.6
Outback Florida vs. Penn State 39.5 42.2 76.5 52.8
Texas Illinois vs. Baylor 75.9 37.6 44.6 52.7
Humanitarian Northern Illinois vs. Fresno State 69.6 31.4 52.2 51.1
Meineke Car Clemson vs. South Florida 0.0 56.5 82.5 46.3
Music City North Carolina vs. Tennessee 49.3 40.6 48.6 46.2
Las Vegas Boise State vs. Utah 43.6 60.9 32.3 45.6
New Mexico BYU vs. UTEP 56.3 9.9 70.1 45.4
Fiesta Oklahoma vs. Connecticut 33.7 63.4 27.1 41.4
Little Caesars Florida International vs. Toledo 58.5 16.0 45.8 40.1
GoDaddy .com Middle Tennessee vs. Miami (OH) 25.6 0.0 76.9 34.2
Holiday Nebraska vs. Washington 46.8 48.7 0.0 31.8

Changes from previous: we look a lot more competitive when you put it that way. There's a lot of bowls with good matchups but our matchup is much closer to Arkansas/Ohio State than Alabama/Michigan State in how confident you should be of the outcome. On the other hand, the teams are decidedly middling.

The big question on my mind is where Miss. St. falls among our other opponents this year. So I did that too. I pulled comparisons of each opponent's O versus our D, their D versus our O, and their total efficiency versus ours. Field Position and Field Goals are there too. FCS opponents are removed. The results are all zero-ed at Michigan's numbers, so negative means we're better than them at this, and positive means they're that much better than us at it:



Bowl Game







1 Connecticut Fiesta 45 0.000 0.143 -0.517 0.058 1.359
2 Notre Dame Sun 29 0.059 0.336 -0.397 0.020 2.059
4 Bowling Green no bowl 103 -0.200 -0.089 -0.931 0.042 0.094
5 Indiana no bowl 89 -0.147 0.368 -0.890 -0.037 1.421
6 Michigan State Capital One 22 0.104 0.597 -0.290 0.006 1.739
7 Iowa Insight 20 0.116 0.504 -0.288 0.047 1.136
8 Penn State Outback 52 -0.029 0.194 -0.657 0.052 1.301
9 Illinois Texas 34 0.050 0.352 -0.372 0.045 1.470
10 Purdue no bowl 88 -0.144 -0.122 -0.591 0.008 1.411
11 Wisconsin Rose 9 0.179 0.773 -0.404 0.073 1.618
12 Ohio State Sugar 7 0.184 0.596 -0.186 0.082 1.275
13 Mississippi State Gator 33 0.052 0.189 -0.280 0.048 1.097

Wow does this ever tell the story of this year: our offense is better than any defense we faced, sometimes murderously so; our defense was worse than any offense we faced except for a MACrifice and a Purdue team whose plan for the Michigan game was to use their 3rd string running back with a gimp leg at QB and have him pass to the quarterback with a broken hand except then the RB/QB guy got injured on the first play. Field position was terrible except against…Indiana? And we never met a team who was a tenth as bad at kicking field goals as we are.

So in Total FEI, Mississippi State is a slightly better Illinois, and marginally behind Notre Dame:

Team FEI %ile
Ohio State 100.0
Wisconsin 98.7
Iowa 82.3
Michigan State 79.2
Notre Dame 67.4
Mississippi State 65.6
Illinois 65.1
Connecticut 52.1
Penn State 44.5
Purdue 14.6
Indiana 13.8
Bowling Green 0.0

Both games on either side of MSU were very close wins. We have one loss on a terrible performance below it, and other than ND no wins above it. Michigan is actually in an FEI virtual tie with BCS-by-segfault UConn (fact: Rich Rod teams would dominate in the Big East), so beating ND and Illinois were both reaches for us. But this thing is winnable.

MSU Offense vs. Michigan's Defense:


Team Off. %ile
Wisconsin 100.0
Michigan State 80.3
Ohio State 80.2
Iowa 69.9
Indiana 54.7
Illinois 53.0
Notre Dame 51.2
Penn State 35.3
Mississippi State 34.7
Connecticut 29.6
Bowling Green 3.7
Purdue 0.0

This is good news. Their offense is going to be among the worst we've faced, slightly below Penn State's half-McGloin/half-disaster total. If you look at the first chart with all the OFEI versus our DFEI, you can see this still makes their offense better than our defense (only BG and Purdue could be counted on to shoot themselves in the foot). If anything, this number is probably low for Miss St., since their offense relies heavily on a mooseback quarterback and the SEC West is the home of large and ponderous front sevens who depress the efficacy of moosebacks. Still, this is not Wisconsin's attack, nor the MSU/OSU slow murder. Maybe bump them up mentally to Illinois, but no further.

MSU Defense vs. Michigan's Offense:

The story of our defense is told above. Some teams we could simply run all over. Some gave us a few fits. Some were actually capable of stopping us. MSU is very much in the latter:

Team Def. %ile
Ohio State 100.0
Mississippi State 87.4
Iowa 86.3
Michigan State 86.0
Illinois 75.0
Notre Dame 71.7
Wisconsin 70.7
Connecticut 55.6
Purdue 45.6
Penn State 36.8
Indiana 5.5
Bowling Green 0.0

DenardAfter Ohio State, this is the most efficient defense we've faced, according to FEI. They're not Ohio State, but rather indistinguishable from Iowa and Michigan State, two teams who ostensibly looked good against Michigan. Except, really, we were fine at moving the ball against those guys as they played bend-don't-break against us until we got to the red zone and inevitably threw an interception or Lewan got flagged for a false start or something. Forcier shredded Iowa in the just-short comeback. And neither of those defenses should be anything like what Mississippi State throws at us. As Brian's been pointing out, MSU is a blitz-happy squad, whereas MSU and Iowa defended against Denard by sitting back and trusting their linebackers and DEs to contain Denard. The blitziest opponent we faced this year has to be Notre Dame, but then they had the most success against our offense when the Irish stopped blitzing and went to a disguised 4-man front. This is as bad a matchup for MSU's defense as our defense is for their spread-n-moose offense. I expect them to look more like Notre Dame; if they stick to what they do best and send blitzers against Denard the whoop-master, well, good luck with that.

Special Teams:

This doesn't get its own chart, but it's kind of encouraging in a kind of we've been to hell so what's Guantanamo kind of way. Little Miss State over here is in the Penn State/Iowa/Illinois field position range of better-than-M-but-so-is-everybody-else. HOWEVEA, in field goals they're the worst team we've faced since Bowling Green (who was using our old kickoff specialist. In kicking competence, they're probably good for 3 more points this game than Michigan will get.


* Guess what, readers from my office: I updated my picks after the latest FEI rankings came out, so if you're using my own table to beat me, yours was made with old data. Also, what's with like four people naming their entries some form of "I want Harbaugh"?


Other Adventures in the Tollbooth World


As we travel through the country of Wisdom, this week witnessed some great analytical work on dogging questions from the Rich Rod era and college football in general.

Is There a Barwis Effect?


You will come here. You will be destroyed. You will be rebuilt. You will be Barwisized. User bonobojones did the single most interesting thing yet with those weight stats that we have in plenty but are hard to glean any useful information from beyond "look how much the hog-mollies weigh at Wisconsin." This highly intelligent primate, who is unfairly hard on himself for something so interesting, takes three years of team weights and discovers there is a Barwis effect of losing bad weight and gaining good weight demonstrated in our players' progressions. Players tend to lose weight or gain it marginally from freshman to sophomore years, then gain quickly as upperclassmen. This was especially true, it seems, on defense. It's not nearly enough data to support a conclusion, but he offers one for the sake of argument:

Looking at the large changes taking place with OL, DL, and LB, it's obvious that these players should not be playing young. Or at least we should not be judging them so much based on performance in their first couple of years.

With over 100 comments, the argument has been healthy.

Does Time of Possession Mean Better Defense?


SmithersJoe came in with a graph-heavy breakdown of time of possession and how it relates to defensive efficiency (again, using Fremeau). In an addendum, he tried again to find a correlation in number of offensive possessions and defensive efficiency, to see if the style of offense has an effect. In both: not statistically significant:

What this says to me is that there are too many variables that influence how a defense performs; one cannot boil it down to a simple thing like Time of Possession (or experience on a depth chart, for that matter). All of those factors may play a part, but no one individual factor is significantly correlated to a team’s performance on defense. Football is just too complex to boil down into simplistic truisms.

Is Experience Necessary for Good Play?

jhr5sg The post linked in the above quote is that from ebv this week which takes a fresh look at experience independent from talent to see if gross years on a team make a big difference for how a defense or offense performs. The results: again, not statistically significant.

Translation: if this mattered a lot, the dots should look kind of like they're bunching around an imaginary line that angles from lower-left to upper-right. Rather, it's just…spotty. The other thing spotty about this: the blue crosshairs that represent Michigan show us to be an above-average team in experience. Wait…what?

Is it possible that we need more variables to make sense of this data?  (Any stat experts know whether you can underestimate an effect by having too few variables?)  It’s also possible that an interaction between several variables might provide a good explanation for our data; for example we might need experience, NFL-worthy talent and great coaching to produce an elite defense, but none of the three alone will do it.

Or it could be the obvious: you're giving as much credit to a team starting Adam Patterson and Courtney Avery (=2.5) as one starting two 5-stars, one a junior and another a sophomore, both whom started the year previous. But keep checking in on ebv's work here, because it sounds like he's building a good database that will yield some results once stuff like this is accounted for. My feeling is you need to judge performance versus expectation (based on Rivals Rating). You can pretty simply total up the recruiting average (dropping the lowest 25 percent of results from each class?) for each unit and compare that with FEI. Then see how much the difference between RR and FEI correlates to academic year.

Till next week, folks, stay out of the Doldroms.