Unverified Voracity Is Spreadsheet Mad

Unverified Voracity Is Spreadsheet Mad

Submitted by Brian on July 9th, 2010 at 1:47 PM

Time-lapse photography. Ace has compiled a slideshow of Bo's team pictures over the years. It's like the Johnny Cash "hurt video" but team-specific:

They multiply and are fertile. We should film a version of that Nike ad with a bunch of soccer players thanking the US team for being inspiring. Ours would have folks in front of spreadsheets running regressions thanking Misopogon and the Mathlete. MCalibur's latest was FPed yesterday and I'd be remiss if I didn't mention El Jeffe's study of how important first down yardage is. It is very math-heavy, but here's a straightforward analysis of Michigan versus itself under Carr, WVU under RR, and OSU:

breakdownsNote how small the margins are here despite the huge differences in the aggregate and observationally. This is the '09 team, remember, not the Threetsheridammit '08 offense, which would make your monitor bleed in strategic points like "-4 to –1" yards on first down.

The biggest difference? "Turnover on series," which is almost double for '09 than it was in the staid Carr era and considerably above either the OSU or WVU lines. The other figure that jumps out is the percentage of plays that lost yards: almost 15 for Michigan '09 and around 9 or 10 for everyone else. If Michigan can stop those two things they can have an excellent offense. That will depend largely on the performances of both tackles and both(?) quarterbacks.

Gah, that's not how it's supposed to work. After a brief period of salivating over the USC defensive backfield when the Trojans' sanctions were announced, things went quiet on the yo-ho-ho front. Then a couple of backups started lighting out for greener pastures, and one of them is going to show up in Michigan Stadium next year. He won't be playing for the right team, though:

Junior fullback D.J. Shoemate told ESPN Thursday night he is transferring to Connecticut.

He said he is making the move because he wants to play running back, and because USC has such depth at the position, he didn't think he would get the chance. USC has used him as a wide receiver and at fullback. He was expected to compete for the starting spot in 2010.

Connecticut returns leading rusher Jordan Todman and his 1188 yards but loses Andre Dixon and his 1093 yards. UConn runs a lot. Shoemate was a Rivals 100 guy as a recruit and could see a few carries against Michigan. Hopefully none of them will go for 85 yards.

Open house. If you're around on Wednesday the 14th, you are hereby invited to check out the new Michigan Stadium. Press release is up at MVictors. Details to know:

  • Free parking at Pioneer.
  • Enter through Gate 2 on the south side of the stadium.
  • WTKA will broadcast live from the event.

There is no word on whether the troughs have returned to the men's bathrooms, but I'm guessing no.

It is more meaningful to score. Hockey numbers guy Gabe Desjardins maintains "NHL equivalencies" lists for all the major feeder leagues that supply hockey's big time with players. These have long maintained that an NCAA point is worth considerably more than a CHL point when it comes to projecting that player's NHL scoring. This has something to do with the average age of both the player in question and his opponents, which are both on average older in the NCAA.

Oilers blog the Copper and Blue has drilled down with some additional age breakdowns that have very low sample sizes but are interesting nonetheless:

NCAA_Equivalency_medium

Once you get past 21, jumping directly to the NHL becomes rare and generally unsuccessful. Before that the players (all forwards in this study) maintain their scoring rate considerably better than juniors of an equivalent age. Again, low sample size due to the focus on jumps to the NHL. Would be interesting to see about AHL equivalencies since that's a far larger pool of players.

This won't happen. USC's proposed 2011 Kiffin Bowl with Tennessee in Atlanta isn't going to happen for obvious reasons—Tennessee is pretty full up on real games already and is in a position to lose most of those—so the organizers are casting about for someone else. Cue the sexy names and entire conferences:

Regardless of the opponent, Kiffin still wants to bring the Trojans to Atlanta, hopefully for the 2011 kickoff game.

“They’re interested in playing people other than Tennessee," Stokan said.

But who? Notre Dame, Michigan, Big East and Big 12 schools are under consideration.

Notre Dame's presence of a list of potential USC opponents instantly invalidates said list, but it says Michigan there so here's this blurb. Michigan does get the ND/PSU/OSU trio at home in 2011 and could conceivably head to Atlanta without killing the home schedule, but if they were going to schedule USC they'd probably just order up a home-and-home instead of playing thousands of miles away from either campus.

Rub those barrels. Remember last year when Lane Kiffin was running around doing very derp things and otherwise well-adjusted UT folk were sounding increasingly unhinged as they attempted to justify Coach Derp's derpity doo*? Tables have turned. Here's a Conquest Chronicles response to the release of Seantrel Henderson:

Coachspeak aside, this remains a small victory for USC. Even more so in the wake of the NCAA sanctions, USC remains a "big boy" program reserved for athletes with killer instincts and intense competitive spirits, who are driven and motivated to become the best players possible. The right players for this program are not, however, motivated by the possibility of playing in one or two bowl games, as Kiffin echoed the other day.

That statement must have been made with a shotgun in the author's lap. He caresses it gently, telling Wallace the Gun that, coachspeak aside, he remains a very good gun with shiny barrels. One day Wallace might make a very loud noise, and that, too, will be a small victory for USC.

Rocky Top Talk is staging an intervention:

We know from experience the dilemma a fan experiences when Lane Kiffin takes the reigns of your beloved program and that it can drive you to the edge of insanity, but hopefully you come to your senses before walking off the cliff.

*(Att'n Penn State bloggers: you could successfully lob the irony grenade at me here.)

Cancer updates. The latest on Vada Murray is up at their Caring Bridge site. They're on vacation in the UP:

We are making a trip to a local hospital up here every day for bloodwork.  Vada's liver enzymes normalized last week and he was able to go back on the trial, but promptly taken off again two days later.  Vada's oncologist is able to monitor him closely from afar and although it sucks to have to go to a hospital while we are on vacation, it's just what we have to do.

Vada is slightly better since my last post.  The challenges we currently face are controlling his pain, his liver enzymes, & his cancer. 

Phil Brabbs, meanwhile, has gotten a second bone marrow transplant and did an interview on WJR fresh out of the hospital. The interview is on WJR's site. Meanwhile, his blogging pace will be slowing down as he recovers from the various treatments he's undergone. Alarm not necessary.

Etc.: Tennessee probably just landed a major violation.

Dear Diary: 11-13-09

Dear Diary: 11-13-09

Submitted by Tim on November 13th, 2009 at 4:55 PM

Rounding up the week's best in user-created content.

A little off the wall choice for the diarist of the week. Captain Obvious writes an awesome set of lyrics about the state of Michigan's football team:

It's a punt block when it's already too late

It's a no-punting sign on your Space Emperor's leg

It's like ten thousand Slots when you need is a MIKE

It's meeting the Center of my dreams

And then meeting his shredded up knee

And isn't it ironic... don't you think

A little too ironic... and yeah I really do think...

It's like rain on Homecoming Day

It's a blown punt when you've already faked

It's the three points that you just couldn't take

Who would've thought ... it figures

Congratulations, Captain Obvious, you are the Diarist of the Week.

michelin looks at similarities between the overall trajectories of the Notre Dame and Michigan football programs.

The promising thing is that, unlike ND, UM has more, not less, starters coming back for the next two years. Clearly, it’s way too early to tell—as Brian has intimated today—but I can't help worrying that we might end up like ND if we keep getting rid of coaches before they can build their program.  

I think at this point, there's no (rational) fan calling for Rich Rodriguez to be fired at least until the end of next year, so this overall worry may not be an issue. I still recommend clicking through because lolnd.

On a similar note, Brady2Terrell looks at the 47 coaches who have started their Big Ten coaching careers with 2 consecutive losing seasons:

*5 (10.6%) have won even a single Big Ten title;

*5 (10.6%) have finished their tenure with even a winning record;

*2 (4.3%) have won at least one Big Ten title AND finished with a winning record; and

*0 have won national titles.

The numbers aren't pretty, but there's still hope ahead for Michigan fans. Like he says, it's not that we're screwed, it's that we're in uncharted territory here. A positive comparison would likely require winning one or both of the last two games. Hey, then Rich can be like... Jackie Sherrill?

TAMU was 5-5 going into its final game at Texas, which was playing for the SWC Title. TAMU blew out the Horns in Austin, something like 38-12, sending the Horns to one of those nondefunct bowls. The 6-5 record wasn't good enough for a bowl game in those days (unless you were ND or UM) so TAMU stayed home but the win in Austin took all of the heat off of Sherrill.

TAMU went on to win 3 consecutive SWC titles in 85-86-87 and beat Texas each year. Sherrill had finally "arrived" at a school where Football is king over the other sports.

Let's hear it for positivity!

The week started off with some seriously emo posts following the Purdue loss. Geaux_Blue said:

I guess why I made this diary is simple. For those of us All In, the road is narrow and uphill. The likelihood is 5-7 and the off-season is going to be months of looking at checkbooks and wondering "why did I spend $50 to drink at the bar and watch non-Siller shred us in November." This is difficult and not even close to the experience of overcoming kneeshoulderelbowhead like Forcier or any player is facing. But the fanbase has its own wounds. And they're licked (that's what she said).

A rational take for the fanbase that continues to support Michigan.

Lordfoul sums up what we know coming out of the Purdue game. In condensed form:

  1. Michigan has the worst defense in the B10.
  2. The offense continues to improve.
  3. This confluence of probabilities is not favorable for the current coaching staff. Michigan is known for giving its coaches time and not being hasty in firings. That said this situation may not right itself in time to save Rich Rod and friends even given the extra slack.
  4. I would put it at at least improbable that we will win either of our last two games this season.
  5. Danny Hope is an asshole.

I disagree with point #3. Dude, there's no way Rich gets fired after two years, and a (highly likely) bowl game is probably enough progress to save his hide for another year. He may get fired after that, but it wouldn't be because there wasn't enough time, it would be because he was given enough time and failed.

hekdchi looks at what has improved between year 1 and year 2 of the Rodriguez era:

This entry will list the raw numbers of Michigan's 2008 season versus the 2009 season thus far to demonstrate where the team has and has not improved in the Rich Rodriguez era.

Hint: offense good, defense bad. This is probably not terribly surprising to anyone. Of note is that the defense is giving up fewer points than last year, and has improved in a couple other categories (though slightly). Expanding on that idea is clarkiefromcanada, who takes umbrage with the use of the term "regression":

Like all of you I am totally frustrated with how this is working out this year; however, I am sick and tired of the naysayers, trolls and newbie idiots posting the exact same material on "regression".

Amen. Especially since it's totally fair to expect a defense that lost half of its starters will get a little worse. Speaking of losing all those starters, Misopogon gives a handy graphical representation of his stellar "Decimated Defense" series. There are kittens involved. Jokewood also shows that even the sheer numbers, especially of upperclassmen, are a sign that Michigan isn't going to be a great defense:

The rest of the Big Ten averages 50% more upperclassmen on defense.  We are dead last in the conference by a wide margin in terms of experienced defensive players.   Purdue and Notre Dame - the two teams closest in terms of youth - also have terrible defenses, against which Michigan averaged 35 ppg this year.

It may be a while before the numbers are worked out, too.

Steve Sharik's awesome X-and-O post was frontpaged; you're probably familiar with it.

veer

Familiarize yourselves with the veer, fools.

Etc.: Wolverine in Exile runs down the BCS rankings. 909Dewey talks about expectations for Rich Rodriguez coming in, how they've shifted, and how he's living up to them. stubob previews the ugly games of the week. The Mathlete looks at the Purdue game by the numbers. I recommend you stop reading before you get to pass defense. The man... the myth... THE_KNOWLEDGE predicts coaching changes.

Dear Diary: The Inaugural

Dear Diary: The Inaugural

Submitted by Tim on November 6th, 2009 at 4:41 PM

Rounding up the week's best in user-created content. There's so much good stuff around here that this should become a weekly feature.

[Editor's note: that is the plan for the rest of the season; if/when diaries start to fall off we might make it biweekly.]

Any discussion of excellent diaries from the past week has to begin with Misopogon's 2-parter, "The Decimated Defense" (part 2).

Part one discusses the number of recruits and the amount of attrition from Michigan defensive recruiting classes over the last five years:

  1. Small defensive class size seems to more culpable than attrition for the defense's depth issues.
  2. Very, very little of the overall attrition on defense seems to be related to the coaching change.
  3. The disastrous Class of 2005 is still leaving ripples through Michigan's program. If you discount the erstwhile 5th year seniors and true freshmen, our attrition rate is still like 1 out of 3, which is bad, but not as ludicrously bad-looking at you see here.
  4. RR's focus on offense in his limited time in 2008 may have resulted in a class just as disastrous.
  5. The English-to-Shafer-to-GERG shift is probably somewhat at fault for many of these players' seemingly retarded development (particularly the linebackers)

Part Two compares the findings of part one to a number of teams in Michigan's cohort, and it has a lot of awesome graphs like this one:

Michigan Alabama Notre Dame Ohio State Penn State
2005 4 3 0 6 3
2006 6 5 2 6 8
2007 4 8 4 8 6
2008 7 15 10 6 4
2009 5 10 4 9 4
4-Star+ 26 41 20 35 25

It even includes a call to action for you, prospective diarist!:

I posted a copy of the Excel spreadsheet above. I would love it if someone would add more teams to the study, or qualify the recruits by creating a new category for later-career ranking. In that, I mean find some way to reassess each player based on his performance thus far against what we should expect from a player of any given Rivals Rating. I'd like to see how Michigan stacked up in picking up guys who would come above versus below expectations.

Misopogon, you are The Diarist of the Week.

CollegeFootball13 does some additional analysis of Michigan's recruiting and attrition over the past few years. You may recognize MCalibur's diary from being bumped to the front page earlier in the week. Don't be scared by the Picasso at the beginning, there's a statistical analysis of offensive improvement in there, as well.

Elsewhere in graph-heavy diaries, Enjoy Life looks at whether Michigan's ongoing turnover woes are a result of the spread option system that Rich Rodriguez runs. He concludes that Michigan's turnover problems aren't because of the system based on RichRod's past at WVU. He is supported with a little less analysis by bouje:

He didn't forget how to coach, turnovers were never an incredible problem under RR at WV, so what is the problem here? I don't really know but I have the confidence in RR to know that he will sort it out.

HOWEVA, PeterKilma thinks that maybe Rich's style of coaching may not be the most effective for all types of kids, and that could be the problem.

The Mathlete gave his stats-based preview of the Illinois game, then followed up with a recap. These things are not at all alike, of course, because WTF Illinois? I think the whole thing can be summed up by one line:

WOW. This was really bad, worse than I expected even.

The emotional counterpart to that is provided Seth9, who is really, really sad for the sake of sports in the state of Michigan:

Now, as I write this at 1:30 in the morning after watching one of the most atrocious games I've ever seen out of a Michigan football team, I wonder why it is that we surrender our emotional well-being to these teams that so often disappoint us. I am still simultaneously depressed and angry about losing such an awful game to such an awful team and I know that this will persist for at least the rest of the week. And it's not as if this situation, this streak of disappointing performances, is unusual. Our teams will generally disappoint us, because we will always hope that our teams will do better than what we can reasonably expect from them. So why is it that we let ourselves care so much? Why do we look to something as inconsequential as the result of a football game as a source of elation or despair?

jamiemac, ever the reasonable one (except when he bets on Michigan to cover against Illinois), strikes out against the more vocally stupid members of the fanbase:

Those critics must be RIGHT becasue their OUTRAGE is LOUD and ANGRY and this is UNACCEPTABLE and they WONT TAKE THIS ANYMORE because this is not MICHIGAN FOOTBALL.

Well, I have two words for those hyperbolic reactionaries today.

Shut Up.

Oh, and another sentence.

Go cheer for another team for awhile.

bjdaniels.png

joeyb breaks down some Picture Pages, and determines that the quarterback who is best with his ballfakes will eventually be Michigan's starter. Using Juice Williams's ninja-osity, and BJ Daniels/Jeremiah Masoli's similar abilities, selling the fake is deemed most important to running the read-option.

Etc.: oakapple reminds up that Rodriguez won't be fired until at least 2011 without major NCAA violations. stubob runs down the worst games this weekend. dmccoy reminds us to keep our expectations in line with where they were in the summer.

Unverified Voracity Hates Non-Engineers

Unverified Voracity Hates Non-Engineers

Submitted by Brian on November 6th, 2009 at 12:52 PM

I… here. This is for you. Is there a thing that makes these things? If there is a thing that makes these things, this is slightly crazy. If there isn't I don't know what you can even say. Other than FTW. It came from the message boards.

Rodriguezpokemon3

This is where we are this week.

Thank God for Adidas. I know Michigan would never go for something like this

seminoles-goofy-unis

…or do I? I mean, we are currently enduring hyper-loud blasts of Bob Seger and AC/DC on a regular basis. There is some possibility Special K, Michigan Marketing Droid, thinks "wicked sweet" when he sees things like this "tribute"…

osu-throwback-air-quotes

…to Ohio State's championship team on their very special 55th anniversary. I think you're supposed to get her a wicker lawnchair. 54 is a tea set made from the bones of your enemies. Adidas may have put stupid piping* on the away jerseys and convinced a lot of players to wear weird stripey undershirts, but it's not Nike and their band of evil scientists.

Yes, yes, I know. There's a "get off my lawn" tag for a reason.

*(Nameplates on the back cover up the piping if the name is of any length—Smith works, Forcier does not—and look stupider than even regular stupid piping, which also looks stupid.)

I don't know the answer to this complicated question, let's ask someone else who doesn't know and be kind of a jerk about it yay. This is just another stock answer to a dumb press conference question that's sort of adversarial and makes the questioner feel fuzzy about asking truth to power, but it's more irksome than most because of MCalibur's extensive offseason research project on the matter:

Rodriguez disputed the notion that his spread-option offense puts quarterbacks more in harm’s way than other systems.

“I think when you’re a younger guy and you’re 180 pounds and you hadn’t had a chance to get a couple years in the weight room and a couple years of maturity and growth, I think you’re more likely to get banged around,” Rodriguez said. “But other quarterbacks when we were in the system played entire years without missing a snap. So I don’t think it’s the system.”

The MCalibur study  has five years of numbers behind it now and has a clear outcome: quarterbacks who run the ball more often actually miss less time than quarterbacks that are exclusively passers. (They are slightly more likely to get injured, but tend to lose fewer games when they are.) You could ask the coach about something or you could do it yourself—in this case you could just look it up. Who cares what Rich Rodriguez—who might have a stake in this—thinks about this? You might as well ask Bobby Bowden if he thinks he is awesome.

While I'm on the kick. Michael Rothstein put out an article at AA.com disputing the notion that Michigan is a particularly young team:

On this week’s depth chart for Purdue (noon, Big Ten Network), Michigan will start eight players on offense who have been in college for three years or more, including redshirt years.

On defense, eight starters fall into the same classification.

Special teams features two fifth-year seniors in kicker Jason Olesnavage and punter Zoltan Mesko.

So to point to the roster and say 60 freshmen and sophomores are on it, including walk-ons, as a youth excuse a false truth.

This has been picked apart on the message board already, but to echo: just because the starters have "experience" doesn't mean they are good options. To cite another extensive research project by a diarist here, Michigan has endured four years of terrible retention on defense, giving them few or no options beyond players who do not appear very good at football. Not every high-rated recruit works out, and not every "experienced" player—and Kevin Leach counts in this metric as an experienced player—is good when you have recruited Penn State-sized classes and experienced sub-Alabama level retention.

Arbitrarily drawing a line at redshirt sophomores and arguing that Michigan is plenty experienced enough to win without providing any context is not a good way to argue when there's an extensive study that shows Michigan has fewer, and much younger, options than its primary competitors. Youth does not exist in a vacuum. Michigan is vastly younger and thinner than its rivals, and that's a valid reason they are not very good at football.

This is why UFR exists. It's rip on people for not being engineers day, apparently. BTN analyst Chris Martin never says anything useful as a color guy so it's unsurprising he's dead wrong about Michigan's problems on defense this year:

Big Ten Network analyst Chris Martin, who’ll broadcast his third Michigan game Saturday against Purdue, said the secondary has played like “part of the hospital burn unit,” and its problems are compounded by issues up front.

Michigan ranks ninth in the Big Ten with 16 sacks and has one of the smallest defensive lines in the league.

“I think their inability to get pressure up front has kind of caused them to pressure a little bit, no pun intended,” Martin said. “Now it’s like they’re working so hard to get to the quarterback and get sacks, they’re getting gashed on run plays."

"Inability to get pressure" is something you'd say if you looked up those sack numbers and had no other context in which to judge Michigan. Other than the Notre Dame game, Michigan has gotten to the quarterback plenty, they just haven't ever covered anyone long enough for Graham to get his due.

That article cites the following people in a discussion of Michigan's defense: Martin, Lee Corso, Shawn King, Ray Bentley, and Matt Millen. Other than King that's a short list of people I wouldn't trust to count to five.

This unnamed "evaluator" is interesting, however:

According to one talent evaluator, defensive end Brandon Graham is Michigan’s only high-level NFL defensive prospect. Warren projects as a "later"-round draft pick, and Mike Martin is “a good college player” who “might have a chance at the next level,” the evaluator said.

Here's hoping Warren is indeed a "later" round pick and decides to help his stock by coming back, because Michigan needs him badly next year.

Run chart. The run chart from the Illinois game is up; I think it's a little less harsh on Brown than it should be and packs it in after the rage-inducing goal line stand. A reader emailed me a good point: if Minor wasn't available on the goal line, wouldn't a package of Moundros and Grady gotten the job done? What is with the marginalization of Moundros this year anyway?

Apologies for a  moment of meta and self promotion, but we are the champions.. This is apparently the best college football blog in the universe according to Sports Media Challenge, a consulting/marketing firm that operates in the digital space and other such droidwords. It's a narrower field than it should be, though, with the exclusion of a subset of blogs that tend to be good ones:

We do not include blogs that are subscription based or backed by traditional media outlets. This is especially true of blogs that do not have full editorial control over their content.

That's the only reason Doctor Saturday isn't anywhere on the list, right? I get that they're trying to distinguish between blogs run by newspaper folk that are mostly extensions of beatwriting and fan-driven media, but DocSat is firmly One of Us.

A couple of notes on the list:

  • The Big Ten lands five of the top ten slots, the SEC two, the ACC and Big 12 one each. Two general blogs (EDSBS and the Wizard of Odds) show; if you want to file EDSBS as a Florida blog I think you're wrong but whateva you do what you want.
  • SBNation has either six or seven of the blogs on the list, depending on how you classify EDSBS. Hall gets his funding from SBN but has not converted over to the software monolith. This place, the Wiz, and Eleven Warriors are the only indies.

Etc.: We are on the spot this week, and how. Michigan has a huge hockey series against #1 Miami of Ohio this weekend; I would have said more but the only non-exhibition game I've seen this year was the Thursday night Niagara game so I don't have any smart opinions. Having this series so early is frustrating.

Mailbag!

Mailbag!

Submitted by Brian on October 27th, 2009 at 11:26 AM

First, a request for assistance:

Hey Brian-

I don't know if you or any of your readers might be able to help, but I'm trying to find a recording of a song. I saw a poster for some sheet music at Mr. Stadium Laundry that contained a song called "The Michigan Drinking Song." From what I've been able to find from my Google searches, it was written around the turn of the century and was voted "Favorite College Song" in the 1905 Michiganesian and included in "The Michigan University Songbook" published in 1904. It was written by M.B. Cooper.

My friends and I find it hard to believe that there's no recorded version of this song, and if it's not too much trouble, we'd really like to find it. Thanks for any help you can provide.

Andy

I don't know if I can help, but may be a reader can?

Moving on to other matters:

Brian,

Have you considered year-end awards for the best diaries, board posts, or other community contributions?  If so, and if it happens this year, I’d like to nominate Misopogon’s “How Tate Stacks Up Against M QBs of 2005-2008” for best diary – because, you know, holy crap.  In fact, maybe the award should be called the Misopogon?

--Matt

That would be something the community should do, as it's community content. I'm not sure anything can be derived from the board since it moves so fast and has so many tiny posts, but some recognition for the fine diarists who provide a lot of value to the site is in order. After the season I'm planning to implement a subscription option where for a nominal monthly fee you can get rid of the ads, and if there's some sort of user-generated awards thing I'll throw some freebies out to the winners.

Brian,

Are Roh and Kovacs outside linebackers in disguise? I know they aren't perfect fits, but given our lack of depth and GERG's willingness to move people around, do you think that the coaching staff is at least thinking about this a little?

Also, in the other football, will/should Dempsey start at forward now?

-Brian DeHaven

Roh: no. Roh is 230, maybe 240 right now and will add 10-30 pounds over the course of his Michigan career. He's a defensive end all the way and will probably be a four-year starter at deathbacker if he doesn't end up moving to Graham's spot. Kovacs: maybe. I don't know if I've kicked this around on the blog yet, but I have mentioned it on WTKA: I think Kovacs might move to the Stevie Brown SLB/nickelback/spinner position next year if they can find any freakin' safeties. I think that's unlikely given the depth chart at safety and the recruitment of Hawthorne/Jones to play the Brown spot, but if they move a couple guys and someone steps up it's at least a vague possibility. I think Kovacs's skills are well suited for what Brown's currently doing. They're better suited to that than they are the deep centerfield he's been playing; moving Woolfolk to corner has just sprung a different leak in the secondary.

Shameless answer to the irrelevant Dempsey question: absolutely. Dempsey is mostly a striker in the EPL and has done his best work with the Nats after late-game moves up top. The alternative is… um… Conor Casey? I'd rather see Holden or Torres on the field. Maybe that's because I missed the brace against Honduras. But, no, probably not.

Hey Brian,

After the 3-9 debacle last year, obviously recruiting wasn't going to be as impressive this year. But what do you think about the defensive recruiting (or lack there of) at key positions?

I know Michigan is in on a number of good cornerbacks including Cullen Christian, Tony Grimes, and Rashad Knight (Though Christian could play safety and Knight is being recruited as one), but it seems like the staff is recruiting too many "project" players who will switch positions in the coming years before they settle in. The fact of the matter is this team has no real free safety type (Woofolk moved to CB), and the primary safety commit, Marvin Robinson, is headed to the Stevie Brown/SAM linebacker position.

Also, the defensive line has a number of players who fit the Craig Roh mold (Wilkins for sure, Paskorz maybe?), but a lack of a real Graham-like DE. Talbott is a very explosive player who I think will be underrated. Couple that with Antonio Kinard as the only LB commit (have you seen our LB play?) does this concern you at all? I think it's important that the mgobloggers realize this staff is far from perfect and not every recruiting choice they make is perfect.

Jeff

Moving players from one high school position to another is a fact of life, as high schools will often throw their best players at crazy positions in an attempt to take advantage of their athleticism. The craziest position to date is Brandin Hawthorne's existence as a high school defensive end. Ideally you'd like to see guys coming in who have experience at their chosen position, but it's not like those guys get a ton of great coaching in high school anyway, or have any idea what they can get away with when everyone around them is about as athletic as they are. Michigan is clearly not in an ideal situation.

I think you'll see (PA DE Ken) Wilkins end up at Graham's spot down the road. Graham is currently 270 pounds and Wilkins is already 240 in high school; he'll end up putting at least 20 pounds in his first couple years here, at which point the move will be obvious, and what you'll see is Michigan pick up a bunch of defensive backs—5 or 6—with the intent of putting everyone in a blender and figuring out where they fit later. Some position moves are scary; safety-to-corner isn't. The linebackers are a concern; if Michigan doesn't pick up both Furman and Olaniyan the class will be disappointing there. And I don't think they'll get both.

Obviously the staff is not "perfect," but neither is the opposite extreme accurate: Rodriguez is not going to bring in classes like this year every time out. When he had a full year to recruit and didn't have a 3-9 anchor around his neck, Michigan brought in the #6 recruiting class, one laden with four-star guys. Almost every one of the recruits Rodriguez picked up in the brief window he had to finish Carr's last class was highly rated by one service or the other. This year's an anomaly, and the class will probably finish at the tail end of the top 20, not coincidentally the same area Notre Dame's post-crater class ended up.

Hello, Brian.

Some background on FBS teams being allowed to play FCS opponents.

Until 2005, schools could count only one I-AA game every 4 years toward becoming bowl eligible.  Obviously, this only applies to schools that go 6-5, and has no effect at all on schools with any other record from 11-0 to 0-11.

Here is an October 2004 article about this issue that includes begging from the Southern Conference commissioner to allow one counter every year. Here is the decision in April 2005 where the NCAA decides to allow one I-AA game every year to count towards bowl eligibility, tied into an increase to 12 games.

It really seems like that 12th game was intended to be a game against a I-AA school.  Unless I am mistaken, I recall some I-AA schools were threatening the NCAA with a lawsuit for limiting their scheduling options.  I could not find a record of this, unfortunately.  Maybe I am confusing this with the "exempt games" issue.

I don't think the NCAA has the power to say "only play other FBS opponents."  They don't have that much control over in-season scheduling.  The conferences can mandate this, but not the NCAA.  The NCAA can only say "these games don't count toward bowl eligibility," but the FCS schools would fight that, and they would probably win.

I don't know if you find this interesting, but there has been a good deal of discussion of this point on mgoblog, and there seems to be some misunderstanding of what the NCAA can and can not do.

Alton

Mostly included for the interesting background. I disagree that the NCAA doesn't have the power to do what it wants here, as the two sets of schools exist in different divisions sponsored by the NCAA. You might as well say the NCAA doesn't have any power to regulate that D-I and D-II schools can't play each other. The NCAA sets limits on the number of games that can be played in all sports, provides exemptions for various things it would like to promote, and actually organizes the different divisions. I'm sure some I-AA teams could sue, but I find it hard to believe they'd win.

Brian,
I posted a thread on this topic but wondered about your thoughts.  Is it too early IYHO to classify the 2008 defensive recruiting class a disappointment?  Although they are only in their second year, ideally (apart from Martin) some would be pushing the upperclassmen for playing time, and as we know they are not, in some cases falling behind walk ons. Thoughts?

Brian Durocher

IMHE, it is too early to classify the 2008 defensive recruiting class a disappointment. But it is not too early to look at it with trepidation because it seems like we'll be thoroughly concerned about it midway through next year. A brief dossier:

  • Beasts: Mike Martin
  • Contributors: Boubacar Cissoko, JT Floyd
  • Idling away: Brandon Smith, Kenny Demens. UPDATE: Also JB Fitzgerald.
  • Gone: Taylor Hill, Marcus Witherspoon

So… first of all, it was only seven guys in a class of 24, and two of them were gone about two weeks after class started. Two more are linebackers stuck behind a walk-on, two more are backup defensive backs in a very poor secondary basically behind a walk-on since their poor play necessitated the Woolfolk move, and Mike Martin is a beast. These guys are going to be juniors or redshirt sophomores next year and it looks like Michigan isn't going to get a whole lot out of them. Cissoko's come back from the brink and may yet develop into something, and maybe we can expect one of the linebackers to pick it up after Ezeh and Mouton leave, but the early returns aren't great outside of Martin.

UPDATE: Forgot about Fitzgerald, who's had a reasonable career path so far given that he was behind a couple of starters; he rotated in for Ezeh a bit last week.

Unverified Vor- JESUS CHRIST GET IN THE CAR IT'S MIKE MARTIN

Unverified Vor- JESUS CHRIST GET IN THE CAR IT'S MIKE MARTIN

Submitted by Brian on September 8th, 2009 at 10:52 AM

He will pull off your arm and beat you to death with it and then settle down for a meal, it will be just like "Alive" down to the sexy 70's hair. Dex's latest at the WLA is pretty great all around but possibly best for highlighting this Vernon Gholston-esque gun show photo:

mike-martin-enormous-bicep

So that's where the rest of Tate Forcier's biceps went. (reference)

Diaries jihad! With the advent of the season I am moving things from diary to board with extreme prejudice. Consider whether your diary has the same level of value as a typical jamiemac post or this thorough research from BlueSeoul (who you may remember as Odoms hater from the season preview…

haters01

…but he's contrite):

1st Stat Category: Yards per thrown at
This stat is better than yards per catch because it includes a penalty for players who drop the ball or loaf it on a play and don't get open.  Yes they are penalized for having a bad QB but that would affect all the numbers across the board.
Hemingway  17.33
C. Brown      13
Koger           11
Savoy             5.5
Odoms           5
Grady(19)      3.5
Mathews        3.16
Stonum, Webb, Cox, Shaw, 0

I'm not so sure about including plays on which a guy is bracketed and the quarterback is just chucking the ball away in the general direction of the player, but that's an interesting metric to track throughout the season.

Back to the larger point: please read the guidelines before posting up a diary (they're right above the text entry area), and let's try to keep that area of the site extremely high-value. I'm moving anything that seems like it was dashed off in ten minutes without thought. FWIW.

Speaking of high-value diaries. Steve Sharik's got an initial defensive analysis:

Obi Ezeh made a very nice tackle on a WR screen, but he still has a ways to go.  His reaction time needs to improve.  Example, 2nd play of the game, the B gap window opens right in front of him and there is no lead blocker.  This is LB 101.  Open window = hit it.  He should have hit the RB behind the LOS for, at worst, no gain and probably a 1-yard loss.  Instead, he hit the RB at 2 yards and they ended up with a 3-yard gain.

I noticed this too and did not deploy a minus, but maybe I should go back and at least provide a –0.5. Sharik also mentions that Ezeh spent some time "catching" blockers, which is great lingo I will immediately imbibe for a frustratingly commonplace occurrence in the Life of Obi.

One quibble:

Stevie Brown is an OLB.  He is not a hybrid player.  The true hybrid player is the strong safety, Mike Williams.  Sometimes he was at the LOS (line of scrimmage), and sometimes he was a deep safety.

No, Stevie Brown hasn't been playing anything except outside linebacker in anything I've gotten to in UFR, but one of the themes of the offseason was the multifaceted use of the word "hybrid" and how confusing everything got when you were trying to deploy it yourself. Brown's a hybrid in one sense because he's a tiny OLB who can reasonably cover a slot receiver, as he did on Western's first third-down attempt in the game, not because his position is particularly innovative. Maybe we can just call him a "mammal" instead, as opposed to ponderous, hibernation-prone dinosaur Johnny Thompson. (No offense meant to Thompson; he was just born 20 years too late to be an outside linebacker.)

Mwa ha ha ha. Yes, I am a sucker for teaching your children that the guy in the other uniform is evil and should be poisoned and then putting them on the internet in a fashion that will ruin their first dates for all time. Yes, doing this will get your video on MGoBlog:

You, out there with the kid: cute violence == pub.

Refutin'. More parents chime in on The Article In Question:

"Personally, knowing Coach Rod, I don't think there's any truth to it, I don't think there's any merit in it," Michael [Shaw, father of Mike Shaw] said.

Aand Carletta Moore, mother of redshirt freshman TE Brandon, FTW:

"First of all, it's wrong, because I went straight to the source -- I went straight to Brandon -- and it's a rumor," Carletta said. "My thought on it -- the devil has a job to do, too, you know? That's just the way I see things. I don't think there's truth to that story at all. Coming from my son, there's no truth to that story."

Hey, I didn't say it.

Hockey approacheth. Tim of Yost Built is kicking off season preview-related activities with five burning questions for the season. I'd forgotten how preposterously deep Michigan is at D:

The Wolverines are carrying nine defensemen on the roster right now: Chris Summers, Steve Kampfer, Brandon Burlon, Chad Langlais, Tristin Llewellyn, Scooter Vaughan, Greg Pateryn, Lee Moffie, and Eric Elmblad. The first four are locks to be in the lineup every night, barring injury. There are fewer games to go around (at least in theory) for the third-pairing defensemen since Kampfer and Burlon are healthy after missing a combined 24 games a year ago.

Wow. Vaughn's been dogged with persistent rumors of a move to forward, but they could hypothetically redshirt Moffie if he wanted to be redshirted. (Moffie wasn't drafted by the NHL, FWIW, so he might be amenable to that in an effort to get more playing time overall.) The upshot is that Bryan Hogan is the hockey team's Brandon Graham—he cannot get injured—and that the team looks like it should own again, though hopefully with better luck in the tournament this time.

Michigan Monday is always more fun after Michigan does not soil itself:

True freshman Tate Forcier got the start at quarterback and looked…well…he looked…okay, I’ll just come out and say it, he looked really, really good. There, I said it. He finished the game 13-20 for 179 yards and three touchdowns. He also carried the ball 11 times for 37 yards. Forcier looked completely comfortable throughout the entire game. He was poised and knew where to go with the ball just about every time.

Whole thing worth a read; skepticism expressed at what happens when Michigan gets "punched in the mouth" next week, which is fine metaphorically except for the fact that Notre Dame is not really a punch-you-in-the-mouth sort of team unless we get a –then-run-away-and-hide appended to it.

Etc.: Hemingway: new #1 receiver? Wojo again.

Imbibe This Terminology

Imbibe This Terminology

Submitted by Brian on August 20th, 2009 at 12:53 PM

mike-martin The following article is a little old but I ripped it out of an Unverified Voracity a little ways back because Steve Sharik posted an excellent diary on what we can expect from the defense this fall and it felt like it would be a standalone post. (BTW: Sharik has posted another diary about the triple option, which Markus from Carcajous(!) has followed up on.)

So the quick/spinner lingo that we've been using ever since Greg Robinson was hired, confusion over which led to commenters on this here blog to coin the term "deathbacker" has been clarified. One term does not exist, and the other one has been superseded:

There’s not much hybrid about the linebacker-safety position Stevie Brown will play this year. Robinson said he doesn’t call the position “spinner” or anything else. “He’s our SAM,” or strong-side linebacker, Robinson said.

There is, however, new terminology for the defensive line. Robinson calls those positions the quick, power, nose and tackle. The “quick” is the hybrid linebacker-end you’ve heard about (Brandon Herron); the “power” is an old-school defensive end (Brandon Graham); the “nose” is your typical nosetackle (Mike Martin); and the “tackle” can sometimes flex out and play end in four-man fronts (Ryan Van Bergen).

Wait, so Stevie Brown is a strongside linebacker? Um. I had assumed he was the weakside linebacker, who is a protected player in a 4-3 under and gets "his meat cooked." (That's how Jeff Casteel described the weakside LB/S in the 3-3-5 DVD I purchased when I thought Casteel was going to be the DC around these parts. The strongside linebacker "got his meat raw," which meant he usually had to deal with a blocker. Those terms have been rattling around in my head for two years now, and now they'll be rattling around in yours. Mwa ha ha.)

A protected player doesn't usually have to take on blockers and can just run to the ball and (hopefully) make a tackle. This fits in well with a converted safety at linebacker, but I'm (and we are, right?) pretty leery about Brown even if he's not taking on blockers every play. This won't make much difference against spread teams—it'll be worlds better than pretending Johnny Thompson can cover anyone—but if Wisconsin and Michigan State don't suck I can see him getting run over consistently. That's assuming they don't make a change for power-running teams, which was an excellent assumption under Shafer (Johnny Thompson third and long what?) but hopefully won't be one under Robinson.

Sharik talks about what he expects the defense to be in the diaries, and it's not a 4-3 under. It's kind of a 4-3 under, actually, but it's flipped:

I assume that Graham will most often be the weakside 5 technique. Not only that, he'll probably be a "wide" 5, meaning he'll line up a yard outside the tackle, angled in at the tackle's nose. This means two things: one, he won't be inside (generally) and therefore two, it will be virtually impossible to double him in run situations. (He'll probably be doubled in pass situations, but that's likely to happen regardless of his alignment. This tends to happen when you are a freak of nature and can make QB's look like Beetle Bailey after an angry Sarge has gotten hold of him.)

Mike Martin will play a weakside shade or 1 technique (usually), meaning those two beasts will be on the same side of the DL most of the time. I would think opponents would run away from those two, which is where Michigan will have a numbers advantage. So, the offense will have to chose between:

A: running at two future NFL 1st round draft picks at DL, backed up by a potential 1st team all B10 middle LB (Obi Ezeh) and a former 5-star recruit at weakside OLB (Mouton)
B: running where the defense has superior numbers

Michigan showed this formation for most of the spring game… sort of. Van Bergen went out early and Graham played sparingly.

Ezeh as a potential first team all-conference player is a considerable stretch, but the rest of it sounds good. In a 4-3 under the deathbacker sits even farther outside the tackle and is used as a freelance sower of chaos a la Shawn Crable; this is something I assume you'll see on passing plays. Having all the hybrids around allows Michigan to flip which side of the line those guys show up on without revealing a personnel change:

The "quick" can play strong side or weak; so can the "spinner." The "quick" can play w/hand down or not. The "spinner" can play on the LOS, at LB depth, or even in the secondary. The "quick" can play on the LOS or at LB depth.

This jives with comments from Van Bergen that he's usually going to be a three-technique defensive tackle but will move out to a five-technique defensive end from time to time when Michigan either goes with a two-gap look (infrequently, IME) or flips the deathbacker to the other side of the formation.

It certainly sounds good. Sharik details the various packages his high school team ran last year, which are customized to the opponent's strength and provided considerable flexibility. I'll be terribly pleased to see a defensive back-type object heading out into the slot against spread sets instead of Johnny Thompson. And opposing teams are going to have to prepare for a multitude of looks. In theory, it's a defensive equivalent of Michigan's offense and when it's had talent in the past it's been excellent.

Whether or not the Michigan defense has "talent" in the overarching sense is yet to be determined.

BONUS HYPE: I've been talking up incoming freshman Craig Roh for a while now, saying that despite his wiry frame Michigan will be virtually forced to use him because of a lack of deathbacker depth. And lo, it is so. Rodriguez on the crab man:

"It’s only been one week, but he’s got some natural ability, pass-rush wise, and we’re teaching him some different things in the scheme of our defense. But I think he could help us at least in a pass-rush mode and then as he continues to learn the defense he’ll do more and more of it."

Van Bergen, meanwhile, says he's "raw" but is a "really skilled" pass rusher. It might take him a couple games but I'd be surprised if he's not a part of the nickel package, and soon. If he's not that means Brandon Herron is way better than he has any right to be.

Unverified Voracity In Colorless Glory

Unverified Voracity In Colorless Glory

Submitted by Brian on August 17th, 2009 at 12:14 PM

All formats and locations will be ours. A reader requested that I MGoBlog available on the Amazon Kindle, so I duly signed up. I have now been vetted and show up in the store. A word of caution: when I checked out the preview it didn't seem like a compelling product. It obliterated images, formatting, and even blockquotes. Maybe it's better now.

Even if it's not you get a 14-day free trial before the dollar per month—the lowest price they'd let me set—kicks in.

Also, you may have noticed that the Bucknuts link on the left sidebar went haywire a few weeks ago. Bucknuts implemented a new software system and the transition did not go as smoothly as hoped. Insert your own Ohio State "the files are in the computer?" joke here. The link now works and This Week In Michigan returns sometime today. [Speaking of things I write named "This Week In X": This Week In Schadenfreude will be a TSB joint this season. That was probably obvious.]

More research I didn't do. The streak of diaries in the range from useful to awesome continues. There is of course Misopogon's uni-tournament that got front-paged on Friday. (If you're interested in getting front paged take his posts as a model from his posts: they're attractive, use pictures, and organize their information well.) There's also more outstanding research going on.

MCalibur posted a followup to his earlier post on running QB fragility that expands his earlier study from one year to a definitive five. The key chart (chart):

Threat Level

No. of QBs

Injured QBs

Lost GMs
(% of Total)

Avg. Games Lost

QB Inj %

All Seasons

3 (Pat White)

95

24

6.3%

2.81

25.3%

2

141

42

6.9%

2.81

29.8%

1

193

34

5.6%

3.88

17.6%

0 (John Navarre)

326

78

6.1%

3.13

23.9%

All

755

178

6.1%

3.3

23.6%

Interestingly, the hiccup from MCalibur's first study holds up. Group 2 quarterbacks are the most likely to get injured; group one quarterbacks are the least. Extreme pocket passers and rushers fall in the middle.

The numbers show an slight uptick in QB injuries for run-heavy quarterbacks. Extreme rushers are 3% more likely to miss a game than a pocket passer and heavy rushers are 13% more likely. I don't think either of those numbers is significant statistically or strategically*; MCalibur has successful debunked the idea that spread quarterbacks are more vulnerable to injury than your John Navarres.

Elsewhere, Hannibal quantified something Michigan fans have known for a while: if you rotate off Michigan's schedule you will be terrible. This is a law of nature. I mean, seriously:

Penn State:
Winning percentages in the "did not play Michigan" years:  .188
Winning percentages in the "did play Michigan" years:  .745

How does that happen if not for the black hand of Angry Michigan Schedule-Hating God?

The net, with Michigan games removed:

Total:
Winning percentages in the "did not play Michigan" years:  .371
Winning percentages in the "did play Michigan" years:  .494

That's just weird. This year Michigan misses Minnesota and Northwestern. Beware hyping them.

*(I know there are more serious statisticians that myself out there, so please correct me if I'm wrong.)

World so cold (world so cold!). A long profile of Tim Hardaway Jr. appears in the Miami Herald. I don't remember the careers of Larry Brown and the elder Hardaway intersecting but maybe he just got this by osmosis:

Hardaway Jr. takes more pointers from the games of Dwyane Wade and LeBron James than he does from his dad's. But the elder Hardaway still sees similarities between their skills. Hardaway Jr. may not be a point guard. But he's still the son of a point guard.

``You know how people say, `Play the right way?' He plays the right way,'' Hardaway said. ``He understands the game inside and out, because I'm always talking to him about it.''

The story's mostly about the Hardaways' relationship—senior was too demanding, doves cried, now it's cool—and not so much about the younger Hardaway's game.

Burger King bathrooms excluded. AnnArbor.com has an extensive look at John Beilein's role as the head of the NCAA's basketball ethics committee. It doesn't sound like they've gotten to the point where they can talk about specific issues they'd like to fix:

“That is really the biggest challenge right now,” Beilein said. “Is to get a clear agenda of what are important issues. But you will be focusing on one issue and something real and very important can come up that nobody ever thought of before.

“I don’t think there’s a science to this thing. We just have to chop away at being persistent in trying to identify the biggest problems.”

Rothstein couldn't get much in the way of specifics out of the half-dozen or so coaches he surveyed but Dane Fife, now IPFW's head coach did say some frank stuff:

"Reggie Minton just says ‘Don’t willfully break the rule.’ That’s my main focus, you can’t willfully break a rule. There’s probably more time spent trying to circumvent rules than time spending [sic?] within the program for some of these coaches.

"I think it’s part of the business, part of the game. I really do."

They never drop the names, though.

Lies! Rodriguez on the quarterback situation:

“Everybody can go ahead and be patient cause there will not be a starter named until right before the first game,” Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said. “Maybe even be a game-time decision.”

Forcier is already running with the first team and is not stained by last year; file under coachspeak. We now return to your regularly scheduled Tatehype:

"It’s weird," Molk said. "I never see the kid crumble. Once in a while you’ll see a quarterback and they’ll start to get kind of shaky, but he’s pretty solid."

Forcier's poise sounds akin to Chad Henne's, which once prompted me to call him a robot. May it be so.

Etc.: Smart Football moves to swanky new digs; DocSat picks Penn State to win the Big Ten, has Michigan 7th and a bowl team, doesn't understand the Michigan State hype. The Smoking Musket, a West Virginia blog. is skeptical of the Eers' move away from the spread 'n' shred.

Unverified Voracity Says Yes, Yes, Yes

Unverified Voracity Says Yes, Yes, Yes

Submitted by Brian on July 28th, 2009 at 10:45 AM

The point of the diaries! Leading off: a fantastic diary from MCalibur on the increased vulnerability of spread option quarterbacks, or, apparently, the lack thereof. "Do spread quarterbacks get injured more?" is a question I've abdicated on before, citing the lack of a reliable injury database that could provide a comprehensive answer without good old fashioned grunt work. MCalibur grunted his way to a money graf after splitting quarterbacks into four quartiles based on run/pass ratio, with group 3 your Pat White sorts and group 0* your John Navarre sorts:

On a percentage basis the only group that suffered an out of norm injury percentage were level 2 QBs which I think of as QBs that are used like running backs (Juice Williams) or QBs that are too slow to be running in the first place (Steven Threet). All other groups suffered injuries at about a 23% clip. Meaning about 1 out of every 4 QBs in a given category lost playing time due to injury in 2008.

Though I don't agree with totally dismissing the increased injury rate of "group 2" QBs, the numbers here are small enough that it seems like an outlier. The Pat Whites got injured at at the same rate as groups 1 and 2, and group one was by far the hardest hit in terms of man-games lost. There is definitely no clear correlation between lots of runs and injury.

Caveat: as noted, the sample size here is small. The numbers are suggestive but not definitive. It's not impossible a larger study would show a better correlation between runs and injury. It is, however, pretty unlikely. Outstanding work; I have bestowed a bonus 100 (meaningless!) points. Misopogon also picked up the bonus for the numbers post front-paged last night. At some point these will be useful, I swear.

*(Dollars to donuts this means MCalibur is a coder. He's zero-indexing his arrays.)

Meanwhile on the roster. Michigan applied for three medical redshirts last year and news reports had confirmed that two of them—Adam Patterson, now a redshirt junior, and Junior Hemingway, now a redshirt sophomore—had been approved. The third was Kenny Demens, who the roster now lists as a redshirt freshman. Obviously inference: Demens, too, got his redshirt.

The whole enchilada from Rich Rodriguez's appearance at Big Ten media days:

Transcript here if you don't want to bother with the video. I read it and decided against it; there is zero of value in there. There is also creepy dark cell-phone video from The Big Ten Network talking to Mark Ortmann and Stevie Brown:

Mesko doesn't talk, he just saves the planet. There is also more of Rodriguez talking.

Can we get in on that? Yankee Stadium is poised to host outstandingly competitive games between Notre Dame and Army—why do you hate America, Notre Dame?—starting in 2010. This has caused Army to sign up a half-dozen future Yankee Stadium games against other East Coast schools and Yankee Stadium to start thinking bigger and possibly more competitive:

The Daily News has learned that there have been discussions between the NCAA and high-ranking Yankee officials, including managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner, about the possibility of establishing a postseason bowl game at Yankee Stadium, beginning in 2011.

And… hey… can we get in on that? And in a meaningful way, not a goofy Motor City Bowl sort of way? I would love the opportunity to watch some other Big Ten team freeze its ass off in New York against some warm-weather team and caveman their way to astounding victories. Hell, if Michigan ended up in it I might even go depending on just how Christmas-impinging the thing is. Why don't we boot the Alamo Bowl to the curb—cold or not, there is no comparison between San Antonio and New York—and take on any comers in the frozen northlands?

(HT: Doctor Saturday.)

Erm? I've never had the Erin Andrews-level obsession that much of the rest of the college football blogosphere has with stat ninja Phil Steele, but I do respect his research-mad ways and how he eschews the sort of punditry that can best be summed up with the word "Cowherd."

So, um, Phil, what?

7. Rich Rodriguez, Michigan – The Wolverines could be an underdog in as many as 7 games this year and they really must have a winning season. I think Rodriguez will get them to a decent bowl and make major strides just like he did in his 2nd year at West Virginia. Amazingly there are a lot of Michigan alumni who think Rodriguez runs a pass-happy spread offense! In his last 6 years at West Virginia his teams averaged 270 ypg rushing the football (148 ypg pass) while Michigan in that same span had 229 ypg PASSING and just 163 ypg rush.

Not only does that "7" represent Phil Steele's placement of Rich Rodriguez on his top 13 "hot seat" list—ahead of Charlie Freakin' Weis!—but I would like to meet the Michigan fan not in a coma that believes Rich Rodriguez piloted a pass-happy spread offense featuring Pat White.

Never fear, though. Sensing a threat to their hard-earned possession of 2009's Dumbest Statement About Michigan Football, CFN strikes back:

2009 Preseason All-Big Ten Defense

DB - Stevie Brown, Sr., Michigan
DB - Kurt Coleman, Sr., Ohio State
DB - Donsay Hardeman, Sr., Illinois
DB - Torri Williams, Sr., Purdue

That's right. Stevie Brown, who isn't a defensive back anymore, and oh by the way was mindbogglingly awful last year, is first-team All Big Ten. You win, CFN, you win.

(CFN HT: MattC87 around these parts. What, you think I read it?)

More scheduling bits. I have no idea about the veracity of any of these rumors, but the following five schools have been kicked about the internet in the wake of Rodriguez's announcement that Michigan would likely find a BCS school to have a home-and-home with. In ascending order of plausibility:

5. Duke. In a word: no. Michigan could get a Duke-level opponent without a return game, and has in the recent past when they scheduled Vandy. Duke's existence in the list of four teams batted about (all listed save UConn) reduces the plausibility of the rest of them.

4. UConn. UConn isn't Duke but they aren't a ton better from a program perspective. (They're obviously better on the field.) It's hard to envision Michigan playing at 40,000 seat Rentschler field. And it's hard to envision UConn agreeing to another neutral site game after their sellout series with Notre Dame was met with resistance from the state legislature and brokered down to six games from the original ten with a provision that the Huskies play at least six true home games each year. Also, they'd have to move or cancel a game with Northeastern. Also also, the recruiting exposure would be nil.

3. Pitt. This was addressed yesterday: in 2010 Pitt already has Miami and Notre Dame scheduled, with ND on the road. Even though they've got an extra nonconference game because they're in the Big East, that would be a foolishly challenging setup for either Wannstedt battling for his job or the new guy looking to get off on the right foot.

2. Oregon State. Oregon State is a plausible opponent, but they'd have to accept a nonconference schedule of @ M, Louisville, and @ Boise State to go with their nine-game conference schedule. Has any college football team not named USC (or Troy, I guess) been that ballsy since the adoption of the 12th game?

1. Virginia. Virginia is a plausible opponent and was #3 on my list from yesterday.

As far as Cal goes, one of the guys from Cal Golden Blogs emailed me to remind me about the latest update on a potential series from their perspective:

An attempt to schedule Michigan "fell through."  Not sure if that would have been for this year, and that's why we had to scramble to get Eastern Washington.  Tedford did say that he doesn't want to play too many good teams and prefers A, B, C scheduling.  He stressed he always wants a home-home series, and that they're "not interested" in playing somebody without a return game.  In regards to a suggestion that we play Notre Dame, Sandy Barbour, who used to work for Notre Dame, added, "The Irish are afraid."

Downgrade Cal in your betting pools.

Blunt. I was taken aback by a Rittenberg headline that read "Rodriguez sees chemistry built, entitlement vanish," but did indeed Rodriguez drop "entitlement" more than once:

"Are you hungry to prove yourself and not have a sense of entitlement? We talked quite a bit about not having the sense of entitlement," Rodriguez said. "It's good to have pride, but when that pride becomes too much, you're going to get humbled pretty quick. I think, in a sense, that happened to us."  

There have been gigabytes spilled about this very topic on Michigan message boards from one end of the internet to the other: had Michigan fallen into complacency as Carr aged and the spittle ceased to fleck? What is this program, who does it belong to, and what is "being Michigan"? At what point do people start to kick ass again? And by "people" we mean "us"? That's not a question.

Right: This is Barwis culture shock in a couple sentences from the head man, and speaks to the difficulty Rodriguez had adapting Carr's culture to his. This has to be better now; anyone who hasn't transferred should be in for the long haul.

Etc.: Three people emailed me this so it must be important: Kirk Herbstreit had someone burn down his house for a tax break. It was the fire department. It didn't work. AAU remains so far beyond sketchy it strains believability.