The Hot Take: Divisions

The Hot Take: Divisions

Submitted by Brian on April 29th, 2013 at 4:12 PM

AAAAAHHHHHH OOOHHHHHHHHH

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HONORING EASTS AND BUILDING WESTS

/soulful electric guitar

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IT'S BEEN A BIG TEN TRADITION FOR MORE THAN 24 HOURS

WE HONOR THE EASTS WHO'VE GIVEN US MOMENTS WE'LL NEVER FORGET EVEN IF WE WEREN'T WATCHING THEM BECAUSE NO ONE WATCHES RUTGERS OR MARYLAND

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AAAAAAHHHHH OOOOOOOWWWW

AND BUILDING WESTS? WELL, THAT'S ABOUT DOING SOMETHING SO CONDESCENDINGLY DUMB YOU'D HAVE TO BE A SEA ANEMONE FOR YOUR POISONOUS TENDRILS TO THINK IT WAS A GOOD IDEA WITH YOUR PREHISTORIC NON-BRAIN, AND LIVING A LIFE OF MAXIMUM RESOURCE EXTRACTION EVERY SINGLE DAY

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AHHHHHHH OOOOOOOH

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AHHHH OH WAIT

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much better here's a picture of a guy graduating oohhhhhhhh

NOW GIVE ME MY HUNDRED MILLION AWWWW OHHHH

Our New Less Miserable Experience

It's not news. But it is official. Per everyone in reports going on the last six months, the Big Ten is this:

sbn-b1g[1]

Michigan cannot be champions of the West, because obviously.
Also yes I made a Gin Blossoms reference. Up next: flat-out Blossom references.

Love the quote that comes with the non news:

"The directors of athletics also relied on the results of a fan survey commissioned by BTN last December to arrive at their recommendation, which is consistent with the public sentiment expressed in the poll."

Sometimes I wonder if the goal of adding Rutgers and Maryland was to give the B10 leadership a way to save face as they exited Legends and Leaders. Then I think that's crazy. Then I remember that the Big Ten added Rutgers and Maryland and think it's not crazy enough. THEORY: The Big Ten added Rutgers and Maryland because Jim Delany is secretly a plant in need of more soil. THEORY: The Big Ten expanded because now they have those bastards from Delaware surrounded, and can finally give them what-for for signing the Constitution first. THEORY: Bo Ryan controls everything and is unhappy only ruining basketball. &c

Anyway: over the long term Michigan will be meeting teams in the other division about half the time. Purdue will be on under a third of future schedules since they have a protected crossover with Indiana; the other teams will be just under 1/2, except the league is going to kick off their new divisions with as many sexy matchups as possible:

Big Ten also will use "parity-based scheduling" for initial crossover rotations. Top teams in divisions will play more, Delany said

More detail:

"In the first 18 years, you’re going to see a lot of competition between teams at the top of either division," Delany said. "We call that a bit of parity-based scheduling, so you’ll see Wisconsin, Nebraska and Iowa playing a lot of competition against Penn State, Ohio State and Michigan. But it will rotate. Early on, we feel this gives the fans what they want."

Ace and I talked about whether this was terrible or fine; I initially thought terrible but after some time I think I just want to see interesting games, and putting top teams against each other does that. It also helps smooth any schedule imbalances.

CON:

  • I will miss playing Iowa annually.
  • I enjoyed making Michigan Ryan Field's Big Ten Team every other year.
  • I don't even feel like Wisconsin's in the same conference any more.
  • In general it will be hard to start hot feuds against anyone Over There. See the rapidly dying MSU-UW quasi-rivalry.
  • I'm actually okay with the Jug game not happening annually, but it is a symptom of how you're not really a conference at 14 teams.

PRO:

  • Hey remember that thing where they might move the game to midseason and—horror—put Michigan State at the end of M's schedule? That is ding-dong dead.
  • Now I can root against Ohio State with all my heart when they play Nebraska and the like, and the Game is what it always should be: critical.
  • Sparty did not escape to the other division, saddling M with a protected crossover, guaranteeing them an annual game against Purdue, and giving the Spartans some vague hope of ever reaching the Rose Bowl again.
  • I welcome the return of Penn State to the schedule annually and look forward to re-establishing the Zombie Nation WE OWN PENN STATE meme.
  • My loathing for the incompetent and debt-crippled athletic departments of Rutgers and Maryland will give those games some spice. HOW DARE YOU BE IN OUR CONFERENCE is good foundation for hate, I guess?
  • They did fix it so the divisions switch off 5/4 home games as a unit.

All in all, Delaware is screwed.

Elsewhere

BHGP finds a man distressed at the callous disposal of the Big Ten's most sacred traditions: "Legends" and "Leaders". Dave Brandon has put down the prospect of moving The Game, backed away slowly, and whistled idly if anyone passing by pointed at it and said "what the…?"

Stack To The Future

Stack To The Future

Submitted by Brian on March 24th, 2010 at 12:53 PM

Earlier in the year I took a cue from Michigan's odd announcement of Adam Braithwaite as an OLB/safeties coach to theorize that Michigan was adopting something half 3-3-5 stack, half 4-3. You can put whatever label you want on it, but it's apparently similar to what Virginia Tech runs. After yesterday's press conference, though, the prevailing opinion is that Michigan's defense is going to be half 3-3-5, half 3-3-5. This, for the Ohio State fans stopping by, is 100% 3-3-5.

Wha? Aigh! Justin Siller! No—

Keep_Calm_And_Carry_On_by_typoholicsRight.

Evidence for the switch is plentiful. In this episode of "Inside Michigan Football," Troy Woolfolk talks about "the new defense":

In yesterday's press conference the players all made references to the 3-3-5. The usual array of practice reports coming from shadowy trenchcoated internet folk all say that not only is Michigan running the 3-3-5 in practice, that's all they're running. This is no longer in the realm of rumor.

Is it in the realm of sense? I don't know. The major reasons I and other tea leaf readers were banking on an aggressive 4-2-5 were threefold: it's basically what Michigan was trying to run most of last year, available bodies on the defensive line point towards an undershifted four-man front, and Michigan's latest recruiting class features a zillion guys who were told they would be "quick" ends a la Roh.

The 3-3-5 as a base set obliterates the quick. Michigan cobbles theirs together by dropping Roh back to one of the outside linebacker spots. The defensive end spot not occupied by Ryan Van Bergen is now going to be a Banks/Patterson platoon or a 294-pound Mike Martin. Since 3-3-5 defensive ends are not lumbering quasi-DTs like 3-4 defensive ends (more about this later), Martin seems like a questionable fit at end; the alternative is platooning Martin and Campbell, two of the most physically dominant players on the team.

The Unresolved Questions

Is this an alternate look or a base set? If it's a base set, how often will they deploy a four-man front?

Early indications are that Michigan will use it as a base set. One theory out there is that Michigan is running the 3-3-5 to the exclusion of other defenses because Mike Martin is out for spring. I don't think that makes sense. A team that spends all its time learning one set of responsibilities because one player is out for spring practice only to switch to a considerably different set in fall is a team that is going to get its coach fired at the end of the year. Teams don't devote the entirety of spring practice to a "new defense" that is then a changeup when the season comes.

Michigan used the 3-3-5 from time to time last year, most prominently in the Ohio State game when it was an effective base set that shut down Ohio State's I-formation running:

This is actually more of a 5-3 since the DEs are lined up over the guards and the box safeties are rolled up tight to the line of scrimmage, FWIW, but that's a matter of alignment against a run-heavy team. Note that Roh is an outside linebacker here.

This forced OSU into some bunch formations that forced Michigan out of the stack; OSU also attacked it by running single-back formations that are inherently strong against single deep safety defenses because of old-timey football wonk stuff. Buckeye Football Analysis has a deeper analysis if you're in the mood.

When OSU went unbalanced, Michigan responded by putting Roh's hand down and going back to their usual undershifted four-man line. For Michigan the personnel will be exactly the same, allowing them to shift between fronts at will. So if the 3-3-5 isn't working in a particular game or just turns out to be a bad idea, they aren't totally screwed.

They would be at least partially screwed, however, since they're piling more and more on the plates of linebackers who spent a lot of time last year wondering what to do (or decisively doing the wrong thing). The way West Virginia ran a 3-3-5 allows linebackers to be blitzing players who have to do a minimal amount of reading, but if it doesn't work then all that time will be time that could have spent fixing what ails Ezeh and Mouton in a 4-2-5.

I'm not thrilled that Michigan seems to be changing its defense again, especially since I've been pitching defensive coordinator continuity as a major reason Michigan's defense will improve in 2010, but given what they ran most of last year the only players who will be making major changes are the linebackers. In the West Virginia version of the 3-3-5, defensive ends are basically the same as they are in a 4-3. The nose tackle is more of a two-gap player if you can make him one, but that's not something that requires a lot of reading. So… yeah. Maybe it will work.