This Week's Obsession: Ingredients for Suck Pie

This Week's Obsession: Ingredients for Suck Pie

Submitted by Seth on November 20th, 2013 at 8:58 AM

humblepie

Peter Frampton:Michigan's offense::Let's stop this analogy right now.

It's nearing Thanksgiving; which means it's time to make pie! Who likes pie? Everyone likes pie! Unless it's a "why our offense sucks so much" pie. Alas, you have all been sampling lots of "Why our offense sucks so much" pie these last few weeks, and we've identified most of the ingredients in this suck pie. What we haven't done yet is say how much any one ingredient is contributing relative to any other. This seems important.

So, I'm going to give you a list of identified ingredients in this suck pie, and you're going to tell me--pie chart like (i.e. adds up to 100%)--how much each suck factor, in your estimated opinion, has gone into our pie:

  1. Fans demand Michigan Manliness. Thus putting the previous regime on not-firm ground and necessitating another transition and talk of MANBALL for stupid political reasons. Rosenberg/Snyder go here.
  2. Rich Rod! One OL in 2010 and his own suck pie of defense that necessitated another transition. GERG goes here. Zero RS juniors goes here.
  3. The Process. Which helped doom the 2011 offensive line class. "Just two OL, both of them fliers, in two classes!" goes here. "None of our tight ends are old enough to buy beer!" goes here. "We're stuck running high school blocking schemes because interior OL are too young!" goes here.
    10766148686_1ecb64869f_b
    If you believe this is a result of Nebraska's defense having a sudden aneurism of competence (hence all the blood), please answer #10 "Universe" on your cards. [Fuller]

  4. Hoke demands MANBALL! Only if you think there's an executive order from Hoke that forced Borges to use more "big"--ie TEs and FBs instead of WRs--formations and man-blocking.
  5. Borges can't cook fusion cuisine. Incoherent playcalling and gameplanning, players constantly put in bad positions and asked to do more than their skills suggest they're good at. RPS minuses go here.
  6. Dithered on MANBALL transition for Denard. Spent 2011 and 2012 trying to be all things; decision not to sacrifice those years to transition is costing us in 2013. "Older guys can't MANBALL" goes here.
  7. Dithering in 2013. Personnel switches, gimmick offenses, acts of desperation burned practice time, retarded player development, and contributed to snowballing effect. "Tackle over" goes here.
  8. Funk/OL and execution. Offensive linemen not doing the things that should reasonably be expected of them given their talent/experience levels. "Schofield is missing slide protections" goes here.
  9. Ferrigno/Jackson and execution. Backs and tight ends who can't block or run routes (if you think this is just on them being too young, that goes elsewhere; if you think Funchess ought to be able to crack down and Toussaint get under a guy by now it goes here)
  10. Bloodymindedness of Universe. IE anything else: Spain, Monkey Rodeo, MSU broke Devin, opponents are just that good, etc.

[After the jump, the lede, buried]

Mailbag! Princeton!

Mailbag! Princeton!

Submitted by Brian on February 23rd, 2011 at 12:35 PM

Brian,

You are one of the few people I know who defends RR. I do as well. Do you think RR should have been fired? Do you think, if he should have been fired, that it should have happened after OSU game? Do you agree with me that if he had a vote of confidence before the season that RR would have hauled in a top ten class? Do you think with a new DC they would have been better next year with RR then with BH? Do you think DB treated RR poorly as I do? Seems to me that DB wanted RR out even before the season. I am so tired of hearing about toughness, as if that is something that can be taught and as if RR wouldn't teach it if it could be.

Peter from Horsham, PA

There are half-dozen posts discussing this but to reiterate: I thought Rodriguez had done enough after the regular season to keep his job if he fired Greg Robinson, hired an actual defensive coordinator, and never ran the 3-3-5 again unless that DC was Jeff Casteel, then rumored to be open to a move. It was a close thing.

The bowl debacle moved the needle for me to "should fire," but this was under the assumption that Michigan would introduce Jim Harbaugh at a press conference held thirty seconds after the last shovelful of dirt hit Rodriguez's grave. If Harbaugh didn't exist I probably would have gritted my teeth and said we should give Rodriguez one last chance. As you say, even with everything Rodriguez had locked up two five-star guys and was probably going to bring in a recruiting class on the edge of the top ten. The offense was a yardage/advanced metric juggernaut that seemed likely to start turning that into more points as it aged, cut down on the turnovers, added a five-star at the glaring weak spot, and hopefully got some more help from defense and special teams. The other two units were bound to improve from amazing low points, etc.

All the bad stuff is still there but that setup seems more likely to produce wins in 2011 than having Denard Robinson take snaps from under center so he can hand off to someone not named Demetrius Hart.

Does it matter, though? There's a large section of Michigan fandom that would read the above sentence and screech like pterodactyl. The national perception of the program was sinking and while the team figured to get better I'm not sure it was going to get better enough—beat OSU—to make a dent in that. What happens if you go 8-4 next year and lose to OSU by ten? Rodriguez gets pilloried and fired. Hoke gets a bag of popcorn to watch Rodriguez get pilloried. At some point Rodriguez's baggage takes him to the bottom of the sea no matter who tied it to his legs.

[As to the dead man walking meme: I heard it plenty before the bowl game, including from people I know and would have a good read on it, but didn't believe it. Since Michigan got obliterated we don't know. If they'd lost by misfortune or won and Rodriguez still got fired it would be different. IME, Rodriguez was gone. This is just based off Brandon's performance in the press conference.]

Brian
I'll admit my knowledge of APR is not very good, but does oversigning not negatively affect a school's APR?  If kids are leaving the program/school does that not affect the APR?

Scott

So we've overloaded the language here and "oversigning" now stands for two different things:

  • signing more kids than you can enroll by going over the 25 cap, and
  • signing more kids than you can pay for by going over the 85 cap.

In the former case, signing a kid to a LOI and then shipping him off to JUCO when he doesn't qualify does not affect your APR. Not that it should since you haven't had the chance to educate the player.

In the latter case, the answer is yes… hypothetically. In practice the NCAA has provided boatloads of waivers [scroll down]. They're plentiful enough that Kentucky basketball maintained a 979(!) APR despite having a graduation success rate* of 31%. Hypothetically, a school on the 925 borderline is graduating 60% of its players.

What are these waivers? Well, medical hardships, for one.

chartgo

Those don't count against you because the player is still in school. It makes sense that they wouldn't… until someone starts beating the rules into profane shapes. There are plenty others that are less obvious but no one really knows what they are.

This invites questions about how the hell Michigan failed to take advantage of any of these when players started leaving the program left and right and Michigan put up an ugly 870-something. I don't know but assume it's a combination of Rodriguez failing to understand the gap between WVU and Michigan academics—though he did seem to emphasize it—and the massive attrition that went so far beyond even Alabama's rampant axe that Michigan couldn't get close to the 85 number. I'm not entirely sure but I don't think walk-ons count, so when Michigan's running around with 70 scholarship players and one of them flunks out that hurts way more than Alabama sending a guy in good-for-Alabama standing to South Georgia.

*[as opposed to the federal rate, the GSR does not count transfers in good standing/early entries against you.]

File under Rich Rodriguez will have a job by then and will pursue this kid with a force unknown to mankind:

The AD at Southfield is one of my closest friends and assures me that he has a freshman football player with what is perhaps the greatest name ever.  I give you Lion King Conaway!

And file under testimonial:

I’m a junior in high school, and I recently got my first semester grades. A while back in my Government class, I got an extra point on a study guide because I wrote “which, duh.” In my notes (I was talking about how being liberal/conservative affects voting dem/rep, and I guess my teacher thought it was funny), which is something that I picked up from reading mgoblog. I finished that class with a 93%, which is just barely an A, and I finished the semester with a 4.0. So, reading mgoblog may have been what pushed me from an A- to an A, giving me a 4.0.

Know that if I get into Princeton, I’m giving at least some of the credit to you and mgoblog.

Just don't send a bill.

Unverified Voracity Talks About Other Stuff Eventually

Unverified Voracity Talks About Other Stuff Eventually

Submitted by Brian on January 10th, 2011 at 4:08 PM

So of course it didn't work out. This piece on the rise of the spread offense comes in anticipation of tonight's spread-mad national title game and recommended by Herb Hand, a branch of the Rich Rodriguez coaching tree. In it Rodriguez is approvingly cited multiple times:

Kelly constantly visited other staffs, including Clemson, Wake Forest, Northwestern, Georgia Tech, Oregon and West Virginia. When Kelly visited West Virginia, he was most intrigued by the speed of Rodriguez's offense, Hand said.

When Hand was at Tulsa a couple years ago and watched film of a future opponent playing New Hampshire, he immediately noticed the West Virginia tempo.

"You cannot relent on the tempo," Hand said. "When you first install some of this stuff, you've got to understand it's going to be very ugly early. We used to say you have to coach in short verbal blasts.

"It's not like you're going to have 35 seconds to make your point. The execution is eventually going to catch up to the speed. Now, when you combine the tempo with the execution, then it's a beautiful thing. That's where Chip and Gus are at."

And we're where we are. I think Rodriguez did have to go after the bowl game but that was with the assumption Jim Harbaugh would be the next coach. With our current situation leaning towards either Les Miles or the guy who thinks zone running is insufficient for the needs of MANBALL, I wonder how many Michigan fans are having firer's remorse as they watch the recruiting class disintegrate and Michigan seemingly poised for plan C at best. It's not like Brandon had any good options after the bowl game, but whatever this is seems like the worst possible outcome.

Michigan will have to be more patient with whoever the new guy is than they were with Rodriguez if they want to get out of the massive hole they continue to dig themselves. Hiring a spread guy to continue the transition they've started seems like the best approach—possibly a reason why Miles and his flexibility with offensive styles would be preferable to Hoke.

OMFG. AnnArbor.com has an article featuring reacts from former Carr players and this is diametrically opposed to what we'd read for the last three years:

Part of that rift has been the alienation former players have felt from the football program. Rueben Riley, an offensive lineman from 2003 to 2006 who later played three years in the NFL, said former players have not been included in the program as they have been in the past.

“When I was around, you’d see guys like Hutch (Steve Hutchinson) come back and talk, (Gary) Moeller come back, and you could just see their passion,” he said.

“For a coach to have Lloyd Carr on campus and never have him back to talk to the team? That’s unbelievable to me.”

That is unbelievable. Almost as unbelievable as Michigan's head football coach coming under constant assault and getting nothing more than a single tepid statement of support from Carr over the course of his tenure, or various former Carr players badgering Brandon to fire Rodriguez on a near-weekly basis, or Mike Barwis's testimonial page having quotes from dozens of Michigan athletes who didn't play for Rodriguez, some of whom (like Jack Johnson) didn't even play football. Feeling "disconnected" from Michigan football is the flip side of Carr-era players largely treating Rodriguez like crap.

But wait, there's more!

Shea said it rubbed him the wrong way when Rodriguez disregarded the team’s traditional offense and installed the spread upon his arrival. He’d like to see the next coach return to running the football, playing stout defense and employing a fullback.

“And multiple tight ends,” he said.

And more!

“I think the most important thing, whoever it is, I want a guy that understands what Big Ten football is,” he said. “That’s the criteria, along with knowing the pressure that the job entails.”

This is the genesis of all the Hoke stuff, no?

Hockey bits. Michigan split with Michigan State last over the weekend thanks to a combination of stupid penalties and terrible refereeing that saw Michigan end up down 5-on-3 twice late, with State converting both times against Shawn Hunwick. Michigan's erratic offense got a few goals on Saturday and that played out much like the Big Chill did.

Just past the halfway mark it's time to start looking at RPI and the Pairwise—though the latter should be taken lightly given how much jitter it has. Michigan finds itself in a solid position, seventh in the PWR and eighth in RPI. Shockingly, if the season ended today Western Michigan(!) would probably make the tourney at 14th. With the dissolution of the CHA there's only one small-conference autoo-bid and the ECAC actually has some respect in the PWR this year so it's unlikely more than one autobid results in a team that otherwise wouldn't make it. Perpetual HE bottom-feeder Merrimack is also tenuously in the tournament, and Yale is far and away the #1 overall seed at the moment. Weird year.

Michigan also filled in another hole in its 2011 recruiting class by adding forward Phil Di Giuseppe from the Villanova Knights of the OJHL—the same league that sent Brandon Burlon and Louie Caporusso to Michigan. Yost Built has a recruiting profile on him; he's got a 14-30-45 line in 36 games and is the third-leading scorer on his team. The two guys in front of him are three years older, though, so he's obviously the best prospect his team has. He's the league's leading scorer in his age bracket. Here's Di Giuseppe throwing down:

Di Giuseppe's about a month too young for the upcoming draft so he's not on the CSB radar yet. It's hard to tell how big of a land this is for Michigan as a result. His coach provides a little scouting report:

"He is very coachable and more than willing to take advice from others," said Baker. "Phil is a very offensively gifted hockey player his speed and stick skills are second to none. He has made major improvements this year in his defensive play."

At the very least Di Giuseppe sounds like a scoring line type, though maybe not right away.

Goldilocks. If 113k was silly and 85k equally so, then this number—the final one—for Big Chill attendance seems just right:

Resolution to the attendance drama per Sara Wilcox at Guinness World Records PR: “Final number is: 104,073”

And lo, it shall stand for all time unless Michigan does this again at some point.

Etc.: Perry Dorrestein may have a gig waiting for him at the Milwaukee police department. Maize 'n' Brew spends a lot of time fisking Michael Rosenberg, which like… what's the point? Section 1 will love it, at least.

Press Conference Recap

Press Conference Recap

Submitted by Brian on January 5th, 2011 at 1:19 PM

Note: stop emailing me about the logins and read the front page: mostly disabled so the site stays up.

brandon-rr-firing

If you didn't submit yourself to the press conference in which Rich Rodriguez was raptured up, you need to know these things:

  • Rich Rodriguez is fired.
  • Dave Brandon all but said Harbaugh would not be the next coach.
  • A "national search" is about to be embarked on. Yes, on January 5th.
  • The recruiting weekend is cancelled.
  • Michigan's paid in the middle of the pack in the past and Brandon says that is "not appropriate."

Brady Hoke was not mentioned by name, nor was anyone save Harbaugh.

Here's the official presser:

Rodriguez Dismissed as Michigan Football Coach

ANN ARBOR -- University of Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon announced today (Jan. 5) that football coach Rich Rodriguez has been relieved of his coaching duties with the football program.

“I have completed a systematic and thorough review of our football program and believe that a change in leadership is necessary,” said Brandon. “We have not achieved at the level that I expect.”

Rodriguez compiled a 15-22 overall record and 6-18 mark in Big Ten play during his three seasons at Michigan (2008-10). He had an 11-11 record at Michigan Stadium, a 4-10 road record and lost his only bowl game vs. Mississippi State in the 2011 Gator Bowl. U-M was 3-9 in 2008, 5-7 in 2009 and went 7-6 this season.

Rodriguez became the 18th head coach in Michigan history on Dec. 17, 2007, replacing Lloyd Carr who announced his retirement following the 2007 regular season.

“Rich is a good person and coach,” added Brandon. “It’s unfortunate that it didn’t work out at Michigan, but I’m sure that Rich and his staff will find opportunities at other institutions. I wish Rich and his family all the best in the future.”

Brandon will immediately begin a national search for a replacement.

/presser

This is a total failure on Brandon's part and he has about a week to prevent this program from becoming Notre Dame. He probably won't.

Rodriguez: Dead, This Time For Certain

Rodriguez: Dead, This Time For Certain

Submitted by Brian on January 5th, 2011 at 11:21 AM

Angelique Chengelis and Joe Schad are saying Rodriguez is—surprise!—fired, along with the rest of the world. Chengelis cites a direct conversation with a Michigan assistant and Michigan has scheduled a 12:30 press conference, so this time it's no false start. It is not Peanut Butter Jelly Time.

Now we'll see if Michigan's timeline for a new hire is still as rapid as was suggested yesterday.

Rodriguez: Not Dead Yet. Technically, Anyway.

Rodriguez: Not Dead Yet. Technically, Anyway.

Submitted by Brian on January 4th, 2011 at 6:02 PM

Note: if you can't log in the site is under heavy load and we are trying to keep it up by disabling logins. if you can log in the site is feeling happy, if briefly.

notdeadyet\

Get on the cart.

All right, to recap what you've probably already read: Fox and the Free Press jumped the proverbial gun and there has been no official word that Rodriguez is done for yet. Insert condescending clucking about legacy media's insatiable desire to be first at the expense of being right. The 7 PM meeting tonight has been moved to 4 tomorrow.

What does it mean? Eh… probably not much. Sources very close to the AD are incredibly tight-lipped and most of the information out there is coming from outside the department (or, if within the department, may not be that close to the decision-making process), but if we've learned one thing it's that no decisions will ever be made.

Except they probably will. The massive favorite in the rumormongering is none other than Brady Hoke, which goddammit. I'm not writing things about it now because all of it could or would get thrown back in my face in the event Brady Hoke is not a complete failure but rest assured I'm thinking all of them and how.

Items you probably haven't read elsewhere yet:

  • A parent of a Michigan player had a chance run-in with John Saunders, Craig James, and some other ESPN folk who said Harbaugh is "still in it," for whatever that means.
  • Players are shooting the news(?) back and forth to each other on twitter. Whether they're all basing it off apparently not-quite-founded news reports or they've got something more to go on is unknown.
  • Excellent source that provided the Hoke "not an option" quote has been forced to backtrack, unfortunately, and says he is "in play potentially" now even if he wasn't on the list of viable candidates to start. Also an announcement of the new guy is "likely within 24 hours," but no idea on his end as to who that might be. As always this stuff shifts with the wind so take it for what it's worth.

I still cling to the belief that Michigan would not look at a 53-year-old with one decent season and one undefeated MAC campaign (undefeated until Ball State played Buffalo in the championship game, anyway, and then imploded against Tulsa, and then the mighty foundation Hoke had wrought imploded in a pile of balsawood splinters) after Indiana and Minnesota had both said "thanks, but no thanks" to the same guy, let alone make him their head coach. Especially if the inane rumor that Hoke's first hire is going to be his brother—we've had plenty of virtual nepotism already without the real thing intruding—is true and blah blah blah.

Unfortunately, I don't have much information and am relying on the common sense and logical deduction that have served me so well mocked and haunted me the last three years. I promise you this: if Brady Hoke is actually hired small children should not read the site for a week following because every other word will be swearing. This is in no way a joke.

Leak Says It's Over

Leak Says It's Over

Submitted by Seth on January 4th, 2011 at 2:44 PM

rich-rodriguez-p1_display_image Fox2News has tweeted:

Fox2 has learned that #RichRodriguez has been fired from the U of M. No replacement announced yet. Much more on #fox2news at 5.

And this has been repeated, first on 97.1, and then ESPN, SB Nation, et al., all running with the Fox lead with various amounts of filler. As of 3:30 p.m. Angelique is still mum and Rivals has this:

"TheWolverine.com has confirmed with impeccable sources that the firing (as of 3:30 p.m.) has not happened yet. Yet probably being the key word here. It is expected to happen in the next half hour, next hour, next few hours, but it has not happened yet. However, at this moment, Rodriguez has not returned to Schembechler Hall and has not informed his staff of a decision."

Is it official? No. And as of 6:12 p.m. it looks pretty certain to stay that way until tomorrow:

Michigan officials denied the reports, saying in a statement, "This is media speculation at this point. The definitive voice on this matter is Dave Brandon and he has not and will not speak publicly until a final decision has been made."

Does it still look pretty bad? Yes. Various outlets are backtracking their surety from earlier this afternoon, but most, including Doc Saturday, seem to be posting the articles prepared three days or three weeks or three years ago when this appeared imminent, and then updating the relevant newsy paragraphs as we await news from the gallows. I now know what Scotland felt like when William Wallace went to his meeting.

The team has a pre-scheduled meeting at 7 p.m. this evening that has been rescheduled to 4 p.m. tomorrow. Until then, you have exactly one rumor from an unnamed source saying he's out, and one David Brandon apparently keeping his own schedule.

One Last Blind Stab In The Dark

One Last Blind Stab In The Dark

Submitted by Brian on December 30th, 2010 at 1:28 PM

rich-rodriguez_p1Jim-Harbaughgoat

Let's make a deal.

Saturday Michigan takes on Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl and Sunday something may or may not happen involving the throttling of an infant Denard Robinson in his cradle and the tears and lamentation that may or may not result. That would hypothetically also mean the reign of terror Greg Robinson's hair and the zombie minion that goes by the name of Greg Robinson would be over. The city of Ann Arbor emerging from its cocoon of upper middle class ennui to shoot AK47s in the air would at least partially offset the tragic, still hypothetical loss of baby Denard. I have taken too long on this bit.

Two days later Jim Harbaugh and his Stanford Cardinal take on Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl. After he may or may not be destined for Michigan or the 49ers or the moon. The latest from Harbaugh is reminiscent of one Brian Kelly last year:

"I only talk about the job I have now," Harbaugh said when asked if he or his representatives had spoken to the 49ers about their coaching vacancy.

He acknowledged having a "dual focus"—

WHHHAAAA?

--on his team, which will play Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl on Monday, and on his daughter, Katherine, who was born just before Christmas.

Aw, come on, Harbaugh.

So what's going to happen? I still don't know. No one does. Last time on this show I said I didn't have anything solid and probably wouldn't because of the nature of the "search" but that the mystical aura wasn't looking so hot:

I'm not inclined to put much in the widespread chatter that had RR out the door after the OSU game and seems to be continuing since its sourcing seems to be pissed-off-you-guys folk clearly unhappy with the state of the program taking small interactions and interpreting them as they desire. However, the vibe I'm getting from other people who seem to be on the fence about what to do—or at least close to it—also makes it seem unlikely Rodriguez is back. Emphasis on all the qualifying words in the previous sentence, please. I've got nothing solid because no one does.

I also said that Brady Hoke would be named Michigan's coach over my dead body and the last semblance of sanity in the universe but that wasn't based on inside information. It was more a "has everybody gone CRAZY!?!" moment, and if the threat of Hoke didn't linger in the air I'd apologize for it. As it is I'm on the battlements with an axe* waiting to behead anyone who pops up and says "my name is Buh—." Bill Parcells is duly warned.

With less that a week left before the month of limbo is over, I haven't received anything that pushes my opinion much one way or the other. To reiterate, that's:

  1. There is a nonzero chance Rodriguez is fired, otherwise there would have been an announcement.
  2. Schools do not start coaching searches on January 2nd.
  3. There's only one guy out there that could plausibly be socked away or all but in time for Michigan to have a reasonable finish in recruiting and could justify yet more chaos in a program that is pointed in the right direction, even if vaguely.

So it's Rodriguez or Harbaugh and we'll probably know the day after the Orange Bowl. With all due respect to people who would argue otherwise, it makes no sense to fire Rodriguez in January if you do not have a coach lined up immediately. Since the list of people other than Harbaugh who Michigan could install within a week reads "Buh—[blood theatrically spraying from neck]" your alternatives are between rushing someone through without pause for consideration—which worked out so well last time—or dragging the search almost up to Signing Day, leaving your recruiting class a smoking crater and possibly dooming the next guy, who will forever be Not Jim Harbaugh, to repeat the cycle.

I have heard some things that push me more towards Harbaugh:

  • Some connected guys at Cal email that Tedford is aiming to poach Harbaugh's OL coach since he has "agreed to go elsewhere already" as of the 17th of December. Caveat: the Cal rumor mill bears no animus towards Rodriguez but would love to see Harbaugh anywhere but Stanford, so as things get passed down the chain they get more certain.
  • A player who split his career between RR/Carr years tells an emailer that Harbaugh will be installed on the fifth. Caveat: why the hell would some former player know?
  • An emailer who reports things second hand but has been reliable in the past suggests that Mary Sue Coleman isn't a big fan of Rodriguez, which isn't much of anything to go on but just adds to the pile.
  • Media people I talk to generally say the best thing is probably to give him one more year but that they don't expect he'll get it. Also not much of anything but vibe.

The only thing pointing the other way is the generally sunny disposition coming from within Schembechler Hall, but with recruits the coaches are saying they've got no idea what's going on but if they're still around after the bowl they'll still be around forever, or something to that effect. That's a hard sale right there.

If I was 55-45 Harbaugh a month ago I'm 65-35 Harbaugh now. I wish I could be more certain and wouldn't make the decision I think is likely if I was king of the world, but that's life. We'll know soon enough.

AWFUL BONUS: If there is a change you can go start the Denard transfer watch at DEFCON 2, since Robinson knows what he is—the Big Ten offensive player of the year as a sophomore at quarterback—and where he fits. How screwed up is a program that manages to get both Ryan Mallett and Denard Robinson to transfer away from certain starting QB jobs in the course of three years?

This hasn't happened yet. Breathe. I am talking to myself mostly.

*(To avoid a Tucker Carlson moment let me clarify: I am not going to cut Brady Hoke or anyone's head off with an axe.)

How Good Is The Offense? Are We Really Asking This?

How Good Is The Offense? Are We Really Asking This?

Submitted by Brian on November 23rd, 2010 at 4:24 PM

Emotionally, this is an odd week for me. I find that I don't care about Ohio State at all. They're a very good team that's going to win in a not-that-competitive game on Saturday, like they always do. I get irritated at the hurr hurr coming from the Ohio State blogosphere but mostly because Michigan's so far from their level that it seems like a waste of time.

My hate still exists but it's focused internally, as the emails pile up and message boards pile on because I have the audacity to say if it was my decision I'd keep Rich Rodriguez on the condition he reshapes the defensive staff in such a way that we can expect them to do one boring thing reasonably well. I've explained why. In a sentence, the offense is excellent and should maintain that level over the next two years as the defense digs itself out from a massive hole.

This has caused the wing of the Michigan fanbase that thinks keeping Rodriguez is absolutely insane to search high and low for various metrics in which Michigan doesn't rate well. They can't take any of the basic stats...

Category National
Rank
Actual National
Leader
Actual Conf
Rank
Big Ten
Conference Leader
Actual
Rushing Offense 10 257.36 Georgia Tech 319.36 1 Michigan 257.36
Passing Offense 30 257.18 Hawaii 391.18 2 Indiana 283.27
Total Offense 5 514.55 Oklahoma St. 552 1 Michigan 514.55
Scoring Offense 15 36.82 Oregon 50.7 3 Wisconsin 40.91
Sacks Allowed T-11 0.91 Stanford 0.36 1 Penn St. 0.91

…and they certainly can't take any of the advanced metrics that rank Michigan second* and fifth nationally, so they resort to things like in-conference points per drive. Michigan is tied for third in the league in that metric.

If you are using this stat, you have decided that Rich Rodriguez should go and are backfilling reasons. If you're trying to downplay Michigan's second-half points against Iowa, Penn State and Wisconsin, you're doing the same thing. Michigan got back in those games by scoring often and quickly, by bombing away. Michigan scoring drives against Wisconsin lasted 3:57, 0:22, 2:19, and 2:57. They could do this because defenses were aligned to stop Michigan's powerful ground game even with big second-half leads, which is why Denard Robinson racked up a bunch of deep completions against single-covered WRs in the second half. Prevent defenses do not give up sixty yard touchdowns to tight ends, as Penn State did.

The whole reason the FO stats exist is to smooth out differences in opportunities and schedule strength as best they can and they indicate that whatever problems  Michigan has don't include being the nation's #15 scoring offense against a schedule with two real nonconference opponents and without Northwestern (82nd in FEI D) and Minnesota (98th).

David Brandon's got a tough decision ahead of him—something it only seems that people who are still in favor of Rodriguez returning acknowledge—because the offense is elegantly constructed and deadly. Michigan's quarterback couldn't throw a pass straight in the first half and the receivers couldn't catch it when he did, but they still ended the day with more points than any Michigan team had scored against Wisconsin since 1990. The 31 they put up on Penn State were the most since 2000. They're solidly in the top five of the best metrics available with two seniors and a sophomore quarterback. They're going to obliterate the best rushing YPC mark Carr put up since the turn of the century by over a yard and finish in the top 20 in passing efficiency.

Anyone seriously arguing that Michigan's offense is not a reason to keep Rodriguez around is a raving lunatic. Period. I'm tired of being vilified for using numbers in non-abusive ways, but that's what we've come to. My hate week is about other Michigan fans.

*(FEI ranks Michigan second but has not been updated for last Week's games. Since Michigan put up a touchdown better than Wisconsin's scoring average any drop from Michigan will be minimal.)