Expectations and Emotionally Satisfying Wins

Expectations and Emotionally Satisfying Wins

Submitted by Kevin Holtsberry on January 3rd, 2018 at 1:07 PM

As we continue to work through another ugly ending of the season for Michigan football, I thought I would explore an area I think contributes to the anger, disappointment and even ennui for fans.  Trying to find reasonable expectations and the impact of emotional wins.

The expectations game has been debated to death on the site, so I am not going to rehash that in detail.  Instead, I wanted to explore how emotionally satisfying wins help temper expectations and how Michigan's lack of such wins is in a significant way driving so much of the unhappiness.

My argument is basically that winning rivalry games and other high-profile games builds a reserve of goodwill that can be drawn on in tough times thus balancing out some of the fan dissatisfaction as a program has its natural ups and downs.

For example, Ohio State has had some inexplicable losses (Iowa 2017, Michigan State 2015) and some bad ones (Clemson 2016), but they have a National Championship, have dominated Michigan, and have 8 total losses in Urban Meyer's tenure. Michigan State had a disastrous year in 2016, but beat Michigan and Penn State and won their bowl game handily.  This overshadows losses to ND, Northwestern and an embarrassing loss to Ohio State.  Penn State had heartbreaking losses to Ohio State and Michigan State but won 11 games and ended with a win.

We do need to take a few minutes to discuss the expectations that should set the context for our discussion. If you thought Harbaugh was going to step in and bring Michigan to the level of Urban Meyer or Nick Saban in three years, I can't help you.  A cursory glance at the record of the schools for the last ten years would disabuse you of this notion.  Ohio State has been playing in title games and winning conference championships.  In contrast, even before RichRod and Hoke, Michigan lost 3-5 games with regularity.

Since 2000 Ohio State has averaged 2.27 losses a year while Michigan has averaged 4.22. So that should temper expectations.  Ohio State has consistently been better than Michigan for a couple of decades and the last five have been dominant. Urban Meyer has never lost more than 2 games at OSU.

And the program that Harbaugh inherited was not exactly trending upward.  RichRod had three consecutive losing seasons.  Hoke started great (11-2), had a season remarkably like this year (8-5 with a bowl loss to SC), before two losing seasons.  The two coaches prior to Harbaugh were a combined 41-35. 

And going back to Lloyd Carr things were not at Meyer or Saban levels.  Carr’s tenure at Michigan averages out to roughly 9-3. Obviously, the 1997 season stands out as the high point and the ending of the 2006 season as the start of the slide to mediocrity and below.  Heck, Bo’s record is basically 9-2 with a losing record (5-12) in bowl games and no national titles.

This background indicates that in his first three years Harbaugh has brought Michigan back to what it was in the 90s and early 2000s.  I would argue what he hasn’t achieved is some emotionally satisfying wins that would make this accomplishment FEEL better to Michigan fans.  This recap of recent history may seem redundant for fans but bear with me.


Harbaugh’s first season started out with a tough but in many ways understandable loss to Utah but then won five games by a combined score of 160-14.  The next game, however, was the heartbreaking and maddening loss to Michigan State.  The Wolverines won the next four games including a goal line stand to win against Minnesota, an OT win against Indiana, and a sold 28-16 win against Penn State in Happy Valley.  After a blowout loss to Ohio State in the Big House, Michigan thumped Florida 41-7 in the Gator Bowl.

Despite the pattern of painful losses to rivals, Harbaugh first season brought some emotional satisfaction. Ten wins and a blowout bowl win felt like a great start.  Plus, the wins against Minnesota and Indiana provided some excitement and confidence that Michigan could win conference games on the road.


Michigan reeled off 9 straight wins in 2016 and other than the comeback against Colorado and a three missed field goals game against Wisconsin, none of them were particularly close.  You know the story from there.  Painful loss on the road to Iowa, snow game escape against Indiana, and then heartbreaking losses to Ohio State and Florida State.

This is where the emotional damage was done.  A few plays, and one atrocious call, away from a playoff appearance and a great season; potentially one for the ages.  So much promise and potential and yet fans came away with nothing but heartbreak.

The ending was particularly rough not just because it robbed Michigan of a great season, but it erased satisfying wins against not only Colorado and Wisconsin, but also Michigan State and Penn State.  Win one of those three losses and the season feels very different.  To use a cliché, fans were deprived of the type of closure or ending that can make a season feel satisfying even if disappointing.  The end colors the whole season.


This year was the year of youth, particularly on defense.  But an opening win against what was thought to be a solid Florida team seem to portend good things.  The offense struggled but the defense was playing at last year levels despite losing a ton of talent and that was exciting.  A comeback win against Purdue on the road with John O’Korn at QB had fans thinking that the injury to Wilton Speight would not doom the season.

A sloppy loss in a second half monsoon to Michigan State at home drove home the indication that QB and OL play would remain an issue for Michigan; a turnover fest would spell doom.  The feeling of being snake bitten against Michigan State also continued.  The team managed to sneak past Indiana but then were blown out in the second half by a Penn State team who seemed to have it all figured out. 

Michigan went on to thump Rutgers, Minnesota, and Maryland with a suddenly quite good running game.  And it seemed as if Brandon Peters might be the QB that Michigan so desperately needed.  But a concussion against Wisconsin ended that possibility and the end of season losses followed.  This included a torturous loss to Ohio State at home that included a 14-0 lead at one point.  But the lack of a competent QB, O’Korn had lost whatever competence he once possessed, doomed the Wolverines to yet another loss in The Game.

So even before the bowl game, Michigan fans were struggling to make sense of the team and season. On the one hand, the defense seemed to be beating expectations given their youth and the running game come alive.  The offensive play calling against Ohio State was brilliant even if the QB couldn’t hit an open receiver with the game on the line.  On the other hand, the OL couldn’t protect the QB and seemed to find any stunt an unsolvable mystery.  The WRs were young and failing to help the QB when given the chance.

What the bowl game represented was a chance to reset the expectations and reach a plateau on which to build.  South Carolina was a bad team, worse than their 8-4 record.  This was a chance to prove that Michigan could beat a team with a winning record.  The Big Ten was undefeated in bowl games and had a chance to really stick it to the arrogant SEC.  Michigan was favored to win and most felt comfortable then would do so handily.

When you combine the incredible frustration built up in 2016 from being a few plays, and an atrocious call, from greatness with the continuing losses to our rivals in painful fashion (and the media drumbeat on this point), this was a pool of gasoline waiting for a match.

The last quarter and a half against South Carolina provided not a spark but a flamethrower. 

In the first half Michigan had the ball on the South Carolina 17, 8, and 27 and came away with filed goals each time.  SC had a muffed punt and a fumble but were only down 9-3.  Michigan looked poised to put the game away in the second half, however.  After a 7 play 72-yard TD drive and a SC interception Michigan was driving for a score to put the game out of reach.  Karan Higdon fumbled at the 4, seemed to recover it, only to have the defensive lineman rip it away.  The defense held but a chance to deliver the knockout punch slipped by.  Up 23-3 midway through the 3rd quarter would have been a great place to be.

The mistakes from there just multiplied.  SC drove for a TD aided by a stupid personal foul penalty.  Then facing 3rd and 1 at their own 23, Michigan ran the by now infamous play where TE Sean McKeon was lined up as a FB and promptly fumbled the handoff. The very next play was a SC TD and the collapse was on.

  • SC overcame a 3rd and 18 and then hit on a 53-yard bomb for their third straight possession with a TD. 
  • Trailing for the first time Michigan drove to the five only to have Brandon Peters throw an interception in the endzone. 
  • Donovan Peoples-Jones muffs a punt. 
  • The defense holds SC to a FG despite having the ball on the 14. Peters throws four straight incompletions and Michigan turns the ball over on downs. 
  • Again, defense holds, and SC misses a FG.  2nd and 2 at the 39 and Peters inexplicably slides instead of running for the first down.  Two plays later, interception to end the game.

The litany is familiar: five(!) turnovers, 23 unanswered points, results in a blown 19-3 lead midway through the third quarter. An embarrassing loss. The only Big Ten team to lose a bowl game (to an SEC team).

I recap all of this, not because you are not aware of what happened but to try to capture the emotional rollercoaster and how it likely destroyed any semblance of balance and rationality many Michigan fans had.

In 2016 Michigan fans were deprived of the opportunity to prove they could be great.  Instead, a season on the precipice of greatness was cruelly snatched away by the thinnest of margins and by a fate that seems intent on punishing Michigan repeatedly.

Having digested this pain, well mostly, Michigan fans simply wanted to believe that a very young team was still competent enough to win games they were supposed to win.  After coming tantalizing close against quality opponents, they wanted to beat a winning team, hold up their part of the Big Ten reputation and slap down the SEC.

Instead, they got an epic collapse.  Players they had hoped were coming into their own in the 13th game of the season made critical mistakes.  Players they thought were the future, looked unable to handle the spotlight.  And the coaches seemed unable to stop the bleeding or find a way to win.

You can say that Michigan’s history of failing to hold a lead in important games is not relevant to whether Harbaugh knows how to coach or the talent level on the 2018 team.  You can say this year was roughly what was expected.  But the history is there emotionally, and it FEELS important.  Monday made it feel like that history was destiny, that Michigan would forever be the underachieving team. Without a great season to fall back on the future feels like a continuation of heartbreaking losses and mediocrity.

So where do we go from here?  I think you must acknowledge this history and understand that it warps expectations and exaggerates the emotions.  Living in Columbus, I know what winning once in 15 years against OSU feels like.  You can’t have a hyped, media dominating, coach who gets paid ungodly sums, and a coaching staff who are also paid among the highest in the country, and not have expectations grow. And you can’t just wave away the emotions and baggage.

But you also need to realize that Harbaugh is digging out of a hole in terms of recruiting and winning.  And he is doing this at a time when Ohio State is one of the best programs in the country, when Penn State is recruiting at a high level and Michigan State has a coach whose life goal is to beat Michigan even if that is all he accomplishes.  This is an uphill climb. 

It is also important to note, that Michigan isn’t trying to get BACK to the level of Meyer or Saban or Dabo.  It was never at that level.  Those programs have five years of top five recruiting classes under their belt.  They have climbed to the highest level and stayed there. Michigan is trying to build a foundation from which they can reach that level.

That said, 2018 has the feel of a turning point.  Michigan will need to find a way to give fans some significant wins so that they can feel like all the money and hype means something. Another season of losses to rivals and missing the conference championship game will drive the angry voices to newfound heights. 

The good, and bad, news is that Michigan will have plenty of opportunities to get big wins.  As everyone is aware, the schedule is not easy.  Games against Notre Dame, Michigan State and Ohio State on the road and visits from Wisconsin and Penn State.  10 wins, including wins against ND, MSU and/or OSU, would be quite an accomplishment.  It would also give fans enough satisfaction to look to 2019 with excitement. A 4 or 5 loss season would seem to put even Harbaugh on the hot seat.

Fan Satisfaction Index: Wisconsin Results

Fan Satisfaction Index: Wisconsin Results

Submitted by OneFootIn on November 22nd, 2017 at 11:40 AM

That sucked. It started as a hard-hitting Big Ten rock fight with Michigan giving Wisconsin all it could handle. Then it dissolved into another miserable and hard to watch affair as Peters went down with a concussion and the team lost its mojo. On paper Michigan did pretty well; Peters had his most promising outing despite a couple of mistakes and the defense kept Wisconsin’s high-powered tailback in check for most of the game. Heck, with a couple of breaks (thanks replay guys!) the outcome could have been very different.

But things went the way they did and from a fan’s perspective it mostly just sucked. This week’s game satisfaction clocked in at a whopping 28.8, down almost 50 points from the past three weeks, slotting in just ahead of the Penn State debacle.

Figure 1. Wisconsin Game Satisfaction

Unsurprisingly, season satisfaction also took a nosedive, dipping to 36.3 after camping out near 70 the past two weeks. At this point most fans seem to be grappling with the cold hard truth that Michigan is likely to end the season 8-4 and without any quality wins (in fact, without a win over a team with a winning record).

Figure 2. Season Satisfaction after Maryland

This brings up an interesting point about fan psychology. Before the season started a lot of analysts, including our own Ecky Pting, predicted Michigan would go 8-4 this year and would have trouble doing better than 9-3. Michigan was rebuilding on both sides of the ball, had tough games on the road against Penn State and Wisconsin, and beating Ohio State is always a challenge. In theory, then, fans should be relatively sanguine about going 8-4. Most fans, of course, are decidedly not sanguine about it. Many of them are losing their shit. The threads and comments this past week have been a mess.

There are many reasons for this psychosis. The most basic reason is that fans are not rational. Emotions don’t obey the laws of analysis and logic. Just look at Michigan Twitter during a loss if you doubt that statement. Feeling better than warranted after crappy wins and worse than warranted after tough losses on the road to the #5 team in the nation is just what it means to be a fan.

Somewhat more specifically, though, I think fans have problems setting expectations. They look at the fancy stats analysis that provides a rational and compelling case for an 8-4 prediction and then they immediately imagine all the ways in which Michigan could beat the prediction. Speight will be better than last year; the receivers are young but more talented; MSU will suck because they lost all those guys; we play OSU at home this year, etc. Pretty soon the fan is screwed because 10-2, not 8-4, has now become his or her emotional baseline for success. I know this because I am one of these people. I can know in my head that 8-4 is a sign of progress, but my heart will still bleed at the failure to go 10-2 (or better, really).

Themes, Thoughts, Trends

I Am Too Rational!

Okay, fine. Figure 3 provides some evidence that fans aren’t entirely irrational. The correlation between scoring margin and game satisfaction is quite high. We can explain 78% of variation in game satisfaction with just the margin of victory (or loss). In my regular season wrap up column I will use my somewhat more complete model to simulate game and season satisfaction scores for each of the other Big Ten teams – I have already done several of them and the variations are very interesting.

Figure 3 Scoring Margin and Game Satisfaction


The Road Ahead

Well, we’ve reached the end of the line. It’s the last chance for Harbaugh and the guys to pull our season satisfaction numbers out of the toilet. A win sends Michigan fandom into bowl season with confidence and boundless optimism about next year. A loss, especially a crushing loss, well, the less said about that the better.

Go Blue.

Figure 4 Season Trends



Fan Satisfaction Index: Maryland Results

Fan Satisfaction Index: Maryland Results

Submitted by OneFootIn on November 16th, 2017 at 10:54 AM

Since I live just outside D.C. I was lucky enough to catch last week’s game in person with my son. I’m pretty sure Michigan fans outnumbered Maryland fans, if not at kickoff then for sure by the second quarter after the drubbing was in full effect. It ain’t the Big House, but Maryland’s stadium is nice enough and the whole parking/getting in/getting out aspect was about as easy as I’ve ever experienced. Plus I got to sing the Victor's at a game, with actual Michigan fans, for the first time in about a decade. Overall gameday satisfaction level: high.

Harbaugh called it Michigan’s most complete performance of the season. I, on the other hand, gave it a “meh.” So, apparently, did the fan base, which gave the game a solid 73.5, which ranks fifth among Michigan’s wins, just behind Rutgers but well above Air Force, Cincinnati, and Indiana. Harbaugh is undoubtedly looking at the more important elements of the game here, but from a fan perspective the 73.5 seems fair. Michigan crushed a team they were supposed to crush, but didn’t look all that dominant for much of the game. The defense gave up more yards than expected to Maryland and its Nth-string quarterback, the offense looked good in spurts but fell short of exerting total dominance, and Quinn Nordin, #collegekicker, missed an easy one.

Figure 1. Maryland Game Satisfaction

Nor did the fans find much in the Maryland game to move the needle on their assessments of the season so far. Beating another cupcake this late in the season just isn’t going to change anyone’s opinion of the team and it isn’t going to erase the bad taste of losing to MSU and PSU. For that reason, even though it felt pretty good to thump Maryland, season satisfaction for the week checked in at 69.9, up less than a point from last week.

Figure 2. Season Satisfaction after Maryland


For the third week in a row game satisfaction outpaced season satisfaction. But one way or another Figure 3 is going to look very different next week…

Figure 3. Season Trends

Themes, Thoughts, Trends

Calibrating Our Instruments*

As good scientists it is critical that we be sure that our measurements are measuring what we think they’re measuring. In the context of our project here, we’d like to know that when Person A says a game gave them a satisfaction level of 80 that it means the same thing as when Person B gives us an 80.

Let’s take Netflix movie ratings as an example of this problem. If your family is like my family, some of you have discerning minds and impeccable taste, and rate movies accordingly, while others…do not. I, for example, give okay movies 3 stars, good or very good movies 4 stars, and I reserve 5 stars for things that are incredible. My daughter, on the other hand, hands out 5 star reviews like Halloween candy. Needless to say no one should pay any attention to our Netflix account’s overall ratings of movies. We would obviously like to avoid this problem with the fan satisfaction index.

Like Netflix, I have given very little in the way of guidance to respondents as to what they “should mean” when they answer a certain way. Other than telling them a zero is the worst and a 100 is the best, I figure your average MGoBlogger can handle scoring their satisfaction in a way that most folks will understand. We all have plenty of experience with tests that are scored from zero to 100, and most people have taken an infinite number of other surveys; there is good reason to expect that the hive mind will produce a reasonably tight consensus around what any given number means.

On the other hand, since I’ve never asked anyone to explain his/her response, I have had to assume that my interpretation of the hive mind is more or less the standard interpretation that anyone would give. But hey, I could be wrong. When I was surprised at how satisfied the fan base was about beating Rutgers, for example, I might have simply been misinterpreting what a 73.9 meant to the typical respondent. Maybe a 73.9 is really code for “adequate but not particularly invigorating victory over a crappy opponent.” If that’s the case, not only did I whiff a bit interpreting fan reactions to Rutgers, but my interpretation of other games should also be amended.

Here’s another interesting thing about trying to measure attitudes with surveys like this: most of the numbers on the scale are seriously underutilized, while a few more way overrepresented. As you can see in Figure 4, some numbers serve as something like a cognitive anchor. People are a lot more likely to answer 60, 65, or 70, than 51, 63, or 77.

Figure 4 Bumpy Data: 1875 Game Satisfaction Responses through Maryland


In fact, people are so much more likely to use certain numbers that it makes you wonder sometimes why anyone would use a 0 to 100 scale in the first place. Table 1 shows what I mean. The even numbered “primary anchors” (10, 20, 30, etc.) made 47% of all responses, the odd numbered “secondary anchors” (15, 25, 35, etc.) made up 33.5% of all responses, but the numbers adjacent to the anchors have been woefully under used. Even sadder: thirteen lonely numbers haven’t been used even once so far!

Table 1 Anchoring Effects and Survey Responses

Anchor % of all responses Anchor Adjacents % of all responses
0 2.13 1 0.43
10 2.61 9 & 11 0.05
20 2.61 19 & 21 0.1
30 2.4 29 & 31 0.0
40 3.31 39 & 41 0.05
50 3.73 49 & 51 0.7
60 4.91 59 & 61 0.16
70 8.37 69 & 71 0.85
80 11.52 79 & 81 0.7
90 4.59 89 & 91 0.95
100 .85 99 0.11
Total 47.03   4.1

Fun stuff.

In the spirit of getting it right, then, this week is Calibration Week. In the comments, tell me what you think the numbers mean. What’s a 50 to you? What’s a 75? How did you figure out what number to use?

* Get your minds out of the gutter. This is a family friendly site.

The Road Ahead

To Wisconsin we go…time for another test of our fan satisfaction system. This could get interesting. The game is at Camp Randall, a horrendously difficult road test for any team under any conditions, and the Badgers are favored by 7.5. Wisconsin’s offense has issues, but its defense has been stifling – not a great omen given Michigan’s aggressively mediocre offense this season. And yet…I’m sensing an awful lot of hope, even maybe the stirrings of expectations that Harbaugh and Co. have been keeping their powder dry and will finally unleash the Messiah’s true firepower in Madison to lay waste to the already frozen tundra. We shall see.






Fan Satisfaction Index: Minnesota Results

Fan Satisfaction Index: Minnesota Results

Submitted by OneFootIn on November 9th, 2017 at 9:22 AM

Is beating a mediocre Minnesota team with zero offense really worth an average game satisfaction of 78.2? I mean, I love the Little Brown Jug as much as the next guy, but I think I was 10 the last time I was actually excited about seeing us win it. But the fans loved it, rating their satisfaction with the Minnesota victory higher than any other game this season except Florida.

Figure 1. Minnesota Game Satisfaction 

Last week we tried to explain the exuberant reaction to the Rutgers game as a response to the arrival of the Messiah. That line won’t fly this week, as Peters turned in a solid but decidedly un-Messiah-like performance, completing just 8 of 13 throws for 56 yards.

If you want to stick with a player-based explanation, you can point to the double-barreled running attack of Higdon and Evans, who torched Minnesota for 377 yards and multiple explosive touchdown runs. And no question, for many of us the clear improvement in the ground game has been invigorating; watching Higdon and Evans blow past Gopher defenders was fantastic.

But perhaps a more compelling explanation for fan satisfaction this week is the fact that Michigan exceeded expectations. Not only did the running game go off unexpectedly, but Michigan also beat the spread by 7 points, its greatest margin against the spread this season other than – you guessed it – Florida. As Figure 2 shows, the R-squared between performance versus expectations and game satisfaction is .79.

Figure 2. The Expectations Effect 


Buoyed by consecutive (and satisfying) wins, season satisfaction crept up another notch this week to an average of 69.1, its highest mark since the Purdue game, when satisfaction was 76.7. Like last week, game satisfaction outpaced season satisfaction – fans are still not completely over the two losses, but I’m a little surprised that the season satisfaction rebound has been so significant. It’s also interesting how tightly bunched fans’ feelings are this week – the standard deviation in season satisfaction this week was just 11.6.

Figure 3. Season Satisfaction after Minnesota

Themes, Thoughts, Trends

Another week, another bullet in the data chamber, and the seasonal trend lines get another tick longer. So far game satisfaction has averaged 69.2 across the 7 wins, and a meagerly 22.4 for the two losses.

Figure 4: The Season So Far

The Road Ahead

As Maryland continues to shed quarterbacks, Vegas has pegged Michigan a 15 or 16-point favorite over the poor Terps. It should be another chance for the running backs to go ham and hopefully Brandon Peters gets a few more live-fire opportunities to prove he is the Anointed One. An upset on the road would undoubtedly send satisfaction plummeting. Another hamblasting should see season satisfaction sneak even further up before the next real test in Madison.








Fan Satisfaction Index: Rutgers Results

Fan Satisfaction Index: Rutgers Results

Submitted by OneFootIn on November 2nd, 2017 at 8:41 AM

Is irrational exuberance blossoming in Ann Arbor?

In a 1996 speech about the dot com boom Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan popularized the term “irrational exuberance.” The market was overheating he argued, and he warned that all market bubbles must eventually burst. And as we know, after a dazzling few years, the dot com hype eventually gave way to the cold harsh reality that businesses actually have to, you know, make a profit.

Brandon Peters came in for a struggling John O’Korn on Saturday and immediately made Michigan’s offense look more competent. Peters himself looked calm and in command, completing passes to nine different receivers and recording his first touchdown pass (and just as importantly – not throwing any interceptions). His presence on the field clearly energized his team. When Peters entered the game halfway through the 2nd quarter it was tied at 7-7. By half the Wolverines were up 21-7. Peters’ second half performance was drama free, allowing Michigan’s running game to close out the victory. Clearly the Messiah has arrived.

Skeptics have pointed out that Peters was playing Rutgers, was not asked to do much, showed some signs of hesitation out there, and that even if he is the next Messiah, there will be significant growing pains along the way. Others have noted that O’Korn looked like the answer after Purdue, only to be revealed as a false prophet. All bubbles, they seem to be saying, must eventually burst.

Maybe so, but after Saturday’s game fans were in no mood for such logic. Brandon Peters’ performance on Saturday not only satisfied the demands of growing chorus of fans calling for a quarterback change, it also seems to have reignited hopes for a season many had written off as lost. The result: both the game satisfaction index (73.9) and the season satisfaction index (62.9) are at their highest levels since Purdue despite the fact that Michigan did not in fact cover the spread. Interestingly, there was no difference this week between hot takes and cold takes. It just felt good.

Figure 1. Rutgers Game Satisfaction


Figure 2. Season Satisfaction after Rutgers

Michigan has clearly entered the roller coaster portion of its season. Figure 3 shows the whiplash fans have been through the last month.

Figure 3: The Season So Far

Themes, Thoughts, Trends

Rational Exuberance?

Looking back at Figure 3 you will note that this is the first week where the game satisfaction level was higher than fans’ satisfaction with the season as a whole. I think this reflects at least two things. First, many fans started the season with very high expectations, which was reinforced by the win against Florida. That, combined with a series of underwhelming wins, saw season satisfaction continue to outpace game satisfaction even as it dropped after losses to MSU and PSU.

Second, as jazzed as fans may be about Peters, even the Messiah can’t undo the losses already suffered. Nor are most fans ready to believe – yet – that Peters can deliver them to the promised land (victory against the Buckeyes) this season. This week’s results might just reflect a sort of rational irrational exuberance. Irrational hopes about the future with Peters mixed with lingering ennui and doubts about beating the Buckeyes. Sounds like a fan to me.

The Road Ahead

Vegas has Michigan a 14.5 favorite over the Gophers this week. I’m holding my breath to see what the Messiah looks like in his first start. You can feel the fan base holding its breath. If Peters fires two or three touchdown passes will fans lose their sh*t and start promising victories over Wisconsin and Ohio State? How do folks feel if Peters looks human and Michigan pulls out a close one? And God forbid, do the walls cave in if Peters looks like a freshman and Michigan stumbles again under the lights? We shall see.




Fan Satisfaction Index: Indiana Results

Fan Satisfaction Index: Indiana Results

Submitted by OneFootIn on October 18th, 2017 at 10:25 PM

Michigan managed to pull out the win at Indiana last Saturday, making it 22 straight victories over the Hoosiers. Not much cause for excitement there. Karan Higdon's day was something of a revelation, but overall Michigan managed to make it look harder than necessary on Saturday, with the sputtering passing game almost spoiling another fine showing by the defense. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, the fan satisfaction index for the game was just 51.6. Better than last week's 20.5 for sure, yes, but hardly much to write home about. Lukewarm might be the best word to describe it.

Figure 1. Post-Indiana Satisfaction

Click here if image not appearing.

More troubling than needing overtime was the fact that O’Korn’s performance was statistically worse this year than during last year’s Snow Bowl against Indiana. This led 53% of respondents to say that the game left them feeling less confident about the season moving forward. Just 10% said the game made them more confident. The rest were unmoved.

The lackluster performance also failed to do much to revive the fans’ feelings about the season so far. This week the season satisfaction rating averaged 53.7. That’s a good bit better than folks were feeling after the loss to the Spartans (40.5), but still a long ways from the 76.2 posted after the Purdue game. Lukewarm seems about the right word here as well

It’s going to take a lot more than beating Indiana to erase the effects of an ugly loss to a rival. The looming battle at Penn State is likely also dampening the mood right now. A lot of people are busy trying to harden their hearts in advance of what Vegas projects to be a loss on the road in Happy Valley. A loss there  - even one with “dignity” – will cause fan satisfaction with the season to take another hit. Obviously, an upset on the road, at night, with Game Day at Penn State, would go a long way to reviving all the good feelings fans had after the Florida game.


Figure 2. Week 7 Season Satisfaction

Click here if image not appearing.

Themes, Thoughts, Trends

This week’s post is a bit condensed because I’m on the road myself this week – actually visiting UGA in Athens, Georgia and hoping to check in on UCF in Orlando as well. I had not realized just how beautiful the UGA campus was and I would certainly recommend Athens as a fantastic place to visit. A lot like Ann Arbor, but with much better weather.

Figure 3. The Season So Far

Click here if image not appearing.

Fan Satisfaction Index: Michigan State Survey

Fan Satisfaction Index: Michigan State Survey

Submitted by OneFootIn on October 8th, 2017 at 9:43 AM

Take this week's survey: https://goo.gl/forms/7SZW9wTb8tEhOzAF2

How are you feeling after the Michigan State game?

How are you feeling about the season now?

How likely is Michigan to win its next game against Indiana?


Previous posts

Introducing the Fan Satisfaction Index
Week 2 Results
Week 3 Results 
Week 4 Results
Bye Week Musings

Shout out to M fans at the BIG 10 Championship Game

Shout out to M fans at the BIG 10 Championship Game

Submitted by Hail-Storm on March 13th, 2017 at 11:50 AM

This may have only played a small part in the championship run this weekend, but I wanted to give a shout out to all the Michigan fans who made it to any games, but specifically, the Championship game on Sunday.  On TV, the Michigan crowd was very loud (along with the band who were also great).  I think it definitely helped the team with the last little push. I also loved to hear the MVP chant at the end. 

Am I Complicit?

Am I Complicit?

Submitted by Michael Scarn on June 29th, 2014 at 5:28 PM

Each morning, before I get on the train to work, I load my Twitter feed to get the morning's news.  What's "news" for me from Twitter is often about sports.  The sport I follow the closest is college football, with college basketball likely in a second-place tie with the NFL.  With the buildup to and conclusion of the O'Bannon trial, many of the posts in that feed have shifted from "Big Ten Preaseason Power Rankings" or "X Player Has Michigan as a Finalist" to the dissection and dessimation of the structure of the NCAA.  My opinion on the issue falls in line with what I perceive is a growing majority (although this may be affected by who I get my content from): whether or not we know the way to fix it, the system is broken, unfair, and difficult to legally and ethically justify.

But this diary is not a position statement on the merits of arguments that players should be paid or allowed to unionize.  I start with the premise that the NCAA is broken and amateurism is a term used to maintain and justify a status quo in an operation that has become decidedly professional.  I don't think Mark Emmert or Dave Brandon should get to have their wages determined in a free market (or set them themselves) and line their pockets while the kids driving revenue don't get that same opportunity.  I don't think the backs of 18 year old kids, often from modest or even poor and dangerous upbringings are the places to yolk money carts for old white guys in suits.  If you disagree with me, that's fine, but that's where I am coming from.

What I struggle with today, as the moorings and girters of the NCAA model stand to topple like dominos in Federal court (whether from O'Bannon's, Kessler's, or some other suit - I would argue radical change is almost certaint, and likely pretty imminent), is the role I play in this scheme.  I open up an article from Grantland, EDSBS, or this site and nod my head in agreement when the writers eviscerate college administrators and the ludicrous arguments the NCAA has trotted out in defense of its system.  Minutes later, I read a breakdown of 17 year old receiver who runs X 40 time with X high school stats committing to Michigan and pump my fist in excitement.  I think it's borderline criminal that Denard Robinson and Trey Burke didn't see a nickel of their jersey sales, and yet I own both.  I malign outrageous budgets for bowl committees and athletic deparments, then happily hand over my credit card for a game ticket or a $90 sweatshirt.   

I think the best description of my feelings for Michigan Football, in particular, is a religion.  I wrote this thing and called Michigan Stadium a cathedral, after all.  I continue to love and believe in what Michigan Football and Basketball stand for.  I attach my love to the stories of Brock Mealer and Quintin Washington, to hope there's a first time Austin Hatch takes the court for Michigan, and to John Beilein sitting by himself late into the night at the NBA Draft waiting for Jordan Morgan to get drafted.  But for every virtue I celebrate, lately I cannot escape all of the system's vices.  For every Denard Robinson success story, there is a Tate Forcier tale - without a full story I can't judge how much he is to blame for his transfer, regardless, I think it's pretty sad that Tate Forcier doesn't have one red cent to show for the brief period of time when tens of millions of people knew his name and were entertained by him.  And there's plenty of kids with stories much sadder than his

I wrote this with the suspicion that others may feel similarly, and I truly wonder how to rationalize this dichotomy.  I am excited for the feverish analysis and sense of possibility that fall camp will soon bring while I bemoan that former players deal with untreated medical problems or few job prospects because they were "tutored" through a bullshit major to keep them eligible.  How am I not a hypocrite?  Is this not my fault, too?