Dear Diary Out of the Blue and Into the Black Comment Count

Seth December 12th, 2014 at 11:09 AM

META first: Happy to announce that Ace's thing was diagnosed and he's gonna be fine.

Out of the Blue. It was refreshing, wasn't it, when Hackett killed off the Michigan Man Bler.

Bo retired with a cult of personality because he was great at coaching football, and great at improving the lives of people around him. Trusting him and his guys served Michigan well enough so long as he and those guys and their guys continued to do things well and righteously.

Camus on why Candyland is the greatest game ever. [Existential Comics]

Hoke was righteous; he didn't do well. Outside Michigan circles there was general bewilderment that Brady could come to this year's football bust, sit beside the men who fired him for fielding progressively worse football teams, and receive a standing ovation. Winning football games can you earn you a lot of respect, but it's not the only way to get it.

I too want to move on from the Cult of Bo, and I too concede that most football coaches out there are good guys. I don't see any problem with recognizing these things and also recognizing that Brady Hoke stood out among his coaching peers. You see it in his players. We'll see it again in the coming years when there are more transfers and more off-field things to wag fingers at, because Brady is an extraordinary human who genuinely cares about people beyond the normal good guy capacity. That quality isn't what got him fired; it's what got him a shot at his dream job in the first place.

We needed to get out of this Blue Bler and relearn how to make decisions with something other than faith in a dead man—sadly it took the people in charge two transitions to realize it. There's no way to eradicate the bler people; fortunately there is a home run-seeming candidate who grew up around the program and quarterbacked it for a time.

Ultimately the question on Harbaugh is 100% "Will he?" Communist Football made the case for the thing we want to believe. If it happens yay for Michigan and the world and the ozone layer. If not, we're…

Into the Black. If we're not looking for the next Bo Schembechler to run Bo Schembechler's program, what are we looking for?

Nobody's telling us. In his Highlander movie-themed discussion of Michigan's pursuit of Harbaugh, I think Gameboy absolutely nailed the coaching search process, which goes:

  1. Big list of candidates
  2. Whittling of candidates into a pool
  3. Precision ranking and clarity among top tier
  4. Pick the guy

Because fans don't get to be part of the process, the bits that leak out make no sense. We are the mortals who keep finding bodies beheaded by swords all over town, plus a few bread crumbs left by those who seek to use us for their own ends, and start drawing conclusions.

Rock and Roll is Here to Stay: In looking for a new paradigm a lot of us have settled on Urban Meyer's regime and coaching tree. Copying a successful rival is as good a strategy as any; in fact it's exactly how Canham chose Bo in 1969.

In that vein, Kyle Whittingham is the next Urban Meyer-like candidate to get the alum96 treatment. Among Urban-like names being tossed around, Whittingham is probably the most palatable to the residual bler in Michigan's brass—Mullen carries the stench of the SEC and we have no idea whether they see the things in Herman that we do. Like Harbaugh, his candidacy is more of a "Will he?" than a "Can he?"

[After the jump, there's more to the picture than meets the eye.]

They Give You This. Then there's that one person who comes across a sword dealer with a fake identity and says "This is the guy!" Stubob took a Bill Connelly study about Nebraska recruiting versus development (avg recruiting class vs. average national ranking in F+) and came back with a money chart:

So after looking at year-to-year performance, I charted the overall relative over/underperformance of each coach. Here's the result.

So, what does all this tell us? Well, it's easier to outperform expectations when you're lower in the recruiting rankings. If you have a top-10 class, there's not much room to outperform. It's really about meeting expectations at that point. Harbaugh is the only coach I profiled with consistent improvement, but as far as our best available candidates, can you believe it's Dantonio, Patterson, and Pelini?

Rodriguez is rated by his Michigan career only. I agree with the commenter who said comparing that year's recruiting class to that year's performance is the wrong way to go about it.

Suggestion for further study: start with a baseline expectation given the recruiting in available years and weight that toward the upperclassmen, then compare against F+, and then try to adjust for effects outside the coach's control, like how unknowns recruited to Michigan will get bumped from two stars to three because it's Michigan, or a spate of particularly damaging injuries and transfers, or that one school with the awful luck of having Michael Rosenberg on its beat.

Etc. Ron Utah has begun a series that will look at the current offensive depth chart and how it would translate to various offensive schemes. That diary is the overview of the project; stand by for what should be a very interesting study. Michigan's schedule has been the toughest in the league since 2012 while OSU's has been outlier-easy. M and MSU players in the NBA. THE_KNOWLEDGE on the next coach.

Best of the Board


A charter went from Willow Run to a city in a state with a Les Miles in it.


My conspiracy theory includes somebody parachuting out of the plane to meet with Tom Herman in Defiance, Ohio. It's the only possible explanation.


JUB's comments on the Harbaugh situation from a local Fox interview were distilled by michgoblue and I share the bulk:

1.  He believes that Harbaugh is still Michigan's top choice and that JH is still considering the option.

2.  He does not believe the recent and similar NFL-source reports that Harbaugh has rejected Michigan.

3.  He also does not believe reports that Harbaugh is "signed, sealed, delivered" to Michigan.

4.  He believes that even Harbaugh doesn't know at this point.

5.  If we do not land Harbaugh, JUB still believes that we would end up with Miles. His reasoning is that Hackett knows that much of the fanbase wants Miles if Harbaugh says no, and that Hackett is very good at listening to the fanbase.

6.  Finally, JUB says that we are in for a few more weeks of speculations because "all sides" are entering a "dark period."

Red: The blood of angry bloggers.

Black: Brian's world if Jim's not there.



Harbaugh? Harbaugh.


ETC. Mrs. Meyer's hair got a little too close to Urban's pants. Hope for Pahokee update. The video they showed the CMU guys waiting to learn whether or not they get a free trip to the Bahamas.

Your Moment of Zen:

Michigan athletes singing Christmas Carols way out of key (…of the back track that wasn't played for them, except field hockey apparently). Click through to the link:


"We're mentally strong; we're athletes."

Makers of that awful sweater: you need to contact me about advertising.



December 12th, 2014 at 11:38 AM ^

about Ace. Speaking of lists, I know this is a personal question and may not get answered, but...a 27 year old with extreme weight loss-the list of possibilities goes from curable to the other extreme, can I ask what the diagnosis is? And none of your business is a perfectly acceptable answer. Sorry I had to ask!

Per the coaching search, I believe we are going to be in the black and it will ultimately work out fine but not without some mumbling & grumbling.


December 12th, 2014 at 11:40 AM ^

Thanks for the moment of zen, and the kind comments about Brady Hoke. For all his faults as a coach, folks love him, and he's obviously earned that. I can't imagine being him the last two years, watching something you have worked for and dreamed about crumble around you in dust and you seemingly powerless to stop it.

As for that moment of zen - holy cow, that's how you brand a university. Why not invoke everything great about what athletics brings to an academic environment?  And why not pay them a bit while we're at it...


December 12th, 2014 at 12:03 PM ^

This was the best quote IMO

Winning football games can you earn you a lot of respect, but it's not the only way to get it.

It really sums things up nicely about Hoke. Extraordinary person, worthy of respect, but ultimately didn't win enough football games


December 12th, 2014 at 5:13 PM ^

My biggest dislike of Hoke isn't that he didn't win enough games; it's that he completely failed to develop players. Sure, that is very much related to the failure to win games, but goes deeper than the numbers that are written down on record sheets. In particular I really feel badly for players like Gardner, who with better coaching had all the promise of a NFL career. Not saying that Hoke didn't help a lot of kids keep to the right path (the majority of whom were never going to sniff the NFL anyway,) but he also submarined those that had a chance.


December 12th, 2014 at 1:05 PM ^

Great news about Ace.

Seth, you don't get to argue that "We needed to get out of this Blue Bler and relearn how to make decisions with something other than faith in a dead man" and then moan about "SEC stench."  As you know, Michigan is dropping that whole "Michigan Man" thing so we can become more like the SEC (i.e. win).  You gotta take the stench with the wins, unless you want to try gain to get the wins the "michigan Man" way, and you say you don't.