Dear Diary: Spring Cleaning Edition

Submitted by Tim on April 22nd, 2010 at 11:07 AM

It's been a while since this feature has made an appearance, but with a recent boom in good diaries, it's time to dust off the cobwebs and bring you the best in user-generated content. Write a good diary and you, too, can have your time in the spotlight!

A lot of diaries of late have been Lacrosse (me), Baseball (formerlyanonymous), or Recruiting (Tom/me) -related, but there's been some good user-generated content, as well. Though we haven't seen this feature since December, I'll restrict entries to the end of basketball season. I'm leaving 16-team Big Ten proposals alone for now, as Brian will probably bring them up later.

The Mathlete brought it strong over the past few weeks, including a look at which NCAA football teams have been the most and least lucky over the past two years. How did he define luck?

To try and answer these questions, I took my team PPG values for the full 2009 season and then “re-played” the regular season schedule to see how the season would play out if the teams played at that consistent level and the fluky plays were eliminated. All first half plays and any in the second half with the game within 2 touchdowns were included. Interceptions are included, fumbles are not. Standard special teams plays are included, punt blocks, on-sides kicks etc. are not.

Unsurprisingly, Michigan hasn't been so lucky either of the past two years:

Northwestern has been the luckiest team in the nation two years running, so they may be in for a rude awakening sometime soon. MCalibur's lengthy diary presumably covers something similar (win expectations), but is more notable for how pretty its charts are.

http://mgoblog.com/sites/mgoblog.com/files/SickChart_0.png

Here offensive YPG is charted against defensive YPG. The horrible dot at the bottom is '08; the horrible dot to the right is '09. You can see how far from respectable Michigan was in '08 and the sizeable improvement last year, albeit not enough of one to expect a bowl game.

The Mathlete then delved into the importance of personnel, starting with the cumbersomely-titled post exploring the value of returning starters to a football team's success. Surprisingly, as long as your team wasn't among the bottom 20% in the country of returning starts at some key positions, returning experience isn't that big of a deal:

Returning starts don't matter as much as people think. The way they are most likely to affect a team is if you have very few. A whole host of returners isn't necessarily more valuable than a solid group. Just don't be stuck at the bottom, even a low ranking in a single position group can be worth a game or two.

So Michigan is losing its best three defenders, which bodes ill for the 2010 season, right? Not So Fast My Friend, as The Mathlete continued to outdo himself, crunching the numbers to reveal who were Michigan's top defensive players last year. Ryan Van Bergen comes in at a surprising #3, with Brandon Graham, in a shocker, the runaway leader with an adjusted score of 27.4. Donovan Warren's 8.7 was second.

The only positive performers who are returning are Van Bergen, Jonas Mouton, Mike Martin, and Obi Ezeh. Jordan Kovacs, Craig Roh, and Mike Leach were only slightly in the negative, all right around average nationally for their positions. The conclusion:

The most glaring point for me is that Michigan’s top linebacker, Mouton, barely makes the top 150 linebackers nationally in production. If Michigan’s defense is going to turn things around there is going to have be some new playmakers step up and there has to be more production from the linebackers.

Another shocker.

The Mathlete, for your research-laden diaries (and the charts, OH, the charts!), you are The Diarist of the... er... Spring!

Inspired by the recent changes to NFL overtime rules, ecormany proposes a few tweaks to the NCAA's overtime system. Among his ideas: reincorporate the punting game and give teams only two minutes to complete each possession in an overtime period.

In Can The Heat Be Beat?, Elno Lewis looks at the ever-growing dominance of so-called "warm weather teams" in winning football national titles. The results are striking:

Warm Weather Teams Winning Championships

1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000
40.6% 47.5% 53.1% 53.8% 62.1% 68.4% 70.0%

It looks like the trend is still upward for warm-weather teams. Can northern squads like Michigan try to buck the trend? Follow-up question: can an infusion of Florida talent negate the trend? I'd be interested to see someone expand on Elno's research.

wildbackdunesman compares the respective CCHA coaching careers of Ron Mason and Red Berenson, and proposes a name-change of the CCHA Tournament trophy to the Mason-Berenson Cup. Red is comparable to Mason in every category of measuring success, and there's certainly a compelling argument to be made. It seems the only serious advantage Mason has is being the coach of more CCHA teams (Lake State, Bowling Green, and Michigan State, as compared to only Michigan for Red) and coaching longer than Berenson has so far.

With the NFL Draft coming up, Mat takes a look at whether Donovan Warren made the right choice in leaving Michigan a year early for the Big Leagues. The criteria to consider:

The potential gains for returning for one more year are:

  1. Another year of college life / experience
  2. Diploma
  3. Potential improved draft stock

...and the verdict:

Warren didn't make a mistake. Most guys who are drafted are not making a mistake when they turn pro. The decision is the correct one when all the costs and benefits are factored in for most. The decision is only a mistake is if you’re immediately cut and never earn a penny as a pro football player or are really enjoying life as a collegiate athlete and will miss it more than you’ll appreciate the money you’ll earn as a pro.

The reasoning behind this conclusion seems pretty sound, yet it inspired tons of debate in the comments. Both supporters and detractors of the premise raised a bunch of interesting points about Warren's draft stock, and how it affects their view of his decision.

mfan_in_ohio declares the Michigan fanbase's independence from Angry Michigan BLANK Hating God. The preamble proceeds thusly:

When in the course of sporting events it becomes necessary for fans to dissolve the bands which have connected them with another, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

...but the money quotes come in the airing of grievances.

Misopogon determines whether the three new NCAA football rules have an effect on Michigan. The verdicts? Wedge blocking ban: Help. Taunting rule: Hurt. Eyeblack message ban: Neutral. Click through to find out his reasoning.

Bust out the cigarettes and Fedoras, as BlueSeoul gives us a glimpse into the noir-style meeting between Jim Delaney and Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick's about the Irish joining the Big Ten. Plus he has to apologize at the end for getting to Star Wars-y.

An actual historical diary from Alaska Hokie shares the story of former Michigan quarterback James Miller.

WALLA WALLA, March 19.—James Miller, the famous quarterback of the Michigan team last year, who has been missing from his home for several months, was located in this city yesterday working as a laborer. His mind is a total blank and he is quite unable to recognize his friends. He was elected to the captaincy of the Wolverine team for next season.

Sounds like something out of the twilight zone (or at least the front page of MVictors). There's debate over whether his amnesia was a medical issue or a clever ruse to cover up for some personal issues.

stubob takes a stab at UFRing November's Ohio State football game (offense, defense). Chart? Chart.

Defense + -
Graham 6 0
RVB 1 0
Herron 0 1
Heniger 0 1
Kovacs 2 2
Roh 1 2
Brown 1 2
Warren 3 0
Martin 1 0
Mouton 4 2
Leach 2 1
total 21 11

Denard Robinson was 1/1 with the pass being deemed "catchable," but Tate Forcier had a slightly rougher day.

On the basketball side of things, Champswest tries to figure out where Michigan's scoring will come from next year. Uh, Stu Douglass and Evan Smotrycz, apparently. I guess more balanced scoring is a good thing?

Etc.: Nantucket Blue, seemingly apropos of nothing, rips on Michigan State in Our Colors Don't Mix. In other Michigan State-related diaries, MGoData looks at the Google habits of East Lansing residents (seriously). Kman23 brainstorms ways to get Michigan's best receivers on the field at the same time. Jeff gives props to the streaking Women's Tennis team. Laveraneus looks at combined win/loss records for football and basketball across various schools and conference. MGlobules tries to round up some UConn spring game recaps. backusduo pre-previews EA's NCAA Football 2011.

Comments

Ali G Bomaye

April 22nd, 2010 at 11:28 AM ^

I would bet the trend of warm-weather teams winning more national championships is due to two things.

1) The south has been by far the most rapidly-growing area in the country in terms of population and economy. As late as 1960, the Redskins were the only NFL team south of the Mason-Dixon line (and they were pretty much right on it) - a good indication of the population and economic power of the south at the time. This increasing population has been reflected in a great jump in the number of D-1 college football teams in the south. Years ago, it was pretty much Alabama, Texas, and the northern schools. Now, it seems like there's a new Florida team every couple years.

2) Desegregation. Up until the 70s, southern schools couldn't utilize all the homegrown African-American talent. Not only did that dilute their talent pool, but those players either went to HBCUs or to northern schools, further adding to the advantage of northern teams. Michigan State's undefeated 1966 team was largely built on black players who were referred to Duffy Daugherty by Bear Bryant and other southern coaches who couldn't sign the players themselves.

Toledo Tornado

April 22nd, 2010 at 11:35 AM ^

I do not have the time or ability to do massive research but college football is like the tetonic plates of the earth's surface... constantly changing.

Look at all the bowl games now, wasn't it 1974, where Bo and Woody tied and the Wolverines sat at home because of a contriversial vote. No other place to go.

Blacks in the 60's were just beginning to be allowed to play, with great help by Coach Hayden Frey.

Chuch Ealey, a great Quarter back from the university of Toledo, was relegated to Canadian football in 1971, because the Nfl was not yet ready for black quarter backs...

The tangerine bowl, used to feature the Richmond spyders, and University of Toledo, before changing its name and becoming a big time bowl...

The big ten has a chance to improve its product, go to 16 teams: two divisions, better yet go to 4 divisions with quarter finals... a model for future national championship implications for all conferences.

Dont worry about Florida players, build it and they will come. Have we forgotten what state the last heisman tropy winner came from?

You cant change the weather, but improve what you got...get Nebraska, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh... maybe perceptions change and recruits stay home, and draw more quality from warmer states... General Motors stuck to its old ways and changed in bankruptcy court.

HAIL 2 VICTORS

April 22nd, 2010 at 11:36 AM ^

is that Michigan’s top linebacker, Mouton, barely makes the top 150 linebackers nationally in production. If Michigan’s defense is going to turn things around there is going to have be some new playmakers step up and there has to be more production from the linebackers.

-GULP-

Bronco Joe

April 24th, 2010 at 8:46 AM ^

there is going to have be some new playmakers step up and there has to be more production from the linebackers."

I think more importantly, the paragraph leading into this quote referenced the "average" players on the team:

"The only positive performers who are returning are Van Bergen, Jonas Mouton, Mike Martin, and Obi Ezeh. Jordan Kovacs, Craig Roh, and Mike Leach were only slightly in the negative, all right around average nationally for their positions."

There are four better than average players returning (2 lineman, 2 LBs) and 2 first year (Roh, Kovacs) and 1 second year (Leach) that are all LBs and were all "around average."

On a national basis our upperclassmen were above average and are returning. Our underclassmen were AVERAGE and returning, and all are LBs.

Take a look at the distribution of the offensive yards versus the defensive yards and the results. Is there any question UM should put up more YPG on offense? With 7 of 11 guys on defense projected to be better than average (assuming upperclassmen at least maintain and underclassmen make improvements as is normal), is it not feasible for the defense to be better as well?

With offense in the 400-450 ypg range and the defense 300-325-350 range, UM is back on the traditional UM blue line, and still a young team. Of course, if that "unlucky" thing goes against them again this year...

blueloosh

April 22nd, 2010 at 12:26 PM ^

Here is the "sound" reasoning again:

Warren didn't make a mistake. [conclusion] Most guys who are drafted are not making a mistake when they turn pro. [conclusory statement 1] The decision is the correct one when all the costs and benefits are factored in for most. [conclusory statement 2] The decision is only a mistake if you’re immediately cut and never earn a penny as a pro football player [a] or are really enjoying life as a collegiate athlete and will miss it more than you’ll appreciate the money you’ll earn as a pro [b]. [conclusory statement 3 / false dilemma]

Going pro early can absolutely be a mistake even if you don't love college life and make an NFL roster. How, you ask? Because staying can improve your stock. Leon Hall could have left after his Junior year. He sure as hell was not going to be some team's first pick. It would be wrong to assume staying always ups your stock (it doesn't). But denying the possibility of something that happens for tons of players every year makes no sense.

The logic quoted above makes sense if you're a projected top 10ish pick as an early entrant. I think it makes no sense if you're a second day pick who could rise to a first day pick with a great senior year.

I do not begrudge either Warren or Manny their decision to leave. I wish them all the success in the world. But I expect both lose money as a result of their decision. Why? Because I think Warren is a 4-7 round pick this year, who could have had a shot at getting into rounds 2-3 next year. Getting drafted earlier is not just a salary bump, it makes a team slower to cut you and/or give up on developing you. There is enormous benefit to your earning potential in getting drafted 3-4 rounds higher in the NFL draft. There is no guarantee this would have happened with Warren, but whichever side you are taking, you are making an assumption on how the next year's performance would have played out.

I think Manny had a shot to become a prime-time national player next year and possibly quell some doubts about his consistency. I think he might have earned a spot in the late first round if he did. You will not be watching him get drafted in the first round this year. Manny may make a roster; he may not have loved college life; and yet his decision could be 100% wrong.

st barth

April 22nd, 2010 at 12:40 PM ^

It might also be worth pointing out that most of these "championships" have been awarded after bowls games where some schools have a distinct, home-field like advantage (think USC in the Rose Bowl, Miami in the Orange Bowl).

The top benefit of a playoff (in my opinion at least) would be that some southern schools would be traveling north for playoff games. Send USC up to Ann Arbor or Miami up to Oklahoma in December and/or January and we might start to see some better representation from the north in the championship roll call.

TrppWlbrnID

April 22nd, 2010 at 1:12 PM ^

the mathlete is not a single person, but an independent communal organism consisting of several beings, a hive mind. people in mensa try desperately to get into Mathlete, but most of their brains explode after the first story problem.

Section 1

April 22nd, 2010 at 1:31 PM ^

Most of us have several excellent reasons to hate the Detroit Free Press. I know that I do.

This blog post is just one of the many good reasons to laugh at the Detoit Free Press.

Freep; you suck. In the 21st Century, you can't compete. You've never attempted reporting detail and analysis like this, and you never will. We don't need you. Your print editions aren't just a day late and a dollar short; they are usually two days late, and not worth the newsstand cost. When it comes to coverage of Michigan sports, the Free Press is in the business of supplying dumbed-down garbgage to the lowest common denominator. That's on a good day. The rest of the the time it is in the business of supplying malicious half-truths intended to hurt Michigan. No thanks.