Mailbag: Art Noise Victors, Lefty QBs, Gnomes Comment Count

Brian June 7th, 2012 at 12:14 PM

A guy who gets it slightly more than the first commenter on the post.

In re: the sabotage version of Special K for a Day:


This is pretty obscure, so you're totally excused for having missed this, but I think all institutional destroying from the inside pretty much begins and ends with this deep cut: mid-70s Ann Arbor art-noise collective Destroy All Monsters reuniting in 2002 (with the late Mike Kelley on vocals) and disemboweling "The Victors" (begins about 0:47).

Take care,

This is it:

I still like it better than "In The Big House."



Obviously Hoke and Co. are killing it on recruiting now and things couldn't be better. One thing my friends and I were talking about is how come there are so few good lefty quarterbacks historically. I'm only 29 so my football references are limited, but beyond Steve Young, Vick, Mark Brunell, Esiason, and Tebow can you think of any other top lefty quarterbacks that panned out? Should we be worried about Sugar Shane? Any idea why this is the case? Do high school coaches see strong lefty quarterbacks and immediately focus them on pitching?

Go Blue!

I was initially going to dismiss this as paranoia but here's a blog post listing every lefthanded QB in NFL history as of this year. There have been 39 total, and the list of current lefty starters is Vick and Matt Leinart. Since Young retired in '99, the only lefties to have anything resembling a career are Scott Mitchell, Brunell, Vick, and Leinart with Tebow pending and Chris Simms carving out a modern-day-Todd-Collins ramblin' backup sort of career. Lefties are only 10% of the population but that's a period of 22 years with four(!) lefty QBs of any significance, one of them (Vick) a guy whose amazing physical gifts bought him chances he otherwise would not have gotten. Young was a scrambler, too.

The baseball explanation is plausible. The google leads you to the wikipedia and shows you an extensive discussion of the over-representation of lefthanded players in a lot of sports, including baseball, and when you think about the profile of a potential NFL quarterback and a potential MLB pitcher there's not a whole lot of difference. It's nice if they're tall, they don't really have to run much, and they have to be able to throw a ball through a brick wall. The baseball players don't have to be able to take a helmet to the ribs without folding in half. Football players don't seem to have that kind of restriction. A Venn diagram of the two groups has the NFL prospects as a subset of those for MLB.

The main difference between the two groups is their reaction to left-handedness. MLB says "yes please, with a cherry." The NFL says "this is inconvenient, now I have to reconfigure the offensive line. " So the guys in the NFL subset are much more likely to be sucked out of football, and voila: your population of 6'4" lefty riflemen who enjoy getting crushed is even more depressed relative to righties.

That's a long way of saying that I don't think Michigan has much to worry about in re: Shane Morris. The forces that make lefty NFL quarterbacks rare aren't likely to apply to individual quarterbacks who happen to be lefthanded.


addendum to most embarrassing Michigan items

probably should be slotted in just under the flying squirrel sleeping  bag:


the name is incredible.  Where is thematic gnome 1?

I think I may know the answer to this since I stumbled across a thematic gnome in my perusal of the official site:


I didn't put it on the list despite its ridiculousness because it's a mean gnome wearing a Michigan hat, what looks sort of like jean shorts, and fake wolverine-like shoes that I doubt exist in real life. It's almost so ridiculous it's defensible? I don't know.

The comment thread on that post turned into a confessional about which users had which items—no one confessed to the chili powder—so these things are obviously subjective. That is, they're subjective unless you're the other variety of person on that thread: the ones who were incensed that the product they perceived as most ludicrous was not higher.

Super conference-type-substances.

brian, discussing superconferences today got me thinking. if the standards of a conference are 1 crossover game (as in a 16 team superconference) and a post season championship game, then doesn't the big ten and pac 12's future scheduling agreement of 1 game per year and champions playing in the rose bowl create something of a 24 team superconference between the big ten and pac 12?

why should either conference accept any more lower rung schools to dilute their tv money and bowl payouts to get to 16 teams when they already act in the equivalent capacity of a superconference?


I'm like… whoah. The chatter about the Big Ten-Pac-12 pact giving the conferences the advantages of a "superconference" without the drawbacks didn't make much sense to me when it happened, but putting it in that perspective is close to sense.

The way it makes things make sense is by making superconferences seem inexplicable. The ACC went to 14 in a panicked attempt to stave off poaching, or at least preserve a semblance of quality in its aftermath. The SEC went to 14 because Mike Slive screwed up his television negotiations. Absent those motivators why would anyone make a move like that? There is a clear motivation to get to 12—championship game—and none to go to 14 or 16. The superconference meme relies on the idea that the champions of the 16-team Death Stars will meet in a playoff, but how do you get there? You can't have a playoff without the Pac-12 and Big Ten, and neither of those conferences has any motivation to expand.

Hell, if you're Texas or Oklahoma the same logic applies to your ten-team conference. Right now those two teams have the easiest glide path to a playoff. They seem uninterested in getting the conference up to even 12 now that they've stabilized things.

The reasons you usually hear about the motivations to expand are hand-waving about footprints and stuff, unexamined Commisioner's New Clothes assumptions. Opposed to that are very obvious concerns about scheduling and keeping the pie slices the same size when you add teams. 16 team contraptions aren't a stable state. The rumbling in the ACC suggests even 14 is going to be awkward.



June 7th, 2012 at 12:21 PM ^

Re: Left handed-ness

In baseball, it's actually a preferential trait, not something they're merely willing to stomach to a greater degree than football.

Overwhelmingly, left-handed hitters fair much better against right-handed pitchers than right-handed batters do.

The resulting over-representation of left-handed hitters forced teams to counter with left-handed pitchers - lefties don't hit lefties as well as righties do.

Son of Lloyd Brady

June 7th, 2012 at 12:45 PM ^

I would assume that this is for the same reason many traditional boxers are opposed to boxing southpaws. Righties are used to fighting other righties and lefties are also used to fighting righties because of the distribution of right hand dominance in the population. This would in turn give lefties an advantage.


June 7th, 2012 at 1:30 PM ^

In a same hand dominant match up (ex. - righty batter vs righty pitcher), a curveball/slider will break away from the batter.  This makes it more difficult to hit because (1) it is naturally easier to be a "pull hitter" (ex - righty hitting to left field) (2) breaking balls move slower, and if the pitch is outside you also have to wait longer anyway to "let it get back" in your swing in order to hit well to the opposite field.

For a different hand dominant match up (ex. righty batter vs lefty pitcher), the curve/slider will break into the hitter, so even if you are fooled and a little bit out in front of the ball (because it's moving slower) you actually want to be a little bit out in front of the ball (because it is further inside than you thought).  It follows that this makes it easier for the hitter then in different handedness matchups.  

(Of course the pitcher can try to get a called strike that a guy doesn't swing at on a "backdoor" curveball [starts outside and breaks over the plate] but generally this is tougher for the pitcher than getting the batter to "chase" a curve ball that starts over the plate and breaks outside.)

It then follows that you need lefty pitchers to get lefty hitters out (obviously more important in the bullpen, because a starter is going to pitch through the whole lineup).

/we now return to our regularly scheduled Michigan Football broadcast.


June 7th, 2012 at 12:25 PM ^

As Brian alludes to, this seems to be a case of prejudice, so to speak, overcoming reason.  I've read about coaches/teams worrying that the spiral of a left-handed QB's ball will be difficult to catch.  I also remember reading that Jerry Rice put in a ton of work with a "left-handed" jugs machine to get used to Steve Young's ball, but that may just have been b/c Jerry Rice put a ton of work into everything.  In any event, Mr. Young's career seems to show that left-handedness for a QB is not a problem. 


June 7th, 2012 at 1:25 PM ^

.... may be an outlier.  Also, catching a ball from a left hander is different and does require training.  The ball has a counterclockwise spin as opposed to clockwise, and most receivers aren't used to this.  Probably not a huge barrier with a little practice, but the feel is definitely different at first.

In baseball, you want to make it difficult for a hitter to hit the ball.  In football, it should be easier for the receiver to catch it.   


June 8th, 2012 at 12:04 PM ^

For those of you old enough to remember, Ken Stabler (aka "The Snake") was a hell of a quarterback for the Oakland Raiders in the '70's.

edit:  Nevermind, I should know well enogh to look further down the thread where excellent mentions are made of Kenny.


June 7th, 2012 at 12:48 PM ^

Expand the search to include college players and a LOT of useful players will appear. Kellen Moore just shattered the record for career wins by a quarterback and that Boise St. offense was a huge reason why.


June 7th, 2012 at 12:53 PM ^

I have not one....but both of those gnomes.

In my defense, I was in the marching band and couldn't resist. My sister gave me the other one, and it's brought some "luck" on gamedays.

In general, I think the tree face and the flamingos were much worse in the "things you put outside" category.


June 7th, 2012 at 12:58 PM ^

Speaking of readjustments to the O-Line, didn't Florida Zook itself in the 2003 CapOne Bowl by having a lefty throw a trick play pass in lieu of The Rex Cannon, a pass whose interception sealed the game for Michigan?  Or am I just misremembering this?


June 7th, 2012 at 2:31 PM ^

We will never know if the handedness of the thrower had any effect because FLA didn't block anyone and the guy with ball panicked and threw the ball straight up in the air from about 20 yards behind the line of scrimmage.

The fact that the guy throwing the ball may have been left handed was the least of Zook's worries on that play.


June 7th, 2012 at 12:58 PM ^

The way it comes to my ears re: the ACC and the awkwardness of 14 teams is twofold.

The first is that the current slate of 14 teams is still going to leave us with the clear 5th spot on the ladder if the supposedly most likely programs to leave actually do.  But if we had 16, the working assumption is that the only reason we do is because Notre Dame is team #15.

The other problem is that 14 teams is actually more unwieldy than 16 teams.  Why?  Because you can set up the four-team pods and get a better schedule rotation than you can with 16.


June 7th, 2012 at 3:23 PM ^

Yes, that's how it would go, at least in my world.  I wish I could hold the illusion that there'd be any guarantee the powers that be would do it that way, but yes - there's no provision in the rules that say the divisions can't change year to year.

The way I envisioned it should it ever come to pass in the ACC, the pods would be:

A1 A2 A3 A4

B1 B2 B3 B4

C1 C2 C3 C4

D1 D2 D3 D4

Every year you'd play all the teams with whom you shared a letter and number (thus, six fixed opponents) and all three other teams from another letter row.  A vs B, C vs D, then the next year A vs C, B vs D, and so on.  The matchup of rows would constitute your "division" to satisfy the CCG requirement.  The teams of the same number would be your "cross-divisional fixed rivalries" so to speak.  This is a nine-game model where, say, A1 plays B3 once every three years and hosts them once every six.  In this way you actually have a better situation than where the SEC now stands, where there are teams they won't even play but once every six years, and host once every twelve.

It works even better in the ACC because the letter rows are geographical - the far-south teams are D, Tobacco Road is C, the mid-Atlantic is B, and the far north (which by now comprises ex-Big Easters and maybe ND) is A.

MI Expat NY

June 7th, 2012 at 3:44 PM ^

It's an interesting system.  By giving three non-pod teams you play every year, would you be concerned about schedule inequality?  Are there any cross-pod games that would need to be protected?  

I'm also not sure it's really any less unweildy than a 14 team conference, assuming you can avoid protected cross-over games.  In a 14 team conference, assuming a nine-game model, in a six year rotation, you would have at least one home and home series with every opponent in the other division.  With 14 teams, you would play six teams every year, two teams four times in six years, and five teams twice in six years.  With your pod system, you would play six teams ever year, and nine teams twice in six years.  When you break it down by how many times you actually see an opponent, 14 is still better, especially if you don't commit to the home and hom cross-over games being in back to back years.  

The problem with 14 teams in the SEC is that they're unwilling to go to a nine-game schedule and can't breakdown the divisions to eliminate protected cross-over games.  That's what's lead to the absurd scheduling, not the lacking of two more teams for a pod system.


June 7th, 2012 at 6:19 PM ^

I would not be concerned about schedule inequality any more than I am now with us playing OSU every year and MSU drawing Indiana.  It's a fact of life in any system other than a full round robin, so it's not something that should be a factor.  The biggest problem with making it a factor is that the balance of power inevitably shifts.

I'm trying to figure out how you've broken down the six year rotation but I don't quite get it.  Are you saying there'd be two teams that are semi-protected?

Also, what I consider important is not the number of times you play an opponent in a cycle of years, but the number of years in between games against a team.  You should never recruit a player, have him finish four years of eligibility, and there's someone in the conference he never plays against.  With 14 teams that gap is huge; with 16 and a well-organized pod system, the gap is as small as it will ever be until you drop back down to 10 or 11.  Even 12 is big enough that if you're unimaginative like the powers that be, you go four calendar years between games against a particular opponent.  WIth 16, it's three years.


June 7th, 2012 at 1:11 PM ^

Lefthanded Kenny Stabler was one of the most accurate passers of his time and one of the few QBs in the history of the game to have out partied Joe Namath both at the collegiate and professional level.

Sparty pisses and moans to this day about getting screwed out of a national Championship in 1966 after Ara Parseghisn gutlessly ran out the clock int the 10-10 tie with Notre Dame, but the real screwing was taken by The Crimson Tide quarterbacked by Kenny Stabler who went a perfect 11-0 and finished third in the polls.

The next year Bear Bryant kicked The Snake off the team for cutting classes and partying until he discovered he didn't have a QB that could even begin to replace him.

Among the great moments in the history of Alabama football came in that season when the reinstated Stabler went 53 yards for a touchdown in Alabama's 7-3 victory over Auburn.  Which run will be forever known in the state of Alabam as "The Run in the Mud".

As a pro the Snake replace Darryl Lamonica in the "Immaculate Reception" game and put the Raiders ahead late on another run only to lose on the Steeler miracle

He mostly held the starting job for the Raiders until 1980 winning a Superbowl.  I believe he holds many or most of the Raiders QB records to this day.

Blue Durham

June 7th, 2012 at 1:18 PM ^

I am pretty sure that Stabler is in the NFL Hall of Fame.  He would have my vote as the best left-handed QB of all time.

EDIT:  Just checked, and to my surprise, Stabler is not in the Hall of Fame.  Wow, considering his importance to the Raiders in the decade of the 1970's.


June 7th, 2012 at 2:01 PM ^

Although when you look at the list of HOF QBs, Stabler's era was pretty stacked with great ones. You had Bradshaw & Staubach (who both went to more Super Bowls), Namath, the back half of Fran Tarkenton's career, the first half of Dan Fouts's career, and Bob Griese (although Griese passed the ball much less than Stabler). All those guys are in the HoF. Stabler had a briefer peak than lots of those guys, and he threw more INTs than TDs in his career.

Blue Durham

June 7th, 2012 at 6:02 PM ^

of the rules to allow more passing that occurred in the 1980s. 

Terry Bradshaw (who had a much better and stable team) had 212 TDs, and 210 Ints.  Not a big difference from Stabler's 194 TDs, 222 Ints, particularly given he played 2 seasons with the Houston Oilers and almost 3 seasons with the then-awful New Orleans Saints. 

He wasn't exactly throwing the ball to Lynn Swann, John Stalworth, or even Jim Smith (UM alum) in them days with the Saints and Oilers.


June 7th, 2012 at 6:07 PM ^

A lot of those picks had to do with Oakland's "Vertical" passing attack as Stabler would throw it up multiple times a game.  Oakland had some pretty snarly defenses in the 70s and viewed a long interception like a punt.  

Marcus Allen as great a back as he was and alleged to be one of the greatest inside runners in professional football never saw much eight in the box.

After a Wolverine, I've always been a Raider as it has mostly really sucked to be a Lion.


June 7th, 2012 at 1:24 PM ^

[EDIT -- the two fellows above beat me to it]

Re: lefty QBs who've succeeded in the NFL -- granted, the emailer said he's only 29 so his historical references are limited, but going beyond his list ... I'm just shy of 36 and even I know there was a pretty good lefty QB in the '70s by the name of Kenny Stabler. Took the Raiders to two Super Bowls (winning one), 1974 NFL MVP, 4-time All Pro. I'd say he turned out all right.

The emailer does raise a fascinating question, though. Like everybody above, I'm sure baseball has a lot to do with it. Any good LH athlete who can throw hard in HS is pitching, and the best of them are getting drafted and have a chance to make good money immediately after HS. (Stabler had minor league offers from several major league teams but decided to play for Bear Bryant at Alabama instead -- most lefties who can both pitch and play QB probably make the opposite choice.)


June 7th, 2012 at 1:44 PM ^

IMO 16 team conferences make sense only if the NCAA rules are modified to permit semi-finals and a final championship game at the conference level. In that case, 16 clearly seems better than 14 and arguably is better than 12 (depending on which schools you add).

A sixteen team conference with four divisions of four teams each would allow each team to play its three in-division rivals along with two teams from each of the other three divisions every year without exceeding nine conference games. And if you organize the divisions in a way that avoids guaranteed cross division games, you get to play every out-of-division team in a cycle that is two games on and two games off. The break is never longer than two years.

As far as money, the semi-final games would bring in a fortune, probably more than enough to come close to covering the cost of losing an OOC baby seal game for all but three or four schools. Also, FWIW, in basketball you could do exactly the same thing and play everyone on your schedule twice (home and away) every year using an 18 game conference schedule. And the B10 basketball tournament could be a 16 team tourney with seed based on division results (division winners get #1 seeds, runners up get #2 seeds, etc.)

Bo-Woody: OSU, UM, MSU, Syracuse

Rocke-Paterno: PSU, ND/Miami, Virginia, Maryland

Stagg: Wisconsin, Illinois, NW, Minnesota

Osborne: Nebraska, Iowa, Purdue, Indiana

Smash Lampjaw

June 7th, 2012 at 1:27 PM ^

that some of the things that make a lefty pitcher hard to hit could also make a lefty throw hard to catch? Not just the spin, but the trajectory and the curve. I would think that it would not take a whole season for the receivers to adjust. The same factors may apply to a lefty punt, making it an advantage to the punter.


June 7th, 2012 at 1:36 PM ^

I think it's just something receivers have to get used to.  If your QB gets hurt and you switch from a lefty to a righty mid season or mid game, then it could possibly be a minor issue.

'For a receiver, catching a left-hander’s passes can be tricky. “I’ve had receivers complain that catching a ball from a lefty is different because the spin is different,” Lorenzen said. “If you throw a deep ball, it falls differently.” '


June 7th, 2012 at 1:46 PM ^

I was given the weird second gnome as a gift for Christmas one year even though what I had wanted was an Anthony Carter bobble head.  I stared at it in disbelief for a while and shoved it on a shelf with some other random Michigan stuff not exactly sure what to do with it. 


June 7th, 2012 at 1:52 PM ^

Great minds think alike, Gnome-wise-

And I've always liked the Rose Bowl being the Pac-12/Big-10 rep in a playoff, and avoiding the true super conference...but if you have the B12/SEC winner....what do we do with everyone else? Can we get two more conferences out of the ACC/Big East/valuable mid-majors that will play each other? And then what do you do with 3 teams?


June 7th, 2012 at 6:48 PM ^

A great option QB, as good as Jack Mildren or any other name you care to mention, but with the single worst throwing mechanics of any QB I've ever seen ..... bar none.

That God awful long strided baseball throw of his is burned indelibly into my memory, and not in a good way.

I also remember Gordie Bell, the 'greatest cutback runner I ever coached" according to Bo and to this day my all time favorite Wolverine tailback who among other things despite splitting time with Rob Lytle outgained Archie Griffith in conference rushing in 1975 and iin doing so helped in a big way toward making Rick Leach the Michigan Legend that he is.