Unverified Voracity Pivots To Hamster

Submitted by Brian on July 5th, 2017 at 12:06 PM


let's talk about all three of these dudes [Bryan Fuller]

Chris Evans: already good? I'm a wee bit skeptical about these numbers because I seem to remember Chris Evans breaking some tackles and running for a gorillion yards when it was 49-0 against Rutgers, but, uh:

No Saquon Barkley is a surprise. (He's not even 4th, which goes to Maryland's Ty Johnson.) Enough of a surprise that I look at this stat with a bit of a jaundiced eye. It looks like it heavily favors guys who end up in certain situations but not others. Wadley and Evans were insulated from short yardage situations by LeShun Daniels and De'Veon Smith, respectively. And the whole Maryland offense was geared towards getting little quick guys in space one on one. The context is important.

This one might be better?

I still think that's about Evans breaking the occasional tackle and getting a huge play than anything De'Veon Smith-esque. Huge plays are good, don't get me wrong—I am just worried about sample size. Better to have Evans on these lists than not; maybe not super predictive about the season.

Less skeptical about this one. Michigan's DL is going to be just fine this fall.

Bosa and Winovich are in fact #2 and 3 nationally, behind only Harold Landry—another Don Brown acolyte. Meanwhile the new DEs were actually more productive against the run than the departures:

That one may be a garbage time artifact. Even if you haul those numbers back down to Wormley/Taco level that's pretty dang okay, and we haven't even talked about Mo Hurst.



Exit Fox Sports Dave Brandon. A spectacular final act for carnival-barker Jamie Horowitz at Fox Sports. Step one is gutting the profitable(!) Fox Sports digital team in order to consolidate his hold on power, with a side of implementing his post-apocalyptic vision:

What really does work is when you take things are good like ’11 Coaches Oregon Might Hire’, that might be something someone is interested in the day Helfrich gets fired, and we change to ‘Colin Cowherd’s 11 Coaches.’ We’ve seen this be very successful. You look at Fox News right now, O’Reilly and his take. That’s all it is. And there are many different ways.

Step two is getting fired literally the next week.

Jamie Horowitz’s dismissal Monday came about a week after Fox began investigating allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace in its sports division. The company interviewed several women at L.A.-based Fox Sports about Horowitz’s behavior, according to a person familiar with the investigation who was not authorized to publicly discuss it.

The women included prominent on-air personalities and show producers, according to two people who requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the investigation.

Lawsuits will follow as Horowitz tries to collect on a contract and Fox Sports tries to separate itself from an alleged sexual harasser. Unfortunately for Fox and their writers, there appears to be no way to re-spool the thread.

A bloody few weeks in online #content have caused a round of introspective articles about "pivoting to video," and why that's exec-speak for "I give up, eat at Arby's." Bryan Curtis:

Why this is happening is simple: The web has a surplus of copy versus advertising. Companies have decided that sticking an ad at the front of a video makes it less ignorable than putting a similar ad next to an article. It doesn’t matter what the video is. I often get a paragraph or two into a Sports Illustrated story only to find Madelyn Burke in the lower right-hand corner of the screen, giving me a summary of the sentences I’m already reading.

The new round of layoffs ignited a lousy ritual. “Hire these people!” we tweeted at … whom, exactly? A word-friendly publication that would promise to never, ever pivot to anything else? The contact information for Vocativ’s “free agents” was sent around on a spreadsheet.

Other writers tried to play media visionary and stepped in it. “I’ve been in digital media for 12 years,” Sports Illustrated’s Andy Gray tweeted last week. “One thing I’ve learned is that nobody wants to read anything over 1,000 words. MTV is more proof.” Never mind that Gray’s employer uses the motto “longform since 1954.”

On Twitter, Gray got the noogie he deserved. I enjoyed reading his replies. They proved that no occasion, not even an existential threat to the industry, will prevent a journalist from citing his old articles — and, in this case, also providing the word count. Why, my recent longform piece was actually quite popular!

There are two kinds of online video. One has video content. Like this:


The other kind of online video does not have video content, whether it's a talking head repeating what someone else said or a poorly lit podcast-on-youtube-for-some-reason with horrible audio. These are stuck next to the actual written content you want, set to autoplay, and nowadays they even follow you around when you scroll down. They exist only to scam advertisers willing to play high CPMs for ads on video content. The problem, of course, is that these videos only have written content repurposed badly. No hamsters anywhere. They are never watched. At best they run in the background of someone's work computer, on mute.

Scout's bankruptcy and firesale was easily predicted by their own pivot to video. I can't tell you how many times I've clicked on a Scout article hoping for information on a recruit only to be presented with a video. Once in a while this seems useful enough for me to transcribe, and I do so. Half the time I decide to do this I can barely hear the #content because they taped it outside on a phone in high winds.

I dunno what the solution to online content is but I do know that scamming people is not it. Making your product worse by turning it into a tedious video instead a searchable, skimmable article is also not it. Until someone trains a hamster to recite your text, video is strictly worse for most content.

Penn State skepticism. Various folks on this here blog have been trying to elucidate why we're not as high on Penn State as most folks. Mostly it comes down to "their all-bomb offense was pretty lucky," and here's a stat to back that up:

That conversion rate on jump balls is almost certainly unsustainable and PSU will have to make up for it elsewhere. They've got a shot at doing so because they bring back a lot from last year's team.

Drake yes? Drake no? Per Sam Webb, Drake Johnson did get approved for a sixth year in various sports:

Whether he'll actually come back for football is an open question. Webb reported that he's 1) down to 180 and 2) very fast, so there's a role for him in both football and track. With a wonky hamstring that might not like stop-start, you could hardly blame him for packing it in and just running track.

Michigan has the room, FWIW.

Etc.: Buccigross survives, gets new five year deal. The Elite 11 is basically garbage for predicting QBs. That Bamba cash thing isn't going anywhere. The fullback is dead in the NFL. Assistant coach names. Talking with Mel Pearson. A reason to huddle?



July 5th, 2017 at 12:41 PM ^

The message, as I gather, isn't about Evans so much as this "elusiveness" stat.  His statistics were accumulated in such a way that projections about next season's production are troublesome.  He's certainly got tools but this particular analysis doesn't say anything insightful, one way or another, about his effectiveness in big games.


July 5th, 2017 at 2:13 PM ^

I read the point more being that advantageous situations might skew his numbers a bit.  It isn't that he's not elusive or tough to tackle, but that, for example, his 30-yard run against FSU might have skewed the numbers a bit considering his other 7 runs netted 19 yards, or that he got 2 carries for about 100 yards against Rutgers and then the other 9 picked up 50, which can goose your situational stats a bit.  

I think Evans is going to be a really solid back next year, but I agree with Brian that expecting one of the most elusive runners in the nation might be a bit premature.


July 5th, 2017 at 3:29 PM ^

I really like what I've seen from Evans, but some might be putting the cart in front of the horse right now. Think he will be very good next year, but not sure I would predict elite quite yet. Michigan is loaded at RB next year and expect to see a lot of rotation again. Think Evans will get his carries and decent yards, but not sure he will be among any leaders in total yards nationally.


July 5th, 2017 at 12:23 PM ^

Whew! Content! Thank the gods!

I hope there's space for Drake assuming the spot can't be filled with a key contributor. I don't think he'll be able to break into the RB lineup even though the offense uses a lot of backs.

PSU came down with ~75% of 50-50 balls? Wow. They played well at the right moment against OSU. But, they weren't as good as that win nor were they as bad as the 49-10 loss to UM.

Blue in Paradise

July 5th, 2017 at 12:26 PM ^

was a 3* true freshman RB for Alabama last year and is the leader in a bunch of categories for returning RBs across the country. 

The scary part is that nobody expects Jabobs to crack the top 3 (or even top 5?) in the Bama RB rotation - though I think that expectation may soon seem silly.

Blue in Paradise

July 5th, 2017 at 1:07 PM ^

You don't see Bo Scarbrough or Damien Harris on these same lists.  And while sample size plays a role (plus a bit of the same skew that Brian mentions for Evans), Jacobs had over 700 APYs - so he played major minutes.  I also did a quick check and Jacobs did not run up stats in the bodybag type games - unless you consider Kentucky a bodybag game (you could argue either way).

If this were simply a function of the OL, you would expect all 3 of Bama's returning backs to be at the top of the charts.  Doesn't mean the OL wasn't a huge factor (it was).

Perkis-Size Me

July 5th, 2017 at 2:46 PM ^

I've never played a down of competitive football in my life, but if I ran behind a line full of future first-round picks that could open running lanes the size of a freight train, I'd be able to pick up at least 6-7 ypc too. 

Save for the true freaks of nature like Adrian Petersen and Barry Sanders, running backs are only as good as their offensive line allows them to be. There's a reason why a bunch of previous 2-3 star nobodies went to Wisconsin and became All-Americans: because Wisconsin knows how to recruit offensive lineman, and they can develop the hell out of them too. That's been their staple for years. Wisconsin has had a lot of great RBs, but none of it would've been possible without their wooly mammoths up front. 

So no, it did not terrify me at all that a 3* running back could run behind an Alabama OL and be the leader in many statistical categories. Anyone who runs behind that line would be in the same position. 


July 5th, 2017 at 12:27 PM ^

and comparing it to Dave Brandon feels right. It's all hot take wizards and video content which feels like two different ways at simulating a popularity for Fox Sports without actually contributing anything meaningful. I don't know what they're doing, but I can't imagine it's sustainable


July 5th, 2017 at 12:36 PM ^

… is that readers are the customers who pay for it. The business model where readers' eyeballs are just a product that gets sold to advertisers doesn't work online. When was the last time anyone clicked on a digital advertisement? On purpose? 


July 5th, 2017 at 1:03 PM ^

The most popular and most profitable website are almost always "free" with advertising. This model works when the advertising is relevant. I work in digital marketing and have seen a lot of success with remarketing ads and social media advertising. 

The issue with some sites is that the content is created just for the advertising opportunity. This doesn't work for anyone. 

Longballs Dong…

July 5th, 2017 at 2:12 PM ^

This is such a bad argument: "When was the last time anyone clicked on a digital advertisement? "  When was the last time you directly visited any other form of advertising?  TV, Radio, Billboards, busses, etc are all forms of advertising that have no option to directly sell to you yet they still exist.

The internet is much better at advertising because they can target the end users.  TV and Radio are just general blasts to all viewers/listeners but advertising on this site (as one example) can be extremely specific and have much higher returns per view/click.  Do you think that homesure guy has sold many loans since advertising on mgoblog?  I bet he sold a lot more than he would if he put a commercial on ABC/NBC/CBS etc and for way less cost.  

Pay sites will always exist but they will always be undercut by those giving it away free via twitter or by other sites quoting or simply repackaging the same content.  The internet is still pretty new and is always changing.  Advertisers and producers are trying to find that balance of profits and satisfied viewers.  

Finally, I don't click on general ads, but I have clicked on a few ads on my facebook feed because they are extremely pertinent to me.  Most recently, I learned about a new bar/restaurant that was opening very close to me so I clicked the ad and will visit the bar once it's open.  


July 5th, 2017 at 12:38 PM ^

One thing to add on that Penn State stat is that Chris Godwin is gone. He's a huge part of why PSU hauled in a lot of 50/50 balls and he's now with Tampa Bay


July 5th, 2017 at 4:50 PM ^

Godwin was the guy that I recall being the high-point guy that bailed out McSorely's arm punts.  

Those arm punts where McSorely scrambled to his right in trouble and heaved the ball 40 yards down the right sideline are not as likely to be bailed out by a TE and a RB in 2017.

That 2016 go-to play is hamstrung now in 2017.




July 5th, 2017 at 8:30 PM ^

that's an insult to Edwards, IMO.  Godwin was good in his college career.  Edwards was great.  Godwin's definitely more replaceable (Godwin had less than 10% of PSU's receiving yards in the B1G Championship Game).

On a tangent, I'm somewhat suspicious of that tweet.  I've been looking and can't source that "~75%" number from anywhere else.

(why would he be using approximately anyway: if Steele did the math and looked at all the passes, it's an actual percentage, not an approximate percentage)


July 5th, 2017 at 12:44 PM ^

Here in lovely Cleveland we are witnessing first hand one of the worst ideas I've seen in quite a while unfold.  One of our two local sports radio stations, 850 WKNR, decided recently to launch a paid podcast ($8.50/month) which is simply a repeat of the on-air musings of their radio talent.  Nothing more.  They call it "the Land on Demand" and to say it's being ridiculed and slammed everywhere I turn would be an understatement.  Basically they want people to pay $8.50 a month to hear yesterday's sports news.

If there's a worse business model than hoping to get people to pay for outdated news that was originally free I'd love to hear it.  


July 5th, 2017 at 1:22 PM ^

Oh, I dunno.  I'm sure demand for that kind of thing is microscopic (I won't even listen to sports radio's crap live, let alone taped), but it costs them basically nothing to produce - there's hardly even an opportunity cost.  Any time you can get money for something that costs you nothing, it's on balance a good business idea.  It isn't very good, but actual bad business models are ones that cost you more money than you would've had without them.

matty blue

July 5th, 2017 at 3:38 PM ^

i don't listen to the mgoblog roundtable on WTKA live, and am not really interested in doing so; partially because i just can't do it at work, but also because the user experience of listening to streaming audio online is pretty lousy...that, and 100% of the call-in sports shows are just pure unadulterated shit.  i reach for the button before the hosts can finish the phrase "go ahead, caller."

would i pay a couple of bucks a month to get the roundtable on the overcast app, with the ability to skip the thoughts of bob from ypsilanti on this year's offensive line outlook?  my god, take my money.


July 5th, 2017 at 4:43 PM ^

So much this! I haven't listened to real radio in a long time and when I listen to the roundtable I'm shellshocked by how much of the time is spent in advertising mode.


10 minute segment? You're getting about 5 mins of content. Ubelievable to me that we got to that ratio of ads vs content. Embarrasing really.


Glad podcasting is taking over and I can just skip the ads.


July 5th, 2017 at 8:12 PM ^

How is that a bad business model? The overhead is minimal, and it only takes a few dozen subscribers to break even. If you have ever listened to sports call in shows, you know there's way more than a few dozen regards in any given radio market. A stupid product that is lucrative is not a stupid idea.

Cranky Dave

July 5th, 2017 at 12:59 PM ^

why Horowitz thought people want to listen to idiots like Cowherd and Bayless.  I have never once heard someone say good things about those guys but someone must pay attention if they can make millions. 

Maybe the business model is getting people to pay not to listen to those blowhards. 


July 5th, 2017 at 1:24 PM ^

Don't get me wrong, Evans is elusive as hell, but a rating based on missed tackles is poop.

Missed tackles are as much about the tackler(s) as the runner.


July 5th, 2017 at 1:28 PM ^

Chris Evans is going to be off-the-charts good.  He's going to be great.  Watching him last year, I think it was clear he's got the RB version of the it factor.  Higdon's a very good running back, but Evans, I think, is going to be absolutely brilliant.


July 5th, 2017 at 1:35 PM ^

/reads 1,400+ word article with the following quoted:

One thing I’ve learned is that nobody wants to read anything over 1,000 words. MTV is more proof.

I'd read 1,000 MGoBlog articles before I ever watch video content on ESPN.com, Foxsports.com, etc. I'm pretty sure the only informative video content I have ever enjoyed on the internet was created by Jon Bois.


July 5th, 2017 at 1:44 PM ^

If you are looking for a stat to make you excited about Chris Evans, then try this one -- he ran for 119 yards on 22 carries in our three losses.  That's 5.4 ypc.  The rest of the team in those games ran for 159 yards on 92 carries. 


July 5th, 2017 at 3:17 PM ^

Damn.  If he could've gotten more touches.  He really is dynamic.  Additionally, last year, when he gained little to no yardage on a given play, you still had that feeling of "Oh, damn.  If he just didn't trip or if he didn't barely lose his balance, he would've gotten a first and more."  He's going to be special to watch over the next few years.


July 5th, 2017 at 4:30 PM ^

He was reasonably productive, but to sorta highlight how small sample can alter a perception, if you remove that one 30-yard TD run against FSU, he averaged 4.2 ypc on 19 carries.  Better than the rest of the team, but not a world-changing number.  

I think Evans will be a really solid back this year, but I worry people are crowning him a full-time, all-everything back when we haven't seen enough yet to know for sure.  


July 5th, 2017 at 6:09 PM ^

Wait: Why would you remove that run?

When you say his average would be 4.2 without it, you're taking away his best run in 20 carries without doing that to anyone else. If you took away everyone's best run in 20, 4.2 against quality competition might sound quite a bit better.

For instance: Saquon Barkley. In PSU's 3 losses, he had 60 carries for 338 yards. His 3 best runs were 79, 33 and 29. Take away those three—a proportional adjustment to match Evans losing his best run in 20 carries—and Barkley's average is 3.5 yards per carry.


July 5th, 2017 at 2:03 PM ^

Thanks for the hamster video.

My wife saw it from behind me and basically shoved me out of the way squealing "that's so cuuuuuttteeee".

I'm working from home so I did get my computer back eventually.


July 5th, 2017 at 2:20 PM ^

Video has a fundamental flaw:  Audio.

Most videos are useless without audio.  But I can't hide audio that easily like I can hide my reading something.

A great deal of internet access is at work, clandestinely.  We all know this.  A bunch of us are doing it right now.  I can hide reading the content of MGoBlog.  I can't hide so easily the ESPN autoplay of video.

But it does not stop there.  Just because you are at home does not mean that you want your wife / girlfriend / parents / etc. hearing you listen to yet another video an hour after they told you to get off that damn thing.

And earbuds don't work, I don't need earbuds to look at the budget spreadsheet I'm pretending to hide behind, and my significant other knows that.

Video and especially autoplay video means that I am guaranteed to ignore it completely.

I've noticed this recently . . . I do something I never used to do:  I glean all the written content I can out of a site, and then I move on to another site and read their wtitten content.

I never move on to anybody's video content, unless it's something one-in-a-thousand-spectacular like video of a plane crash.

Video just for video's sake makes me leave the site.





July 5th, 2017 at 2:36 PM ^

Agreed, and it's not just that you want to hide what you're doing from the people around you, sometimes it's that you don't want to disturb them. I'm not going to listen to audio on a video in a waiting room, in bed while my wife is trying to sleep, on the couch while someone else is watching TV, or while others are near me having a conversation. Also, if I'm outside or in public, I likely can't hear the audio even if I wanted to.

Right now, for example, in reading this is a restaurant where there is music playing and people talking around me. I likely couldn't hear a video with the volume turned up full blast.


July 5th, 2017 at 5:03 PM ^

Exactly.  It's not just hiding, but not-disturbing as well.

And it's not like you can just perpetually lock yourself away in an earbud bubble, oblivious to the rest of the world.  I have a fit when my kids do this.

This is so obvious as to beg the question "What do they think is going to happen when they go to predominately video but advertisers figure out that an autoplay video stuck in the background on mute (like all of mine are) does not count as actually watching an ad?"

They can't be so stupid as to not know this, so they must figure that they'll ride the gravy train now and worry about it later.

But as a site owner, I certainly would not make a strategic content decision based on it.