SirJack II

August 10th, 2012 at 10:07 AM ^

I like what Mr. Maize n Brew says here:

'You can look at the turnover thing and yell "luck", but at the end of the day the old adage is true: to a large extent you make your own luck.'

Now I'll quietly walk away from the argument.


August 10th, 2012 at 11:28 AM ^

That short argument from Maize n Brew exemplified why I read and love MGoBlog.

Saying an adage is true isn't the worst form of argument, but it's not very compelling either. When Brian makes the argument that it's mostly luck, he uses data to back it up--if you make your own luck, then teams with good fumble recovery percentages should consistently remain good fumble recovery teams. The data says that they don't, they regress towards the mean. Ergo adage, no matter how oft repeated, is wrong, at least in this case.

Not only does it require strong statistical understanding to make the case, but it's also very unintuitive. We see a trend: Michigan recovers a lot of fumbles. We are given an explanation for that trend: Michigan treats all incomplete passes as fumbles in practice, Michigan defense is in much better position than in the past. The explanation seems logical and explains the trend well, but in the end is probably not really why Michigan had such success recovering turnovers, and MGoBlog is one of the only sports sites I've ever found that's willing to say "sure, that explanation makes sense--now let's test it out to see if it's right."

SirJack II

August 10th, 2012 at 11:49 AM ^

So do you think losing fumbles is simply bad luck as well? I remember in the RR years our horrible turnover numbers were continually dismissed here as pure chance (and we all know they never "returned to the mean" (I think that's how it was put)). And I get what you're saying, but man it's hard not to think coaching has at least something to do with it when there was such a stark turnaround last year. Just lining up appropriately in a given situation has to increase your chances of forcing and getting a turnover.

Yes, my brain does understand the argument against (Bama's turnover rate, Rodriguez kind of taught football too, etc.), but part of me will likely always think it's due to Hoke/Mattison magic.


August 10th, 2012 at 1:10 PM ^

Losing/recovering the fumble *once it is a fumble* is something that I do think is (almost entirely) bad luck. Our RR years had somewhat subpar fumble recovery rates, but mostly we just fumbled and threw interceptions a lot. So the turnover rate was bad, but the fumble recovery rate was not incredibly different from normal.

In every preview, Brian said he expected turnover rates to go towards the mean, not all the way back because there are things that influence the turnover rate. They never did rebound, but several of those factors did exist: a new quarterback every single year, for one. The biggest thing, though, is that Brian's theories were examined: he has acknowledged many times that the numbers didn't seem to be reflecting his theory, and while three years with one team isn't much data, he has brought up that data many times as an argument against his theory.


Mostly my point isn't about whether Brian is actually right in that thesis that I'm highlighting, but the fact that he really tries to test out the hypotheses he develops from watching the game, and that is something I don't get almost anywhere else that I read or hear sports opinions.

mnb zach

August 10th, 2012 at 12:13 PM ^

I get your response, but you missed the part later on in the response where I said, "Going forward I think there is a regression on defense that comes from the fact that those turnover numbers can't possibly stay that high".

Furthermore, my argument was based more on the fact that better coached teams are naturally going to set themselves up for more breaks by being closer to the ball and in better position to make a play on it.  Hell, Mattison has said the same thing countless times and while it doesn't always lead to better turnover numbers (these things are to a large extent random) I really have no idea how someone can say that being a better defense doesn't have at least some effect on forced turnovers.  This doesn't mean that teams will constantly stay at the top of the rankings -- I'm not discounting the fine statistical work of guys like the Mathlete, Brian, Bill Connelly and others -- but it means that for the most part the best defenses aren't going to turn into low turnover-forcing-outfits because the iron law of statistics say so.  They call them "forced" turnovers for a reason.

I know there are big statistical arguments about luck and regression to the mean, but if you crawl too far inside statistics you risk forgetting that stats are just another tool, albeit an important one, when it comes to looking critically at football.  I fully expect Michigan's turnover numbers to regress in 2012, but I also think a big part of the reason Michigan was so good at forcing turnovers in 2011 was how much better the defense was at being in the right place to make a play.

I think that I, and the rest of the great writers over at Maize n Brew, do a pretty good job, and we have been working hard since I took over the site in February.  Check us out sometime.  I don't think you'll be disappointed.


August 11th, 2012 at 1:45 AM ^

First off, let me say that I appreciated your responses in general, particularly to TOC but also to my post.

I'm not sure if I had recently reread Brian's semi-recent mailbag or what, but for some reason, when you said "luck" and "turnover thing," my mind went straight to our fumble recovery rate, not to our turnover rate in general. The rest of the paragraph made sense with that thinking, so I didn't stop to question if that's really what you were talking about. Thinking that--which the data does show truly is almost entirely random--was what you were referring to was why I was particularly dismissive of skill.

I do think you're correct, there's a lot of luck, but also skill influencing the turnover rate as a whole. I have the feeling we'd disagree on quite the extent of those, but that's not a reason to be as dismissive of your comment, so I do apologize.


August 10th, 2012 at 12:19 PM ^

Good stuff.  TOC is the only MSU site out there that has competent reporting and rational fans - even the comments sections are short on trolling.  Heck, the first response to this article makes a valid argument that Denard's perceived lack of help by his WRs is probably shorthand for him struggling with his accuracy. 



August 10th, 2012 at 5:08 PM ^

though they went to a bunch of basketball games together in the winter, so they could have better rapport. No mention of it coming from fall camp.

Positive reports have come out about Amara Darboh, one of our incoming freshman. He's 6'2" and a surprisingly 215 (last we'd heard he was around 200), which makes him a bit bigger than Hemingway, but we would be incredibly fortunate if he was similarly capable of high-pointing the ball.