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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Blogpoll Roundtable - Special Michigan Post-BCS Edition

Jim over at Conquest Chronicles, a USC blog, has proposed an additional Blogpoll Roundtable, this one specifically for Michigan bloggers. The questions are in bold below with our responses immediately following.

1. Have you recovered yet from Michigan's exclusion from the national championship game? We've heard the "experts" give us their opinion on why Michigan dropped from 2nd to 3rd without snapping the ball. What do you think really happened here?

Personally, I needed all of one minute to recover. During last Sunday (and even on Saturday night during the SEC Championship) it became quite apparent that the pick was going to be Florida. Obviously I held out hope, but wasn’t optimistic. What really made me sick was the Fox BCS Selection Show. It made it very easy to rationalize Michigan playing in the Rose Bowl on ABC.

The experts are idiots. These are the same guys who said that Michigan would get into the BCS Championship game if USC lost. So they know nothing. Which is probably about what I know. What it came down to is the pollsters basically saying they didn’t want a re-match. Was it because they felt that “Michigan had their chance?” Or that they thought it would be more exciting to get a new team to play tOSU? Or was there some vast anti-Big Ten conspiracy? Probably a little of the first two of these things. Though we’ve complained on the site about Urban Meyer’s whining leading up to the final poll, we never really felt like Michigan got ripped off. At least not any more than Florida would have if Michigan was selected. Interestingly, I think the computers probably had it right – these teams are very close and to be able to say that you can distinguish which one is better is complete horseshit. That’s why there needs to be a playoff – so that they can prove it on the field and not have it subject to politicking, when the games are played, or perceptions on schedule strength.

2. We admire Lloyd Carr for having enough dignity to refrain from campaigning for BCS positioning. Pete Carroll has the same approach. Still, it was nice to hear Carr call out Urban Meyer for his whiny Tuberville impression. What's your take on the "southern inferiority complex"? What do you think about this season's conventional wisdom, which is that the Big-10 is weak ... despite having arguably the two best teams in the country?

Isn’t the SEC the only conference that has a major broadcast network all to itself? Sure, the Big Ten gets a ton of exposure on ESPN/ABC, but that’s a bit of a mixed bag. Both tOSU and Michigan had games stashed on the little received ESPNU. Meanwhile, every week there’s an SEC game that gets NATIONAL, not regional distribution that everyone – even those deviants without cable or a dish – can see. Michigan and tOSU had only two national, over the air games all year. Almost all of the games on ABC are regional broadcasts. Not to mention the fact that ESPN also shows SEC games. So any cries of bias against the SEC are ridiculous. Pretty much the entire season, all of the “experts,” including those on ESPN, called the SEC the best conference. This despite the fact that the top teams never play tough out of conference games, particularly on the road, and that the conference finalist gave up 50 points at home to USC.

That brings up the point of how to measure the difficulty of a conference. Is it tougher if it has five or six, solid but flawed teams or if it has two top-five, dominant teams and a bunch of middle of the road teams?. That’s a debate that can’t really be settled. When the Florida backers go on and on about how the SEC is the toughest conference, they neglect to mention one thing about Michigan’s schedule – it contained a certain loss for every team in the country (on the road against tOSU). Although there’s no way of answering this question with certainty, all the pontification about Florida’s tough schedule could be answered with two questions. What would Michigan’s record be with Florida’s schedule, and what would Florida’s schedule be with Michigan’s schedule? I tend to think they’d both be 11-1. Chalk another one up for the computers (and a playoff).

3. After losing to Ohio State and now seeing Michigan's remaining hopes dashed while other teams made their case on the field, what is your assessment of the Wolverines' psyche going into preparations for the Rose Bowl? How will Carr get them ready?

It’s an interesting matchup against USC for many reasons, one of which being the psyche of both teams heading into that game. Will Michigan go in with a point to prove, that they deserved another shot at tOSU and play with reckless abandon as they did against Notre Dame and, for the most part, against tOSU? Or will they be like Cal in 2004 and Oregon last year when both felt slighted by the BCS bowls and feel sorry for themselves and lay a turd on the beautiful Rose Bowl turf?

The same questions could be asked of the Trojans. Will they be focused to prove that the UCLA game was a fluke and they were the right team to face the Buckeyes before that, or will they feel their season has no goals at this point, having blown the national title chance and the game to their crosstown rivals?

Against top competition, Lloyd Carr has done a good job of having his team mentally ready in the past. I would expect him to do the same, and have the team focused on breaking their bowl losing streak. I expect Pete Carroll to have his team ready as well – these are two of the top coaches in the game.

4. What is the general impression of Tressel abstaining from his poll vote, his vote for UM would have surely put you guys in the title game. Some have commended him for staying neutral others have hammered him for not having the guts to take a stand. How do you feel?

I don’t see how Jim Tressel’s abstention kept Michigan out of the title game. Florida ended up with 1470 points while Michigan had 1444. If Tressel puts Michigan 2 at and Florida at 3, the totals still tip to Florida, 1494 to 1467. Hell, even if Tressel left the Gators off his ballot entirely, Michigan wouldn’t have jumped the Gators. So I don’t see why any Michigan fan has a problem with him not voting. I totally disagree with Lloyd Carr who claims that Tressel didn’t vote because he didn’t want Michigan in the title game – again, it wouldn’t have mattered how he voted, though I guess Tressel had no way of knowing this ahead of time.

I actually agree with Tressel on this 100% for a couple of reasons. His stated reason was to not have to face a team he placed #3 (and essentially chose not to face). I can understand why he wouldn’t want this situation, and it’s ludicrous to put a coach in such a situation.

But the foremost reason for supporting his decision in abstaining is that a coach should not be able to pick who he gets to play in a championship game. Granted, his vote ended up not mattering in the final BCS poll, but it could have. What if his vote was the reason Florida (or Michigan) got in the championship game? Did he vote that way to give his team an easier matchup? Choosing your opponent for a championship is just a step or two away from point shaving – it compromises the nature of fair competition and no coach should ever have the opportunity to do so. Just one more log on the fire of why this whole system of choosing a college football champion is the worst thing in all of American sports.


Anonymous said...

question #4. with yost and tressel as well, for yost's stated reasons. i can't believe this has become such an issue.

Matt said...

In regards to the whole voting thing, I agree that a coach shouldn't pick who his team faces, but you have to take into account that he made a commitment to vote.

What is he teaching his players? It is ok to make a commitment, until it gets to be a burden? This isn't the first time this year we have had to talk about his ballot.

After this year, I'm thinking he shouldn't be allowed to vote, at least not for awhile.

Anonymous said...

in regards to question 2 you have to remember that coaches are like politicians. They are for the most part the face of the university and it is their job to defend their team. Would you rather play for a coach that publicly will campaign for you or one that will sit quietly and just take whatever is given to his team?

Also you say that pete caroll didnt whine, thats b.s. his tirade in 2003 when oklahoma got in over his trojans was the biggest whine job in bcs history. And tuberville had every right to campaign in 04, just look at the resumes and you will see that auburn team got screwed.

Pants McPants said...

Holy crap...I actually agree pretty much 100% with everything you said. The answers you gave sound exactly the same I would have given them (especially the part about schedule strength and having 1 "sure loss" vs. several "tough games")...

It's as if our brains are carbon copies of each other, except that yours was dipped in a vat full of pure evil juice which fated your loyalties to Michigan...

IC said...

When did Lloyd say or even imply that Tressel abstained so that he wouldn't have to face Michigan in the title game?

I recall Carr saying it was a "slick" move by JT, which I understood to mean that the tOSU coach avoided pissing off the team he would have voted #3.

Benny Friedman said...

IC, I heard Lloyd say the quote about Tressel not wanting Michigan in the NC game on the Dan Patrick-Keith Olberman podcast last week. It was an actual sound bite from Lloyd.

And Anon 6:06, I like when my coach supports his team in public, but there's something unseemly about many of these coaches who seem more politician than coach. They DO represent their unviersity and I want my coach to have a little dignity. That's why I've always like Lloyd Carr for Michigan.

1201 S. Main St. said...

Anon 6:06 - Caroll complained AFTER he was jobbed. He didn't campaign. He didn't campaign again this year after UM only fell to #2 in BCS. All he said was they were going to go out and play football and let the polls take care of themselves. Tubberville was jobbed in undefeated season, but back in October of this year he started whining about the polls and lost to Arkansas the next week and UGA a few weeks later.

Jim said...

Matt: I was at first pissed about Tressel abstaining when he was tasked with voting. Then I thought about the Supreme Court. If in a case, one of the justices determines they have vested interest or too much prior involvement in a case, they recuse themselves from the case. So, after thnking about it more, I'm Ok with Tressel's decision to abstain.

Benny - I'n no Urban fan either, but with all due respect (I ain't got nuttin' but love for you and Yost's work at this site), to imply he seems more politician than coach seems a bit of an exaggeration. Where would you draw the line, slightly more than Carr's statements, greatly more, or slightly below Urban and Tubberville's? Who should piss & moan about the system if not those from one of the biggest stakeholder groups, like coaches. Media? No one but the media appoints the media as experts on the matter. University presidents? What, give up that fat check? AD's? Piss off their school presidents and give up that fat check? Players? Fans? Ok, when does the appropriate class of stakeholders make the complaints? During the season when the issue is on the front burner? During the spring when the hot burner issue is northern schools bitching about the early start to baseball season? Right after the BCS bowls are done, when it might look like a sore loser/winner. I like during the season. It makes his players know their coach is taking an active role in improving their team's stature while the team is playing their part at his instructions to do the same.

College Bob said...

Nice response.

However, not to slight a GREAT Michigan team, I doubt Michigan would have gone 12-1 with UF's schedule. Granted, the SEC is bad about traveling out of conference, but the conference road games are brutal (please review ESPN Full Circle UF @ AU). The SEC teams do not just have one bad road trip, they have 4 conference road trips. Remember, UM had trouble with Vandy at the Big House.

We need to push the major conferences to have home/home match-ups each year, similar to the Big Ten/ACC Challenge in basketball. Have the Big Ten + ND play the SEC the 3rd weekend of the season. Draw names out of a hat, or have two weeks of games based on winning percentage over past 5 years, first week: 1 v. 12; 2 v. 11, etc.; second week: 1 v. 1; 2 v. 2, etc. Every two years, swith to another conference. What the hell did the football gods give us the 12th game for anyway?

Keep up the good work!

Matt said...

College Bob~

You will find that most of us don't buy the media hype about how tough the SEC is this year. From watching games and reading team reviews, I've come to a conclusion about this years SEC. Tenn is the only school that can play offense.

It seems every other offense down there is built around trick plays and misdirection. Therefor, the defenses are built to stop that type of play. I personally believe that LSU might have been the only school that could stop a power running game and contain a vertical passing game. However, they are just as batshit crazy on offense, so I would see the Michigan defense taking them to the woodshed.

The SEC continually recruits "athletes" instead of football players. There is a difference. Because the rosters are full of athletes, I believe that any disciplined northern team can be less athletic and still win the game. The numbers back up this argument as well. Take a look at the B10 vs SEC results of bowl games over the last half decade.

Anonymous said...

I agree with your assessment and I also think that the PAC 10/SEC match ups early in the year were decidely in the SEC's favor this year in that they were all pretty much at the SEC's home stadium early in the year which means it is super hot, something that the PAC 10 teams are not used to and also being early in the year they have not had time get in sync as a team. I think next year if Tennessee goes to California it will probably be like a different team and should be a better indicator.

Jerry Palm said...

one thing i noted in the response to question 1 - "perception on schedule strength". Florida's SOS vs Michigan's was not based on "perception". In most of the computers used for the computer vote, Florida had a tougher SOS than UM. If you agree with the computers in regards to who they say is #2, then why would you not agree with them on SOS? It is your perception that Florida's tougher SOS was merely perception by voters and fans, but the numbers tell the true story and they give UF the tougher SOS hands down.

Benny Friedman said...

College Bob, I'd put up Michigan's two toughest road trips this year (ND, tOSU) against anyone's. Florida could maybe match it, but not exceed it. Also, I would hardly say Michigan had trouble with Vanderbilt. They didn't win by as much as we'd like, but they won comfortably. It was the first game of the season, as well. Florida had trouble with (and was outgained by) Vanderbilt.
Jerry Palm, I wasn't denying that Florida's schedule might be tougher than Michigan's, though we are really dealing with pretty fine distinctions. My point was that if the teams traded schedules I still think they'd have the same records they do now. Florida and Michigan are very evenly matched on paper. It's an outrage that they couldn't play each other to prove who deserved to play in a championship game, and instead it was left to mostly idiots' opinions.

jones said...

Keep telling yourself that, Matt. Since Ark/Fla combined for about 7 trick plays in their game (which is the game most people base their "trick-play" argument on), the whole conference relies solely on gimmicks. None of those defenses can play worth a damn, they're just geared around stopping the crazy plays--of course! Of course, a defense that gives up 500+ yards to a NON-gimmick offense is truly something special, right?

Gimme a break. Hopefully you're at least aware of the extreme bias you're bringing to the table here, otherwise it would be sad rather than comical.

(On a related note, can we drop the whole bowl records thing, as well? When you're sending your #3 team to play another conference's #6, you SHOULD beat them.)

Matt said...


OSU's offense is superior to anything in the SEC. It also isn't just the final game of the year when trick plays were on display in the SEC. The perception, which I believe to be backed by fact, is that the SEC plays simplistic offenses and utilizes "gadget" plays.

We would be more impressed if some of these teams would just give it up and go to the option. I think you would find that if this were to happen, these schools would actually get more credit for their offensive schemes.

Jerry Palm~
If I remember correctly, the SOS formulas don't take 1-AA schools into account. If this is correct, then the SOS needs to be recalculated before a fair comparison can be made between Michigan and Florida's SOS.

TitleIX said...

rumor has it that Tressel publically abstained, but privately lobbied the voters.
I've got no proof---just what I've been told....
hence the "slick" comment????

also, one little nitpicky point...
ND has it's own broadcast network (NBC)

1201 S. Main St. said...

College Bob - UM didn't have trouble with Vandy. By measure of final score we had less of a problem with Vandy than Florida. Florida wouldn't have run the table in B10. ND, OSU, and PSU were tough road trips, too. Florida probably wouldn't have done any better playing in the B10, as UM playing in SEC. I agree, that I wish there was more interconference play at the top of the conferences. The SEC v. Pac 10 matchups this year were skewed in favor of the SEC. The only matchup of good teams was TN v. Cal and USC v. Arky...which the conferences split.

Matt - not sure the SEC's offense is inferior. The title game was a poor display, but that's not typical (though Arky used McFadden to throw on a semi-regular basis). The SEC and B10 play comprable ball. Back in the early to mid-90's the B10 moved to recruiting fast skill players and there's no real difference in skill player speed on the top teams in the top conferences. Is Percy Harvin any faster than Ted Ginn, or Breaston?

Jones - We'll drop the whole bowl game thing when the SEC drops the "we're in a tougher conference" thing. Over a decade the B10 has a 1 game edge over the SEC in head-to-head bowl games. I'd say that's pretty even. But don't be retarted and claim that it's beacuse lower ranked SEC teams play higher ranked B10 teams.

The only time you get the mismatch is when two teams from one conference play in the BCS, then all the other teams in their conference get shifted up into bowls they wouldn't have otherwise been playing. In that respect the B10 has placed 15 teams into BCS, while SEC 13, so the B10 has been on the wrong side of the shift more often. But that's just splitting hairs. Look at this year's matchups. FL v. OSU, Ark v. Wisc, and Tenn v. PSU. Those are fair matchups.

The B10 generally places 7-8 (of 11 teams) into bowl games while the SEC generally places 7-9 teams (of 12) into bowl games. So the head-to-head bowl record points to parity between the conferences and the reason we'll keep bringing it up until SEC homers stop claiming theirs is the toughest conference in the country.

Jim said...

Just what the hell does an OSU fan have to say about the B10 conf record against the SEC in the last 10 years? How much did your bright star kid at the front of the B10 row this year do for that 1 game advantage? How does OH AND EIGHT against the SEC in bowl games ever, sound? I bring that up breaking my own rulke that history never once took a snap in a game or busted through the line for a touchdown. Not once, yet we keep digging it up as if that ole fat bastard "History" will get his shit together this season for us and play worth a shit.

As far as gimmicks, etc:
If your team has to run a trick play to win a game, and they don't, are you pissed at the coach for not running it? Or do you clap your team's loss because they played with "class", "tradition", and lost like "men"?!? If Blue ran a trick play in the closing seconds to surprise OSU for the win, are you all gooshy with joy now, or do you call for Carr's head for being conniving, evil, and sneaky. You get the fucking win is what you do. The coach is not paid to graduate athletes, he's not paid to keep players in leather helments playing on real grass, he's not there to show off throw-back unis, he's there to win. Period. You get the god-damned job done or you find somwehre else to collect a check. Two teams didn't get the job done when they had the chance, so now the fans of two fantastic conferences are like ants from rival ant hills tossed in a jar together by media, corporate sponsorship, and greedy university presidents to rip each other's throats out blaming the other for their situation (Gator fans a few weeks ago when they were outside looking in, and Wolverine fans now).

Now what's more gimmicky? A half-back (who also QB'ed in high school) taking snaps and throwing passes, or a coach telling his players to keep intentionally commiting penalties for running offsides to burn the clock to prevent the team from getting the ball. Just so we know what's "classy" and what's "bush".

js said...

Easy now, the strength of schedule is virtually identical hence the computer "tie". I'm sure both Michigan's and Florida's schedules (which takes into account how good your OMG conference opponents are) are in the top ten.

Let's consider what the computers don't: scoring margin. Michigan's scoring margin is 15.6 (30.2 - 14.6), while Florida's is 15.4 (28.9 - 13.5) resulting in a virtual tie.

So can we please stop saying one team is better than the other for now? I think the bowl games will tell us a lot. LSU playing ND at home. Arkansas playing Wisconsin. Tennessee playing Penn State. Those are Michigan's and Florida's best "victims". If LSU loses to ND at "home", can we tell Florida to stay at home and send the Rose Bowl winner (USC or Michigan) to the BCS game instead?

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with everything you said here. Here is my own truncated analysis of the issues:

1. Its funny how the broken record of the SEC being the toughest conference played such a huge role in the decision. Of course there was no good way of quantifying how tough the SEC was relative to the other conferences, you just had to take everyone's word for it.

2. No matter whether you agree with Lloyd or Urban on whether campaigning was the right thing to do, you have to come away feeling better about Lloyd and little more dirty about Urban. If for no other reason then its now easier to associate Urban with politics.

3. I think its going to be easier for Carr to motivate his crew with the idea that they got screwed and need to make a statement than it is for Pete to convince his team that they don't really suck as bad as they sucked against UCLA and need to prove it.

4. I'm getting tired of how Tressel made a "commitment" to vote or whatever. Do you think Tressel would bat one eye if they took away his vote? I imagine it would be a lot like throwing Brer Rabbit in the briar patch. It was the right move in terms of college politics and our own sense of fair play. God forbid if his vote DID make a difference, we'd have a whole lot of controversy on our hands then, huh?

College Bob said...

Benny, I thought all agreed that ND sucked this year!

I did expect more response about the conference match-up proposal.

1201 S. Main St. said...

Jim - You ignorant slut... You're missing the point. It's not that a 1 game advantage in bowl matchups is a big deal. All it signals is parity among the conferences over the last decade...which is only brought up each time people claim the SEC is the toughest conference. 0-8 is laughable, but again it's all about the "toughest conference." Historically you can't say getting through one is easier than the other. And if you don't want it to be about history then look at this year. The SEC has 1 win over a top 25 out of conference team: TN beat Cal. B10 has 2 (ND and TX) and Pac10 has 4 (Ark, Neb, OK, ND).

As for gimmicky plays. I don't think any UM fan has a problem with using them. UM has used their fair share in the past. There was a season not too long ago that we tried the Breaston reverse or end around at least once a game. But are you trying to defend the title game as not riddled with trick plays? Sure one or two in key situations might be necessary and useful, but when Leak is trying to run the option twice, which apparently he never ran all year, then perhaps it's a little gimicky, no? I mean even the SEC homer, Danielson was asking what the fuck was going on with those calls. Didn't 5 different people have touchdown passes in that game? Good offensive game plan or Cal/Stanford marching band kind of game plan?

Jim said...

1201 - you're right re: the bowl record. I was referring to folks above. I love the SNL reference by the way.

I'm with you in that the SEC's only claim to being a tough conference is mainly in conference wins against ranked opponents. I see a lot of folks have a problem with that and claim the SEC has only 1 OOC win agains ta ranked opponent while the other conferences have x-number of wins against OOC ranked teams. If it's OK for SoCal to hail their victory against the OOC ranked opponent in the SEC, why can't Florida claim Arkansas as a big victory and support it's claim as having a tough road. I'm not disagreeing with you, just pointing out some folks are ignoring conf games against tough opponents just because they;re conf games. If we're counting OOC games, my SoCar beat Clemson at Death Valley, who was ranked as high as 10 (I think) and who should have ran the regular season table if they had a good coach. What was Arky ranked when SoCal beat them?