~ ~

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Polls and Bowls. Blame and Shame.


I have not had the heart to read all the analysis and chatter. If I missed something in my thoughts below, feel free to add your comments (the Name/URL sign in seems to be easiest if you don't have a google account).

During the game I commented often, in the open chat on this site, that Dantonio was making excellent game management decisions and calls that were beyond what most coaches can deliver. From the pre-set hook and lateral to the fake PAT for a two point conversion, to the "go for it or punt decision" that lead to the Wisky 3 and almost-out prior to the
now classic punt return turned punter on the ground, MD's decisions, in large part kept MSU in position to win the game.

Not surprisingly, radio commentators, beat writers and columnists remain shallow and employ laziness in their analysis. It is shallow to focus solely on the decision to call "punt-block" rather than "return". The first comment I heard when turning on the radio this morning was, the host explaining that the call to punt-block was "bone-headed" and you can blame coaching for loss. Huh? Are you kidding?

I am not saying that punt-block was the right call. Obviously, it set up the worst case scenario way to lose. I am saying it is totally lame and lazy to think that the Spartans should be going to Rose Bowl if not for a "bone-headed" call by the coach. Why?

It is because of Danotio and his staff that this team was in position to be able to punch a ticket to the Rose Bowl, typically reserved for teams stocked with developed "raw-material" far greater than this team originally brought to the table. It is because of this staff and leader that our two and three star recruits are playing like four and five-star recruits. From player retention, to player development, to technique and scheme, to the synergy and cohesion he created within the team - and yes, all the way to Dantonio's game management decisions, he and his staff got
more out of this group than anyone could have ever expected. It is not because of the staff that we are not going to Pasadena, it is because of them and the belief that players have in them, that we were a whisker (see Keshawn Martin's overturned catch that was over ruled and caused us to punt) from heading to the Rose Bowl. There are many examples throughout the game, this season and past years to support this view.

In addition, MSU was behind. If MD would have called for a return, there is no guarantee just how that would have turned out. The pressure of the near block effected the punt placement, hang-time and trajectory - and of course blocking assignments are different when "return" is called. Calling a return would have caused a completely different result and there is no guarantee we would have gotten 3-7 points out of it. Heck we could been on the 40 yard line followed by a pick or a fumble or 4th and 20. Maybe we get a field goal and lose in overtime. To think that the Spartans win if we call a return is crazy. Do I think we should have called a return? Of course, but it is only an issue now due to the great decisions made earlier in the game and the foundation set (and other decisions) over the past 5 years. It is through MD's leadership that we are even able to break this down today like this today.

BCS Sham:
Before the BCS, there were simply two recognized "polls" in Division I football. The two polls are the factors that carry the most weight in the BCS "standings". The BCS system, supposedly, was designed to reduce the "human element" by introducing a variety of computer models that consider strength of schedule and win-loss scenarios (This team beat that team who then beat a third team who also...). It was an attempt to move from a voting system to a "standings" system like each conference has. Of course, with 120 teams, it impossible to "create" truly meaningful standings, but that's beside the point.

A huge problem now is that voters now vote for what they thing the "standings" should be which is different than voting on who you think is best, 2nd best, 3rd best and so on. I assure you, most voters would tell you that they believe the Spartans are a better team this year than the little chUMps down the road. Yet they will vote the chUMps higher, because MSU split with the best team in the conference last night - giving MSU a 3rd loss (even though the chUMPs did not play them even once).

Teams can't control their conference schedules - that's true. But voters are to vote for the order of the teams they think are best. Instead, they mistakenly confuse "standings" with poll voting and mix them together when they vote - just as fans and commentators do. If a voter thinks LSU is the best team in the country and Alabama is the second best team, that is how they should vote - and that goes all the way down the line. Then, let computer models do what they do and see what happens. It is almost now than poll voting has become a BCS standings prediction rather than a vote for the best teams first. Make sense? I didn't think so...

...Neither will the BCS standings results announced later today.

Go Green.

[If you are receiving this post via email, please click on the link to the site so you can comment.]


  1. Well said Doug. Too much for me to think about. I know we were expected to get blown out and we scared the poop out of them all game. I think we have Wisconsin's respect for many years to come after that game.

    I had many pats on the back today in SEC country telling me how much they liked our football team. Many across the country were watching as all of the other night games were blow outs. That includes those potential high school recruits. I'm sure they like MD too.

    What is upsetting is listening to and reading the chUMp crap on the radio and the ESPN Sugar Bowl blog.

    Football fans know that MSU/Georgia is a much better football game than scUM/Va Tech.
    scUM had better win against that much lesser opponent or the loss may be as hard to forget as Ap State. You know I'll be a Hokie fan on New Year's Day.

  2. Overall, this was not bad for a "rebuilding year". Our record was higher than most professionals had predicted, including nearly all local sports media. The consensus was 9-3, second in the division.

    All points made by RTG are good, including the key point that calling the punt block was needlessly risky in context, though defensible by game circumstances. At least it wasn't a bad call by the officials to determine the game. No fluke bounces, strange onsides kick, FG off the crossbar, triple-tip interception, etc. Just a very good football game and our team lost.

    Give Bucky credit, as they went for it on fourth down at midfield in a situation where failure would give us the ball in good field position with a five-point lead and four minutes to go. They had the guts to not punt. By contrast, we did not try for more in the fourth-and-goal a few minutes earlier, instead taking the FG. That call was also defensible by game circumstances, though it may have been needlessly conservative.

    We can microscope every play call in every game, not just the last few that we remember.

    As for the Basically Corrupt System (BCS), is anybody surprised by the money deals? How much do we really need to care? There are only two remaining questions on that subject, and we won't know the answers for four weeks: Will MSU beat Georgia, and will Virginia Tech beat UM? The outcomes of those games are much more important than the pre-game matchups and game sites and television schedules that seem so different right now.

    The bottom line right now is whether our Coach can get the last few players they want for the current recruiting class. If he can fill out this group with a strong finish, we look pretty good heading into next season, with so many defensive players returning and about three dozen first year players (including redshirts) to fill in the holes that our Seniors leave behind.

    No "sour grapes" here, I wish we had won the game. But it was a fair-and-square finish to a great contest. And by the way, our Coach is NOT heading to Ohio State.

  3. In addition to the redshirt freshman joining the playing group, re-enters Blake Treadwell (2-deep/occasional starter at DT/NT as a freshman, frequent starter as Soph, entered Junior season as starting center, and Tyler Hoover (in 2-deep at DE Freshman and soph years, entered Junior year as starting DE) Both these players were 4-star recruits will return with two years of eligibility and plenty of experience. Oh and remember Lawrence Thomas, the number one ranked highschool senior in Michigan who suffered a minor tweak in training camp to send him to scout squad with a redshirt? He will push for playing time or will he be so good that he starts and further upgrades the LB group? With Worthy likely leaving and Pickleman exhausting his fourth year, look for Treadwell to return to D-line. Travis Jackson did a solid job at center as a RS-Freshman. But, where do you put Hoover, 6-7 290lb DE? Can we sit Marcus Rush after what he did as a RS FR? Can we run with DEs and move them around in blitz situations? Great Problem. This team is young - and entrenched in successful season. See the current depth chart here:


Please sign in using the method most convenient for you. We do not receive your login information. This function is provided by Blogger.