Wednesday, December 28, 2011

B1G/Pac 12 Matchups Matrix

Because I am nothing if not insanely curious about this, the following is a matrix of the last time each Big Ten school faced each Pac 12 school, along with the essential range of the number of times they have played since 1936.  There are eight matchups that have never occurred, those are in red with a white 0 in the cell.

This, this is what I do.
Light pink is a matchup that has only occurred once.
Deep Yellow (old school maize if you will) are matchups that have occurred two to four times.
Yellow are matchups that have occurred five to nine times.
Light green are matchups that have occurred 10-19 times.
Light blue are matchups that have occurred 20-49 times (in this case, just OSU/USC)
The Darker Blue are matchups that have occurred 50+ times (which is Colorado/Nebraska from their old Big 8/Big XII days.)

I'll have more on "dream" initial matchups in 2017, but for now, make use of this data as you see fit.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Michigan Defense Theater 3000 Experiment 1114: Sugar Mutiny

In the not too distant future, Saturday A.D.
There was a guy named Jordan, not too different from you or me
He worked at Schembechler Institute, just another face in a maize jumpsuit
He did a good job cleaning up the place, but his bosses kinda liked him so they made him play in space
(Curse you GERG!)
We'll send him speedy runners, the best we can find
He'll have to stop, tackle them all as we monitor his mind
Now keep in mind he can't control when the games begin or end
He'll try to keep his sanity with the help of his D-Line friends...
Martin! (I'm Captain!)
Heininger! (Left side!)
Van Bergen! (Where've you been?)
Rooooooooooooooooh! (I'm sophomore!)
If you're wondering how he eats and breathes and other science facts
He's got a meal card and it's set on earth so you can really just relax
For Michigan Defense Theater 3000.
Hi, everyone, and welcome to the Satellite of Yost. Since Coach Hoke and Coach Mattison have given us a little time off after we beat Ohio, I've dusted off my old set of encyclopedias so we can study up on our next opponent, Virginia Tech.
Jordan, this encyclopedia is completely worthless for my biography of Gary Danielson.
Yeah, Jordan, it's really old. It lists Woody Hayes as a "fairly stable young football coach at Denison University."
It mentions the forward pass as a charming theory.
It calls Lafayette College a perennial power.
Its list of college football's winningest programs is: "McGill: 1."
It says that using your hands to hold the ball is illegal.
It's got a picture of the Big House.
Capacity 72,000?
So what you high-minded encyclopedia snobs are saying is that you want a new set? I'll get you a new set. You know, they got me through college.
You're still in college.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Everyone else has a solution for the BCS, so why can't we?

NCAA institutions are a varied lot: both private and public, both large and small, both teaching-oriented and research-oriented, both colleges and universities. However, without doing the research, there is at least one thing that I am certain every single one of them has: a professor of statistics.

The Michigan Statistics Department has an awesome logo. That is all.
In this post we will discuss two of the many problems with the BCS. The first is that there are humans involved in the formula who are swayed by things such as "brand name," "reputation," and "whatever bullshit Gary Danielson spews during the fourth quarter of the SEC Championship game." Vishnu Parasuraman at Grantland proposes replacing the polls with a committee. The only effect that would have is that the biases of "brand name," "reputation," and "Gary Danielson" would be hidden in a board room in Indianapolis instead of being out in the open for us to mock. Lloyd Carr is the sort of person who'd be on the selection committee, and he's already a Harris Poll voter. You don't see the NCAA putting Ken Pomeroy on the March Madness committee.

This is not to say that computers are unbiased; the second problem with the BCS is that the computer rankings are hobbled and slanted by the silly biases of Jeff Sagarin, Peter Wolfe, Wesley Colley, Kenneth Massey, Richard Billingsley, and some dudes at the Seattle Times (a.k.a. Seattle's fourth best newspaper, behind the Stranger, the Weekly, and the Sinner). Only six. That's ridiculous.

My solution to these problems: no more committees, no more polls. Only computers. But not just six computers, that's not enough! In order to come up with a reasonable BCS computer ranking formula, we need hundreds of rankings. Every school in the NCAA should be invited to submit a team ranking system before the start of the season, and the official football rankings should be a combination of hundreds of rankings created by the smartest statistics students at all of the NCAA's member institutions.

Here's the plan. After the jump.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Hoke of the Rising Sun

So, inspired by this:

and coupled with a distinct love of Eric Burdon and the Animals, as seen here:

We now present "Hoke of the Rising Sun"

There is a game in New Orleans
They call the Sugar Bowl
And it's part of the reviled BCS
The debate can take its toll.

Now Johnny is our tailor
He sewed my new jerseys
Our head coach is a gamblin' man
who wouldn't settle for three.

Now the only thing a gambler needs
Is to go on fourth and one.
And the only time he's needs to punt
Is when the game is won.

(Organ solo)

Oh Brady tell Al Borges
Not to do what he has done
Don't put Denard under center
He's better in shotgun.

Well, Mattison dials up blitzes
And a Michigan defense regained
Just play a stout run stopping D,
Don't let them move the chains

Well, there is a game in New Orleans
They call the Sugar Bowl
And it's part of the reviled BCS
The debate can take its toll.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Aleph Borges: A Season in Review

If you don't get the title reference, turn to page 274, then come back. This post will still be here, as it exists in all points in time and space.

Oh God, I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself king of athletes in space.
                Hamlet, II:2, as paraphrased by Jordan Kovacs

That same chilly morning that Ricardo RodrĂ­guez was fired, after an imperious confrontation with his athletic director in which he only for one instant stooped to sentimentality and fear, I noticed a new advertisement for some smartphone or another had been posted on the billboards of Interstate 8; the fact deeply grieved me, for I realized that the vast unceasing universe was already growing away, and that this change was but the first in an infinite series.

One month later I had left San Diego de Alcalá for good and while setting up my office in Schembechler Hall, I was greeted by my predecessor, one Calvino Argentino Magi, who now holds some sort of subordinate position on a stravenue in the outskirts to the north of Sonora. Calvino Argentino is a substantial, black-haired man of refined features. His football activity was constant, passionate, and versatile, but in Ann Arbor it was ultimately insignificant.

On February 8, 2011, I took the liberty of enriching him with an offer of a bottle of Bell’s Winter White Ale. Calvino Argentino tasted it, pronounced it “interesting,” and, after a few snifters, launched into a poem on which he had been working for many years called the Augural Canto, Prologurial Canto, or simply Prologue-Canto.

I begged him to read me a passage, even if only a brief one. He open a desk drawer (one of the drawers which I had not yet cleaned), took out a tall stack of tablet paper stamped with the letterhead of the Bentley Historical Library, and read with ringing self-satisfaction:

There is no life - no life without its hunger;
Each restless heart beats so imperfectly;
But when you come and I am filled with wonder,
Sometimes, I think I glimpse eternity.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Oversigning bowl: Just don't watch.

Elliot Porter will not be playing in the LSU-Alabama Oversigning Bowl.

Some time ago in this space, I explained why the Urban Meyer Rule should be obsolete and why an LSU-Alabama rematch was desirable, namely, because both schools are dirty fucking oversigning grayshirting cheaters. I have received my wish, as #3 Oklahoma State faces #4 Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl, a.k.a. the national championship for non-cheating schools (*). So for rematch haters like me, it's the best of both worlds, if we assume both worlds are strange places where we just can't have a 4+ team playoff. We can ignore the SEC circle-jerk and still have something resembling a true national championship between the two best teams that don't completely mistreat their athletes. It's going to be weird for the last game of the season to be NIU-Arkansas State, but, like every other season, it's been a weird season.

(*) I'm sure if someone went all Freep on them, we'd find they'll guilty of tons of stuff too, but likely nothing as evil as promising a kid a scholarship and then stealing it away. Also, let's not forget that the Fiesta Bowl is run by frauds and cheaters.

In Michigan, first you get the power, then you get the sugar, then you get the women.

I wish there was some word to describe the pleasure I feel at viewing misfortune

Who me? It was a clean hit!
I've been waiting over two long years to have events transpire that required me to update this: the new and improved "Sparty, No!" quiz on Sporcle.

P.S. If you don't get the title reference. If Community weren't on NBC, the Sparty of television networks, I wouldn't have to presume many of you won't get the title reference.

Update Dec. 4 6:45 PM: You guys love the schadenfreude:

Thursday, December 01, 2011

So Many Bears

So, one of the hot trends for Christmas 2011 is NCAA Mascot Pillow Pets.  They're cute, they're spirited, and they're roughly $30.  Looking at the Big Ten's assortment, some of them make perfect sense. (And before I get angry letters, I could not find ones for Indiana or Northwestern.)  To wit:
This Brutus Buckeye looks pretty much like the real thing.

All this Nittany Lion is missing is his traditional jaunty scarf.
Looks like Buckingham Badger, no doubt.  Horrifying, yes, but it does look like him.
Why Goldy Gopher's image comes up like security camera footage, I'm not sure.

I think this is what Herky looks like.  Even has the black pants.
He's big big big.  And he's red red red.  And that's how he came to earn the name Big Red.

And then there are four that completely make you question what the marketing people were thinking, which is exactly what we did.  Please help us decide which of the four of these is the greatest crime:

1). Illinois

"Hey, so what's an Illini anyway?"
"Well, allegedly it used to be an Indian chief, but they dropped that imagery a few years ago.  Ahh, to heck with it, make it a bear with a 1950s style Indian headdress.  We'll say he was at the First Thanksgiving or something."
"Sir, don't you think people will wonder why the bear is a Native American?"
"Do I look like I care?"

2). Michigan State

"Hey, Michigan State has like one of the NCAA's most popular and famous mascots, right?"
"Yeah, whatever, biceps are hard to transfer to a pillow pet.  Make it a dog."
"But sir, what do dogs have to do with Sparta?"
"I don't know.  I'm going to go to my office and watch 300 and I'm sure I'll come up with something."
"Shouldn't we at least make it like a Greek breed of dog?  Like a Molossus or something?"
"You're putting way too much thought into this.  Just make it cute and a little needy, like it's the little brother of the litter."

3). Michigan
"Sir, this one's a bit tricky.  Michigan is legendary for their resistance to the mascot.  They're very big on their symbols like the winged helmet and the block M."
"Good, then we should include those."
"Right, so we'll get the traditional blue jersey, and the block and and the winged helmet, all on a Wolverine.  But wolverines are scary looking.  Since we're targeting small children, do we really want to give them a representation of a godless killing machine, nature's most perfect land based predator?"
"You're right, make it a grizzly bear instead."
"So a wolverbear?"
"No, just a grizzly.  Make it cute though."

4). Purdue

"Not going to lie sir, Purdue Pete is kind of creepy looking. But I think we're OK, because Purdue's actual mascot is the Boilermaker Special and kids love trains.  We'll just make a fun train one."
"Nope, trains are too hard to pull off.  You know, idea, let's..."
"Make it a bear.  Sir, come on, every time we get stuck, you tell me to make it a bear.  Besides, how would people even know the bear was representing Purdue?"
"Put a hardhat on him?"
"I hate you."
"I know."