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Like My Previous Post, But With a National Scope (and Some Spartan-Gulo Clickbait)
Aug 16th, 2017 by 89 Chemistry

Click here to jump to the Comments.   Click here to access my previous Post, which explains the validity of quadrennials in understanding and comparing program histories.   What “1/4 conv.” means is explained in the 2nd – 4th paragraphs under the first graph therein.

 

Last time, we saw that State did not fall from the top 20% (quintile) of quadrennial-basis B1G programs — but that it will probably sink into the middle tier if it does not perform up to Dantonio-era par.   Similar unpublished results showed the Spartans to be the nation’s sixth-best program during 2012-2015.   The answer to “How now?” (i.e., for 2013-2016) is detailed below.

The recent history (and hypothetical near future) of the top quintile of FBS programs during 2013-16 are displayed in the first four graphs.   These graphs are mostly split into regions; here, first, are MSU and its pretty-good neighbors:

The top quintile’s threshold is 33 wins.   Five B1G programs (OHSU; WI; MISU; IA; and NE (on the fourth graph)) are among these 26 programs.   I see three sine waves here, but consider only one (Iowa) predictive long term.   Louisville could stay in this group if Bobby Petrino can keep his job — whereas Missouri looks to be in free fall.   My guess is that the Irish will appear to stabilize under Brian Kelly — if he can keep his job with 8- and 9-win seasons.

The next group could be called the Interior Deep South because of the rise of Magnolia State teams and the disappearance of Florida (temporary) and South Carolina (indefinite).   (If USA Today predictions prove true, the Spartans will shadow SC’s decline, with a two-year delay.):

The Egg Bowl coaches seem to have done things right; they should be able to stay somewhat close to their apparent Iowa-like ceilings.   LSU has the talent pool to stabilize, but its perennially elite days are probably over.   And Auburn, while too erratic to join the near-elites, should at least not descend to Bielema-Hog levels.

“Elite” and “near-elite” are arbitrarily defined as 40+ adjusted wins and 38-39 adjusted wins, respectively, per quadrennial.

The third graph had some interesting alternative names because of its schools’ tight north-south alignment:

Before looking ahead, I want to say some things about the past.   Two of the 26 top-quintile programs have had more impressive rises than MSU; one, Baylor, is on this graph.   For some serious perspective, consider the left-most point on Baylor’s curve, at y = 16.   That is equivalent to the worst quadrennial in MSU’s history (1980-1983).   As bad as MSU fans have thought things are at times, they have never been as bad as for four B1G programs since 2000 — nor as bad as for respected programs Stanford and Washington recently (see below).

(Nor was MSU football ever any worse, in terms of four-year winning percentage, than Michigan from 1934-1937.)

Looking ahead, Nebraska will probably drop to an 8-5 program for the next couple of years, while the Cowboys and Aggies should stabilize.   Expect TCU’s curve to cast away its early struggles as a power-conference team and get to near-elite status soon.   (Recently near-elite Kansas State could nudge above the 33-win threshold this year.)

Minimizing clutter on the southeastern graph forced exclusion of two ACC programs.   They appear here, with the pretty-good western programs (and MSU):

At least three interesting tales are behind these curves.   To get the most unpleasant out of the way first, consider Stanford from {2005-08} to {2009-12}.   That rise is attributable to Harbaugh and his recruiting.   That, by itself, demonstrates that journalists’ and analysts’ expectations accompanying his hire at Michigan were not necessarily based on hype, Blue Walliness, and/or ratings-grab cynicism.   Those expecting the Gulos to go .500 overall and lose to State by two TDs per game over the next two years are, I think, going to be bitterly disappointed.

Second, look at Oregon, 2011-14.   It was the first program not named “Alabama” to reach the 48-win threshold in recent years.   This, too, is an uncomfortable lesson: In two years (including a 9-4 campaign), the erstwhile second-best program in the nation (by these metrics) is now tied for 11th.

Third, consider USC’s curve.   Before I lost ten months of work, I was preparing recruiting-class analysis to accompany these graphs (in 2016).   (I did get to put forth such work for the B1G.)   Based on an early observation, my plan was to begin the narrative of such a national-scope project like this:

“Imagine that football recruiting-class rankings correlated perfectly with winning and losing.   In such a world, a 14-0 Alabama and a 14-0 USC would play every year for the National Title — and the Trojans would beat the Tide 75% of the time.”

In other words: USC’s curve should, under that ideal, be off the chart!   Now, let me be clear: Recruiting rankings give people (including reporters and analysts), on average, a better sense of how teams will do in the future than the ignorance of such information.   But even if we allow for uncertainties, the difference between gridiron potential and results in downtown L.A. since 2008 make guys like RichRod and Charlie Weis look good.

On the other hand, a team on which almost everyone is a four- or five-star should have winning seasons while sleepwalking with fentanyl patches on — and that is (figuratively) what USC has done.   It has a great chance of re-joining the near-elites before Washington reaches that level.   Look for Utah to plateau after crossing the 35-win line  — and for the Ducks to dip below it.

No Group-of-Five programs are currently among the top quintile.   Northern Illinois was, in 2012-2015.   Boise State was an elite program in 2009-2012; its datum then would have been about where Stanford’s is today.   With a 10-win season in 2017, it would edge up to where Utah is today.   However, the cut-off for the FBS’s top quintile during 2013-16 might be different in 2014-17.

The foregoing has shown that the Spartans would have been a decent perennial competitor in any region despite 2016.    Would MSU be a national power if it continued to have four-year stints like 2013-2016?   I think the final graph indicates as much:

 

At the risk of repeating myself: There is Saban’s Alabama, and then there is everyone else.   Imagine 2015 for MSU if it had gone the same except for a close loss in the Cotton Bowl.   That still would have been an objectively “off” year for the Tide.   With another CFP Title, its curve will exceed this graph’s scale.   The Buckeyes — if they are as good as their pre-season ranking — can keep pace with ‘Bama in 2017 and cross the 50-win line for 2014-17.   (One Primary Suspect predicted in 2012 that Urban Meyer’s OSU wins would be vacated by the end of 2017.   He has not been proven wrong yet, buuuutt — well, hurry up NCAA!)

Over at least the past century, the best Spartan quadrennial was 1950-1953 — Clarence Munn’s final four years.  They went 35-2 — equivalent to y = 49 on my graphs.   I have not looked at the Gulos’ Crisler or Yost eras.   But since 1950, the best Michigan quadrennial was 1970-1974 — equivalent to only 45 adjusted wins.

Clemson — elite for years despite contrary opinions — is now, with AL and OHSU, an ultra-elite program (i.e., averaging at least 12 wins per year).   Its curve should plateau until 2016-2019 or so.   Jimbo Fisher got the Seminoles to those heights first, but I expect their curve to continue falling, albeit gently.   Note FLSU’s current tally at y = 46.   Last August, that is where I anticipated MSU would be now…

For technical reasons (explained with other adjustments), the right side of Oklahoma’s curve underestimates its program strength.   It should now be at y = 43, and should remain in that vicinity for the immediate future (depending on Bob Stoops — and whomever might replace him).   Look for Wisconsin to continue its solid improvement and — if it can keep its not-Bielema coach — plateau near Oklahoma.   And Stanford should stabilize.

If I am right (and I would gladly settle for batting .667), then none of the eight currently-elite programs will fall from elite status.   That leaves two near-elites.   Georgia’s curve should pause in its decline; whether it holds its place will depend on teams like Florida and Tennessee.

Michigan State curve will decline — because MSU is not going to win more than 12 games this season.   Media and casino consensus now suggests MSU will win about six regular-season games.   If that and predictions for other teams hold true (I am using USA Today for convenience), then MSU will remain above only one (Missouri) of the other 25 current top-quintile teams for the 2014-2017 quadrennial.   And since there are other, up-and-coming, MSU’s days as a Top 25 quadrennial-basis program are probably about to end.

 

The rest is optional reading.   Addressing minor and/or technical matters:

Adjustments are more rigorous here than in the July 31 Post.   No adjustments were made for teams playing in the PAC, Big Ten, or B-XII.   Half of a win per year was added to teams playing in the SEC and to Notre Dame.   Subtractions were assessed for teams playing in the ACC [-.25 wins/yr]; American Conference [-1.5 wins/yr]; Big East [-.75 wins/year]; C-USA [-2.25 wins/yr]; MAC [-2.25 wins/yr]; Mountain West [-2 wins/yr]; Sunbelt [-2.5 wins/yr]; and WAC [-2.25 wins/yr].   Besides the Irish, the only other Independents I thought worth considering were BYU and Navy.   Their adjustments, as independent teams, were -1 win/yr.   Primary sources for the derivation of those adjustments included final Massey Composite Rankings and Jeff Sagarin’s end-of-season strengths of schedules.

Subsequent adjustments will be added for independents that would likely have won a conference championship game from 2011 onward, but did not have a chance to play in one; and for the best team of a league that does/did not have conference title games since 2011.   Had such adjustments been included in these graphs, one win would have been added to the quadrennials for: OKSU & TCU [quadrennials including 2011]; Notre Dame and Louisville [2012]; Baylor [2013]; TCU [2014]; and OK [2015 & 2016].

Note that a presumed standard uncertainty of only 5% means that plus or minus two wins per quadrennial is statistically meaningless; although we are sometimes prone to split hairs, we should remember that one cannot really determine how good a football team is unless it plays ~100 games per year.   Adjustments are essential, though, to avoid conclusions like, e.g., Northern Illinois was as good or better a program than MSU circa 2013.

Finally, I considered names like “Tornado-Alley” or “Hundredth-Meridian” for the programs in the third graph.   But I think Tornado Alley includes enough of Missouri to have forced its inclusion (rather than filling out the first graph) — and I thought a longitudinal reference would have been too obscure.

It would also have been technically inaccurate, as none of those six programs reside on the 100th meridian.   All six, however, reside between the 96th and 98th meridians — too striking a coincidence for me to pass up grouping together.  Since the midpoint of the contiguous U.S. is also close to the 98th parallel, “Central Heartland” (as distinguished from the eastern heartland that includes Michigan) won out.

Bradshaw slams Sabin
May 25th, 2017 by USMC Retired

As a four-time Super Bowl champion, you’d think Terry Bradshaw could appreciate a proven winner like Nick Saban.

Apparently not.

Bradshaw, in a segment on the “Paul Finebaum Show,” called Saban’s salary for the 2017 season “shameful” and even took some further shots at the Alabama football coach.

“If he has the personality of Steve Spurrier, then I would like him,” Bradshaw said. “Spurrier, now you’re talking about a great coach. That’s a great coach, Steve Spurrier, not Saban.

“Saban hates people. The man doesn’t even like people.”

Saban surely hates losing.

He’s won five college football national titles, and signed a contract extension this offseason that makes him the highest paid coach in sports. He’ll make $11.15 million for 2017, thanks in part to a $4 million signing bonus.

 

Just not sure this is either appropriate or understandable (but then Bradshaw has always liked being the lightening rod)

Mixed Bag Saturday Thread: Spring Game to Final Four
Apr 1st, 2017 by Jeffrey Lubeck

Saturday April 1st,  2017.  Is it time for April Fools pranks?  Not on this post, as there is way too much going on in TUSland.

  1.  No Joke, the empire known at UConn Women is over.  The streak of 110 games and 4 straight National Titles is caput.  Read [here].  12 Months and five days after losing by 60 points to UConn (in the 2016 Sweet 16) Mississippi State made up all those points, plus 2 more to dethrone the national champs in the 2017 Women’s Final Four game on Friday night.
  2. After 12 practices in a less than upbeat light hearted environment the Michigan State University football team conducts its Spring football game.  Gametime is 3PM (EDT) and the event is open to the public and will be broadcast on BTN.  The game is to be conducted almost a month earlier than normal. The normally quiet and close-to-the-vest Head coach Mark Dantonio has been almost silent.  Given the criminal investigations (and subsequent suspensions) of MSU football players and staff all following a 3-9 season a cloud hangs over MSU.
  3. Down the street and starting 5 minutes later positive vibes are likely reverberate as the Spartan baseball team (15-6 3-0) takes on highly regarded Minnesota (15-8 3-0) on Kobs Field at McLane Stadium.  The game (3:05 PM EDT) is available on TV at BTNToGo and radio on SpartanSportsNetwork.  More information is [here]
  4. The NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four resumes with the two National Semi-Final contests (CBS). #7 South Carolina vs. #1 Gonzaga tips off at 6:09 PM EDT. Approximately 30 after the end of the first game #3 Oregon takes on #1 North Carolina (eta 8:49 PM EDT).
  5. If the South Carolina Men’s team (a 7.5 point underdog) can win today; both the Men’s and Women’s squad will play in the National Title. In comments on previous posts Intrepid reporter USMC(retired) indicated there was bedlam in Columbia S.C. Oh, and to think it is has been 12 years since East Lansing experienced the same.
  6. The Detroit Tigers of Major League Baseball finish their spring training season today in Miami FLA against the Marlins.  The past 10 seasons have been heady ones for the Tigers and their fans (of which Linda, Jeff, Kyle, Shae dog, Merry [Christmas] dog count as 5).  Those days seem to moving the status as “the past”.  However, at least Justin Verlander has returned to top form and life with Kate Upton is a “Perfect fit.”  See [here].
  7. No need to mention details about the Pistons or the Red Wings as that is too much negative ju-ju in one post.
  8. I think I now know how Eyeore feels after completing a post or comment.
  9. Wait, wait, wait-a-moment!  Norkfork Rancher is doing something very cool. NFR is deep into researching/experiencing family roots this very day. I know it is non-sports related and in most respects a somber event… but would it be okay with TUS Membership for NFR (if willing) to post a story about it?
Boilermakers @ Spartans Men’s Basketball Gamethread
Jan 24th, 2017 by Jeffrey Lubeck

Purdue heads to East Lansing to take on the Spartans at the Breslin.

Gametime:  7PM (EST)

National Broadcast: ESPN2

Announcers: Dan Shulman, Dan Dakich and Molly McGrath.

I have two question for which I want answers from every member of TUS as part of their 1st comment.

  1. Final Score Prediction
  2. Based on MSU Football Recruiting news of the past few days, Mark Dantonio’s new nickname should be: A.) d’Poacher, B.) d’Flipper C.) Other (you provide the new nickname)
Cubs or Tribe? Western Michigan New Years Six?
Nov 1st, 2016 by Jeffrey Lubeck

Three questions for Membership!

Will the Chicago Cubs take game six or are the  Cleveland Indians going to celebrate a World Series Title?

Will the Broncos of Western Michigan run the table and represent the state of Michigan in a New Years Day Six Bowl?

What would be the worst thing revealed by a hacking of TUS Foundation emails?

Bad To Worse: Brian Lewerke Breaks His Leg
Oct 30th, 2016 by Jeffrey Lubeck

BreakALeg.jpg (550×400)

In the theater arts the phrase “break a leg” is actually meant to be a wish for “good luck” to the recipient.  Evidently Brian Lewerke did not get the message and actually broke his leg during the game against the University of Michigan – just when you thought things could not get worse for the Spartans.

The history behind break a leg [here].

So… What is next?

With Temporary Insanity Over – What Next?
Oct 9th, 2016 by Jeffrey Lubeck

insanity

The best and brightest have defined insanity.  That definition seems to embody the execution plan (e.g., a off tackle running play) employed by the Spartan coaching braintrust in yesterday’s game for MSU football.

For the most part, Spartan football players could not execute at any-level and the coaching staff was unwilling (or incapable) of establishing the need for any type of material adjustment to the plan.

I would say that Mark Dantonio’s post-game comment of “Gotta look at everything we do,” suggests MSU Football can claim temporary insanity as it defense for yesterday’s complete humiliation at the hands of the BYU Cougars.  MSU was run-over by BYU, offered a hand by gracious sportsmanlike Cougars, only to be run-over again on the ensuing snap from the line of scrimmage.  The young BYU squad is only 3-3 on the season, however they are a total of 7 points away from being 6-0.  Their matchup against SEC Mississippi State will provide a better measure of the Cougars mettle than the MSU outcome.  Who could have honestly made that observation in August?

MSU Football has lived at the upper echelon of the B1G Conference and college football for many, many years.  And even with so many player-personnel questions for 2016, who – with the exception of Eyeore – could have seriously believed that MSU would be this inept.  Not me!  Most of TUS membership – even the “Brian Lewerke is the starting QB before seasons end” predicting Eyeore – discussed the possibility, even likelihood of a downturn resulting in 8-4 or 7-5 2016 season for MSU.  If I recall The Pre-season Report by 89 hinted that with a few bad-turns a 7-5 season was possible. The chances of a 2-10, 3-9, 4-8 outcome were deemed as virtually impossible for a MD team.

There are seven games remaining in the 2016 regular season for MSU.  So I ask TUS Membership, what say you?

Important Facts to Know

Albert Einstein was heavily recruited by Henry Keep in 1896 to play varsity football in America starting in 1897. MSU then known MAC (named after MAC’s Bar & Grill in Lansing) played in the MIAA league.  Einstein was a two-way football star* and four-year letterman for Munich’s Lutipold Gymnasium. Albert was known to the sports-media, recruiting experts, fans, and, Lee Corso as “the speed of light.” Albert declined the advances of the Aggies and attended Zürich Polytechnic stating “three-yards and a cloud of dust may be the cats-pajamas in the midwestern United States, but they are 23-skidoo for me, so I am seeking something like, you know, basically, I mean, something like 186,000 miles per-second and a cosmic cloud of dust and Zürich Polytechnic is where I’m taking my skivvies and Girl Friday.”

One of Einstein’s first big published works “Folgerungen aus den Capillaritätserscheinungen” was originally to be titled “The advantages of the repeated use of the run game – no matter what.”  However the Tressel Foundation claimed the title was of their copyright and could not be used by a guy who had earlier advocated for the West Coast Offense.

* Rated ESPN Top 100 (#26), MAXKrautPreps (#17) MonarchyRivals (#19).

Inept and Confused: MSU Football 2016 (to date) ?
Oct 1st, 2016 by Jeffrey Lubeck

Michigan State University Football – for the past decade – has had an extraordinary run of success as a football team.  Unless a miracle happens is it over?  What say TUS Membership?

It appears a series of (some of which border on being brain-dead) personal fouls, and complete confusion on key offensive plays (even after calling timeout because of confusion) allowed Indiana to defeat the Spartans 24-21 in Overtime.

There are unconfirmed reports a Hologram image of John L. Smith appeared throughout the game played in Bloomington Indiana.  Other reports claim it was a 5-point Buck that got away from Northfork Rancher.

NCAAF Week #3 Debrief
Sep 18th, 2016 by Jeffrey Lubeck

What did you learn from week #3 of NCAA Football?

gholmestdnd

MSU’s Gerald Holmes runs free for a 70 yard Touchdown with the Notre Dame defense vainly in pursuit. Out of the picture and even further behind are the media Talking Heads who predicted a loss for MSU.

Recruiting News: MSU Targets Overseas Star for 2024 Class
Sep 14th, 2016 by Jeffrey Lubeck

MSU Football would neither confirm or deny it has identified it first recruit for the 2024 Class.  Dave Pruder declined to comment on MSU’s apparent special of request for a XXXXXXL uniform and size 27 EEE shoes.

Recruiting Video has been leaked [here].

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