Sunday, May 31, 2009

Onside Kick Follow up

I noted earlier that in the MAC there were 7 onside kicks recovered in 18 attempts, which seemed like a lot to me.

I compared it to the SEC. Teams in the SEC allowed 4 recovered onside kicks in 15 attempts, a lower rate, but with small numbers not as big a difference as it might seem. I'm surprised. Apparently, recovering the onside kick is more common than I thought.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Field Goals in the Mid American Conference

So, in reviewing special teams for the Falcons last year, I was beginning to wonder a few things. The first thing I wondered was how the league as a whole kicks field goals. My perception is that the kicking is pretty poor, but I was wondering whether that was true or not. And, what I wondered what a reasonable expectation was.

In order to discuss this correctly, let us first compare a field goal and a free throw.

The field goal requires an adequate snap and hold. It is contested and must be done in "real time" (Ugh, I know). Often the wind is blowing and the ball has to travel in the vicinity of 100 feet to reach the target. You have to use your foot and not your hand. The target is, however, relatively large as compared to the ball.

On a free throw the ball only has to travel 15 feet and the wind is not blowing. The shot is not contested. The shooter can let the shot fly when he is ready, within reason. You get to use your hands and thumbs, an evolutionary thank you. Admittedly, the target is close to the same size as the ball.

I'm just saying that I would think a 40 yard field would be harder than a free throw.

But it isn't, at least in the MAC.

Here are the numbers last year in the MAC:

All Field Goals: 69.7%
<20 yards 100%
20-29 yards 75%
30-39 yards 84%
40-49 yards 51%
50+ Yards 0%


<40 yards: 80%
40-50 yards: 51%

MAC free throw shooting: about 65%

So, in fact, it is much easier to hit a field goal from inside 40 yards than it is to shoot a free throw.

Go figure.

But, this gives us some bench marks to work against. I would posit (because I have always wanted to posit something) that a kicker has two jobs: make the easy kicks almost all the time, and make the hard kicks most of the time.

Now that we have a better idea what easy and hard mean, let's look at how the MAC did.

Six teams were above the league average from inside 40. (When I have teams with two kickers, I combined them but in all cases the lesser-used kicker only had a couple attempts, at most). Those kickers were:

Ian McGarvey, BSU (91%)
AJ Principe, UB (95%)
Andrew Aguila, CMU (81%)
Joe Carithers, EMU (82%)
Jared Parsegheian, MU (95%)
Mike Salerno, NIU (82%)
Barrett Way, OU (85%)

Among these three, McGarvey, Principe and Pareseghian were clearly the leaders. Get to the 23 yard line, and these guys were a virtual lock.

Sinisia Vrvilo hit 67% of these field goals.

I would be happy, in fact, to have a kicker who was reliable from this distance. It would be a nice start. More than seventy percent of MAC field goal attempts are within 40 yards.

Now, let's look at 40-49. (I have thrown the 50+ attempts out because only one was made all year--clearly this was outside reasonable range for a MAC kicker). As mentioned, the league percentage here was 51%. Clearly, the ability to make these field goals truly sets a kicker apart.

It really does matter. If you are heading down the field with a six point lead in the fourth quarter and get to the 28 yard line, the ability to drill a FG and make it a two-score game dramatically alters strategy.

Five kickers hit above 51% of these attempts:

McGarvey (67%)
Vrvilo (60%)
Aguila, CMU (60%)
Alex Steigerwald, UT (71%)
John Potter, WMU (100%) This almost shouldn't count. He was 1-1 from this range.

To wrap the package up, there were only two kickers in the MAC who accomplished the goal we set in being very strong on the easy kicks and good on the hard ones.


And of those, McGarvey was clearly the strong. He was over 90% on easy kicks and hit near 67% on the harder ones.

I think this will make it easier to review kicks from next year. It also reinforces my thought that our kicking was average or less, but not the worst.

Friday, May 29, 2009

UM and OSU to end printed media guides

UM and OSU are going to stop printing media guides for all sports.

Cost wise, of course, this makes complete sense. Everything that is published in the media guide could be on line. 90% is the exact same every year. How much has been spent reprinting game by game results of Bowling Green's 1910-1920 football results?

Furthermore, media guides had fallen prey to the nuclear arms race of college football, with schools pouring more and more money into them in order to be better than the next guy. As with all arms races, this one quickly turned stupid.

That's why it is significant that OSU and UM made the announcement together.

The only downside is that I am sure some kind of printed piece will end up taking its place in the garbage cans of recruits. But, it may not be a full color, 64 page book.

Welcome to the Big House, Falcons....

One of the first ramifications of our financial problems is that we are back to taking guarantee games. We don't have any this year, but on September 25 next year the orange and brown will take the field in Ann Arbor's Big House. This is a nice game for our team. It is right up the road, and it has to be a big thrill for our players to take the field in one of college football's premier venues. Having said that, I thought it was a good thing that we were moving away from guarantee games, and that would have been preferable.

But if we have to play a guarantee game, then OSU-UM-MSU and other schools in this region are preferable to going to Washington, Oklahoma, Florida, etc.

Update: Well, according to this, fans in Michigan are not excited about the idea of playing BGSU (Keyword nummy num, and make sure you read the comments.) This was, of course, the same reaction they had to playing Appalachian State and Toledo.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Trivia Answer

Tyler Sheehan with 8 touchdowns. Don't know why, but this kind of surprised me.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Without looking, who led the Falcons in touchdowns scored last season?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Turning point for MAC Basketball Tournament

Doug Zaleski of the Muncie Star-Press, one of the very top columnists in the MAC has this excellent piece on the MAC Tournament. He starts out with a premise that the MAC Tournament as constituted today does not work. There are simply too many games to be played in too short a period of time. In addition, he thinks that women's basketball is not getting full recognition under this scenario.

You might agree. You might disagree. But I think he makes a good case.

Now, there are apparently two options. One is to only bring eight teams to the neutral site (which is apparently opposed by all parties) and the other is to seperate men and women, summer camp style.

I don't really understand the opposition to moving to home sites for the first round games. Zaleski says coaches want all 12 teams at the neutral site, but it would save money on travel costs to hold a home site game. They were never well attended, but neither are the first round games in Cleveland. Yes, it means that the bottom four teams in the MAC are going to have to play an away game, but is there some reason that isn't fair? They are the bottom four teams in the MAC, after all.

He then proceeds to move on and discuss the idea that has been floating around for a long time...moving the women's tournament to the Lucas County Arena. Zaleski proceeds to detail the reasons why he likes this idea, and, in fact, I agree with him 100%. Women could get some TV exposure, play their games at civilized hours, and Toledo is well situated geographically. Yes, it is closer to UT and BG than Cleveland is, but it is still a neutral floor. The MAC tournament was once played in Savage Hall, for crying out loud.

Anyway, the article is worth a read. I think either solution could work, and I think it is good that the MAC is looking to upgrade the tournament. If it works financially, the split solution might well be the strongest, and the Lucas County Arena is going to be a great venue for college sports.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Football, Special Teams Review....or, Horror Avoided

So, we have reviewed the offense and the defense, and now it is time to look at the special teams. This has often been the most painful part of any review of Falcon football, and I'm happy to report that while our special teams were far from the best in the conference, we did in general avoid catastrophe, and that's something too.

Here is how I think about special teams. There are three things can happen. The first is to make a big play...hit a tough FG, get a return that flip field position, pin a team inside their ten yard line, block a kick. When you do these things in support of your cause, special teams are a huge part of winning football.

The flip side is that you can have a catastrophe. Each of those things can be done TO you as well as for you. Add in a shanked punt, and you can see how the failings of special teams can severely impact your chances of winning.

And then there is everything in the middle. As an example, look at net punting. 11 of the 13 teams in the MAC had net punting between 33 and 37 yards per kick, give or take. Does anyone really care about those four yards? No. If a team starts on the 32 or 28 does not make a significant difference.

What we should be measuring is the outliers. Who is making game changing plays and mistakes? It just seems like that is the key measure.

I will work on this further through the course of next season, but in the meantime, we have what we have.


Sinisia Vrvilo was a JUCO transfer who had a really good season his junior year, and after a few years of dreadful placekicking, it was really nice to be able to count on your kicker to drill a FG, or, for that matter an XP.

Things were not as good his senior year. While Vrvilo didn't have an awful season and he was streaky and his numbers are impacted by trying a couple of 50+ FGs (only one MAC kicker made a FG over 50 yards last season), he was in the bottom half of MAC kickers when looking at FGs. He missed three field goals between 30-39, which in the MAC is considered a pretty makeable FG.

I'm going to look more in depth at this subject in the future (field goals in the MAC), but these things are true.

  • We were 9-16, 12th in the MAC.
  • As he often did, when Coach lost confidence in his kicker, he wouldn't try field goals at all, and we tried only 16 FGs and made only 9, both near the bottom of the conference.
On the bright side, none were blocked.

He missed 2 Xps, which equals out to about 95%, which I think is on the low side of acceptable.

So, I think placekicking earns us a C for this season. Certainly, a made FG here and there would have helped a lot and knowing you have the ability to nail one has a positive impact on your offensive playcalling. But, on the other hand, it wasn't dragging us down as in previous years.


More so than FGs, punting is a measure of the entire unit. The MAC has now gone to looking at net punting for its measurement, which I think is fair and the right thing to be measuring. Problem is that it punishes a kicker who is good a pooching a short punt to pin a team deep, which is an aboslute dagger blow. Anyway, there will be more on this as well over the course of the summer.

Nick Iovenelli is a good punter and was an excellent find for this program, and with him back, I think we are solid for the coming year. Bowling Green was fourth in net punting, which is a fine performance and a significant improvement over what we saw in the past.

The distance of the punts were just under forty yards, which was not exceptional, but we allowed returns of only about 2 yards per punt, and that's pretty impressive actually. And, that reflects (usually) not only solid coverage and tackling, but also a high kick that is hard to return.

Even more imporantly, we did not allow a punt return TD or even a return longer than 19 yards. Not too shabby. We put the other team inside the 20 12 times (on 47 punts) and had only 4 touchbacks, a ratio that I would suspect is pretty good. And we had seven punts over 50 yards.

On the negative side, two punts were blocked, and there is no way of knowing without digging into the PBP how many were shanked. But, in general, our punt and punt coverage games were strong and a contributing factor to the success we had.

Kickoff returns

I have often said that I don't care how we do on kickoff returns, so long as we don't fumble. That's not really true. A return outside the 40 is a momentum play, as is holding a team inside the 20 or 15. From looking at the numbers, the typical kickoff in the MAC has the receiving team starting somewhere in the neighborhood of the high 20s or the 30.

We were eighth in the MAC, and typically started at the 28. Individually, Kenny Lewis was pretty good (6th in the MAC), but Roger Williams was disappointing after being very strong the year before (he did battle injuries) and the two of them had the bulk of the returns.

There is no way to figure out how many times we fumbled on a kickoff without digging into the . These are very costly because they are almost certain to be in your own territory. Having said that, I don't remember any.

We had at least three returns over 30 yards, and Lewis had a 62 yard return, which is a huge play.

I give kickoff returns a C. We were clearly in the middle of the pack in our league but did not appear to overly damage the cause.

Punt Returns

Again, an ongoing weak area for our team over the years. Punt return fumbles in the OU game two years ago cost us a shot at the MAC title, for example. Again, the yards are important only in bunches, not in average. But fumbles are a disaster. (Again, I have toyed with the idea of fair catching every punt if you don't have a game breaking returner.)

Corey Partridge handled this duty for us, and he was very solid. He had an average return of about nine yards, which is in the middle of the pack in the league, but he was also reliable back there. He had a 73 yard return (without scoring) and that's a big play in any game.

Kickoff Coverage

Once again, this was only recently a disaster area. One year, there were only 3 kick returns for TDs in the MAC, and we gave up two of them. A TD return on a kickoff is an absolute momentum killer, given that it either comes after a score or is the first thing to happen in a half. There were six in the MAC this year, five by OU and Temple, and none against the Falcons.

Overall, BG was fourth in the MAC in net kickoffs, with teams starting on their own 26.

Kick coverage is truly a team effort. Special team coaches today want a high kick inside the 10 yard line and inside the numbers. If you watch, you will rarely see a good return on a kick placed inside the numbers. There simply isn't a way for a player to get any open space. It places a premium on the kicker though. I think there is a perception that they are just supposed to "let 'er rip" but getting the ball inside the numbers without putting it out of bounds does require some skill.

Of course, the nucelar bomb here is a touchback. That is an instant win on net yards, with no risk of a big play against you. (Almost 25% of NIU's kickoffs were touchbacks.)

This was clearly a strong point. We gave up a 50 yard return, but by all measures, we were effective on keeping kickoffs from being a positive play for our opponents.

Onside kicks

Again, this magnifies the whole nature of special teams. Losing an onside kick is a huge blunder that almost always costs the team, especially with young players. It is a guaranteed momentum shift that only a veteran defense can withstand. There were 18 onside kicks attempted by MAC teams last year, and (get this) 7 of them were recovered by the kicking team. I don't have any numbers to back this up, but it seems like everyone involved should be ashamed of that.

Central failed on ALL THREE of theirs. Really.

And we know that our Falcons would have played for the MAC title in all probability if we had recovered an onside kick.

I'm going to look into this more, but I am going to go out on a limb. Numbers like that should not happen. Losing an onside kick should be like missing an extra point. There is almost never an element of surprise. Just seems like you should make the grab 95% of the time.

So, that's the story. Special teams were very solid to good, and certainly not the cause of the problems we suffered, onside kick notwithstanding. In all fairness, this part of Coach Brandon's team did improve after the absolute abomindation of the Ellis/Rojas season.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Good TV News

Hey, there was also some good news on the TV front for MAC fans. I have complained endlessly that our games on ESPNU are not truly on national television, because that channel does not penetrate into enough homes.

That took a big step to the positive when Comcast announced ESPNU would be offered, and it would be on the digital tier (in other words, a tier without an additional charge). Also, Comcast will begin to offer ESPN360 on line. (Previously, ESPNU was not even available on the sports tier).

I might be overly sensitive because I am a Comcast customer, but they are the largest cable provider in the country, so the addition of ESPNU onto the largest provider instantly puts our games into many more homes, and helps take the sting out of the sacrifice of Saturday football in November. Furthermore, in the MAC footprint, they are a very strong provider.

Check out Red and Black Attack....I echo his comments (Well, speechless might be a little strong for what I feel, but I more or less agree, LOL).

I'm speechless, really.

This is great news for the visibility of NIU and the MAC as a whole. This calms my nerves not only for the latter games of the next season being broadcast on ESPNU, but the "soul-selling" agreement that Rick Chryst signed with ESPN through the 2016-17 season. 3 out of our last 4 games this upcoming football season will be played on "The U"

Looking forward to having the ability to watch more MAC football and basketball next year.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Football Defensive Review

In April, Ireviewed the offensive for our football team last year.

I used some measures that I have been noodling around with, trying to create a new statistical look at football, but one that be generated using box scores, and not require play by play analysis.

My conclusion for the offense was that our offense was sixth in scoring in an average conference, and given the marginal numbers, was lucky to be that good. I think you can make a case that for all our bluster, our offensive might was not real. We were the only non-awful team to be below the conference average in passing yards per play and rushing yard per play.

So, let's look at the defense. In this case, I think the storyline is the opposite. The much-maligned defense was actually better than we thought and a little better than its marginal numbers might indicate.

Of course, we are working with averages. We can't forget that while the defense might have performed adequately, there were some late game meltdowns that cost us a chance to play for the MAC Title. At the same time, during those same fourth quarter collapses, the offense was failing to make first downs and we did fail to recover an onside kick against Buffalo. So, the rest of the team wasn't making it easier on the defense.

(Just an aside: remember when we would get the ball with five minutes left and a lead, and you would just know that the game would end with us still in possession of the ball. Sigh.)

OK, so, the baseline to start with is that our defense was fourth in the MAC in points allowed. The conference was not great offensively, but in a relative sense, this is not a terrible number.

Note, that I also looked at this for "true scoring" which removes defensive touchdowns and special teams touchdowns from the analysis, and we were still fourth.

The first thing I looked at what the percentage of plays on which a first down was earned. It just seems logical to me that the first objective every offensive team has in trying to score is to keep making first downs. So, if a team makes a first down on a high percentage of its plays, that's probably a pretty efficient offense. If they are doing that and not scoring, something must be wrong.

The opposite is true for defenses. BG gave up a first down on 29% of its plays, with was sixth in the conference, an OK number, but not outstanding.

Another thing I like to took at is yards per play for running and passing plays, with sacks moved from running to passing. This to me is a key indicator of offensive efficiency. A balanced offense can generate yards either way, even if they use one method more, a running team that goes over the top when the safeties come in. Similarly, a balanced defense can stop running and passing effectively.

BG was sixth in the conference in stopping the run, which is a pretty solid number. However, we were second in the MAC in yards per play on passing plays. When you put those together, we were one of four teams in the conference to be better than average defensively in yards per play on running and passing.

So, the conclusion is that in a passing league, we were strong against the pass and decent against the run. Still, I don't think we have answered the entire question.

The other thing I like to look at is key plays. In football, some plays are really important, such as third downs and in the red zone. If you are strong on third down defense, that can bail you out, provided that you aren't so bad on first and second down that teams don't need third down.

The Falcons were OK on third down, but not great. We were fifth in third down conversions, and seventh in terms of forcing a third down play.

In the redzone, Bowling Green's success was in not allowing the opportunity in the first place. We were fourth in red zone opportunities per game, fourth in redzone points per game. (And before you ask, we were second in non red-zone scoring, so it wasn't that we were allowing big plays).

When teams got to the redzone, they either got a TD or nothing, or at least more so than the general conference profile. BG was eighth in red zone points per trip but 5th in red zone shutouts, as a propotion of overall trips.

Finally, BG was seventh in turnovers as a percentage of defensive snaps, obviously in the middle of the pack.

So, I guess I would conclude this. BG's defense probably out-performed on points allowed a little bit, but essentially, our bend but not break defense yielded, in the aggregate, decent numbers that I found at least a little surprising.

Built on a strong pass defense, adequate run defense, the Falcons kept teams out of the red zone enough and avoided big scoring plays enough to be an above average defense in the conference.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Basketball Recruiting Updates

Coach Orr has announced two new verbals for the basketball program, both of which have been covered here before.

The first is Jordon Crawford, a teammate of Danny McElroy, who is another member of this upcoming class.

At 5-foot-6, Crawford averaged 17.4 points, 4.2 assists and 3.5 steals as La Salle went 23-2 during his senior season. He was a second team all-state player, the Greater Catholic League South Division Player of the Year, and the Greater Catholic League Defensive Player of the Year. Crawford was also an Enquirer Division I first team all-area selection.

I'm excited about this pick up. Yes he is small, but small players have succeeded in this league under the right circumstances, and he is an accomplished player. Second team all-state, all area, and conference defensive player of the year. All very good.

The other one was DaVon Haynes, which we had seen in one of the Detroit papers, but could find next to nothing about. It is a shame about that, because if we had seen these numbers, I think we would have been just slightly more excited.

A 6-foot-7 forward, Haynes was an all-conference player after averaging a double-double with 15.0 points and 13.5 rebounds. He also has a knack for blocking shots, averaging 7.5 per game. He is an athletic big man who will add depth to a punishing Bowling Green front line.

That's right.....15/13.5/7.5. In a 32 minute game. I would say he is apparently well qualified to be a very productive MAC player. He has size and athleticism, which is so important in our conference.

This means that there will be a large new cast heading to Bowling Green next season, with four freshmen and two transfers. Six new players to join the returning players.

Of course, recruits are all potential. Like all of us, they will have to prove themselves under game conditions. I am looking forward to seeing Coach Orr continue to build this program.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Former Falcon Now In Big Leagues

Hey, this isn't a sport I usually follow, but a quick note to acknowledge that Nolan Reimold has made the bigs with Baltimore. He was hitting nearly .400 in the minors, and people are really high on him. As a Falcon, Reimold was MAC player of the Year in 2005 when he hit 20 homers, which is a ton for a college season.

Congrats to Nolan, and best of luck.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Some news on Chris Knight (not good)

The BG News is reporting that Chris Knight has violated a team rule, though his punishment has not been determined yet.

We'll have to monitor this. Obviously, if accurate, it is disappointing. I do trust Coach Orr to handle issues like this reasonably and intelligently and to protect the integrity of the school and the program while helping the men on his team become better people.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Bowl Schedule Announced

The Bowl Schedule is out, and it is pretty much status quo. The MAC has three bowl tie-ins, with the GMAC Bowl now featuring the MAC against the #9 ACC team.

You have to think that the ACC doesn't always get 9 Bowl eligible teams, so we might see more at-large teams than ACC teams.

It is humorous and telling that when I read that the ACC had entered the GMAC Bowl, I just assumed the MAC had been bumped out. Turns out not to be true. Doh!

The bowl thing has changed so much in the past few years. There was a time when the MAC struggled for one bowl bid. There are now so many games, that half of the FBS plays in a bowl game. We beat EMU (or Miami, or Buffalo) , and there's a very good chance we're in a bowl game even last year.

Rick Chryst always trumpeted our bowl games as a MAC accomplishment, but it is a lot easier now than it used to be.

I guess the point is that bowl tie-ins might be less important than in the past. Only 2-3 bowl eligible teams stayed home last year, and some years none of them do. As long as the number of games stays the same and the rules stay the same, MAC teams are going to go to bowls, if only because the bowls don't have a choice.

Just for the record, the MAC has lost its last 8 bowl games.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Follow up on APR

A quick follow up on the APR, Zach Silka of The Blade has a story where he talks to Greg Christopher.

He first confirms what I had recalled from the day Brandon was let go: we have already given ourselves the penalty, which was the right thing to do.

Now, here is what Christopher released concerning the APR penalty.

“I see the penalties as a one-time occurrence,” Christopher said in a statement. “We saw this coming, so we served the penalty by reducing scholarships a year ago. The football program has never fallen below the APR cutline before, and our score is more a reflection of attrition from the program than on poor academic performance.”

I hope he's right about the one-time occurrence. He is certainly accountable for making it be true, as he should be. Now, there's a little spin here. To say that it is a reflection of attrition ignores the fact that much of the attrition was due to academics (Nate Brown, Glen Stanley, others) in the first place. I just think that the conclusion that we recruited some guys who were not set up to succeed here but were good football players.

However, I agree with the general tone of his comments. Having the most severe penalty is humiliating, and I probably reacted at least a little to that. But, this problem is not endemic to the university, and when it occurred in football, it was dealt with in the strongest possible terms.

“Our athletic department GPA of 3.02 is higher than the general student body GPA at Bowling Green, and our NCAA graduation success rate is the highest in the MAC,” Christopher said. “Our student-athletes should be commended for the way they balance their academic and athletic commitments.”

And I agree.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

NCAA Hits Bowling Green with APR Sanctions

It is time to take our medicine. Although we knew this was coming, the hammer has dropped, and it has been announced that BG has lost eight football scholarships--the largest penalty in the FBS.

This is based on our "APR" score. Via, here is an explanation of APR.

Every Division I sports team calculates its APR each academic year based on the eligibility, retention and graduation of each student-athlete on scholarship. Teams with two consecutive years of underperformance are subject to scholarship losses or restrictions of practice time. A postseason ban applies after three years of poor performance, while a fourth year of underperformance can result in possible restricted Division I membership for an entire athletic department.

We first heard about this last November, when it was cited as a reason why Coach Brandon was let go, but we were told at the time that the results would be announced this Spring. It is spring. Here are the results.

As a Falcon fan, I am very disappointed, and I am heartened to know that the athletic director was, too. There is no reason for this. There is no choice to be made.

You should be able to have a winning football team in the MAC and retain/graduate players. If you can't, you should not have an athletic program.

One of the things we enjoy about the MAC is that (or so we thought) our players better represented the ideal of a student athlete than those in the BCS did. News like this takes us in the opposite direction...most BCS teams did not lose scholarships, in fact.

I know we could get into a whole conversation about how they have the resources to monitor their athletes more closely (or do their homework, whatever), but that misses the point. At a school like Bowling Green, we should be able to get a team that graduates players as well as most other colleges in the country.

Finally, I would advocate a coach being fired for this before I would for a 6-6 record.

Last year, AD Christopher said that BG knew the scores and had already taken the penalties, which means that Clawson steps in dealing with a smaller player base than most coaches would. That was probably the right thing to do, though. What would you do if you recruited players and that put you over your scholarship limit? Take away their scholarship?

Again, I understand that this is important to the university, the athletic department and the new coach. And, I don't want to paint all our players with the same brush. Many of our players were true student athletes, committed to excellence in everything they did, and we applaud them.

We just need more of them.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Stats Analysis from Fellow MAC Blog

Over the Pylon, a BSU blog, has weighed in with a bit of his own statistical analysis for college football. Much like me, they like to play around with various statistical analysis tools.

He looks at each of the 17 NCAA stat categories, and evaluates how team's are ranked across the board.

It comes up with some interesting stuff. A couple notes:

He acknowledges that strength of schedule is omitted, and that all categories are ranked as equal. While it might seem like some category weighting would make sense in theory, and you would have to do a hell of a lot of work to develop the weights. Further, the mere fact that the tool looks at such a wide variety of measures helps to mitigate this, so long as you remember what it measures (statistical balance).

Of course, this allows us to see some things. Just how important is balance? Are teams which dominate one area more effective than teams that have balance?

Note the very high statistical ranking for Troy, the Falcons first opponent.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

The UT Point Shaving Scandal

I haven't really posted too much on the UT point-shaving scandal, but yesterday indictments came down against six former UT athletes for participating in point shaving.

The Blade coverage has the actual facts down on this, including a .pdf of the actual federal complaint. It also covers a seventh player who has apparently already pled guilty and provided evidence to the government.

Let's remember that these are allegations. And, in this day and age, we shouldn't have to remind anyone that Federal Prosecuters are not infallible or omnipotent.

A few observations.

I haven't posted on this too much because I think it is bad karma. I don't take any glee at this. I love to beat UT on the field, this kind of thing is bad for UT, but also bad for college athletics and reflects on our conference, and I'd be happier if it had never happened. (For an excellent take on this, read Kalamazoo's Graham Couch, who has his normal insightful look on this topic, and the shadowy nature of allegations on this).

Most of the media coverage I have seen in the past indicated that this was a football thing, but actually most of the players who are being accused were basketball players. If the charges are proven, it is a pretty telling indictment of UT basketball during the Joplin era. Without knowing more, it is impossible to know how much role the coaches or the administration might have played in all this, but clearly, something was wrong.

Apparently on the UT Boards (I don't read there because I try to protect my IQ from exposure to things like UT Boards, Survivor and TMZ) there is a lot of talk about how games which are alleged to have been "shaved" ended up with UT exceeding the spread. Just a reminder: no one is being charged with running a "good" or "successful" point shaving scheme. The charges are the same for a dumb one.

Which brings me to Dave Hackenberg's column today, which highlights what I think is the critical described in the indictment, this entire effort strikes me as morons running morons. Not only were large, attention-grabbing amounts of money being bet on MAC sports, but the whole thing seems like an amateur effort. That doesn't make it less serious, only more tragic.

If you are interested, there was one BG game included in the allegations. It was on January 15, 2006 at Anderson Arena. The game was tied at 41 with about 8 minutes left, but BG out-scored the Rockets 18-11 down the stretch to win the game. Mawel Soler had 17 points and 9 rebounds, which may have attracted the attention of investigators in the first place (just kidding).

If you want to see how the accused players did in the game, or down the stretch, feel free to check it out here--you know, who missed a free throw, who committed a foul. And we can wonder.

It just points out the whole shadowy nature of allegations like this. We have all gotten used to seeing the Grantland Rice character in Eight Men Out circling plays in his scorebook during the Black Sox Scandal, but it isn't that simple. Who can really tell? Was it a real miss, or was it a shaving miss? As the margin increased, were those illicit fouls, or were teams fouling down the stretch, as they often do? (Graham Couch covers this, too)

Much like the NBA referee scandal, the mere allegations call the whole enterprise into question.

FWIW, I understand BG did finally cover the spread that day.

The media will cover this as it moves forward, but it will continue to be bad news for college athletics and our conference until resolved.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Falcons Land High Profile High School Star, potential two-sport player

Shaun Joplin has made a verbal commitment to attend BGSU and play football, according to The Blade. He is apparently interested in playing basketball as well, though his "focus" will remain on football.

Not to go unnoticed is that Joplin is the son of former UT star and basketball coach Stan Joplin, who was relieved of his coaching duties before the last season.

So, you know, maybe there was some bad blood there.

Anyway, Joplin appears to have real potential. His went to Sylvania Southview, where he was an all-team WR and played on a 15-0 state championship team.

Even better, check this out:

His stellar play earned him a spot on the Ohio team scheduled to play in the 51st Big 33 Football Classic scheduled June 20 in Hershey, Pa. Participants in the Big 33 historically have been recruited by Division I colleges and many have gone on to the NFL.

There has never been a Super Bowl played without a former Big 33 participant involved in the game.
Obviously, that is a terrific honor for the young man.

He was a big track star, too, but, as has been well documented, there is no men's track at BG. It could not be saved.

I'd be surprised if he plays much basketball, just because it is so hard for a player to prepare for two sports in today's environment.

The only thing I wonder is why he didn't get more offers....the Blade story does note that he has yet to qualify based on his ACT tests, and there is other scuttlebutt that he was ineligible part of last season due to academics.

Even so, that's all in the past. We'd all love to see him leave Bowling Green with a degree and a championship ring.

Also, note that the Blade articles says that his QB, Kelly Pidcock, is walking on a BGSU.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Browns Waive Antonio Smith

The Browns waived Antonio Smith today, after giving him a shot at the rookie mini-camp over the weekend.

While I am sure he was disappointed, this is hardly a failure. When you think of the number of hours of hard work and practice it took just to get him into that mini-camp, and the number of other college football players didn't get that opportunity, you can see why I view it as an accomplishment just to get the shot.

He was a great Falcon, and I'm sure everyone wishes him the best in whatever the future holds for him.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

How Important is Offensive Line play

The Wall Street Journal is on board with a new little article that asks whether the experience of your offensive line might be a key point in your college football team winning, and offers some basic evidence that it might.

I find this an argument that seems to have a lot of potential. I believe that the line is the key to winning football, and that the success of BG's skills players in this decade has been as much because of the players who are on the line.

Based on the Wall Street Journal analysis, we stand about in the middle. The Falcons have 49 offensive line starts coming back.

Brady Minturn (13 career starts), Ben Bojicic (12 career starts) and Shane Steffy (24 career starts)
This is one less than Alabama, which is listed as "a team to worry about."

Worry? Us? Huh? No really. Obviously it is a little more complicated than this, because not every position is equal, and some reserves receive more snaps than other reserves, and sometimes (hello EMU) the players who have started together for a long time are, also, not very good.

But, all that is hard to glean for people looking for quick and dirty measures of who might be good. So, just to say this.

In general, it makes sense to me. The O-line places a premium on teamwork, and a seasoned offensive line is as good a building block as a veteran QB. If not better.

Friday, May 01, 2009

New Falcon Hoops Verbal

The Detroit News is reporting that Devon Haynes of Detroit Finney HS has committed to be a Falcon. He is 6'7" and beyond that, I can't find too much about him. He was apparently a junior last year, so he is scheduled for the 2010 class.

Falcon Radio Flagship Fires up Promo

Hey, they are promoting the Falcons on Eagle 99, our new flagship station. Check it out below...

New Football Verbal

Per an intrepid poster on, we have a new football verbal for this Fall. It is Cameron Truss of LaBrae which is over by Warren. While Cameron played both ways effectively in HS, he is expected to play CB at BG.

Truss was a second-team all-state selection. He earned first-team honors on the Trumbull County, All-American Conference and Northeastern Ohio district teams. Watkins was a first-team county and conference choice.

It is not clear from this if he is on scholarship or is walking on in some capacity.

Bowl Games

This article is sobering, if you think bowl games are money-makers for MAC Schools.