By the Numbers: Comparing Harbaugh’s First 5 Seasons

Last January, Phil and I discussed a comparison of Jim Harbaugh’s 4-year coaching record to the last 4 years of Lloyd Carr’s coaching career (Harbaugh and Carr each had an advantage in 7 metrics, with 3 ties).  My general feeling was that Harbaugh had returned Michigan to the level at which Lloyd had left it. In my eyes, that made the 2019 season pivotal for the Harbaugh era.  Phil and I wondered whether the program would continue to rise, and I was certainly optimistic.

Now, in February of 2020, we have more information to process, and we can complete a 5-year analysis.  After Michigan completed a frustrating 9-4 season in 2019, and the 2003 Big Ten Championship season (10-3) gets added to the Carr side of the ledger, the comparison swings in Lloyd Carr’s favor.   Carr has an advantage on 7 metrics, Harbaugh in 4, with 2 ties. The advanced metrics were ignored for lack of 2003 & 2004 data, but Lloyd’s 3-year average would have been 3 more wins for him. This seemed like bad news for a Harbaugh optimist like myself.  So, I wanted to extend the comparison to see how the Harbaugh era, as it stands right now, compares to some other notable college football coaches.

METHOD

In addition to Lloyd Carr, I chose these coaches to compare to Harbaugh: Jim Tressel, Urban Meyer, Mark Dantonio, Nick Saban, Dabo Swinney, Brian Kelly, James Franklin, & Chris Petersen.  From the Carr comparison, my curiosity immediately jumped to Jim Tressel’s final five seasons at Ohio State.  After completing that comparison, I wanted a better apples-to-apples comparison so I wanted to use the first five seasons (of their current tenure) for the rest of the coaches I selected.  In addition to comparing the coaches’ records through their first five seasons, I also wanted to be able to use consistent metrics. The advanced statistical rankings didn’t exist back into the early 2000s, and recruiting has also changed significantly since then.  Each metric was compared head-to-head with Harbaugh’s results to create an Advantage %. Records and stats came from Sports-Reference.com.  Recruiting rankings came from 247sports.comF+, FEI, & S&P+ rankings come from FootballOutsiders.com.   Here are the 17 metrics that I compared:

  • Final Rankings in F+, FEI, & SP+  systems (SP+ now on ESPN in 2019)
  • Overall W-L record
  • Offensive Pass Yds / Game & Rush Yds / Game
  • Points Scored / Game
  • Defensive Pass Yds / Game & Rush Yds / Game allowed
  • Defense Points Allowed / Game
  • Big Ten W-L record (if applicable)
  • W-L Record vs. OSU (or record vs. Michigan for OSU coaches)
  • W-L Record vs. MSU (record vs. Michigan for Dantonio)
  • W-L Record vs. Notre Dame (record vs. Michigan for Kelly)
  • W-L Record in Bowl Games
  • Number of NFL Draftees
  • Recruiting Class Rank (cycle following the season)

RESULTS

ANALYSIS

The summary table above lists the coaches from least favorable comparison for Jim Harbaugh (Jim Tressel – final 5 seasons) to most favorable (James Franklin) sorting by ascending Harbaugh Advantage Percentage.  Using this method, Jim Harbaugh falls between Lloyd Carr (final 5 seasons) and Chris Petersen’s 5-year tenure at Washington. 

If we only look at the initial 5-year start for each coach (removing Tressel & Carr), it’s clear that Nick Saban and Urban Meyer are in a league of their own.  Urb won a national title during the first playoff season in year 3, and made a return to the playoff in year 5. Saban won his 2nd national title at Alabama in year five, and went back-to-back in year six.  

Once you move past those two historically successful coaches, there is a very tight grouping between Jim Harbaugh and the other 5 coaches I selected.  Each coach averaged a 9-4 record through his first 5 seasons. I was surprised that using my Advantage Percentage, Harbaugh compares favorably to all 5 of those coaches, despite Brian Kelly reaching the BCS Championship game in year 3.  I also included each coach’s Year 6 record for a possible glimpse into the future. Year 6 results range from unacceptable (7-6 for Dantonio) to achievable (11-2 in 2019 for Franklin).  

One other interesting note on Big Ten record: If Harbaugh had managed one more B10 victory, his average record would have rounded up to 7-2, and it would have been +1 over Carr.  Had he suffered one more loss, the average record would have rounded to 6-3 and been -1 to Carr. The program has clearly returned to the Carr level. I think we’re all very anxious to take the next step forward.

The Tape, The Tape, The Tape – Michigan 41 Illinois 8– A Cornucopia of Manball

Michigan served notice to Illinois on the opening drive that there would be no rust or dawdling on Saturday.  The offense marched the field in 10 plays for an opening touchdown and never looked back.  The drive included three different quarterbacks, and oh yes, a formation that featured no less than five tight ends to serve as the perfect finale to an authoritative opening possession.

Have you ever seen a five Tight End formation?  No, you haven’t.  At least you hadn’t until Saturday.  The play started off with the second appearance of Michigan’s new “train” formation this year:

screen-shot-2016-10-25-at-4-12-54-pm

Let’s go ahead and circle the tight ends:

screen-shot-2016-10-25-at-4-13-21-pm

Yep, that’s five: Asiasi, Butt, Hill, Jocz, and Wheatley Jr.  All of the action of this play headed towards the bottom of the screen, save for Jake Butt.  Tyrone Wheatley Jr ran a perfect rub route that left Jake Butt uncovered coming across the field.

screen-shot-2016-10-25-at-4-13-42-pm

Unlike Michigan State’s receivers against Maryland, Wheatley Jr did not engage in a block on the defensive player and avoided an offensive pass interference flag for a pick play.

screen-shot-2016-10-25-at-4-14-28-pm

 

Continue reading “The Tape, The Tape, The Tape – Michigan 41 Illinois 8– A Cornucopia of Manball”

2016 Michigan Wolverine Football Schedule

Date Opponent / Event Location Time / Result
Sat., Sep. 3 vs Hawaii Michigan Stadium W, 63-3
Sat., Sep. 10 vs. Central Florida Michigan Stadium W, 51-14
Sat., Sep. 17 vs. Colorado Michigan Stadium W, 45-28
Sat., Sep. 24 vs. Penn State Michigan Stadium W, 49-10
Sat., Oct. 1 vs Wisconsin Michigan Stadium
W, 14-7
Sat., Oct. 8 @ Rutgers Piscataway, NJ W, 78-0
Sat., Oct. 22 vs. Illinois (Homecoming) Michigan Stadium W, 41-8
Sat., Oct. 29 @ Michigan State East Lansing, MI W, 32-23
Sat., Nov. 5 vs. Maryland Michigan Stadium W, 59-3
Sat., Nov. 12 @ Iowa Iowa City, IA 7 PM. CT
Sat., Nov. 19 vs Indiana Michigan Stadium TBA
Sat., Nov. 26 @ Ohio State Columbus, OH High Noon
Sat., Dec. 3 Big Ten Championship Game Indianapolis, IN TBA

2016 Michigan Stadium Football Visitors Guide

This is the time of year when I get questions from people who are coming to Ann Arbor to see a Michigan football game.  These are my personal recommendations.  Your mileage may vary…

How do I get tickets?

It’s easy to get tickets for most games.  The question is how much are you willing to pay?  For the bulk of the games against minor opponents you can usually find tickets around the stadium on the day of the game far below face value.  It’s simple supply and demand.  There are 109,901 tickets available for every game.  There are literally thousands of tickets bought and sold in the hours before the game outside the stadium and in the adjacent parking lots.  It’s not unusual for tickets to be sold for far less than face value for a minor opponent.  The best prices are usually found on game day right outside the stadium by people who line the streets on the way to the stadium.

2016 Football Schedule

Your best bet is to find season ticket holder just outside the stadium who is dumping extra tickets prior to entering. Great seats can sometimes be found by walking through the parking lot adjacent to the Crisler Center.

Usually tickets are sold in pairs or singles.  Getting more than two together is more difficult.  With a lackluster home schedule (MSU and OSU are away games this season) prices shouldn’t be too crazy.  If you want tickets in advance you’ll need to check the , Stub-Hub, get them from a season ticket holder, or look on E-Bay.

Prior to game day you can find ticket scalpers outside the Michigan Union.  Another place to check is the window of the Coach & Four Barber shop on State Street by Mr. Spots.  They have tickets in the window for most games.

How do I get there?

Michigan Stadium is located off of Interstate 94.  Exit at Ann Arbor-Saline Road.  There are signs and you’ll see LOTS of cars and sometimes a blimp or two circling the stadium.

Google Maps- Michigan Stadium

 Where do I park?

Adjacent to Michigan Stadium on Ann Arbor-Saline Road is Pioneer High School.  Plenty of parking is available.  You can also park at the golf courses across the street. Many homeowners offer up their lawns as makeshift parking lots on game days.

As you cross the street to the stadium listen for the traffic officer as he or she harasses fans from the opposing school.

Costs Range from $20-$60 depending on proximity to the stadium.

WARNING-  In cases of extremely bad weather (I.E. after days and days of rain or sleet/snow) both of these places may close to protect the grounds. In this case parking becomes nightmare.  Park at Briarwood Mall and take the shuttle bus to the game.  The shuttle also runs from many of the local hotels.  Shuttle Info

Check here for additional parking and tailgate locations.

What about camping?

RV owners can purchase a permit to camp in a designated area at Pioneer High School.  The permit allows you to stay from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon.

What about tailgating?

Tailgating is allowed in the parking areas around the stadium.  Fans should note that upon departing for the game it highly recommended that you secure any belongings in your trunk.  Looting of coolers and other items is known to occur.

If you’re looking for an amazing tailgate space literally across the street from the Big House check out MGoPatio. If its good enough for Sports Illustrated its good enough for you!

What should I see while in Ann Arbor?

If you get into town a day before the game or stay after there are number of sights to see.

You can visit:

Michigan Stadium- Tour Information

Stop by Schembechler Hall (AKA Fort Schembechler).  This is where the Wolverines practice.  Here’s a map of the area.  Much of the tall brink wall that surrounded the outdoor practice field has been removed to make way for the construction of the new indoor practice field.  It’s directly adjacent to Schembechler Hall- you can’t miss it. Schembechler Hall is undergoing an expansion and the exterior looks pretty rough right now.

Dwarfing Schembecher Hall is the Al Glick Field House, one of the largest indoor practice facilities in the country.

If the team is practicing outdoors you might catch a glimpse of them from the overpass (AKA The Brandon Span) on Stadium street.

Yost Ice Arena (Web Page) named for Michigan Immortal Fielding Yost has a number of displays of Wolverine hockey memorabilia and is open practically all of the time.

Behind Schembechler Hall is Oosterbaan Field House (Web Page) an indoor football field.  Sometimes you can sneak a peek of the field but football practices are closed.

Behind the Ticket office is the outdoor track where Jesse Owens once ran at the Big Ten Track Championships.  Adjacent to the outdoor track in Revelli Hall where you might be able to catch the marching band practice.

Michigan Central Campus has a number of places to visit.  Start at the Michigan Union (Web Site).  Check out the place where President John F. Kennedy announced the formation of the Peace Corps marked on the front steps.  Stop by and spin the Cube in the courtyard outside.  A little ways down from the Union is the Kelsey Museum of Archeology which houses some nice artifacts.  Across the street is the Angell Hall an impressive looking building whose design is reminiscent of a Greek temple.  Behind Angell Hall, is the Michigan Diag.  Note the Block ‘M’ engraved in the center, legend has it that if a freshman steps on the Block M they will fail their first exam.  The Diag is home to all kinds of demonstrations and can be quite entertaining, especially on days when speaker will lecture passersby from the cement benches that surround the Diag.  Adjacent to the Diag is the UGLI (undergraduate library) and also visible is the Michigan Bell Tower.  The best museum on central campus is the Natural Science Museum which has a great a collection of dinosaur skeletons and even a stuffed Wolverine!  Drive down Washtenaw away from campus and look for the Rock.  It is a campus tradition for students to ‘paint the rock’.  Legend says that it actually started out as a small pebble but has grown to its enormous size from the millions of layers of paint that have been applied over the years!

Ann Arbor Nightlife

If you’re looking to sample Ann Arbor nightlife Thursday night is the big bar night on campus.  There are a number of bars and restaurants to sample.

Scorekeepers is a large sports bar and grill with music, multiple televisions, and pool tables.  While you’re there take note of the large window in the front, former Wolverine Brian Griese threw a beer bottle through it after being kicked out of the establishment one night prior to the 1997 season.

Dominick’s (812 Monroe/734-662-5414) is a campus tradition located across from the Law School.  Another campus favorite is Ashley’s (338 South State Street/734-996-9191).

Another campus haunt is Rick’s American Cafe  Frankly, it’s a pit but don’t let that deter you- it features live music and sticky floors that will remind you of your college days.  Outside of Rick’s is where former Wolverine captain Bennie Joppru allegedly got into a knock-down drag out fight with a member of the Wolverine wrestling team.

After a evening of carousing you may end up at the Brown Jug (1204 South University/761-3355) which is open until 2 AM.  Yes, it takes its name from the trophy that Michigan and Minnesota play for every season.  Rick’s and the Brown Jug are all within a block (and stumbling distance) of each other.

Where should I eat before the game?

Many people tailgate before games but if you want to grab some food these are some popular choices:

  • Maize and Blue Deli– $ 1329 S. University/734-996-0009.
  • Dimo’s Deli– $ 2030 West Stadium Boulevard/734-662-7944.  My personal recommendation.  Get the burger!!
  • Angelo’s– $ 1100 East Catherine at Glen/734-761-8996.  Order anything that’s made with the homemade bread.
  • Weber’s Inn– $$ 3050 Jackson Road/734-769-2500.  Offers an all-you-can-eat brunch.  You can also park there and grab the shuttle over to the stadium.
  • Dibella’s– $ 904 West Eisenhower Parkway/734-997-9011.  My new favorite sub place.  Stop in and eat or grab these for your tailgate.

$= $5-$10 Entrees  $$= $10-$15 Entrees  $$$= $15 and Above Entrees

What radio stations cover Michigan Football in the area?

Many stations carry the games but the local Ann Arbor sports station is WTKA AM 1050 which talks about Michigan sports pretty much all the time.

What should I do on Game Day?

On Game day you have a few options.  Decide if you want to see the band take the field.  A truly awesome sight.  If not you can follow the band as they march to the stadium also very cool.  if you get to the Stadium a few hours early you can greet the teams as they arrive for the game (the stadium tunnel by Crisler Arena).  Also note that since 9/11 the items that you can take into the stadium has been reduced.

Also note that due to the stadium upgrade project the athletic department strongly recommends that fans try to enter the stadium an hour before the game.

If you want to see the band take the field you need to be inside the stadium about 30 minutes before game time.  You can also the see the Wolverines warm up sans shoulder pads. As the band takes the field look for the Drum Major.  Traditionally, to prove their mettle they must perform the following stunt.  The really good Drum Majors will touch the top of their hat to the ground (not just the plume).  Another thing you may see is this.  The tradition of showing all 4’s on the scoreboard has become to stand as a reminder that the team must play 4 strong quarters to insure victory.  At least that’s how it was explained to former Athletic Director Tom Goss when he enquired about the practice. According to interviews with the scoreboard operator, it really began as a prank to see if anyone was paying attention to the scoreboard minutes before the game.

Hopefully you’ll sing the Victors A LOT. Know the words and remember to raise your arm whenever you sing the word ‘Hail’.

What about a game program?

The athletic department sells some really cool program that cost $5.  Unfortunately there is no way that you will be able to keep it from being messed after you purchase it and after the game the vendors are long gone.  If you want a keepsake I would recommend ordering the program from the athletic department media relations office and having it mailed to your house.

What should I eat at the game?

The concessions are plentiful: hot dogs, pizza, kielbasa, etc.  My personal favorite are the Mr. Spots Subs (philly cheesesteak sandwiches). I also like the Italian sausages with peppers.  Michigan Stadium serves Coke products.  No alcohol is served at the stadium.

What if I need cash?

There are ATM’s available inside the stadium.

Where should I eat after game?

Most people leaving Michigan Stadium will travel back to the interstate using State or Ann Arbor-Saline Road.  Think about that- 100,000 people are driving by- everything you see on that route (mostly chain restaurants) will be PACKED.  Restaurants along those routes include Five Guys, The Outback Steakhouse, TGI Fridays, and Joe’s Crab Shack.  Come to think of it just about everything in Ann Arbor is packed after a football game.  Here are some places that are off-the-beaten path but well worth the wait (I’ll list by specialty):

  • Frita Batidos– $ Cuban street food 117 W. Washington/ 734-761-2882.
  • Hunter House Hamburgers– $ Sliders- 609 E. William/734-368-9592.
  • Argiero’s– $$ Italian- 300 North Detroit/ 734-665-0444.
  • Mr. Spots– $ Philly Cheese steak sandwiches- 810 South State/ 734-747-7768.
  • Real Seafood Co.– $$$ Seafood, duh!- 341 S. Main/ 734-769-7738.
  • Palio– $$$ Italian- 347 S. Main/ 734-930-6156.
  • Original Cottage Inn Restaurant– $$ Pizza, Italian-  512 East William/ 734-663-3379.
  • China Chef– $ Chinese 2870 Washtenaw Avenue/ 734-434-8877.  Good food, large portions, cheap prices.  A little out of the way but worth the trip.
  • Ichiban– $$$ Japanese Steak House/sushi 4641 Washtenaw Avenue/ 734-975-0589.
  • Pizza House– $$ American cuisine 618 Church Street/ 734-995-4995.
  • Carlyle Grill $$$ American cuisine 3660 Jackson Road/ 734-213-9800.

$= $5-$10 Entrees  $$= $10-$15 Entrees  $$$= $15 and Above Entrees

Hyped but overrated- think Drew Henson 🙂  These are the places that many people will always ask you if you’ve eaten upon hearing that you went to Ann Arbor…

  • Gratzi– $$$ 326 South Main/ 734-663-6387.
  • Gandy Dancer– $$$ 401 North Depot/ 734-769-0592.
  • Zingerman’s– $$ 422 Detroit Street/ 734-663-3354.  New York deli- GOOD, Long lines. New York Prices, OUCH

Where should I get my Michigan Gear?

No pilgrimage to the Big House would be complete without purchasing tokens of your devotion.  There are numerous vendors selling stuff in and around the stadium.

Online:

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