Podcasating football: ‘NC State is a darkhorse’

I was listenting to some podcasts on the airplane this week and heard few football items that I thought would be of interest.

From ESPN’s College Football Podcast dated June 2, 2009:

Mark Schlabach: “I think NC State is a darkhorse. They are not in the Top 25, but I think Russell Wilson – I think he or Riley Skinner – is the best quarterback in the league.”

Ivan Maisel: “Absolutely”

Schlabach: “and you know that they’re going to be well coached under Tom O’Brien. So, I think you are talking six teams that are probably going to be in contention, and probably the most improved conference in the country going into this season.”

Phil Steele magazine is out
Phil Steele is a regular guest on Rivals Radio and one of his recent appearances was podcasted. There wasn’t much ACC stuff in that particular appearance, but I did stumble across this first look at his annual college football bible that is always nice to review.

One of the items that I like about Steele’s perspective on college football is that generally, turnovers can be somewhat uncontrollable and are often a function of cycles that average out to a statistical median or norm over the long term. (unless you are being coached by Chuck Amato). Therefore, schools that experience an abnormally high or low rate of turnovers in one year are obviously more prone to experience a major turnaroud in that category in the next year.

This year, the Turnover = Turnaround charts indicated Oklahoma, Florida, Buffalo, Wake Forest, and Ohio State are “going down?”; while Washington St, Wyoming, Washington, North Texas, and Army are “going up”.

A couple of other relevant bullets:

• Phil’s Conference Rankings based on last year (in descending order): SEC, Big 12, Pac-10, MWC, ACC, Big 10, Big East, CUSA, IND, WAC, MAC, Sun Belt.
• Phil says Illinois will be the most improved team in the country this year.
• Lettermen Returning Indicator: Toldeo, UAB, and Stanford have an 89% chance of improved record. Navy, Missouri, and South Carolina have 82% chance of weaker or the same record.

Chris Wallace of CavsCorner.com was a guest on Rivals.com radio podcast of June 18, 2009

He had the following to say about the job security of Virginia Coach, Al Groh; and I couldn’t help but find the high standards and expectations fascinating in light of the conversations that NC State fans have experienced over the last twenty years. Could you imagine such expectations & comments being made in Raleigh? Hell, even right now you could parallel the 9 year tenure of Groh with the 13 year tenure of NC State Baseball Coach, Elliott Avent. Doesn’t Wallace & UVA recognize that the longer a coach is in his job then the more that job innately becomes the right of that coach and the less that performance actually matters? Maybe a little time with George Tarantini would be good for Wallace.

“I think this is the year where if Al doesn’t win 8 or 9 games he will not be back for a 10th year and specifically, he is going to be in a lot of trouble if he does not beat Virginia Tech. He has one win against Virginia Tech in 8 tries and that’s sticking in the craw of a lot of Virginia fans. That is something that they’re really really really having a hard time with. I think if he went 8-5 and beat Virginia Tech, that might be good enough. But, if he loses to VPI then anything short of maybe a10 win season…the lack of consistency I just think that they are probably going to look to move into a different direction.”

This mindset is even more interesting when you take a look at the short term nature of the previous tenures of the coaches discussed in this article as being on the hot seat. How do these ‘loser’ programs and schools like Michigan, Notre Dame, West Virginia, UCLA, Texas A&M and others not understand that any coaching hire naturally needs at least five or six years before it could start to be judged?

Michigan, West Virginia, UCLA and A&M’s coaches are all entering just their second season at the school! (And West Virginia won their bowl game last year!)

The good news, of course, will be that this ‘pressure’ to win at these schools and their horrible fanbases will mean that they won’t be able to recruit any good players and will only leave more for the rest of us. Right? Isn’t that how it supposedly works? No kid will want to play at these schools because of the lack of clarity of their coaching tenure and the pressure created by these bad fans? Who would want to play at UCLA anyway? Doesn’t the world recognize that is the toughest job in the world and will always be over-shadowed by USC right across town? (sarcasm, of course).

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19 Responses to Podcasating football: ‘NC State is a darkhorse’

  1. Sam92 06/26/2009 at 12:14 PM #

    “any coaching hire naturally needs at least five or six years before it could start to be judged”

    i’m wondering if that’s sarcasm or really adhering to some old conventional wisdom – i don’t think anyone would need to wait nearly that long to see how things are going; three years is more like it (and will make this season very telling for TOB) – two full years to groom talent that was taken over and the opportunity to bring in a redshirted crop of your own recruits. (urban meyer and nick saban haven’t needed six years to prove what they can do)

  2. choppack1 06/26/2009 at 12:54 PM #

    Sam – a greater point is that the program has ALREADY made significant strides under TOB. He’s already done 2 things that Amato was never able to do w/out Philip Rivers: Beat UNC AND go .500 in the conference.

    Interesting thoughts on TO ratio. My research indicated a pretty strong relationship between TO ratio and success. However, I can see why it would be cyclical, related to other factors and could feed on itself.

    For example, you start a young, inexperienced QB or you have a young inexperienced line:
    1) You are more likely to see bad decisions which put you in a hole early.
    2) You then have to throw it – which in turn, makes you even more likely to turn over the ball.

    Still, I think that you will see certain teams w/ a historically good TO ratio. I really do believe that some staffs tolerate poor fundamentals (from a ball carrier) and poor decision making more than others….see Chuck Amato. Some offenses are naturally more risky than others – option based attacks will have more fumbles than a traditional eye-formation type attack.

    In other words – while I think luck plays a part, I think planning has a lot to do w/ it.

  3. VaWolf82 06/26/2009 at 1:28 PM #

    As I mentioned last week, scoring points off a good TO ratio is the key for improving a team’s record. I’m not a big believer in the theory that defenses can be coached to create turnovers. However it is possible that higher risk offenses might tend to turn the ball over more frequently than a conservative offense.

    I don’t believe in the cyclical theory from one season to the next…unless you are changing players. Some players are simply more prone to turn the ball over: QB’s that make bad decisions or RB’s that simply can’t hang onto the ball.

  4. choppack1 06/26/2009 at 1:39 PM #

    Va – I don’t quite buy that.

    Let’s face it, in 2004 we had one of the Top D’s in the land, but we didn’t generate TO’s. I’ve thought that 2 factors really helped create that factor:
    1) We played almost exclusively man to man under Amato. While this allowed us more blitzing – especially under Reggie Herring – our corners were rarely facing the ball. OTOH, TOB favors almost exclusively zone defense where the CBs and LBs should have better opportunities for INTs.

    2) Offense played more conservative against us knowing that our own offense was likely to give them the opportunity to win the game.

    I’d mention that some defenses are more apt at stripping the ball than others – and I think a good pass rush is certainly more likely to create TOs than a mediocre or bad one.

    I’m fairly certain our TO ratio improved each year under TOB – I don’t know how much better we got on scoring off of them.

  5. McCallum 06/26/2009 at 2:19 PM #

    Look at the turnover/penalty issue the year after Rivers departed.(the problem was in place prior to Rivers leaving) At one time I had figured the turnovers directly converted to points (picks or fumbles ran back) as well as the turnovers which led to good field position and thus points combined with the 65 yards per game in penalties.

    I believe State essentially started every game that season down 12.4 points per game.

    The Clemson game (6 turnovers as well as two TDs called back) and the OSU games (5 turnovers, 4 of which led to field goals and one was ran back to the 2 yard line leading to the only OSU touchdown) were the worst. Once you factor in the turnovers versus unc, Clemson, OSU etc you are looking at a season thrown away due to turnovers and penalties.

    I had lost faith in Chuck during the senior season of Rivers. The following year confirmed everything.


  6. choppack1 06/26/2009 at 3:10 PM #

    And McCallum – in Amato’s case – these items weren’t “bad breaks” – they were simply a toleration of on-the-field high-risk behavior.

    Funny – he was never able to fix this problem – just like Grobe has always done well on the TO margin.

  7. VaWolf82 06/26/2009 at 3:17 PM #

    I’d mention that some defenses are more apt at stripping the ball than others

    That may be….but I’ve seen nothing to support that theory. You hear talk about Beamer (and Amato when he was at State) over blocked punts and FGs. There is hard data to support that those teams were far better at that than other comparable teams.

    In contrast to Beamer Ball, I’ve never heard a DC or head coach get praised for the way their defense generates TOs over a long period of time. Show me a team (or HC or DC) that consistently generates top TO numbers and you will have proven your point.

  8. McCallum 06/26/2009 at 3:22 PM #

    No doubt choppack.

    Few, if any, were bad breaks from what I recall. It was almost funny to me how much State dominated OSU at Carter Finley. OSU had less than 100 yards of total offense, their offensive line looked slow and couldn’t hold a block but they, as a team, made few errors. When you lose good coaches the margin for error, which is always slim, becomes even smaller.


  9. Thinkpack17 06/26/2009 at 3:41 PM #

    “I’m not a big believer in the theory that defenses can be coached to create turnovers.”

    You can teach your DBs to catch. A corner that can actually catch is a scary thing.

  10. Clarksa 06/26/2009 at 4:08 PM #

    “Let’s face it, in 2004 we had one of the Top D’s in the land, but we didn’t generate TO’s”

    Ah yes…the myth of the #1 ranked defense!!!111!!1

    When teams only have to drive 30 yards for a touchdown, you don’t give up that many yards as a defensive unit…

  11. PackerInRussia 06/26/2009 at 6:55 PM #

    ^Thank you for pointing that out. I always noticed that as well.

    If the TO ratio is cyclical, then we are due. We need about a +100 TO margin over the next few seasons just to make up for Harrison Beck’s few years of play.

  12. tuckerdorm1983 06/26/2009 at 8:04 PM #

    let me just say that the little boy in this video is my idol!!!

  13. Daily Update 06/26/2009 at 8:05 PM #

    An interesting test case for the theory that certain coaches create turnovers consistently will be Wake Forest this year. IMO, I expect a significant dropoff in their ability to create turnovers because they lose 4 top 4 round draft picks from their defense.

  14. McCallum 06/26/2009 at 8:05 PM #

    O’Brien seems to be wearing the state of Georgia out in recruiting.

    The Logan Winkles kid looks like a bigger version of Jon Abbate.

    5’11 240 with a 330 bench and around 500 squat. 3.2 GPA and finished 2nd in the state wrestling heavy weight class.

    Now if we can get the kid over to Man-Mur and cut that lettuce we’ll be doing fine.

    I’ll see what updates on his team I can provide during the year.


  15. NCSU88 06/27/2009 at 10:38 AM #

    “Now if we can get the kid over to Man-Mur and cut that lettuce we’ll be doing fine.”

    Now that’s funny. I loved Man-Mur. Do they still actually shave your neck when you get a haircut?

  16. Ismael 06/27/2009 at 1:03 PM #

    my problem with alot of sports statistics is how unscientific they actually are. I mean, they have all the trappings of ‘looking’ scientific’ but in practice, it’s dudes just adding and dividing then multiplying by 100 and appending the ‘%’ sign.

    You also have to factor in the unfactorables. Case in point: Shaun Draughn claims he used vaseline because it was so cold the day he got his lunch and dinner handed to him.

  17. transylvania 06/27/2009 at 2:03 PM #

    What I remember most about Man-Mur was that rotating, vibrating device the barber would run across my shoulders after the haircut. Never seen one of those since.

  18. McCallum 06/27/2009 at 6:27 PM #

    Boys take your hat off when you speak of Man-Mur and say a prayer for the dearly departed Frank Turnipseed.

    I haven’t been to Man-Mur in 5 years or more but the last time I was there neck shaves were still in fashion.


  19. packplantpath 06/28/2009 at 9:25 AM #

    I can attest that neck shaving with a straight razor is still de riguer at Man-Mur. As it should be at any real and decent barber shop, imho.

    I was just there 2 weeks back.

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