ESPN Hates US. #Gamecocks least likely SEC team to win bowl game. @JRogers11 @mspears

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The ESPN experts @JRogers11 and Booger, oops, @mspears, predict that the Gamecocks are one of the least likely SEC teams to pull our conference weight this bowl season.

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The #Gamecocks @CoachBmac_ Gets His Shot

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Bryan McClendon will be 34 when he calls plays for the Gamecocks in the Outback Bowl game against Michigan. Known for his ability as a recruiter, McClendon’s tendencies as a play-caller are a mystery. Advantage Gamecocks.

The Gamecocks former offensive coordinator, @CoachKurtRoper, was outguessed by opposing defensive coordinators in several games. Most notably, the Kentucky game. Kentucky’s Defensive Coordinator, Matt House, lived inside Roper’s head. He consistently outguessed the predictable Roper leading to numerous blown up offensive plays.

The art of play calling is figuring out what plays to run against opposing defenses. If you always run on second down, it is easy to guess what kind of defense to use against you. Pass when they expect a run. Run when they expect a pass. Run to the boundary when they expect you to pass to the field. Pass to the field when they expect you to run to the boundary. Etc. This is the goal of a play caller.

Does McClendon have a shot to become the Gamecocks 2018 Offensive Coordinator? I think he will be named OC no matter what happens in the bowl game. But the bowl game is going to give the fans an idea of what to expect from McClendon as a play caller.

Michigan is a unique test because it has a tremendous passing defense and an outstanding, talented defensive line. That tends to argue for more of a ground attack in the bowl game. This will lead to grumbling by some of the Twitter coaches. The key is to watch and see if McClendon consistently catches Michigan off balance on defense. If so, that is a great sign he will succeed in 2018.

I expect the Gamecocks to rally and give an exceptional effort in the bowl game. McClendon is a young, tough coach. The players and coaching staff are going to play and coach their guts out for McClendon’s success.

It is probably too much to expect that the bowl game will reveal an offensive make-over. There will be wrinkles for sure. But I wouldn’t expect a dramatic difference in style. However, the offensive style we see in the bowl is not necessarily what we can expect in 2018.

Muschamp’s potential decision to retain and elevate McClendon, which I expect, shows the present Gamecock coaching staff-members that Coach Muschamp is going to provide opportunities for career advancement at South Carolina. This factor will help retention. There are a lot of great recruiters and coaches on the Gamecocks staff and teams like 0-8 Tennessee, who just hired a new head coach, will target Muschamps staff for lateral hires. Elevating McClendon will encourage staff loyalty (to the extent it exists in coaching circles) and retention.

After the bowl game, Muschamp is going to add another offensive coach. It is great fun to do podcasts and speculate about which offensive coordinator the Gamecocks will hire. McClendon is not a sexy choice for the podcasting crowd. Nevertheless, we are likely going to see McClendon elevated. Muschamp will hire a young-up-and-coming offensive coach. A dynamic innovator with a creative mind to add fresh ideas as Muschamp’s staff develops a new offensive identity for 2018. That hire, even if it is not a “offensive coordinator,” will give us clues as to the direction of the Gamecocks offensive system for 2018. I expect changes. I just don’t know what they will be. It’s a mystery.

And that’s a good thing for the Gamecocks.

 

 

Further Example of how Hobby Statistics Help Us Devise A Diplomacy Strategy

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This post, like all the other School of War (SoW) tagged posts, are part of a live demonstration game hosted by WebDiplomacy. There is a corresponding thread in the forum for public discussion of the game. You can select all of the SoW posts on my blog by clicking on the tag SoW at the bottom of this post.

The last post here analyzed the game from the perspective of the Italian player and suggested a strategy by which Italy might improve his chances to attain a solo. Here, we will look at the same question from the perspective of Germany.

Germany was stabbed by his former French ally, who has now revealed his secret weapon–an English toady. However, the Frenchman misordered and the English army never landed in Belgium where it might have been a disruptive force.  As a result of the misorder, Germany significantly improved his tactical defensive position against France.

Italy has moved an army into Tyrolia. This is Italy’s most influential unit. The order written for Army Tyrolia regulates who is winning and losing in the war between Germany and France. The placement of that unit is like Tony Soprano holding a cocked gun to Germany’s head and asking for favors in exchange for help . . . or hurt. Army Tyrolia makes Germany’s first order of diplomatic business facilitating Italian happiness.

On the diplomatic front, Germany must also sow discord to keep France and Italy from allying. To France, Germany writes about how the ongoing war with Germany will only benefit the Italian in the long run and cost both of France and Germany on a strategic level. Germany should also anticipate that France is offering Munich to Italy.

To Italy, Germany points out that there is a French fleet invading the Mediterranean Sea. That fleet could move to Tyrrhenian Sea or Tunis because Italy needs his eastern fleets for the Turkish naval operations. Any builds for France, due to Germany’s weakness, could mean more fleets in the Med!

Aside. France made a strategic blunder by moving to Western Med. He should have negotiated with Italy a DMZ. Because Italy is still at war with a strong Turk, there was little risk Italy would break the DMZ. Maybe France just intended to bounce units in Western Med like last move, but now France has created a new potential enemy in Italy just when he needed Italy’s help against Germany. All students should review the Diplomacy Academy video unintended antagonism by former World Champion Face-to-Face Diplomacy player Chris Martin.

Germany has something positive to offer Italy. He can order Army Ukraine to Sevastapol. That order cuts potential Turkish support for Rumania. If that support is cut, and Italy writes the right set of orders, there is nothing Turkey can do to stop Italy from taking both Bulgaria and Rumania. The two new builds allow Italy the option of building two fleets and movement to the western Mediterranean even if France moves Fleet Western Med to Tyrrhenian Sea.

Joshua McOwen’s brilliant A Look at the Statistics of Diplomacy (May 2011) is a must have reference for aspiring Diplomacy players. If you hope to improve your game and you’re not using McOwen’s charts, you’re short-changing yourself. The information there will give Germany some ideas about his strategy.

germany wins elims

The first thing to note here is that Germany tends not to achieve solo victories as often when Turkey is eliminated. Therefore, by helping the Italian as I advise above, Germany effectively reduces the probability of a solo. Ironically, France has a similar interest in keeping Turkey alive:

french win elim

So here Germany might find some useful common ground for a strategic discussion with France aimed at ending the war between them. As it is now, Germany has no choice but to help Italy wipe Turkey off the map which decreases the odds of either a German or French solo victory.

 

 

Using Hobby Statistics to Make Decisions in Diplomacy

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The School of War game continues. I’m writing about this Fall 1905 turn because it brings into focus an interesting strategic choice intersection for Italy.

Just a bit of background. The Italian formed an alliance with Turkey to stab and eliminate Austria. Italy has now stabbed the Turk (6), who is still a viable power and who occupies the strategic corner of the board.

Meanwhile, in the west, England is on the cusp of elimination. France has just stabbed Germany. In my view, there are three major players in this game. Italy (9), France (8), and Germany (7). Italy faces a choice of which of the warring western Great Powers to support and how fervently will be Italian support.

How to make that choice? Diplomacy Hobby statistics help. Keep in mind that stats are but a guide. A solo can be achieved without compliance with the numbers. Diplomacy games, like economies, are heterogenous. But the data should be considered.

Below are three graphs used to illustrate how one might consider statistical factors in planning an Italian strategy. The chart below shows the Great Powers eliminated in Italian solos.

italy solo

Austria is dead which is great. Eighty percent of all Italian solos involve dead Austrias. Who next to kill to improve Italian solo chances? Obviously, that target would be Turkey, a decision this sharp Italian has already made.

Great Diplomacy players are skilled at managing events in all theaters. Even theaters in which they no longer operate. Italy has no units in the west. But the west is vitally important to Italy and events there will impact his opportunity to solo.

France has the upper hand against Germany at this point. Germany, while still strong, is at war on two fronts with Russia and France. Possibly, France has an English toady besides. Germany could be quickly eliminated if Italy helps speed that process. Is that a smart course for Italy?

German Eliminations

The data above suggests that would be unwise for Italy to attack Germany. Italy’s chances of a solo bottom out when Germany dies. Considering the current diplomatic situation, a German elimination is much more likely than a French.

What happens to Italy’s chances when France is eliminated?

french eliminations

Based on the data here, Italian solos decrease in likelihood when either France or Germany dies. This leads me to conclude that Italy’s choice here should be to come to the aid of Germany. Maybe Italy does not even insist on Munich.

Italy’s chances for a solo increase best by killing Turkey and keeping France and Germany locked in a wrestling match for a while, neither gaining an upper hand on the other.

Based on this analysis, Italy should insist on Russia disbanding some of his northern units, and promote Russia joining a southern campaign against Turkey. It would be ideal if Russia keeps his northern fleet, which could swing the balance in favor of Germany in the French-German struggle. In exchange, Italy makes Germany give Russia Warsaw. An Italian mediated peace between Germany and Russia needs to happen at this point in the game for two reasons. One, Russian help will expedite the Turkish demise. Second, Germany can neutralize the French stab and that helps Italy in the long run. There you have it, Italy.

Thank you Joshua McOwen for a brilliant piece. A Look at the Statistics of Diplomacy, Joshua McOwen (May 2011)

 

The Greatest Football Rivalry in the Nation: The Transparency Incident of 1902

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A Poetic and Incongruent Symbol is Born

McKissick! Make every shot count!.”

Those were the words shouted to future USC President, J. Rion McKissick, who was clutching a pistol, as he and twenty-nine other Carolina students crouched behind a hastily-erected barricade on the Horseshoe in 1902.

On the other side of the barricade, an angry mob of 400 Clemson Cadets, armed with bayonets and swords, threatened bodily harm to the Carolina men and destruction of the South Carolina College. What had enraged the Clemson Cadets to such a degree? Merely the poetic and incongruent symbol of a fighting Gamecock. This was The Transparency Incident of 1902 and it is part of the history of the greatest rivalry in College football, South Carolina versus Clemson.

To understand the context of this armed confrontation between the Carolina and Clemson one must understand the roots and origins of this college football rivalry. The Gamecocks had been playing football from 1895, but to be frank and honest, the early South Carolina football teams were poor. Of course, the school itself was small, not even a University at that time. South Carolina College, which had been stripped of its University status by former Governor Pitchfork Ben Tillman and his political allies in the State Legislature, had only 79 students in 1890. By 1902, it was slightly better; there were just 200 students going to South Carolina College.

Clemson on the other hand, was a much more powerful institution. By and large a creation of Tillmanism, a populist political movement that germinated in South Carolina’s turbulent reconstruction era politics. Clemson was a great beneficiary of Governor Pitchfork Ben Tillman’s efforts. She was flush with revenue derived from taxes on tobacco, and Tillman, a notorious racist who condoned lynching while governor and later on the Senate floor, ordered African-American prisoners to labor on and improve the campus. Then a military school, Clemson had over 400 student-cadets in 1902.

The two schools began playing football against one another in 1896. Carolina won the first game, 12-6, but Clemson quickly overtook Carolina on the football field, winning the next five meetings. In fact, in those days, Clemson was one of the most powerful football teams in the southeast. In 1900, Clemson’s football team was coached by the legendary John Heisman, whose first “Tiger” team went undefeated. The 1900 Tigers also whipped South Carolina by the embarrassing score of 51-0. The defeat was so complete, that the two schools were unable to work out an agreement to play each other on Big Thursday in 1901. (Of course, the Clemson fans claimed that it was because South Carolina College was afraid Clemson would administer another whipping.)

As most serious fans of both schools know, back in those days the Carolina Clemson game was always played on Big Thursday during the State Fair in Columbia. As part of this event, every year the entire student body from Clemson–its entire Corp of Cadets– would come to Columbia for the game on Thursday. Afterwards, Clemson’s Cadets would remain in Columbia and march in the Elks Club Parade on Friday afternoon.

During the 1897-1900 parades, the Clemson Cadets wore garnet and black colors around their shoes. In this way, Clemson literally dragged the Carolina colors through the dust. Clemson also carried a big bass drum, which a Cadet beat upon as they marched. Inscribed on this drum was a picture of a roaring Tiger with the letters, “S.C.C” (South Carolina College), inside its mouth. This was, obviously, symbolic of Clemson eating up their rival on the football field.

As a modern-day Gamecock fan, I can easily sympathize with the feelings these indignities must have inflicted on the students and supporters of the liberal arts oriented, South Carolina College. But endure it our people did, in hopes that someday the incredible might reoccur against all odds–a victory over Clemson in football.

1902 was a very special year for the Gamecocks. The school’s nickname, “Gamecocks,” did not become commonly accepted in South Carolina until 1903 when The State newspaper began referring to the team by that name. However, I’m confident that after you read about The Transparency Incident of 1902, you will agree that the 1902 South Carolina football team was was the first Gamecock team.

Bob Williams, a Virginian, coached the 1902 football team. Williams still has the best winning percentage of any coach who has ever coached football at South Carolina (overall 14-3). South Carolina College began the 2002 season 3-0. The team would finish the year 6-1. The 1902 football team had a stifling defense. It surrendered just 16 points all season, and it shut out five opponents.

Prior to the Clemson game, the fourth game of the season, Williams hired Christy Benet as his assistant coach. Benet, a former guard on earlier football teams at South Carolina College, was reportedly an inspiring speaker.

Meanwhile, the 1902 Clemson team was clearly a dominant force on the field. The 1902 Clemson team also brought a 3-0 record to the Big Thursday game. Included amongst the Clemson wins was a 60-0 thrashing of North Carolina State, as well as wins over the then very powerful football teams, Georgia Tech and Furman.

As noted above, Clemson had John Heisman as their coach. Heisman was a noted trick play artist. According to contemporaneous newspaper reports, Clemson was so confident of a victory over South Carolina College on Big Thursday, that Cadets were offering bets with odds of four and five to one. What those over-optimistic Clemson Cadets didn’t know was that their Tigers were about to meet the first Gamecock team.

The game itself was described in both The State and The Greenwood Index papers as one of the “prettiest games of football ever played.” The Gamecocks jumped to a quick 12-0 lead. The Gamecocks gained the advantage by simple old-fashioned football. They played great defense. Clemson did not get a first down in the first half. Meanwhile, the Carolina offense ground out first down after first down running the ball up through the middle of the line. Thus, the Carolina football team twice marched methodically down the field, running the ball through the middle of Clemson’s line. Junior Fullback, Guy Gunter, scored the two touchdowns on short runs. (Touchdowns were only worth 5 points in 1902.) Converting on both extra points, Carolina led 12-0 at halftime.

But this was Clemson. It had a weight advantage, a great football team, and a great coach. In the second half of the game, the Tigers stormed back. First, Clemson scored on a 60 yard trick play run by a halfback named Sitton, an end around play. Then, the Tigers took possession of the ball at the beginning of the fourth quarter and began a determined drive. The drive stalled, however, on the South Carolina 20-yard line, and the Gamecocks took over midway through the fourth quarter. The Carolina offense then proceeded to run out the clock by grinding out first downs through the middle of the Clemson defensive line. Thus, the game ended in a 12-6 Carolina victory.

This was a monumental upset!

After such a long victory drought, what joy and happiness this brought to the students and fans of South Carolina College. One football player was quoted in the 1903 Garnet and Black as stating, “Well, Old Pards, how about we just lay down and die right here.” The South Carolina students were in happy and celebratory.

That is when the transparency arrived on the scene, and things got a bit ugly. By Thursday evening Carolina’s students had a drawing by F. Horton Colcock, a Professor at South Carolina. The drawing depicted a bedraggled tiger beneath the crowing gamecock. (See a replica of the transparency at the top of this article. This picture was referred to as a “transparency” by the 1902 newspapers.

It was a poetic and incongruous symbol, a proud Gamecock crowing over a powerful feline, the tiger. Perhaps in an era when football teams were typically named after ferocious beasts, it was the unique quality of a Gamecock, crowing over its beaten, apparently stronger foe. The symbolism of Professor Colcock’s drawing was beautiful and the liberal arts students at South Carolina fully appreciated its meaning. Thus, on Thursday evening, South Carolina’s students began carrying the transparency around Columbia as they celebrated the football victory.

It is not clear what it was about Professor Colcock’s transparency that triggered such a hostile reaction from the Clemson Cadets, but it had a detrimental affect on their minds. The cadets assaulted the Carolina students. The State paper reported that in two separate attacks, the cadets destroyed the offensive transparency, and wounded half a dozen Carolina students with sabres, swords and bayonets. The Greenwood Index also reported on the Thursday night incident. “Several students were slightly cut with knives and left the scene with blackened eyes and swollen faces and some scalp wounds made by canes and stones.” Fans were serious about the rivalry back in those days.

As reported in The State newspaper, the Clemson Commandant, Lt. Sirmyer, an Army Officer from West Point, approached the South Carolina Assistant Coach Benet Friday morning after the assaults. Sirmyer warned Benet that the Carolina students would be wise not to carry Professor Colcock’s “offensive transparency” in the Parade on Elks Club Friday night. Ominously, Lt. Sirmyer told Benet if the Carolina students did not heed his warning and if they had the temerity to carry that transparency in the parade, he “would not be responsible” for any violence that might ensue.” The State reported that after this meeting, “It was openly and repeated stated by the Clemson Cadets that they would break up South Carolina College that night if the transparency was used.”

Finding Benet unbowed by his threat, Lt. Sirmyer resorted to political pressure. He went to General Jones, Columbia’s Chief of Police, and asked for the Chief to order Benet not to display the Gamecock transparency. Thus, shortly before the parade, Benet met with Lt. Sirmyer and the Chief. Both urged Benet to talk the Carolina students out of displaying their transparency during the parade. The Chief said he saw nothing offensive about the transparency, but he wished to avoid trouble. Benet considered the request, but decided it would be wrong to acquiesce. He told the Carolina students that they must carry the transparency or they would, in effect, reward the whining, political maneuverings, threats, and violence against them by the Clemson.

Therefore, Carolina students did proudly carry their transparency in the Big Thursday parade. They had earned the right by the football victory. As the Clemson cadets marched by students waving the Gamecock image at them, Lt. Sirmyer urged restraint. At the Capitol where the parade ended, however, Sirmyer told the cadets to “behave like soldiers.” Then he added, “while on duty.” The amendment to his order was met with cheers by the 400 cadets. Lt. Sirmyer dismissed the Clemson cadets, and retired from the scene. The 400 Clemson boys proceeded straight up Sumter Street toward the Horseshoe, and were, according to Benet’s statement published in the paper, “very angry and excited.”

Before the approaching Clemson mob arrived at the campus, word reached the Carolina students and they built barricades. The students, including future President McKissick, armed themselves with pistols and repeating rifles. When the 400 Clemson cadets arrived waving their swords, sabers and bayonets, they faced approximately 50 Carolina students behind the barricades. The State paper correctly pointed out that the Carolina students were entitled to protect themselves, and their residences on the South Carolina College campus from the Clemson mob. The State said that most were armed “with pistols and several with repeating rifles.”

Fortunately, Benet learned of the approaching Clemson Cadets and he intervened to avert loss of life. Meanwhile, Lt. Sirmyer, the Clemson Commandant and leader who stated he would not be responsible for the bloodshed that resulted from the display of the transparency, was absent.

Recognizing the gravity of the circumstance–one that could easily have led to multiple fatalities–Benet stepped David-like between the two sides and offered to resolve the dispute by fighting any one of the Clemson men that they might choose. When this proposal was not accepted, Benet argued that the two parties should form a committee to arbitrate their differences. By this time, authorities and police began to arrive, and Benet’s suggestion was adopted. The Committee decided that the Carolina students would burn the transparency–an image easily reproduced–and Clemson agreed to cheer Carolina, a further humiliation for the Clemson Cadets. This accomplished, the two sides disbursed. Very fortunately, no death or further mahem resulted.

But here the transparency incident did not end. Upon learning news of the incident was reported in The State newspaper, the President of Clemson, P. H. Mell, wrote a letter, justifying the lawless behavior of the cadets. He also argued that Lt. Sirmyer had properly performed his duties, and he implicated Benet and the Carolina students who lacked the “good sense” not to display the transparency.

Clemson’s President Mell stated in his letter that the image on the transparency was “too much for them to bear,” meaning the Clemson cadets. He argued the violent actions of the Cadets were justified because the City of Columbia had refused to prohibit the Carolina students from displaying the offensive Gamecock symbol in the parade. Therefore, President Mell wrote, the city, “assumed responsibility for the transparency, its intended insult and the results occurring therefrom.

The failure to acknowledge responsibility and recognize that the Clemson cadets had acted lawlessly and breached the peace of the City, provoked a strong and direct response by the Editor of The State, A. E. Gonzales. Gonzales specifically blamed Lt. Sirmyer for the incident. He stated that President Mell should immediately dismiss Lt. Sirmyer as the Commandant of Clemson’s Corp of Cadets. “One judges a tree by its fruit,” wrote Gonzales. “The fruits of Lt. Sirmyer’s actions have been lawlessness and provocation of domestic war.”

Please Clemson fans, this November, as the loudspeakers in Williams Brice ring over and over with the beautiful sounds of a Gamecock crowing, do not be bitter or angry. Rejoice with us as we true South Carolinians celebrate in our victory. Let us celebrate our victory, and please don’t get mad at us about our Gamecocks.

Go Gamecocks!

Edwin’s Top Six

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I feel that you have to favor the undefeated teams. Between Oklahoma and Clemson, I favor Oklahoma because they have played a tougher schedule. However, Clemson also controls it’s own destiny. By beating Miami it will move into the top four and Miami will fall out. Auburn is interesting. They also control their own destiny. If they win out beating Alabama and Georgia again, they will be into the playoff. Obviously, if the three undefeated teams win out they are all in the playoff.

Diplomacy as art

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I’m going to make the remarkable assertion that every Diplomacy game is a potential work of art. A great Diplomacy game is art. The number of twists in the story of the game are potentially multiple. The plot and tension of a good game rise and fall.

Listen to Kurt Vonnegut discuss the shape of stories and imagine a diplomacy game where the players are the author of the game. I used the term singularly because it is a singular story written by seven players together.

 

A good game of Diplomacy is a great story. A great story is a work of art. Students, you are the artists who write your own game.

Imagine, if you will, the story of England. He starts out as an average boy. But Professor edouche says unkind things and England becomes unhinged, emotionally unstable. Things go from bad to worse as England makes a series of wild accusations against professor edouche and everyone else involved the Diplomacy game too. England makes so many accusations, and so wild are they, he cannot sink much lower. All England’s neighbors begin to imagine he is a pariah. England feels very sad and isolated from the community. The fortunes of England decline precipitously.

But England regrets his actions. He is sorry for what he said and did. He is especially sorry for his remarks about edouche, who he now recognizes as a benevolent savior of England. He repents. Makes conciliatory posts on global. Makes amends for the past wrongs inflicted upon partially innocent neighbors. A neighbor, or maybe two, forgive him. They forgive because that is what human beings do at their highest and greatest. England is redeemed! Restored to her rightful greatness! Praise for edouche! Could this be the story of England in School of War?