Monthly Archives: January 2008

That does not compute.

I posted a couple of days ago about Sunday Morning Quarterback’s initial analysis of stats and how they correlated to wins in the 2007-8 season.  Specifically, I was curious to see how Georgia’s statistical performance stacked up in light of the 10 win season and lofty ranking after the Sugar Bowl.

My initial conclusion was that, while Georgia’s statistical performance in the top eight categories that SMQ found most closely correlated to wins and losses wasn’t bad, it wasn’t as impressive as the stats from some other schools that finished with similar records.   (I suspect there’s more to the story, but I haven’t figured out what that might be yet.)

Anyway, SMQ has posted his second installment on the matter and it seems to confirm my initial impression.  He charts the statistical rankings in nine categories of every D-1 team that finished with at least 10 wins last season and takes an average.  Georgia’s average of 41.7 is fourth worst among the sixteen teams listed that are in BCS conferences.  (As a comparison, LSU’s 17.9 is second best.)

More damning is the chart he compiles that matches the AP top 20 against each schools statistical average.  Georgia, ranked second, but carrying a 14th ranked statistical average, has one of the biggest negative spreads on the list.  Which in turn leads to this telling comment:

Is it significant that the three teams that finished much better in the polls than on paper (Georgia, Tennessee and Auburn) are all from the SEC? Probably, though for different reasons depending on your perspective: either pollsters are so blinded in favor of the mythical speeeeeeed in the conference they chronically overrate its members, or the SEC is just too tough to compare to other girlie conferences. They’re probably both right.

I do think that one thing that is lacking in this analysis is factoring in something for strength of schedule.  But even were that included, it wouldn’t explain the significant disparity in the results for LSU and Georgia, would it?  Everything I’m seeing in this analysis reinforces my opinion that LSU was the best team in the country last season.  The numbers just tell me that it really wasn’t that close.

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Filed under College Football, Stats Geek!

A wild and crazy guy

That Evil Mark Richt meme takes a hit with this SI.com recruiting story.

After recounting the Willie Williams saga, complete with wine, wimmen and lobsters, Andy Staples lets us know what passes for a hot night in Dawg Land:

… To understand how the official visit — the two-day, all-expenses-paid trip that allows prospective athletes to see what a school has to offer — has changed since your tour, Willie, consider the wildest part of the biggest visit weekend at Georgia this recruiting season. On the night of Dec. 6, some of the nation’s top players gathered at the home of Bulldogs coach Mark Richt and played ping-pong. That’s right, ping-pong.

“[Richt] is pretty dominant. He didn’t lose the entire night,” said Bryce Ros, a Kennesaw, Ga., tight end who will officially sign next week to play for a coach who apparently is the best American table tennis player since Forrest Gump.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting

Recruiting: what’s not to like?

Orson at EDSBS has a post up that’s an interview with CNNSI.com’s recruiting guy, Andy Staples, that will warm the cockles of the hearts of Georgia fans.

First, the good stuff:

5. Conversely: whose class is addressing needs perfectly?

… I realize a lot of Florida fans frequent EDSBS, so they’re not going to like this. Georgia really didn’t need much more talent, but the Bulldogs cleaned up. A.J. Green, a 6-4 receiver from Summerville, S.C., looked like a future star at the Under Armour All American game on Jan. 5. Georgia has 25 commitments, and five players already have enrolled.

Then, even better, the bad stuff:

6. What programs are tanking in this year’s recruiting?

Tennessee has not gotten many of its high-profile targets, but the Vols still have a chance to bolster the class with a few undecided players. One is Anniston, Ala., offensive tackle Antoine McClain, who also is considering Alabama, Auburn and LSU. Georgia Tech, which is hampered by high academic standards and a coaching change, hasn’t pulled in any big-name recruits…

Sounds like a bee-you-tee-ful year to me.

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Filed under Recruiting

“For everyone there, it’s football first, and education second, as an afterthought.”

The Seattle Times continues its series on the 2000 University of Washington football team with this inspiring story about one kid who’s managed to rise above his background and no small amount of institutional resistance to make something special with his life.

If you haven’t been keeping up with the series, it’s definitely worth reading through all of the articles.  Click on the links at the story.

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Filed under Academics? Academics.

Only in America

Now this is a fascinating debate. There are pundits arguing that it would be a good thing for undefeated, No. 1 ranked Memphis to lose a regular season basketball game.

On Saturday, ESPN.com’s Pat Forde wrote, “But in my view, pulling an undefeated bull’s-eye into March Madness will hinder Memphis’ title quest.”

On Jan. 10, Sports Illustrated’s Seth Davis wrote, “Personally, I think this is a no-brainer. I say it’s better not to be undefeated … (I) believe that if a team hasn’t experienced losing, then it doesn’t achieve the kind of growth that can only come about through adversity. And at some point, instead of playing to win, you start playing not to lose.”

Can you imagine the response Forde would get if he suggested something similar during a college football season?

But, hey, it’s not like an extended playoff cheapens the regular season, is it?

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs, Media Punditry/Foibles

This is why they paid him the big bucks.

Recruiting insight from Danny Ford“… you can’t coach people who can’t play. You just can’t.”

It’s hard to believe that someone capable of spouting wisdom like that is stuck on a farm in some god-forsaken place in South Carolina.

It’s even harder to believe that someone thought this was worth wasting a newspaper article on.

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Filed under Media Punditry/Foibles, Recruiting

Coming soon to a theater near you

Notice the member of the cast in the lower left hand corner of the poster.  I wonder if there’s a scene where he goes after a player’s family jewels…

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Filed under Georgia Football

“The calendar has accelerated itself.”

With the announcements yesterday that Georgia received three verbal commitments for its 2009 class, this USA Today article on an early signing period for D-1 football is pretty timely.

The recruiting factoid of the day:

… According to Rob Ianello, wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator at Notre Dame, more than 1,500 high school players had committed to 117 schools in time for an early signing period in December.

“The process is to the point right now where kids have decided where they want to go to school,” says Ianello, the assistant coaches’ representative to the AFCA board of trustees. “The average was about 13.2 per school, which is over half your class…”

What I don’t get is why these assistant coaches are advocating for the extra date in mid-December. Or, more accurately, what I don’t get is why these assistant coaches think a date in mid-December brings much to the table from the standpoint of the recruits and their high schools.

“For me, it would be a hassle,” says Sean Callahan of Armwood High in Seffner, Fla., whose USA TODAY All-USA offensive lineman Matt Patchan has committed to Florida. “I’m hopefully playing football in mid-December. If you said second or first week in January, that would be fine. Our … kids usually wait until January to make up their mind.”

I’m being facetious, of course. Here’s the money quote:

“There’s also a strong academic component here,” Ianello says of his football proposal. “If a young man knows where he’s going, he doesn’t have to worry about getting chased around and hassled in January, and he can concentrate on school. There’s a cost-saving measure, because you have some players you don’t have to go down and see in January. And you eliminate some of this commit-decommit stuff that goes on in January.”

My guess is the last two sentences are of far greater import to Ianello than is the first.

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UPDATE:  ESPN’s Bruce Feldman thinks ($$) an early signing date is a bad idea.

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Filed under Recruiting

Signs of success

Sunday Morning Quarterback dives back into the stat pool to tell us what statistics best correlate (not cause) with winning and losing in 2007.

Much as last year, he finds that what matters most is playing good defense – stopping the run is foremost – and being efficient on offense.

… the best teams in the three major non-scoring defensive categories not only won more than teams excelling in any other category, but the worst defensive teams lost more, too. Among the top 20 teams, this is exactly the same result as last year and in the much smaller look the year before that.

Offensively, we see that the best teams were far more efficient that they were necessarily explosive: turnover margin, passing efficiency and third down percentage correlated to better records at the top and worse records at the bottom than even total offense, and to much better/worse results at the poles than rushing or passing yards per game…

I was a bit curious to see where Georgia stacked up based on his analysis. I took the eight categories that SMQ found the highest correlation with wins and losses and checked them against Georgia’s national rankings at the NCAA stats site. To get some idea of their relevancy, I did the same with four other teams – two schools in the SEC (LSU and Florida), West Virginia (because of the way the Mountaineers stood out when I did this rather crude analysis) and Southern California (the other “hot team” besides Georgia in the national media’s mind at season’s end).

Here’s how it all shook out:

SCHOOL RUSH DEF. PASS EFFIC. DEF. TOTAL DEF. 3RD DOWN OFF. T/O MARGIN PASS. EFFIC. OFF. TOTAL OFF. 3RD DOWN DEF.
LSU 12 3 3 14 2 37 26 29
GEORGIA 16 36 14 24 18 61 74 23
FLORIDA 10 71 41 1 32 2 14 75
W. VIR. 18 28 7 8 9 11 15 36
S. CAL. 4 6 2 28 41 36 8 29

What can we tell from this? First off, if winning programs excelled in these eight categories last season, it’s apparent why LSU wound up as national champs. These numbers also give a pretty clear indication why Florida’s season went the way it did.

Georgia’s numbers, to be honest, are meh for the most part. The Dawgs did lead in one category, 3rd down defense, but it’s the eighth most important stat on the list and it’s the only category in which none of the five schools finished in the national top ten. On the other hand, Georgia finished last in two stats and in both cases they were bad lasts.

Still, the numbers show that Georgia did a fine job stopping the run and playing good defense and that while Bobo’s charges weren’t too great on the passing efficiency front and gaining yardage, they were good at moving the chains on third down. I still think there’s more to this story, though.

In any event, if you’re a believer in room for improvement, it’s a good thing that there are some areas where Georgia can step up next year. You have to think that if Stafford grows into the job even more, this team has a chance to be very good in ’08.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

Save a seat for me, please.

From the “dang, that didn’t take long” department: Georgia has its first verbal commitments for the class of 2009.

I guess the message from the Sanders and Hunter sagas has gotten out.

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UPDATE: It certainly has.

“I didn’t want anybody to take my spot,” Vasser said.

To that end, Vasser had a deal with Georgia: He wanted to know the second any other linebacker committed to the Bulldogs. He knew Georgia was going to take only two linebackers in the class of 2009, and he wanted to make sure he was one of those two.

“When I heard [Dexter] Moody committed early today, I called up Coach (John) Jancek and told him I was committed,” Vasser said. “I wasn’t even going to wait for him to call me.”

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Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting