Daily Archives: November 11, 2009

Two TV factoids

Maybe we’re tuning in for the bad officiating:

CBS’ SEC college football games are so far averaging 4% of U.S. TV households, compared to 3.9% for ABC games. Since CBS resumed airing college football in 1996, this is the first time the network’s ratings have topped ABC’s this late in the season…

Seriously, that’s impressive, considering that this has been a down year in the SEC and that both division races are wrapped up.

Meanwhile, what’s gotten into the water in Bristol, Connecticut?

… ESPN is the worldwide leader in hype. But its College GameDay show, which each Saturday is staged from big-game sites, is straying from the playbook. The show will be at Texas Christian — which hosts Utah on the CBS College Sports Network Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET) — in what will be its fourth stop this season at a campus not hosting an ESPN/ABC game.

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Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, SEC Football

Rogers Redding doesn’t fly a black helicopter.

As you can tell from the length of my blogroll, there are lots of terrific college football blogs out there.  But there are only a few bloggers whose posts I tend to approach with a sense of awe because of the obvious depth and effort they put into them.

One of those is Ed Gunther, whose The National Championship Issue deserves to be on your must read list.  In Ed’s latest offering, he takes a look at a subject that’s been poked and prodded here and elsewhere – questionable officiating – and decides to break it down to see if there’s any substance to the oft-repeated feeling that there’s something purposeful behind the bad calls.

And when I say “break it down”, I mean break it down.

… we’re looking at 2000-2008, which means 6,761 games. Two teams per game gives us 13,522 team-games…

That’s right – he looked at the penalty numbers from that many games.  Specifically, he looked for a pattern of irregularity from the perspective of home team calls and higher ranked team calls.  And what did he find with all that sifting?  Not very much:

Home / Away Penalties & Yards
category games avg penalties avg pen yards more penalties more %
Home (averages) 6,029 6.3 53.8 2,362 40.1%
Away (averages) 6,059 6.6 54.6 2,855 48.5%
Home (outliers) 356 9.3 87.9 243 49.2%
Away (averages) 326 9.9 85.7 238 48.2%

Hmmm… it doesn’t appear that there’s any significant difference. The home team has a slight edge in the first few columns, but nothing irregular. Something notable is that in the average games, the home team usually takes less penalties, taking more than their visitor just 40.1% of the time. However, when we’re looking at the outliers, the home team takes more penalties a higher percentage of the time, 49.2% to 48.2%. This could be due to the fact that in the average population there’s more visiting team-games and in the outliers there’s more home team-games, but the difference is pretty small. Overall, there doesn’t seem to be much evidence here for the home team having a significant edge penalty-wise.

Let’s look at something else. What about any advantage given to the higher-ranked team?

Penalties & AP Rankings
category All Games Average Games Outlier Games
neither team ranked 5,596 5,286 310
same # of penalties 1,460 1,425 35
higher ranked, more penalties 3,372 3,157 215
higher more % 52.2% 51.9% 56.6%
higher ranked, less penalties 3,088 2,923 165
higher less % 47.8% 48.1% 43.4%

Well, if anything it seems that overall, the higher ranked team usually takes more penalties, and that’s especially the case in the outliers. Interesting.

When you measure that along with something Matt Hinton’s shown repeatedly – namely, that penalties are a relatively insignificant factor in a team’s success – there’s not much there there.

Admittedly, we’ve got a second issue in play here, that of perception.  Not in the perception-equals-reality sense, but more in the Nick Saban-we-don’t-have-time-for-this-shit sense.  Why let this stuff fester, after all?  What do people like Mike Slive gain from having to devote repeated attention to damage control over this?  Given the resources at college football’s disposal, along with the relatively little effort it would take to address some of the more egregious occurrences (assuming that people like Rogers Redding could be made to care, of course), there are a few obvious steps that could be taken to address the common concerns being raised.

Ed’s got a few good suggestions about those:

Do they get a call wrong every now and then? Sure. But a lot of those can easily be avoided with the use of instant replay. Sure, some calls are subjective, like holding or interference. The referees have training and years of experience calling those plays – as long as they’re consistent, I see no reason not to trust them and defer to their judgment in those cases. For situations like the Georgia-LSU celebration penalties, I think the refs are handcuffed by overbearing rules that are trying to damper down the spirit of competition.

But for the non-subjective determinations, like going out-of-bounds or the ball hitting the ground on an attempted shoe-string catch, use instant replay. Get a donor to give your school money for some LCD high-def TV’s, put them in the booth, and use them. Talk to the networks and make them put cameras in more strategic locations so that you can give the guys in the booth the best angles to see the plays – shoot them down the sidelines and endzones, if nothing else. The college game gets it right by reviewing every play. (The NFL knows that would lengthen their games past the mandated 3 hours, so fairness has to take a back seat.) Do whatever it takes to get the call right. I don’t want to hear any crap about the refs being human or bad calls being a part of the game. For subjective calls, fine – I can accept that. But with so much riding on games nowadays, the NCAA, conferences, and schools need to be doing all they can to make sure that the black & white calls are correct. Fans won’t care if it adds an extra 15 minutes to the games, or if a booth review takes a while. Just Get. The Call. Right. They’ll care a whole lot more if you get the call wrong, trust me. Those are things that people besides the refs can fix, so if anything you should be just as pissed at them for letting these things slide.

I think that’s right.  For the most part, it’s not the refs that should have the heat directed at them – it’s the enablers, like the aforementioned Mr. Redding, who are far more concerned about appearance and ass-covering than they are with getting things right for the satisfaction of the fans, players and coaches, who should be getting grief.  But when you’ve got conference commissioners who appear more focused on enforcing gag rules rather than making every effort to see that officials can do their jobs with the least amount of trouble, it’s hard to see much headway being made, at least for now.

17 Comments

Filed under College Football, Stats Geek!

More thoughts, scattered and smothered, on Auburn-Georgia

I intended to take a look at the matchup that the Dawgnation probably dreads the most this week – Willie Martinez versus Gus Malzahn – with this post, but woke up this morning to find that MaconDawg already blazed that trail.  So, instead, you’ll be treated to another round of seemingly unrelated observations about Georgia, because, as you should know by now, I just loves me some bullet points.

  • First off, you really should take the time to read what MaconDawg has to say about that Martinez/Malzahn death match.  He not only got there the firstest, but also with the mostest.  I will say that Arkansas and Kentucky managed to slow down the Auburn attack and if those two defenses could do it, it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility that a Georgia defense could pull something off.  On the other hand, as Jerry Hinnen pointed out in a comment yesterday, “… [Auburn] also went to Knoxville and handed the elder Kiffin’s defense its worst outing of the year in both total yards and yards-per-play…” So maybe an attitude of quiet despair is best after all.
  • Danger, Will Robinson:  A loss to Auburn puts Richt on a four game losing streak against Georgia’s biggest rivals, with a game against an ascendant Georgia Tech coming in two more weeks.  Ask Jim Donnan how that works out over the long haul.
  • When you read posts like this, you wonder how sturdy the team’s psyche is right now, Tennessee Tech shutout notwithstanding.  As rallying cries go, “It’s the best we can do. We want to be 8-4 and see what happens after that” isn’t the most inspirational.
  • It’s week eleven for a fifth year senior quarterback, and he’s still figuring things out“I probably should have (run) it more,” Cox said. “That’s one thing I said last week is, if I don’t like how it looks, I’m just going to take off and run. So I’ll probably end up doing that more but just make sure I take care of the ball.” With quotes like that, it’s not hard to understand why fans get frustrated sometimes.

11 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

Arrogance and stupidity make for an expensive combination.

Matt Hayes gives a reason why Notre Dame dismissing Charlie Weis, even if he loses another game this season, isn’t exactly a slam dunk.

Actually, he gives lots of reasons.

… If ND fires Weis after this season, it owes him $18 million. It’s cut and dried; don’t believe anything else you hear.

That doesn’t mean the university won’t take that step in stressful economic times, but you better believe it has to be part of the discussion. Firing Weis is a minimum $33 million-to-$43 million investment, including the Weis buyout and the hiring of a new coach. It will cost at least $3 million a year to get Brian Kelly or Paul Johnson (on typical five-year deals), and maybe as much as $5 million a year for the pipe dream of getting Urban Meyer from Florida.

It'll cost this much money to hire a new coach for the Irish.

That’s a staggering chunk of change, but if there’s a school that can afford it, even in these times, it’s Notre Dame.  Still, you almost hope it’s enough to make the school stand pat.  Notre Dame and Charlie Weis deserve each other.  If you’re a Notre Dame hater, it’s your basic win-win proposition.

One other thing – if Hayes is right and Weis’ downfall has been the defense, how good an idea is it to replace him with a Brian Kelly or a Paul Johnson?  If Notre Dame can’t get an Urban Meyer, wouldn’t somebody like Gary Patterson make more sense?

13 Comments

Filed under Charlie Weis Is A Big Fat...

And… lovin’ it.

Okay, so maybe it’s not quite as good as being in the national title chase, but if you’re an Ohio State fan, you’re still feeling it right now.  Not only is your team on the verge of beating a severely weakened Iowa squad to win the conference outright and make a trip to the Rose Bowl, but you get to enjoy the luxury of  drawing up the road map for your most hated rival to finish dead last in the conference.

Good times.

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Filed under Big Ten Football, The Blogosphere