# Monthly Archives: February 2013

## Another statistical vote of confidence for Aaron Murray

I’ve been a fan of Chase Stuart’s blog for a while now.  My only quibble is that he spends a lot more time delving into the statistical universe of the pro game than he does college football.  But thanks to Marty (who deserves a lot more attention for the work he does at cfbstats.com than he gets, by the way), it sounds like I’m about to get a lot happier.

A few weeks ago, I discovered cfbstats.com, which has made available for download an incredible amount of college football statistics from the last eight seasons. Thanks to them, I plan to apply some of the same techniques I’ve used on NFL numbers over the years to college statistics. If you’re a fan of college football, you’re probably already reading talented writers like Bill Connelly and Brian Fremeau, but hopefully I can bring something new to the table for you to enjoy.

Since that’s the start of a piece on the best passing college quarterbacks from last season, I’d say he’s already succeeded.

You can read about the metric he employs to rate quarterbacks here.  (Short explanation:  “ANY/A is calculated by starting with passing yards per attempt, adding 20 yards for each touchdown and subtracting 45 yards for each interception, and subtracting sack yards lost from the numerator and adding sacks to the denominator.”)  He then describes the tweaks he made for the college game:

There’s a small problem, however, if you want to calculate ANY/A at the college level: the NCAA counts sacks as rush attempts and sack yards lost as negative rushing yards. I manually overrode2 that decision in my data set, so going forward, all rushing and passing data will include sack data in the preferred manner (keep this in mind when you compare the statistics I present to the “official” ones).

But calculating each quarterback’s ANY/A isn’t enough, as the varying strengths of schedule faced by college quarterbacks are too significant to ignore. So using the method described here, I came up with SOS-adjusted ANY/A for each quarterback in each game last year. This method involves an iterative process, so each quarterback’s performance is adjusted for the strength of the opposing defense, which has a rating that is adjusted for the quarterbacks it faced (including the quarterback in question), and so on, until the ratings converge. The usual caveats apply about defenses and quarterbacks that change in ability level over the course of the year.

Adjusted for defensive strength, Aaron Murray tops his list.

Let’s use Georgia’s Aaron Murray as an example. He averaged 3.88 ANY/A over average against a schedule that was 0.68 ANY/A tougher than average; that means he gets credit for being 4.56 ANY/A over average against a neutral schedule. Since he had 412 dropbacks last year (386 passes, 26 sacks), we multiply 4.56 by 412 to get his value added over average.

Honestly, I’m not that surprised, given Murray’s statistical dominance in the generic ypa stat last season.  What is a little more surprising is the presence of SEC quarterbacks high on Chase’s list – five of the top ten.  Some of that can be chalked up to the strength of the defenses they saw – six of the top ten SOS numbers belong to SEC quarterbacks, and another, Ole Miss’ Bo Wallace, ranked eleventh – but those players still had to perform well.

One other thing that caught my eye was his list of top 25 quarterback games of 2012.  Murray’s was the only name to appear on that list three times.  And it’s the third one, against Kentucky, that made me go back and think about something.  Murray gets his fair share of criticism for not winning the big game, but does Georgia win that game if he doesn’t pick the team up and put it on his back?

Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

## “Just think of how creative people can be when there are no restrictions on it.”

I keep trying to walk away from the Greg McGarity vs. the new NCAA recruiting rules story, but he keeps pulling me back in.  Does anybody really think this is what’s keeping him up at night?

“We have the resources, to a certain level,” McGarity said. “But what level is that? The rule would let each institution make that decision. But for the good of the game, if you take a step back, our institution, and what’s for the best for college athletics in general, then basically with the approval of this legislation you would be furthering the separation of the haves and haves not. And right now you would say there are probably 22 haves, and the rest of the programs in the country operate in the red already. I don’t think that’s good for the whole.”

I mean, if he’s that concerned about the programs not operating in the black, perhaps he’s willing to consider some form of revenue sharing… Riiiiight.

This isn’t about not sticking it to the little guy further.  It’s about Alabama and other SEC schools making Georgia spend money McGarity doesn’t want to spend.

(As a side note for those of you who don’t think Mark Richt has learned from experience to read which way the winds blow at Butts-Mehre, you might want to check out this interview.)

Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting, The NCAA

## Yeah, he’s gonna have some normal teen years.

Nor is it that LSU has already offered the kid.

It’s not even that he’s attended LSU’s last five youth camps.

Nah, it’s this comment from his dad:  “I don’t think he feels any need to rush his decision.”

It’s times like this I really, really wish college football would adopt Andy Staples’ proposal.

Filed under Recruiting

## Setting up for 2013: SEC East

I’m sort of curious what the group’s impression of which schools have the toughest and easiest rebuilding jobs in the SEC East this season.  That’s not the same thing as assessing which schools will win the most or least games; rather, I’m just looking at last season as a baseline and trying to figure out who’s got the most work cut out for them merely in terms of not falling back.

Edward Aschoff’s spring preview is as good a place to start as any, I figure.  With the losses on defense, I know Georgia’s the popular pick in terms of which program in the division took the biggest hits, but looking at his list, is there any school starting farther behind last year’s eight-ball than Tennessee?  New staff, a completely nuked passing attack and a third defensive scheme in three years suggest that the Vols will have personnel issues all over the field.

On the other side of the coin, dare I say it, Vanderbilt looks like it has the most manageable job of regrouping in the East.  Stacy and Rodgers are gone, but there’s talent at running back and Jordan Matthews’ return should make the next quarterback’s job a little easier.  Aschoff doesn’t mention it, but the ‘Dores only lose five starters on defense.

What do y’all think?

Filed under SEC Football

## “Effort was not needed.”

Former LSU defensive player Sam Montgomery wins today’s “Damn, son, I don’t think I would’ve said that” award with this rather… well, stupid admission:

“You know, some weeks when we didn’t have to play the harder teams, there were some times when effort was not needed,” Montgomery said when asked about LSU coaches not being happy with his consistency of effort. “But when we had the big boys coming in, the Bamas or the South Carolinas, I grabbed close to those guys (teammates) and went all out.

I guess his next head coach had better hope that money turns out to be a helluva motivating factor.  Because Montgomery doesn’t sound too impressed with his last set.

“Of course, this is a new league, the NFL and there are no small teams, small divisions It is all Alabamas and LSUs every week. It’s definitely something I have to get adjusted to, but I’m sure with the right coaching I will be fine.”  [Emphasis added.]

I bet Miles’ hat looks even smaller on his head after he’s read that.

Filed under SEC Football

## So, how uneasy lies Emmert’s head?

USA Today suggests that the executive committee’s pronouncement this weekend settles the matter of Mark Emmert’s NCAA presidency being in jeopardy, at least for now.

But even that story goes on to note that some unrest exists.

CBSSports.com reported Friday that a memo had circulated within Mountain West Conference leadership that read, in part, “Is it time for the presidents to seek new NCAA leadership or a new organization?” The memo reportedly was directed toward Fresno State President John Welty, who represents the MWC on the Division I Board of Directors.

Bruce Feldman paints an even bleaker picture for Emmert and his supporters.

So on Saturday, we got that glowing statement about Emmert and the Executive Committee, and it went over with quite a thud. A source at a big BCS school I spoke with Saturday night told me he’s heard Emmert won’t keep his job. And there are too many people coming at the guy now from all sides, and the Executive Committee’s statement only inflamed things around him even more. I don’t know. Maybe that is just wishful thinking. Does that mean Emmert will be forced out in the next year?

I’m not certain anything is as imminent as all that, but I do think Feldman’s spot on about what’s coming down the pike.

I suspect we’re going to get even more lawsuits, which has the potential to uncover more embarrassing information about how the NCAA operates its murky system of “justice” — and I’ve heard there will be more details coming out soon about Emmert that will only fan the flames of his grease fire. One intriguing part of this will be what Miami president Donna Shalala does down the road as the UM case keeps unfolding. No school ever has come out as hard against the NCAA publicly as Miami did earlier this week. Among the haymakers: “…sadly the NCAA has not lived up to their own core principles. The lengthy and already flawed investigation has demonstrated a disappointing pattern of unprofessional and unethical behavior.”

Shalala, keep in mind, has as many big connections in the world of politics as anyone in the NCAA community from her days in D.C., where she served eight years as the Secretary of Health and Human Services. She has clout and isn’t intimidated playing politics. I doubt the NCAA wants this ending up on Capitol Hill.

Those who are invested with Emmert will stay with him as long as it’s convenient, but if a big enough shit storm gets kicked up, especially one that makes it much more difficult for the organization to enforce its rules, they’ll dump him over the side in a heartbeat.  Even more so if a legitimate threat from the political arena surfaces.

One thing about these leaks to consider is that plenty of folks out there are already working on separating Emmert from his position.  You can figure that there are more than a few ambitious ones in their ranks – more than there are on the other side.  And a good offense always beats a mediocre defense.

Filed under The NCAA

## Mark Richt has not lost control over the next recruiting coordinator.

Georgia’s coach delivers a Sabanesque backhand to Carvell’s latest question.

UGA coach Mark Richt told the AJC that he’s not ready to appoint somebody else to the title formerly held by Garner, the longtime recruiting coordinator for the Bulldogs who was hired away by Auburn in late December.

“Yes, I don’t think we need to do that … at this moment,” Richt said. “I don’t have any plans on naming anybody recruiting coordinator. [The job title] is a matter of semantics, really.”

Translation:  when they need to spend money on giving somebody the title, they’ll think about it.  Until then, nobody’s got time for that shit.

Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting

## “Keep Calm and Johnny Football.”

I got a couple of e-mails about the NCAA’s blessing of Johnny Manziel’s trademark infringement lawsuit, particularly this:

The lawsuit asks the court to award damages for the unlawful sale of the “Johnny Football” T-shirts. Texas A&M’s compliance office recently received a ruling from the NCAA that a student-athlete can keep financial earnings as a result of a legal action.  [Emphasis added.]

Are we looking at a hole there in the NCAA’s amateurism stance that’s big enough to drive a Mack semi through?  Well, this is the NCAA we’re talking about, so it’s probably wise not to draw any hard and fast conclusions, but John Infante suggests there may not be that much to be concerned about with the NCAA’s ruling.

The buzz is not over Manziel’s suit itself but over the possibility that the NCAA has created a huge loophole. The way the scam would work is that a booster would sell items using the likeness of an athlete without permission. The athlete would then sue. The booster would then settle the lawsuit (although the NCAA said nothing about settlement) or simply not defend the lawsuit and allow a default judgment to be entered against them. The booster then pays the athlete the judgment, which they may even have worked out before.

The one holdup is that the athlete is not the only party involved. The institution still has responsibilities when someone makes unauthorized use of a trademark. The NCAA could change the promotional activity bylaws and/or increase the penalties so that a school could no longer allow this activity to happen and simply send cease and desist letters when it does. Schools could be required to disassociate boosters, face bigger penalties, or even be at risk for major violations if the NCAA stepped up enforcement in this area. Even the act of selling the products could be interpreted as an activity that turns a vendor into a booster, thus bringing more people under the umbrella that the school needs to keep an eye on.

In other words, if a scam is really being worked in such a situation, in effect, it’s not just a two-man deal.  And the school could have more at risk than the player.  Infante also makes a valid point that the courts would look unapprovingly on being used to further such an arrangement.

None of which is to say that somebody as smart as, say, Cecil Newton, might not try to give this a go.  You never know if the powers that be are willing to turn a blind eye to something until you test it.

Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

## Sunday brunch buffet

• I get that the Packers want to talk to some college coaches about how better to defend the spread-option, given how they got shredded by Kaepernick in the playoffs.  And I see that they intend to go to more than one place for that.  But Sumlin?  Why not talk to the guy who made Kaepernick into a quarterback in the first place?  (Plus, it’s not like Ault doesn’t have some spare time right now, anyway.)
• Interesting interview with Ellis Johnson about his 4-2-5 defense.  I just wonder how long it’s going to take him to get the right personnel to implement it at Auburn.
• “It’s like a mini-NFL.”
• The highest paid member of Georgia’s non-assistant coaching support staff is Dave Van Halanger, at \$168,570.
• Bet Florida appreciates this Mike Slive observation:  ”If you watched Georgia play this past year and you watched Alabama play, it would be hard-pressed to say that Georgia isn’t one of the top four teams in the country, right?”
• John Infante points out that one of the biggest hits the NCAA has taken with the Miami debacle is that it’s made itself less likely to survive a split in D-1.
• Missouri’s got a nice home schedule this season but elects not to raise general season ticket prices.
• A look at how Alabama will get down from 95 to 85 players on scholarship.

## They got your back, man.

You know, in most of the civilized sporting world, when the big kahuna gets a vote of confidence in a time of trouble, we mock it by adding the term “dreaded”.

When Mark Emmert gets a vote of confidence from the NCAA’s executive committee, we mock it by adding the term “seriously”.

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Filed under The NCAA