It may surprise you to learn there is scientific proof that Butch Jones has been one of the very best coaches in college football over the past two seasons. It’s based on a study that I mentioned in passing a little while ago. It’s a study that’s gotten some criticism, not just at Football Study Hall, but here, too.
He’s right that it’s strange to hear Chou tout ypp as some sort of new thing. Steele, for one, has been on top of that measurement for sometime now. And the interesting thing about that, if you read what Steele posted at the link, is that he doesn’t use ypp as some sort of absolute measure of offensive and defensive efficiency, but rather as a predictor of future performance. And that may have something to do with a point made in the FSH post I linked to:
In sports, a useful metric reflects the skill of a player or team. A skill should be repeatable over the course of the season and less subject to the vagaries of luck.
To determine whether a metric reflects a skill, it is common to look at the correlation between its early and late season values. If the correlation is weak, then this metric regresses to the mean. Randomness plays a large role in its value. If the correlation is strong, this metric represents a skill that persists throughout the season.
For example, consider forcing turnovers in football. While many people think this is a defensive skill, early season turnovers have almost no correlation with late season turnovers. There is a lot of randomness in forcing turnovers, and good handicappers have used this for years to predict the outcome of football games.
To illustrate, here are Chou’s ten most efficient teams of 2012: Alabama, Notre Dame, Florida, Kansas State, Stanford, Georgia, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas A&M and Oregon State. With two exceptions, all of those schools finished in the top thirty in turnover margin – and only one of those others (TAMU) finished with a negative turnover margin for the season.
Now it’s true that Chou maintains a significant correlation with his measurement and winning percentage, but I’m not sure how meaningful that may be, at least to the extent Chou maintains it can be relied upon. (See page 11 at the link.)
All of which is my windy way of saying that I’d like to withdraw my earlier snark on this and transfer it to Butch Jones’ first season in Knoxville, where it belongs.