Butch Jones, number four with a bullet

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.

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “Butch Jones, number four with a bullet

  1. Lrgk9

    It’s a hard row Butchsodkins has chosen to hoe.

  2. I’m more excited about facing a Willie and Jancek D than Butch Jones.

  3. Mayor of Dawgtown

    The most important bit of information in this is that A&M did what it did last season and had a negative turnover margin. Yikes! If they ever get a positive turnover margin–look out!

  4. Cojones

    But yppo correlates as well as yppla. While yppla explains 40% of the season’s variance (as compared to yppo’s 7%), long plays will really fuck it up.

    Theories are reinvented every day; i.e., “Nothing is new under the sun”. If Vegas oddsmakers can use it, why not put it in the mainstream of sports writers? I remember researching environmental pollution once and dumped food waste material fouling a ditch was reported in a paper submitted to the Royal Academy of Science in the 1600s. Chou’s yppo correlation is beyond coincidence as is yppla. Not as good mind you, but not to be dismissed with a “meh”.

    But none of the theories can match the good gut feeling of a UGA fan.

  5. Cojones

    Having a measurement for effort in CFB is great and both yppo and yppla suit me fine. Thanks for revisiting to change your mind because now we all can use them both this year. How about right after Clemson? Then SC? If we kick ass in both those games, I’ll be so ebullient that theories will be the last thing on my mind.