Category Archives: Stats Geek!

Monday morning buffet

As you might expect, there’s a little extra union-y seasoning in the chafing dishes this morning.

About these ads

9 Comments

Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, Georgia Football, Look For The Union Label, Nick Saban Rules, Political Wankery, Stats Geek!, The Evil Genius, Whoa, oh, Alabama

Wednesday morning buffet

Dig in, peeps.

  • From his new role as H-Back, Quayvon Hicks vows that this year will be different.  “I fell off and it won’t happen again,” the junior said. “I’m going to do what I’ve got to do to make sure I’m on the field all season this coming fall.”  I’ll leave it to you to ask the obvious follow-up question.
  • Football Study Hall looks at how sack rates affect point production.
  • Barrett Sallee argues that SEC teams have a track record of thriving with inexperienced quarterbacks.
  • Division III is struggling financially, but is is likely opposed to the easiest way to cut costs, limiting the number of teams in the NCAA championships.  Typical.
  • Man, it hurts a little reading this.  What could have been.
  • The NCAA is looking at adding parties other than college presidents and giving them voting rights to its Board of Directors, while reserving an option go into a president-only executive session when desired.  Accountability without effect – it’s the NCAA way!
  • Another Mark Richt has lost control incident.  You think he’ll make a crack about it?
  • Dr Pepper spends the money to have its name plastered on the CFP championship trophy.

16 Comments

Filed under 'Cock Envy, BCS/Playoffs, Crime and Punishment, Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness, SEC Football, Stats Geek!, The NCAA

The stat guy and the analyst

I think Gary Danielson is one of the best color guys in the business.  His opinions on other aspects of college football, though, often don’t click with me.  That being said, I found this exchange he had with Bill Connelly at the recent Sloan Sports Analytics Conference to be a fun read I thought I’d share:

Gary Danielson: To me, stats tell the story of what has happened, not what will happen. I find it interesting, but I just don’t use it a lot. I played for the Lions, and I thought we had a chance to win every game. I didn’t want to find out that we didn’t.

It’s hard to put in highbrow stats into a game. It’s not like the NFL game — it’s a lot different. So many players, such different talent levels. The stats I use are most closely associated with the credible stats that Cris Collinsworth gets in the NFL.

Let me ask you this: If a team, according to stats, gets inside the 20-yard line four times, and they don’t score any touchdowns, is that a good thing?

We actually chatted about this for a few minutes. His point was that creating scoring opportunities is a very positive thing (and potentially a sign that you’ll be creating more), but blowing opportunities is tough. Teams quite often lose because of blown chances (see: Iron Bowl 2013), but teams that generate opportunities are likely to keep generating opportunities. The bottom line: stat folks are often seen as searching for concrete, black-and-white conclusions. Yes, you should absolutely go for it on fourth down here. Yes, this is good, and this is bad. Et cetera. That’s the common perception. But really, it’s the exact opposite. Most stat lovers revel in the gray area, the total lack of concrete answers.

Both get some good points in.  A guy like Bill isn’t arrogant enough to suggest stats paint a black and white world, but there are people out there – shoot, there are commenters here – who will try to insist otherwise.  On the other hand, sometimes there’s more to learn about the sport in Bill’s gray area than Danielson seems ready to admit.

The real issue is that college football is a much harder sport to illuminate with statistical analysis than most others.  But that doesn’t mean the search doesn’t have its rewards.

10 Comments

Filed under Stats Geek!

“You’re hiding all the good numbers from me.”

There are so many ways ESPN’s influence over the sport of college football depresses me.  Here’s another one, straight from MIT’s eighth Sloan Sports Analytics Conference.

The panel, like the other larger productions at Sloan, is being held in a spacious ballroom at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. Its organizing idea so far has been a particular cogent observation by Oliver, which is that “best” and “most deserving” are two completely different things when it comes to ranking teams for inclusion in a playoff. Addressing both separately, instead of trying to cram them into one metric, is a perfectly sensible thing to do, and for this, ESPN has brought all its considerably weaponry to bear. Oliver and other senior analytics staff have spent the last two years immersed in college football, which has lagged behind other sports in statistical sophistication…

… But we haven’t really talked much about CHAMP and FPI during the football playoff panel. It’s been more focused on how the individual SOS and dominance numbers are good tools for committee members to look at, if they want. It’s enough to make you wonder why ESPN would even bother with the catch-alls. Then, suddenly, Rece Davis, Mark May, and Lou Holtz are bellowing down at the audience in Ballroom A at the Hynes from two giant screens, projected on either side of the room, howling about who the best team in the country is. “Alabama,” says a grinning Holtz. “They’re the best team in the country, they don’t have the best record—that’s the problem.”

… It’s an open secret that the ESPN analytics team generates far more data than it makes public, and certainly more than make it onto TV. “We’re still a TV company first,” many analysts will tell you in private moments, when you ask about stuff that only lives on “dot com.” This means that anything that isn’t generated for a specific story will get dumped into what’s called an NST (notes, stats, trends) pack, and sent out as notes to anchors. If you really like an item, you might phrase it in 140 characters or less, to make it tweetable, though those often go unclaimed as well. You learn whom to pitch to (Kirk Herbstreit is great; Jay Bilas is a sponge) and whom to avoid (maybe stay away from Corso). ..

… That isn’t evil; it’s just good sense. ESPN is not a statistics-generating non-profit put on Earth to further our understanding of sports. But it is the tension at the heart of the entire conference: TV personalities using numbers and concepts with their edges sanded down, a platform (panel, conference, network) that often insists analytics are dichotomous with all other forms of knowledge about sports…

It’s not enough to have various talking heads spinning a narrative your way. ESPN arms them with serious looking metrics that ESPN in its infinite wisdom has concocted to make them sound more authoritative to the listening public. And to, who knows, maybe even a selection committee or two.  That’s some seriously pernicious power there.

17 Comments

Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, Stats Geek!

Going for two

The NFL is pondering changing the extra point rule because it’s almost automatic now.  That’s not exactly the case on the college level, but given there’s a certain percentage of folks who think that anything the NFL adopts should automatically be considered by the NCAA, you might be interested in reading what Chase Stuart has to say about the prospects of a mandated two-point play rule.

19 Comments

Filed under Stats Geek!, Strategery And Mechanics

Say what you want about the tenets of Bill Snyder’s offense, Dude, at least it’s an ethos.

Bill Connelly starts with a pretty interesting premise.

The word “spread” has come to describe about 38 different styles of offense in college football. If you line your tight end up detached from the line, you’re a spread. If you utilize mostly four wideouts, you’re a spread. Hell, if your quarterback lines up mostly in the shotgun, you’re a spread. These all have kernels of truth in them, but at this point, the spread has mostly lost its meaning. Saying a team runs a “spread” offense tells you almost nothing about what kind of offense the team actually runs.

At its heart, though, the spread ethos is about putting playmakers in space and giving them room to make plays. It originally developed as an underdog tactic of sorts, as a way to spread out and harry more talented defenses and hopefully force some mistakes. But there is a certain level of tactical superiority to the idea, and after a while, a lot of the most talented teams in the country began to employ more and more spread tactics.

And uses that to get to the following line of inquiry:

But who actually spread you out the most in 2013? Whether a team is actually doing it well or not, the spread is designed to create numbers advantages and get the ball-carrier away from a mass of tacklers. That often leads to solo tackles. So which offensive systems led to the most solo tackles?

There are some interesting results, with this leading the way.

The most interesting team on the list might be right at the very top, however. Kansas State was the most spread-’em-out team in the land according to this method. That seems quite strange, at least until you read what Mike Nixon wrote about KSU back in 2012.

No matter what the defenses throw at them, the Wildcats can adjust and exploit the holes of the defense. Mixing in a balance of traditional offset I-formations, single-back two tight end formations, several three-, four-, and five- wide spread variations, and even a dose of the Wildcat, KSU creates endless headaches for opposing coaches.

Even better yet, the Wildcats are extremely balanced in their run/pass splits out of each formation. While some teams become extremely predictable when they line-up in particular formations, KSU seems to do an incredible job of self-scouting to ensure they do not fall into any formation tendencies and become predictable. Whether it’s a strong play-action game out of the offset I-Formation or running a quarterback lead draw out of a shotgun spread formation, the Wildcats make sure opponents are threatened across the board in every formation they show.

The Air Raid gets the attention, but KSU creates a spread ethos in a way that includes a lot of tight ends and fullbacks (and about two good receivers). The Wildcats are incredibly unique, and considering they ranked 14th in Off. F/+ in their first year after Collin Klein left, it appears they know what they’re doing.

It’s funny how much Bill Snyder’s name comes up when you study college ball.  He’s a damned good coach.

15 Comments

Filed under Stats Geek!, Strategery And Mechanics

Friday morning buffet

There’s always something to grab.

  • Talk about preparation:  Mike Ekeler watched every snap last season of the Bulldogs’ special teams before his interview with Richt.  Talk about being a glutton for punishment, too.
  • Based on recruiting rankings, which teams and coaches were the biggest over and under achievers?
  • ESPN is set to announce that the 2014 college football season will begin at its earliest point in 11 years.
  • Here are some details from the third day of hearings on whether the National Labor Relations Board should certify the Northwestern players’ unionization request.
  • And here is a listing of the spring practice start dates and spring game dates for all 14 SEC schools.
  • Charlie Pierce uses Mark Richt to mock Georgia pols’ attempt to let guns on campus.
  • Arkansas’ plan to modify its school color leads to a post about color scales that probably has more information than you could possibly care about.  But since it also mentions Georgia, what the hell.
  • MaconDawg wonders if Georgia’s 2015 recruiting indicates that future offensive changes are a possibility.

20 Comments

Filed under Arkansas Is Kind Of A Big Deal, College Football, ESPN Is The Devil, Georgia Football, Political Wankery, Recruiting, SEC Football, Stats Geek!

Wednesday morning buffet

It’s not as if there’s nothing left to fill the chafing dishes.

33 Comments

Filed under Crime and Punishment, Georgia Football, SEC Football, Stats Geek!, What's Bet In Vegas Stays In Vegas

Thursday morning buffet

If you’re facing the same weather conditions I am, it’s not like you’ve got anything better to do right now than to slip into the buffet line.

  • Sorry, Missouri, but you just got the KC Joyner kiss of death.
  • Stewart Mandel throws in the towel on oversigning.
  • Clowney says he might have stayed in Columbia for his senior year if he were paid enough to support his family.  Now he tells ‘em.
  • The NCAA’s Division I Board of Directors hopes to have a new management structure in place by August.
  • Here’s a coach who’s on his eighth job in eight years.
  • It turns out that among all the Vols who were arrested at that wild party last weekend, a man who identified himself as an assistant strength coach for Tennessee’s football team was handcuffed and put in the back of a squad car when he tried to intervene.
  • “An online survey by a group of Canadian researchers suggests that Internet trolls are more likely than others to show signs of sadism, psychopathy and “Machiavellianism”: a disregard for morality and tendency to manipulate or exploit others.”
  • The NLRB held its first hearing yesterday on the Northwestern players’ move to be certified as a union.

14 Comments

Filed under 'Cock Envy, Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, College Football, Crime and Punishment, Media Punditry/Foibles, Recruiting, SEC Football, Stats Geek!, The Blogosphere, The NCAA

Monday morning buffet

Clearing the decks… dig in.

  • “We felt like our tight end position was really a little scary with the depth there,” coach Mark Richt said.
  • To me, the most interesting aspect of the Michael Sam coming out story is whether the NFL will be able to deal with Sam’s sexual orientation as maturely as Missouri did.
  • Rodney Garner complains of overcoming negative recruiting in his success in getting Dontavius Russell to flip from Georgia to Auburn.
  • Good story from the Chattanooga paper on how their college football careers played out for 50 area recruits(h/t Scorpio Jones, III)
  • Bill Connelly has his first S&P+ projections for 2014.  Georgia is eighth.
  • I’m not sure Bret Bielema understands how recruiting rankings work.  Either that, or he’s convinced he’s really, really good at finding diamonds in the rough.
  • Chalk up another head coach who sees the role technology plays in recruiting these days.  Mark Stoops“I think it’s easier in some ways because of all the social media that you have,” he said.
  • Junior, a look back.

34 Comments

Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands, Don't Mess With Lane Kiffin, Georgia Football, Recruiting, SEC Football, Stats Geek!