Daily Archives: April 13, 2011

Real men of genius

In case you haven’t heard, the Disney Empire has decided it would best serve college football fandom to broadcast the LSU-Oregon and Georgia-Boise State games on September 3rd at the same damned time.

Thanks, fellas!


Filed under ESPN Is The Devil

My baby just wrote me a letter.

This sounds serious… at least a serious as a letter from a bunch of academics can sound, I suppose.

A group of law and economics professors and practitioners has asked the Department of Justice to investigate college football’s Bowl Championship Series under antitrust law.

In a letter, a copy of which was provided to The Wall Street Journal before it was made public, the 21 signatories—who include Richard Thaler of the University of Chicago and Andrew Zimbalist of Smith College—assert that the BCS is a cartel that “secures market access and revenue” for its favored members…

“But the core issue is that six conferences have bearhugged the goodies and agreed to run things for their mutual benefit,” said Len Simon, a San Diego antitrust lawyer who also teaches at the University of San Diego and is one of the signatories.

The hard part about this, as always, is the fight between advocating how the money is spread around versus what the fans care about.  Thus, we get these competing observations:

… The professors claim that the BCS’s control of access to the most important postseason games shields major-conference schools from competition and injures schools in the five non-major conferences, whose champions aren’t guaranteed a BCS berth and have never appeared in the BCS title game. Consumers also are being harmed, the professors allege, because college football’s lack of a playoff limits output. “Consumers aren’t getting what they want,” said Dan Rascher of the University of San Francisco…

… Berri, one of the antitrust letter’s signatories, said he’d like to see a postseason system that distributes revenue and opportunities more evenly. “There are a lot of things wrong with college sports,” he said. “This is just one of them.”

That “consumers aren’t getting what they want” complaint is a bit of nifty footwork.  How do you price that?  (That matters in the context of an antitrust claim.)  The other piece of nifty footwork there is bootstrapping a title game appearance onto the BCS AQ-berth rules.  As I’m sure the signers know, there is no AQ requirement for the BCS title game.

There’s a part of me that’s starting to wish that this whole bluff would get called.  Because the Big Six, if pushed by the Justice Department or some other political entity, would just pick up their ball and go home, leaving what mid-majors they didn’t cherry pick to join them on the outside looking in.  And that would be just fine by me.

Which is what is implicit in the threat that Jim Delany makes that goes right over Matt Sanderson’s head.

… Lately, college football’s major conferences have hardly sounded like they’re in a mood to give more ground to the smaller schools. In December, when Karl Benson of the Western Athletic Conference spoke of getting chances to play “on the big stage” during a panel discussion of conference commissioners in New York, the Big Ten’s Jim Delany said, “The problem is your big stage takes away opportunities that my teams created in 1902.”

“That’s a remarkable statement, because it’s not apparent why non-automatic qualifying conferences should pay tithes to the AQs for fielding championship teams in the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s and ’80s,” said Matt Sanderson, co-founder of Playoff PAC, a political-action committee dedicated to replacing the BCS with a playoff.

That’s not what Delany means at all.  What he means is that conferences like the Big Ten have built an enormous amount of value in the market place that’s reflected in what is paid for things like television rights and season tickets, things which aren’t reflected in most cases with non-AQ schools.  Delany quite rightly wonders why he should be forced to share the wealth with schools and conferences which haven’t earned it.

Ironically, if things play out, it’s possible that Sanderson and I would find ourselves happy with the outcome, at least if we take his wish for a playoff at face value.  If D-1 football were to blow up and the power conferences went on to establish a new structure, there would be a good opportunity for them to shape a postseason with a playoff format.

Of course, while that would make fans happier, it wouldn’t do much for those who think that Sun Belt schools deserve a bigger piece of the pie.



Filed under BCS/Playoffs, Political Wankery

Home is how far you make the other team travel.

This makes sense.

If you’re familiar with scorecasting (and you should be), then you know that one of their arguments is that not only is referee bias the main determinant of home-field advantage, but that based on their data it was the ONLY determinant of home-field advantage.

At least in 1-A college football, this does not appear to be the case. As you can see in the above table, there is a nearly across the board trend towards the home team doing better the further the distance between the two schools.

While it is true that this effect is not huge, it is overall noticeable. Across 1-A, the difference between the win % for home teams within 500km and those 1000+km away is about 5% (59.3% vs 64.3%) when the league records are within 1 game of each other, and about 3% (91.6% vs 94.8% and 10.6% vs 13.3%) when they are not.

Interestingly, this effect is minor when you compare distances of 0-500km to distances of 500-1000 km. It is only when the distances are larger than 1000km that there is a large impact.

That may explain why, historically, homefield advantage hasn’t been as big a deal in the relatively compact SEC compared with other conferences.

Also not surprising is that the travel factor is negated by talent level.

… The bigger the talent gap, the smaller the absolute difference in upset rates between home and away, but the larger the relative difference (home upset rate / road upset rate). The same thing applies when factoring in distance.

When the teams are 1 game different, the road team gets an upset 36% of the time, and the home team 43% of the time (a 7% gap). Within 500km, it’s 35.2% vs 40.0% (a 5% gap), but for 1000+km, it’s 36.4% vs 45.6% (a 9% gap).

And when the teams are 2+ games different, the road team gets an upset 6.7% of the time, and the home team 11.0% of the time (a 4.3% gap). Within 500km, it’s 8.4% vs 10.6% (a 2.2% gap), while for 1000+km, it’s 5.2% vs 13.3% (a 8.1% gap, but almost TRIPLE the upset rate).

Here’s one surprise I did find.

It’s been said in a few places that the SEC has lower home winning rates than other leagues, and the data bears this out (though it’s worth noting that the SEC had one of the highest home winning rates in 2010, so it MAY be changing).

Georgia by itself may have been a significant contributor to that trend (if it turns out to be a trend, that is), considering it lost three conference games in opponents’ stadiums last season and had only lost a total of five such games in the eight seasons previous to that.


Filed under Stats Geek!

It don’t get no better than this.

The top of the mountain for a college football blogger has to be finding out that a major school’s defensive coordinator admits to reading your stuff.

Bravo, Bill.


Filed under The Blogosphere

Mike Bobo, quip ftw

Georgia’s top three leaders in career passing yardage will take part in the G-Day quarterback skills competition now that Detroit Lion Matthew Stafford has joined up.

David Greene, Eric Zeier and Stafford rank 1-2-3 in program history in yards and D.J. Shockley, who quarterbacked the Bulldogs to the 2005 Southeastern Conference title, also is taking part in the halftime event.

Asked why he’s not taking part, offensive coordinator and former Bulldogs quarterback Mike Bobo said “because I would win.”

Murray said he would pick Stafford for distance and Greene for accuracy.

By the way, there’s no truth to the rumor that Mark Richt had proposed that Fran Tarkenton participate in a sack avoidance skills competition at G-Day.


Filed under Georgia Football

Aaron Murray, tactician

Judging from this, somebody’s decision-making skills are on the upswing.

Georgia has divided its roster into “Red” and “Black” squads for Saturday’s G-Day game. The sides were chosen in a draft, with Murray and cornerback Brandon Boykin selecting the “Black” team and center Jones and linebacker Christian Robinson choosing the “Red.”

“We got a winning team,” Jones said. Countered Murray: “Boykin and I absolutely dominated the draft.”

His side’s first pick, Murray said, was safety Shawn Williams, a strategic pick at a position decimated by injury.


Filed under Georgia Football