Figures often beguile me, particularly when I have the arranging of them myself; in which case the remark attributed to Disraeli would often apply with justice and force: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.”
– Mark Twain’s Own Autobiography: The Chapters from the North American Review
Okay, it’s not exactly Brantley’s fault. But the Florida quarterback does have a knack for making pundits overreach. Take ESPN’s KC Joyner, for example. Here’s his statistical argument to bolster his case that Brantley is a Heisman dark horse this season (I know, I know):
… Brantley’s 2010 numbers were not indicative of how well he played at times. In the three games against the Gators’ toughest pass defense opponents (at Tennessee Volunteers, at home against the LSU Tigers and at the Alabama Crimson Tide, all teams that placed in the top 31 in the FBS in passer rating allowed last season), Brantley had 18 completions (plus one defensive pass interference penalty) in 24 medium depth attempts for 347 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions (medium being defined as passes thrown 11-19 yards downfield).
That equates to a 214.4 passer rating on some of the toughest types of pass attempts against three top-level pass defenses. New offensive coordinator Charlie Weis will know how to utilize these skills quite effectively.
That’s some mighty impressive cherry-picking there. (Brantley’s passer ratings in the three games Joyner cites: 136.21, 93.44 and 112.24. Not exactly the stuff legends are built on.) Give me enough time to play with numbers and I could probably invent an argument for Reggie Ball having been an overlooked All-American.
That’s the kind of approach that tends to make some people roll their eyes when you attempt to make any type of statistical case to support a point.