Regardless of What We Have Been Told Or What We May Want To Believe, Here's The Bottom Line: For Over 80% Of All College Football Games, Turnover Margin Is NOT A Significant Factor In Determining Which Team Wins!
(BTW, Since turnover margin does impact which team wins in 20% of all football games, it is important ---- it's just not nearly as important as we have been lead to believe.)
Truthiness: "Truthiness is what you want the facts to be, as opposed to what the facts are. What feels like the right answer as opposed to what reality will support." (Stephen Colbert, October 17, 2005 – The Colbert Report). "The quality of preferring concepts or facts one wishes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true" (American Dialect Society, January 2006).
No Way!: Uh yeah, we have all been wrong (myself included). I started looking at turnovers (TOs) in detail after the 2008 season when Michigan went 3-9 with a turnover margin (TOM) of –10. I wrote a series of diaries that concluded double digit TOs were caused primarily by the skill & experience of a team and not primarily by luck. Thus, good teams tend to have positive TOMs and poor teams tend to have negative TOMs. This is basically the opposite of believing that TOs are a primary factor in determining whether a team is good (i.e. winning record) or poor (i.e. losing record) – sorry, Phil Steele.
I also concluded that any analysis using the total TOs for an entire season was misleading, irrational, and just plain lazy (sorry again, Phil Steele). TOs must be analyzed on a game-by-game basis ONLY. After a game-by-game analysis is completed, it is valid to summarize the results for an entire season.
Then, a few weeks ago when I wrote the diary "Turnovers - The Year In Review", I started to see a trend in the turnover data that seemed pretty weird. Although M had a TOM of –9 for the year, the game-by-game situational review indicated that: "In reality, positive TOMs helped Michigan win as many games this year as negative TOMs contributed to M losing games!"
Several comments on that blog post did not agree with my conclusions (surprise!?) with psychomatt providing a table showing the relationship between "End-of-year TOM" for 40 teams and "Win/Loss Record" (this sample represents 33% of all FBS teams!). Based on this data, it sure looks like TOs could account for an average of a 5 win difference with an average TOM/Year difference of 23. A simple calculation (5 wins/23 TOM) yields the result that every TO gained is worth 0.217 games! (BTW, a similar approach has been used to determine the average value of a TO in the NFL is 0.207 games.)
Therefore, if Michigan had ended the year with a +13 TOM rather than a –9 TOM, the difference of 22 in TOM would result in 4.78 more wins and Michigan would have been expected to have a 12-0 (or at least an 11-1) season this year (woooo, hooooo!). But, is this really true or just truthiness?
Since this is a slow time of year, I decided to bite the bullet and take a more detailed look at the relationship between TOM and which team wins a football game.
In reality, the average value of a TO is 0.094 additional games won. Thus, the average difference between a team with one of the best TOMs and one of the worst TOMs is 2.4 additional games won during the season. (This is less than half of the impact that is usually attributed to TOs.) So, Michigan would have been expected to have a 9-3 or 10-2 season if the TOM had been +13 rather than –9.
The Methodology: One of the most difficult aspects of analyzing the impact of TOs is establishing how much each TO is worth. Luckily the folks at Football Outsiders have done an in-depth analysis to determine an average TO is worth approximately 4 points. [EDIT: This is a "swing" of 4 points. As explained in the comments below, the proper way to look at this is that the team committing the TO loses 2 points and the team getting the takeaway gains 2 points.]
So, that is what I used. Only if the winning team had a positive TOM and the margin of victory was within the value of TOM (4 X TOM), was the game counted in "turnover margin was a significant factor in determining which team wins". If the winning team had a positive TOM but the margin of victory was outside the value of TOM, then the game was NOT counted since TOs may have impacted the margin of victory (making it larger) but were not a significant factor in determining which team wins. For example, Michigan beat ND 28-24 with a TOM of +3 (value = 12 points). Since the margin of victory was within the value of TOM (12 points), this game was counted as TOs being a significant factor in determining the winning team. However, Michigan beat UConn 30-10 with a TOM of +1 (value = 4 points). Since the margin of victory was outside the value of TOM (4 points), this game was NOT counted as TOs being a significant factor in determining the winning team.
I looked at every game for the following three categories of teams: (1) Top 10% (12 teams) of End-of-Year TOM; (2) Bottom 10% (12 teams) of End-of-Year TOM; (3) Middle 10% (12 teams) of End-of-Year TOM. This is a total of 30% of all FBS teams and comprises 438 total games played.
The Results: As the table indicates: (Column 2) 21% of all games end with a TOM of –0-; (Column 3) 17% of all games are won by the team with a negative TOM; (Column 4) 44% of all games are won by the team with a positive TOM but the TOs were not a significant factor in determining the winning team; and (Column 5) this totals to an average of 82% of all football games where TOM is not a significant factor in determining the winning team.
What About, "80% of the time the team that wins the TO battle, wins the football game"?: Some version of this statement is repeated hundreds of times during every football season. This statement is technically true. But, this statement is also worded very carefully and is a classic example of a contextual lie (stating part of the truth out of context, knowing that without complete information, it gives a false impression). We expect such shenanigans in politics but it is quite annoying in sports.
This table shows how the statement is true but let's dissect the statement to see how it is misleading. First, there is no mention of how many football games are excluded (i.e. all games that end with a TOM of –0-). As shown above, about 21% of all games end with neither team winning the TO battle. Second, there is no mention of the fact that many games are so non-competitive that TOs could not possibly have impacted which team wins. Thus, many folks who hear this statement are left with the false impression that TOs determine which team wins 80% of all football games! As shown above, this is overstated by a factor or 4 (TOs determine which team wins in only 18% of all football games).
Also note that if the basis is total games played (rather than just games that end up without TOM = 0), only 62% of games are won by the team that wins the TO battle.
Other Interesting Results: Some other results from the analysis.
Of the 12 teams with the largest positive TOM:
Average net wins per team was just 1.5
2 teams received an advantage of 5 net wins due to TOM: Oklahoma (11-2) and Toledo (8-4)
1 team received an advantage of 3 net wins: Maryland (8-4)
1 team received an advantage of 2 net wins: Army (6-6)
5 teams received an advantage of 1 net win: Virginia Tech (11-2), Hawaii (10-3), osu (11-1), Oregon (12-0), and Tulsa (9-3)
3 teams received no net wins: Stanford (11-1), Wisconsin (11-1), and Iowa (7-5)
4 teams actually lost a game due to negative TOM for that particular game: Virginia Tech, Army, Iowa, and Tulsa
Of the 12 teams with the largest negative TOM:
Average net losses per team was just 0.92
2 teams received a disadvantage of 3 net losses: Texas (5-7) and Duke (3-9)
2 teams received a disadvantage of 2 net losses: Eastern Mich (2-10) and Central Mich (3-9)
2 teams received a disadvantage of 1 net loss: Cincinnati (4-8) and Fresno State (8-5)
5 teams received no net losses: Middle Tenn (6-6), Memphis (1-11), New Mexico (1-11), UCLA (4-8), and Michigan (7-5)
1 team received an advantage of 1 net win with no net losses and 1 net win due to positive TOM for that particular game: Fla. Atlantic (4-8)
3 teams actually won 2 games due to positive TOM for those games: Middle Tenn, Duke, and Central Mich
4 teams actually won 1 game due to positive TOM for that game: Memphis, New Mexico, Michigan, and Fla. Atlantic
Sample Data: Finally, here are 4 detailed samples of the data. IMP = Impact (Yes, No, Opposite) Opp indicates the team that won the TO battle, lost the game!
So this has been a long time coming but it's my first serious piece of writing on the blog so bear with me please. This being my second year in the University of Michigan Paintball Club I figured it was about time I post something on the blog about my sport and basically give a rundown as to how our year has been going.
Yes I did pick the picture where we were all making our hard ass faces
I've been playing Paintball since about 2004 so I've got a few years into the sport. I played some competitive tournaments during High school and when I came to Michigan I didn't want to stop playing and joined the Paintball Club here. We play tournaments in the National Collegiate Paintball Association which has 2 divisions and allows for schools from across the country to compete against each other.
We play in the AA division which is for schools without large amounts of funding and we play in the Midwestern Great Lakes league. The NCPA has a fairly large number of teams in it, mainly in the Midwest, South and East Coast areas, and they hold a national championship every year in Florida. The format of play in the NCPA is 5 man xball, this means that there are 5 players from each team on the field.
Points are scored both by eliminating the opposing team and by grabbing a flag situated in the middle of the field and taking it to the opposing teams "dead" box (this can essentially only be done after the other team is eliminated). The simplified rules are if you're hit you're out, and if you continue playing with a hit you and a teammate of yours will be pulled from the field during play. Also the rate of fire is capped at 12.5 balls per second; there are also numerous other penalties enforced by four referees on the field.
Here is a picture of a fairly standard xball field.
We started this year off strong by winning our first tournament which was held at Chaos Paintball in Charlotte, Mich., on Oct. 16. Six teams entered the tournament: Michigan (2 teams), Michigan State, Central Michigan, Miami (Ohio) and Northern Michigan. We had played poorly in the preliminaries, but in typical Michigan Paintball fashion squeaked into finals and then dominated.
We were surprised at our success and pretty excited and if I'm being honest we got a little cocky, which didn't bode well for our second tournament. We lost handily at Paintball Plex in Laotto Indiana on Nov. 21, coming in last place out of seven teams, but in our defense we were playing more new guys than our secondary this year. We played poorly all day and couldn't seem to shake the funk that only a hangover can cause.
Our next tournament is Feb. 5 at Warzone Paintgames in Toledo, Ohio. We are planning practices for after school starts to get back into the groove and will hopefully be bringing back a new trophy.
We are also in the early stages of planning a trip to the Superbowl of Paintball, Huntington Beach. It's a huge national level tournament where players of all skill levels compete on the beach in California. This will be our first major trip since going to the NCPA National Championships two years ago and we will be competing in division 4 x-ball, which basically means we will be playing against teams that haven't competed in anything bigger than a local tournament before. Hopefully we will be able get everything planned out, find enough money for the flights and tournament (entry is $1,200 for a team and all told it could be near $900 per person) and also do well in the tournament. We've had a good year so far and I'm hoping everything goes well and this will be an even better year.
We're in the middle of a recruiting dead period, and about a month away from signing day. I thought I would give an update on who's left on the board, time frames for when specific recruits will make their decisions, and who will be visiting in the near future.
|Demetrius Hart||RB||FL||4 Star|
|Justice Hayes||RB||MI||4 Star|
|Brennen Beyer||DE||MI||4 Star|
|Blake Countess||CB||MD||4 Star|
|Dallas Crawford||CB||FL||3 Star|
|Jake Fisher||OL||MI||3 Star|
|Delonte Hollowell||CB||MI||3 Star|
|Kellen Jones||LB||TX||3 Star|
|Chris Rock||DE/DT||OH||3 Star|
|Greg Brown||DB||OH||3 Star|
|Jack Miller||OL||OH||3 Star|
|Desmond Morgan||LB||MI||3 Star|
|Tony Posada||OL||FL||3 Star|
|Matt Goudis||K||CA||2 Star|
That's 14 current commitments, and for argument sake we'll just assume that Michigan will take 20 in this class. Rich Rodriguez has recently said they will take anywhere from 18-20 commits, so we'll go with 20. Here's a look at the most likely recruits left at each position, up to this point. There could be some new names pop up, but this list seems pretty solid for now.
|Name||State||Decision Date||Rivals Ranking|
|Kris Frost||NC||Army All American Game (Jan 8th)||4 Star|
|Hakeem Flowers||SC||Either January or Signing Day. May still take visits.||3 Star|
|Devin Lucien||CA||Signing Day. Visiting Michigan January 7th||4 Star|
|Prince Holloway||FL||January 15th. Recently said he will commit to Michigan on his January 15th visit.||3 Star|
Frost is in this category because he will most likely get his chance to try wide receiver before potentially moving to linebacker. The situation for Michigan here is that they may just lead for all four of these receivers.
|Name||State||Decision Date||Rivals Ranking|
|Wayne Lyons (S)||FL||Army All American Game||4 Star|
|Raymon Taylor (ATH)||MI||Visiting January 7th. Decision after that.||4 Star|
|Sheldon Royster (S)||NJ||Visiting January 7th.||4 Star|
|James Richardson (CB)||TX||Deciding in January||3 Star|
|Roderick Ryles (S)||FL||Planning a visit, decision date unsure.||3 Star|
Again Michigan is in great position for most of these recruits.
|Name||State||Decision Date||Rivals Ranking|
|Jack Tabb||NJ||January||3 Star|
|Frank Clark||OH||Visiting January 7th, decision date unsure.||3 Star|
|Tanner McEvoy||NJ||Visiting January 7th, decision date unsure.||3 Star|
Tabb is thinking over his decision, and will be announcing sometime in early or mid January. The coaching situation had been factoring into his decision, and he was also hoping for an offer from Miami. He's not getting the Miami offer, so it will be between Michigan, North Carolina, and Arkansas.
|Name||State||Decision Date||Rivals Ranking|
|Chris Bryant||IL||January, or Signing Day||4 Star|
Bryant isn't sure if he wants to wait until signing day to make his decision, or just get it over with. He is waiting to see what happens with the coaches, but Michigan is likely to land Chris.
|Name||State||Decision Date||Rivals Ranking|
|Anthony Zettel (DE)||MI||Likely to decide in January.||4 Star|
|Darian Cooper (DT||MD||Visiting January 7th, likely to decide signing day.||4 Star|
|Max Issaka (DE)||NJ||May visit Michigan||3 Star|
|Deion Barnes (DE)||PA||Visiting January 7th, decision in mid-late January or signing day||4 Star|
As you can see, there are a lot of recruits left for only roughly 6 spots left. The good news is that there is a lot of quality left on the board. The recruits that are left and still have Michigan in the race are ranked highly, and more importantly could help Michigan in key areas.
The next visit weekend will be January 7th, and will be host to a good amount of prospects. Here's the list so far, and as usual will be updated as we get closer. These visits aren't set in stone, so they could change from now until the 7th.
- S Sheldon Royster - Michigan is in Royster's top four with North Carolina, Rutgers, and South Carolina
- DE Deion Barnes - Michigan is in Barne's top group with Penn State, South Carolina, and Georgia.
- WR Devin Lucien - Michigan is in a very favorable spot for Lucien. This visit could determine where he ends up.
- DT Darian Cooper - Cooper still lists Michigan in his top group, but definitely has concerns about the coaching situation. He should have some answers by this time.
- ATH Raymon Taylor - Recently offered by Michigan, and recently decommitted from Indiana I suspect that Michigan leads.
- TE Tanner McEvoy
- TE/LB Frank Clark - The Glenville prospect always speaks highly of Michigan, and is excited about the visit.
It's hard to believe that the 2010 season is almost over. It feels like yesterday that I was designing the season's first wallpaper to share with my wife and one other friend. That first wallpaper, entitled "Husky Puppy Piddles in Fear," was a simple image of a dog that required very little Photoshop work; I added some snow and some yellow spots and got an excellent response from my kids. I like the symmetry in ending the season with another simple image of a dog.
The Mississippi State University official athletic web site provides some background on the bulldog mascot: "The official school mascot is an American Kennel Club registered English Bulldog, given the inherited title of 'Bully'...references to school teams and athletes as Bulldogs actually go back to early in the century, and this nickname was used almost interchangeably with both Aggies and Maroons, since at least 1905."
I like that you can read expectation, submission and awe in the dog's posture; he's looking up at the Block M with what my oldest child referred to as "crying eyes." All that was missing from the original image was an owner's tag so I added one in Photoshop. I wanted the tag to indicate that this dog was owned by Michigan football and (by extension of the metaphor) that Michigan is going to own Mississippi State on January 1; the simplest way to convey that was to etch the Block M on the tag.
Thanks for taking an interest in my art; your feedback and encouragement have helped me through quite a few long nights and creative blocks. I'm hoping to find time to produce a few more wallpapers this off-season, and then use the summer to get a head start on next year's opponent wallpapers.
The image below is a preview only. You can get the widescreen, 4:3, iPad and mobile wallpapers at The Art. The Art. The Art!.
All of the 2010 Wallpapers
As usual, new commit means we hit the front page. Action since last rankings:
12-19-10 Iowa loses commitment from Mika'il McCall (false alarm from the recruiting sites).
12-20-10 Illinois gains commitments from Dondi Kirby and Kenny Nelson. Minnesota gains commitments from Grayson Levine and Marcus Jones. Nebraska loses commitment from Tevin Mitchell. Wisconsin gains commitment from Devin Gaulden.
12-22-10 Illinois loses commitment from Tyler Marcordes.
12-24 Michigan gains commitment from Matt Goudis. Minnesota gains commitment from Drayquan Crawford.
|Big Ten+ Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# Commits||Rivals Avg||Scout Avg||ESPN Avg|
Rivals rankings are on the "RR" scale, which is on a scale from about 5 to about 6.1. Unrated prospects are given a 5.1 rating, on par with the worst of any Big Ten commit last year. Scout is on the 5-star system (unranked players earn 1 star), and ESPN uses grades out of 100 (unranked is 40 or 45, except JuCo players, who aren't included in the average).
Full data after the jump.
This is my first time using Windows Live Writer to post something, so if something looks weird, that’s why. I’m making some changes to my database to allow me to rank past and future seasons, other sports, etc. I wanted to get these ranking out there before I make these changes and before most of the bowls get underway.
There are a few tweaks that I made to the algorithm. The major thing is that I took out FCS teams. Imagine you have Team A that plays 12 FBS teams and Team B that plays 11 FBS teams and 1 FCS team. In graph theory, playing that FCS team gives Team B shorter pathways to the 120ish teams in the FCS. I felt this was an unfair advantage for teams playing weaker schedules.
I also experimented with how to factor in Win-Loss (long story short, nothing changed with this, so you can skip to the next paragraph if you would like). Think about MSU, Wisconsin, and Iowa. MSU beat Wisconsin by 10, which gave them a path of .5 (1 / 2 scores). Iowa beat MSU by 31, which gave them a path of .25 (1 / 4 scores). When multiplied by the Win-Loss factor at the end, Wisconsin would receive a lower path score for Iowa’s win over MSU because they had the better record. I didn’t like the idea that Wisconsin could get more credit for Iowa’s win over MSU than Iowa would. I messed around with applying the winning team’s overall record to each game, then the same with the losing team’s record. I tried lots of different things, but none of them looked right. I didn’t like the idea of doing something just because it looked right, though. I decided that the additional path length that Wisconsin accrues by having to beat Iowa (they only beat Iowa by a point, so the path to Iowa is 1 and the path to MSU is 1.25) was enough of a penalty on Wisconsin.
The last main change since I last posted is that I am now factoring in homefield advantage. I have calculated homefield advantage to be worth 3.77 points in FBS games this year. In the Big Ten games it was roughly 6 or 7 points. When I did the power ranking for the Big Ten, I experimented using the two values and decided that 3.77 was the better number to use. One, it’s closer to the value that is usually associated with homefield advantage, and two, it would change from conference to conference. Mostly, though, it would change the path lengths between teams when going from the NCAA ranking to the conference power rankings, which is something that I didn’t want.
Without further ado, here are your top 25 and conference power rankings to start out the post-season. Keep in mind that because the conference power rankings only take into account the games that are played within the conference, teams might not be in the same order in the conference and in the top 25.
|FBS Top 25|
|North Carolina State|
|San Diego State|
|Troy Trojans of Troy (We’re from Troy!)|
|New Mexico State|
|San Jose State|
I have an idea for game predictions, so I’ll probably post another poll along with bowl game predictions and comparisons to actual results. Sometime in January I’ll post polls for Basketball and Hockey.