mesmerism! presidential assassinations! circuses on fire!
Kind of CC: Interesting similarities to Toronto Maple Leafs Situation. Don't click if you're tired of CC!
I was watching TSN a couple of nights ago and the hockey panel was having a conversation in regard to the Toronto Maple Leafs. The interviewed a few current and former players about GM Brian Burke and the question was posed to each whether they felt he should continue in that capacity given the past three seasons.
I say there are similarities with our situation because RR is essentially what a GM in professional sports is without the money aspect. He is responsible for not only coaching the players, but also scouting, evaluating and recruiting talent.
During this show, the entire panel and each of the players interviewed agreed that it was too early to tell whether BB was doing a good job and he should be given at least four years to prove himself in Toronto.
In the year prior to BB arriving in Toronto, the leafs were 36-35-11. During BB's time they have gone 34-35-13, 30-38-14 and are currently 12-14-4. As you can see, there has been no improvement to this point and they have actually regressed (in terms of their W/L's) since he took over as GM.
The reason each person had for him continuing as GM was that Toronto were heading in the right direction. They hadn't seen it on paper yet, but they were certain, given another year, you would start to see it in the W/L column as well.
RR has been here for three seasons and during each has shown steady (albeit slower than some would like) improvement. I think even those that aren't crazy about the improvement on the field would agree that he is doing a lot of great things off the field as well (though the haters will cling to the NCAA investigation).
I guess my main point is if we have seen clearly that the team is improving on the field, things are going well off the field, relationships between teammates are as strong as they have ever been and we have every reasonable expectation that things will continue to get better is it too soon to send RR packing?
I think most would agree that it is far easier to build a winning teams when you operate in the pro market. You can make trades, use your minior league system, pick up a free agent etc etc etc.
In college, you pick up a player out of HS and hope that the potential you saw gets realized and that he stays with you for four years. If he doesn't pan out, transfers, leaves early...there are no trades, no free agents you can sign or minor leaguers you can call up. You have to deal with it.
If it is reasonable that BB should have four years to build a winning team in Toronto in a professional sport, how can it be unreasonable for RR to have a fouth year to show what he can do, especially he has shown improvement throughout the course of his contract?
This is a question to the board. I don't want to talk replacements or anything of that nature, just simply if you think three years is enough justify why? If you believe he should be given one more year, justify why?
I realize in hundreds of threads variations of this topic have been discussed, but this is looking directly at a similar situation in professional sports, identifying similarities and questioning if those similarities changes anything.
Wait, wait, wait....sheesh
Game 6 (couldn't find a torrent)
This game is a little bit different because the two coaches involved are offensive guys and they know each other pretty well. Florida had a bit of an off year on O with a new starter at QB (they couldn't break 20 points against any team that finished in the top 25#). Florida's best win was against a down Georgia team.
- Fla. QB brantly looked pretty inaccurate on his first series, nothing in particular MSU was doing.
- Florida brings pressure from the trips side, this seemed effective. The OLB either gets in the passing lane or can chase the option from behind.
- Fla was ready for the option, good job keeping assignments and covering the pitch man.
- Miss St. reacts to the bad Fla QB play by bringing all kinds of blitzers from everywhere.
- MSU continues to bring up their safeties late
- #50 white MLB can be beaten to the edge on sweeps, need to get around the DE's tho'
- The DB's in general have been pretty solid tacklers. Not really a lot of missed tackles.
- Companion pass to their sweep play is the quick hitch to the backside WR
- MSU's only TD of the day came on a drvie full of inside iso's and traps
- 10-0 at the end of the 1st quarter and there's only one more TD scored by Fla. the rest of the game...
- Nice missed tackle by #54 LB, haven't seen much of him before.
- Fla having a little success running from their wildcat.
- MSU showing a 2-4 nickle. #99 did a good job shedding his blocker
- 7 games in and Relf is starting to lock in to Bumphis, wonder who he focuses on now that bumphis is out...
- Florida's choice is to blitz Relf on 3rd and long, i think this should be our course of action too.
- #54 is getting more playing time, looks decent against the run, good when he's coming forward.
- Pretty impressed with #50's pass drops, moves pretty well in a backpeddle for a LB. Demps from Fla has made him miss a couple times on wide plays, but Demps is crazy fast, even with a gimpy ankle.
- DB's #25 and #13 haven't really been singled out for bad plays yet this season.
- Relf is killing them on QB keepers to the uncovered tackle's side.
- #50 just did a good job of running down brantly on a scramble, no idea how fast brantly is, but we know denard is faster.
- Fla. having a little success running up the middle against the 2 man line, getting a hat on #50
- Fla. running option, late pitches. Gets them their only points. Hopefully RR is putting in the option with the extra 15 practices, we haven't shown it much this year, so maybe MSU won't be ready for it.
- Ballard took a wildcat snap in the redzone, didn't get much.
- Fla perfectly defended the option/shovel play, corner keeps contain, and then goes with the pitch man, LB takes the shovel. Relf shoved too early, led to a missed FG
- Turnovers, missed FG's and a lot of running plays is what kept the score down.
- If ballard takes the snap, it'll be a run, I serously doubt he can throw it more than 15 yards.
- MSU is playing a pretty soft zone with 2 minutes to play and Fla driving for the win or tie. A couple of blitzes, but more 3 man rush. Fla place kicker ain't that great, like ours, so that may be factoring into the decision.
- On 3rd and 2 and 4th and 2, MSU rushed 5 to try to end the game.
- MSU threw it 9 times the whole game, none in the 2nd half!
- Howz that season going, Florida?
A few weekends ago I did some analysis that tried to answer the question: “Do good defenses need experience?” In short, if experience is vital to a team’s performance, then we expect to see a positive correlation between a team’s experience and performance. Instead, the correlation was very weak, indicating that experience is not a major factor in defensive performance.
However, there were a number of major caveats with the approach I took, so I’ve redone some of the comparisons with the hope of addressing some of the issues. I’ve also added the same comparison for offense.
I’ve changed the approach to help eliminate some of the caveats to my last analysis. Many people pointed out that players who never see the field probably skew the results. I’m now scraping data from the depth charts on rivals.com, to eliminate that bias. Not every team has a depth chart listed, and some were in a different format that I did not take the time to parse, but the data includes 97 teams (essentially the ones with a themed team site on rivals.)
As a bonus, rivals includes information on redshirts, which were left out of the previous analysis. I calculate an experience score from the player’s academic year (Freshman = 1, Sophomore = 2, Junior = 3, Senior = 4, Grad Student* = 5, Redshirt = +1) so a player’s score is roughly the number of years they’ve been on the team.** Then, because each team has a different number of players on their depth chart, I take an average. The resulting team score has the advantage of being easily interpreted as the average number of years the players who make up a unit have been on the team (assuming they started on the team as a freshman). I’ve split players by position, so each team will receive an offensive and defensive experience score. Finally, I matched up the defensive and offensive FEI scores from Football Outsiders (which takes strength of schedule into account) with the experience scores and use linear regression to test for correlation.
Of course, there are still some big caveats to this approach. The data still does not include injuries and transfers so this may be unfairly attributing experience to teams in some cases. The analysis also doesn’t account for talent (recruiting guru rankings) in any way. Finally, we’re trusting Football Outsiders to provide realistic performance measurements. If their rankings aren’t accurate, none of this analysis will be either.
Lets start with something new: the offense:
In the graph, each point is a team. Its offensive experience score is on the x-axis and its offensive performance score (Football Outsiders Offensive FEI) is on the y-axis. Larger numbers are better for FEI, so good teams are at the top. The results are almost the definition of no correlation. Experience is not a significant predictor of offensive performance (p = 0.18) and R2 is a miserable 0.02. We can only conclude that there is a lot more to offensive success than simply experience.
The blue lines cross on Michigan’s point. Despite the sophomore quarterbacks, Michigan fielded one of the most experienced offenses, with over a junior’s experience on average. Performance-wise, we’re in good shape with the second best offense in the nation.
The maroon lines cross on Mississippi State’s point. They have significantly less experience than Michigan, averaging ~ 2.5 years. They’re also performing much worse; many teams with the same level of experience have better offensive output.
Moving on to defense – I’ve multiplied the football outsiders defensive FEI score by -1, so good performances are again towards the top of the graph.
Again, the correlation is not significant (p = 0.5) and the R2 is very low (0.04). This is actually different from the previous analysis, where we saw a significant positive correlation with a tiny effect size.***
Again, the blue lines cross at Michigan’s point. Again, Michigan has one of the more experienced units, fielding over juniors on average. Mississippi State (maroon lines) fields a lot less experience, with about 2.73 years on average. However, despite the relative lack of experience, Mississippi State turned in a much better defensive performance this year than did Michigan.
Update - I've added a line for Michgan after the following player substitutions: Patterson for Watson (sr rs +1), Vinopal for Emillen (fr -1), and Demens for Jones (so rs +1) , removed Floyd (which I'm iffy about since he did play much of the year) (-3) and add in Avery, Christen, and Talbott (all fr +1). The result would be just below a junior's experience: 65 / 22 ~ 2.95. I've added the dashed, verticle line for that experience level. If you want to check my math, I posted the raw data for Michigan in the comments.
One final note – the pattern of elite units (either offense or defense) having middling experience holds for both sides of the ball, i.e. the top right of both graphs is empty. The NFL draft is probably the simplest explanation for this.
I am surprised by the nearly complete lack of correlation in the data.
Is it possible that we need more variables to make sense of this data? (Any stat experts know whether you can underestimate an effect by having too few variables?) It’s also possible that an interaction between several variables might provide a good explanation for our data; for example we might need experience, NFL-worthy talent and great coaching to produce an elite defense, but none of the three alone will do it.
Speaking of talent, yes, that information is not included here, and probably should be. However, we aren’t looking for a perfect correlation. If experience accounts for a significant fraction of a team’s performance, we ought to see some kind of correlation, even a weak one, with an R2 that indicates experience explains some portion of the variation in the performance variable. Instead, there’s almost no correlation at all. This really makes it look like performance comes down to coaching and recruiting, and not so much experience, at least in terms of years on the team.
An alternate explanation, put forward by MCalibur in the comments on my last post, is that the concentration of experience on the field is more important than simply gross experience. Perhaps coaches can hide some freshman mistakes behind solid play from battle-hardened seniors. Michigan’s true-freshman filled secondary might leave the coaches with no place to hide their players inexperience. If I continue to pursue this, I’ll try breaking experience down by position.
Update 2 On Steve Sharik's suggestion I repeated the comparison with the median. It cleans things up a little bit, but there still isn't good correltion.
* Don’t worry, there are no redshirt grad students, I checked.
** I got a number of excellent suggestions from bighouseinmate, MCalibur, expatriate, tpilews and probably others, that a more relevant measure of experience would be years as a starter as opposed to years on the team. I agree completely. Unfortunately, that information is not consistently available, so I’m sticking with academic year as a proxy for that until I can find a reliable source for that data.
*** Perhaps most surprisingly, we now see a negative (!) correlation between defensive performance and experience, which, if it were significant, would mean that as your team gains experience it turns out worse performances. However, these results are so close to random, the sign of the correlation should probably be ignored.
I think we need to take a break from recruiting news. I'm not giving up on A. Walls, D. Cooper, S. Watkins etc. because of a negative report, verbal commitment or "trimmed list".
In RR's 3 years he has proven he can close strong and if he's retained and we have a good bowl performance the mojo can turn quickly.
So stop jumping off the ledge with every piece of news, these kids are being blasted with negative recruiting against Michigan and I think reacting accordingly. This thing has a long way to go and no matter who the coach is we will flip some guys late.