Unverified Voracity Is Paterno 2.0 Comment Count

Brian May 26th, 2016 at 1:22 PM

Baylor fires everyone some people. Others get tiny American flags. First Ken Starr, and today Art Briles. For Baylor to fire the best coach in their history by several light years, the reports that have already come to light are probably the tip of the iceberg. They're bad. They're very bad. But programs will go to extraordinary lengths to keep coaches as good as Briles around, so expect a bombshell. Like, another one. If "football team brings down university president" isn't enough for you. 

Oh and here it is:

That'll do it. Last time I mentioned Baylor I said you could "go either way" on Briles, which wasn't particularly clear: I meant whether he should lose his job, not whether he was implicated in this or came off well. Moot point now, and obviously there's no way to read Art Briles as anything other than despicable.

I wonder if the NCAA will get involved here. This is a million times worse than anything Ole Miss has done. Giving people money is generally helpful to them. Enabling sexual assault is… not. This should be the very definition of lack of institutional control; Baylor is systematically overlooking felonies to make their football team better. This is Paterno-level stuff here.

Pause. … Yeah, I mean that. Baylor created more rape in the world. This is probably worse, at least in terms of the actions taken by the football staff, than the Paterno thing since it appears people actively got involved in direct violation of title IX.

Meanwhile Starr is actually being reassigned to some cushy retirement position, the rest of Baylor's staff is staying on, and the athletic director somehow didn't get fired. Ooookay.

Like whatever man. This is my opinion on the #1 jersey:

I offered this opinion because like clockwork someone asked Edwards about #1 because someone had the temerity to issue it.

No offense to the Fab Five or Braylon Edwards, but I have massive fatigue about these topics. I don't want to hear about how Jalen Rose asked Sandy to the dance but Chris Webber already did that and now one of them is mad at the other and they haven't talked for 15 years. And I don't want to hear about Braylon Edwards's quest to take the One Jersey to Mount Doom and his inevitable opinion that anyone who hasn't taken the One Jersey to Mount Doom shouldn't get to wear it. I know how he feels about this. We can take it as read. I know that Jalen and Chris are in the world's longest performance of Mean Girls. I would rather hear about anything else.

Well maybe not anything else. It turns out that firing Jason Whitlock is necessary but not sufficient to have a successful venture. The first piece that's been social media'd into my lap from The Undefeated is this article on how black people don't do analytics from Michael Wilbon. Wilbon talks about how stats are dumb about as frequently as I talk about how people are just in charge of things, but usually he doesn't bring damn near 20% of the American populace with him. At least he included someone bombing his dumb ass in his own column:

“So many front offices are staffed by guys like me, who didn’t play the game, who didn’t come in through the coaching ranks … Don’t tell me that there are no black people who are good at math. There are black people who expert at qualitative analysis,” Elhassan said. “I worry that it becomes a way to exclude. Don’t tell me there aren’t any black people on Wall Street who are passionate about basketball. These people exist. Wall Streeters, people with qualitative analysis backgrounds. I know them. I went to school with them. I just don’t believe that one ethnicity is more predisposed to this than another. You realize, of course, that this is the new gateway into the game … into sports?”

I'll let Elhassan speak to the wider implications of Wilbon's piece. I just want to focus on Wilbon's inability to grasp what he's even saying. This paragraph is a perfect encapsulation of Wilbon's worldview:

My friend and ESPN colleague J.A. Adande relayed a conversation he had a couple of seasons ago with Stephen Curry when the then-future MVP was transitioning from shooting guard to point guard. Curry told Adande one of the biggest differences he noticed immediately was playing the point took him away from the corners of the court, where he felt most comfortable taking 3-pointers. Curry didn’t cite any numbers, just his comfort level shooting from the corners relative to the top of the arc. Only later, after the shift, did we learn how much better Curry was from the corners. One stat, according to ESPN Stats & Information, assigned Curry some number in excess of 100 for his 3-point sniping from the corners. This tells you just how bogus the exercise is if the “percentage” reports to be greater than 100.

Step by step:

1. Curry says playing PG takes him away from the corners, where he thinks he shoots better.
2. Statistic created by ESPN confirms this.
3. Wilbon agrees that this is true.
4. Wilbon dismisses the stat because it is over 100.
5. Wilbon thinks this means ESPN believes Curry hits more than all of his shots from the corner.

That is the most ignorant thing ESPN has put in the world for years and yes I am including First Take. Wilbon doesn't bother linking to or explaining what this metric is, because he's a columnist and that means he can put a piece on the internet that references something else on the internet without telling you what that is. But I bet one dollar that this metric, as many are, is calibrated such that a league average player gets 100.

In the very next paragraph Wilbon whines that efficiency metrics are per 100 possessions instead of per 48 minutes. If black people really were the monolith Wilbon suggests they are, they would do well to assemble and vote him out of the race. Ditto SAS, who apparently got on the same bandwagon in a Sportscenter clip you literally could not pay me to watch.

Etc.: David Schilling blasts the Wilbon article in a witheringly entertaining piece. Saddi Washington profiled. Samoans happy to get a visit from Harbaugh. Ross Fulton on OSU's defense in 2016. Josh Rosen on UCLA's endorsement deal. Hockey gets a commit from Jake Slaker, who had 42 points in 57 USHL games this year. Also team captain. 19.


MI Expat NY

May 26th, 2016 at 2:01 PM ^

I've only read a couple quick summaries from others, but that tweet Brian embedded seems to be the mildest way of reporting the findings.  That program should be gutted.  It is amazing that Baylor of all places would have the kind of basketball and football scandals they have had.  


May 26th, 2016 at 4:23 PM ^

Maybe it's for the same reason that Utah has a very high incidence of financial fraud?

They're called con(fidence) men for a reason. Guys like that thrive in an environment where people are inclined to trust, to forgive, to give the benefit of the doubt.

The Bliss situation's unique in a lot of ways. One is that he was ultimately busted by his own staff. Has that ever happened anywhere else? It gave some credence to the argument that he was a rogue, that the university and even his own staff might not have known what he was up to.


This situation's different, but again I think there might be some cultural reasons that Baylor was fertile ground for this kind of scandal. Forget issues of consent--extramarital sex of any kind is a violation of the code of conduct there. The women that came forward were, in the act of bringing the accusation, admitting their own wrongdoing in the eyes of the school. What would be tantamount to victim blaming elsewhere is, at Baylor, an institutional imperative.

In practice, at least among ordinary students and staff, there doesn't seem to be more of it than there is elsewhere. But it's institutionalized, which I think changes everything.



May 26th, 2016 at 1:41 PM ^

I don't think he's dumb in the sense that he'd perform poorly on a standardized test.  But his ability to focus - if he ever had one - has been eroded by living in an environment in which the attention you get for saying something is more important than whether what you're saying makes sense.  His piece is as backward as the day is long.

My guess is that he'd call people racist for saying his article is stupid, which it is, but the reality is that he happens to be an African American member of the 95% of sports journalists who are idiots.  Sports journalism* is a refuge for the loud and the ignorant of all races.  None deserve to be spared from being called on their behavior.

*I realize other types of journalism are far from immune to this, but no politics and all...

matty blue

May 26th, 2016 at 1:39 PM ^

i haven't read his article, because i'm dumb enough already, thanks.

i did however, do a quick search of the words "magic" and "jordan," and to my great surprise neither one appears, as wilbon has been dining out on his relationships with those two for...oh, about 20 years.  he does start three sentences with the phrase "my friend," however, so my advanced analysis of this particular piece of wilbon ass-wipery is 81 wilbons out of 100.

Lou MacAdoo

May 26th, 2016 at 1:41 PM ^

This sort of stuff happens when people in power aren't afraid of the consequences of their actions. They need to make an example out of them. Despicable.


May 26th, 2016 at 1:41 PM ^

This was his turn to give the asinine view and he's waiting for Tony K to chime in.  It's one thing when someone not black decides to go all "the blacks" on us, but when Wilbon, who's just as chocolate toned as me goes there, I just shake my head.  He needs to look up the word homogeneous, find an appropriate adjective, and use that as the basis for any more articles he writes about a group of people.

Either that or reject the Jason Whitlock chip that they implanted into his bloodstream.


May 26th, 2016 at 2:30 PM ^

It doesn't matter who goes to the barber shop.  WHIP, WAR and shot equivalents are not getting discussed.  And how many athletes are really concerned about advanced metrics?  Their agent cares, especially now that teams are hiring guys that specialize in that stuff.

I feel totally defeated after reading that drivel. 


May 26th, 2016 at 1:53 PM ^

Baylor is trash. Their basketball program almost got the death penalty in 2003 for trying to portray their murdered player as a drug dealer, in an attempt to cover up improper benefits.

Sent from MGoBlog HD for iPhone & iPad


May 26th, 2016 at 2:48 PM ^

That particular incident is maybe a useful lesson in why we don't have more whistleblowers in situations like this. The coach that tried (unsuccessfully, I might add) to get his team and staff to claim said murdered player was a drug dealer is still coaching, if only at NAIA level. The assistant that wore the wire and blew the whistle has been blackballed; nobody in the profession will give him the time of day.


May 26th, 2016 at 1:57 PM ^

Being an engineer - seeing SAS immediately took my mind to SAS, the analytic software company, rather than Stephen A. Smith, who evidently does not use analytic software. 


May 26th, 2016 at 2:01 PM ^

Brian should have copied one more sentence from that article, because it really exposes the stupidity.

This tells you just how bogus the exercise is if the “percentage” reports to be greater than 100. It’s like calculating points per 100 possessions, a very popular go-to stat in NBA circles.

It's like Wilbon has 2 and 2 staring him in the face and he can't add them to get 4. Curry has a number over 100. Maybe that's points per 100 possessions?!?

And his denigration of points per 100 possessions shows he has no concept of what role "pace" has on statistics. I couldn't finish reading that article. The ignorance hurt my head.


May 26th, 2016 at 3:55 PM ^

I'm going to bet my dollar against Brian's that the metric is True Shooting %, which does go over 100% by weighing 3's more than 2's and adding in FT's. It's one KenPom cites quite a bit, and one that Steph does quite well in from the corners as anyone who watches basketball can imagine.

El Jeffe

May 26th, 2016 at 8:13 PM ^

Yeah, the 48 minute thing blew my mind. From his point of view,

  • Team A scores 96 points in 48 minutes on 90 possessions
  • Team B scores 96 points in 48 minutes on 110 possessions.

Which is the better offense? To Wilbon, neither. Two points per minute is two points per minute.

Oy vey...

Kilgore Trout

May 26th, 2016 at 9:07 PM ^

He was on 538's Hot Take Down podcast this week and it was rough. The hosts (who are analytics guys) tried to explain the difference to him a few times and he was just happily ignorant to even considering it. It was kind of amusing to hear the hosts kind of fade off as they realized they had to either move on or tell him that he was an idiot.


May 26th, 2016 at 2:03 PM ^

I listened to an interview with him on FiveThirtyEight's "Hot Takedown" podcast and I was irrationally livid. It was like he was celebrating ignorance. He repeatedly argued that nalytics are stupid and then defended the position by saying. "I'm only arguing that black people don't talk analytics socially." It made no damn sense.

The interviewer repeatedly (and unsuccessfully) tried to steer the conversation to how this impacted front-office employment for minorities in sports, which is an interesting question -- only to be dragged back down in to the morass of Wilbon's irrationality. 

It felt like he was deliberately trying to sabotage his own premise with weak unsupported opinions based on nothing but his own perspective.

For your own mental health, don't listen to the podcast, or if you do, not while driving.

My name ... is Tim

May 26th, 2016 at 2:07 PM ^

The funniest take away from the Wilbon article was that he thinks that WHIP is an advanced stat. Yes, WHIP - that century old statistic used in every roto league since time immemorial. Yes, WHIP - the stat that is literally (Walks + Hits)/Innings Pitched.

I was blown away by how that Wilbon article made it to print.

Ali G Bomaye

May 26th, 2016 at 2:08 PM ^

I'd bet that the "percentage" in excess of 100 is true shooting percentage.  In the 2011-12 season, Curry shot 65.2% on corner 3PA.  Considering he shoots over 90% on foul shots, if he was fouled on a few attempts, he could have had a TS% over 100 on those shots.


May 26th, 2016 at 2:10 PM ^

I haven't read the article but to be fair to Wilbon statistics can be distorted and different data sets can prove different points. As Mark Twain said "there's lies, damned lies, and statistics."

Still, it would be good to look up the stat first and look at its methodology before throwing it under the bus.


May 26th, 2016 at 2:10 PM ^

Not sure how more of the staff and AD are not fired. The NCAA better take a long look at this and also take some action. First the BB program and now this. That school needs to be taught a serious lesson and other schools should be on notice from it.