Why Football Records Are Now Virtually Meaningless

Submitted by Enjoy Life on November 4th, 2009 at 11:21 AM

Brian alluded to this in a recent post when confronted with the fact that Juice Williams is setting Big10 passing records. So, I decided to see how bad it really is.

"Since college football statistics compilations began in 1937, postseason competition never has been part of individual and team statistics."

In 2002 the NCAA decided to include Bowl statistics as part of the "regular season totals". But, that is not all, an extra game has been added to the regular season and some conferences have a playoff game.

4 Bowl Games (for 68 teams)
4 Added Regular Season Games (typically against inferior opponent)
4 Added Conference Playoff Games (for a few teams)

That is 12 additional games over a career for some players! That is equivalent to an entire season.

And 8 for a whole lot of players.

And 4 for every player.

So, the records that are now being set are virtually meaningless.


Wide Open

November 4th, 2009 at 11:29 AM ^

There was also a time where you couldn't even play four years, because freshmen weren't eligible. That's something else to keep in mind when the "all-time great" rhetoric gets spouted about current players.


November 4th, 2009 at 11:34 AM ^

Once we go to the 17 week schedule with 16 games, a 8 team playoff, a salary cap stricter scholarship limits, and a "down by contact rather than actually tackling because that could hurt guys and cost them money" policy, all the final records will be truly set.

Sgt. Wolverine

November 4th, 2009 at 11:52 AM ^

It's the same with NFL records: players who break records dating back to when the NFL played fewer games really haven't accomplished as much as they'd like to think. And if the NFL does expand the regular season yet again, we'll have another round of records that don't mean that much.

(Also, Emmitt Smith was not better than Walter Payton. Sorry...I just have to say that every once in a while.)


November 4th, 2009 at 12:14 PM ^

No matter what stat you want to use, it is utterly useless to compare players from different eras, so using records as a yardstick has always been meaningless. The only way you can ever truly measure anyone's greatness is by how they were against their era's players.

Due to evolution, the information era, and training advances, especially in football, if you were somehow able to put any dominant player or team from the early 1900's on the field with a current bottom-feeder, the bottom-feeder would walk all over them. Even worse, the "Mad Magicians" probably wouldn't be able to make the Miami Booker T HS team in this era.

The only concessions I will make as far as a player being able to step out of a time machine into this era and being able to perform are in sports like golf, bowling, and billiards, which require dexterity but not brute strenngth or reflexes. I would love to see what Bobby Jones or lesser-known Titanic Thompson or Mike Souchak (both hit the ball really, really far) could do with the newest set of Calloway clubs right now.

For that matter, when he played for OSU, Jack Nicklaus once put his second shot on the downhill par-5 going toward the clubhouse at the UM course in the parking lot: with a pitching wedge: metal shafts, wooden heads, par-5, drive and a pitching wedge. I would love to put a Greatest Biggest Bertha or whatever they are called into the hands of a 21 year-old Jack Nicklaus.

Sam Snead hit drives over 300 yards with wooden shafts; IIRC (from reading, not being there; I"m not quite that old), he may have had "his" equipment company/sponsor make one of the early prototypes of steel shafted clubs to keep his shafts from "overtorque" and causing massive duck-hooks. If Snead had acccess to sports psychology to take care of his "yips" and current equipment, we may not be talking about Nicklaus or Tiger Woods as the best in history.

In bowling, there are some old-timers who could possibly have averaged 250 with modern equipment. Dick Weber, Ray Bluth, and Dick Hoover come to mind. As far as billiards goes, who would like to see a vintage Minnesota Fats against any of the current billiards players, if you could remember any of their names?

Ironically enough, baseball seems to have a reverse effect when it comes to hitting. Players used to hit over .400 every few years; now, it is regarded as "impossible" to do. I won't even mention Babe Ruth because that could be a "whole 'nother" forum topic.

Back to football, though, the 195-pound OL's of the early 1900's wouldn't have very much luck against anyone when they stepped out of that time machine. And I sincerely doubt that many of the old-time greats were running sub-5 forties.

Anyway, I just enjoy seeing how people do against their peers in this era. I would imagine that RR's influence will continue to be felt, and offenses will be more and more wide-open because of spreading the field. Defenses will adjust, but I really don't see too many more "classic" 10-7 games happening anymore.

As for the records: I hope those who have them enjoy them. They won't have them for long, anyway.


November 4th, 2009 at 6:53 PM ^

I would imagine that RR's influence will continue to be felt, and offenses will be more and more wide-open because of spreading the field. Defenses will adjust, but I really don't see too many more "classic" 10-7 games happening anymore.

Unless you're in the Big Ten. (Yes, you, Ferentz, Dantonio, Bielema).


November 4th, 2009 at 1:19 PM ^

i also have a problem, though to a much smaller extent, that overtime stats count as well... you're given the ball on the 25 yard line; im sure we could run numbers showing the statistical likelihood of scoring points, especially touchdowns in those situations...