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Date Title Body
10/31/2016 - 5:19pm No not targeting

Theres no targeting penalty unless either (i) leading with the crown (i.e., very top) of the helmet or (ii) hit is against a "defenseless" player.  Bush didn't lead with the crown and Frey wasn't "defenseless" (unless you think it was a "blindside" hit, which it wasn't).  

Whether there is helmet to helmet contact is mostly irrelevant.

02/11/2015 - 1:32pm Yes, there are cases where ad hominem arguments are valid...

And this seems to be one.  This kid apparently proposes to have a role in this "project" and is endorsing it.  His background, judgment and taste are relevant.  

05/16/2012 - 3:11pm So what about the other bowl games? Will they be empty too?

Or only the most important bowl games (i.e., the playoff games) will be empty?

05/16/2012 - 12:51pm You are generally correct that the past decade...

has been bad for the Rose Bowl.  To me, that's a big part of the reason the current system sucks.  But the new system can and should be crafted in a way that improve things.  First, the Title Game itself should be a predetermined, rotating neutral site (like the SuperBowl).  Second, the BCS bowls host the first round of the playoffs, and you assign playoff teams to BCS bowls in a way that preserves traditional matchups.  Frankly, I'd like to see the Rose Bowl always be Pac12 vs B1G (even if not always conference champs).  If both conference champs are in the playoffs, they should play each other and the Rose Bowl should host the game.  If not, I'd rather not see the Rose Bowl host a playoff game.  That will sometimes mean you have to replace a conference champ that made the playoffs with the next best conference team, but you still at least have Pac12 vs B1G with at least one conference champ in the game.

03/07/2012 - 6:39pm double post*

*

03/07/2012 - 6:38pm That's a very good question but it involves more than

just certain advantages/biases that a recruit who goes to a big program may have over a recruit at a smaller program (frankly, I think the NFL generally does too good a job scouting to let talented guys slip through the cracks just because they are at a small school).

The bigger and more interesting question is whether the lower ranked players who go to big programs actually then to be better recruits than their similarly ranked counterparts.  If Nick Saban is hot after a 3-star player, I suspect that kid may well be more talented than his ranking suggests, and perhaps Rivals just missed the boat. In other words, are all 3-stars created equal, or are some more likely to succeed than other? 

Would be really interesting to compare, for example, whether a RIvals 5.7 3-star who is an otherwise highly ranked class is more likely to be drafted than a Rivals 5.7 3-star who is in a middling class, based on the theory that a lower ranked guy in a highly ranked class is much more likely to be a guy the coaches really wanted, rather than a guy the coaches merely had to settle for.  On the other hand, a lower ranked guy in a highly ranked class might be LESS likely to succeed because the competition for playing time is greater.  Either way, it would be interesting to know if there is any correlation between the overall ranking of a recruiting class and the likelihood of a lower ranked player in that class getting drafted.

03/07/2012 - 5:57pm These statistics are great but are easily misused/misinterpreted

They suggest the odds for a RANDOMLY selected 5, 4 or 3 star player.  However, it doesn't, for example, tell you that a particular 4 star player that your coaches just signed has a better likelihood of success than the 3 star player they just signed.  It doesn't mean they necessarily make a mistake (even putting needs aside) when they go hard after a lower ranked guy and ignore a higher ranked guy.  Because at that point you are no longer dealing with a random sampling from the pool--you are dealing with players that were specifically selected because the coaches saw something they wanted.  You cannot forget that end of the day the rankings are just some guy's opinion, and opinions--even qualified opinions--vary.  One person's three star maybe another person's five star. 

On the other hand, while you expect some variation in opinions, you also expect a good deal of overlap.  If your coaches are consistently pulling in ALL lower ranked players, it's POSSIBLE they are seeing something everyone else is missing, but it is far more likely they just aren't doing a very good job getting or identifying the best players available.

02/07/2012 - 1:10pm Seth, not sure how difficult it would be

but it would be interesting to see what these graphs look like centered in the middle of the 5.7 group, rather than using the line between 5.7 and 5.8 as the mid-point.  Reason being is I seem to recall that there's a significant statistical difference between the 5.7 group and the rest of the 3-stars, and that they tend to perform pretty close to their 5.8 4-star counterparts.  As presented, the graphs tend to reflect the 5.7 group as a negative (closer to all other 3 and 2-stars), where relatively they are probably better reflected closer to a neutral.  These borderline 4-star guys are often highly sought after by good teams, and probably deserve more of the benefit of the doubt than the rest of the 3 and 2 stars. 

12/13/2011 - 6:14pm The question isn't whether

the first team out HAS a shot at winning, the question is whether they DESERVE a shot at winning.  You want to try and include everyone that has a legitimate argument that they are the #1 team.  Okie State, for example, has a legitimate argument that they are #1 and deserve a shot.  This year's Michigan team, in comparison, theoretically could win a tournament, but they don't currently have any legitimate argument for being #1.  If Michigan gets left out, they can't rightfully complain. 

Now if Michigan lucks out and gets in anyway (because your system errs on the side of inclusiveness so that no one with a legitimate argument for being #1 gets left out) that doesn't mean Michigan State all of sudden has a legitimate complaint since they beat Michigan.  One team getting something they don't deserve doesn't all of a suddent entitle another team to something they don't deserve. 

12/13/2011 - 5:31pm But that's where the "Georgia problem" comes in.

Say Georgia manages to beat LSU in the conference championship game but still isn't good enough to be considered one of the top 6 conference champions.  Now the SEC, with arguably the #1 and #2 teams in the country, has NO TEAMS in the playoffs.  This system basically tells conferences they stand to be punished in the National Championship picture if they have a conference championship game.

I'd be happy to have a system that only allows one team per conference and that favors conference champions if they are viable.  But if the conference champion isn't viable but another member of the conference is, the conference shouldn't be excluded from the playoffs altogether.  You could even limit this exclusively to conference championship game situations.  Allow the loser of the game to potentially make the playoff, but only if the winner doesn't make it.

12/13/2011 - 4:17pm I have no problem with do-or-die situations

and I agree that ideally you want the path to a National Championship to be as clear as possible from Day 1.

But you are arguing for a Playoff of ONLY conference champions because that makes the rules clear and eliminates subjectivity.  But which conference champions?  You could say all of them, but that means a 3-loss Big East and ACC and Mid-Amercian Champion gets in but a 1-loss Alabama team stays home.  There's no way the SEC, e.g., is going to agree to that kind of inequity of opportunity at a National Championship, and rightfully so.  It also means you've got to move to an 11 team playoff system (and yet the team everyone thinks is the 2nd best in the country isn't in it). 

If all conference champs don't get in, you have to have a system for excluding some over others.  Now you are back to the uncertainty you despise.  And now you have the possibility of the Georgia example above.  Say Georgia as a 4-loss conference champion doesn't make the cut, and Alabama and LSU with only one loss aren't eligible because they didn't win the conference.  So now the SEC, who has arguably the two best teams in the country, has NO representation whatsoever in your playoff system.  That possibility also isn't going to fly. 

I suppose you could say just BCS conference champions, and the two highest ranked champions of the non-BCS conferences for an 8 team playoff.  That's at least feasible.  But I still don't like that, for example, a 3-loss Big East or ACC team automatically gets in...that is hard to justify.  As much as I don't like untested assumptions about conference superiority, I also don't like just totally assuming away conference inferiority.  The idea that, for example, 3-loss Clemson could beat a previously unbeaten LSU in the National Championship game and would be crowned National Champion isn't a system I care for very much.  

12/13/2011 - 1:43pm I'm saying it isn't politically viable...

at least right now.  Partly because of the extra games, and partly because it undermines the bowl system too much.   It wasn't long ago, e.g., that Michigan would play 12 games a year max (11 game regular season and a bowl).  With the conference championship game we've jumped up to 14.  Now we want to potentially jump to as many as 16.  But even that isn't nearly as big of an obstacle as what a multi-round playoff does to undermine the relevance and tradition of the bowls.

12/13/2011 - 1:32pm The problem is...

What do you do about a situation (kind of like this year in the SEC) where the best teams are in the same division?  And say Georgia had 4 losses instead of 2, had previously played LSU at Georgia and been destroyed, but then somehow managed to squeak out a win in the conference championship game?  Do you leave 1-loss LSU (and Bama) at home and let Georgia in?  Do you leave everyone in the SEC at home?  If so, you've undermined the system.  People will not view it as legitimate.

The other issue I have with your analysis is that losses should matter notwithstanding the excuse for them (even if you have injuries or suspensions, even if your field goal kicker has an off day, etc.).  Now maybe we should discount early season, non-conference games generally. Just view them as exhibitions, win or lose (although that seems somewhat counter to your insufficient data point).  But once you've decided what games should count, if a really good team happens to stumble and bumble its way through a portion of those games, the stumbling should matter when it comes time to determine a national champion, even if everyone recognizes they are a very good team. 

12/13/2011 - 12:59pm The system needs some built in advantage

for conference winners (or disadvantage for non-conference winners), but it shouldn't be an auto-bid.

12/13/2011 - 12:56pm edit...meant to reply

**

12/13/2011 - 12:55pm The focus shouldn't be on out-ins, it should be on auto-outs...

If the winner of your conference championship is in the playoffs, the loser of that game shouldn't be.   In your example, however, Ohio State presumably wouldn't make the playoffs, so Michigan could still make it in to represent the Big Ten.  If its a 2006 situation, on the other hand, and we have a conference championship game, whoever wins that game should be in and the other team out.  Do we really want the possibility of Michigan/Ohio State playing three times in one season?

12/13/2011 - 11:24am Just don't think 6 or 8 teams is realistic, at least right now

That would mean potentially playing as many as 16 games for teams that play in conference championship games and goes too far in undermining the traditional bowls...just don't see a realistic appetite for it amongst the powers that be for that disruptive of a change.

A +1 type format is realistic and looks like it might actually be on the way, and can be done well with some tweaks.  Those should be to try and preserve the traditional bowls matchups where possible, provide some tiebreaker type rules that will prevent some of the politicing that goes into determining who gets in, promote conference diversity and give some incentive to winning your conference.

My proposals would be:

- Generally use the top teams in the BCS rankings to determine the Playoff Teams.

- However, NO losers of conference championship games IF the conference winner is a Playoff Team. 

This is a fair way to eliminate arguably unworthy teams who controlled their own destiny late in the season, and to prevent repeat games.  E.g., what's the point of making the winner of the conference championship game potentially have to play that team again to win the NC a game or two later? (Seriously, could you imagine if in 2006 UM and Ohio had a rematch in a B1G conference championship game--and Michigan won--and then they had to play AGAIN in a 4 team playoff system?)   A potential replay of a conference championship game is undesirable, playoff spots are scarce, conference diversity is good...this is an easy elimination.  Note, however, that if LSU had lost to Georgia in the SEC championship game, LSU would still potentially be eligible to be a Playoff Team because Georgia would not be a Playoff Team.

- Other non-conference champions (i.e., those who did not play in a conference championship game) should have to play their way in. 

In most years, they'd play the first team out.  However, the way it would work this year is that Alabama and Stanford (both of whom ducked their conference championship game) would play each other, and Oregon (who played in and won its conference championship game) as the first team out would get the last spot.  Note that adding this extra game would create some logistical challenges but won't generally require teams to play more than 13 games, e.g., that LSU had to play. (I'm also tempted to say that if the first team out is a champion of a conference with a championship game, they get in automatically ahead of a nonconferece champion, rather than make the winner of a conference championship game play another game on top of the conference championship game.)

- Select the host BCS Bowl games that best preserve traditional bowl matchups. 

So, e.g., if a B1G and Pac12 representative are both in the Playoffs, then they play each other in the Rose Bowl in the first round (seedings be damned).  If only one of the conferences is in the Playoffs, or neither, then the Rose Bowl isn't a Playoff Bowl that year, and so you preserve the possibility of a reasonably traditional Rose Bowl.  After you decide the Rose Bowl, you figure out the other bowls based on the conference champions in the Playoffs.  So this year, LSU would play in the Sugar Bowl and Okie State would play in the Fiesta Bowl and they would both be Playoff Bowls.  Orange would be Clemson vs. West Virginia.  Rose Bowl would be Wisconsin vs. an At-Large (probably Stanford if they lost to Alabama in the play-in game).

12/05/2011 - 4:21pm What you are really saying...

Is that wins and losses don't matter.  Only the potential likelihood of producing a win matters.

Makable field goal misses just misses wide left in overtime, so what?   Desperate hail mary randomly bounces into the hands of Sparty player for a game winning touchdown, who cares?  Kordell Stewart to Westbrook...just variance.  The band is on the field...eh, Stanford was the better team.  Lets disregard all that noise and tell the players not to sweat it, because the outcome of the game isn't what they are there for.  They are just creating data points so we can evaluate how talented or not they are.

What you endorse is antithetical to all things sports. 

12/13/2010 - 3:46pm How about

the Giant Douche division and the Turd Sandwich division?  Those would be different.  Doing something different is great so long as the different thing you are doing doesn't suck.  But to do something completely lame just for the sake of being different is, well, completely lame.  How does "Leadership" or "Legends" capitalize on the uniqueness or history of the B10 (other than conveying a smug sense of superiority and a general lack of any real creativity)?

05/26/2010 - 5:46pm Poor, sweet Ann G. Vollano...

may not be as blameless in this whole mess as has been suggested.  From Rodriguez's response:

"Several weeks later Barwis and assistant strength coach Dennis Murray spoke to assistant athletic director for compliance Ann Vollano about the same subject. Barwis and Murray understood Vollano to confirm that warm-up/stretch, cool-down/stretch and injury prevention do not count. On June 23 and June 25, 2009, Murray sent emails with weekly calendars of workout activities to Vollano. Rodriguez was not copied on the emails. Vollano responded to Murray with a voice message which seems to confirm that warm-up and stretching activities do not count…

"Barwis and Murray said Vollano also observed some summer workouts in 2009. Murray said he and Barwis offered to take Vollano through a workout so she would know exactly what they did and could tell them what counted and what did not count. Murray said Vollano declined to go through a workout but confirmed that the warm-up, cool-down and injury prevention components would not count. Barwis said Vollano also told the entire football staff and team at the start of the 2009 season that warm-up, stretching and cool-down do not count toward the CARA limits.

"Vollano confirmed that she spoke to Barwis and Murray about whether certain workout activities counted toward the limits, but she said she understood the strength staff was only monitoring those activities, not conducting them. In other words, Vollano said she understood the activities in question were done individually and not as a coordinated group activity. Vollano also said she never observed a summer workout. Vollano said Barwis and Murray did offer to take her through a workout, but she thought they were offering to do that for her own personal interest in physical conditioning but not to ensure they were counting activities correctly for compliance with NCAA legislation."

02/25/2010 - 3:49pm I agree generally with the lagging indicator notion,

although you still have to acknowledge the correlations in the data for those not quite USC-level schools. It is still important to recognize that a coaching staff's prioritizing of particular recruits will frequently correlate with the star-rankings. So when your team is persuing a 4-star player and a 3-star player at the same position and signs the 4-star player, that's probably good news (i.e., that's more likely the guy the coaches really wanted), but not necessarily.

02/25/2010 - 3:47pm Hmm...this is more cynical than what

I suggested (i.e., it assumes Rival's evaluations are not independent) but I can certainly see offer lists influencing rankings being a factor and having something of a similar effect on the data. Although it doesn't totally explain why you see the fall off in the star-rankings predictive power at the highest and lowest levels.

02/25/2010 - 3:06pm An alternative explanation of the "effect" of 5 stars...

Isn't this likely a function of the Rivals rankings being an imperfect measure of a recruit's value in a marketplace with unequal buying power?

Stated less obtusely, everyone's guess of who the best players are is different and imperfect, although there is still a good deal of overlap in opinion (compare Rivals rankings to other recruiting services, e.g.). If you give someone qualified to evalute recruits the pick of the litter, the guys they select as the best may not always be the same, but whomever is selected is still highly likely to be a stud.

A recruiting service has the pick of the litter in the sense that they can assign a 5-star ranking to whomever they choose. A school obviously does not have the power to sign whoever they choose, but a place like USC of late is the next closest thing. They have enjoyed so much recruiting power, they will generally limit their offers to those recruits they think very, very highly of (5-star caliber recruits according to their own evaluation).

Thus, for a school like USC, you would not necessarily expect a recruit's Rivals ranking to strongly correlate with the USC coaching staff's internal evaluation of the recruit, since they are generally only going after the guys they really like. So it is not terribly surprising when their Rivals 4-star guys pan out at a similar frequency to their Rivals 5-star guys...if the USC coaching staff didn't think they were a stud, they probably would not have recruited them.

As you move down the food chain, and look at schools that pull from both the elite and less elite ranks, the Rivals rankings start becoming a more likely predictor of the coaching staff's own evaluation of the player (if you accept the premise that the Rivals rankings are a rough proxy of a recruit's market value...i.e., the pool of 5-star players includes a higher concentration of good/more sought after recruits, and so on down the scale). That recruit your coaches are really excited about is more likely to be a 4-star or 5-star guy than a 3-star (although not always). That guy your coaches had to settle for is more likely a 3-star than a 4-star. Consistently, with these teams (teams capable of pulling the occasional 5-star), you start seeing more of a correlation in the mid-tier ranks between star ranking and likelihood of success.

However, once you approach the lower tier of schools (from a recruiting power perspective), you are dealing with teams that are, figuratively, picking through the left-over scraps from the more elite teams. Again, at that point, the predictive ability of the Rivals rankings begins to give way to the fact that a bunch of more powerful market participants doing their own evaluations chose to take a pass on your recruits. In other words, the better schools have already taken a close look through the Rivals 2-star bin and the Rivals 3-star bin and picked out the most worthy fruit from each. It should not surprise that what is left behind in each may not be significantly different from one another.

Anyways, this to me seems a lot more likely an explanation for the phenomenon reflected in the data above than the idea that the presence of "5 star" guys on your team has some mysterious effect on the abilities of their lower ranked peers.

Amazing post, by the way.

07/10/2009 - 10:14am Another angle to this you might want to consider...

is the whole "regression toward the mean" concept. That is, although a 5 win improvement next season may seem like a statistical outlier to some extent, for Michigan it would simply be a return to their average performance. Stated differently, it was last year's record that was the clear statistical outlier for Michigan, so an average Michigan season in comparison will appear as an extraordinary jump in terms of win/loss record, even though for Michigan it would still just be an average season. You already sort of touched on this with the "other side of the coin" idea at the end of your post. But it should not be particularly surprising to find that great improvements in the win/loss column are most common, and are probably in fact quite likely, following an unusually bad season (again...regression to the mean).

02/26/2009 - 5:46pm Oh boy...another "Marketing" expert!

Why is it so hard to understand that something like this, designed to appeal to one fan base by poking fun at another fan base, is also likely to alienate the other fan base. If it's all just "marketing," why should anyone care at all, since we're all so sophisticated and can see right through to the fact that this is just a liqour company trying to sell more booze who doesn't give a rats ass about Michigan or OSU. There's no more reason this ad should work to create "buzz" and positive "goodwill" for OSU fans than there is for it to create negative "buzz" and "ill-will" from Michigan fans. They are, in a very public way, associating something negative (to Michigan fans) with their product. In what class in business school do they teach that this is a good idea?

I actually don't care that much about the stupid ad, but you idiots trying to lecture to people about how we don't understand "marketing" are really F'ing annoying.

And yes, I use too many "quotation marks."

02/25/2009 - 3:24pm Agree that Templeton is pretty good...didnt realize

it had such limited distribution.

02/25/2009 - 3:21pm No, but I am enough of an idiot

that I let a guy at Sam's Liquours talk me into buying a $120 bottle of Rye (hobos need not apply), which while very good, will never be worth the $1 per sip or whatever it works out to be. Rye whiskey is good, you should try it. Especially if you don't care for the syruppy sweetness of Bourbon. I'd suggest starting with Overholt, which is pretty mild (and inexpensive) but, well...

02/25/2009 - 1:01pm It doesn't offend me...

But they chose to take a shot at Michigan because they obviously thought it would help sell more whiskey. I can choose to buy something else (there are lots and lots liquours out there...the only one by Beam that would bother me is Old Overholt, since it's a pretty drinkable rye for being dirt cheap) to try and show them they are wrong. I don't take it personally, but if you choose to openly throw your lot in with the Bucks (whether for real or just for money) don't expect my support.

It's not really that big of a deal, but, hey, it's a rivalry! It's your team! It's not supposed to make logical sense. Support your team you heartless bastards!

02/25/2009 - 12:23pm They are all whiskey...Just means where the whiskey is from

Although there are certainly regional characteristics that accompany whiskey from different regions.

Bourbon is whiskey from Kentucky. Jack Daniels has certain characteristics in common with Bourbon, but it is not from Kentucky, so it is not Bourbon. Jack is Tennessee Whiskey.

Scotch is whiskey from Scotland. Whiskey from Ireland is referred to as the more staight-forward Irish Whiskey.

02/25/2009 - 11:54am Let me make sure I understand.

Marketing department/ad agency decides to slight Michigan in order to pander to OSU fans. That's okay because it's just "marketing"...they don't really hate us, they just want to make money by insulting us. So it's okay, and we shouldn't be offended. And if there is a backlash and Michigan fans actually do boycott or send nasty emails, then it won't be the ad exec who gets canned for insulting another team's fanbase that is stupid, it will be us dumb Michigan fans because we don't understand "marketing".

Wait, I forgot, it doesn't matter because it's in Columbus, and the only way a Michigan fan would ever see it to be insulted would be through the internet or email. And only like, what, 1% or so of Americans have access to that.

02/25/2009 - 11:48am Also part of a larger brand consortium, Fortune Brands,

that has a number of major golf brands including Titleist and FootJoy.