Sunday, August 15, 2010

CBS and the SEC

Mike Aresco, CBS’s suit in charge of college football, is apprehensive and vexed. Formally, he has the title of Executive Vice President, Programming - CBS Sports. What gives this grizzled veteran of ESPN and CBS Sports excessive gastric burn? CBS, after all, owns THE premium pick of games from THE perennial preeminent conference in all of college football (SEC) each week to choose from, sometimes two picks for programming. One doesn’t rise to that level of responsibility without always fretting over ratings. When Mike Aresco looks at the horizon of the landscape that is quickly approaching, he’s come to the realization that this is a Tebow-less SEC, and suits like him are paid to wear glasses, have an arched brow and look and be worried.
"It is going to be different. You don't have (Tim) Tebow now," Aresco said. "That's something you notice immediately. Some of the numbers Tebow was responsible for. You can't underestimate star power in television. Even if we do well in ratings, maybe they'll be slightly lower. I guess it's a question of expectations. You want people to have reasonable expectations. Obviously, the very beginning of the season will go a long way toward what kind of season we'll have."
OMG – Oh my Gosh! A Tebow-less SEC! Can it survive? Will it endure? The man who negotiated the historic 15 year deal with the SEC is now worried that there won’t be a ROI.
What the city slicker from NYC doesn’t get, is that the SEC was all the rage before Tebow, and will be a huge, smash hit going forward. People pay premiums for premium quality. Here is some data to help ease his mind.

The SEC is 6-0 all time in the BCS National Championship Game (since 1998). Officially now, the combined National Championship wins of the other (5) conferences, does not equal the win total alone of the SEC. Of course, the last (4) in a row have gone to the SEC. So Mr. Aresco, the story line is trying to figure out which TEAM from the SEC will be placed into the game. I can assure you that the SEC will show up. Mr. Aresco, having served the WWL you ought to know how to hawk the hype. All of that theater is compacted in 8 weeks worth of conference games for each school, over a short 3 months period to heighten the tension. Also Mr. Aresco, the beauty of college football is its evolving nature, not cause for trepidation or sense of apprehension. New stars emerge as the old ones move out. (See Next Tebow). Like tidal waves, it has happened that way for ions and ions. Celebrate it. The rest of the league does.
Still need more hard facts Mr. Aresco? It’s not just a one trick pony league. Since 2001 the SEC has finished with at least two schools in the top six of the final USA Today Coaches Poll, SEVEN out of the last NINE years; FIVE of last SIX; FOUR in a row, including three years where they had THREE teams in TOP 10. HALF, a full half of the league (6 teams) has had at least one top 10 season in that span: Auburn, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, LSU and Georgia. From that list, two have won multiple championships; two have won one and the other two didn’t win a title. However, in both of those cases, those teams make an arguable case that they were playing the best ball of anybody at the end of the season: Auburn – undefeated and UGA – got squeezed out of the NC game, both ended with the number 2 position in the poll. In fact the 2007 in which UGA finished 2nd, the SEC teams emerged with the top two spots. All six teams have not only been in the top six, but each has also either finished the year being 1 or 2. All time in the BCS era SEC has beaten Big 12 (3 – OU twice & TX), the Big 10 (2 – TOSU both) and ACC once (FSU). The dominance is growing; during the last four years the average victory margin was almost 17 points, 3 scores (16.8 pts); none trailed in the 2nd half. So prior to Tebow era in the SEC there was good football played; while the GPOOE graced us with his presence there was good football, and with most teams in the top 25 (6), including two of the top three teams the outlook for the SEC remains very bright, or in Mr. Slive words the “Golden Era” of SEC football continues.
It is depth of the league that makes the SEC is the best. Since 2001 all 12 teams have went bowling. Maybe other conferences can say that as well; I haven’t researched it, but here is the kicker and why SEC “bottom feeders” aren’t Weak Sisters University. During the last four years traditional “2nd division teams” of Kentucky, South Carolina, Mississippi and Arkansas have knocked off a team that has finished in the top six of the polls. Additionally those teams that have been in the top six have gone 39-1 out of conference with 7 dominating BCS bowl wins, but managed a loss to a wannabe in league play. That’s dominance; that’s depth; that’s the pinnacle.

Mr. Aresco, take a page off the big brother notebook and market teams: helmets, logo’s and jersey more than faces and you’ll be just fine. Add in the pageantry, coaches, tradition and rival aspect and you have a superior product to big brother. People want to be connected with a winner. In college football that winner is a TEAM from the SEC – that IS THE star. Mr. Aresco, what you are missing is summed up by the immortal words of Erk Russell: BIG TEAM; little me – not Tim Tebow.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Fulmer Cup Standngs - What does it mean?

It' not a Regresson of Means, but it's close.....I've been doing 2 a days behind the scene.

Heard it once; heard it a thousand times. Mark Richt is on the hot seat for not winning enough, and eventually the rhetoric, argument, comes around to CMR teams play un-sound football because his teams are un-sound, undisciplined off the field. Rather than letting that float nebulously in the blogosphere and on talk radio, I decided to test that theory.

My central question was there a link between negative off field incidents, “distractions”, and undisciplined performance on the field. I decided to use Fulmer Cup (FC) points as my measure for off field incidents, my dependent variable, and I decided to test many independent variables against it. Most frequently mentioned variables for poor performance on the field variables are penalties and turnovers. I decided to test, both rank and value, for: penalty yards, penalties per game, interceptions, fumbles, turnovers and turnover margin (takes into account defense playing ‘sound’ and causing turnovers). Also, this means squadoosh if it isn’t backed up with wins. So I also measured wins ranking, winning percentage and actual win number. A total of 15 independent variables were considered.

Also, I was also studying if any thing could be extrapolated to CMR lead UGA teams. One could also argue that turnover margin, both rank and value are measureable variables for “aggression”, something that critics point to as lacking from CMR teams in general and specifically after Brian Vangorder left.

The key statistical tool used was a Pearson r test. A Pearson r test determines if there is a relationship between variables. It doesn’t determine causal effect. An analogy might be that umbrella use is higher on rainy days than sunny days, but umbrella use didn’t cause the rain. Since the dependent variable is off the field in nature; there is no basis to say scientifically there is a causal effect to on field activity, but you can measure if there is a link and whether or not that link rises to a level of scientific significance.

A Pearson r test is an index scale. The values range from -1 to +1. The closer to 0.000 the result is means that no relation exists. “Girl, I don’t even know who you are.” A value of +/- 0.500 means that there is statistical significance. A negative value means that there is an inverse action occurring. As one variable rises the other variable is decreasing. Think of a negative value like a seesaw. On the other hand, a positive value is somewhat a misnomer than the name implies. It is more like a swing, when one variable rises the other one does as well; when one variable decreases the other variable decreases, not that all values are increasing all the time.

A marriage analogy might help explain what type of relationship a Pearson r test is measuring. A value of -1 is like War of the Roses. The 2 variables are at constant odds with one another. A reaction by one has the opposite effect on the other variable. A value of +1 is like On Golden Pond. The 2 variables are soul mates. Again, -0.5 means one party has a divorce lawyer, but not hostile, and +0.5 mean the 2 are officially “an item”; a significant other.

I used the SAS Wiki page , presumably EDSBS supported page, to download my FC historical data. (I did write to one of the EDSBS authors to try to get first hand data, but I got no response, and used what I had.) I used the NCAA website to download my football statistics.

Within each year, the main stratification was 2 groups: Teams with FC points opposed to all teams. I also studied what was happening within the FC teams. That is “Was there an effect going on to how lawless the team was?” If a team has one point compared to 20 points for example, does that matter?

To provide uniformity through out the years, I threw out W. Kentucky, comparing not only apples to apples, but Granny Smith to Granny Smith. That gave each year an “n” of 119 or N = 476. Only 2006 had less than 49 teams in the FC group – so “good” subgroup size. Those values were n 09 fc = 49, n 08 fc = 57, n 07 fc = 55 and n 06 fc =34. Each year was studied independently and then assimilated all data by each variable, aggregate, and examined that effect.
Also inherent to wins rank (vs. winning percentage and win value) and turnover margin rank (vs. turnover margin), these 2 variables are inversely related already, meaning for all other statistics the lower the rank the lower absolute value. Example interceptions, the lower the rank the lower number of passes picked. With wins rank and turnover margin rank, the lower the rank the higher the value. Example a turnover margin rank of 1 might have a value of +2.0, meaning two extra possessions per game, and of course win rank o1 likely means you have 13 or 14 wins. The Pearson r test is measuring the inverse of the inverse in these 2 situations.

Additionally just to get a macro perspective, I used averages for FC teams versus the teams without points in a given season in addition too the Pearson r test.

There were 3 independent variables which had a relationship link trending all the same way for all years and the aggregate total. Those 3 were: wins, penalty yards rank and total turnover rank. These were the most consistent variable predictors. The FC subgroup averaged at least (1) win more per season than teams that didn’t have any FC points and that trend was also true in aggregate tally as well. Penalty yards rank, for the FC subgroup only, had a negative index trend for all periods, favorable; meaning that more FC points the LESS penalty yards rank and vice versa. Also means that FC subgroup doesn’t play undisciplined football in terms of being measure by penalty yards rankings. In fact the opposite was true – more FC points the better rank. Finally, turnover rank, for both groups – with FC points and overall, had a positive link trend for all periods, unfavorable; meaning the more FC points MORE turnovers. With a fairly large N, but short sample timeframe – 4 seasons, in the end 2 variables that could be propitiously linked to FC points are wins and turnovers. All other variables revealed mix, inconsistent results.

None of the variables rose to the level of being scientifically significant, +/- 0.5, for any year, any variable, nor for any stratification. However, anecdotally the eventually BCS National Champion has had off field issues in the off season and was on the FC watch list each year that the FC award has been in place.

Each year that UGA had double digits in FC points produced a 10 win season. Is that a good omen with 17 points going into this season? Also of note the year in which CMR team had no FC points UGA’s win tally was 8 compared to his historical 10 win season and the lowest in CMR era. Unfavorably, UGA is within 2 points of over taking the lead from Florida for All Time FC points in the SEC, and 6 points for All Time Overall lead. Currently, UGA is tied with Minnesota this year for first. The AD situation could be a tiebreaker that leads to the hardware.

Also for UGA, separating them out as an independent sample group, they average 7.25 points worth of infractions per season; 3 DUI’s and a speeding ticket worth. Also after doing a Pearson r test on all variables (UGA alone), all came back as statistically significant, except penalty yards and penalties per game, both rank and value (11 of 15). BUT this dangerous interpretation given the sample size of only 4 values, you need more samples to be valid. Nevertheless, Winning percentage had a Pearson r value of 0.820, and Turnover margin had a value of 0.595 for example. Again, meaning that as FC points went up so did their values. Since BVG left after the 2006, it is difficulty to judge his impact alone on the FC point standings. As far as more generalized ‘aggression’ since 2007 UGA Turnover margin has gone from 0.69 to -0.23 to -1.23 in raw score. Certainly some evidence of playing a “softer defense”, but how much could have JC’s interceptions also played into that value?

There is 5 years worth of data for FC and 4 years worth of data for seasons played. The 5th year of FC data is still incomplete and there is still a season of football to go. There have been 8 teams to make the FC list, each and every year, up until this year. ‘Bama is in danger of falling off the consecutive year list. Up until now half of the 8 have been SEC schools: FL, ‘Bama, Arkansas, and S. Carolina. Three of past 4 years NC have came from that consecutive years list – thanks to the first (2) schools from that list. ‘Bama won the FC Trophy the year before they won the NC.

Teams on the All Time list by conference: SEC – all teams (Vandy 3 of 5), Big 10 – all teams (3 of Top 10 all time; NW 3 of 5 years, as well as incoming Nebraska and that would make 4 of Top 10), Pac 10 – all except AZ St (surprise somewhat) and Stanford, ACC – all except Wake Forest and Maryland (again surprise and Miami only had 4 points aggregately), Big 12 – all except Baylor and Big East – all teams. The SEC does have a 50 point lead over 2nd place Big 10. Winners of the FC Trophy have come from 3 of the Big 6 conferences: Big 10 (Illinois), SEC (‘Bama) and Big East (S. Fla). CUSA is also on the board (We are the Thundering Terds Marshall). The Big 6 conferences have a total of 5 teams that are Lilly White all 5 years.

Speaking of being FC list virgins – never a point, collectively they win 43% of their games, a median season of 5-7 aggregately; worse than the 6 win season if failed to make the FC list in a given year. Outside the above mentioned teams, another mild surprise was the amount of Texas teams on that list: Rice, Baylor, N. TX, SMU and Houston. Given the historical significance, context, of off field trouble in the state that list was surprising large (~22% of the remaining teams from 1 state). Only 3 teams have managed be above .500 each year while maintaining a pristine off field record: C. Mich., Navy and the above mention Houston (Kevin Sumlin era). There were additional handful of teams that managed a .500 records aggregately, headlined by Wake Forest and ASU. There were 2 teams that were de-flowered this past off season Buffalo and Tulsa.

Given that NC have FC points, if I am a coach I’d rather be on the watch list than off it. Given the fact the FC point team win more, I’d rather be on it. The axiom about you don’t want a DE in the church choir holds some merit – Reggie White excluded.

Some questions that didn’t get answered would be “Given that fact that most Big 6 conference schools are on the list, would the results be identical if one stratified the teams that way versus by FC point teams or would the results be similar based on budget size of the program?” Will these trends continue? Will Kevin Sumlin’s name appear more often for elite jobs as a guy who wins and maintains a “clean” program, and oh by way runs a “sexy offense” that’s attractive for skilled, speed kids and who is black?

Besides X and O, besides recruiting, besides booster relations, a good coach will know how to manage off field distractions to yield positive results, because generally good teams face each year.

…. Good news for Oklahoma (on list this year) and bad news for ‘Bama (off, but still time), and UGA can look forward to another 10 win season and possible NC next year (like ‘Bama) if history repeats itself.
PS If you would like the excel files of my research, email me  Also for those that blog, any tips on displaying excel sheets and or graphs would be head hurts from banging it trying to display some of the results.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Only in college football

Only in college football does it make sense that the Big 10 has 12 members and the Big 12 has 10 schools and neither conference wants to change their name.
Only in college football does no one care about the emotional toil put on die hard fans since December, not to mention Dan Beebe.
Only in college football does a conference split because 1 member is too powerful, breakup, and then come back together with MORE power and money going to that same 1 school and everyone is happy.
Only in college football where the same vulnerabilities exist, especially in the Big East and everyone thinks that the landscape is saved.
Only in college football is unequal synonymous with fair. Well other places have it too, but it’s blindly glaring in college football.
Only in college football can a school gets slapped with sanctions trying to influence games and outcomes, but networks and a group of influential people are lauded when they commit the same act with even deeper pockets.
Only in college football do you have to be a Top 15 team preseason to have a chance to win the title, even then you may not still have a chance. And all 120 teams except 2 are joyous!!!! The Cincinnati Reds have a chance to win the World Series.
Only in college football with the current bowl system which everyone complains about and wants to change, is so fortified that a 4 Ton bunker busting bomb isn’t taking it out. Certainly a miniscule Pac-16 missile crisis doesn’t even shake it.
Only in college football where the math of a 4 mega super conferences leading to a Plus 1 model seems so illogical to the decision makers. One game guys C’mon.
Only in college football does passion flow so deep…. Now I have an understanding of Oklahoma’s & TAMU’s thought process, I love this game and I’ll go back to her no matter how she treats me!


More Mascot name changes on the way….
Boomer Sooner becomes Boomer Ben Dover
Reveille becomes Lap Dog
Missouri Tigers becomes the Pussycats
The Yellow Raiders
Baylor Cuddly Teddy Bears
Kansas Walk away Hawks
Pistol Pete becomes Yosemite Sam
K-St, Iowa St who cares…anyone stands up with a spine and it doesn’t happen

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The SEC was a winner?

Big 10 members do earn more than the SEC. There is some question as to exactly by how much - high of $25M per to $19.7M compared to SEC $17.1M, but which will likely grow as BTN expands & debt service due to start up cost is reduced.

ESPN overpaid for ACC & now they are in the same subdivision as the SEC.

ESPN in the name of maximizing BCS value and Bowl Week overpaid dramatically for a weaken Big12-2 (Suits & bean counters made the decision for Gene Stallings who folded like a rented card table) with top members earning more than the SEC schools.

Pac-10 members are still going to get a HUGE increase from their new TV deal with Fox. Those talks are looming, who by the way is going to have a ton of moola after loosing out on ACC & Big 12-2 which will not bear on Kevin Weiberg's (ex-Big 12 commish, ex-BTN start up guy, now deputy commish of Pac-10) conscientious at all, likely resulting in at least the top members earning more than the SEC, if not all institutions (payouts on a disparaging basis like Big12-2).

Thereby allowing the SEC's value (comparing brands - market value premium & comparing conference competition in that market) to take a significant hit under the guise of "let's be Cool" going thru this process. Slive and the SEC have zero leverage for 4 more years (opt -out clause kicks in TV deals). Even though the weakest conference just got their contract torn up and renegotiated for boo coo riches!!! Aren't the real winners of this expansion round those with leverage going forward? And in at least the near term SEC comes up short -everyone else is gaining ground if not surpassed the SEC. That's a reason for celebration? Yeah, the landscape was saved, yeepie! Peace, hold hands and join in kumbaya, kumbaya.

But meanwhile back on the ranch the SEC is struggling for a 4th place ribbon in revenues - all in the name of "We're bad; we don't need to move!" What about opportunity cost? The cost of missed opportunities and missed revenue streams, while playing paddy cake - wait and see on the sidelines. That's what you call leadership from a commissioner? Status quo Slive struck out on this round of expansion, more so than Larry Scott! At least Larry Scott wasn't afraid to fail.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Shrapnel fallout to consider….

If Texas does take the plunge to Pac-10, this will be a major power coo for the UT-Austin President. Fact: UTA Pres is a Berkley alumnus. His political ties are back in CA. He wants to see his ole buds more often & joining the Pac-10 will allow him to do just that. Chummy isn’t it? He has initiated the academic superiority talking point that has been falsely repeated a thousand times. (Which conference had the lowest APR this last measurement period of the BCS Big Six conferences? Big 12. Who’s most famous alumnus during the past quarter of a century scored a SEVEN on his Wonderlic – also ticketed for Assault & Battery at a strip club recently? UT and VY and his fine undergraduate education. Who has a lower APR than ‘Bama, LSU, KY, Florida, UGA and Vandy – HALF of the SEC? UT. There’s a tall glass of shut up juice – take a slow swig, no take a big gulp). No way DeLoss Dodds will enjoy annual meetings more at Haight-Ashbury Park over Hoover, AL. That doesn’t make sense on a number of levels for the Texas athletic director to agree to that. Just as with the academic argument, why not join the preeminent athletic conference to face the best, to be the best? If this is a SOLEY a departmental move, why not do what is in the best interest of that department? No matter how much money the department can print, a good department will want to print more. Joining the Pac-10 shuts down UT-TV before it’s launched, walking away from $3M per yr left on the table. No he’s getting punked just like Vince Dooley did when Michael Adams came to UGA, except this is more subtle, sinister because Dodds doesn’t recognize that his chain is getting yanked by Bill Powers. And apparently this is sitting well with UTA fans who aren’t in an up roar either, because they see this as an easier path to the NC game.

I haven’t seen this much evasion since the OJ chase. Texas, thru Dan Bebee, issues an ultimatum to Colorado and Nebraska, because they (UTA) don’t won’t to be seen as the school that breaks up the Big 12. Now Bebee, umm UTA, still having one foot on the Titanic trying to bail water, is forcing TAMU to wear the moniker as ‘the school that breaks up the conference’, when all of this was started by UTA. Remember UTA had the “Tech” problem joining the Big 10, when Gordon Gee from OSU called. Are they coming, staying or going? Dunno, but what is clear is that Mack Brown, DeLoss Dodds and Bill Powers are getting splinters from riding that wooden fence so hard. Texas started all of this and now when it comes nut cutting time, they are acting just like the iconic logo – bunch of woosies.

Behind the scenes is a guy name Kevin Weiberg. He’s had interesting 3 year career. Until 2007 he was the Big 12 commissioner, before Bebee, and then he leaves to be the point person for BTN start up. Larry Scott gets hired in the Pac-10 and convinced Kevin to be Deputy Commissioner and do the same thing for Pac-10. Thus Weiberg is driving the bus on who to pick off in the Big 12 for the Pac-10. He is using his Fox Sports contacts which owns 49% of BTN. After Fox got spurned by ACC, which meant Fox had money in reserves, the Pac-10 TV deal started to heat up. Mr. Weiberg is the man in the center of this circle jerk.

If they stay as the new Big 10, UTA is seen as the hero when they been nothing but Machiavellian thru out this process. Bill Powers will get atta-boy from the state legislature (more funding and power). By Gawd it’s a win/win situation for them! I just can’t see why Oklahoma wants to be tied so close to those shenanigans. For TAMU, I can’t imagine 115 years of this chaos and cow chips. ...or for the next 100

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Bama vs So Cal n NC2A infractions

Generally I’m glad that the NC2A came down hard on So Cal. Yet I got issues with some of the findings.

The Trojan infractions report centered around 2 players, but the Alabama book buy back scandal had 201 athletes getting improper benefits. 2 compared to 201umm? Both were “Repeat Violators”. I still find it unfathomable that ‘Bama didn’t get stuck with same moniker that USC did – “Lack of institutional control”, as a 4th time “Repeat Violator”. One school gets a slap on the wrist; the other one was slapped down. Did the one with 2 players having violations get let off the easiest? – NO!!! Why?

On the surface, there are a couple of easy things to cite. Apparently ‘Bama showed contrition and was apologetic. “Why – I just can’t believe such thing was going on around here! You know that bookstore manager should have had paying more attention, but that’s all been changed now.” All words spoken with finest sugar sweet Southern drawl anyone could muster, but said with not one ounce of sincerity behind them. It’s a Southern thing. Conceited, arrogant, cold were adjectives used to describe USC’s stance in meetings with committee members. Also apparently the Crompton dialect didn’t work well either on the bow-tie group coming from HQ. So the manner in which you treat people with authority matters -duh.

As cited in the infraction report, the two at So. Cal were “high profile”. They were “one and done” and high draft picks guys. But wait a minute; I thought that the NC2A considered what is the best for all student-athletes. Why is there the disparity? In the world of NC2A aren’t all student-athletes equal? Doesn’t the Samford Javelin thrower (my nephew) have to abide by the same rules as John Wall? So if there’s a violation, why two different set of consequences. What does the ruling say to ALL the 201 athletes at Tuscaloosa? You guys were chop liver, even though you are playing for a D1 (SEC) school in football, basketball -14 different teams as I recall. I would be highly insulted if I were one of them. I would be knocking on Mal Moore’s door demanding he call the NC2A back down, for justice.

Speaking of the Alabama AD, his demise after this occurred were false and USC AD Mike Garrett has lasted 4 days longer than was expected. Did Mal give Mike the playbook on “How to be a complete Idiot, but survive scandal!” Seriously why is Mike taking up room air in the office? He is ultimately responsible for the 2 highest profile sports, the 2 most revenue producing sports and landing them on NC2A sanctions – 1 almost got the death penalty.

As stated before this whole notion of ‘vacating’ (forfeiting in non politically correct terms) is a bunch of garbage. It is a big heap, if it is suppose to act as a deterrent. Oh now the game that I watched where USC waxed OU by 35 points didn’t happen? And OU gets their dignity back in process of vacating? (Now Boomer Sooner wants to be in league when they are 0 for a lifetime against that team? I don’t get it.) Tubs’ gets a shot a the national title? Sorry AU fans – I hate it for you, really – but no. USC was the best team that year in college football, a report, 6 years later can’t undo that fact, even though Reggie’s Mom went to that and every other game courtesy of a wannabe agent.

Also was there a conspiracy between USC and NC2A, if it had to go hard on them do it when Pac-10 is planning on becoming Pac-16 and every major outlet is more worried where TX will go? A prefect dog wagging story in the world of college football if you will. Nobody cares that Reggie Bush got $250,000 worth of goods and services to attend USC. (No, I didn’t add up each proven allegation, but it is that high and you know it at least regardless if proven)

Just wish that the NC2A wouldn’t have lost their religion of couple of years earlier – it was there in the spotlight, in the corner. I think Mike Mills and Peter Buck can make a song with that line.
...but they just might get the opportunity for revival with the alleged illegal recruiting contact of Dillon Baxter