Tebow On the Cover of Next Sporting News

December 31, 2008

The past two Heisman winners are gracing the cover of the next issue of The Sporting News. For you collectors out there, it’s not one to miss. I love how Tebow looks focused and scary while Bradford looks somewhat bewildered.

snm_010509_cover

It hits newsstands on Friday.


Some BCS Final Score Projections

December 31, 2008

Just for the record, here are my projections for the first four BCS games. They were arrived at via the same method I used for the hypothetical BCS title game scenarios and to project a 35-21 Florida win in the SEC title game (which would have been 34-20 if Phillips didn’t miss his field goal).

I’ve run several bowl games, and it seems to be more accurate for good teams. It projected a 21-17 Boise State win over TCU (actual final: 17-16 TCU win, five total points off), but also a 34-31 Central Michigan win over FAU (actual final: 24-21 FAU, 20 total points off).

Anyway, I’ve used the absolute number projections rather than the percentages because time and again they are the more accurate ones. If you’ve read up on how this works, that has meaning to you. If you haven’t, then don’t worry about it.

Rose Bowl: USC 25 – Penn State 21

Orange Bowl: Cincinnati 19 – Virginia Tech 18

Sugar Bowl: Alabama 25 – Utah 24*

Fiesta Bowl: Texas 37 – Ohio State 18

For what it’s worth, this method has always projected the scores too high except for the obvious outliers (take a bow, Notre Dame) in every bowl I’ve run them for so far.

A bonus pick for tonight: Georgia Tech 31 – LSU 30 in the Chick-fil-A (Peach) Bowl.

*Originally said 25-23, but I noticed an error on the spreadsheet. It now says 25-24 because I don’t want to predict a tie, but since the raw numbers are Alabama 25.29 – Utah 24.93, it technically projects a 25-25 tie.


A Note on the AJC’s SAT Study

December 29, 2008

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently published a study on SAT scores of athletes (and football players specifically) versus the total student body. Its biggest bombshell was that the school with the largest gap between football players and the student body was Florida.

It’s worth noting the actual numbers so here is a link to them. Make no mistake: this is not good and it reflects poorly on the university.

Notice the years studied there before you start writing Urban Meyer a strongly worded letter though. The AJC looked at the incoming freshman classes of 2002-04, which were the three Ron Zook years. It already is no secret that Zook wasn’t exactly the strictest on academics, and this is more evidence.

The average team GPA has increased every season under Meyer’s watch, so it would be interesting to see what they end up being during his time. I have a feeling they would be higher than the 890 average that Zook’s recruits had.

It also would have been nice to see the years collected mentioned before the fourth section. It wouldn’t matter as much for Oklahoma, whose data was from 2001-03, a team mentioned almost as much as UF but that still has the same now as then.


Addazio is Your New OC

December 28, 2008

Steve Addazio has been named as the new offensive coordinator of the Gators. He previously has been an offensive coordinator at Indiana and was a candidate for the Syracuse head coaching job this offseason. He has been the offensive line coach in his four seasons at Florida under Urban Meyer.

Addazio was not the trendy name all the armchair athletic directors were picking, as that honor goes to receivers coach Billy Gonzalez. The next question then is if Gonzalez leaves to become offensive coordinator for Dan Mullen at Mississippi State, as that rumor has been circulating for a couple of weeks now. For the record though, I can’t find any evidence of such a move being possible in anything more reputable than random message board posters throwing things against the wall to see if they stick, so take it with a grain of salt.

The blurb from Gatorzone.com reminds everyone that offensive game planning and play calling are and have been a group effort, and that the other offensive assistants will continue to be involved. It remains to be seen who will end up the quarterbacks coach.


A Few Pre-Holiday Thoughts

December 19, 2008

This will be the last long post until after New Year’s, most likely. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and yours.

I am glad to see that the Florida coaching staff is preparing for this national title game the same way they did in 2006. It was a successful strategy, and there’s no need to reinvent the wheel on it. It’s not like the core of this team (save Harvin and Tebow) were major components of the ’06 run and might get complacent if they did the same thing as before.

After all, focus shouldn’t be a problem for them. They didn’t lose it from October on despite blowout after blowout. The only close game came as a result of the opposing team – Alabama – being a great football team and not a result of getting complacent against a bad team.

Besides, they’re playing for a national title. If you can’t get focused around that goal, there’s something wrong.

As for Dan Mullen helping with the game, it doesn’t bother me nearly as much as it does some other people. As I’ve said before, Urban Meyer and his staff have been through a similar situation when moving from Utah to Florida and they did just fine in the Fiesta Bowl.

Mullen is a pro and I believe him when he says that he feels he owes it to these players to give it his all. The article I linked to in the previous section says that practice so far has just been workouts and that game planning won’t come until after the players’ Christmas break. Given that’s when Mullen is returning, it all seems overblown to me.

Some people have brought up how it hurt FSU against Oklahoma in 2000 with Mark Richt leaving to take a head coaching job, but I don’t think the analogy is that apropos. The 2000 Oklahoma defense is far beyond the 2008 Oklahoma defense, which is no better than the 2007 unit that got gashed by West Virginia’s spread option last bowl season.

This article here should end all the ridiculous talk about Meyer leaving Florida to go to Notre Dame. It won’t, but it should.

I still don’t think Kerwin Bell will be joining the Florida staff for 2009, even though reputable news sources are asking the question now instead of just message board creatures.

He makes no sense whatsoever as the offensive coordinator since he doesn’t know Meyer’s system while guys on the current staff do. I don’t think quarterbacks coach alone is enough to make him give up his head coaching gig. That means some secondary title like “associate head coach” would need to be added, but it’s a stretch to me to think Meyer would bestow that title on someone he doesn’t really know.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately on the accuracy of offensive versus defensive statistics. If you’ve spent any time looking around the place here, you know that I like to analyze numbers. That is part of the reason why I picked a major in the Warrington College of Business, and it’s something I enjoy doing.

However, I get the feeling that good defenses are always a little better than their numbers indicate and offenses are not quite as good as their numbers indicate. It’s not just that Florida is on the defense side of the OMG OFFENSE VS. DEFENSE!! caricature of the national title game, though that was the topic that brought this on.

If a defense does its best, it cannot hold opponents to less than zero points. They have a firm cap there. If they fail, only the clock is a constraint to how much they can give up.

On the flip side, offenses that succeed have no limit on what they can rack up. This much is obvious, and it’s the reason why there are debates about running up scores. If an offense fails, it can only go down to zero point scored, which, given the rarity of shutouts, is unlikely to happen. They usually pick up some points somewhere late in the game after it has been decided.

That last bit leads to a different issue: garbage time. Garbage time only enhances offensive statistics and hampers defensive statistics. Think about it this way: the Citadel scored the fourth most points of Florida of any opponent this season. That is the most overt example of garbage time hurting the Gators’ defensive stats.

I guess the best way I can illustrate this point is with an example. Think of a game where Team A and Team B each get ten possessions. If Team A’s offense and defense both succeed seven times, Team A will win 49-21.

If a team averaged 49 points a game this season, it would be behind only Oklahoma’s 54 a game in the country. A team giving up an average of 21 points a game would only be 34th-best in the country.

The maxim about it being easier to destroy than create, meaning that it’s easier to play defense than offense, is true to a degree, but not that big of one. I don’t know how to adjust for this discrepancy, and I am probably not smart enough to figure it out.

I am going to run the same stat analysis I did for the SEC title game for as many bowls with teams from the same tier as I can to see how it goes. I understand that bowl games don’t always go as expected for a variety of reasons – coaching changes, the long layoff, etc – but for that kind of analysis you need a season’s worth of data and bowls are all we’ve got.


Bradford Wins the Heisman

December 13, 2008

As was almost universally expected, Sam Bradford has won the Heisman Trophy. Even though Tim Tebow didn’t win it, he definitely should get an assist. How many times did you hear the phrase, “but Bradford has a long uphill climb to win because he’s a sophomore”?

Yeah, I didn’t hear it either. Tim says you’re welcome, Sam.

Tebow got the most first place votes, but finished third overall thanks to the Bradford/McCoy combo pushing him to third on many ballots. Only 151 points separated first and third.

And for all the complaining about Graham Harrell not getting invited to the ceremony, he finished a distant fourth at over 1,300 points behind Tebow. If people had a problem with his not getting invited, they’ll have to take it up with the voters because the Heisman Trust made the right decision in not inviting him.

One other note – Michael Crabtree was fifth, Shonn Greene was sixth, and Pat White finished seventh, the last with just 19 points. That means Percy Harvin was no higher than eighth and was a complete non-factor again. He got some sporadic hype for the award at times this year, but it’s clear that he has no shot as long as Tebow at Florida with him.


Tebow Wins the Maxwell Again

December 12, 2008

Tim Tebow won his second straight Maxwell Award, one of the several out there purported to be awarded to college football’s best player. It’s prestigious, but not quite on the level of that bronze, stiff-arming guy.

And because I have nothing else to add, painting with paintballs: