USA TODAY Sports
In the first offseason Varsity Numbers of 2013, I unveil a big series of data adjustments. Give it a look!
1. A shift toward finishing drives
This is the largest shift, and really, it renders the original intent of S&P+ moot. But that's a good thing. As I delve further and further into the world of football data, I realize that the art of finishing drives is one of the most important aspects of a game, and it is something that can be slightly overlooked when focusing only on play-by-play data. Without committing to any specific change in advance, I decided to look into what would happen if I took some of my general approaches to play-by-play data -- the things that result in the S&P+ rankings -- and apply them to the drive data so wonderfully available at cfbstats.com. Would adding a drive aspect to S&P+ make it more predictive, more properly evaluative?
The answer was, as I assumed it would be, a rousing yes. Adding a per-drive aspect to the overall S&P+ number, I was able to create a better S&P+ and, therefore, F/+ (the combination of S&P+ and Brian Fremeau's FEI).
It also, however, created something a little awkward. For a long time now, we've discussed F/+ as, basically, a combination of a play-by-play measure and a drive-for-drive measure. With the changes I made to S&P+, that is no longer the case. Instead, it is simply the combination of my measure (and all it entails) and Brian's. Since Brian and I use different methods and approaches, I didn't feel I was stepping on his toes, and when I described to him what I was doing, he agreed. So I moved forward with it. The new S&P+ makes FO's data better, I think, and that should always be the point.
(I'm really excited about this change, in other words.)
Better rankings = happier me.