Welcome to Football Study Hall!
SBN has been very good to me since I joined to write for Rock M Nation in October 2007. My work at RMN led me to Football Outsiders, which has led to some interesting opportunities of its own, and now I have a little cubby hole at SBN to continue writing about my favorite topic: college football.
My goal for this site is simple: to develop a Beyond The Box Score-style community for college football. (In the below posts, you'll see occasional "BTBS" references; my initial intentions with the stat work were so meager that I simply referred to my posts as "Beyond the Box Score" posts.) Uncovering and developing the metrics I have developed to date have only increased my enjoyment of a sport I already loved, and I want to take advantage of SBN's beautiful community-building platform to find other nerds out there. (And yes, data sharing will certainly be in the cards, though the 'how' portion of that is still unclear to me.) I want to both collect as much data as possible from previous football seasons (right now, my play-by-play database goes back to 2005), but I also want to figure out how to get others involved in the discovery process. I realize I'm the Chief Nerd for this site, as it were, but great SBN sites are great because of their communities. Hopefully this one develops and thrives like others have.
Of course, while the main goal is numbers talk, I'm sure there will be other purposes to this site as well. I am almost as obsessed with college football's history as its data; it fascinates me how historical knowledge of college football is almost completely regionalized. For instance, I grew up in Big 8 country, and I could tell you just about anything you want to know about those teams' histories ... but I'm still uncovering bits and pieces and classic moments from those of other conferences. I assume others might be in the same boat I am, and I'm sure this space will be used for sharing historical videos/stats/tidbits as well.
So with that said, it's time to get the ball rolling. Below is a collection of some of my favorite writing to date. Hopefully you find something that interests you.
If you want to get the gist of what my numbers are all about, here are a few columns/posts that will tell you everything you need to know.
- A New View of S&P+ (2010)
- What S&P+ Sees (2010)
Four Truths (2010) -- one of my favorites
- An Updated Primer (2010)
- The New Box Score (2008)
- Leverage, Leverage, Leverage (2008)
- Six Missing Points (2008)
The 2010 season was notable in that my S&P+ ratings found their most visible outlier to date. The Oregon Ducks combined a disastrously cushy non-conference slate with an ability to ease games out of 'close' range, then hit the gas, and struggled to finish in the S&P+ Top 20 because of it. Outliers happen in all systems (below, you can read me crying on Ken Pomeroy's shoulder about it), but Oregon was a rather large one.
- Oregon Ducks' offense is overrated ($)
- Making Upsets Count
- Andrew Luck, Stanford join the elite ($)
- I Am
Horned Frogs in the Hour of Chaos -- my favorite column title ever
The 2009 season was the first in which I was able, thanks to the good-spirited Marty at cfbstats.com, to keep up with "+" rankings on a week-to-week basis during the season.
The 2008 season was my first at Football Outsiders; I spent most of the season unrolling some of my basic concepts, but in doing the play-by-play by hand, I was unable to truly keep up from a rankings perspective until well after the season was over. I kept up with BCS conference data from week to week, but that was about it.
Potentially still my favorite ESPN Insider piece. Beware the Jones-AT&T.
Here are a few Varsity Numbers columns on how week-to-week momentum might matter as a season progresses ... and how it really doesn't the next season.
- Varsity Numbers Gets Hot in November (2010)
- Varsity Numbers Catches Fire (2010)
- Is Uncle Mo Really Your Friend? (2009)
Yes, recruiting rankings matter. This is coming from a Mizzou fan who has watched the rise of Brad Smith (no stars!), Sean Weatherspoon (two stars!) and Danario Alexander (two stars!) up close and personal. They still matter. Sorry.
The bane of preseason projections. What the hell happens when a new coach takes over? Outlook hazy. Try again later.
Easily the most well-developed of my attempts at individual stats.
- POE and Draftability (2010) -- one of my favorites
- Pac-10 is still on the run (2009, $)
- Introducing POE (2009)
Down and Distance
Random favorites of mine, from a look at minority head coaches, to who really runs up the score, to a Top 100 countdown (complete with Beano podcast), to a Ken Pomeroy e-mail exchange.
- Charlie Strong and Baby Steps (2010) -- one of my favorites
- Varsity Numbers Runs Up the Score (2010)
- Talking Trade with Ken Pomeroy (2010) -- one of my favorites
- Top 100 Teams of the Last 100 Years (2010): No. 100-81, No. 80-61, No. 60-41, No. 40-21, No. 20-1, Redux (Podcast w/Charlie Flowers, Beano Cook) -- one of my favorites
Game Analysis Examples
The 'against the spread' predictions are still a work in progress, but I can certainly tell you more than you wanted to know about what you might see on a given Saturday and, the following Monday, what you did see.
When It Originally Took Shape
This whole numbers thing basically began because I had started a Missouri blog in early-January 2007 and needed content. Here are a few posts to show you where things were going in the early days.