Saturday, October 25, 2008

Early games-slow starts

Sun Sports Writer Robbie Andreu makes the claim in this week's column that the Gators are prone to slow starts when they have the early game. Andreu's scientific analysis will make empirical purists cringe. He bases his assumptions on a handful of contests over the last three years without doing any study of other start times to see if the percentage of slow starts for early games is an anomaly or if it is closely related to other slow starts.

This year we have had three early starts: Hawaii, Ole Miss and Arkansas. We led 28-0, 17-7 and 14-0 at the end of the first half in those three games. We've had two 8 p.m. starts: Miami and LSU. In those two games we led 9-3 and 20-7 at the half. In our 3:30 start, we led Tennessee, 20-0 at the half.

If you combine the three early game starts and compare them to the three later starts the scores are 49-7 (early games) and 49-10 (later games)--no statistical difference.

I submit rather that the games we have performed poorly in are the games when we have a bad third or fourth quarter and instead of Meyer changing the pre-game ritual for early games like Andreu's story said, he should think about changing the half-time ritual.


We have given up 7 first quarter and 10 second quarter points all season. Sounds like we have hardly had a poor first half in any of our games. Conversely, we have given up 31 third quarter and 30 fourth quarter points. We've scored more points in the second half compared to the first half: 123 to 98, but we've also given up nearly 3 1/2 times as many points 61 to 17.

I rest my case.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Tartt out for Kentucky game

Tartt will miss is third straight game this week. Click on the headline to read about the rest of the injuries. Moody's still sore, but could play.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Bit of an Application of the Playoff Concept

First, some quick points--the automatic bid framework would be unbiased against when a team loses in the season (polls reward early losses over late), and unbiased against a team's preseason ranking, which is based on things like knowledge of recruiting and returning players, last year's performance, schedule, reputation, injuries, etc. "Style points" would also mean less, overall. Each team begins the year with the goal of winning their conference--so the 11/5 formula makes that goal fit the playoff scheme in an uncomplicated way. The at-large component, however, could reward teams that do have late surges and improve, like Georgia last year (a team that would have gotten in under the 11 conf/5 BCS picks formula instead of an obviously inferior Tennessee, because of the room for at-large picks).

Okay, I don't feel like going back and checking on who won all the individual conferences over the last few years, but I thought I'd add a list of teams that would have been eligible as at-large teams over the last 3 years, along with some general observations, just to get a sense of what kind of teams would have been in a 16-team playoff with 5 at-larges and 11 conference champions, and which would have been out. I am basing my results on the final BCS poll of the year (which is the December edition, after the conference championship games). The sites are linked on the listed years (they are pdf files). The entire list is linked on the post title. The number in front of the teams (below) is their ranking.
(These are teams that would make the playoff, along with all conference champions, in the formula I support. The point is not that these teams would get in only under this formula, but that this formula makes room for these teams even with it giving a shot to all conference champs.)

2007: 5)georgia, 6)missouri 8)kansas 11)arizona st. 12)florida. (this means 3 SECs get in, including the Gators, Hawaii gets in without any wondering about how they are ranked--and if Boise St had beaten them, Boise would have gotten in instead, without hoping for a top 12 ranking, and conference champs BYU would get in. BYU was ranked 17, so they would have been bumped out by a strictly BCS top 16 playoff. That same BCS top 16 formula would have let in 3 ACC teams, including 3-loss Boston College and 3-loss Clemson, as well as a 4-loss Tenn. Oh, and it looks like the seeding would of had Florida playing at Georgia in the first round (in the 11/5 system). Nice!)

2006: 3)Michigan 4)LSU 7)Wisconsin 9)Auburn 11)Notre Dame (Again, 3 SECs, and this was the year of Boise St, so we could have seen how that whole thing would have unfolded)

2005: 4) Ohio St (OSU and Penn St were co-Champs of the Big 10, Penn St was ranked 3, OSU was 4, so OSU would have taken an at-large spot) 5)Oregon 6)Notre Dame 8)Miami 9)Auburn (10th ranked Virginia Tech is the first team in this list to be ranked in the top 10 and not get into this system I support--but, they lost the ACC title game to Boston College, ranked 21. The ACC would have still had 2 teams in the playoffs, then, and V Tech was bumped out in a conference playoff game by the team that replaced them in the national playoffs) Florida was ranked 17, and would have missed the playoffs under this system. LSU and Alabama were 12 and 13, respectively, and would have missed as well. But the SEC would still have Georgia and Auburn in the playoffs, in a year when the SEC had less dominant teams).

Also, in 2004, both undefeated Auburn and undefeated Utah are in, as well as 3 total SEC teams (which would all be true with virtually any 16 team playoff applied to that year).

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

When Moody comes back

When Moody comes back, I think he deserves his carries but not at the expense of Rainey and Demps. There are plenty of carries for Moody, Demps and Rainey. Tebow is the one who needs to give up his carries. He has carried three times as much as Demps or Harvin and almost twice as much as Rainey. He's averaging 2.5 yards per carry because people expect him to carry 12-15 times a game. If he carries 2-5 times a game, Moody can get 10 carries and defenses will be more surprised when Tebow carries. Plus they will have to game plan for a tough, tackle-breaking bronco like Moody, two small, speedy backs who hide behind the line and are gone in a flash and a bruising fullback-quarterback who will gash you if you aren't looking for it.

Monday, October 20, 2008

All Work and No Playoff

"Trouble is, once we get 'Plus One' format the college football brain trusts won’t stop until they’ve got 16, then 32, then 64."

That's a quote by Buddy Martin in the article cited in the post below. In philosophy, or logic, he is guilty of either this or this, I always have trouble interpreting which applies, maybe it's easier to just say, "slippery slop fallacy." However, I want to embrace the "absurdum" of it, in other words, 16, 32... yes, please!

Plenty more to dislike about Martin's piece. He mentions the old, "regular season won't count as much" argument. This argument is also guilty of being a phallic, uhh, I mean, a fallacy. I don't have any latin phrases to describe why it's fallacy, though. But I will say that 1) it's not true...why? look at MLB. Years ago, one could, and many probably did, argue against a wild card in MLB because it makes the season less meaningful, or interesting, or intense, etc, because it takes away the excitement and meaningfulness of a divisional race. Well? What Happened? It added the excitement of a Wild Card race, which is better than a divisional race because it includes more teams from more than 1 division and it brings more hope and excitement for more teams and fans by extending the season for otherwise earlier eliminated teams, and it still left intact the excitement of divisional races in general.

Furthermore, it didn't end the regular season intensity of divisional fights and rivalries, it simply extended them into postseason. Remember those Yankee-Red Sox postseason moments of the last decade? Not possible without a wildcard (and yes, there was still plenty of coverage and talk about the regular season series' between the 2). How about last night's Red Sox-Rays game? Not possible without a wild card. How about many of the recent World Series Champions? Frequently wild card teams. 2) Isn't this argument kind of like someone saying "no dessert for you" so that you will treat your meal as meal and dessert? I mean, you still want that meal. You need it. But it's just so patronizing, or presumptuous, for someone to tell you that you would stop enjoying that meal if you got cheese cake after it.

Would Martin, or any of his ilk, agree to take away NFL playoffs and just have an ESPN power ranking select the Super Bowl teams? It sure would make that regular season mean more, wouldn't it? Not really. Last year would have been Dallas v New England. And we would have known it was NE about halfway through the season. And the real Super Bowl Champs wouldn't have even got a ticket to play-- in fact, they (the Giants) would have been eliminated about 3 quarters of the way through the season.

Let's think about a rivalry we love, Florida-Georgia, in the context of a playoff. The type of playoff I support, linked below and in post title (11 conference champs, 5 at-large teams chosing with rankings, bowls still contribute by hosting late rounds, 8 high seeds get home field in first round, losers in the first round and every other team not in playoff could still be eligible for a bowl), would allow a possible Florida-Georgia matchup in the playoffs. So, either the Fl-Ga game will possibly knock 1 of the 2 out of being eligible for the playoffs, since you would need either a conference championship or top 10 or 15 ranking, to make the playoffs. This would increase the rivalry..... INCREASE IT! Not take from it. Or.... Fla and Ga would still both make the playoffs and thereby possibly meet one another in the playoffs or title game. Are you kidding me!?!? How nice would that be? Remember, this happened twice in the 1990s between Fl and FSU, once in the title game and once after the tie. Did those postseason matchups take away from the regular season rivalry? Of course not. Oh yeah, if this hasn't been enough, there would also be a possibility of Ga and Fla playing at each other's home stadium in the first round.

So, the format I would support (details of what bowl hosts what could vary, as well as how the 16 are chosen), would still have bowls, polls, money, meaningful conference championships, rare matchups between classic or competitive teams, with more mixture for teams playing in unfamiliar stadium, and, of course, rivalries would remain. No team would play over 16 teams, and that would only be an elite few playing that many. And, as the post below notes, people don't seems to complain about the plight of student athletes in every other division of playoff, and every other sport, including March Madness.

One (or 3) more point(s), for now: We have a playoff. It's just for 2 teams, or for teams that have a conference championship. If you took away championships and postseason play, you would take away some of the enthusiasm over the regular season. So what happens when you add to the postseason?

We just want a more fair, inclusive, and rigorous (and entertaining) system. The one I support (again, below), would allow smaller conference champions, which would create, I argue, even more parity in the long run, and set out a path that could be attained by every team in the country regardless of schedule strength and conference exposure, etc. It would also have some space for the 2nd and 3rd best SEC teams, or Big 12 teams, for instance. And the ranking would have allowed, for example, an obviously better Ga team to be selected over Tenn last year, even though Tenn won the East.

I'd like to address everything that is wrong with Martin's "80%" comment... but... maybe next time. (A hint: It's something like saying "a little bit of corruption demands us to conform to total corruption.".... also, his number is wrong. It's not that obvious 80% of the time. Moreover, you can't know how things would develop differently under a playoff scenario-- for example, if Ohio State had played Michigan or USC in 2006, Martin would have to say that the system got it right, because if Ohio St won, it would have seemed obvious they were best, and if a USC or Mich won, much like Fla did, they would have been declared the right and deserving BCS pick. A playoff creates more different kinds of matchups that will reveal varying strengths and weaknesses against different types of teams.... more of a decathlon type obstacle to complete.)

Playoffs, schmayoffs

Anybody read Buddy Martin's column on why the BCS system works just fine? If not, click on the headline of this story to view.
On Sunday, the wise and venerable BCS folks released their newest rankings, and Florida is 10th. If the BCS folks goal is to create dialog much like an editorial writer pens poisonous columns to instigate readers, then they have been successful.
On the other hand, our eloquent current president put it best when he said "what we have here is failure to confregate."
Aside from "W's" botched attempt to quote Strother Martin, there is a nugget of truth to what he is saying.
"Huh," you say.
"Exactly," I say.
In what world is the BCS a good system? Those who argue there is no better system, are being disingenuous. Of course there is! A playoff!
Those who argue that any other system would violate the integrity of the current system cannot believe we would accept that garbage as a valid argument. The current system has no integrity. If we are to believe the goal is to crown the top college football team in the U.S., then how does the current system pass the integrity question?
Playoffs--that's how.
I'll leave it to those who have presented viable playoff plans to present their ideas in the blogs to come and maybe, somewhere down the line, the "integrified" gentlemen from the BCS will be paid enough to change their votes.

Just take it two games at a time

For most fans, a win is a win. And for most teams, they'll take it anyway they can get it. Not for me. Not this week.

I know, after Ole Miss we shouldn't take any team for granted. But I'm not a player or a coach... and as a fan, I think I should expect a big win over Kentucky. By definition, when your team is on top of the SEC, you expect big wins over Kentucky. And I don't just want it to get ugly, I want it to get ugly quick. Because it's not only about expectations, it's about Georgia.
The quicker Florida puts Kentucky away, the quicker players like Tebow, Harvin, and Spikes can sit safely on the sidelines. Last year Tebow hurt his shoulder against Kentucky and it may have cost us the Georgia game. So this week should not just be about winning, but staying healthy as well. And what's the best formula for staying healthy? Blowout!

Key Player:
Kentucky is going to have a hard time moving the ball or stopping the Gators Saturday, but the one player who could let them linger longer than necessary is Caleb Sturgis. Kentucky comes in with the 4th best kickoff return average in the nation. Florida's return team has been good, but not great, and when they struggle it's almost always due to a poor kickoff. If Sturgis has a good day, expect another clinic by the Gators.

UF- 45
UK- 10
Injuries- 0

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Joe Plumbing the Depths (of History)

Upon being asked recently a topical question about contemporary politics and the electoral college, JoPa strangely complained about having his vote for Cleveland undermined by some antiquated rules of procedure. Several press members quickly reminded Paterno that even if he had lost money in a friendly office pool betting on a Cleveland Browns team that failed to have seven men on the line of scrimmage on the game's final play, such a bet is technically against NCAA rules and is irrelevant to today's politics. Paterno went on to explain he was talking about the stupidity of the electoral college rules, to which a reporter asked if the 2000 election between Bush and Gore was decided on anti-democratic principles. JoPa then awkwardly revealed his biographical reference points when he claimed that he was referring to the 1888 election between Benjamin Harrison and Grover Cleveland, when JoPa's candidate of choice, and the popular vote winner, Cleveland, was beaten by electoral college victor, Harrison.

In another JoPa related political story, Paterno admitted to being consulted by Obama campaign workers on his knowledge for implementing a publicly funded health care system. It is being reported that Paterno's expertise is based on actually being alive when Germany was adopting a version of the first ever public health system in the world in 1885.

In other German news, JoPa admitted to having stayed up late on his 18th birthday to watch Friedrich Nietzsche host Saturday Night Live, in 1888. Nietzsche had just completed his masterpiece, "Genealogy of Morals."

In other Philosophy news, there are media reports of further proof of JoPa's non-human existence. Apparently JoPa proposed to his wife on a beach while reading passages from Albert Camus' existential classic, "The Stranger." Camus' book is about an alienated urban dweller that loses all passions and finds himself unable to feel emotion at his mother's funeral and goes on to commit a senseless murder in a moment of confusion on a beach... much like a short-circuited, unfeeling robot might do.

Paterno: 'I'm not an android'

Michael W. Arnold
Sunshine Sports
In a story that has more legs than a centipede orgy, Penn State football coach Joe Paterno angrily denied claims he was an android and offered to have his DNA tested before athletic director Timothy M. Curley whisked him away from reporters outside the Beaver Stadium's recharging station in Pennsylvania.
Curley said everyone knows Joe and there is no need for a DNA test. "Sure JoePa is 138 years old, but there are a lot of active centenarians out there. I don't know why Bobby Bowden would say that about Joe. Maybe he is a little jealous of the success Joe has had this year."

Later reporters tried to interview several Penn State athletic department employees dressed in white lab coats as they exited the charging station driving a hearse with tinted windows.
TV camera crews are currently analyzing tapes of the brief interview to determine if those are really eyes behind the Mister Magoo glasses Paterno wears.

Foley: 'We've got our man!'

Michael W. Arnold
Sunshine Sports
Florida Athletic Director Jeremy Foley giddily announced Sunday afternoon he had completed an exhaustive search to replace football coach Urban Meyer, who resigned several hours earlier in the day to take the Clemson job.
In a twist of irony that could only occur on the pages of "Ode to the Gators," Foley hired former Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden to replace Meyer.
"What makes this deal so great is it is a two-for-one acquisition," Foley said. "We get Bobby in the deal, too."

Bobby Bowden, coach of Florida's greatest rival Florida State, announced he would be hired as a recruiting and corn pone consultant for the Gators.
The elder Bowden finally realized he would not be able to keep up with Penn State coach Joe Paterno in his quest to be the winningest coach of all time. "Paterno is a android," Bowden said. "He belongs in a Steven Speilberg movie, not on the sidelines in college football. Someone ought to do some DMA or CNA sampling, or whatever it is they do on them CIS shows."

Bobby Bowden's primary responsibility would be to provide spin for son Tommy Bowden as his losses pile up at Florida. Foley said "BB has done a terrific job at FSU keeping the Alumni off his ass while the Seminoles sink further and further into obscurity. We need that same commitment to bullshit here at Florida."
Ironically, Tommy Bowden was only able to get one statement in during the press conference as his dad spouted one archaic colloquialism after another. He guaranteed he could beat Spurrier.
"That's good enough for me," Foley said.

Meyer leaving Gators for Clemson

Michael W. Arnold
Sunshine Sports
Urban Meyer shocked Florida Gator football fans Sunday morning when he announced he was leaving Florida to accept the head coaching job at Clemson.
"I'm tired of constantly competing for national championships at a school that expects results and gives me everything I need to be successful," Meyer told reporters at a hastily organized press conference.
Meyer cited burnout at as a contributing factor in a rambling 45-minute speech laced with profanity.
"I've been at Florida twice as long as any other job I've had," Meyer sighed. "And I am simply exhausted."
Meyer said at Clemson, expectations would be much lower and noted he would no longer have to play in the shadow of legendary Florida coach Steve Spurrier, who left Florida for the same reasons. In fact, he said, I could run him out of South Carolina.
Tommy Bowden, who coached Clemson for the past 10 years before resigning Oct. 13, never won more than nine games in a season, never won an ACC title, but did take the Tigers to eight bowl games where he had a 3-5 record.
Clemson Athletic Director Terry Don Phillips was prepared to fire Bowden many times before, but said "the pesky bastard kept beating South Carolina at the end of the year to keep his job." Bowden was 7-2 against the in-state rivals.
Meyer said those types of expectations better suited his temperament. "Hell, I can win nine games in a year easy in a second-rate conference like the ACC."
Meyer guaranteed at least a .500 record and a middle-of-the-pack finish in the moderately competitive Atlantic Division of the ACC. "I know I can finish ahead of the Wolfpack," Meyer said referring to lowly North Carolina State.
Meyer has been a winner everywhere he has coached. His first head coaching job was at Bowling Green where he was 17-6 in two years with a second and third place finish in the MAC. Following that, Meyer spent two years at Utah and where he was 22-2 and won the Mountain West Conference both years. The Utes were 12-0 in Meyer's second year. At Florida, Meyer is 36-9 in 3 1/2 years with a national championship. Meyer said he needed to get out of Florida before the fans realized he sucked at recruiting, and could only win games with other coaches' signees.
"Everyone knows the 2006 BCS title was Zooker's," Meyer said. "I need a place where everyone knows your name, but no one cares. And Clemson fills that bill."