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Creating The Perfect Playoff Plan (Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The BCS)

I want a college football playoff. Let’s say that right up front. I think it’s ridiculous to think that there is one sport in all the world that is NOT decided by a playoff format, by a true a championship game.

Yes, there is a BCS title game every year, but there have been numerous third-place teams that legitimately deserved a shot at the title. Southern Cal, Auburn, even Texas this season.

The current set-up leaves too much power with voters and computer hard drives.

Oh, I’ve heard all of the arguments made against a playoff: too much time away from class (though baseball and basketball players spend more time out of class than football players), too many games as it is (though presidents jumped at the chance to add a 12th regular season game), too commercial (though no one seems to mind such monstrosities as the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl).

On and on you can go with the reasons against a playoff, but the only real reason a playoff doesn’t exist is the one reason that college presidents never discuss: the BCS conferences control 90% of the bowl money and they don’t want to share it.

So in lining up a playoff, I knew I had to find a system that would serve a lot of masters… with the most important being those 65 or so presidents at BCS schools.

This was a challenge to create a REAL playoff system that would be so perfectly laid out that college presidents couldn’t say no. Bowls would sign off on it. Television networks would drool over it. And corporate sponsors would throw millions of dollars at it.

To make sure I was covering all my bases, I elicited the help of sports marketing expert Bill Schmidt. Schmidt was the Vice President of Worldwide Sports Marketing for Gatorade in the days of the original Gatorade post-game shower and in the era of those omni-present Michael Jordan ads.

He was the Vice President of Sports at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles and he also served for a while as CEO for Oakley. He still serves as a consultant and deal-maker for professional sports teams across the country.

Quite simply, the man has been involved in some of the biggest sports deals in history (in terms of both publicity and cash).

Schmidt’s role in my process was to serve as an experienced media player and, frankly, as a skeptic. I needed to build a plan that would be bulletproof. Schmidt would be the guy shooting holes in my system.

In fact, right off the bat, he made it clear that even a “perfect” system might still get the cold shoulder from the college football power-brokers. Regardless of the cash a playoff system might generate.

“You’re talking about athletic directors and presidents who have never run businesses,” Schmidt said. “It’s academia you’re having to win over. If they brought in people from their business schools to help with these decisions, you might have a better chance of convincing them to change.”

“There’s a lot of politics involved in something like this. What makes sense from a dollars standpoint doesn’t necessarily matter.”

Indeed, presidents could go to a 13-game regular season schedule now if money was their only goal. But academicians feel the need to make as much money as possible, while APPEARING to put scholastic interests at the forefront.

In fact, the biggest money issue involved is rather simple: don’t LOSE money. BCS presidents don’t want to give up their massive piece of the post-season revenue pie.

If you recall, the BCS existed for several years as a four-bowl system. Only when the smaller non-BCS schools started to threaten litigation and legislation did the BCS presidents create a fifth game – the BCS championship game – that would allow one bowl site to host two games each year.

That first game would be open to a non-BCS school if it qualified in the BCS rankings. Teams like Utah, Boise State and Hawaii have taken advantage.

If a playoff is to come about, Schmidt believes those non-BCS schools might have to serve as the driving force again.

“Little schools have forced issues before,” Schmidt said. “Scholarship limitations, for example, certainly weren’t driven by the big schools.”

But that’s big picture stuff. Let’s focus on creating a realistic playoff plan that would work.

In breaking down my system (and Schmidt’s response to the plan) I’ll give you the shortest description I can. But keep in mind, this is a detailed set-up. It had to be if we were going to have a serious discussion. So here are the basics:

I’ve always felt that a four-team playoff – a so-called “Plus One” format – would work just fine. In most years, there would not be a fifth-ranked team deserving of a shot at the title.

But this year would be the exception. Utah, Boise State, Texas Tech, Southern Cal, Penn State, Texas and Alabama all finished the regular season with one or no losses. So, based on this year’s action, I decided to propose an 8-team playoff system.

Who’s Behind It?

Anyone but the NCAA, that’s who.

If a true NCAA-sanctioned playoff were created (like in every other division of college football), the revenue from the tournament would have to be split among all of the current FBS teams.

BCS presidents, as I said earlier, are not interested in losing money. They would rather have 1/65th of the pie than 1/119th of the pie. Even if the second pie is a little bit bigger, their slice would be smaller overall.

“You can’t package this as an NCAA championship game,” said Schmidt. “Something like the ‘Gillette BCS Playoffs’ would be a lot easier to sell. That’s not far off from the current BCS system in which each game has its own sponsor.”

“Cut the NCAA out of it. Just as they are out of it now.”

Indeed, the Bowl Championship Series does not produce an official “national champion” in the way that the NCAA basketball tournament does. Or any other NCAA playoff in any other NCAA sport does, for that matter.

In setting up a playoff system along these “unofficial” lines it would still leave open the possibility that the Associated Press could vote a non-playoff team #1. It would be a rare occurrence, but the possibility would exist for an undefeated non-BCS conference member to finish #9 in the country, not make the playoffs, and still win a piece of the national title.

And that might happen once in a hundred years. So that’s not a major concern.


What About The Conference Championship Games?

There’s no way in the world that the SEC, Big 12, ACC and Conference USA would do away with their cash cows, so those games would stay in place.

They would be played on the first weekend of December, just as they are now.


Who’s Invited?

We’re going for buy-in here, so the idea has to fly with those aforementioned BCS presidents. So why not make things as familiar for them as possible?

In my system, the current BCS formula (which favors the big-name BCS teams) would still be used to select the eight teams involved.

And, yes, before you say it, “that leaves a lot of power with voters and computer hard drives.” But nowhere near as much as the current set-up.

A left-out ninth place team would have less room to complain than a left-out third place team. And in this system, teams three through eight would get a chance to prove their worth on the football field.

The champions of the six BCS conferences would receive automatic bids into the tournament IF those teams are ranked in the Top 10.

So, using this year as the example, automatic bids would have gone to:

#1 Oklahoma (Big 12 champion)

#2 Florida (SEC champion)

#5 Southern Cal (Pac-10 champion)

#8 Penn State (Big Ten champion).

Cincinnati (Big East champion) and Virginia Tech (ACC champion) would not be in the playoff because they did not rank in the final Top 10.

That would leave four “wild card” slots to be filled by rank:

#3 Texas

#4 Alabama

#6 Utah

#7 Texas Tech.

Sorry Boise State fans. The Broncos would have been left out of the playoff just as they were left out by the current BCS system.

As you can see, the BCS conferences would still land seven of the eight bids, with only Utah sneaking in for the little guys. The BCS presidents would approve of that.


The Lay-Out

An eight-team playoff would require three rounds of games.

The first round would be played on the third weekend of December. Starting at that point would give all teams at least two weeks off between their conference championship games (if they play in one) and the playoffs.

That just so happens to be finals time on most college campuses, too, so there would be no complaints about missed schoolwork (funny how that never comes up in March).

Also, that date would allow the season to end on the exact same date as this year’s bowl system. That disarms the argument so often tossed out by college presidents: “We don’t want to stretch into a second semester.”

Campus sites would be used for the four first-round games.

This would a) give presidents the possibility of hosting another home game (and making millions more in gate, concession, and souvenir sales) and b) it would make late season games even more meaningful as teams jockey for home-field advantage.

It would be impossible to create an eight-team playoff using seven bowls. That’s simply too much travel for college presidents to support. And first round bowl games wouldn’t like the fact that most fans would save their cash and travel to later round games, anyway.

No, with an eight-team format, home fields would have to be used.

With that in mind, the four highest seeded teams (Oklahoma, Florida, Texas and Alabama) would get home dates. Teams would be seeded in the obvious 8 vs. 1, 7 vs. 2, 6 vs. 3 and 5 vs. 4 format.

Two first round games would have been played on Friday the 19th.

Game 1: #7 Texas Tech at #2 Florida – 4:30pm EST

Game 2: #8 Penn State at #1 Oklahoma – 8:30pm EST

West Coast fans wouldn’t be happy about a 1:30pm PST start time on a Friday, but you can’t please everyone. Most viewers are on the East Coast and this is exactly how the networks would want to set things up.

It falls in line with the schedules for other events – bowl, tournaments, pro games, etc.

On Saturday the 20th, the remaining teams would face off in their first-round battles.

Game 3: #6 Utah at #3 Texas – 4:30pm EST

Game 4: #5 Southern Cal at #4 Alabama – 8:30pm EST

“That schedule works well from a television standpoint,” Schmidt said. “And the idea of extra revenue from an additional home game is a good carrot for the schools.”

Moving forward, the second round of the playoffs would be played on New Year’s Day. Again, let’s keep things as close to “traditional” as possible.

Just as the current set-up features several morning and early afternoon bowls feeding into two BCS bowls in the evening, my system would feature morning and early afternoon bowls leading into the semi-finals of “The Gillette Bowl Championship Playoffs.”

(I’m just using Gillette as an example, and I hope they appreciate the free pub.)

Assuming the top-seeded home teams would win the first-round games, the New Year’s Day line-up would look like this:

Game 5: #2 Florida vs #3 Texas in the Sugar Bowl – 4:30pm EST

and

Game 6: #1 Oklahoma vs #4 Alabama in the Fiesta Bowl – 8:30pm EST

The Fiesta Bowl, the Sugar Bowl and the Orange Bowl would rotate the playoff semi-final and finals games every year.

For example:

2008 Semis: Fiesta and Sugar… 2008 Finals: Orange

2009 Semis: Sugar and Orange… 2009 Finals: Fiesta

2010 Semis: Orange and Fiesta… 2010 Finals: Sugar

And so on.

This would satisfy the schools as this round would serve as their bowl week. Players would get to experience a week of steer-ropin’s and orange-squeezin’s just as they do in the current bowl set-up.

AFTER the first-round match-ups are complete, every effort would be made to keep the highest-rated teams in their traditional bowl games.

For example, top-ranked Oklahoma, winners over Penn State in their first round game, would be slotted into the Fiesta Bowl, the normal landing spot for the Big 12 champion. Florida, the #2 team in the country, would be sent to the Sugar Bowl, the SEC’s traditional dance partner.

What About The Rose Bowl?

The Rose Bowl has made it abundantly clear that they value their Big Ten vs. Pac-10 match-up as much or more than an occasional national championship game.

This season, with Southern Cal and Penn State winding up in the playoffs, the Rose Bowl would feature Ohio State vs. Oregon State… a match-up that the bowl, the Big Ten, the Pac-10, Ohio State and Oregon State would be happy with.

The Bowls

Bowls would go along just as they do now. There’s no reason to believe that a Humanitarian Bowl type of game would be any less interesting because of a college playoff. How COULD it be less interesting?

College presidents, as you well know, are in love with the bowl system. With 34 games, more than half the teams in America can take part in post-season action. So keeping the bowls is a must.

In my system, very few bowls would be affected by a post-season playoff. And three bowls would be incorporated into the system (Sugar, Fiesta, Orange).

There would need to be some re-shuffling among the bowls with conference tie-ins, but those are small changes.

If anything, one or two bottom-rung bowls would cease to exist (due to a lack of teams), but that is very much a possibility due to our nation’s economy anyway. I would be surprised to see 34 bowl games next year.



The “Championship Game”

The “Gillette Bowl Championship Playoffs Title Game” would be played on the same date on which the current BCS title game is played… January 8th.

Game 7: #2 Florida vs #1 Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl – 8:30pm EST.

In the current set-up, a college football team can play up to 15-games per year (12 regular season games, a non-conference game at Hawaii, a conference championship game and a bowl game). Fourteen is the usual max for top-tier teams, because only so many teams can play the Rainbow Warriors in a given year.

Under my playoff plan, four semi-finalists might play one additional game and two finalists would play two additional games.

Last year, LSU won the BCS title with a 12-2 record. To win the title in a playoff scenario, they would have had to have finished 14-2.

Some could still use this as a sticking point, but when only two teams are affected by playing extra games, it’s hardly a legitimate sticking point.

Will This Plan Fly?

So that’s the lay of the land. Personally, I believe that system is as close as anyone can come to a realistic plan that would satisfy fans, bowls, conferences, television networks, corporate sponsors and BCS college presidents.

So what does our marketing expert think?

“To make this happen, ABC and ESPN would need to bring the pressure. Because the big dollars for this system would come from tv, not from corporate sponsors.”

Let’s look at the television side of that answer first. ESPN/ABC just paid $500 million to carry the BCS games from 2011 through 2014. That’s $125 million per year.

ESPN reaches 98 million homes.

Fox, the current BCS network, was willing to pay $100 million per year, but they reach 114 million households.

In other words, the BCS conferences were fine with reaching fewer homes, cutting out about 20 million over-the-air viewers, if it meant they would pocket more money.

This is a big change for sports in America. Most major championships have been decided on network television, not on cable television. A willingness to select money over viewers shows what kind of power (cash) ESPN/ABC wield.

However, while tv ad revenue will be great, we shouldn’t assume that ESPN/ABC believe they’ll make all their money back just on ads in those four bowl games.

“Sports is a lost leader,” said Schmidt. “The games get you in the door with media buyers, but sports themselves aren’t a big money-maker. The value is that those games allow networks to sell primetime spots as well.”

Packaging sports buys with regular network programming is the name of the game. Sports are also a tremendous promotional platform for a network.

NBC and CBS have both passed on the NFL in recent years because of its pricetag, only to eventually come running back. The NFL might cost a lot of money that the networks can never recover in NFL-only ad buys, but the league also allows those networks to package their other programming with the NFL.

ESPN, for example, won’t just look at the BCS bowls as a way to sell BCS ads, they’ll see them as a way to sell ads across all of their properties.

“Buy 10 ads in the BCS and we’ll sell you these 20 ads in the NBA semifinals for half-price, these 50 in Monday Night Football at half-price, etc, etc.”

Also, having the BCS bowls will probably cause some of those households in America that don’t subscribe to ESPN to pony up the cash and finally purchase it.

There’s big value in owning a property like the Bowl Championship Series (or a playoff system), but exactly how big is that value?



More Corporate Dollars For A Playoff?

Now, back to the second part of Schmidt’s answer: “the big dollars for this system would come from tv, not from corporate sponsors.”

How is that the case? Most people (myself included) have assumed that a college football playoff would bring in exponentially larger sums of cash than the current bowl system.

Corporate sponsors pay ridiculous sums to be tied to bowl games. They pay big bucks to have their ads in bowl games. Wouldn’t they pay more to be involved in a playoff? Not necessarily.

“There are some companies who blow their whole year’s ad budget on the Super Bowl, ” said Schmidt. “There might be some companies that would be willing to do the same with a college football playoff, but smart companies wouldn’t.”

“I would rather buy ads and sponsorships in a 17-week NFL regular season than in one Super Bowl. That’s how you brand your company. Smart businesses would view a college football playoff the same way.”

“If I were still handling Gatorade, a company that brings in $6 billion dollars a year, I would be better off spending $50 million a year with the SEC than buying the title partnership of a playoff series. One purchase covers a whole season, the other covers seven games.”

What this tells us is the following: there might not be that much more money in a playoff system than there is in the current BCS system.

“Where’s the monetary value to do this,” Schmidt asked. “Is it great enough for all these different groups to set aside their objections?”

The Real Problem

Money would be huge. Whether it would be big enough to lure presidents into breaking new ground is debatable, but let’s say, for our purposes, that the money would be enough to spark change.

Then our system has answered the money issue, the scholastic issues, the “BCS conferences maintain control” issues. It’s been set-up with tv in mind. From a scheduling standpoint it adds few games and ends on the same date as the current bowl system.

And it incorporates the bowls and allows the Rose Bowl to maintain a Pac-10/Big Ten match-up.

So I’ve created the perfect system, right?

“What about the losers of the first round games,” Schmidt asked me.

Uh-oh.

“Gate receipts from an additional home game don’t outweigh a New Year’s Day bowl trip for college presidents.”

And there’s the rub.

An eight-team playoff would require one round of home games. I viewed that as a positive for the four teams hosting the games. But let’s look at this a bit more closely.

Take Texas Tech, for example. The Red Raiders, in our scenario, would be sent to Gainesville to take on Florida in the first round of the “Gillette Bowl Championship Playoffs.”

Let’s say they lose that game.

No bowl game. No bowl trip. No trip to Disney World or to a dude ranch. No New Year’s Day exposure. Just a road loss to close out their season.

“Most schools don’t make any money off of their bowls because they’re paying for so many boosters and donors to make the trip,” Schmidt said. “And that’s the real value of the bowl games. They create excitement.

“That trip to Orlando or Miami helps to sell season ticket packages for the next year, helps to increase athletic donations, helps to drive the program.

“The potential home game revenue is not incentive enough to make up for lost future revenues if you lose that first round game.

“And face it, if you live in Norman, Oklahoma, you’re looking for a bowl game just to get out of town anyway.”

Dang. That was a biggie that I wasn’t expecting. And it’s 100% correct.

And in Texas Tech’s case, the school wouldn’t even get the added benefit of hosting a home game. There would literally be no incentive.

Wouldn’t Tech be better off if they had ranked #9 in the BCS standings and gone to the Cotton Bowl for a million dollar payout and a New Year’s trip for their boosters?

Double dang. This was a real kick in the rear. I quickly started to think of work-arounds.

“What if consolation games were held? What if the losers of the first round games were to meet in a pair of New Year’s Day bowls to be played before the playoff semi-finals? That would give those players their fun, the schools their cash, and those boosters their trip.”

Clearly, I was grasping at straws.

“Who would be excited enough to pay money to go see a team play in a consolation game? Fans just wouldn’t be up for it.”

And there’s another pretty big hole in the consolation game theory. A team like Alabama could go 12-0 in the regular season, lose in their conference championship game, lose in the first round of the playoffs and then lose a consolation game on top of that.

That would be a three-game losing streak to close out the year.

Think coaches and university presidents would be in favor of a system that could leave them in such dire straits?

Nope, the “what about the first-round losers” question was a deal-breaker.

Cutting My Losses

I’ve got to admit that it was more than a little frustrating to have planned out a system that worked on every level but one.

After 20 minutes of discussion and debate, it became clear to me that an eight-team playoff is simply not feasible. And you 16-team playoff folks can REALLY forget about it.

But rather than throw in the towel, I went back to the often talked about “Plus One” plan.

Sure, teams like Southern Cal and Penn State would be left out, but last I checked, they’re not included in the BCS Championship Game, either.

Four is better than two if you ask me. So would a four-team model work?

“Where’s the monetary incentive,” Schmidt asked again.

Well, you might draw larger television ratings.

A Fiesta Bowl that might not mean anything to a Florida fan would take on larger importance if the winner of that Fiesta Bowl would face Florida in a playoff title game. Those additional viewers might drive up ratings and, therefore, ad revenue.

I knew I was reaching.

“But you would be going from five BCS games now on television to just three playoff games,” Schmidt astutely pointed out.

His astuteness, by this point, was becoming a drag.

“Ask yourself this, ‘Why would the conferences go for this?’ There’s just not enough increased revenue here to make a playoff viable at the moment.

“You’ve basically got the same games, you’re just changing the significance of what the teams are playing for.

“So why do it? For the fans? The people that run college football don’t care about the fans.”

Admission Of Defeat

To get an idea for how I felt during my conversation with Bill Schmidt, cue up the scene in which Kevin Costner talks to Donald Sutherland in “JFK.” Costner is left feeling that he’s got too big of a mountain to climb.

And that’s really the trouble with the whole “let’s start a playoff” debate.

Most fans want a playoff system. Some coaches and a tiny number of presidents feel the same.

But the vast majority of those involved in the college football business like the status quo. They’re making money off of the status quo. They hold the power in the status quo.

It’s just too big of a mountain to climb.

To get all of those groups to make a drastic change will require one of two things:

One) a perfect, flawless system that cannot be argued against (and as I just found out, that ain’t happenin’)

or Two) an enormous amount of cash coming from an untapped revenue stream.

Schmidt suggested something like a pay-per-view playoff system. Now, he realizes that most fans would balk at that, but his point was sound.

For college football power-brokers to create a playoff system, someone will have to come up with a totally new revenue stream that out-produces the current tv revenue and corporate sponsor model.

And that will be very, very hard to do.

So I’m sorry playoff fans.

I thought I had an answer for you.

But there are just too darn many questions. It’s just too big of a mountain to climb.

And I never thought I’d be saying that.

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MrSEC’s BCS National Title Game Prediction (Our Fuzzy Math Never Fails)

Let me start out by saying that this is hardly an accurate way to predict the outcome of a ballgame. 

So before any stats majors start sending me nasty emails and using big words like “logarithm,” please know that this is just a fun little exercise.

I simply wanted to see how Florida and Oklahoma had stacked up against their competition. 

Oklahoma has looked great on offense, but they played in a league filled with joke defenses.  Florida has looked super on defense, but they played in a conference filled with miserable offenses.

So which team’s numbers mean more?  How will things play out in Miami on January 8th?



To find out, I averaged all the scores from Oklahoma’s and Florida’s seasons, minus the FCS-level teams that they played (OU pasted Chattanooga 57-2 and UF bombed The Citadel 70-19… both scores were thrown out.)

Oklahoma won their remaining 12 games by an average of 53.8 to 26.4  Impressive.

Florida won their remaining 12 games by an average tally of 43.1 to 12.3.  Even more impressive.



But what about their opponents? 

I went through each opponent’s season and averaged out the amount of points they scored per game… and the amount of points they allowed per game.

Just so we could see if Oklahoma had lit up bad defenses, or had they punished bad defenses worse than other teams had?  Had Florida stuffed crummy offenses, or had they held those offenses to even fewer points than other teams had?



Here’s how Oklahoma did against their opponents.

 Opp. Score
AvgOff
AvgDef
Vs OU D
OU O
 Cincy 52-26
27
20
-1
+32
 Wash 55-14
13
39
+1
+16
 TCU 35-10
35
11
-25
+24
 Baylor 49-17
28
29
-11
+20
 Texas 35-45
44
19
+1
+16
 Kansas 45-31
33
30
-2
+15
 Ks St
58-35
35
36
Even
+22
 Nebr 62-28
36
29
-8
+33
 Tx A&M
66-28
25
37
+3
+29
 Tx Tech 65-21
45
26
-24
+39
 Ok St
61-41
42
27
-1
+34
 Mizzou 62-21
43
28
-22
+34


Okay, so what does all that mean?

It means Oklahoma’s offense is as strong as advertised and it isn’t just a product of the Big 12′s shoddy defenses.  The Sooners rolled up, on average, 26.16 more points per game on their opponents than all of the other teams their opponents had played.

They scored 32 more against Cincinnati than the 20 points per game the Bearcats gave up on average.  They scored 33 more on Nebraska, 39 more on Texas Tech, 34 more on Oklahoma State and 34 more than Missouri gave up on average, too.

Defensively, OU held their opponents — on average — to 7.41 fewer points than they were used to scoring. 

For example, the Sooners, held Texas Tech to 24 points below their season average, Missouri to 22 below their average and TCU to 25 under their average.

So keep those two numbers in mind… Plus 26.16 on offense, Minus 7.41 on defense.



Now let’s look at how Florida did against their opponents.

 Opp. Score
Avg Off
Avg Def
Vs UF D
UF O
 Hawaii 56-10
25
27
-15
+29
 Miami 26-3
28
24
-25
+2
 Tenn 30-6
17
17
-11
+13
 Ole Miss
30-31
31
18
Even
+12
 Ark 38-7
22
31
-15
+7
 LSU 51-21
30
26
-9
+25
 Kentucky 63-5
22
22
-17
+41
 Georgia 49-10
32
26
-22
+23
 Vandy 42-14
19
20
-5
+22
 USC
56-6
22
20
-16
+36
 FSU
45-15
33
21
-18
+24
 Alabama 31-20
31
13
-11
+18


Alright, so what does that show us about Florida?

First, it says that their defense is the real deal.  Sure they went up against some sad sack offenses, but they shut them down for a lot less than their other opponents had.  Only Ole Miss even managed to hit their average against the Gators.  Miami was held to 25 below their average, Georgia to 22 below their average, Florida State to 18 below their average and Alabama to 11 below their average.  Overall, they held their opponents to 13.66 fewer points per game than their opponents averaged against everyone else.

On offense, UF was nearly as impressive as Oklahoma.  The Gators — on average — scored 21.0 points per game more against their opponents than their opponents usually gave up.

Plus 13 on Tennessee’s fourth-ranked defense, plus 25 against LSU, plus 41 against Kentucky, plus 36 against South Carolina, plus 24 against Florida State and plus 18 against Alabama’s tough D.

So remember these numbers: Plus 21.00 on offense… Minus 13.66 on defense.

And here’s where the fun begins.  Let’s compare Oklahoma and Florida’s averages against one another:



Oklahoma averaged 53.8 points per game. 

Florida, on average, held their opponens to 13.66 points per game less than they scored.

If that holds in this game, Oklahoma will score 40 points.



Oklahoma averaged giving up 26.4 points per game to their rivals.

Florida, on average, scored 21 points per game more on their opponents than they usually gave up.

If that holds in this game, Florida will score 47 points.



Florida averaged 43.1 points per game.

Oklahoma, on average, held their opponents to 7.41 points per game less than they scored.

If that holds in this game, Florida will score 36 points.



Florida averaged giving up 12.3 points per game to their rivals.

Oklahoma, on average, scored 26.16 points per game more on their opponents than they usually gave up.

If that holds in this game, Oklahoma will score 38 points.



Finally, let’s compare those results:

In one method, Florida would score 47 points… in the other they would score 36 points.  That’s an average of 42 points (rounding up, of course).

In one method, Oklahoma would score 40 points… in the other they would score 38 points.  That’s an average of 39 points.


So our guaranteed, cash-the-check, lock prediction for the BCS Championship Game:


Florida 42, Oklahoma 39.

Might as well not even play the game.

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RUSHING, PASSING, OR STOPPING THE RUSH OR PASS: WHAT’S THE BIGGEST KEY TO VICTORY IN THE SEC?

The old adage says that you have to be able to run the football and stop the run to win in the SEC.

But that was before Steve Spurrier entered the league and made passing King.  Before the Mannings and David Cutcliffe.  Before Tim Couch and Hal Mumme. 
Okay, they didn’t win much, but they still won.

Well I wanted to see what elements of football really had the greatest impact on winning in the Southeastern Conference:  rushing, stopping the rush, passing or stopping the pass.

With that, I dug into last year’s statistics from across the conference and compared the situational stats to the bottom-line wins and losses.

You know what I found?

In the SEC, to win football games…

you now have to…

run the football and stop the run.

The song remains the same, folks.

Here’s how I arrived at that conclusion:

1)  Only SEC games were counted.

2)  I tallied the rushing yards per attempt, passing yards per attempt, rushing yards allowed per attempt, and passing yards allowed per attempt.

3)  I compared the records of the top four teams in each category to the records of the remaining eight teams in each category.

Here’s the raw data (and let me apologize for not having proper tab fields set up in the posting tool… these lines look as wobbly as I do on a Friday night):

SEC Records In 2007
LSU             7-2
Georgia        6-2
Tennessee    6-3
Florida         5-3
Auburn        5-3
Arkansas      4-4
Miss. State   4-4
Alabama      4-4
S. Carolina   3-5
Kentucky     3-5
Vanderbilt    2-6
Ole Miss      0-8

Rushing Yards Per Attempt
Arkansas     5.96
Florida        5.34
LSU           4.89
Georgia      4.52
Tennessee   4.23
Kentucky    4.16
Ole Miss     4.16
Alabama     3.95
Auburn       3.75
Vanderbilt   3.74
S. Carolina  3.57
Miss. State   3.51

Passing Yards Per Attempt
Florida        9.25
LSU           7.13
Kentucky    7.08
Georgia      7.06
S. Carolina  6.99
Tennessee   6.88
Arkansas     6.78
Ole Miss     6.57
Auburn       6.50
Alabama     6.18
Vanderbilt   5.96
Miss. State  5.58

Rushing Yards Allowed Per Attempt
Florida        3.03
LSU           3.20
Georgia      3.25
Alabama     3.43
Auburn       3.58
Vanderbilt   3.73
Miss. State   4.11
Arkansas     4.14
Tennessee   4.22
Kentucky    4.57
Ole Miss     4.69
S. Carolina  4.84

Passing Yards Allowed Per Attempt
Arkansas     5.51
Auburn        5.58
S. Carolina  5.65
LSU            5.67
Miss. State   5.87
Kentucky     6.21
Vanderbilt    6.44
Georgia       6.46
Alabama     6.72
Ole Miss     6.79
Tennessee   6.80
Florida        7.21

Okay, so those are the raw digits.  Let’s look at what’s a good number, and a bad number for each category. 

This is an attempt to find a

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THE BEST OF THE BEST OF THE BEST IN SEC FOOTBALL

Last week, Jimmy Hyams broke down the records of the SEC’s best football programs over the past 25 years.

This week, another panelist on “The Sports Source” tv show (which can be viewed on The Sports Source page of MrSEC), takes Jimmy’s idea and digs in another direction.

Jeff “Beano” Henderson compares the SEC’s Big 6 programs (Florida, LSU, Georgia, Auburn, Tennessee and Alabama) against one another over the past decade in his most recent blog.

I’ll leave you to read his conclusions and explanations (written from a Tennessee perspective), but I will share with you some of the data he compiled.

Since 2000, when you compare the Big 6 against only the other members of the Big 6, here’s how the standings/records look:

1)  Auburn 21-12 (.636)

2)  LSU  21-13  (.618)

3)  Florida  19-14 (.576)

4)  Georgia  16-15  (.516)

5)  Tennessee  13-20  (.394)

6)  Alabama  7-23  (.233)

That says a LOT about Tommy Tuberville and his ability to coach well in big games.  (I now feel pretty good that the panel on “The Sports Source” recently ranked Tuberville as the top gameday coach in the conference.)

It doesn’t say much for Phillip Fulmer.  And perhaps that’s why UT is now defining “success” as an 8-5 season.

As far as Alabama is concerned, Nick Saban will surely be better than that mess of a record he inherited won’t he?

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RECRUITING RANKINGS NOT PERFECT, BUT THEY DO PROVIDE HINTS TO SUCCESS

Every February, SEC fans go ga-ga over recruiting rankings.

It’s the equivalent of baseball’s hot stove league… when every team still has a chance, still has reason to hope.

But just because your favorite team signed more 4-star athletes than your rival, should you really feel confident in future success?

Yes. And no.

I wanted to find out if there was a real correlation between recruiting rankings and on-field performance, so I went back to the Rivals.com recruiting rankings for the past five years (2003 through 2007) and compared those rankings to last year’s SEC records.

Pretty simple as to why — SEC teams last year would have been made up of players signed in those five classes, barring an unusual sixth year of eligibility for one or two players.

When it came to on-field results, I only looked at the conference records for each team. I didn’t want a team’s tough (or weak) non-conference schedule to skew the results.

So, what did I find?

Well, what I didn’t find was a immediate connection between recruiting rankings and on-field results.

From 2003 to 2007, here’s how the SEC stacked up in terms of recruiting (combined Rivals.com ranking for those years is to the left) and how they finished last season inside the conference (actual SEC record for 2007 is to the right).

1. Florida 5-3

2. Georgia 6-2

3. LSU 7-2 (SEC Championship Game winner)

4. Tennessee 6-3 (SEC Championship Game loser)

5. Auburn 5-3

6. S. Carolina 3-5

7. Alabama 4-4

8. Arkansas 4-4

9. Ole Miss 0-8

10. Mississippi State 4-4

11. Kentucky 3-5

12. Vanderbilt 2-6

As you can see, the best team over the previous five recruiting hauls was Florida. And they finished with a conference record exactly one-game over .500.

Ole Miss ranked ninth in the SEC in recruiting from 2003 to 2007, yet they didn’t win a single game in the conference… while Kentucky (11th in recruiting) won three conference battles.

Recruiting rankings, therefore, are far from an exact science.

However, take a look at the numbers in more general terms and you’ll find that recruiting rankings can give you an IDEA of whether or not your favorite team will be successful.

The top five teams in recruiting from 2003 to 2007 just happened to be the only five teams in the SEC last year to post winning conference records.

Divide the conference into fourths and the recruiting rankings become even more telling.

Teams one through four in recruiting (Florida, Georgia, LSU and Tennessee) combined to post a 24-10 record in conference play. That’s a winning percentage of .705.

The teams ranked five through eight in recruiting (Auburn, South Carolina, Alabama and Arkansas) combined to finish 16-16 in conference play. That’s a .500 winning percentage.

And the teams that ranked nine through 12 in recruiting (Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Kentucky and Vanderbilt) finished 9-25 in league play. That’s a winning percentage of only .264.

The top four in recruiting won 75% of their games, the middle four in recruiting won 50% of their games and the bottom four in recruiting won just 25% of their games.

Interesting, no?

My final take: recruiting rankings don’t guarantee success or failure for your team. A fourth-ranked recruiting team can win the league… and a fifth-ranked recruiting team can finish near the bottom of the league.

But these rankings do provide an ESTIMATE of how a team will perform.

Top ranked recruiting teams tend to finish in the top portion of the conference. Poorly rated recruiting teams tend to finish near the bottom of the regular season standings.

So, while we can’t say (a) Florida’s had the best recruiting classes from 2004 to 2008, therefore (b) they’ll win the SEC this Fall (post hoc ergo propter hoc, if you will)… we CAN say that Florida is much more likely to finish among the top four teams in the league because of their highly rated recruiting classes.

So, looking ahead to this Fall, let’s look back at which teams had the most recruiting success from 2004 to 2008.

Again, the combined rankings are based on Rivals.com’s yearly rankings:

1. Florida

2. Georgia

3. LSU

4. Alabama

5. Auburn (tie)

5. Tennessee (tie)

7. South Carolina

8. Ole Miss (I thought Houston Nutt was supposed to be inheriting a cupboard full of talent)

And your bottom four teams are Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt

If our recruiting-to-real-wins assumption holds true this year, look for Florida and Georgia to finish near the top of the East, while LSU and Alabama (surprise, surprise) should be near the top of the standings in the West.

That’s hardly a “Good Will Hunting”-style proof, but it is something interesting to discuss in mid-June.

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SEC FANS: BEWARE THE WEST COAST ROAD TRIP

SEC fans usually have a good laugh at those folks who talk up West Coast football. 

As former Tennessee offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe once told our own Ace Reporter, Jimmy Hyams, Pac-10 teams simply don’t play great defense.

But if you look at the numbers I’ve dug up, you’ll see that their high-flying offenses have more than made up for their cheapjack defenses in recent tussles with SEC foes.

Especially on the West Coast.

Since 1998 (that’s the last 10 seasons), SEC teams are just 3-6 when traveling to play games west of Arizona.

Take out two LSU wins in the state of Arizona, limit things to states that border the Pacific, and the SEC is only 1-6 in their last seven games.

Here’s the breakdown of SEC games played on the West Coast since 1998:

2000   UCLA 35, Alabama 24

2002   Oregon 36, Missisippi State 13

2002   USC 24, Auburn 17

2002   Alabama 21, Hawaii 16

2003   Hawaii 37, Alabama 29

2005   USC 70, Arkansas 17

2007   California 45, Tennessee 31

Even if you take out the numbers-skewing 70 points scored by USC on Arkansas in 2005, West Coast teams are still averaging 32.1 points per game at home against their SEC guests.

It’s hard to win games on the road when you give up more than 30 points. 

And remember, I’m taking that 70-17 game COMPLETELY out of the equation.

The Verdict:  Tennessee had better not take undermanned UCLA too lightly in their Labor Day season opener.

Now let’s add in LSU’s two victories that came in the state of Arizona:

2003   LSU 59, Arizona 13

2005   LSU 35, Arizona State 31

Arizona has recently been the bottom-dweller of the Pac-10, so the Tigers blow out win in Tucson is no surprise.  But LSU still gave up a canyon full of points when they squeaked out a win at ASU.

That’s where Georgia is heading on September 20th.

The Verdict:  Georgia had better be prepared for Dennis Erickson’s offense when the Bulldogs head West.

Overall (meaning home and road games), LSU is 4-0 against the Pac-10 since 1998 with two wins over Arizona and two wins over Arizona State.

But the rest of the league is only 2-9 vs the Pac-10 in that span. 

Alabama is 0-2

Arkansas is 0-2

Auburn is 1-2

Mississippi State is 0-2

And Tennessee is 1-1.

The Verdict:  As tempting as it is for SEC fans to scoff at the idea of West Coast “finesse” offenses being able to poke holes in Southern-fried defenses… the fact of the matter is that they have in the past. 

And the closer to the Pacific Ocean SEC teams get, the more likely they’ll get bombed by West Coast fireworks.

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THE LAS VEGAS SPORTSBOOKS’ LINES FOR THE 2008 COLLEGE FOOTBALL SEASON

The Las Vegas oddsmakers have already opened the doors to the 2008 football season and already they’ve seen shifts in the lines due to fans and gamblers placing early bets.

After speaking with folks at a number of casino sportsbooks in Las Vegas last week, there were a couple of points that people should keep in mind about the odds and spreads that bookmakers set:

1) The line isn’t affected greatly by SEC or East Coast gamblers. Even though schools such as Alabama and Tennessee have super strong fanbases (ie: folks that would put money on their team even if they were facing the Dallas Cowboys), the casino’s odds are set for West Coast gamblers.

West Coasters are much more likely to travel to the desert to bet legally. Therefore, the teams whose fanbases affect the point spreads the most are: Southern Cal, UCLA, Notre Dame (a huge national following) and Ohio State (another huge national following).

2. The folks in the South who make money off of the Vegas line are the local bookies. Those are the guys that feel the “bounce” from Vol and Tide fans, for example, who might be a little too sure of their teams.

3. You’ve heard this before, but a casino’s goal is to set a line that will bring in the exact same amount of money on one team as the other. Since the house makes a built-in profit off of every bet wagered, the safest way for them to make bank is to have even money come in for each team.

4. At some point, you’ve heard someone say, “Vegas thinks we’ll win.” Or you’ve heard someone get angry because “Vegas thinks we’ll lose.”

Uh, no.

Vegas, again, sets the line to bring in an even amount of money on both teams. Winning’s got nothing to do with it according to 99.9% of the bookmakers with whom I spoke.

Here’s an example. Tennessee will open their season at UCLA on Labor Day. So what might “Sportsbook X” consider when setting the line for that game:

1) Tennessee is not expected to be a national power this year, so there probably won’t be an overwhelming push of cash in their direction. (Which is why I’m using this game as an example, rather than Georgia-Arizona State.)

2) There will be a lot more LA, California and West Coast gamblers in Las Vegas that weekend, which should mean more people putting cash on UCLA in “Sportsbook X” than normally would.

3) Tennessee is expected to be superior talent-wise to UCLA this year, but how much so? Also, the Bruins have a new head coach and offensive coordinator while the Vols have a new offensive coordinator. Those factors could make people more likely to bet on the underdog.

So, it’s likely that “Sportsbook X”, attempting to get an even number of dollars wagered IN their casino, will install Tennessee as the favorite, but not as a heavy favorite. Not as heavy a favorite as the Vols might be if “Sportsbook X” were a off-shore, online sportsbook taking bets from all over.

Tennessee might be set as a 5- or 6-point favorite by an off-shore book. But a Vegas book, like the imaginary “Sportsbook X,” might list them as only a 3-point favorite… because “Sportsbook X” knows they’ll get UCLA, West Coast money, and they want to get an equal amount wagered on the Vols.

Setting UT as a smaller favorite would encourage non-partisan fans to lay cash on the favorite.

And none of that has anything to do with which team will actually win the game.

Now, let’s get on to the odds that are already up in Vegas right now… the odds of winning this season’s BCS title.

By sportsbook, I’ll list the way the lines opened and how they stand now.

You’ll find all the teams listed at 10-1 or better, followed by all of the SEC teams on the board, “the field” (which means the odds of a team not listed winning), and Notre Dame (just so you can see the shifts based on money coming in on them.

The Bellagio Race And Sportsbook

Opening Odds on 4/18/08

Southern Cal 3-1
Oklahoma 6-1
Florida 6-1
Ohio State 8-1
Georgia 10-1
Texas 10-1
Missouri 10-1
LSU 15-1
Auburn 25-1
Tennessee 30-1
“The Field” 30-1
Alabama 50-1
South Carolina 75-1
Arkansas 100-1
Notre Dame 100-1

Odds as of 6/5/08

Southern Cal 5-2 (money coming in on the Trojans)
Ohio State 5-1 (ditto Ohio State)
Florida 6-1
Georgia 6-1 (cash coming in on the Bulldogs)
Oklahoma 8-1
Missouri 10-1
LSU 15-1
Auburn 25-1
Tennessee 40-1 (odds dropping, no real cash coming in on the Vols)
“The Field” 40-1
Alabama 50-1
Notre Dame 50-1 (surprise, surprise… biggest jumper from 100-1)
South Carolina 80-1 (odds dropping, no cash coming in)
Arkansas 125-1 (ditto, no cash coming in)

The Harrah’s Family of Casino Sportsbooks (Caesar’s Palace, The Flamingo, Harrah’s, The Rio, Bill’s Gambling Hall and Saloon, Harveys, Bally’s, Paris, and The Imperial Palace)

Opening Odds on 1/6/08

Southern Cal 7-2
Ohio State 4-1
Florida 5-1
Georgia 6-1
Missouri 7-1
Oklahoma 8-1
LSU 10-1
“The Field” 18-1
Auburn 35-1
Arkansas 45-1
Tennessee 60-1
South Carolina 60-1
Alabama 75-1
Kentucky 125-1
Notre Dame 300-1

Odds as of 6/5/08

Southern Cal 5-2
Georgia 3-1 (big money wagered on the Dawgs in these casinos)
Ohio State 7-2
Florida 5-1
Missouri 7-1
Oklahoma 7-1
LSU 8-1
“The Field” 18-1
Auburn 30-1
Arkansas 75-1 (big drop, not much money coming in)
Tennessee 50-1 (folks ARE betting on the Vols in these casinos)
South Carolina 55-1 (ditto for Carolina)
Alabama 30-1 (big money being spent on Alabama)
Notre Dame 45-1 (up from 300-1 on a team that finished 3-9)
Kentucky 150-1 (not on Kentucky)

The Hard Rock Casino Sportsbook

No Opening Odds provided, these are Odds as of 6/5/08

Southern Cal 7-2
Florida 4-1
Oklahoma 8-1
Ohio State 8-1
Georgia 10-1
LSU 12-1
Auburn 40-1
Alabama 60-1
Notre Dame 50-1
“The Field” 50-1
Tennessee 75-1
South Carolina 75-1
Kentucky 100-1
Arkansas 200-1

Observations:

Some of you are already saying, “they don’t think we’re that good.” But that’s only part of this formula. Remember the oddsmakers in Las Vegas know betting habits. They’re trying to grasp what the average gambler’s perception of a team is. That might explain why Georgia is the odds-on favorite to win the SEC down South, but Florida is the more highly favored team to win the national title by the casinos.

Also, the folks in Vegas know which teams will get the most West Coast money… just look at how high Southern Cal and Ohio State are listed. Yet their odds still rose as folks put money on them. And Notre Dame… jeesh.

Last thing, just for kicks, here are the current odds (as of 6/5/08) for next year’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Again, I’ve listed any team that is 10-1 or better, all SEC teams that are listed, “The Field,” and Notre Dame.

The Harrah’s Family of Casino Sportsbooks
(Caesar’s Palace, The Flamingo, Harrah’s, The Rio, Bill’s Gambling Hall
and Saloon, Harveys, Bally’s, Paris, and The Imperial Palace)

North Carolina 4-1
Pittsburgh 8-1
Louisville 8-1
Duke 8-1
Texas 10-1
Purdue 10-1
Kansas 10-1
Notre Dame 20-1
Tennessee 22-1
Florida 30-1
“The Field” 40-1
Alabama 50-1
Mississippi State 60-1
Kentucky 85-1
Ole Miss 85-1
Arkansas 100-1
Vanderbilt 125-1
Georgia 500-1
LSU 750-1

Kentucky is an 85-1 shot? Worse than Mississippi State and tied with Ole Miss? Wow.

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THE SEC’S BEST RECRUITING BASES… AND THE WORST

Since 1988 (that’s 20 years to you and me), the Southeastern Conference has produced more NFL draft picks than any other conference.

Fourteen percent of all the players drafted since ’88 have come from the SEC, while the Big Ten and Pac-10 each pace second at 12% of all drafted players.

Most of you would have guessed that the SEC was at the top of the list.

And most of you can probably guess which of the nine SEC states have produced the greatest number of drafted players (meaning players who graduated from high school in a given state): Florida and Georgia.

But when you dig inside the numbers, you’ll find that Florida and Georgia don’t turn out the pro prospects on a per capita basis that some other SEC states do.

To get an idea for each school’s recruiting base, let’s go inside those numbers.

Here’s how the states of the SEC rank in terms of overall population size:

1. Florida (18.2 million people)
2. Georgia (9.5 m)
3. Tennessee (6.1 m)
4. Alabama (4.6 m)
5. South Carolina (4.4 m)
6. Louisiana (4.2 m)
7. Kentucky (4.2 m)
8. Mississippi (2.9 m)
9. Arkansas (2.8 m) (I expected AR to have more people than 2.8 mil.)

Alright, now let’s look at the number of players each state has had drafted by NFL teams since 1988:

1. Florida (541 players from FL high schools have been drafted)
2. Georgia (281)
3. Louisiana (227)
4. Alabama (164)
5. South Carolina (139)
6. Mississippi (133)
7. Tennessee (91)
8. Kentucky (49)
9. Arkansas (48)

Obviously, Louisiana does pretty doggone well in terms of producing pro players. Tennessee, on the other hand, just doesn’t have top flight high school football as compared to the size of their overall population.

To break that down more clearly, on average, here’s the number of NFL draft picks produced by a state in a given year (based on the past 20 NFL drafts):

1. Florida (27.05 Florida kids drafted per year)
2. Georgia (14.05)
3. Louisiana (11.35)
4. Alabama (8.20)
5. South Carolina (6.95)
6. Mississippi (6.65)
7. Tennessee (4.55)
8. Kentucky (2.45)
9. Arkansas (2.40)

This makes things a little easier to follow. Florida, on average, produces about 27 NFL-caliber players from their high schools ever year.

Arkansas? About two. Think about that.

Let’s take it all just one step further. Let’s rank the states by how many prospects they produce as compared to their overall population size:

1. Louisiana
2. Mississippi
3. Alabama
4. South Carolina
5. Florida
6. Georgia
7. Arkansas
8. Tennessee
9. Kentucky

When you look at the prospects produced by a given state, as compared to total population, the most NFL-caliber talent in the SEC resides in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and South Carolina.

When you look at sheer volume, Florida and Georgia make the list as the states with the largest total populations.

And bringing up the rear in terms of producing high-level football players are Arkansas, Tennessee and Kentucky.

It’s no wonder then, that teams like Florida, LSU, Georgia, Alabama and Auburn do well year-in and year-out… they’re located in states rich in football talent.

The same works in reverse for Kentucky (a small state that produces about two pro prospects per year) and Vanderbilt.

The teams that stand out in terms of underproduction are Ole Miss and Mississippi State. Yes, other teams raid the Magnolia State for players, but this is a state that ranks second in the conference in terms of NFL-caliber versus overall population. It would seem that the first school to lock down the state’s borders would be set for a nice run of football.

In terms of overproduction, Arkansas has to get credit for their recent run of success… even if their success hasn’t been enough to satisfy most Razorback fans.

But the real story here is Tennessee. The Vols have won a national championship and four conference titles during the 20 years we’ve looked at… and they’ve done it in a state that produces less than five NFL prospects per year.

That says two things… Phillip Fulmer, and Johnny Majors before him, have recruited awfully well from all across the country. Like Notre Dame, the Vols have had to rely on a national recruiting base.

It also explains why Tennessee’s program has taken a bit of a dip in overall winning percentage these last few years as new coaches at LSU, Georgia and South Carolina have locked down the borders in those states.

One note to also keep in mind, fans tend to put more emphasis on in-state talent than coaches do. Tennessee’s staff, for example, looks at a 250 mile radius around Knoxville as their recruiting base.

That makes sense. Atlanta is a lot closer to Knoxville than Memphis is.  And Mobile is closer to Gainesville than Miami is.

Other teams view things in a similar manner.

But that’s not to discard the importance of having NFL-level talent in the homestate.

The closer the talent is… the better off your team should be.

That’s not a new thought. But these numbers seem to drive the point home more strongly.

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NUMBERS SHOW POWER SHIFT IN SEC SINCE 1993

Our Ace Reporter, Jimmy Hyams, posted a column earlier this week giving you his stock tips (buy or sell) for each football program in the SEC… based on what he thinks will happen in the upcoming four years.

That got me to thinking, which programs have already risen or fallen over the last 15 years?

So I broke the league down in 5-year intervals: 1993-1997, 1998-2002, and 2003-2007.

Initially, I looked at the overall records of each school, but after collecting all that data and tabulating it, I decided a more accurate measure of success would be a comparison of each program’s SEC record over those time periods.

That way a game against Western Carolina won’t push up the numbers for one team, while a loss to Southern Cal won’t drive down the numbers for another.

From 1993 to 1997, here’s how the league broke down by winning percentage in conference games:

1. Florida .909 (The Gators were a mind-blowing 40-4 over this 5-year span.)

2. Tennessee .817 (The Vols were the 90s other dominant SEC program.)

3. Auburn .720

4. Alabama .616

5. LSU .562

6. Georgia .438

7. Miss. State .388 (Look at the level of

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STAT BREAKDOWNS FOR THE SPORTS GEEK

As a sports fan, I’m a total geek when it comes to numbers, data, stats and figures.  Give me an excel spreadsheet, the data from the SEC’s leaderboards, and a couple of hours and I’ll have myself a big, ol’ time.

(Kind of sad, actually.)

If you’re a stat junkie like me, then you’ll like visiting this page on MrSEC.com.  

We’ve hired us up our own mathematician to dig into the familiar basketball and football box scores and come up with analysis that can help you quantify what’s right (or what’s wrong) with you favorite SEC team.

If you want stats and leaders, we encourage you to visit the SEC’s official website (secsports.com).  But here at MrSEC, we’ll take that information, break it down, and package it in an easy-to-follow formulas that give you an idea of what will happen on an upcoming gameday.

The first work from Patrick Rudolph will be loaded up and ready to go within the next couple of weeks.  As we roll toward Fall, we’ll start providing you with football analysis, but Patrick’s first piece will be on the just completed SEC basketball season.

Without stealing his thunder, let me give you a teaser as to the kind of info he’ll be providing here.  

Imagine if you could take your favorite team’s box score (points, minutes, fouls, turnovers, etc) and condense all of that down to a single, meaningful number.  Now, imagine if the weighted formula that results in that number was so accurate that 85% of the time it could accurately tell you whether your team won or lost a game (without EVER looking at the opponent’s box score)?

Patrick’s formula does that.  And it shows you, over time, which teams do the things that matter most.  

And which teams don’t.  

Also those game-by-game numbers can be tallied and averaged to give you a true SEC power-ranking that will show which teams have what it takes to win in March.

I’ve seen it and it’s interesting stuff.  And for those who like to place a wager or two, it’s pretty darned impressive on that front, too.

Check back in a couple of weeks to see Patrick’s first post.  And then, over the course of the Summer, stand by for football analysis, followed by on-going rankings and ratings throughout the SEC season.

Stat Geeks, rejoice.

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