Nerds on Sports Where nerds are talking about sports!

November 26, 2007

No Time Like Overtime

Filed under: NCAA — Tags: , , , , , — Perich @ 11:57 pm

Serpico introduced a point that I’d like to elaborate on: the difference between college football and NFL overtime.

The rules for NFL overtime are simple: the ref holds another coin toss for possession. Fifteen minutes of “sudden death” football are played; the first team to score wins. If no one scores after fifteen minutes, it ends in a genuine tie.

The rules for NCAA football overtime are not as simple, but they’re not complex. One team starts with the ball on the 25-yard line. If they can score on their possession, without giving up on downs or turning the ball over, then the opposing team gets a chance to do the same. If the opposing team scores as well, then they advance to another overtime period. However, if one team scores and the other doesn’t – or doesn’t score as much – that’s it; game over.

We saw an NFL OT game this weekend: Bears over Broncos. Chicago won the coin toss and then went on to sink a long bomb to Desmond Clark and get in field goal range. This shouldn’t surprise the Nerds in the audience: the team that wins the toss wins the OT period, and thus the game, fifty-two percent of the time.

However, we saw two NCAA OT games this weekend, and they were nailbiters both: Arkansas upsetting #1 LSU in triple overtime and Tennessee upsetting Oregon Kentucky in quadruple overtime. The diehard fans that stuck around to watch them to the end – and could you call yourself a serious fan and leave early? – saw some thrilling athletics, let me tell you.

Many pundits insist the NFL’s OT system is “broken.” There have been a number of suggested fixes – some outlandish and exciting (auction off the “kickoff” line on which the OT starts), some relatively straightforward (just adopt the college rules). Here at Nerds on Sports, though, we’re interested in the more fundamental questions.

For instance: why does the NFL have the OT system it does?
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November 13, 2007

Bowling for Championships

It’s that time of year, folks – time to bitch about the Bowl Championship Series.

The BCS is a Frankenstein’s-monster of ad hoc rulings, institutional biases, popularity contests that would make cheerleaders wince and statistical oddities. In an era of franchise tags and million-dollar sponsorship deals, college football remains one of the last examples of sport for the sake of sport. Given all the love and attention it attracts, you’d think it’d merit some serious attempt at ranking.

Oklahoma over USC?  Whatever you say, Com-Pu-Tor!However, in the nine years since its inception, barely a year has gone by without some form of controversy. The BCS megacomputer picked Florida (8th) over Kansas State (3rd) in 1999, Florida State over Miami in 2000 and Nebraska over Colorado (the team that actually won the Big 12) in 2001. Not strictly the fault of the computer, but also deplorable: Oklahoma getting shoehorned into the Rose Bowl in 2002, the OK/LSU/USC voting fiasco in 2003, the Auburn Tigers being shut out in 2004, the shameful pandering to Notre Dame in 2005, and the tangle between Michigan, Ohio State and USC in 2006.

Then again, what do you expect? Six grossly disparate conferences (the Big East vs. the ACC?) playing seasons of varying lengths with a revenue sharing system that guarantees Notre Dame a slice of the pie no matter how bad they are. Seriously! Does this year’s 1-9 Notre Dame deserve the same share of revenue as 9-1 LSU? Or even as 3-7 Mississippi? Who can pretend this is fair?

Given all this, is it possible to fix the BCS? Or scrap it in lieu of a new and exciting method of determining the true champion of college football? Don’t just sit there, Nerds on Sports fans – you tell us!

July 8, 2007

Here’s Hopin’

Filed under: Baseball — Tags: , , , — Peiser @ 11:15 am

Apparently, King Felix has a new pitching coach: the internet. I declare this awesome and think that it opens new doors for baseball and sports in general. If a blogger can say “he needs to vary his pitch selection” and said Felix a) varies his pitch selection AND b) credits the blogger for the idea, two truths emerge:

1. That guy’s ego is gonna go boom.

2. The leadership vacuum in Seattle is having some fucked up consequences. Hire Wally Backman.*

If bloggers are the new dictators of baseball policies, I’d like to make one subtle suggestion. Bruce Bochy, if you’re reading this, SIT BONDS. SIT HIM. DO NOT LET HIM PLAY ANYMORE. HE IS A FILTHY CHEATER. Or, in the alternative, BARRY, RETIRE TODAY AND HELP US ALL ESCAPE FROM THIS ASTERISK-FUELED MEDIA SHITSTORM. That is all.

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May 15, 2007

Revising the Passer Rating

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Perich @ 9:26 am

This post may contain recycled content.

I have a mission for you: revise the QB rating.

The QB rating (technically called the “passer rating,” as that’s all it’s meant to evaluate) is an arcane formula devised when the NFL and the AFL merged in order to standardize statistics. Rather than compare quarterbacks to each other – which provided no metric for season-to-season growth, statistician Don Smith devised a way to measure their progress objectively.

The problem is that (A) it’s not very objective and (B) it’s cryptic.

(A) The rating system is great, in theory. Take the four key areas of a passer’s performance: completion percentage, yards gained per pass, number of touchdowns and number of interceptions. Normalize them against some industry-standard benchmarks (50% pass completion, 55 interceptions per 1000 passes, etc). Total these numbers and voila.

Peyton Manning wishes he had the talent of Drew BreesThe problem is, those benchmarks were set in 1971 and have not been revised since. The “yards per pass” metric, which figures an average of 7, punishes QBs whose coaches use the fire-and-forget “West Coast Offense.” Is a 5.5% interception percentage still average? Look at the numbers yourself and tell me: as of the end of the 2006 season, Dallas’s Tony Romo and the Saints’ Drew Brees led the league in passer rating (89.6, 88.3, respectively), while those jackasses Tom brady and Peyton Manning couldn’t even crack the top 5.

(Cold Hard Football Facts agrees with me, and has some pictures of Pamela Anderson to boot. No, for serious)

(B) In order to normalize against those aforementioned benchmarks, you have to go through some weird hoops. Nothing terribly complicated – just lots of division.

({[(Comp / Att) x 100 – 30]/20 + [(Yards / Att) – 3 x 0.25] + [(TD / Att) x20] + [2.375 – (INT / Att) x 25]} / 6) x 100

Remember your order of operations and show all work.

There has to be a better way – and this wouldn’t be “Harebrained Schemes Tuesday” if I didn’t come up with one.
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May 8, 2007

“[NBA] playoffs? You want to talk about [NBA] playoffs? Are you kidding me?”

Filed under: Basketball — Tags: , , , — Perich @ 10:06 am

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Other people hear that Dallas was knocked off and cheer. I hear it and immediately say, “Wait – didn’t the NBA just have playoffs?”

I seriously cannot keep track of the NBA’s season. Baseball and football have traditional seasons associated with them (spring and summer in the former; fall and winter in the latter). But until the NBA starts playing outdoor games, I’ll never have a concrete sense of when it’s “basketball season.”

NBA.com tells me that the playoffs started on April 21st and could end on June 21st. That’s two straight months of playoffs. Consider that pre-season games begin in early October and you’ve got an 8-month season. Can you imagine if football started in July? Or if the first pitch was thrown in March? That’s the level of absurdity we’re talking about here.

So here’s my new and improved NBA schedule, designed using science and shit.

(1) You play everyone in your conference twice.

(2) You play everyone in your division an additional time (so, three times for them in total)

(3) You play eight games out of conference, I don’t care against who. Are the fans really dying for a Clippers / Bobcats match-up? I don’t think so. (more…)

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