Smart Links 11/25/2009

1 Follow me on twitter. Self promotion yes, but I probably won’t be blogging much over the next few days but I hope to tweet some commentary on the football games tomorrow and through the weekend. Click here for my twitter feed.

2. Pro Football Reference Blog on the “quarterback problem.” Namely, analyzing the links (or lack thereof) between evaluating talent, ultimate performance, and how the data can be skewed by a high draft position resulting in playing time. (I.e. the Matt Leinert problem.)

3. R.I.P. Abe Pollin. The WaPo has a nice article here.

4. Turkey myths. How many turkeys are eaten and other Thanksgiving myths.

5. The Wiz argues that college football will die because, well, brick and mortar universities will be gone “within 10 to 20 years.” Or, alternatively, there will be such demand for online classes that regular universities will simply give up on football. I’m not entirely convinced. In a related story, all Fortune 500 companies and government agencies have permanently closed their offices and all employees are to report electronically. Meetings will be done by instant messenger.

6. The NY Times’s Pete Thamel interviews Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick. This was pretty interesting.

7. Sad news: Northeastern has dropped its football program.

8. Behavioral economics of Thanksgiving? Ezra Klein and Mark Bittman discuss.

9. Impact of No Child Left Behind. A new paper discusses, with the conclusion that it has helped math skills somewhat but has not aided reading skills.

10. Do offenses run the ball too much on first down? Advanced NFL stats analyzes the question. I have been meaning to address the new game theory studies for some time now.

  • jgordon1

    I always thought it would be cool if the University of Phoenix had a football team..Think about it..They could give 85 scholarships..The kids could take their courses online at night with the help of “tutors” Practices and meetings could be held in the late morning and afternoon..They already have a stadium they could play in…The University could purchase a hotel w/ a kitchen and a chef to feed the kids..It would be like professional football for college kids (like major college ball is now) without the pretense of all the other bs

  • Kevin

    Better yet, they could just simulate the football games online and crown a real champion for once because we could be done with a full season in one day if it was so desired…

    Side note on the NCLB article..as a high school math teacher I find it funny that the significant math “successes” are at the 4th grade level. Seriously, in 4th grade I think it’s the parents fault if the kid isn’t keeping up on times tables, etc..
    NCLB is a failed attempt at reform from the onset even though the premise is a good one. I’m sure you’ve heard the comparison to sports where every team will win the championship…ain’t happening. Go Detroit Lions.

    Back to some football…

  • Ken

    The Wiz is categorically incorrect. Brick and mortar universities will be around for quite a while if not forever. The real sad part is he’s trumpeting the University of Phoenix (owned by Apollo Group). Apollo and DeVry have swindled tens of thousands if not more students, which is especially harmful since the vast majority of student debt can’t be discharged even in bankruptcy (rightly so, but it makes it even more painful for students). Here’s a very good article that details the situation, hopefully it’s viewable to everyone http://online.barrons.com/article/SB125755384448934953.html#articleTabs_panel_article%3D1

    Just in case it isn’t, to summarize these “colleges” have miserable graduation rates, the specialized training is notoriously poor, the entrance exams are a sham (remember, they’re for-profit why would they want to turn away anyone who can take out a guaranteed government loan?), most spend almost as much on marketing as they do teaching (if not more) and they treat students as cash cows.

  • Devin

    The last one from advanced NFL stats is pretty interesting. I’ve noticed the same thing in college on two point attempts, teams that run the ball are successful ~60% of the time and teams that pass the ball are successful only 45% of the time, yet teams try and pass the ball something around 55-60% of all two point attempts. Almost a third of the rush attempts are done by quarterbacks too, some of which are likely to be scrambles off of a busted pass play. If you restrict it to non-quarterback rushes the success rate jumps up to 65%, yet the play calls only account for a non-quarterback rush about 30% of the time.

  • OldSouth

    10 to 20 years? That’s ludicrous. There will be a strong demand for a traditional brick-and-mortar college education from, at minimum, the wealthy. True, online universities will see increasing market shares. But Americans place a great sentimental value on going away to college, much more than we put on the misplaced analogies of Christiansen for MP3s over CDs and such. That sentiment alone will keep college in the “physical form” alive for generations to come.

    Furthermore, increased profits from online colleges don’t really tell the tale the Wiz wants them to, as the demand for any college education has skyrocketed commensurate with the rise in online college attendance.

    Lastly, the death of a brick and mortar college in no way affects the future of college football. Athletic teams are headed by different departments, driven by revenue streams substantially independent of college attendance (news flash: most people who wear State U’s shirts and buy tickets to their games and donate money to their athletic funds are not currently attending college there). There’s simply too much money at stake for a multi-billion dollar industry to just die out.

    The Wiz of Odds is surely not the Wiz of Economics.

  • nat

    I’m a native Michigander, and the Thanksgiving tradition in my family has always been to stuff ourselves silly and then (while being horizontal and digesting) watch the Lions lose. For the longest time now, William Clay Ford has been the poster boy for why fans should have the right fire owners. Normally, I don’t care about the Lions; but, with Thanksgiving here, this ugly tradition has raised its hoary head — forcing me to find a bucket to throw up in. I guess that it IS true that you can’t run from your past.

    So let me pose this perennial question: What steps does the Lions organization have to take in order to be a realistic contender for, say for example, a wild card berth?

  • Kevin

    Nat,
    I’ve been suffering with you. I am from Flint to take the suffering even a step further. Ford needs to die or pass on the franchise. I think that is part of the sad truth. At what point should the owner step down or at least feel pressure?

    From a football standpoint we need to establish the run by getting some linemen in draft or free agency. K. Smith is a decent back, but I think he was drafted with too much projection to do well based on where he was from…the competition he was facing was not the calliber other backs faced. To his credit, he does well with the line that blocks (or doesn’t block) for him.

    Additionally, I’m sure Advanced NFL stats has it but I am too afraid to look. But the Lions have had horrendous QB protection for years. Again, better linemen and stronger run threat will help. Teams pin their ears back and blitz, but the good news is that we see flashes of goodness when Stafford makes the reads and throws he does.

    Defensively, more pieces are in place and I like the aggressiveness of the new coordinator. Special teams coach needs to be fired or start putting some better players on the field for those plays.

    The scariest part, Nat, is that the culture of losing is developed. Did you see all the hurt Lions? It spreads and I don’t care what anyone says at any level, I’ve seen that develop into something worse. Players playing for themselves or in their case, just to get their pay check.

  • Mr.Murder

    The Lions have arguably collected the best passer, wideout, tight end, multipurpose back, and left tackle of recent drafts.

    They have enough major pieces in place to be trying that Cowboys plan of the 90’s. Isolation offense, Norv Turner kind of stuff. Add some line depth, a change of pace back, some more wideout speed opposite their stars. Now the entire field is in play for their quarterback.

    Add speed on defense for the fast surface. Hill and Delmas are young anchors for he line and secondary. Maybe Petersen can be kept from the veterans, at a bargain price.