Tag:Bob Stoops
Posted on: November 8, 2010 12:44 pm
  •  
 

BCS computers should not use margin-of-victory

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

What would you say about a Coaches' Poll voter who looked over the college football landscape after Saturday's action and ranked Auburn , undefeated and owner of more top 25 wins than any team in the country, all the way down at No. 11? What would you say if he voted four different teams with two losses ahead of the Tigers, including a Missouri team coming off of a loss to Texas Tech and an Arizona team that lost at home to 4-4 Oregon State ? What would you say if he kept Alabama all the way up at No. 5, ahead of not only the Auburn team two games ahead of it in the SEC West standings but 12 spots ahead of the 8-1 LSU team that just beat it head-to-head?

What you would say is that this voter had lost his damn mind and deserved to have his voting privileges revoked. You would say he deserved no part in a BCS process where so, so much is riding on every ballot. And you would be right.

Then why do so many college football analysts, fans, and statisticians insist that the six computer rankings that enter into the BCS formula -- each of which carries far, far more weight than any single Coaches' Poll or Harris Poll ballot -- be allowed to use margin-of-victory as part of their calculations? Because the hypothetical ballot above is exactly what the computers would spit out; it's the current "Predictor" rankings as produced by ratings guru Jeff Sagarin , where margin-of-victory is all-important and straight wins and losses irrelevant. Sagarin has stated unequivocally that he would prefer submitting the "Predictor" rating to the BCS-mandated margin-of-victory-ignoring "ELO_Chess," for the reasons laid out here by fellow BCS computer rater Kenneth Massey and baseball statistical godfather Bill James :

“You’re asked to rank teams that don’t play each other, that don’t play long seasons, and you can’t include margin of victory?” said Massey, who provides a “better version” on his Web site, masseyratings.com . “It’s a very challenging problem from a data-analysis standpoint. It does require sacrificing a bit of accuracy. It’s not the best way to do it" ... 

“This isn’t a sincere effort to use math to find the answer at all" [according to James.] It’s clearly an effort to use math as a cover for whatever you want to do. I don’t even know if the people who set up the system are aware of that.

“It’s just nonsense math.”

Maybe the math is nonsense. But shouldn't that be weighed against the fact that to virtually everyone else who follows college football, ranking Alabama ahead of LSU is an act of even greater nonsense?

The problem is that ratings system like  the Sagarin "Predictor" and Massey's preferred system (which also ranks the Tide over the Bayou Bengals) aren't even trying to do the same things the BCS rankings are attempting to do. Their goal is to identify which teams are the "best," the most powerful, the most likely to win a given matchup; as its name implies, what "Predictor" wants to do is forecast the future, and there's no doubt it would do a better job of this than "ELO_Chess."

But certain unfortunate tiebreaks (like TCU 's and Boise State 's current predicament) excepted, BCS berths aren't awarded on the basis of hypothetical future results, or guesses at perceived strengths. They're awarded on the basis of achievement, on wins and losses and conference championships. Including margin-of-victory may make the BCS computer rankings "more accurate" when it comes to selecting which teams are playing the best football, but it would make them less accurate when it comes to answering the question the BCS rankings are trying to answer: which teams are most deserving .

That ought to be cause enough to keep the rankings margin-of-victory-free, even before we start wondering whether we really want the BCS nodding in approval as Boise desperately tries to hit the century mark week-in and week-out on the San Jose State s and Wyoming s of the world. (Not to mention it's already a shame when a player injures himself in a game that's well in hand; what happens when LaMichael James or Justin Blackmon tears an ACL trying to tack on a computer-mandated score at the end of a 60-7 blowout?) No, it's not particularly fair for TCU's annihilation of Utah to go in the BCS computers' books as nothing more than a W. But as the Horned Frogs' jump up the human polls shows, it's simply not true to say the BCS doesn't take the impressiveness of their victory into account at all.

The bottom line is that by including scoring margin (even one capped at, say, three touchdowns) in their computer rankings, the BCS would officially declare every win numerically judged like a figure skating routine, would give the thumbs-up to coaches like Bob Stoops who'd prefer to quit on a potential win over risking an embarrassing loss, would agree with "Predictor" that Alabama beating Duke by 49 points is more important than LSU beating Alabama by 3. The computer rankings could be better, but the way forward isn't to open a Pandora's box that college football would be much the worse for having opened.

Posted on: November 6, 2010 8:56 pm
 

Sooners in a bit of trouble against Texas A&M

Posted by Tom Fornelli

It's already been a pretty weird day inside the Big 12.  Oklahoma State blew Baylor out this morning, and then this afternoon Nebraska barely escaped against Iowa State in overtime and Kansas -- KANSAS! -- scored 35 consecutive points in the fourth quarter to come back and beat Colorado.   So, in other words, no matter what happens in the night game, none of us should be all that surprised.

If Kansas can score 35 points in a quarter, even if it's against Colorado, anything is possible.  So maybe we shouldn't be all that surprised that Oklahoma currently trails Texas A&M 12-0 at halftime.  Oh, and that's not on four field goals or anything like that, the scoring actually started in this game on a safety.  Which, given the way things have gone today, should be expected.

Still, no matter how insane things are today, Texas A&M's defense should still be Texas A&M's defense, but that hasn't been the case.  When Landry Jones goes to sleep tonight, he's going to have nightmares about Von Miller, who has been in his face all night.  Jones has completed only 14-of-24 passes for 101 yards and an interception in the first half.  Even the passes he has completed have looked a bit off, which has to be rather worrisome to Bob Stoops and the Sooners.

On the other side of the ball, Ryan Tannehill isn't playing spectacular football, but the important thing is that he's not playing like Jerrod Johnson either.  He's completed 11-of-17 passes for 122 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

Still, for as bad as Oklahoma has looked during the first half, they still only trail by 12 points, so it's not like this one's over by any stretch of the imagination.  Oklahoma's offense is just too explosive to be held down over a full 60 minutes, so I figure the Sooners will make this a lot more interesting before its over, but if I've learned anything today, it's to expect the unexpected.
Posted on: October 26, 2010 12:19 pm
Edited on: October 26, 2010 12:24 pm
 

Stoops admits he quit on Mizzou game

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Let's review what was at stake for Oklahoma on the road at Missouri last Saturday night: the Sooners' perfect record. The No. 1 spot in the BCS standings. First place in the Big 12 South. Down the road, potentially, a conference championship. An undefeated season. A national championship.

Those are some pretty high stakes. Giving up on a competitive football game would be frowned upon even if it was New Mexico taking on Akron , but quitting on a contest with that much riding on it ... it would be unthinkable, right? The coach who did so would be torn apart, lambasted, excoriated, raked over whatever coals the college football world could find, correct? 

So we're going to see if that happens to Bob Stoops , because he admitted Monday that he simply gave up at the end of his team's loss in Columbia:

Monday after practice, Stoops was asked to address a couple other curious decisions in the fourth quarter during the Sooners' 36-27 loss to the Tigers.

Notably, why down nine he elected to punt with almost two-and-a-half minutes to play and no timeouts remaining.

"You know what, in the end we weren't scoring twice with two minutes to go on our own 4-yard line," Stoops said.

"I just thought it was futile."

Stoops admitted keeping the score reasonable played into the decision, hoping that a nine-point loss might look better to pollsters than a 16-point loss.

With possession at the OU 4, the Tigers would have had an easy chance of punching the ball in the end zone.

"It's a long year. Who knows how poll people look at scores?" Stoops explained. "Had we had a reasonable amount, some kind of field position, had we shown any signs the previous three plays of making a play, we would have (gone for it). But I didn't see that.

"And I'm coming off three-and-out, interception, three-and-out, some of the prior possessions."

It's true: Oklahoma was facing some incredibly long odds of winning this game. A sputtering offense going 96 yards on the road against one on the country's better defenses, followed by a successul onsides kick recovery, followed by another drive for a field goal -- all in 150 seconds -- was all terribly unlikely.

But it wasn't impossible . Stranger things really have happened. Oklahoma still could have won the game. Stoops is right (sort of) that it was probably futile, that his team probably wasn't "scoring twice with two minutes to go on our own 4-yard line." But "probably" is not the same as "definitely." Stoops elected not to try to win a still-winnable game because he thought he would be embarrassed if he failed.

There's a word for that: it's called quitting. When you compare what the Sooners would have risked -- a small handful of pollsters docking the team a small handful of spots, if Missouri had elected to punch in that final score, itself hardly a sure thing -- against the potential rewards of the comeback, is there any defending Stoops' decision? Discretion isn't the better part of valor when it comes to football, especially not when that discretion is based on cravenly trolling for poll votes. Valor is the better part of valor, and Stoops showed none here.

In short: if Derek Dooley 's Volunteers are World War II Germany , Stoops has made his Sooners the Big 12 's France.

HT: Rock-M-Nation .


Posted on: October 24, 2010 12:24 am
 

What I learned from the Big 12 (Oct. 23)

Posted by Tom Fornelli

1. Missouri is for real.   Okay, I'm convinced now, are you happy, Tigers fans?  Missouri proved something to me on Saturday night be beating Oklahoma 36-27.  Still, what impressed me the most was Missouri's defense.  Landry Jones was pressured by the front seven all night, and though they gave up some yards and 27 points, they made a play everytime they needed to and forced a couple of big turnovers.  I also learned that Gary Pinkel likes to go for the throat, because a lot of teams might have gotten a bit too cautious down the stretch, but not Pinkel.  Pulling out the hook and ladder, along with throwing the ball late in the fourth quarter, and converting.  Kudos to you, sir.

2. Bob Stoops makes some very questionable decisions.   It all started with Stoops' decision to go for two after the Sooners had cut Missouri's lead to 36-27 late.  Obviously, they didn't convert, but even if they had it's still the wrong decision.  There's no point in going for two so early because if you do convert it's still a one-possession game, and if you don't it's a two-possession game.  That affects your playcalling ability because you can't afford to run the ball anymore.  And don't even get me started on Stoops' decision to punt on fourth down, down nine, with three minutes left and no timeouts.  Just bust out the white flag and go home, why don't you.

3. Baylor is going bowling.  Congratulations to the Baylor Bears for beating Kansas State 47-42 on Saturday night.  The win means that Baylor has six wins already this season, and that for the first time since it joined the Big 12, Baylor will be going to a bowl game this winter.

4. Hi, my name is Texas and I'm a schizophrenic.
  What do we make of this Texas team?  One week it's losing at home to an awful UCLA team, then it's knocking off undefeated Nebraska on the road.  Then it follows up that win, which has us wondering if maybe the Longhorns have worked things out, by losing to Iowa State at home?  Iowa State!?  At least people in Texas have the Rangers to root for right now, because the Horns won't be providing much entertainment in November.

5. Oklahoma State's defense just isn't good enough.
  Okay, so I didn't really learn that this week, I've pretty much felt that way all season, but it finally bit the Cowboys in the butt on Saturday against Nebraska.  The Cornhuskers put up 51 points and 540 yards of offense on Oklahoma State.  Though the good news for Oklahoma State is that Oklahoma lost too, so they didn't lose any ground in the Big 12 South.
Posted on: October 22, 2010 5:23 pm
Edited on: October 22, 2010 5:53 pm
 

Hinnen's Insane Predictions, Week 8

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Every season, every month, every week, there are several outcomes and achievements that, frankly, nobody operating within reason would ever predict. Who could have predicted Nebraska would beat Florida for the 1995 title by 38 points, or that Boise State would pull off three late trick plays to knock off Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, or that  South Carolina would fail to score a point in the second half against Kentucky a week after knocking off the Tide? Nobody... until now. We're going to try capture that lightning in a bottle by making similarly absurd predictions every week . Are they at all likely to come true? No. Do we even believe the words we're writing? No. But if we make even one correct call on these, we will never stop gloating. Ever.

Highly Unlikely

Playing at home for interim coach Jeff Horton and that until-now foreign concept known as pride, Minnesota surprises Penn State and their ever-creaky offense with 17 first-half points, then hold on for a 17-13 upset. After the game, Joe Paterno offers up something even more surprising, issuing his resignation effective at the end of the year to ESPNU's speechless sideline reporter. To drive his point home, Paterno leaves his trademark glasses at the edge of the TCF Bank Stadium field, a la an Olympic wrestler leaving his shoes on the mat. ESPN issues a press release promising to include footage of Paterno's gesture in every college football montage from now until 2024.

Severely Unlikely

At halftime of the Missouri -Oklahoma game, the visiting Sooners hold a commanding 24-3 lead. Just before the break, Gary Pinkel is spotted pushing a button on some kind of radio-like device on his belt. A few minutes later, Bob Stoops is just about to begin his halftime team talk when there's a knock on the locker room door. It's Mizzou alumnus Jon Hamm , dressed as his famous Mad Men character Don Draper . He introduces himself as Draper and asks if he could speak to the team for a minute. Stoops, a huge Draper fan, is awestruck and concedes. Hamm/Draper has a lackey wheel in a wet bar and offers Stoops and the rest of the Sooner staff a stiff drink as he begins to pitch the rest of the Sooners on what he calls a "revolutionary" sports drink called "Gator-ade." Too polite to decline, Stoops and his staff are severely tipsy by the end of the break. 12 different second-half double-passes back to quarterback Landry Jones later, Missori escapes with a 27-24 win.

Completely Ludicrous

Washington State goes on the road and defeats No. 12 Stanford.



Posted on: September 27, 2010 7:58 pm
 

Stoops downplays importance of Red River Rivalry

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The Red River Rivalry is one of the most anticipated college football games of the year.  When you combine the atmosphere of the game being played at the Texas State Fair and the fact that it's Oklahoma, Texas and college football, well, it's huge.  Gargantuan even.

Though with Texas coming off of that rather embarrassing "Oh my gosh" loss to UCLA in Austin on Saturday, a bit of the luster has been taken off the game.  Oklahoma didn't exactly have the best game, either, struggling to hold on against a Cincinnati team that was 1-2 entering the contest and whose sole win came against powerhouse Indiana State.

So this game is statement maker for both schools, both in the Big 12 and just for their confidence.  Though don't tell Bob Stoops that.  According to the Oklahoma head coach the game isn't that big of a deal.

"Winning that game doesn't do it all for you. It also gets down to being able to finish the season and be a champion," Stoops said. "Three of the last four years, we've also been Big 12 champions.

"That's emphasized to our team. I'm sure Mack (Brown) does. Heck, this is our first conference game. You lose it and you start to lose some other ones, it doesn't much matter, this game. This game matters because it's right now. Then after that, you've got to win them all to have a chance to be Big 12 champion.

"So this game doesn't do it. Sometimes the media (says) this is the only game that counts. Well, if you win this game and lose a bunch of others, it doesn't amount to much."

Sounds like a coach who has lost four of the last five meetings.

Seriously, Stoops does have a point, as it is only the first game of an eight-game conference schedule.  Win this one and lose the next two because you were too busy feeling good about yourself, and the victory doesn't amount to much in the end.  Plus there's the fact that the last two times Oklahoma won the Big 12 -- 2006 and 2008 -- they lost to Texas.

So maybe he's right.  Maybe the game isn't that big of a deal.  Though I wouldn't want to be the one telling Oklahoma fans that should the Sooners make it five out of six losses.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com