Monday, January 05, 2009

Football thoughts

Let's talk football.

- If you said a player was 7-8 in the postseason-- and after removing one outlier season, 3-8-- would you be surprised if he lost a playoff game? No. So please stop implying that Peyton Manning is some playoff godsend. He's never been good in games that matter at any point in is career. Ever.

Regular season: 333 TD, 165 INT (2.02:1), Pass Rating 94.7
Playoffs: 21 TD, 17 INT (1.24:1), Pass Rating 84.4

- For most colleges, holding onto a football coach seems a daunting task. I've witnessed the evolution of their attempts as follows.

College: Give them more money.
Result: Coach leaves for even more money elsewhere.


College: Give them longer contracts.
Result: Coaches get longer contracts, or more money to compensate the short timeframe, elsewhere.


College: Write buy-out clauses into contracts. That is, if the coach leaves before the end of the contract, $X million dollars must be paid to the school.
Result: Coaches get their new employers to cover the bill, either directly or indirectly through a sufficiently high salary.

So what's the next step? Boston College is trying a new approach-- interview elsewhere and you're fired. What's going to be the result? Well, in this particular case, there seems to be a lot of bad blood between the two sides, so it doesn't look like he'll be coaching there for long as it is. But I'd expect that, should schools go to this policy, interviews will be less in person and more over the phone so as to disguise the actions of the coach. I'm always curious how much face-to-face interviews for coaches really matter-- you've seen the coach's body of work, and that's what matters, yes? Maybe it could matter a bit more in college, as you have to deal with an institution, recruiting, donors, alumni and the like.

And not to toot my own horn, but I was one of the few saying at the time that signing Weis to a long contract after the 2005 season was a *horrible* move, even if he stayed for the entire 10 year duration of the contract.

- There's been some discussion recently about home underdogs, as all four home playoff teams from this last weekend were underdogs. Saturday's pair both won, and Sunday's both lost.

While this seems odd in a playoff system to see road teams favored, it's actually more uncommon to see home teams favored in the Wild Card round. Since division winners get automatic home games, the worst of the division winners (#4 seed) always hosts the best of the wild card teams (#5 seed), and the second worst division winner (#3 seed) always hosts the second best wild card team (#6 seed). The first pairing nearly always sees better teams in the #5 slot, and #6 teams can be better than #3 teams too. So, road victories in the playoffs are certainly more frequent than they used to be. Things usually fall back into line in the second round, where the best of the best teams get the additional advantage of a home field and crowd.

For this coming week? The lines are here; unsurprisingly, none of the road teams are favored. Levitt mentions that football lines rarely move more than one point in either direction; I'd be surprised if the Baltimore line stayed within that range. Baltimore looks very appealing at the moment at -3. I don't feel too confident in the rest, though if I had to pick one more...Pittsburgh at -6. San Diego's been playing well, but Pittsburgh should stop the San Diego run game sans a healthy Tomlinson (though Sproles was very effective on Saturday night), and I wouldn't want Phil Rivers on the road in the playoffs trying to lead my team to victory.

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