Saturday, January 17, 2009

PTI - Heisman trophy winners

One of my favorite TV shows is PTI on ESPN with hosts Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser. The basic premise of the show (for the non-sports fans who read this blog) is that these two sports writers have timed arguments on various current day sports topics. One of the regular segments that PTI does is called "oddsmakers." What happens is that Tony Reali posses questions and Wilbon and Kornheiser do their best to assign the probability of the event occurring. The question the other day was "what are the odds Sam Bradford wins another Heisman." Michael Wilbon walked us through his logic by saying that 73 people have won the Heisman and only 1 person repeated, so the odds of winning 2 Heismans are 1.35%. Now, I know this is a show more for entertainment than actual true analysis, but I was surprised that Wilbon (who I really like) would not only say that but would be praised by Reali for his analysis.

My thought is that if someone gave you 1.35% odds (74 to 1) of Bradford winning another Heisman you would take those odds. Just looking at the Heisman field next year there will be Bradford, Tebow and Colt McCoy competing again for the most prestigious individual award you can win in sports. So why is 1.35% way too low for Bradford?

The reason being is that the analysis should have started with the question "how many returning Heisman winners have their been?" I looked up the Heisman winners and out of the 74 times the Heisman was handed out, guess how many of them were seniors? The answer is 56 or 76% of all Heisman winners have been seniors. Now out of those 18 non-seniors who have won how many of them came back. From my research only *9 people came back to compete in a season after they won the Heisman.

*Those 9 people are Doc Blanchard, Doak Walker, Vic Janowicz, Archie Griffin, Billy Sims, Ty Detmer, Jason White, Matt Leinhart and Tim Tebow. It will be 10 next year with Sam Bradford.

Now that you know there are only 9 people to come back and defend their Heisman does that change your idea on the 1.35% chance? For better analysis lets see how those 9 players did the next year. Out of those 9 players here is how they finished in the Heisman voting the next year: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 3rd, 3rd, 3rd, 3rd, 4th, *Not Voted. That isn't too bad and stands to reason that Sam Bradford has better than average odds to be in the Heisman discussion at the end of next year. If I were betting man I would bet he would finish 3rd, but if asked by PTI to give odds that he wins another Heisman I would probably have to start at a minimum of 11% (1/9). I would probably move that number up since Bradford might come back for another year after next year. Taking into account past history combined with a little guessing I would say the odds are 20%.

*Poor Vic Janowicz of Ohio St. didn't even get a vote in 1951 after winning the Heisman in 1950. It is hard to find out much about that year besides that 1951 was the first year for head coach Woody Hayes.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Cold Weather

Just in case you haven't seen the news it is cold up here in Minneapolis. Not "I will bring a jacket because the movie theatre can be drafty" kind of cold, but really, really cold. The type of cold that makes your *noise hairs freeze together. There were 3 straight days where people in Minneapolis didn't even see 0 degrees. This morning when I woke up and got in my car the radio of hosts of KDWB welcomed me with the proclamation that it was -22 degrees. Thankfully in a matter of relatively it has since warmed to the current temperature of 2 degrees (with a wind chill of -16 degrees).

*I told this to my best friend back in Mississippi and he was shocked by the fact that it could get so cold that your noise hairs will start freezing together. The fact that I was shocked that he was shocked might be a commentary on how it has been way too long since I have lived in the South.

Anyway, you probably don't read this blog (and welcome to my new reader LC) for news that you can get on the back of the newspaper. The reason I bring this up is not to point out that it is cold in Minneapolis, but to comment on how Minnesotans act about the cold. I have found out that Minnesotans can be segmented into a few different categories in regards to how they handle the cold. There are a few that don't care about the cold and just go along their business. They accept the fact that they live in Minnesota and know that surprise, surprise it gets cold up here. There are even more Minnesotans that complain a little bit about the cold (especially when it gets this cold), but for the most part are reasonable about the weather. They tend to follow the weather on the news and make casual conversation about it with coworkers and friends.

There is another much smaller portion of Minnesotans that interest me more than the other two groups. These Minnesotans are rare because they actually take pride in the fact that it is so cold. If you think you might know one of these people then check for the following characteristics:
  • Calling up friends/family in warmer places (ie almost everywhere else) and asking them how they are dealing with the cold. Then these Minnesotans love playing the trump card about how much colder it is here and how the weather "isn't that bad."
  • Latching on to any conversation about the weather and immediately finding some way to comment on how the weather was much worse during a time like the "Halloween blizzard of 1991."
  • Making fun of any schools that close because of the cold weather.
  • Complaining about the idiot drivers who had the bad luck of hitting a patch of ice and got in a car wreck. (Thankfully, I have yet to get in a wreck, but seriously sometimes I feel like it would be easier to drive on Lake Calhoun.)

I think these Minnesotans are both fascinating and annoying. One part of me thinks it is great that they are taking the cold weather in stride, but for the most part I think the whole thing is an act. The "prideful Minnesotans" want you to think that the cold weather doesn't affect them as much as it affects other people. Their actions speak to a passive=aggressiveness that basically says "I'm better than you." My opinion is that when you are outside in -20 degree weather you are cold, uncomfortable and for me extremely scared of frostbite. Let the countdown to Spring begin.

Anyway, I have a date right now with the first episode of Season 3 of Friday Night Lights and M.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Wake - UNC

In the aftermath (I resisted the Wake pun) of the Wake Forest victory over the GREATEST TEAM EVER I got to thinking about the importance of sports in my life. Is it healthy to get so much joy from a team losing? I mean it isn't like I am rooting for my favorite team to win a game. (Of course I do that.) It isn't like I am rooting for individual players to do well. (Even though I do that as well.) What I did last night was root against a team and against the players of that team. I might as well have been wearing a retro Tim Duncan jersey and singing the Wake Forest fight song, and the only reason I was doing that was because they were playing UNC.

Anyway, I watched every play of the game last night and got considerable joy out of seeing Lawson getting destroyed by the best player (Jeff Teague) on the court yesterday. Also, it was slightly funny seeing Tyler Hansbrough shoot (and miss) a crucial three pointer at the end before getting outhustled for the ball that led to a layup on the other end by Chas McFarland. (McFarland by the way was much better than Hansbrough last night.) The Wake Forest team was a better team than UNC and despite Carolina having what seemed to be 9 lives they were able to pull out the *3 point victory.

*Despite the efforts (22 points on 9 shots) of my favorite UNC player Danny Green. I keep watching Green and I can't understand how he won't be an effective player in the Nba. If you look at his stats you see a complete player who has increased his scoring every year, blocks 4 times as many shots as Tyler Hansbrough, averages nearly 2 steals a game, shoots over 50% from the field and is shooting 48% from three. He is someone that I wish played for Duke or at least didn't play for Carolina. I haven't liked a Carolina player like Green since...well anybody. It will be great to see him graduate from Carolina and lets hope he replaces another Tar Heel (McCants) on the undefeated (in 2009) Twolves team.

After the game I pulled out a bottle of Jameson and toasted the victory of a team I don't care about in a state 1,000 miles away in front of nobody else. And in that moment it goes back to the original question: Is it healthy to get so much joy from a team losing? Should a sports fan only root for teams and not against teams? Or is that even possible? Can you be an Ohio St. fan and not care about Michigan? Can you follow the Redskins without worrying about the Cowboys? These questions aren't ones that I want to answer since as of right now hating Carolina is almost as great as loving Duke.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


My favorite player in any sport has always been John Stockton. I could probably right a book about games he played in (1997 Rockets-Jazz game 6), the skills he possessed and the way he played the game, but that might be for another day. Today, I just want to link to an article called Stock vs. Isiah. It is short and too the point about the merits of my favorite player.

Anyway, a day of sports awaits today. Go Steelers (to set up a matchup between Roethlisberger and the next Montana). Go Wake.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Best rookie QB

This past weekend was a pretty eventful weekend in the sports world. There were the 2008 Dolphins doing their best impersonation of the 2007 Dolphins. Also, there was the BEST COLLEGE BASKETBALL TEAM EVER shooting 9 more free throws than Boston College (home court advantage?) and still losing their first conferance game. But at least Jay Bilas still surprisngly (sarcasm) likes Tyler Hansbrough. Many other things happened (Duke holding VA Tech to a pre shot clock type 2nd half score, other NFL playoff games, Ole Miss shockingly winning, etc), but for this post I wanted to address something that the media has been focusing on lately. If you have been listening to talk radio or ESPN you might think that we have seen the two best rookie QBs in the history of the NFL are playing in the league right now. The media loves Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan for helping turn around the Ravens and Falcons and while both players do deserve some credit for playing well as a rookie I take umbrage with people who say they are the best rookie QBs ever (or more commonly they say since Marino).

In fact I will say that we have seen a better rookie QB only 4 years ago in a rookie from Miami University named Ben Roethlisberger. Let’s do a quick comparison of the 3 QBs:


  • 257 for 428 (completion % = 60%) for 2971 yards
  • 14 TDs and 12 INTs and a 80.3 QB rating.
  • Yards per attempt was 6.94 and yards per game was 185.
  • Overall team record – 11 wins 5 losses


  • 265 for 434 (completion % = 61.1%) for 3440 yards
  • 16 TDs and 11 INTs and a 87.7 QB rating.
  • Yards per attempt was 7.93 and yards per game was 215.
  • Overall team record – 11 wins 5 losses


  • 196 for 295 (completion % = 66.4%) for 2621 yards
  • 17 TDs and 11 INTs and a 98.1 QB rating.
  • Yards per attempt was 8.9 and yards per game was 187.
  • Overall team record – 13 wins 0 losses

In my mind those stats clearly show that Roethlisberger was the better QB. He had the most TDs of the bunch despite starting 3 games less than Ryan/Flacco. Also, he had a significantly better QB rating, a better completion percentage, and a better yards per attempt average. Combine those numbers with the small fact that he won every game he started and led a team that was 6-10 the year before to a 15-1 record and a spot in the conference championship and I think it is pretty clear that Roethlisberger had a better year than Ryan and Flacco.

Of course Flacco’s year is still going on, so maybe I would reconsider if he were to lead his team to the Super Bowl with his superb passing. I can say that after one game though I wasn’t that impressed and came away with the feeling that Flacco was an average QB. We will see how he does next week against Tennessee , but my guess is that both he and the Ravens will be on the losing end of that game.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Dolphins - Ravens

This will be the 3rd consecutive week that I will watch the Dolphins game in a new state. For the Chiefs game I was back home in Jackson with my brother in law and best friend. For the Jets game I was back in Minneapolis celebrating the AFC East clinching win. Now I am in Chicago with my friends Ben and Laurie getting ready to watch the Dolphins - Ravens playoff game. My Marino jersey is ready to go and I have been getting prepared by watching Dolphins highlights from this year on youtube. M has been informed that we will be leaving to drive back to Minneapolis after the game is over, but not a second earlier.

In other news the more times I go to Chicago the more I start to enjoy the city. Even the cold weather doesn't seem so bad because it is 20 degrees colder in Minneapolis. One of the best things about Chicago is that you can take public transit most anywhere you need to go. That means that if you plan it right (ie park your car in a spot where you won't get a ticket) then there is no need for a designated driver. It is almost like college in Oxford, OH.

Last night Ben, Laurie and I went to see the Timberwolves-Bulls game at the United Center. There were many interesting thing that went on so let me try to list them :
  • There were no scalpers outside the United Center. This was a problem because we didn't have tickets because I thought we could get a better deal through scalping. Anyway, we walked around the arena and despite my best efforts to spot a scalper we didn't see a single one. How are there no scalpers at a pro game? If you go to Wrigley there are scalpers every 5 feet, but in the same city there are no scalpers for a basketball game. The Bulls are still relatively popular and there is still a demand for the tickets, so I am at a loss for an answer to this question.
  • The lowest price for lower level tickets at face value is $130. Seriously? That price seems a tad high in this economy for a below-average team.
  • Ben, Laurie and I got standing room only tickets for $20 each. None of us really understood the concept of standing room only tickets at an Nba game, so we just found 3 open seats in the upper deck for the first half.
  • For the 2nd half of the game we snuck down to the $130 lower level seats and found 3 seats behind the basket. Then for the last 44 seconds we moved up to seats 5 rows behind the basket. During this time we witnessed this cute, young (20 something) girl yell injured Bulls guard Kirk Henrich's name multiple times until she finally got his attention. She was obviously hitting on him to the point that Henrich finally had to look at the girl and point to his ring finger and mouth out the words "I am married." This didn't stop the girl from pulling out one of her business cards, writing her phone number on it and then walk over to the bench and try to hand it to him. I knew that Nba players were in demand from more than enough women, but seeing that girl hit on Henrich made me sad for Nba player's wives because I can only imagine how paranoid and jealous the wives must get.
  • Oh yeah the most shocking point of all was that the Twolves won and had their first winning streak of the season.
Go Fins.