Friday, August 22, 2014

11 comments ESPN Grade Is The Exact Academic Metric Gregg Easterbrook Would Normally Rip Apart in TMQ, So Naturally He Loves It

Gregg Easterbrook arose from wherever the hell he goes during the summer and ruined my soul with his insistence on continuing to write TMQ. Gregg made the astute observation that offenses are playing faster now than they used to, as well as made the non-astute observation that a three-pointer and a dunk doesn't involve teamwork like a layup does. Apparently the only place Gregg Easterbrook watches the NBA is in his head with imaginary teams that play imaginary basketball, which is the only way I can explain his bizarre statements about the NBA. For example, he referred to LeBron as a disappointment because he has lost three NBA Finals, but then complimented the Spurs for making two straight NBA Finals. Nevermind that LeBron has made four straight Finals, that's irrelevant to Gregg and doesn't mislead his readers enough into believing the narrative he is pushing.

This week Gregg has an AFC "Preview," even though he doesn't really preview anything, helps debut ESPN Grade, brings back his pointless and stupid "creep" feature, and is still surprised fictional television shows are not realistic. 

First, I'll start with ESPN Grade. It's purpose is to,

think about college football polls -- uniting on-field outcome with educational results.

A top 25 football program's ESPN Grade is calculated by combining its ranking in The Associated Press and USA Today coaches' polls, then adding its position in a top 25 sorted by football graduation rates.
 
So if a university is fifth in one poll, sixth in the other and 10th in graduation rates, its ESPN Grade would be 5 + 6 + 10 = 21.
 
Only teams receiving a vote in either the AP or coaches' poll are ranked in ESPN Grade -- it's an academics-adjusted ranking of the power teams, not of all teams in college football.

Gregg was trumpeting ESPN Grade last week in TMQ as something really important and new. Unfortunately, only teams who get votes in the AP or Coaches poll are ranked in ESPN Grade, which sort of ruins the point doesn't it? Gregg is constantly bitching and moaning about football factories who don't graduate players, then ESPN kicks out a grading system that only focuses on the football factories Gregg dislikes so much. Look at the summary of where teams were ranked in ESPN Grade and where they were ranked in the AP Top 25 Poll. It underscores the pointlessness of only ranking the power teams. Alabama is #1 in ESPN Grade and #2 in the AP Top 25 Poll. My questions are two-fold.

1. What's the fucking point? You are only ranking teams that get votes in the Top 25 AP Poll, so ESPN Grade is only comparing these teams to each other. It seems rather pointless.

2. How is Gregg going to sell this as a grading system that means something when ESPN Grade only uses a sample size that only includes teams Gregg normally calls football factory schools (teams ranked in the Top 25 of the AP or Coaches poll) and doesn't include any of the other Division-I schools that don't have good football teams? ESPN Grade weighs how that team performs in the football poll as 66.66% of the grade compared to 33.33% percent based on graduation rate. This ESPN Grade is the type of grading system Gregg would bitch about in TMQ, but now he has to sell it.

Let's how he does that in TMQ...

The NCAA and the football-factory conferences endlessly say their players are not unpaid semipros; rather, they're true student-athletes.

So let's take them at their word and rank the country's top college football programs with education as important as victory.

Except education isn't as important as victory in these rankings because the football programs' ranking in two polls is factored in with graduation rate. That's two polls weighted with one graduation rate. In Gregg Easterbrook terms, education is 50% as important as victory in ESPN Grade. Also, the ESPN Grade system only ranks teams who received votes in the Top 25, so it's football factory teams being compared to other football factory teams, which obviously doesn't give accurate results when trying to find which college football programs care about education the most. I don't see the purpose of only using the top college football programs, since that seems to sort of defeat the point of what Gregg has been railing against for quite a few years now.

Gregg has to sell this metric as if it is exactly what he's been looking for to measure how schools rank education compared to victory. In actuality, only comparing the top football programs to each other in a metric is something Gregg would normally mock as being inaccurate and a poor way of determining which schools care the most about education.

Introducing ESPN Grade, a whole new way to think about college sports rankings. ESPN Grade combines on-field performance with commencement-day performance.

Except it only combines this on-field performance with commencement-day performance for a school that is ranked in the Top 25 of the AP or Coaches poll. So, it's like introducing a quarterback metric to see which NFL QB is the best, but only including quarterbacks who led their team to the playoffs last year.

Here's how it works: ESPN Grade adds each Top 25 college program's position in the Associated Press (media) and USA Today (coaches) polls with the program's position in ranking of graduation rates. The numbers are combined to produce a blended victory-education ranking.

Except it produces this ranking only for the best college football teams. Gregg has to see the issue with this, right?

Florida State drops from first to sixth based on a low football graduation rate of 58 percent; Oklahoma drops from third to 10th based on an even worse football graduation rate of 51 percent, lowest of any ranked team. Florida State and Oklahoma offer first-rate football on the field, but second-rate football academics.

Are you sure about that? Florida State is the best football team in the country and better than 19 other teams in academics, while Oklahoma is still better than 15 other teams in academics. The data that Gregg is basing his conclusions is so flawed that I find it almost impossible to believe this ESPN Grade really says anything. I mean yeah, compared to Top 25 teams Oklahoma and Florida State are not great, but a real metric showing how bad these programs are in terms of graduation rate would be to compare them to all Division-I schools. Also, the fact Oklahoma and Florida State are still 10th and 6th respectively shows how ESPN Grade still overvalues what happens on the football field. I like how Gregg pretends this isn't true.

Alabama rises to No. 1 in ESPN Grade based on a football graduation rate of 70 percent. 

No, they rise that high because they are #2 in both polls and have a graduation rate at #12. Football puts Alabama up that high, not academics. It's amazing to me how Gregg can take information and then work so hard to lie and mislead his readers on what this information says.

UCLA vaults to No. 2 on a rate of 82 percent, while Ohio State reaches No. 3 on a football graduation rate of 75 percent. These programs achieve the student-athlete ideal -- great sports followed by diplomas on commencement day.

So does this mean Gregg will take back anything he has said about Nick Saban not caring about his players graduating? Of course not! He will continue to say Nick Saban doesn't care about his players graduating, while stating Alabama "rises" to #1 because of a high football graduation rate. Gregg Easterbrook doesn't give a shit about consistency or the truth. He's here to sell you whatever narrative and position pops up in his head at that very moment. He's a snake-oil salesman, unless you want him to sell you something else, in which case snake-oil is a terrible product.

Elsewhere in ESPN Grade, South Carolina and USC are among programs that drop downward, owing to low football graduation rates. Clemson, Georgia and Stanford are among those whose strong commencement-day numbers cause them to rise.

If it tells you how heavily football is weighted, despite South Carolina having a low graduation rate and Clemson having a high graduation rate, they are tied for #13 on ESPN Grade because South Carolina is ranked higher in both the AP and Coaches polls.

The first step in compiling ESPN Grade is making a ranking of teams based solely on their most recent football graduation rates, ranking every school that makes either the coaches or AP Top 25. Only the ranked power teams are sorted by graduation rate.

I will say it again, if the NCAA used ESPN Grade to advertise how great Alabama's graduation rate was, Gregg Easterbrook would take a flamethrower to the NCAA for only using ranked teams in their calculations. I love how Gregg is defending a system he in no way would usually like, but has to like because it comes from his employer. This is great.

Employed is the Graduation Success Rate as computed by the NCAA, which gives credit for players who transfer in or out, and is generous in other statistical respects. Another metric called the Federal Graduation Rate is lower than the numbers you'll see used in ESPN Grade.

I am LOL'ing all over the room right now. So not only does ESPN Grade only use Top 25 teams and give higher weight to what happens on the field compared to what happens in the classroom, but it also uses a generous statistical measurement of Graduation Success Rate. This is a metric that Gregg would blister in TMQ if it didn't come from ESPN. In fact, he has blistered schools for using the higher graduation rate that ESPN is using here in their ESPN Grade metric...which is the same metric Gregg is touting as being super-special and informative. Hilarious.

The most recent year for which graduation statistics have been released had 53 early entrants, about half of 1 percent of upperclassman scholarship players. As ESPN Grade shows, some football-factory programs maintain high graduation standards in spite of early departures, while others have low standards in spite of no early departures.

Well, they have high graduation standards compared to other Top 25 schools. Just like I'm really tall as compared to every jockey who rode in the Kentucky Derby this year.

Isn't it possible that someone can graduate from college without really getting an education, after taking easy courses? Yes, and this is a problem in collegiate athletics. But it's a problem in all of higher education; many non-athletes take easy courses, skip class and graduate without meaningful education, too.

Oh. So after years of talking about how athletics get too much funding and schools allow their players to do very little in the classroom when compared to non-athletes, Gregg tells us that non-athletes are just as lazy and cheat as much as athletes do. I'll remember this the next time Gregg goes on a rampage about a school letting athletes do the minimum to get by. While it's true at certain places, I think it's interesting that when it's convenient for his current viewpoint, Gregg takes the whole "Well, I mean, many college students take easy classes and only do what they can to get by" attitude towards it all.

All that anyone can be sure of about a college student is whether that person walked to "Pomp and Circumstance" holding a diploma, and that's what ESPN Grade either rewards or penalizes.

And of course, if the NCAA talked proudly about an academic metric that only measured if an athlete walked or not, Gregg would rip this metric apart in TMQ. Opinions change when ESPN uses the standards Gregg routinely rips apart as being faulty and misleading in terms of whether a student got an education or not.

By ranking teams both on gridiron and graduation, ESPN Grade creates a new, simple way to assess the student-athlete overlap. Alumni and boosters of universities that do well in ESPN Grade should feel proud. Alumni and boosters of universities that do poorly in ESPN Grade should feel embarrassed.

None of these parties should feel good or bad. It's a metric that only measures the performance of a small sample of Division-I college football teams and weighs the performance by the team on the field heavier than the performance by the team in the classroom.

In other news, the resumption of the football artificial universe approaches. Here's an AFC preview:

A preview is what will happen during the year, what Gregg does is mostly a review of what that team did last year.

Last season, Baltimore became the 15th of 48 Super Bowl victors to fail to reach the succeeding postseason. The Nevermores followed a Super Bowl trophy season with a missed-the-playoffs season partly owing to declining stats.

This is analysis, people! Stand back and give Gregg Easterbrook room! The Ravens did not make the playoffs last year because their players didn't play as well during the 2013 season as they played during the 2012 season. Yes, it's a shocking turn of events, but it's still true.

In 2012, Baltimore was plus-16 in turnovers and allowed 44 sacks in 20 games. In 2013, the club was minus-4 in turnovers and allowed 48 sacks in 16 games. The offense tanked in 2013, dropping to 25th overall.

Wait, so because the Ravens didn't play as well and didn't win as many games, they didn't make the playoffs? This is new information for me that a team playing poorly could result in that team losing football games.

Over the summer, Joe Flacco said of football players, "We're not the brightest people, so therefore how hard can an NFL offense be?" He said this on the Ravens' own website!

He said this as a joke, not being serious. I like the audacity of Gregg linking the article, almost daring his readers to find out he's taking this comment out of context.

Judith Grant Long, an urban planning professor at Harvard, has shown that about 70 percent of the cost of building and operating NFL stadia has been paid by taxpayers -- many not even sports fans.

You have to love the certainty in this statement. Gregg writes that "many" of these taxpayers are not sports fans. There's a certain amount of "I know this to be true" in this statement, so wouldn't using the term "some" be better used in this sentence in order to make it seem less like a certain majority and more like a possible majority? I am picking the utmost of small nits here, I get that. Why use a term like "many" to indicate a majority when Gregg isn't certain this statement is true? I can answer that question. He wants to believe this statement is true and so he hopes by just saying "many" he can convince his readers it is true. Who is to say how many of the taxpayers are sports fans? By stating the majority of taxpayers are not sports fans it goes to prove his point better. Unfortunately, there is no way to prove/disprove this statement.

Also, Gregg takes the time to rip the Bills for wanting public funds to build a stadium by saying:

The new owner is likely to be a billionaire. Why should taxpayers with a median household income of $54,000 be compelled to give a new stadium to a billionaire who will keep all profit the facility generates?

Worried he will take the blame if the Bills move -- and needing to divert attention from his considerable ethical problems -- Cuomo now says the state "would be interested" in funding a new stadium if that kept the Bills in Buffalo. That is easy for the governor to say, since taxpayers, not him, will be the ones handed the invoice. How could a huge subsidy for the super-profitable NFL be justified when the state is cutting funding from public schools? (Look up "Gap Elimination Adjustment.") But from Cuomo's standpoint, he might get to make a dramatic announcement claiming a subsidized stadium would generate thousands of jobs, then be out of office before the red ink begins to flow.

Then Gregg says this:

This said, if there is one city where public investment in an NFL stadium might be justified, it's Buffalo. Should Atlanta or Miami lose its NFL team, that would be a shame, but these cities would still have strong economies. Should Buffalo lose the Bills, this could be perceived as the "last one turns out the lights" moment, reducing the odds of a Buffalo urban recovery.

So perhaps the fact the Buffalo economy could go full force into the shitter is a good reason to build a new stadium and let the new owner keep the profits? Perhaps subsidizing a stadium that generates jobs is a better move than allowing the Bills to leave, and in Gregg's own words, "reducing the odds of a Buffalo urban recovery." As usual, Gregg is the worst. He bashes the Bills hypothetical new owner and the New York governor for wanting public funds, while explaining the very reason it is important to keep the Bills in Buffalo. Gregg argues both sides well and can take credit no matter what happens.

Public investment in an NFL stadium might be justified only if the facility is located downtown. The Buffalo News reports that 15 sites are under consideration for a new stadium. Two are in Toronto. Several are suburban, including an abandoned shopping mall property an hour's drive from the city. One is near Niagara Falls, where the tourist activity is on the Canadian side, not the American side. One is on the Buffalo Outer Harbor, which is cut off from downtown by a freeway and doesn't contribute to the pulse of urban life. Only downtown locations should be considered if public funds are spent.

So it's fine to rip off the taxpayers as long as the stadium is built in a certain location? I'm just wondering when it is/is not fine for taxpayers to pay for a stadium and let the red ink flow.

Also in the offseason, NBC's Luke Russert said the Bills should stay in Buffalo for "all eternity." For a trillion years? Your columnist tweeted, "By then Bills will have won the Super Bowl." Jesse Griffis of East Aurora, New York, tweeted back, "Don't jinx it!"

Oh, this flirty interplay is so fun to read.

In his 11 years holding the whistle for the trick-or-treats -- impressive longevity by current NFL standards -- Marvin Lewis is 90-85-1 in the regular season and 0-5 in the postseason. Cincinnati hasn't won a playoff contest since 1991.

What Gregg intentionally leaves out is Marvin Lewis has led the Bengals to the most successful time in their franchise since the 1980's. The Bengals made the playoffs zero times from 1991-2004 and had not had a winning season since 1990, which is before Marvin Lewis came to coach the team. So while Gregg is correct, he also isn't reading his history to find out that Marvin Lewis has been a huge improvement for the Bengals franchise.

Two interceptions and a lost fumble by Andy Dalton didn't help. In the offseason, Cincinnati rewarded Dalton with a contract extension with a $115 million paper value and about $25 million guaranteed. Dalton, 0-3 in the postseason, now boasts a richer contract than Tom Brady, 18-8 in the postseason with three Super Bowl rings.

I pointed out last week how this isn't entirely correct.

There are differences in their situations -- Brady is 37, and in his last negotiation sought higher guarantees in exchange for lower maximum. But these three contracts tell us much about the goofy state of pro sports economics.

"Sure, my point is misleading and I wasn't entirely truthful when making the comparison, but ignore that and pretend it still proves the point I was trying to prove."

Reader Ty Kuck of Batavia, Ohio, notes that the Seattle Seahawks won the Super Bowl with conventional, conservative defense, while Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther has decided to try gimmick fronts.

Blogger Bengoodfella notes that the Seahawks didn't need to do anything but have a conventional, conservative defense because they have a great defensive line who can put pressure on the quarterback without blitzing, while if reader Ty Kuck would read the article linked he would see the Bengals are without Geno Atkins and lost Michael Johnson to free agency. There is some uncertainty about the Bengals defensive line so the defensive coordinator wants to use different strategies. This doesn't mean it will be a failure because only conservative, conventional defenses win Super Bowls. That is stupid thinking.

Give the ball to the law firm! The Bengals and Patriots are a combined 32-5 when BenJarvus Green-Ellis scored a touchdown for them.

I dislike statistics like this one. They can be misleading. NFL teams run the football more when they are winning the game, so the odds of BenJarvus Green-Ellis scoring a touchdown are higher when his team is running the ball more often. 

Unified Field Theory of Creep: Reader Natalie Pasternack of Palo Alto, California, notes that at around the Fourth of July, Kmart began running ads themed "the new school year starts here."

The fundamental disregard for how retail sales work and how companies make profits continually angers me. Kmart wants to sell school supplies so they advertise early to create urgency in the consumer to purchase the school supplies as much as possible. See, retail stores want to sell products. They can't sell products if they don't create urgency in the consumer to buy the product. If Kmart doesn't advertise for the new school year until a week before school begins then this will decrease profits. Companies like profits, so they advertise early to encourage consumers to spend money at their store. If you are incapable of understanding this or think this is "creep" then you are simply not informed enough about how a company makes money.

If Johnny Football runs around like a madman as he did in college, his career will be short -- defenders are so much faster and stronger than they once were; Fran Tarkenton couldn't use his crazed scrambling style today, either.

I guess this explains why there are fewer and fewer running quarterbacks in the NFL than there used to be?

Colin Kaepernick has learned to head for the sideline when he runs. Manziel must learn this. 

It's been two preseason games. You would think Manziel would have learned to head to the sideline by now, right? WHEN WILL HE LEARN? HE'S PLAYED A LITTLE UNDER TWO WHOLE PRESEASON GAMES ALREADY!

Even should Josh Gordon get to play, the Browns have a weak receiving corps. That will tempt Manziel to take off running. Or it may tempt Cleveland management to trade some of the team's stockpiled draft choices for receiving help now (Cleveland holds two choices in the 2015 first round, plus other extra selections).

Brilliant suggestion. Because if the Browns were going to trade draft picks for a wide receiver, they would do it with two preseason games left, right before the season is beginning. THAT is the ideal time to trade for a wide receiver, so I can see why the Browns would be tempted to make a trade now as opposed to three months ago.

The Browns used the eighth overall choice of the 2014 draft on corner Justin Gilbert, who is athletically gifted. A generation ago, scouts would have shied away from a corner from Oklahoma State, fearing all he'd know is run support.

(Bengoodfella looks around the room wondering how Gregg pulls these comments out of his ass)

Does this explain why Perrish Cox, Darrent Williams, Jacoby Shepherd, and R.W. McQuarters have all been drafted by NFL teams since 1998? Or is Gregg talking about DB's from Oklahoma State like Mark Moore, Chris Rockins, Greg Hill, and Scott Burk who were drafted by NFL teams from 1979-1987? I'm just a little confused, that's all.

Denver: Now with five Super Bowl losses, the Broncos have taken the pressure off the Bills and Vikings (four losses apiece). And when Denver loses a Super Bowl, the Broncs really lose; their defeats are by 45, 35, 32, 19 and 17 points. Perhaps the altitude advantage that assists Denver during the regular season, and at home playoffs games, propels the Broncos to Super Bowls where they don't really belong.

Which explains why the Broncos have won two Super Bowls and were 6-2 on the road last year, including wins over two playoff teams?

As Denver's chief executive, former great John Elway is 37-17. As chief executive of the Wizards and Bobcats, former great Michael Jordan is 285-488.

I can't even begin to understand why Gregg Easterbrook put a comparison of John Elway and Michael Jordan as chief executives in this TMQ.

At the 11-1 juncture in 2012, Houston went to New England for a "Monday Night Football" contest that Texans faithful viewed as the team's debutante party -- a chance for the nation to see in prime time what the Texans could do. Houston was blown off the field, trailing 42-7 early in the fourth quarter. The Texans' confidence was shattered and has not recovered.

It's the time of the year when Gregg Easterbrook attributes a team's loss to something that the loss isn't attributable to. Yes, I'm sure it is the Texans' confidence being shattered that led them to playing poorly during the 2013 season and not the fact they had no reliable quarterback throwing the football for them. The Texans' record in 2013 is all about confidence and not at all about Matt Schaub becoming a turnover machine and no other reliable quarterback being on the roster.

Now the Texans enter 2014 with Ryan Fitzpatrick, who owns a 27-49-1 career record as a starting quarterback, backed by Case Keenum, who's never won an NFL start, and rookie Tom Savage, who didn't play anywhere in 2011 and 2012. What could go wrong?

Come on, Gregg! Ryan Fitzpatrick went to an Ivy League school that isn't a football factory. Doesn't that mean he is a better quarterback option than a lazy, highly-paid glory boy who went to a football factory?

The "24" franchise is up to nine seasons and 204 episodes, meaning Jack Bauer has fired that special gun that never needs reloading for more episodes than Jerry Seinfeld and Julia Louis-Dreyfus fired one-liners.

Another random comparison. Speaking of television shows that were unrealistic...how about "Seinfeld" being unrealistic? How did Jerry pay his rent? Comedians are always traveling doing gigs to make money, but Jerry was always around New York. Plus, women were always attracted to George, which is ridiculous given the appearance of George as an overweight, balding man who didn't have a steady job and wore glasses.

I'm not turning into Gregg Easterbrook, don't worry. I'm just pointing out how Gregg Easterbrook uses "Seinfeld" as a comparison to "24" and even a comedy like "Seinfeld" isn't realistic. They are all fictional television shows.

In the alternative-reality London of "24," driving scenes repeatedly showed central London rolling by the windows without the car ever so much as slowing down, let alone stopping for a light or traffic. If you haven't been lately, London is the most traffic-clogged metropolis in all the world. But by the show's clock, it took Bauer four minutes to drive from an industrial area in East London to the United States embassy in Westminster, and three minutes to drive from central London to suburban Hampton, using an M3 motorway on which there was not a single other car.

These types of complaints are so boring. It's a fictional television show produced entirely for entertainment. At no point should any type of realism be expected. As I have said multiple times, the fact Gregg expects realism on fictional television shows says much more about him than the lack of realism on a fictional television show says about that show.

New character Kate Morgan, a valorous CIA agent, saves Jack's life at 3:06 p.m. Jack was barricaded in the safe room of the U.S. embassy in London, about to be killed by a huge force of Marines. Luckily, Kate knew about the gigantic air shaft that led directly to the safe room! By 3:17, Kate had driven across London, cracked a complicated computer code that stumped military intelligence and been suspended because of a "formal complaint that a Marine at the embassy" filed regarding her actions at 3:06. Thus, it took 11 minutes from when a Marine said, "How do I file a formal complaint about unauthorized use of an embassy air shaft?" until the complaint had been written, gone up the chain at the Pentagon, been reviewed by the State Department and accepted by CIA top brass at Langley.

Again, entertainment is what this show is. No viewer wants to watch Jack Bauer take a piss and read a book while he waits for someone to save him. Viewers want to be entertained...well viewers who aren't Gregg Easterbrook. He wants realism and goes searching for it on fictional television shows and science fiction television. One would think the "fiction" in "science fiction" would tip Gregg off as to how realistic a television show may be, but one would be wrong.

Action on the latest "24" begins with a diplomatic crisis. "The Chinese have sent one of their supercarrier strike groups to the Persian Gulf," the president gravely is informed. This veers "24" further into alternative reality, since the People's Republic does not have a supercarrier strike group.

What an egregious error on the part of the "24" writing staff to not stick strictly to showing weaponry and war vehicles the Chinese currently have. 

There are 10 supercarriers in the world, all with an eagle and sailing ship painted on the side. China's sole aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, is a short-deck turbine-propelled "ski jump" ship intended for coastal use, not a full-deck nuclear supercarrier designed for the blue water. When the Chinese carrier is shown on the show, computer-generated graphics depict a full-sized supercarrier of the U.S. type, not a ski-jump carrier of the Chinese type.

Just stop watching these shows, please. Make it stop.

If had to watch a television show with Gregg, I would either kill myself or sit silently while I hoped he choked on a popcorn kernel. Gregg is that relative who thinks he knows everything about everything and can't wait to share this knowledge he thinks he knows with everyone in the room.

By the test of Authentic Games, the 2013 Colts were terrific. But all contests count. The Colts lost to St. Louis by 30 points, to Arizona by 29 points and wheezed out in the postseason at New England. Strong regular seasons culminating in a postseason wheeze-out are a recent Indianapolis norm; since trotting onto the field for the 2010 Super Bowl versus the Saints, the Colts are on a 1-4 playoff stretch.

The Colts haven't won the Super Bowl every year they have made the playoffs, therefore Gregg Easterbrook considers them to be a failure.

Some 52,000 people came to the Jaguars' stadium just to watch the new scoreboard unveiled. Most likely the crowd was not told that Jacksonville taxpayers paid $43 million for the scoreboard and miscellaneous stadium improvements, while Jax billionaire owner Shad Khan contributed only $20 million. Obviously diverting public money to an NFL owner's private profit is more important than improving Jacksonville public schools.

Linking the same article you linked last week isn't going to make that article all of a sudden blame the Jacksonville public school issues on a lack of funding.

The Jaguars went into training camp with a league-high $28 million in unused salary cap space. Perhaps Khan's plan is to milk the franchise, and Jacksonville taxpayers, for maximum profit while exerting minimum effort to improve the team.

Or maybe they aren't wasting money by overspending on players who aren't a part of the future of the franchise just so they can claim they have been spending money. There's that too.

One reason is that the Jets used a second-round draft choice in 2012 on wide receiver Stephen Hill, who did little in college but ran a 4.36 40 at the combine. Hill has done little in the NFL. Two picks later, Chicago chose Alshon Jeffery, who was super productive in college but ran a 4.48. Jeffery is already a Pro Bowl player. Hill has measurables, Jeffery performs.

Hilarious.

Stephen Hill's numbers during the 2011 college season: 28 receptions, 820 yards, 5 touchdowns.

Alshon Jeffery's numbers during the 2011 college season: 49 receptions, 762 yards, 8 touchdowns.

Hill had fewer receptions, but had comparable production to Alshon Jeffery. I would like to also add that Stephen Hill did not have a great QB throwing him the football, while Alshon Jeffery had South Carolina's all-time leading passer throwing him the football.

Jeffery also has measurables, which of course Gregg wouldn't know, given the fact he is a huge target with great speed for his size. Jeffery is 6'3" and ran a 4.48. In the NFL, Jeffery has had Brandon Marshall on the other side of him with Jay Cutler throwing him the football, while Stephen Hill has had Geno Smith/Mark Sanchez throwing him the football.

Reader Joe Hertz of Sterling, Virginia, suggests another: "The decline of the RB is attributable directly to the 'outside the pocket' rule change for intentional grounding. Before 1993, the quarterback needed an outlet receiver. Typically that was the tailback on a flare route. Now that a quarterback outside the pocket can just throw the ball away, teams can be fearless with five-wides."

Oh, that's the specific reason for the decline of the running back. I can't believe it is traced back to this one reason and the decline of the running back took place a short 15 years after the rule change. These are Gregg's readers I guess. Apple doesn't fall too far from the TMQ tree.

Miami: The Dolphins' offensive line curse continues,

There's no such thing.

But lately, the Patriots have acquired Cincinnati Postseason Wheeze-Out Syndrome, which apparently is communicable. Over the last four seasons, in the second half of the regular season, New England is 29-3 -- then in the playoffs, New England is 4-4.

New England doesn't win the Super Bowl every year and Gregg sees this as a failure, obviously.

Oakland: In 2013, the Raiders onside kicked six times and didn't recover any;

Yes, but I wonder how many of these were surprise onside kicks? Gregg Easterbrook says they work more often than they don't, so I'm sure none of these onside kicks were surprise onside kicks.

Since jogging onto the field for Super Bowl XXXVII, the Raiders are 53-124. Ouch. And despite a huge investment in their secondary in free-agency dollars and draft choices, the Raiders allowed a league-worst 68 percent completions and were second worst with 33 touchdown passes allowed.

It's almost like being tied for 18th in the NFL in sacks could have had something to do with this as well.

Pittsburgh: Kevin Seifert reports that just before training camp, the Steelers were down to $6.5 million in salary cap space. That's a sign of a team approaching the end of a talent cycle.

Oh, that's what it means? So if Jacksonville had spent more of their salary cap room then this would mean they are a team approaching the end of a talent cycle? That's what it means for sure? Like, definitely? It doesn't mean a team has chosen to spend a certain amount of money on players and this may not necessarily mean one thing or another about the talent cycle?

Gregg is the best at making shit up.

San Diego: Consider this proof of TMQ's Twilight of the Running Back theory. Entering the season, of the 27 active players with the most touchdowns scored, 17 are pass-catchers, and just 10 are running backs. Tied for first among the receivers is Chargers tight end Antonio Gates, an undrafted free agent who has 87 touchdown receptions and a decent chance of joining a very rarefied club -- undrafted members of the Hall of Fame.

Which is shocking considering anyone who reads TMQ regularly knows how Gregg shoves the idea hard-working undrafted free agents are better players to have on your team than highly-drafted, lazy glory boys. Yet, there aren't many undrafted members of the Hall of Fame. I'm sure this doesn't mean anything for Gregg's theory about undrafted players and isn't at all proof of just how full of shit Gregg is when he cherry-picks information to make his points about undrafted players look better to those too lazy to do research.

Reader Animadversion: Last week I chided the public schools of Montgomery County, Maryland, for replacing letter grades with mysterious designations such as "ES" instead of A. I wrote, "ES stands for exceptional, a word that does not include an S." Dana Tofig of Rockville, Maryland, replies, "There's an error in your item about the grading system in Montgomery County Public Schools. ES stands for Exceeds Standard, not Exceptional.

Hey look, someone called out Gregg for his lack of research and inability to read the links he provides in TMQ. I wish this happened more often. Gregg will link an article, then comment on the article when it's clear he hasn't thoroughly read the article he linked.

Next Week TMQ's NFC preview.

It's not a preview if you only talk about what an NFL team did last season. I can't wait to see Gregg weakly defend ESPN Grade all season, when it's the exact type of metric for college athletics related to graduation rates that Gregg would normally take great care to tear apart in TMQ. 

11 comments:

Chris said...

Gregg can whine and bitch about "football factories" all he wants yet I think ESPN Grade is flawed just at it's basic premise.

Correct me if I'm wrong Ben but if the whole point of this is to judge these schools based on academic merit and specifically graduation rates then shouldn't they just look at the graduation rate and leave out the AP and Harris polls? One can debate the importance of sports over academics in the NCAA tell kingdom come but I'm fairly certain graduation rates are not remotely affected by the top 25 rankings. Braxton Miller isn't prevented from graduating if Ohio State falls out of the top 25.

One last point but I would go so far as to say that even the graduation rate isn't an accurate metric either, given all the scandals we have seen about student athletes getting by on incredibly easy classes, getting passed despite barely attending class or others doing their work for them. Unfortunately for Gregg to understand this he would have to look up the facts as opposed to making up shit he imagines to be correct in his head.

Chris said...

Oh just a random aside but I was in London over Christmas and it is not as traffic clogged as Gregg imagines it to be. Sure there were some moments in the city where it slowed down but not to an insane degree where I got fed up with the congestion. Even if it was slow we moved at a steady pace. Frankly I would consider it less congested than where I am in Northern Virginia but that probably isn't saying much. I really would love to know the last time Gregg was actually in London. He seems like the guy who would tell you all about wherever he has been in the world, then you find out he visited once 12 years ago.

Drew Funk said...

Drew Funk cannot understand why Marvin Lewis is not TMQ's favorite coach ever. By staying calm and not panicking on the sidelines, he shows his charges that things are under control. He doesn't engage in any silly "look at me" glory boy antics. He has had a bad record in the playoffs, but we learned last week that owners who fire coaches for losing in the playoffs end up with coaches who never get the opportunity to lose in the playoffs. Finally, he works for the Bengals, a team that only cares about losing games cheaply so they can maximize profits, and still manages to have a winning record.

Unfortunately, Drew Funk does not have data available about how he dresses in cold weather games. That could be the hang up.

Drew Funk also believes that all comments on TMQ pieces should be written in the third person, using a stupid acronym or nickname. It in no way sounds ridiculous.

Drew Funk said...

Holy crap, Drew Funk missed the most hilarious part:

"Lewis barely seemed awake on the sideline as Cincinnati lost 27-10 at home to San Diego in the playoffs. Lewis didn't get upset. He didn't try changing strategy as his charges wheezed out again. He just stood there, staring."

...but then two paragraphs later:

"Reader Ty Kuck of Batavia, Ohio, notes that the Seattle Seahawks won the Super Bowl with conventional, conservative defense, while Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther has decided to try gimmick fronts."

Stupid Marvin Lewis never changes his tactics! Stupid Marvin Lewis changes his tactics!

Amazingly, I could probably write my own column mocking this crap, because I found all kinds of nonsense and somehow didn't overlap your stuff at all. Gregg's only purpose as a writer is to give people something to rage-read.

Anonymous said...

"Reader Joe Hertz of Sterling, Virginia, suggests another: "The decline of the RB is attributable directly to the 'outside the pocket' rule change for intentional grounding. Before 1993, the quarterback needed an outlet receiver. Typically that was the tailback on a flare route. Now that a quarterback outside the pocket can just throw the ball away, teams can be fearless with five-wides."

This is a truly hilarious suggestion, and I love how the guy says it's DIRECTLY ATTRIBUTABLE, meaning this is absolutely the reason. Don't QBs still use outlet receivers? Don't RBs still catch passes? I don't think teams go 5-wide nearly as much as this guy and Gregg seem to think, either. 3 and 4 wides, yes, but I would say 5 wides is pretty rare.

The decline of the RB is directly attributable to the NFL loosening up the passing game, making it the more efficient method to move the ball and score points. It's also directly attributable to the fact that NFL teams regularly find productive RBs on the cheap, lessening the need to invest big money or high draft picks in the position. What the hell does intentional grounding have to do with running the ball?

I wouldn't expect Gregg to know anything about anything, but Stephen Hill played at a Georgia Tech, a team that runs the option and doesn't throw the ball often. Therefore, him gaining 800 yards as a senior should be seen as productive. Alshon Jeffrey played at South Carolina under the ol Ball Coach, where of course they throw the ball. Him gaining 800 yards is not that productive.

The Bengals, Colts and Patriots haven't won the Super Bowl every year, oh my what a postseason wheeze out! Not everyone can win the Super Bowl every year, dipshit.

"Give the ball to the law firm! The Bengals and Patriots are a combined 32-5 when BenJarvus Green-Ellis scored a touchdown for them."

I feel like this is fish in a barrel. Like Gregg is openly taunting me by trying to make this out to be something meaningful. The Bengals and Patriots have won a lot of games the past few years. Green-Ellis only scores from inside the 10 yard line, so if he's getting goalline carries, that means those teams are probably moving the ball on that particular day, which is a positive indicator for their chances of winning. I'm willing to bet if Green-Ellis played for Jacksonville, he'd score less TDs and his teams would still lose even if he did.

Bengoodfella said...

Chris, that's exactly it. If we are going to be judging these schools on academic AND athletic merit, then don't just combine the two. Rank the schools according to grad rate (or whatever) and then point out that team's ranking in the latest college football poll.

Even still, ESPN Grade is pointless. I don't know of the correct rate to use in order to determine if schools are graduating their players. Maybe graduation rate, maybe APR...but ESPN Grade just takes a small sample size and I know that's not the best answer.

I have only been to the London airport twice. I can't speak to what it's like on the streets. I've never heard one way or another about London traffic, but I'm guessing Gregg went there in college and figures nothing has changed.

Drew, I like the use of the third person mocking the way Gregg writes "TMQ thinks..." I'm guessing that Marvin Lewis doesn't go for it on fourth down by using simple tactics and dresses too warmly for games. That's why the Bengals have only made the playoffs the past three years.

I know I do miss stuff, because I missed that part where Gregg talked about Lewis changing tactics and then decided the Bengals new DC shouldn't change up tactics. I guess it's okay to change tactics mid-game, but not prior to the game when there is a game plan in place to make the change in tactics effective?

Anon, I know my favorite team isn't a great example, but I think they went five-wide so few times last year. Even the Broncos 5th leading receiver was a RB last year. Their fifth receiver (WR/TE) had 30 targets on the season. That's one of the highest scoring offenses in NFL history. Teams routinely use a RB out of the backfield in the passing game or in some other fashion. The Packers are a little different, but they still utilized Eddie Lacy in the passing game last year. I disagree with that statement so very much.

I attribute the decline of the RB to what you stated, plus the life of a RB isn't very long, so teams don't want to invest money/draft picks in them. The NFL is a passing league with the rule changes and if an offensive line is good enough, a quality RB can find holes to run through.

I would take Jeffery over Hill in a heartbeat. It's not because of their production during college though. GT has a recent history of successful receivers in the NFL. Calvin Johnson, Demaryius Thomas...it's a triple-option offense so Hill's ypc was skewed but he didn't get a ton of chances either. Gregg is right, but still wrong.

Yep. Basically, that 32-5 stat says if the Pats/Bengals are winning then the Law Firm will have the football a lot and that means the team is near the goal line. It's just a statistic I have come to dislike.

Anonymous said...

Ben, I don't disagree that Alshon Jeffrey is better than Stephen Hill, and actually I've always liked Jeffrey. I just took offense to Gregg acting like Jeffrey has always been a monster (not true) while Stephen Hill has never done anything (also not true). And by the way, Jeffery measured at 6'3" 216 lbs. at the combine and ran a 4.48 40. Let's not act like he brings no measurables to the table, Gregg.

Ben, it's funny because that type of statistic is exactly the one that statheads laugh about the most. I think Football Outsider's first article was about the Run to Win fallacy. Gregg is so un-self aware that he still thinks a statistic like that is meaningful.

Gregg's TMQ's are so stupid that they almost border on parody. Like, someone almost has to try to be this ridiculous and asinine.

Bengoodfella said...

Anon, oh I know you didn't disagree. I tend to type fast and not make myself clear when commenting at work. I didn't like Jeffrey coming out of South Carolina, but I also am pretty shaky on GT receivers (even though I probably shouldn't be). I had no opinion on Hill, but wasn't entirely convinced about Jeffrey. Still, he had the measurables and that's why he was so highly recruited out of HS. Out of those two WR's, Jeffrey probably had more measurables.

Sometimes I do think it is a parody. Maybe he's just messing with us all.

rich said...

I'm late to the party, but:

These programs achieve the student-athlete ideal -- great sports followed by diplomas on commencement day.

Okay, so why are we only applying this stupid ass formula to football? Why not basketball as well? Why not baseball or field hockey?

It's also a load of shit because not all schools are created equal. I'm sorry, but you can't say the graduation rate at a school like Northwestern is the same as Alabama. Is there a correction factor dealing with the overall difficulty of the school?

How about the overall difficulty of the degrees obtained by the "student-athletes"?

It also is incredibly stupid because guess what? The good teams will always have a lower graduation rate. A good team gets more exposure, which means the players get a more national presence. If they can parlay a good couple of games and get their stock up high enough, they leave early.

Football isn't like basketball where you pretty much know when a kid is going to leave early. Every once in a while you get a guy like Mark Sanchez who leaves early because why not?

The good teams also recruit good players, meaning that once the backups become starters, they have the same problem. Sorry, but UCLA isn't two or three deep at most positions.

So basically, all this rating system would do is make sure every school has a group of really shitty guys who will graduate. If you make a ranking system based off random metrics and teams will find a way to abuse it.

Also what about players that leave and finish their degree later? Do you retroactively change the graduation rate? Or do you give schools the opportunity to "entice" the kids who left early to come back and inflate their current numbers?

What about guys like Leinhart, Masoli or Hoyer who worked on Master's degrees either at the same school as their undergrad or a different school?

If you count it twice, then why wouldn't Alabama get 10 guys on the team to go into a dual degree program to compensate for the 10 guys who will leave early?

Or worse yet, you "steer" the players away from difficult majors like Physics, Chem, Math, Engineering, etc. Then your graduation rate is inflated, but the kids that don't make it to the NFL are left with degrees they don't necessarily want or can't find a good use for.

Florida State and Oklahoma offer first-rate football on the field, but second-rate football academics.

Elsewhere in ESPN Grade, South Carolina and USC are among programs that drop downward, owing to low football graduation rates. Clemson, Georgia and Stanford are among those whose strong commencement-day numbers cause them to rise.


graduation rate has nothing to do with academic quality. USC is a good school, rated 23rd in the 2014 US News and World report. Georgia is not a particularly good school, ranked #60; Clemson is ranked #62.

Bengoodfella said...

Rich, ESPN Grade is pretty much a pointless metric if you ask me. Of course, no one asked me. It doesn't seem like there is a ton of information to be learned from it, especially since it only takes into account information from Top 25 teams.

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