Posts Tagged ‘Gregg Easterbrook’

Easterbrook Can’t Read

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

The frustrating thing about Gregg Easterbrook is that he often makes good points but goes too far in his argument. Today’s TMQ on how rivals.com ratings of high school players are a bit overblown:

Rachel Bachman shows that 54 percent of the high schoolers that earned a five-star ranking, the top classification, not only were not drafted high by the NFL, they were never drafted at all.

High school football players — being on Rivals, the ESPN 150 or any similar ranking is a big thrill and a way to get college coaches to call your cellphone. But being listed has NOTHING to do with whether your athletic career will go well and might even hold you back by swelling your head.

A 46% chance of being drafted in the NFL is really good. As Bachman notes, only 10-20% of lower-ranked prospects get drafted. So a five-star prospect is 2-5 times more likely to end up in the NFL than a lower-ranked prospect. And probably even more likely to be there than unranked prospects.

Scouting is a difficult business. All sports have busts and unexpected stars, despite the tens of millions spent on scouting. It’s fair to say that the rivals.com ranking is no a guarantee of success. But to say it is unrelated to success is bullshit, because it clearly is.

Mathematical Malpractice Watch: Coaches

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

In Gregg Eastebrook’s column today, he laments that only 16 of the 32 coaches in the league have won a playoff game.

Well, only 4 to 8 teams will win a playoff game in any particular year. If you plug that into a probability calculation, it would take about 3-4 years for a group of coaches to get to the point where half of them had won a game. Of course, playoff wins tend to be bunched around certain teams and coaches who win get retained while coaches who don’t get fired. So let’s say that in a typical league, you’d expect 4-6 years for about half the coaches to have a playoff win. That’s pretty close to the typical lifespan of a coach. In other words, this is about what you’d expect.

Is this new? Are teams suddenly going with inexperienced coaches? Nope.

In 2000, 13 of the 31 opening day coaches had a playoff win.

In 1990, 14 of the 28 opening day coaches had a playoff win.

In 1980, 11 of the 28 opening day coaches had a a playoff win, albeit with fewer games.

So, yeah. It’s not amateur hour at all.

(Doing the research on that was entertaining. So many flopped coaches who never amounted to anything. And so many who came in with little record and went on to greatness. It’s kind of fun to click on, say, Jimmy Johnson’s name and see that he had no playoff wins going into Dallas and so many in front of him. Experience is not everything, even in coaching.)

Easterbrook has a mental block on coaches, frankly, seeming to think that the only coaches that should be hired are “proven winners”. When a team hires a coach from college, he’ll slag that, pointing out the difference between college and the pros. But if they hire a coordinator from an NFL team, he’ll slag that since they have no head coaching experience in the pros. And if they hire an NFL coach who hasn’t won in the playoffs, he’ll slag that too, apparently.

I guess the only thing teams can do to appease TMQ is to clone Tony Dungy.