Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Hal meets Bill Cowher

I like the idea of using data and analytical tools for decisionmaking.. but I will also be the first to tell you that it's easy to overinterpret numbers or analysis. Here is a football analogy. Computers and sports are now forever embedded with each other. One of the more advanced attempts to model coaching decisions with software tools has come from the computer guru's of . According to them, Miami could have greatly increased their chances of beating the Steelers last week if Nick Saban had actually tossed out that challnege flag Heath's long reception and run to the endzone. Here are their numbers in precise bayesian detail. I have to admit that I am not convinced.

A little more interesting is their analysis of Superbowl XL.. but again, without knowing the details of their model, I am not so sure about the information added by these results. I really wonder if anyone at CMU has tried to build a model to similar ends.


Blogger Jonathan Potts said...

If you consider Charlie Batch's previous fumble near the goal line a fluke, then it is likely that the Steelers would have scored at least a field goal had the challenge been successful, tying the game. In hindsight, we know that the Steelers' defense scored a touchdown and thus the game would been sealed anyway. (Unless you want to make the impossible to prove or disprove case that the defense gained momentum by being in the lead.)

It is not a given that had Saban not thrown the challenge flag like a little girl, the touchdown would have been overturned. Steelers' fans were stunned in the Colts' game last year when, even after review, Troy Polamalu's seemingly obvious interception was ruled an incomplete pass. And Seattle fans' were convinced the fix was in when, after review, Ben Roethlisberger's touchdown in the Super Bowl.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006 12:26:00 PM  
Blogger fester said...

Chris --- that is an interesting site --- have you checked out Football Outsiders also? I like them a lot too --- sabermetrics with decent writing behind the numbers.

Jonathan --- the counterfactual gets even messier than what you suggest, for who knows if the Dolphins call that series of plays that lead to the interception if they were either ahead or tied instead of behind and what if the Steelers changed their defenses.... permutations on butterfly wings :)

Monday, September 18, 2006 8:10:00 PM  

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