Mathematics is something I’ve generally spent my life avoiding whenever I could and surviving when I couldn’t, as in high school. Generally, you want to send me scurrying away in the opposite direction, just drop a term like “pythagorean theorem.”
But while I wouldn’t go as far as several teachers tried in vain to convince me many years ago and say that math can be your friend, I will grant that it can at least be used to serve a purpose.
Which brings me to an interesting CBSSports.com blog post by Jerry Hinnen citing some recent numbers-crunching that offers hope to fans of Mark Richt’s Bulldogs.
He notes that viewed through a mathematical prism, the general idea in college football is that if you win or lose an unusually high number of close games in a season, the odds are that you’ll do the opposite the next season to get back to the mean.
Citing Phil Steele’s tracking of “net close wins” and the Alabama blog RollBamaRoll’s pythagorean numbers-crunching, Hinnen concludes that this season: “Georgia should be taken seriously in the East. Both Steele and the pythagorean wins agree: the Bulldogs were the unluckiest team in the SEC last season. Mark Richt’s team suffered a league-high four ‘net close losses,’ and per their points scored/allowed should have won nearly two more games than they did in 2010. Combine better fortune in competitive games with the Bulldogs’ manageable schedule, and the numbers say Georgia should be poised to take a big step forward in 2011. (Steele pegs them as this year’s East champions.) If they don’t, the question has to be asked: if Richt can’t engineer a turnaround this year, when can he?”
Not everyone reads the numbers the same way, though. While Steele likes the Dogs to win the East, RollBamaRoll was less convinced, noting that for Georgia: “Going into 2011 improvement seems likely, especially with the continued development of Aaron Murray and the almost-laughably weak SEC East, but this is a team with far more holes than they ought to have given their recruiting prowess, and a return to Richt’s glory years doesn’t seem very likely…”
Of course, as Carl Sandberg said, “Arithmetic is where the answer is right and everything is nice and you can look out of the window and see the blue sky — or the answer is wrong and you have to start over and try again and see how it comes out this time.”
After all, the only numbers that really count are on the scoreboard.
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