Dawgs look good playing the numbers

Crunching numbers gives some of us a headache. (Stanford University)

Crunching numbers gives some of us a headache. (Stanford University)

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.

Got a question for the Junkyard Blawg? Send it to junkyardblawg@gmail.com.

Find me on Facebook.

Follow me on Twitter.

164 comments Add your comment

Alachua Taxidermy Service

July 7th, 2011
11:52 am

SiGator – Are you a “Bull” gator? One of my bullgator customers that has
a stuffed gator on the floor of your office?
Specials on this week at the Alachua Taxidermy Service,
Stuffed Gator heads, large $22.95; medium $15.95; small $5.95
Full body mount $129.99
Gator head hood ornament $59.95 for your orange and blue truck.
Gator feet necklaces $12.95


July 7th, 2011
12:02 pm

Treader J: When UGA beats some of the teams you claim that they will lose to, are you man enough to get back on here and say that you were wrong?


July 7th, 2011
12:46 pm

Yea, and another year of being run over by Tech’s high school offense


July 7th, 2011
12:58 pm

wreckmaniac- Tech can run for all they want. That offense is fine until you fall behind then it shows it’s true one dimensional colors. Of course, you being an engineer and all, you would understand that. I am an alcoholic UGA fan and I can remember being fully aware of your type offense from my high school days 22 years ago. You might want to come to one of our AA meetings and try to recover from alcoholism too. They will help you even if they know about your high school offense. They and the rest of us will laugh however.

Albert Einstein

July 7th, 2011
1:10 pm

How’s this for a mathematical equation: You average 35 points and still lose games. How bout you just play a little defense. This may be the dumbest thing I have ever seen a blog written about. I understand you have to come up with a blog or column. But this is absurd. The formula for the dogs should be E=MC Tackle somebody for a change.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

July 7th, 2011
2:24 pm

Boy our fanbase and writers are really scraping the bottom of the barrell when comes to trying to create optimism for this season


July 7th, 2011
2:55 pm

Mc Tackle somebody, and super size that.


July 7th, 2011
3:02 pm

another year like last year and Richt will be gone. Around .500 going
into J’ville and he won’t survive the season. And he shouldn’t. I want
to see him coach until he retires but this program is underachieving.
If programs like Auburn and LSU can win BCS championships, we should
be able to as well. After the Hawaii massacre, I thought the program
was there but its spiraled down like a wounded bird.


July 7th, 2011
5:01 pm

The team that works the hardest always gets the good luck.


July 7th, 2011
10:23 pm

For all the Richt haters out there: http://www.coacheshotseat.com/WinningestActiveCoachesIA.htm

The guy has all publicly committed to spending the rest of his career at UGA building a dynasty as his role model did. Loyalty should go both ways, and we should give him a fair chance. The link shows the math to this point. He’s the longest current tenured SEC coach in one of the toughest conferences in the country, and his numbers are still impressive.

Bill, you could have written a better article with the above link. You dumbed down the math in your article so much that it is meaningless to this scientist. I’ll continue to look forward to your analyses of intangibles and as it seems you’ve been trying to do all along, please approach math with caution.


July 7th, 2011
10:49 pm

they pay good money over at The Auburn Correctional Facility


July 8th, 2011
6:07 am

Dawgs look good playing with themselves. Boomer!

[...] Tuohy writes in response to my “numbers” piece the other day: Hi Bill, I’ve seen this “regression to the mean” idea all over the [...]


July 12th, 2011
7:10 pm

Just let freshman Watts Dantzler take a place on the OL and you will see the difference!