Big Data In College Football

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 9.10.2016


Rukkus, a ticket selling website, showed what you can do when you sit down and comb through the data. Some of this shouldn’t be surprising like the fact that Hawaii leads everyone in how far players have to travel to go to school there. Some of the other stats may surprise you though.

One of the things that made total sense is that Stanford was second. Stanford has to recruit a certain kind of ‘student-athlete’ and Stanford is that place where they truly are ‘student – athletes’. So the Cardinal has to go all over the country to find their players.

Navy, Army, and Air Force pretty much the same deal as Stanford. A certain type of person is going to go to these Academies. This is why all 3 are in the top 12.

Nor Cal

The one that did raise an eyebrow but it really shouldn’t when you think about it was the fact that the PAC-12 has 11 of the top 24 spots on the list. Surprising because you really never think of it but not surprising in that when you get out west, things are little more spread out than they are in the south.

Overall this was a really impressive use of data in sports. A lot of times people look at data within the context of the sport itself or they find another sport and transfer over that data. Other times data like this is glossed over and used a bumper on ESPN College Gameday into the ‘feature’ on a player or coach.

imageNow compare this to the ESPNFC article from the other day that pondered the question, if your NFL team was in the Premier League, what team would they be?

Really? This is what you are bringing to the table ESPN?

A ticket selling site gives us great use of big data and ESPN throws out this? Really disappointing.

Data like this can be used to draw so many other conclusions. Last 5 College Football National Championships have been won by Florida State, Alabama (3) and Ohio State. They are only a few spots from each other (59, 63 and 67) or have players who are 400 to 367 miles on average away from home. Oregon and Oklahoma are the only two schools in the top 48 who have made the College Football Playoff and neither won the National Title. Those players travel some 1,000 (Oregon) and 515 (Oklahoma) miles to go to school at these universities.

This is a great use of data. It’s intriguing, can help put things in a new perspective and help coaches, players and fans know their schools just a little bit better. Biggest shock, this wasn’t ESPN, CBS, NBC or FOX that came up with this.

What To Watch: Fri. 2/26 – Sun. 2/28

All times are Pacific.

Friday February 26th

Minnesota Wild at Washington Capitals – 4pm NHL.TV: The Caps are the top team in the NHL and the Wild are fighting for a playoff spot. And what is a Friday night without Ovi?

Charlotte Hornets at Indiana Pacers – 4pm NBA League Pass: This one will go a long way in determining if and where the Hornets are in the playoff picture.

Cleveland Cavaliers at Toronto Raptors – 4:30pm NBA League Pass: LeBron and company head north to take on DeMar DeRozan and the Raptors.

 

Saturday February 27th

Oklahoma at Texas – 11am CBS: When isn’t an OU vs Texas game fun?

Louisville at Miami – 11am ESPN3: Somehow a major ACC and top 15 match up made it’s way to ESPN3. Strange.

Arizona at Utah – 11am ESPN: The Wildcats are coming off a tough loss in Colorado and now have to face the Utes. Tall order.

St. Louis Blues at Nashville Predators – Noon NHL.TV: Divisional battle between two teams looking to improve their playoff position.

NY Rangers at Dallas Stars – 1pm NHLN: Inter-conference battle that features one team that is second in the NHL in goals per game (Dallas) and one that is 12th in goals against (NY).

Maryland at Purdue – 1pm ESPN: Big matchup in the Big Ten. The Boilermakers loss by 11 in Maryland a few weeks ago but things should be different and Mackey Arena will be rocking.

UFC Fight Night – 1pm UFC Fight Pass: Anderson Silva vs Michael Bisping live from London. Too bad this fight didn’t happen three or four years ago.

UNC at Virginia – 3:30pm ESPN: The Tar Heels head north to Charlottesville to take on UVA in a top 10 matchup and massive NCAA Tournament implications.

Detroit Red Wings at Colorado Avalanche – 5pm NBC: It’s not the most ideal conditions for an outdoor game, in fact it should be a balmy 60 degrees when the puck drops. Probably not what the NHL was hoping for when they scheduled this one.

DurantGolden State Warriors at Oklahoma City Thunder – 5:30 ABC: The Splash Brothers invade the house that Durant and Westbrook built. Rumors are swirling that Durant will join the Warriors in the off season but it’s a long time between now and then. This is going to be a stellar game.

 

Sunday February 28th

Manchester United vs Arsenal – 6am NBCSN: So Man U isn’t the team they once were…this is still a helluva soccer game.

Washington Capitals at Chicago Blackhawks – 9:30am: Dude….what an awesome game for a Sunday…or any day for that matter.

Iowa at Ohio State – 1pm CBS: Come for the basketball and stay to see why Iowa is going to make a lot of noise in the tournament.

Tampa Bay Lightning at Boston Bruins – 3pm NBCSN: These two are neck and neck in the Atlantic division.

Paul George DunkPortland Trailblazers at Indiana Pacers – 3pm NBA League Pass: Portland is a long way from home but a Damian Lillard vs Paul George matchup is too good to pass up.

 

 

LA Kings at Anaheim Ducks – 6pm NBCSN: The Ducks have really turned it around and are only two points back of the Kings for the top spot in the Pacific.

We’re Talking About Practice!

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


While the college football media is still basking in the glow of the ‘I told you the ratings would be down!’ for the College Football Playoff semifinal games on New Year’s Eve, others have moved on to the actual game. In the process they found an issue that should be addressed by the NCAA before next years game.

CLEMSON TACKLEAs ESPN’s Brett McMurphy and Ted Miller point out, Clemson will have less practice time this week than Alabama because the semester started at Clemson. This limits them to four hours a day once classes start. Alabama has no restriction.

This was also the case last year when Oregon was limited in practice because school was back in session.Ohio State on the other hand was not.

While it may not seem like a big deal and there is not enough data to see if this really is a difference maker, it is clear that it is some low hanging fruit that the NCAA could clear up before next years National Title game and win some brownie points in the process.

The NCAA hasn’t had the best run over the last several years but addressing this edge case this is a gesture that it could make a difference and at least show that the NCAA doesn’t have their head completely buried in the sand.

New Year’s Eve Playoff Is Not As Bad As It Sounds

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


Year two of the College Football Playoff will be played on New Year’s Eve and not on New Year’s Day as it was in its first year. While much of the college football media has come out slamming the decision, the fact is that it’s not all that terrible of an idea.

MSU TDDan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports has absolutely chastised the idea. While Wetzel is correct in his cronyism view and that these games would have been bettered served being played on New Year’s Day or even on January 2nd, he is miss guided on several other points.

Not everyone has plans New Year’s Eve believe it or not. While a lot of people have to work on New Year’s Eve day, let’s be honest, nothing is really getting done (especially by kick off which is at 1pm PST) and with Watch ESPN, people are going to be watching in significant numbers on various devices. Also, people have to work on New Year’s Day and even Christmas so let’s stop acting like America completely shuts down on Holidays anymore.

If you do have plans on New Year’s Eve, did the bar or home of the party you are attending all of sudden stop having TV’s? If you are at a club, ballroom or what not, we can promise you that someone is going to be streaming the game on a smartphone. It’s 2015 after all.

Deshaun Watson ClemsonYes the ratings will be down this year compared to last year but that is not just because of the date and time the games are being played. In the second year of something you can almost guarantee a dip. The novelty has worn off. And if we’re being honest, Michigan State and Clemson are not the national brand names that Ohio State and Florida State are. Not to mention the fact that one of the games last year (Oregon vs Florida State) featured two Heisman Trophy winners squaring off against each other.

Yes a 1pm kick off on the West Coast on a ‘work day’ is a head scratcher. However we are in a 24/7 on-demand world. That means that we are not passively involved anymore, instead we have to actively seek out and find what we want to watch. Besides most people are using a second screen while watching TV anyway. Up to 87% of them in fact. So this notion that everyone stops, gathers around the TV and never looks away went out the window a long time ago.

Is a 1pm PST kick off on a ‘work day’ any worse than a 8:30pm EST kick off on a ‘work night’? Last year the Ohio State vs Alabama game didn’t kick off until almost 9pm EST and wasn’t over until well after midnight. Plenty of people didn’t stay up for that one after staying up late the night before and having to work the next day. Where was the outcry for that?

Look the College Football Playoff should be played on New Year’s Day and have games that are done well before midnight on the East Coast. But having the games on New Year’s Eve isn’t the ‘outrageous’ idea some want to make it out to be. Now there will be something on instead of Ryan Seacrest and Pitbull. If you prefer that then God be with you, the rest of us will be watching the College Football Playoff.

What To Watch Thurs. 11/26 – Sun. 11/29

All times are Pacific.


Thursday November 26th

Philadelphia Eagles at Detroit Lions – 9:30am FOX: Well, we’d like a better matchup but hey, it’s what we got.

Carolina Panthers at Dallas Cowboys – 1:30pm CBS: The Cowboys have Tony Romo and Dez Bryant back so this could actually be a good game.

Texas Tech at Texas – 4:30pm FS1: Texas has to win out to be bowl eligible and that’s a big deal for a young team. Texas Tech is good but beatable.

Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers – 5:30pm NBC: Awaken from the food coma in time to see if they Packers can win back-to-back games or if the Bears will finally put it together.

 

Friday November 27th

NY Rangers at Boston Bruins – 10am NBC: Ice, skates, rivals. Not a bad way to start Black Friday.

Keenan ReynoldsNavy at Houston – 9am ABC: Winner gets to represent the West in the American Atheletic Conference championship. Also get a chance to see the NCAA all time leader in touchdowns in Navy’s Keenan Reynolds.

Marshall at Western Kentucky – 9am FS1: Last year the final score was 67-66. Just sayin.

Washington State at Washington -12:30pm FOX: The Apple Cup is the most underrated rivalry in college football. Always a solid game.

Armstrong JRIowa at Nebraska – 12:30pm ABC: Nebraska is a lot better than there 5-6 record indicates. Iowa is undefeated and looking for a spot in the College Football Playoff. This rivalry will get a lot more heated after this game.

Chicago Blackhawks at Anaheim Ducks – 2pm NBCSN: Both teams are better than their record indicates and still a whole bunch of talent on the ice.

Baylor at TCU – 4:30pm ESPN: It doesn’t really matter what quarterback plays for Baylor but it does for TCU. Points a plenty in this one.

Miami Heat at NY Knicks – 4:30pm NBA.TV: The Kicks aren’t bad this season but the Heat may be a little bit better.

 

Saturday November 28th

Ohio State at Michigan – 9am ABC: Our first taste of Meyer vs Harbaugh. Add in Ohio State having to put a tough loss behind them and this should be one heck of a ball game.

Louisville at Kentucky – 9am SECN: Kentucky is one win away from bowl eligibility and their cross state rivals would love nothing more than to keep that from happening.

UCLA at USC – 12:30pm ABC/ESPN2: Battle of LA and for the Pac-12 South.

Penn State at Michigan State -12:30pm ESPN: Michigan State controls it’s own destiny when it comes to winning the Big 10 Eastern division.

Wisconsin at Minnesota – 12:30pm BTN: Dude, it’s the battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe! It also gives us a chance to show this video from 2003.

Ole Miss at Mississippi State – 4:15pm ESPN2: The Egg Bowl and if Alabama loses, a chance for Ole Miss to grab the SEC West crown.

Notre Dame at Stanford -4:30pm FOX: Huge game for the Irish against a very, very good Stanford team.

Oklahoma at Oklahoma State – 5pm ABC: Bedlam is here. Winner probably has a legit shot at the College Football Playoff.

 

Sunday November 29th

NY Giants at Washington Redskins – 10am FOX: The winner controls first place in the NFC East.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Seattle Seahawks – 1:25pm CBS: Steelers have been able to keep it together and succeed despite a rash of injuries. The Seahawks looked like the Seahawks for once this season last week. Good luck hearing the play call Pittsburgh.

FC Dallas vs Portland Timbers – 2pm ESPN: 2nd leg and Dallas got an all important road goal in leg one. They did lose 3-1 however which should put the Timbers in the drivers seat.

103rd Grey Cup – 3pm ESPN2: Live from Winnipeg with Fall Out Boy as the halftime entertainment. Oh its the Edmonton Eskimos vs Ottawa RedBlacks.

NY Red Bulls vs Columbus Crew – 4:30pm FS1: The Crew won first the first leg 2-0. NYRB has it’s work cut out for them if they want to advance to MLS Cup.

New England Patriots at Denver Broncos – 5:30pm NBC: The best offense in football goes against the best defense. More or less. Broncos start Brock Osweiler for a second straight week.

The Sunday: The Undefeated & Losing Your Mind

Undefeated No More

Three undefeated teams lost on Saturday. Ohio State lost at home to Michigan State on the last play of the game, Houston turned the ball over on the final drive and Oklahoma State was never really in their game. Ironically enough, Ohio State won the National Title last season and the head coach of Houston was their offensive coordinator. Both were undefeated for ten games and then received their first loss within about 20 minutes of each other.

Later in the evening, undefeated Oklahoma State lost to Baylor….and their third string quarterback! Needless to say, there are only two undefeated teams left, Clemson and Iowa, and the consensus seems to be that they will remain that way until at least the conference championship games.

Time To Celebrate

But if you’re the Michigan State kicker and you just made the game winning field goal….then you can celebrate anyway you want.

While this is good, it’s not better than Arizona Cardinals backup QB Drew Stanton’s celebration during Andre Ellington’s game sealing touchdown against the Seahawks. Ironically, Stanton went to Michigan State.

 

Or Not

Emotion is part of sports. Here are two examples of when emotion got the better of a a couple of coaches and a player.

Harbaugh hates his coat…

Pelini nearly attacks ref (go to the 3:30 mark)

And then there was this…..and the player wasn’t even ejected.

 

The Rant

And there is Nick Saban’s rant. Nick Saban may go down as one of the greatest football coaches in college football history. Better yet, ever now and then he gives us some great press conference fodder.

Alabama defeated Charleston Southern 56-6. Funny thing was, Charleston Southern is FCS Playoff bound and they rested their quarterback so he can be fresh for the playoffs.

 

May Helmet Be With You

Is there anything better than Minor League sports promotions? We think not. The Omaha Lancers of the United States Hockey League went all out for Star Wars night. Right down to the wear and tear on the the Rebel logo on the helmets. Now if only they would have had Star Wars night against the Fargo Force….oh the confusion.

What To Watch Fri. 11/20 – Sun. 11/22

All times are Pacific.

Friday November 20th

Montreal Canadiens at NY Islanders – 4:30pm NHL GameCenter: The Habs have cooled off and the Islanders are a tough team.

Cincinnati at South Florida – 5pm CBSN: Hey, we love watching the Bearcats. They have a tendency to score a lot of points or go down in flames.

Air Force at Boise State- 6:30pm ESPN2: A battle that will determine the winner of the Mountain division of the MWC.

Chicago Bulls at Golden State Warriors – 7:30pm ESPN: This could arguably be a Finals preview.

 

Saturday November 21st

Michigan at Penn State – 9am : Our first taste of Harbaugh vs Franklin.

Memphis at Temple – 9am ESPNU: While both teams have suffered losses in recent weeks, they are still two fun football teams to watch.

Real Madrid vs Barcelona -9am beIN Sports: Only a match up between the two biggest clubs in the world. No big deal.

Manchester City vs Liverpool – 9:30am NBC: Liverpool sits 11 points behind City but has a new manager and new hope.

Lafayette at Lehigh – 9:30am ESPN3: The 151st meeting between the two schools which is the longest in collegiate football. There is a reason they call it ‘The Rivalry’.

Montana at Montana State – 11am ROOT Sports: 115th matchup between the two schools. Montana looks to keep their FCS Playoff hopes alive with a victory here.

YaleHarvard at Yale  – 11:30am NBCSN: IVY League title is on the line since Harvard lost last week to Penn. Harvard gets a share if they win and Yale would love nothing more than to spoil that. There is a reason this one is called ‘The Game.’

Michigan State at Ohio State – 1:30pm ABC: No big deal just National Title implications.

UCLA at Utah – 1:30pm FOX: PAC-12 South implications and two pretty good football teams.

Arizona at Arizona State – FS1 : The 2015 edition of the Territorial Cup. Bowl eligibility is on the line for the Sun Devils.

Baylor at Oklahoma State – 4:30pm FOX : OSU looks to keep their College Football Playoff hopes alive but they will have to find a way to outscore Baylor.

TCU at Oklahoma – 5pm ABC: Oklahoma has battled their way back after that loss to Texas to be one of the more dangerous teams in the land. This is a tall order but TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin may not be 100% & they lost their best wide receiver.

Cal at Stanford  – 7:30pm ESPN:The Big Game is a big one once again. Both teams have played well this year and Stanford is also looking to wrap up the Pac 12 North. And with all of the wacky finishes this year in college football, it will be nice to end a long day of football with a game that gave birth to crazy finishes.

Cotto vs Canelo – 8pm-ish PPV: Miguel Cotto vs Canelo Alvarez in boxing’s second super fight of the year. In all honesty, this one should be a better one too.

 

Sunday November 22nd

Tottenham vs West Ham United – 8am NBCSN: Both are sitting just outside the top four and are only separated by goal differential.

Denver Broncos at Chicago Bears – 10am CBS: Future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning will ride the bench for the Broncos as they take on their former head coach John Fox.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Ottawa RedBlacks – 10am ESPNEWS: Winner goes to the Grey Cup. Combination of rain and snow is expected.

NASCAR Ford Ecoboost 400 – Noon NBC: Last race of the year and maybe, just maybe Jeff Gordon can go out on top with a win and the cup.

Toronto Raptors at LA Clippers – 12:30pm NBA League Pass: Raptors are on a West Coast swing and visit Lob City.

Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings  – 1:30pm FOX: Vikings are one of the best teams in the NFC while the Packers are slipping. Can the Pack turn it around?

Calgary Stampeders at Edmonton Eskimos – 1:30pm ESPN3: Not only does the winner go to the Grey Cup but it’s also the Battle of Alberta.

Columbus Crew vs NY Red Bulls – 2pm ESPN: Leg one to decide the Eastern Conference rep in MLS Cup.

Portland Timbers vs FC Dallas – 4:30pm FS1: Western Conference Final and it starts in the best venue in all of MLS. There Ain’t No Pity In the Rose City.

Cincinnati Bengals at Arizona Cardinals – 5:30pm NBC: Cards held on last week in Seattle while the Bengals put up their first loss of the season against the Texans on Monday Night. Rebound in the desert is a tough task for Andy Dalton and crew.

 

 

 

What To Watch Thurs. 2/19 – Sun. 2/22

All times are Pacific

Thursday February 19th

Nashville Predators at NY Islanders – 4pm NHL Gamecenter: A battle of division leaders.

Vancouver Canucks at NY Rangers – 4pm NHL Gamecenter: Well if the game on Long Island doesn’t do anything for you than this one should.

San Antonio Spurs at LA Clippers – 7:30pm TNT: Just a fun match up.

 

Friday February 20th

Toronto Raptors at Atlanta Hawks – 4pm NBA League Pass: Division leaders square off in HotLanta.

Boston Bruins at St Louis Blues – 5pm NHL Gamecenter: St Louis is probably the best team in the NHL. The Bruins are fighting for a playoff spot. Should be fun.

Anaheim Ducks at Calgary Flames – 6pm NHL Gamecenter: These Ducks have to fly north for a night and try to knock off the surprisingly good Flames.

San Antonio Spurs at Golden State Warriors – 7:30pm ESPN: Defending champs head into Oakland to take on one of the best teams in the league.

 

Saturday February 21st

Iowa State Cyclones at Texas Longhorns – 11am ESPN2: Frank Erwin Center in Austin can be a tough place to pay. Upset alert!

Pittsburgh Penguins at St Louis Blues – 5pm NHL Gamecenter: Tough back to back games for the Blues but if anyone can handle it it’s them.

Toronto Raptors at Houston Rockets – 5pm NBA League Pass: Plenty of star power in Houston for a Saturday night. n

UCLA Bruins at Arizona Wildcats – 6pm ESPN: Something tells us that Arizona should be careful.

LA Kings at San Jose Sharks – 6:30pm NBCSN: Outside at Levi Stadium. It would be more fun if it was at old Candlestick Park but we’ll take what we can get.

 

 

Sunday February 22nd

Southampton vs Liverpool – 8am NBCSN: If the season ended today, Southampton would be in the Champions League and Liverpool wouldn’t. Crazy

Dayton 500 – 10am FOX: Nascar is back. Jeff Gordon in his final season took the pole in Daytona. Let’s go racin’!

Ohio State at Michigan – 10am CBS: It’s usually a good football and a lot of times a better basketball game.

Boston Bruins at Chicago Blackhawks – Noon NBC: It’s hockey day in America. You’re welcome.

Memphis Grizzlies at Portland TrailBlazers – 6pm NBA League Pass: A nice way to end a great sports weekend.

 

 

What to Watch Fri. 11/14 -Sun. 11/16

All times are PST.

Friday November 14th

Pittsburgh Penguins at Toronto Maple Leafs – 4:30pm NHL GameCenter: One of those classic hockey match ups. Also a tough ticket to get in TO as Sidney Crosby returns to Canada.

Chicago Blackhawks at Detroit Red Wings – 4:30pm NHL GamerCenter: With the Polar Vortex comes good, classic hockey and this game epitomizes that.

Cleveland Cavaliers at Boston Celtics – 4:30pm NBA League Pass: LeBron James and the Cavs against Rajon Rondo and the new look Celtics. Cool.

Saturday November 15th

Ohio State at Minnesota – 9am ABC: Unexpected tough road matchup for Brutus and the Buckeyes. Let Down Alert Game.

Mississippi State at Alabama – 12:30pm CBS: So this is happening. It’s 1 vs 5.

Nebraska at Wisconsin – 12:30pm ESPN2: Strange but the folks in Wisconsin may already be looking forward to basketball season. If Nebraska’s Mr Everything RB Ameer Abdullah is only 50% it could be a long day for the Children of the Corn.

Kentucky at Tennessee – 1pm SEC Network: Both teams need this one to have a chance at a bowl. They also play for a beer barrell (even though that’s not politically correct to say).

Auburn at Georgia – 4:15pm ESPN: It’s one of the more underrated rivalries in college football. Good Ole Fashion Hate.

Sunday November 16th

BC Lions at Montreal Alouettes – 10am ESPN3: Yes BC is in the Eastern Conference Semi-Final (don’t think about it too much). The Al’s have been one the better teams in the CFL since Jon Crompton became the QB and now they take on a team that has to travel travel across Canada and then play outdoors. Yikes.

Seattle Seahawks at KC Chiefs – 10am FOX: The Seahawks have got to put it together or else an old nemesis, Alex Smith, may pull out a win.

Saskatchewan Roughriders at Edmonton Eskimos – 1:30pm ESPN2: Western Conference Semi-Final in the great white north. Both teams start the playoff without their main signal caller behind center. Being in Edmonton should help the Esks. And it will be F-You freezing. 

Philadelphia Eagles at Green Bay Packers – 1:30pm FOX: Well the Packers have been on fire since Aaron Rodgers told everyone to relax. Can the Eagles fly with Mark Sanchez under center? It’s worked thus far.

Montreal Canadiens at Detroit Red Wings – 4pm NHL GameCenter: Talk about a big weekend in Detroit. Wow.

NE Patriots at Indianapolis Colts – 5:30pm NBC: This use to be the game of the year when it was Tom Brady vs Peyton Manning. Well just swap out Manning and insert Andrew Luck. Still a helluva game.