2. Michael of the Braves & Birds sports blog and EDSBS respond to my analysis of risky and conservative stragies for underdogs and favorites. Both make good points, particularly regarding whether Spurrier was a good example of a favorite who overplayed his hand. I can't say I disagree; I think there are certain games where Spurrier overplayed his hand but I didn't mean to say that all losses were his fault for being too aggressive (and yes, the defense was awful some of those years). Briefly though, some of the interesting comments mentioned that a corrollary to my point is that underdogs also ought to shorten the game -- high variance is smoothed out by a lot of trials. So an underdog wants to get the game going, be aggressive early, and get the hell out of there if the luck bounces their way. It's the Vegas-principle: if the odds are against you, and you keep playing, the House (i.e. the Big House, or maybe the Swamp, or some other location) will win.
Now, what makes that interesting is that being aggressive often means passing more which can also extend the game with clock stoppages. (Though the newish clock rules still confound me.) Finally, some commenters pointed out that it's a bit nebulous how much this applies to slight underdogs or favorites, like when Florida plays a mid-level SEC school. My sense is that the underdog should still be aggressive from the start, but if they get a lead that vastly changes the probabilities and, as a result, the strategy. (If the Citadel gets up by 7 or 14 in the first quarter they are still likely to lose if you factor in talent.) But all that will have to be fleshed out in the future. Glad that the post sparked some thought.
3. Michael Weinreb of ESPN Page 2 has chimed in on the recent decision to ban the A-11 offense. His verdict? The ban stifles "progress," which goes essentially undefined. Let's hear from Weinreb as to why:
Given the media attention this thing has gotten, it would not surprise me if there is an element of jealousy involved. But I do think this is about something bigger, something more than merely a single bylaw, or even a single offense. (Otherwise, isn't any sort of motion or play-action or halfback pass also inherently "deceptive"?) This is about progress, and what it means for the future of football, and there are certain officials on that rules committee who apparently have a sincere concern that offenses like the A-11 -- offenses that spread the field to its edges -- will, indeed, ruin football as we know it.
Needless to say, I think this syrupy salvo a tad overwrought. But, hey, I must think that the spread isn't real football to believe that, right?