The Pi-Rate Ratings

November 20, 2019

Special Editorial–Vanderbilt Football Conundrum

American University, Boston University, Long Beach State University, The University of Denver, the University of Detroit, George Washington University, Marquette University, New York University, St. John’s University, Saint Joseph’s University, The University of San Francisco, Santa Clara University, Seton Hall University, and Xavier University are smaller colleges that at one time fielded intercollegiate football programs and then saw Pro Football support chip away just enough of their fan base to make football too expensive to continue to finance at the major college level.

The University of Chicago was once a member of what is now called the Big Ten Conference, and their star back Jay Berwanger won the first Heisman Trophy.  The Maroons won the Big Ten Conference (then called The Western Conference) seven times under legendary coach Amos Alonzo Stagg.

The University of Dayton was a division 1 football program into the mid 1970’s, and as late as the 1960’s, the Flyers were beating Louisville and Cincinnati.  They played a lot of teams from the Mid-American Conference and won a good share of those contests.  Dayton is in the Cincinnati market for those not geographically interested.

The University of Denver won three championships in the Skyline Conference, which is the league that sowed the seeds for today’s Mountain West Conference.  As late as their final season in college football, 1960, the Pioneers were beating Washington State and Colorado State.  DU once dominated programs like Brigham Young, Utah, New Mexico, and San Jose St.  When the Broncos were born in 1960, the Pioneers football program ended.

The University of Detroit played Big Ten and SEC opponents into the early 1960’s, and the Titans beat teams like Boston College, Cincinnati, Tulsa, and Oklahoma State in the 1950’s.  Support for UD football waned as the Detroit Lions’ support increased.

Duquesne University played teams like Alabama, Florida, Clemson, North Carolina, and Mississippi State into the 1950s.  The Dukes finished in the top 10 in 1939, having beaten former number one Pittsburgh in a battle of the Steel City.

George Washington was a member of the Southern Conference when that league was still Division 1 and included teams like West Virginia.  The Colonials went to the Sun Bowl, beating home town favorite Texas Western (UTEP) 13-0.  GWU played SEC teams into the 1960s and competed in some of those games.

In the late 1950’s, Marquette’s schedule was more difficult then than most FBS teams today.  The Golden Eagles, then known as the Warriors, played teams like Oklahoma State, Michigan, Pittsburgh, Wisconsin, Boston College, TCU, Arizona State, and Penn State.  MU actually went to the Cotton Bowl in the mid 1930’s.

Saint Mary’s, Santa Clara, and San Francisco all played Division 1 football into the early 1950’s.  SMC was strong enough to play a bowl-bound Georgia team to a tie in 1950.  The Gaels also beat Oregon that year.  Santa Clara went to the Orange Bowl in 1950 and beat a Bear Bryant-coached Kentucky team that had the great Babe Parilli at quarterback.  They had recent wins over Oklahoma and Stanford prior to beating Kentucky.  San Francisco had one of the greatest players of all time in Ollie Matson, who enjoyed a lengthy pro career with four NFL teams.  USF was 9-0 in 1951, their final year playing football.

All of these programs were once major college teams.  Most of these schools are private and small.  Another thing all of these schools have in common is they are located in cities where pro football eventually became the dominant sport in town, and these small, private schools lost too much of their support to sustain their programs.  

The Washington Redskins were in Boston before moving to the nation’s capital.  After they arrived, American University  and George Washington University lost a lot of their support, as fans chose Sammy Baugh over the old college try.

The University of Chicago lost most of its support when the Chicago Bears became the Monsters of the Midway and began winning big in the NFL.

The University of Detroit stopped getting support when Bobby Layne made the Detroit Lions the hot ticket in the Motor City.  Duquesne stopped getting crowds when the Steelers took over the market, and even though the Steelers were not good until 1972, DU couldn’t compete with the much larger University of Pittsburgh in town.

Marquette lost too much support when Vince Lombardi became head coach of the Green Bay Packers.  Back then, Green Bay played half of their home games in Milwaukee’s County Stadium.

The San Francisco 49ers were part of the upstart All-American Football Conference.  When the Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Colts, and 49ers merged into the NFL in 1950, it marked the death knell for the smaller private college football programs in the Bay Area.  California and Stanford survived but lost a lot of fans, but Saint Mary’s, Santa Clara, and San Francisco could not survive.

Denver and Dayton, along with Xavier, were cities where the American Football League came to town and in a couple of years had become as popular as the NFL, maybe more popular to younger football fans like me, who chose the pass-happy AFL over the conservative NFL.

What am I getting at by this long introduction?  As someone that has lived in Nashville for most of my six decades, I have watched Vanderbilt University struggle to compete in college football for the last 60 years.  The Commodores have never been a factor in the SEC since I was born.  Vandy had been a dominant program in the South through the 1920’s, and as late as 1937, the black and gold came within minutes of winning the SEC and going to the Rose Bowl, only to lose 9-7 to Alabama in the final game.

In 1948, the great Grantland Rice, a Vanderbilt alum, wrote in his national column at the end of the year that Vanderbilt was the best team in the nation.  That Commodore squad caught fire at halftime of the Kentucky game.  Sporting a record of 0-2-1 and trailing Kentucky 7-6, then Coach Henry “Red” Sanders blew his top in the locker room at the half.  Vanderbilt came out in the second half and destroyed a good Kentucky team 26-7.  Vandy followed it up with seven consecutive wins, all of them blowout victories, to finish 8-2-1.  They were invited to the 1949 Orange Bowl to play Georgia, but the Bulldogs had the right to refuse Vandy as part of a contractual agreement with the SEC Champions being allowed to choose their Orange Bowl opponent.  Georgia voted to play a much weaker Texas team, and the joke was on the Bulldogs, as Texas didn’t take kindly to being considered fodder.  The Longhorns hooked the Bulldogs.

In the 1950’s, under Coach Art Guepe, Vanderbilt completed a 5-year string where their worst record was 5-5.  Included in that run, the 1955 team went 8-3 with a Gator Bowl win over Auburn.  The 1955 to 1959 record was a combined 28-16-6.  Their last game of the 1950’s was a 14-0 win over Tennessee in Knoxville that kept the Vols out of a bowl.

Something happened in 1960 that forever changed Vanderbilt’s chances to compete in the SEC.  Beginning in 1960, and becoming more liberalized for the next four seasons, the NCAA changed the rules on substitution.  Through the 1950’s, college football was one platoon football.  In other words, a team’s starting eleven on offense was also its starting eleven on defense.  Centers became linebackers. Halfbacks became defensive halfbacks.  Often, a team’s quarterback was its free safety and basically defensive quarterback.  The change in rules started with one that allowed teams to remove their quarterback from having to play on defense.  By 1964, football was 100% two platoon.  Nobody had to start on both sides of the ball any more.  Teams could basically substitute at will on every play.

At the same time, another rule changed the game.  With one platoon football, coaches could not send a player into the game with the play call decided by coaches.  They could not use signals to try to relay a play call, as this resulted in a 15-yard penalty.  Thus, quarterbacks had to be their own offensive coordinators while their team had the ball and defensive coordinators when their team was on defense.,   

Under the one platoon rule, a team with 15 to 20 good players and a smart quarterback, like Don Orr, who could be a coach on the field could compete and even thrive.  By the 1960’s, to compete in major conferences like the SEC, a team needed 40 to 50 really good players, because teams with just 10-15 good players would be worn down by multiple substitutions.  This allowed players to beef up by 50 to 100 pounds, because they no longer needed to play 60 minutes.  

Vanderbilt stopped competing at the end of 1959.  Starting in 1960, with all the rules changes, other SEC schools could dominate the Commodores in most years just by numbers alone.  Tennessee could send three sets of offensive and defensive linemen into a game and see very little reduction in talent.  Georgia could send three sets of running backs into games against a Vanderbilt defense that did not have the depth to counter the move.  Thus, in many games over the next 25 years, Vandy could keep games close for a half and even into the third quarter, before they wore down and lost.

In the 1977 season, Vanderbilt led number one Oklahoma into the fourth quarter in Norman.  They were in a tossup game with Alabama.  They led LSU, Georgia, Ole Miss, and Kentucky for large parts of the games before falling apart in the second half.  They lost all of those games and finished 2-9.

Brief interludes allowed Vanderbilt to post a couple of winning seasons overall.  Thanks to playing five “out of conference” games and just six conference games, the Commodores were able to go 5-0 outside of the SEC in both 1974 and 1975 and enjoy winning seasons.  The 1975 team went 7-4 but was outscored by almost two to one overall and more than three to one in conference games.  Only in 1982 did Vandy compete for the SEC championship.  

Under the genius of offensive coordinator Watson Brown, the Commodores became the first SEC team in over a dozen years to pass the ball more than they ran the ball.  Vandy threw the ball 40 to 50 times a game, and other teams were not ready with planned pass defense, as most defenses were still trying to stop the veer and wishbone offenses.  A fourth quarter collapse against number one Georgia led to the Bulldogs coming back to win.  Had Vandy hung on to win that game, they would have been SEC Champions and would have gone to the Sugar Bowl rather than the Hall of Fame Bowl in Birmingham.

After 1982, Vanderbilt did not post a winning season until they went 7-6 in 2008.  They have only enjoyed one other winning record in conference play, in 2012.  With the 2019 season concluding in two weeks for this year’s Commodores, and with a last place finish in the SEC East already assured, let’s look at some facts from the last 60 seasons of college football in Vandyville.

In 60 years:

Vanderbilt has finished with two winning records in the SEC, and they have finished in the top 5 of the league once.

Vanderbilt has finished in last place 32 out of 60 years and in second to last place another 18, meaning in 83.3%  of the time, Vandy has finished in last place or second to last place in the SEC.

Vanderbilt has finished SEC play without a conference win 19 different times and with one conference win 22 times.  That’s 68.3% of the time that they finished with zero or one conference win.

I could go on and on and show you how many times Vanderbilt finished last in offense and in defense in conference play, and how they once lost 33 consecutive SEC games, and so on.

Since 1998, Vanderbilt has had to share Nashville with the Tennessee Titans.  The Titans won the AFC and came within a yard of winning the Super Bowl in February of 2000.  They followed that up with the best record in the NFL in 2000 and players like Eddie George, Steve McNair, Albert Haynesworth, Frank Wycheck, and others became as famous in Nashville as Joe Dimaggio, Mickey Mantle, Lou Gehrig, and Babe Ruth were in New York City.

Once the Titans owned the Nashville market, Vanderbilt football attendance fell off by large numbers.  Even in the days when Vanderbilt was a perennial last place team in the SEC, Vanderbilt Stadium was full or close to full with Vanderbilt fans.  During the 1980’s, Vanderbilt public address announcer Frank Crowell would yell through the microphone for the fans in the stands to “stand up and show your gold!”  The deafening roar was so loud that the SEC opponents began to complain to the SEC that Vanderbilt held an unfair advantage, and their players could not hear their quarterbacks’ signals.  As unfair as the sideline benches were at Vandy’s Memorial Gymnasium, watching other teams jump and lose five yards for illegal procedure over and over led to the league banning Crowell’s calling for 35,000+ Vandy fans to stand up and show their gold.

As Nashville has become America’s “It” city, and 100 people began moving to town every day, the city became a new melting pot in America.  What was once a nice metropolitan area of about a half million people morphed into a major metropolis of two million in very little time.  The newcomers that came to town brought their former allegiances with them, and in a typical Saturday, you can find more people watching Big Ten football games on TV in Middle Tennessee than going to Vanderbilt games.  On a typical Saturday around Noon, if you drive to establishments showing football, you will see many out of state license plates, especially those from Illinois, Michigan, and Texas.  

Vanderbilt Stadium only sells out now when the opposing team buys 35,000 or more tickets.  At the Georgia and LSU games this year, the visiting crowd was so loud that Vanderbilt had to use silent signals in their home stadium to avoid jumping on offense and losing five yards for illegal procedure.  

As Nashville continues to become the new Los Angeles, and the majority of the sports fans in Nashville turn more and more to professional sports and continue to fill sports bars to watch their Big Ten and Pac-12 games on Saturday, Vanderbilt Stadium will continue to see fewer and fewer local fans coming to cheer the black and gold.  Even though Vanderbilt’s stadium seats 40,000, and the next smallest stadium in the SEC seats more than 61,000, there are not enough living alumni in the Nashville area to fill up Vanderbilt Stadium.  Only about 24,000 Vandy alums live within 90 minutes of Dudley Field.  At every other SEC school, there are more local alums within 90 minutes of their much larger stadiums than there are seats.  In Nashville, there are more than 5,000 Auburn alums living in the area, and most of these 5,000 will be in a seat at Vanderbilt Stadium when the Tigers make their infrequent visits to Vandy.  Obviously, the University of Tennessee dwarfs Vanderbilt in alums in the Nashville area, but there are also Nashville area alumni clubs for schools like Alabama, Florida, and Kentucky that outnumber membership of the local Vanderbilt club.  Only a small minority of Vanderbilt alumni “waste time on sports,” according to one distinguished Vandy alum I know.

Malcolm Turner has given Derek Mason a vote of confidence and a guarantee that he will continue to serve as head football coach at Vanderbilt.  What few fans that are left, and this could be as few as a couple thousand, were mostly opposed to this move.  Local media in Nashville reacted like the citizens of Nashville might have reacted had Governor Isham G. Harris stated in 1861 that Tennessee would stay in the Union. 

Coach Mason is not the reason for Vanderbilt’s 60 year inconsequential existence in the SEC during the Autumn months.  There are layers and layers of reasons why the program has failed with small peaks and large valleys through the decades.  Mason was spot on when he spoke of the program moving in waves.  In actuality, as I told a friend of mine who then posted what I said on another website, Vanderbilt has been caught up in a six-decade Tsunami, and only briefly was the football team able to poke its head above water.

There are other reasons why Vanderbilt football stands to suffer in the next decade.  The school is becoming more select when choosing its student body.  At the present time, Vanderbilt admits just one out of every 12 applicants.  That is more select than half of the Ivy League schools.  However, I have heard from faculty members that the figure of 5% has been mentioned as a future acceptance rate of applicants.

Vanderbilt does not have a Physical Education major or anything close to this.  Any student-athlete enrolling in the school is going to study more hours a day than he gets to devote to football.  Even though there are a couple of programs that athletes have been funneled toward, these are not the proverbial “basket-weaving” courses that public universities have offered for years. 

In a typical year, the top 350 high school football recruits are 4-stars with the top 25 qualifying for 5-stars.  The top SEC programs typically sign 20 to 25 players that are rated as 4-stars or 5-stars.  The next tier of SEC programs typically sign 10-20 of these top recruits.  The rest of the league, not including Vanderbilt, signs around 5 to 10 of these elite athletes.  In most years, Vanderbilt does not sign even one.  Only 16, 4-star recruits have signed with Vanderbilt in the 21st Century, according to 247sports.com.  No 5-star player has ever signed with Vanderbilt, and the school’s historically top two recruits both transferred to other schools during their collegiate careers when they figured out that the academic load and the poor results on the field were greatly reducing their draft stock. 

This year, three Vanderbilt offensive skill players chose to remain in school for their final seasons, when they all would have been second day draft picks had they chosen to go pro, and they would have walked down Lower Broadway in Nashville to crowds of more than 200,000 football fans at the NFL Draft.  Keyshawn Vaughn, Jared Pinkney, and Kalija Lipscomb have all seen their draft status weakened.  If they had another chance, they all would have likely declared for the NFL Draft or if possible would have become immediately eligible transfers elsewhere like Jalen Hurts at Oklahoma.  All three could have chosen to finish their careers at a place like Clemson or Oregon, where a future legendary pro quarterback was leading the offense.  How many catches might Pinkney or Lipscomb made with Trevor Lawrence or Justin Herbert throwing them the ball?  Imagine Vaughn playing in the backfield at Washington State, where Mike Leach could use a 1,000-yard running back who can also catch 50 passes out of the backfield.

This next part is strictly my opinion, but as a former coach of junior high and senior high basketball programs, I have seen reasons for why Vanderbilt football has ridden the so-called waves that Coach Mason speaks of.  Rather than describe the varying degrees of lack of success sprinkled with little teases of success, I would instead refer to the generations of America.  I am no Gertrude Stein, so I don’t tend to agree with the naming of the generations from the GI Generation through today’s Generation Z youth.  I have seen changes that require more than the generational tags that are famous today.  For instance, the so-called Baby Boomers born between 1946 and 1955 are not the same as those like me born between 1956 and 1964.  I was just young enough to miss Vietnam, but just old enough to remember Jack Ruby shooting Lee Harvey Oswald on live television.  My philosophy of life differs from my first cousin born in 1954 who saw many friends burning draft cards and leaving the US for Canada to avoid the Draft, or who fought courageously and then came home to be treated like they were coaches that went 0-12 on the football field.

For competition purposes, I separate this current young generation into two sub-groups: “Everybody Gets A Trophy” and “Every Competition Must Be Won.”   There was a time when Generation Z children competing in sports played on teams that did not keep score or standings.  Every child was a winner and nobody was a loser, and everybody received a trophy.  As a former basketball coach with a winning percentage over 80% over the course of two decades, when this became the norm, I left coaching.  Teaching our youth to play to win while playing fair and playing with sportsmanship was important to me.  Competition is important with some limits.

In recent years, as I neared the start of my golden years, I have been volunteering for a local group of kids that need organized athletic activity.  This includes basketball, baseball, and other sports.  In addition after dark during the late Fall and Winter, these kids conclude their late afternoons indoors playing air hockey, ping pong, chess, and other games.

Enough of today’s kids have gone to the other extreme from the “Everybody Gets A Trophy Kids.”   These kids play like every event is as important as the gladiators of ancient Rome.  They play for blood, and if anybody gets in their way, there is heck to pay.  If these kids I mentor were to form a basketball team, without any encouragement from me, they would play with the intensity that Bob Knight’s Indiana teams played between 1973 and 1987.  Just last week, one of these kids, a young girl, lost in a game of around the world basketball shooting for the very first time in her life.  This child has the potential to be a basketball star in high school and could have a college basketball career if she continues to grow to the height of her mother.

When she lost to a very athletic boy a year older than her, I thought she was going to destroy the building and bring it down like Samson.  She blew her top and accused the boy of cheating, which he did not.  She tried to throw a punch at him, and this is a boy that she has grown up knowing for all of their lives, as they couldn’t be any closer if they were brother and sister.

The psychology of being wrong with giving every kid a trophy has moved to the other extreme where every child believes he or she is the best and expects to win all the time.  This can only be viewed in generalities, as the term “every child” really only means that the needle has moved from 60% trophy and 40% win all the time to 60% win all the time and 40% trophy.

That 20% swing has been murder on schools like Vanderbilt.  Whereas a couple dozen of the top recruits in America might have been interested in finding out more about playing football for one of the finest academic institutions in the world, because just playing would get them a trophy, and in the meantime, that great diploma would lead to riches outside of football, today, the top recruits want to play the minimum three years and head on to the NFL.  They want to win, win, win, and appear on national television week after week where they can in the near future sell their likeness for top dollar.  Going to a top university where they would have to study many nights past Midnight and then have to worry more about that exam coming up next week than the All-American defensive end coming at them on Saturday isn’t something that appeals to enough of the top recruits that there are any left for the Vanderbilt’s of the world once the Georgia’s of the world have signed up their allotments.

The next Vaughn, Pinkney, or Lipscomb will look elsewhere to attend college.  Why ruin your chance to play in the NFL, where the backup quarterback on top college teams can become starters in the NFL?  Vanderbilt will be lucky to recruit 15, 3-star players in 2021.

Look at the rest of the NCAA FBS teams that are academic first schools.  Northwestern, Rice, and Stanford are not enjoying great years either.  Duke is on a downward spiral.  When Vanderbilt was enjoying its brief peak several years back, Stanford was making regular appearances in New Year’s Day Bowl games.  Northwestern was winning the Big Ten, and even Rice was enjoying a 10-win season.   In the past, when Vanderbilt was suffering through 33 consecutive SEC losses, Northwestern was struggling with three total wins in six years.  Rice was bringing up the rear in the old Southwest Conference.  

Vanderbilt cannot compete in the SEC in football, and the academic reputation is priceless; allowing athletes that might struggle at the high school across the street from Vanderbilt (my alma mater–University School) to attend would just not be prudent.  

Coach Mason has done a credible job in six years keeping Vanderbilt in contention to go to a bowl and he has taken the Commodores to two bowl games.  In 60 years, Vandy has been to eight bowls.  Mason has defeated Tennessee three years in a row.  The last coach to beat the Vols three years in a row was Dan McGugin in the mid 1920’s.  No other Vanderbilt coach ever beat Tennessee three times in their tenure much less three times in succession.

My belief is that eventually, Vanderbilt will not be able to afford to finance a football program at the Power Five Conference level and maybe at the FBS level.  Even with the SEC annual paycheck, the program struggles to stay solvent.  When other conference rivals enjoy $100 million annual revenues, and they have profits from $25 to $75 million a year, Vanderbilt struggles to balance their athletic books.

Basketball requires three scholarships per year to field a team of 12 players.  Vanderbilt can find three basketball recruits per year and compete against other Division 1 programs.  Of course, Vanderbilt cannot discontinue their football program and play in the SEC in other sports.  The obvious solution is to either eliminate football and play Division 1 in other sports while searching for another conference; or drop to FCS football and join an FCS conference that does not allow scholarships, while playing Division 1 in all other sports; or as an extreme de-emphasize sports altogether and go to Division III in whatever sports they need to field.

Without a football program, the football stadium can be demolished, and the property can be put to a better use, one that just might help the university move into the one top 10 that really matters to the school–The US News and World Report Top Ten of American Colleges and Universities.

There is a perfect fit for Vanderbilt in the Southern Athletic Association.  Schools in the SAA include Centre, Sewanee, Rhodes, and Millsaps.  These schools also have about the same number of dedicated football fans as Vanderbilt.

 

The average Vanderbilt fan may counter that Tim Corbin has given the school the best baseball program in the nation.  Corbin can recruit #1 classes year after year just like John Calipari does in basketball.  Baseball is a different affair, as only 11.7 scholarships are offered and spread among 27 students.  SEC baseball teams lose money by six-figures per season.  The sport cannot finance the rest of the athletic program.

More importantly is the loud rumor coming from Baltimore.  The Orioles’ lease at Camden Yards expires after 2021.  The long-time owner, Peter Angelos, has passed the age of 90 and is no longer able to participate in the operation of the club.  His sons have been attempting to sell the team to a local ownership group, but none have offered a reasonable price to keep the Orioles in Baltimore and renew the lease at Camden Yards.  The City of Baltimore has seen considerable decay within a mile or so of the ballpark, and night games at Oriole Park have seen fewer and fewer fans risking coming to the games to see a 100-game loser.  The Dodgers left Brooklyn in 1957 partly because Flatbush was not that safe at night.

To fuel the rumor that the Orioles might consider relocating to Nashville for the 2022 season, John Angelos, the son operating the team, recently purchased a mansion in neighboring Williamson County near I-65.  There have been rumors coming from Baltimore since May that Nashville is definitely in play to become the new home of the Orioles in 2022 if no local baron or baroness comes forward to buy the team and keep it there.  

About that same time this news began to leak, a group of heavy hitters, including Tony LaRussa, Dave Stewart, former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, former Starbucks CEO and briefly Presidential candidate Howard Schultz, and others have created “Music City Baseball,” with a goal of bringing Major League Baseball to the Music City and to construct a retractable dome stadium capable of also hosting basketball’s Final Four, adjacent to the Titan’s Nissan Stadium.  Among others involved in Music City Baseball are Tim Corbin and Malcolm Turner.   MLB Commissioner Ron Manfred publicly stated at the 2018 All-Star Game that Nashville was one of the cities on a short list for a future Major League team, be it a relocated team or expansion team when the league expands to 32.  Manfred explicitly stated that solving the issue of the league’s teams that do not have stadium deals in the near future would take precedence over expansion.  At the time, he referred to the Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays, but now Baltimore can be added to that list. 

Oakland appeared to have its stadium issue finally solved, but recent developments have deep-sixed those plans, and the team does not have a plan in place for a new park.  The A’s could very well go with the Raiders to Las Vegas.  Tampa Bay is basically partially moving to Montreal and will play a good number of home games in Quebec.  This is a warning to the Tampa-St. Petersburg market, but the powers that be in West Florida are not listening.  The Rays will move to Montreal in the near future.

Manfred’s remaining short list cities after removing Vegas and Montreal are Portland, Nashville, and Charlotte.  If the Orioles move to Nashville, expansion teams can be placed in Portland and Charlotte, and the entire short-list mentioned by Manfred would get a team. The pieces fit in perfectly. 

If the Baltimore Orioles become the Nashville Orioles or Nashville Stars, Tim Corbin will no longer remain as head baseball coach at Vanderbilt.  He will be part of the management with the Major League team.  Malcolm Turner, recently the highly successful Commissioner of the NBA G-League, could easily slide into an upper management position or even become part of the Major League Baseball Front Office. 

It is time to move Vanderbilt’s Doomsday Clock to two minutes before Midnight.  The next five years may decide whether that clock strikes 12 or if Turner can perform miracles worthy of Sainthood and turn the clock back 60 years.

October 4, 2019

PiRate Ratings Special Money Line Play(s)

Last week, our special money line parlays delivered mixed results.  If you chose to play Duke and Baylor in your upset parlay, you enjoyed a nice bonanza.  If you added or chose Kansas State or Indiana, then your imaginary investment was shredded.

We did not issue any money line parlay picks in our regular weekly picks yesterday.  We decided to save them for this post.  We just want to stress that these selections are totally off the wall long shots at odds of better than +150.  In other words, they are not likely to win, even though they always look handsome on paper.

We have chosen three college parlays and one NFL parlay this week.  Take a look.

 

Money Line Parlay #1  Odds: +160

San Diego State over Colorado State

UAB over Rice

Texas over West Virginia

Miami (Fla.) over Virginia Tech

 

 

Money Line Parlay #2  Odds: +162

Auburn over Florida

North Carolina over Georgia Tech

Maryland over Rutgers

 

 

Money Line Parlay #3  Odds: +198

Colorado over Arizona

Eastern Michigan over Central Michigan

Oklahoma State over Texas Tech

 

 

Money Line Parlay #4  Odds: +230

Chicago over Oakland

New Orleans over Tampa Bay

LA Chargers over Denver

 

 

August 24, 2019

A Great Compromise For The NFL

Filed under: Pro Football — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 5:47 am

As Week Three of the NFL Preseason continues today, the hot topic among the NFL teams, media, and fans is the preseason itself.  Four preseason games are definitely too many in the 21st Century.  With mini-camps and organized team activities, NFL football does not need more than a month of preseason preparing for the regular season.

At one time, NFL teams played six preseason games and then played a 12-game regular season.  It expanded to six preseason and 14 regular season games in 1961 (1960 in the American Football League).  When the NFL schedule expanded to 16 games in 1979, the preseason shortened to the four games we have now.  So, this current formula has been in place for 40 years.

The owners believe that any reduction in preseason games should be accompanied by an increase in regular season games.  The players don’t believe an 18-game regular season schedule is such a good idea, as injuries are considerably more prevalent the more games they play.  With an 18-game regular season, some players will play 22 regular season games if they make the Super Bowl as a Wildcard.

Obviously, the NFL owners will not agree to removing two preseason games with no extra regular season games.  The players may not agree on the 18-game schedule either.

Here’s our compromise proposal.  Remove two preseason games, which means just one home game per team, and replace it with just one extra regular season games.  That means the regular season would be 17 games.  How could we favor an odd number of games, since that would mean half the league would play nine home games and the other half eight.  Wouldn’t that give the half with nine home games a big advantage?

That’s not what we are proposing.  What we propose is that this 17th game would be played at a neutral site.  There are many excellent college football venues and bowl sites that do not host NFL football.  How would a Dallas-Houston game at the University of Texas play in Austin?  What about the Steelers and Eagles playing at Penn State in Happy Valley?  Or, consider the Carolina Panthers and Cincinnati Bengals playing at the University of Tennessee’s Neyland Stadium?

Opening pro football to all these other markets would grow the brand nationally like playing in London has internationally.  Games in London, Madrid, Paris, Rome, and Munich could be schedules as neutral site games rather than home games.  The NFL could add Mexico City, Honolulu, Tokyo, and Melbourne to its regular season schedule.

What would be done with the extra week of the season when the schedule reduced from 20 different weeks to 19?  Throw in a second bye week for every team and construct schedules that give teams an off week following their neutral site game.

If this plan were put in place, the NFL season would begin tomorrow, Sunday, August 25.

September 26, 2017

PiRate Ratings NFL Forecast For Week 4: September 28-October 2, 2017

Filed under: Pro Football — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 6:20 am

This Week’s PiRate Ratings Spreads

Home Visitor PiRate Mean Bias Totals
Green Bay Chicago 10.8 11.4 10.6 46
Miami (London) New Orleans -3.0 -1.8 -3.6 52
New England Carolina 9.5 10.8 9.1 49
Dallas LA Rams 15.7 14.6 15.8 44
Minnesota Detroit 1.1 0.4 1.4 43
Houston Tennessee -0.1 0.1 -0.1 41
N. Y. Jets Jacksonville -2.5 -3.2 -2.5 43
Cleveland Cincinnati -1.2 -1.3 -1.0 37
Baltimore Pittsburgh -1.5 -1.7 -0.8 41
Atlanta Buffalo 10.3 9.5 10.4 53
Tampa Bay N. Y. Giants 3.7 2.8 4.5 38
LA Chargers Philadelphia 1.8 2.5 0.9 48
Arizona San Francisco 10.1 10.6 10.0 49
Denver Oakland 2.2 1.1 2.7 46
Seattle Indianapolis 9.1 8.9 8.7 44
Kansas City Washington 8.1 8.5 8.2 47

This Week’s PiRate Ratings

Current NFL PiRate Ratings
A F C
East PiRate Mean Bias Avg Totals
New England 105.7 106.4 105.5 105.8 24
Buffalo 98.6 99.0 99.0 98.9 22
Miami 97.6 97.7 97.1 97.5 21
N. Y. Jets 92.9 92.5 92.9 92.8 19
           
North PiRate Mean Bias Avg Totals
Pittsburgh 104.6 105.0 104.3 104.7 22
Baltimore 101.2 101.3 101.5 101.3 19
Cincinnati 97.6 98.0 97.6 97.8 16
Cleveland 94.4 94.8 94.7 94.6 21
           
South PiRate Mean Bias Avg Totals
Tennessee 101.2 101.3 100.7 101.1 25
Houston 98.1 98.4 97.7 98.1 16
Jacksonville 98.0 98.2 97.9 98.0 24
Indianapolis 95.4 95.7 95.1 95.4 25
           
West PiRate Mean Bias Avg Totals
Kansas City 105.5 105.6 106.0 105.7 21
Oakland 104.3 104.8 104.0 104.4 26
Denver 103.5 102.8 103.8 103.4 20
LA Chargers 99.5 99.1 99.4 99.3 25
           
N F C
East PiRate Mean Bias Avg Totals
Dallas 104.2 103.3 104.3 104.0 24
Philadelphia 101.2 100.1 102.0 101.1 23
Washington 100.4 100.1 100.8 100.4 26
N.Y. Giants 99.4 99.6 99.1 99.4 15
           
North PiRate Mean Bias Avg Totals
Detroit 102.4 103.2 102.4 102.7 24
Green Bay 102.6 103.3 102.1 102.7 26
Minnesota 100.5 100.6 100.8 100.6 19
Chicago 94.2 94.5 94.0 94.2 20
           
South PiRate Mean Bias Avg Totals
Atlanta 105.9 105.5 106.4 105.9 31
New Orleans 100.6 99.5 100.8 100.3 31
Tampa Bay 100.2 99.4 100.6 100.1 23
Carolina 99.2 98.5 99.3 99.0 25
           
West PiRate Mean Bias Avg Totals
Seattle 101.0 101.1 100.3 100.8 19
Arizona 99.4 99.6 99.1 99.4 24
San Francisco 92.2 92.1 92.1 92.1 25
LA Rams 91.5 91.7 91.5 91.6 20

Our Official Statement on the Current Situation in the NFL

Neither side is right and neither side is wrong.  There is too much black and white in this world, and this is no different.  Life should not be an either or situation on everything that exists, but the human race has not evolved enough to get past this fact.

The problem is that neither side understands tactfulness, maturity, diplomacy, and statesmanship.  Maybe, consultants have advised the two factions to reduce the problem to childlike fighting, and that is sad if the populace can only understand issues when reduced to a childlike mentality.

Nevertheless, the problem is that an entertaining three-hour escape from the stress of the real world has now been altered into just another stressful afternoon.  The 6 members of the PiRate Ratings have decided that the situation has eliminated the needed escape that  NFL Football provided us–up to 56 years for our oldest contributor.  Thus, on Sunday, none of us attended or viewed a game.  Tickets went unused at Lambeau Field, LP Field, and U.S. Bank Stadium.  A fouth stadium, Firstenergy in Cleveland, will join this list this week.  As best as we can estimate, this is the first time since sometime in 1963 that at least once of us has failed to watch an NFL game.

We have received more emails than we can respond to this week, and we will refrain from giving out the email address for now, because it will take a couple weeks to reply to all of them.  But, it is obvious that you our reader are more than likely to stop watching and attending than to watch or attend.  Actually, we have yet to receive an email in support of the players, and we can only surmise that some of you that did not send us a message are still watching.

Feel free to comment in the comment section of this entry.  If you refrain from profanity and comment in a civil and intelligent manner, your comment will be accepted.  We will censor any profanity or below-the-belt comments.  We are a scientific/mathematic website more interested in the numbers than the individuals on either side of this issue.

For those that have not seen this unaltered, here are the exact words of the 1st Amendment of the Bill of Rights.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Why The Ratings Drop Does Matter

We have heard  many apologists proclaim that the drastic TV ratings drop had little or nothing to do with the current situation between the two opposing sides.  We have seen excuses such as “The Emmy Awards aired opposite SNF,” and “It was Oprah’s Debut on 60 Minutes.”

There is one telltale sign that tends to make us believe these apologies are off the mark.  While the ratings for the football games have dropped off the table, the ratings for the pre-game shows are actually up.  People are tuning in to the pre-game in greater numbers and then switching channels or turning the TV off before the kickoff.  This is a definite sign that the league has alienated a large number of fans, or maybe we should say former fans.  Turning the channel or turning off the TV in the middle of a time slot is considered a bigger deal than doing so at the top or bottom of the hour when programs change.  As a former journalist in radio and television, our founder understands the implications in local news when the ratings change during the weather segment or sports segment.

 

June 20, 2017

The PiRate Ratings Are Hard At Work

Welcome back gridiron fans.  The PiRates are back at sea working hard on getting their treasure for the 2017-18 season.

There will be a few tweaks to the formulas this season as we refine our ratings to make them as accurate as possible, and we are excited about it.

Tweak #1: Our first tweak involves increasing the alteration of each college football teams’ rate of adjustment as it applies to depth concerns.  If a team is stacked two-deep with talent, they should be able to endure a long, hard season.  But, if the team is only good in their starting lineup, and they lack the depth, they will weaken as the season goes on.  Consider two teams, State and Tech.  State and Tech are about equal in talent in their starting lineups, and on August 25, they are exactly the same in power rating.  For the sake of argument, let’s say they both look like 9-3 teams in a power 5 conference and have identical ratings of 118.0.

In the month of September, State and Tech both go 4-0 over similar competition, and their statistics show that they are still basically the same in talent and results.  Both teams ratings go up, but State’s go up a tad more than Tech’s, due to the depth issue.  Through four games, it won’t be all that much, and now on the First Monday in October, State is now 122.5, and Tech is 121.8.

In October, State and Tech both go 3-1 to sit at 7-1 with four games to go.  Both teams have lost some key players by now, but State has plugged in able second-teamers to fill the spots, while Tech has been forced to go with talent not up to Power 5 conference standards.  State’s wins have been a little easier, and their loss was much closer than Tech’s wins and loss.  Now, State has a rating of 123.1, while Tech has fallen a bit to 119.5.

In November, State finishes strong, going 3-1 to finish the regular season at 10-2.  Tech falters going 1-3 to finish 8-4.

We see this every year.  We believe we can factor in this depth issue into our ratings before the season begins, and we can adjust the rate of adjustment during the season as a team sees key players leave the lineup.  It also works in reverse; a team may have a blessing of several new underclassmen beginning to contribute.

Look at Georgia in 1980.  Hershel Walker was a true freshman.  In the second half of the season opener against Tennessee, Coach Vince Dooley inserted Walker into the game with the Bulldogs trailing by double-digits, and Walker turned the game around in his first 10 carries.  Georgia won the game, and Walker led the Bulldogs to an undefeated National Championship.  Had this new twist of our ratings been in effect then, The Bulldogs might have improved by an unprecedented 10 points between game one and game two.  As it was then, it took several weeks until Georgia’s rating really reflected their power, all because of one freshman.

This can just as easily happen to an average team that loses a couple of key players.  There have been instances when a team has lost a dozen key players by the end of October.  If it is Alabama, the Crimson Tide might be five points weaker than they would have been with the dozen players still healthy.  But, if it is Iowa State, the Cyclones might be 15 points weaker with the loss of these dozen players.

Going back to the unexpected bonanza, what if a team has five or six redshirt freshmen that have displaced upperclassmen in the starting lineup?  Obviously, this team must now be better talent-wise if starters have been replaced  (unless the coach has thrown in the towel on the season and is looking to the future).  What started as a so-so season may continue as a better season because the surprising advancement of the freshmen has made this team a touchdown better than it was earlier in the season.

The PiRate Ratings will adjust for this during the season by increasing or decreasing the adjustment rate of the teams after each Saturday.  Because the PiRate Ratings always show a total average of 100.0, that means teams might lose ground in the ratings after a good game, because other teams now earn more bonus for their play on the field.  It will be a work in progress, but in the end, we believe it will lead to more accurate ratings.

 

Tweak #2: Our basketball ratings have always been Four Factors-based.  We have three different algorithms using the Four Factors Data.  Football also has its factors.  In fact, in football, there are five factors.  They are, in order of importance: Explosiveness, Efficiency, Field Position, Finishing Drives, and Turnovers.   You can find excellent content online about these factors–some explain in detail like a thesis, while others give you a quick outline.

For our purposes, we have changed how we use the box scores of the games in our updating formula.  We will look more at Explosiveness and Efficiency when we update the teams’ ratings every week.  Additionally, we will keep an unpublished running score on how consistent teams are in being able to move the ball and stop the movement of the other team.  Which leads us to our big breakthrough for 2017-18.

Big Breakthrough

Have you ever noticed that over the course of an era, a team may celebrate a national championship or conference championship when they appear to not be as good as prior teams or soon see future teams that look better but do not win the championship?  You have probably seen that a really good team goes 10-2 or 11-1 and demolishes most of their opponents but suffered a terrible upset.  Then, that team runs the table but wins most of their games by nice amounts but by no means blowouts.

Think of a team that wins 55-17 and 38-10 or something similar for most of the season and then falls 31-27 to a mediocre team.  This team leads the nation in total offense or scoring defense, but they always fall a game short of the accomplishment.  But, then along comes a season where this school wins 31-20, 27-14 or something similar and runs the table.  They finish well down in total offense and near the top in scoring defense, but they go undefeated.

We have seen this happen multiple times in the last 30 years.  The dominating team is not as consistent as the team that went undefeated, and in three out of 10 games, the less consistent power may be two touchdowns better than the undefeated champion.  However, 70% of the time, the undefeated champion will be better than the dominating team.

The PiRates have tried to assign value or lack of value to the consistency of a team, but this is something that takes a good sampling of games.  This adjustment will be used in November after all teams have played 2/3 of their regular season schedule.  By then, we should have a grasp of what teams are staying consistent, and what teams are all over the map.  We will not adjust their ratings, because you never know if your inconsistent team will deviate 14 points above their rating or 14 points below.  What we will do is search for consistency when we select our Money Line plays.  We might be crazy, because we are coming off two consecutive profitable Money Line seasons (just for fun and not real wagering), so we might be cutting off our noses to spite our faces.

Enjoy your summer.  Football season will be here before you know it.  The PiRates are actually ahead of schedule this year with their college football updates, and we should have enough time to expand our preseason coverage this year.

December 28, 2016

PiRate Ratings Money Line Parlay Picks–January 1, 2017

Due to the debut of our college basketball coverage on Thursday, we are issuing our parlay selections a day early this week.

After losing both long shot parlays last week, our profit for the season has fallen to just 9% for the season, but unless we go crazy and take too many illogical selections in the playoffs, the PiRates are guaranteed of having a second consecutive profitable year.

Once again, we are shunning the college bowl games, as there are too many intangibles in these games.  However, in Week 17 of the NFL season, you have a host of teams with nothing to gain or lose, and some teams can actually lose by winning–as their draft status could be damaged.

One team that will most likely end up with one of the worst five records, the Los Angeles Rams, actually cannot help their draft status by losing to Arizona.  The Rams gave up their first pick to the Tennessee Titans in order to move up to the top of the last draft and take Jared Goff.

Cleveland can upset Pittsburgh and then lose the top pick in the draft if Seattle beats San Francisco.  It is our opinion that Browns Analytics’ gurus, Sashi Brown and Paul DePodesta, will invest the top pick in a package to another team to receive multiple picks, as no one superstar is going to turn Cleveland around in 2017.  Cleveland needs a franchise quarterback, but there really is no clear cut prospect out there that is a sure future star.  The Browns could increase their picks to double digits like last year, and they could still pick up a potentially good Mason Rudolph or even possibly DeShaun Watson or Brad Kaaya in the last part of the first round.

There are a handful of games this week where one team has everything to play for while the other team has nothing to play for.  The Money Lines reflect that in their odds, so we won’t actually receive added benefits by selecting these games.  However, it figures that these teams will be trying harder to win, while the oppositions’ players may be trying to avoid injury in meaningless games.

Therefore, we go with just one parlay this week, using three teams that have everything to gain by winning playing against teams that have nothing to play for hurting their draft order.

1. NFL Parlay at +159
Atlanta over New Orleans
Washington over N. Y. Giants
Kansas City over San Diego

Atlanta will be playing for a first round bye in this early game.  The Saints have nothing to play for, and Drew Brees may see limited action in this game.

The New York Giants cannot afford to risk injuries to key players in a game in which they will be the number five seed no matter what happens.  However, the Redskins must win to get into the playoffs.

Kansas City needs to win and then root for Denver to beat Oakland in order for the Chiefs to win the AFC West and wrap up a bye.  Because Oakland plays Denver at the same time that KC will play SD, the Chiefs will begin this game knowing they have a chance.  Hopefully, if Oakland does beat Denver, it will be a game in which the outcome is not decided until long after the Chiefs have dominated the Chargers.

We are not issuing a choice in the Detroit-Green Bay game.  The winner of this game will take the NFC North and get a wildcard round game at home.  The loser will either be out of the playoffs (if Washington wins earlier in the day) or in the playoffs as the #6 seed (if Washington loses.)  Because we will not know until the conclusion of the Giants-Redskins game what impact it will have on this game, we will not use it in our selection.   Some of you that like to go for broke and make a major payday on one long shot might consider adding the red hot Packers into the selection and raising the Parlay Payout to better than +200.

Some of you also might like looking at a single play in the Houston-Tennessee game.  There is nothing on the line here, but Tennessee will be too one dimensional with its running game, as Matt Cassel cannot run like the injured Marcus Mariota.  Cassel is not the best at using the play-action pass, so the Texans’ defense will most likely limit the Titans’ running game and then win in an ugly, low-scoring game.

 

 

September 14, 2016

PiRate Ratings Money Line Parlay Picks–September 15-19, 2016

Our second week of parlay picks performed little better than the first week.  We chose five parlays at better than even money odds, and we only hit on one of them at +131.  It was the Baltimore over Buffalo and Green Bay over Jacksonville parlay that won.

For the season, we have put $700 in imaginary bankroll up for money line parlay investment, and we have won just $131 while losing $600 for a net of $-469.  Ugh, but at least we still have the same amount of real $$$, since this is just for fun.

Because, it is just for fun, we have another $500 in imaginary dough ready to put on the non-existent line this week.  Once again, as we like to always play parlays with better than even money odds, all five picks will pay back more than the $100 investment if they win.

Before we get to this week’s picks, we have been asked by a handful of you where we get our odds.  This is a  multiple part response.  First, we do not use just one sports book to find our odds.  We shop for the best odds we can get on each parlay, so one parlay might be with one book, while another parlay might be with another one.  All of our fake selections come from easily playable online sports books, plus Las Vegas.  It appears that some of you from Vegas read our parlay selections every week, and we can only imagine how peeved you must be, even though we begged many times for readers here not to use these selections.

As for the actual odds, you can figure these out yourselves with an easy but time-consuming process, but why do this, when you can find parlay calculators online?

For those math geeks like us that must know how to do it, here goes:

Let’s look at a 3-team parlay of favorites at -150, -180, and -200.  First we find the decimal divider for figuring the multiplier.  So, we take each number (150, 180, and 200).  You divide your total payout of winning by the amount risked.  We are always risking $100 on every parlay, so this becomes easier.  at -150, we win 100 for every 150 or 1 for every .667.  The decimal multiplier would then be the reward (.667) + the risk (1), or 1.667

For -180, we win 100 for every 180 invested or one for every .556.  The decimal multiplier would then be (.556 + 1) 1.556

For -200, we win 100 for every 200 invested or one for every .5.  The decimal multiplier would then be (.5 + 1) 1.5

Now, multiply the three decimal multipliers (1.667, 1.556, and 1.5).  The answer to this is 3.89.

Now, we subtract 1 for the risk invested and we get 2.89.  If we wager $100 on this parlay, and it wins, we will be paid $289.

 

Let’s say you are feeling strong about two underdogs winning outright.  The Money Lines are listed at +120 and +150.  This is easier to calculate.  If you play at +120 you are putting up 100 to win 120, and the multiplier decimal is 2.2 (1+1.2).  The +150 multiplier decimal is 2.5 (1+1.5), and when you multiply 2.2 by 2.5, you get 5.5.  Subtract the 1 for the risk, and you get 4.5.  For every $100 you wager on this parlay, you would win $450 if the two underdogs won outright.

Once again, you can find a parlay calculator online that will do this for you.

Here are our parlays for this week

Parlay #1: +142

Rutgers over New Mexico

Texas over California

Nevada over Buffalo

We are playing some angles here.  New Mexico lost to rival New Mexico State and now must go on the road to a so-so Big Ten team that lost at a ranked Washington team and won a cakewalk game last week.

We feel that Texas can play smash mouth football against Cal and wear their weak defense down.  Even though the game is in Berkeley, Texas has more muscle and speed than San Diego State who beat the Golden Bears last week.

Buffalo has to travel over 2,00o miles to Reno after beginning the season with a loss to an FCS opponent.  Nevada fared okay at Notre Dame last week, and the Wolfpack will have a bit of added confidence.  Going up against a slower offense and defense will do for the Nevada what two bats being swung does for a batter in the on-deck circle.

 

Parlay #2 +130

Virginia Tech over Boston College

Western Kentucky over Miami (O)

Oklahoma St. over Pittsburgh

Boston College really struggles to score points.  The Eagles’ defense is really good, but it will be on the field too much in Blacksburg.  The Hokies may be a little hungover this week following the big game, but their defense is almost as good as BC’s, and almost as good facing BC’s offense and playing on home turf is enough for VT to win.

Western Kentucky did a better job against Alabama at Bryant Denny Stadium than USC did against the Tide at AT&T Stadium.  Miami of Ohio is still a couple years of improvement away before the Red Hawks can think there is a chance to go to a bowl.  The Hilltoppers should win this game by at least 17 points.

I would not want to be the Alabama or Ohio State and have to play Oklahoma State in Stillwater this week.  The players are mad as hatters.  The coach is madder.  Add the obvious letdown by the Panthers after beating Penn State at home, and we would not be surprised if OSU wins by 20 or more points.

 

Parlay #3 +147

Utah St. over Arkansas St.

Central Michigan over UNLV

Texas Tech over Louisiana Tech

Alabama over Ole Miss

Arkansas State appears to be weaker than thought in the preseason, when the Sun Belt media gurus thought they would contend with Appy State for the conference crown.  They are 0-2, but it is a sneaky 0-2.  Losses to Auburn and Toledo doesn’t make ASU bad.  Playing at Utah St. gives the Aggies a greater than normal home field advantage.  USU never challenged USC last week, so this is a chance for the Aggies to rebound and bounce back.

Central Michigan must now be considered a contender for the NY6 Bowl bid.  A road win over a top 20 team, even if mistakes were made by the referees, is worth more than Houston’s win at hometown NRG Stadium over Oklahoma.  The Chippewas know they must win every week, and they have a tough conference schedule ahead with Western Michigan, Toledo, and Northern Illinois, plus the must-win game at Virginia next week.  CMU might be looking ahead to the Cavaliers next week, and that worries us a bit, because UNLV is not chopped liver like they have been in recent seasons.  The Rebels could end CMU’s quest for the Fiesta.  Still, we are going with CMU to win, maybe just by not as comfortable a margin as we would hope.

How many points will be scored in Lubbock this week?  How about 90 or more?  Texas Tech and Arizona State played to a basketball score last week, and the Red Raiders return home to face a somewhat weaker opponent.  It might be a nervous Nellie game, but we believe TTU wins 52-38.

Would you like to have a chance to beat Alabama three years in a row when the Tide was undefeated and ranked in the top 5?  Alabama has been ranked #2 and #3 the last two years when Ole Miss defeated the Tide.  The Tide will turn this week, and Alabama will get two years worth of revenge.  Nick Saban and staff has parsed every play of Florida State’e second half against the Rebels, and it would shock us less if ‘Bama wins by 35 or more than Ole Miss winning a third time in a row.

 

Parlay #4 +132

Penn St. over Temple

Marshall over Akron

Stanford over USC

Utah over San Jose St.

Must we say what happens if Temple goes into Happy Valley and tops Penn State after the Nittany Lions lost to Pitt last week?  The seat of James Franklin would become hot enough to make fried rice.  Temple is weaker than last year, but apparently so is Penn State, or at best they are on par with last year.  We believe the game could be ugly, but the big guys have to win, and they will.

Marshall looked fantastic as the Thundering Herd was the only FBS team to debut their season last week.  Akron had a tough week at Wisconsin, and the Badgers’ muscle guys probably left the Zips bumped and bruised.  We believe they won’t feel better after visiting Doc Holliday, as the Herd runs over the Zips.

Stanford had an extra week to prepare for USC, and teams tend to improve the most between game one and game two.  The Cardinal offense should put up about 25-30 points while holding the Trojans under 20.

Utah visits San Jose a little later in the evening than the Stanford game up the road, but you cannot go to both games and see them in full.  You might be able to see half of each one if you speed on down 280 or the Central Expressway.  The Spartans are one of those teams you worry about, but Utah is a solid team that plays well every week–never spectacular, but much like Wisconsin.  We’ll take the Utes.

 

Parlay #5 +120

Detroit Lions over Tennessee Titans

New England Patriots over Miami Dolphin

Carolina over San Francisco

Until Tennessee actually wins a game this year, we will select their opponents most weeks.  The Titans look to us to be even weaker than Cleveland without RG3.  Truth be told, if Josh McCown has anything left in his old legs, Cleveland may be a tad better.  The Titans have great difficulty spreading the field vertically with a bunch of distance horses and no speed horses.  Marcus Mariota is not good enough to make average receivers look like Peyton Manning made Dallas Clark.  The running game would be terrific if the passing game was even average, and the defense does not scare many people.  Matthew Stafford and company should have a fun Sunday.

New England is at home facing Miami.  Jimmy Garappolo wasn’t Tom Brady the Second, but he was at least as good as Matt Cassel 2008.  Miami’s defense may be considerably better than last year’s version, but can their offense keep up with the Patriots’ offense?  We say no way.

Carolina has everything in their favor for the last game in this parlay.  The Panthers played Thursday night, while the 49ers played four days later in a rivalry game that had been waiting for 22 years.  San Francisco must travel from one coast to another across three time zones, and they will face hot and humid conditions on Sunday with a chance of storms.  Unless Cam Newton suffers some ill effects from the illegal hits in the opener, we believe Carolina wins by double digits.

 

***** Warning *****

Remember, do not use these just for fun picks as real investment advice.  We are out nothing for the unsatisfactory results so far.  Don’t be a fool who is soon parted from his/her money.

Past results do not necessarily reflect future success.  Even if we finished 2015 with a 40% ROI, there is no legitimate reason to expect we will ever get on the plus side of 0 this year.

May 11, 2016

2016 NFL Draft Grades

Filed under: Pro Football — Tags: , , , , — piratings @ 8:24 am

We here at the PiRate Ratings are already hard at work updating our college and pro football ratings for the start of the 2016 season.

One of our most time-taking tasks is to grade the NFL Draft every May.  Unlike the mass media, where they aspire to come up with draft grades on the spot, we believe that there is only one way to possibly grade the draft before any players ever suit up on an NFL field.

For our purposes, the NFL Draft is no different than recruiting is for college football.  We can grade each player as a 1 to 5-star player.  Then, we can look at each team and speculate whether each player will contribute to each team in week 1 of the 2016 season.  That is all that matters for our purposes, because we are attempting to begin the season with the most accurate point rating for each of the 32 NFL teams.

Therefore, when you see the mass media claim that one team aced the draft because they picked up some great players, but none of these players are expected to be major contributors in Week 1, we may not have that team’s draft rated the same way.  Also, if a weak 2015 team now has 2 or 3 new starters thanks to the draft, then it reasons that this team has satisfied needs in a better way than most other teams.

Also, it goes without saying that just about all 32 teams make themselves more talented each year after drafting players, as they plug in better players for what they have released.  Sometimes, a team can be weaker, like when they lose great talent for a variety of reasons, and the new talent is not as talented or experienced.  However, in most years at least 30 teams improve their overall talent from the draft (and from free agency).  Therefore, a team may be rated dead last in draft grades yet still be improved from the year before.  Thus, draft grading is more of a task where we grade the level of improvement in power rating.

It also should be understood that from a draft standpoint, the actual point improvement between the most improved team and team number 32 is minimal, maybe as little as three points.

Here are our 32 numerical grades for the 2016 NFL Draft.

2016 NFL Draft Score Sheet
# Team Grade
1 Jacksonville 4.8
2 Cincinnati 4.2
3 Chicago 4.2
4 Baltimore 4.2
5 Buffalo 4.0
6 Washington 4.0
7 Indianapolis 3.9
8 San Diego 3.8
9 Tennessee 3.8
10 Seattle 3.7
11 Oakland 3.6
12 N. Y. Giants 3.6
13 New Orleans 3.6
14 Miami 3.5
15 Denver 3.5
16 Green Bay 3.5
17 Los Angeles 3.5
18 Houston 3.3
19 San Francisco 3.3
20 Kansas City 3.2
21 Philadelphia 3.2
22 Arizona 3.2
23 Pittsburgh 3.1
24 Minnesota 3.1
25 N. Y. Jets 3.0
26 Cleveland 2.9
27 Dallas 2.9
28 Tampa Bay 2.9
29 Detroit 2.8
30 New England 2.7
31 Atlanta 2.6
32 Carolina 2.0

The difference in actual pointspread value between #1 Jacksonville and #32 Carolina is a mere 2.8 points.  That will affect the game outcomes very negligibly this year.  Of course, there are many other factors used in determining our initial ratings for the teams.  The draft score is just one tiny variable, but it is also one of the most entertaining parts of our rating compilation.  We doubt you would care about reading a post dealing with how age affects pass blocking abilities of offensive lines, or how a new defensive line coach might affect how efficient a pass rush might be compared to the year before.

Most importantly, remember that all of the stuff we do is useful to us only for the next week of scheduled games.  After every team plays game 1, all this work we compile quickly becomes obsolete, replaced by actual game results.

We look forward to your continued support.  Our initial 2016 college ratings should debut around August 10-15, with one conference per day.  Our NFL ratings will follow the release of our college ratings.

 

January 18, 2016

PiRate Ratings NFL Conference Championship Preview

Filed under: Pro Football — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 3:07 pm

Note: We will have computer simulations for the two Conference Championship games on Friday.

This Week’s Games
         
Week Number: Conference Championships      
Date of Games: 24-Jan    
         
Home Visitor PiRate Mean Bias
Denver New England -0.1 0.1 1.2
Carolina Arizona 2.5 3.3 3.8

January 2, 2016

PiRate Ratings Selections For NFL Week 17–January 3, 2016

Week 17 often can be a tough puzzle to solve in the NFL.  Which teams that have clinched a playoff spot might fail to show up?  Which teams that have clinched a losing season have already mentally begun their off-season?  How important is getting the #5 seed or #3 seed compared to the #6 seed of #4 seed if a team has already clinched a playoff spot?  Will a certain team already know their fate when they kick off in the 4:25 PM game due to what happened in a 1:00 PM game?

 

This and many other variables come into play when looking at the last game of the year.  added to the difficulty this year is that multiple teams still playing for something do not have a legitimate NFL starting quarterback healthy enough to play.  They are going to play their most important game of the year with what could be called a replacement player.  Can these teams win by running the ball 70% of the time?

 

The other predicament we have is trying to play the money line parlays by avoiding any chance of going .500 and losing money.  That basically means picking three different parlays, and we have been making hay by choosing parlays with odds of better than even money.  There are 15 games with money lines this week, so in order to pick three parlays with better than even money odds, we had to dig deep and make selections in 2/3 of the games in order to get those parlays.

 

Since there will be little chance to find value in the playoff games, this will be our final week of parlays.  They have done rather well with a return on investment of 50.82% through today.  We are hoping to close out on a high note and keep that ROI over 50%.

Straight Selection

1/3/2016      
Favorite Underdog Line Our Pick
New York Jets Buffalo 2 New York Jets

Money Line Parlays

Money Line Parlay 3 Teams at 1.74 to 1   $274 Payout on $100
Favorite Underdog   Must Win
New York Jets Buffalo   New York Jets
Pittsburgh Cleveland   Pittsburgh
Arizona Seattle   Arizona

 

Money Line Parlay 4 Teams at 1.77 to 1   $277 Payout on $100
Favorite Underdog   Must Win
New England Miami   New England
Houston Jacksonville   Houston
Kansas City Oakland   Kansas City
Denver San Diego   Denver

 

Money Line Parlay 3 Teams at 1.91 to 1   $291 Payout on $100
Favorite Underdog   Must Win
Carolina Tampa Bay   Carolina
New York Giants Philadelphia   New York Giants
Green Bay Minnesota   Green Bay

 

 

 

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