Making the NUMB3RS Work

In his weekly recruiting column, Dudley E. Dawson writes about how Arkansas and other SEC teams are gathering more commits than they have letters-of-intents, but somehow the "NUMB3RS" all work out in the end. This story is sponsored by the Arkansas Toyota Dealers. It's free and so is a special offer to attend a Razorback event on the Arkansas Toyota Dealers website. Click on a banner for details.

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Since HBO's The Sopranos and Entourage, FX's The Shield and ABC's Lost don't have any new episodes out right now, my favorite TV show that does not have CSI somewhere in the title is the CBS drama NUMB3RS.

For those of you who haven't watched it, NUMB3RS is about FBI agent Don Epps and his highly-intelligent brother Charlie, a college professor who somehow manages to use math to help his brother take down the bad guys.

Be it Markov Chains, Bayesian Probabilities, Areas of Optimization or just your basic Algorithms, the case always gets solved with a little help from math.

I bring this up simply for two reasons: 1) somebody might get a kick out of a sports writer writing about math in terms other than ERA or batting average and 2) maybe one of these things will help me understand recruiting math.

You see NCAA rules dictate college football coaches can only give out 25 scholarships per year – this year on Wednesday, Feb. 7.

Yet routinely, these coaches will go above and in some cases way beyond 25 commitments – hence the recruiting math.

Ole Miss coach head Ed Orgeron – obviously a master of this new figuring – had 33 commitments last season and has 26 right now.

Sylvester Croom has 31 he calls his own already at Mississippi State. South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier has racked in 30.

Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt has 25 of his own – and has shown before he can take more than the allotted number and make it work.

Perhaps the Riemann Hypothesis would work here. Or would Prime Number Theorem come into play?

Obviously I don't really know, but when else I am going to be able to toss those kind of terms out?

What I do know is that as the deadline approached for this column to be done, Arkansas was setting on 25 commitments and doesn't appear to be slowing down.

In fact, the Fibonacci Sequence and Golden Ratio – look it up and see if I am joking around or not - could very well come into play here if Arkansas gets up to as high as 31.

I say 31 because it appears the Razorbacks would still take commitments from a half-dozen difference makers such as Alabama defensive end Damario Ambrose (6-5, 250), Hargrave Military Academy offensive lineman Kareem Crowell (6-5, 215), Little Rock Central star Charles Clay (6-4, 2123), cornerbacks Terry Carter (5-11, 170) and William Cole (5-10, 170) and Osceola wideout Cameron Baker (6-0, 170).

Maybe even Blinn Junior College defensive end Alex Cook (6-5, 225) would land here as well – especially if current commit Chavis Williams ends up elsewhere after his recent flirtations with Alabama and Auburn.

Of course odds are Arkansas won't run the table and thus have to figure out how to get 31 or 32 into 25.

Also there are some on that list that will no doubt have to matriculate to junior college or prep school first.

Past that point, a simple Principal Components Analysis would be needed or maybe once the letters-of-intent have actually arrived, a Statistical Textual Analysis can be performed to determined who gets in and who doesn't.

It's all about Pursuit Curves anyway – aiming ahead and getting there before the other coach does.

One thing is definitely for certain. How this football program continues to improve will certainly be all about fluid dynamics - basically navigating the water no matter what kind of turbulence shall arise.

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