Future Of College Football

This will be the first of a series of commentaries analyzing the future of college football in every facet. High school scouting, positional measurements, and advanced play by play stats may just be the difference in the future of turning a Texas State into an Alabama.

When will Texas State become the team that sells out Bobcat Stadium 6 Saturdays a year? When will they see their first modern day bowl win? These are the two questions that must haunt Bobcat fans. We want answers. Where we begin is the same place that the Oakland A's started.

Moneyball was a good film, yes. But it was very little about Jonah Hill getting an Academy Award Nominee and more about team efficiency. Once they established the metric for the efficiency of the total team, they were able to break the statistic down to how much a single player contributes to that stat. This has been the most groundbreaking statistical advancement in modern sports, so why hasn't such a method been recreated for football?

There's our problem. Every motion in baseball is recorded. Every pitch, walk, and out is quantifiable towards what baseball aficionados consider successful. This isn't nearly as easy in the sport of football. There are so many different formations, personnel packages, and responsibilities for each position on any given play. Still, the bottom line is that it has worked for pro baseball. It's not impossible for this to work for football. It would undoubtedly be more difficult to do, and some advanced metrics experts have already began producing measures of their own.

The analytics team at ESPN created the Total QBR statistic, released in 2011. This of course only accounted for the QB position, but 10,000 lines of computer code later it was validated and proven effective. The measurement included a scale that weighed time in the pocket, red zone efficiency, and a yardage system that scored higher for 9 yards on 3rd and 8 as opposed to 1 yard on the goal line.

That's intense, but also a step toward finding an accurate way to measure one position. So, why stop there? It's certainly possible that a defensive end could be measured by a few thousand lines of code themselves. They would just be accounted by different measures. How often a DE beats a double team, protects his hole assignments effectively, or pressures the QB can be just as measurable.

So, what if each position could be measured on their own 1-100 scale and added together to create a measure for team efficiency? Well, that hasn't been done quite yet but in the next few weeks I'll be doing my own analysis to try and test different strengths for both teams and positions. These individual position calculations if proven effective could change the way entire teams are formed. It could change how players are scouted at every level (obviously calculations would differ between competition levels). The true value of a defensive player and likelihood they will fit into a coordinator's system could change the game in the same way it did for baseball.

Where this is possibly helpful for Texas State and college football is how scouting staff's uses the measurements. If Texas State's scouts measured high school players based on statistics that the SEC hasn't even considered, it could mean the difference between finding or not finding the 1 star recruit that has Alabama talent but was completely overlooked by top teams.

That's what Texas State needs first, the most valuable recruits possible. The 'Cats need the players that should have outright gone to Oregon, UT, or LSU. They're out there. Terrell Owens went to Tennessee-Chattanooga. Romo went to Eastern Illinois. Vincent Jackson went to Northern Colorado. Where were the players though that went to 1A high schools and weren't the best on the team, but still efficient in their own right? Kids get overlooked. Being able to identify those top recruits that are only getting scouted by Hofstra University (Marques Colston), could sway the best available talent to Texas State that should have gone to Michigan.

In the next couple of weeks, I'll be going over different ways these methods can be established. I'll also test them and go into as much detail as I can with the results. This commentary will include analysis of Texas State's weaknesses, opportunities, and ideas to make them a championship ball club. It all starts with personnel, so let's try to find the best way to acquire it. The game can be changed. It's just a matter of time.

Any interest in advanced metrics, or finding a way to change how recruits are scouted? Tell us in the 'Cats Den Insider Forum.


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