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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Light posting today. While I don't particularly crave college basketball, I'm not a communist who won't spend all of today watching the opening round.

Spring Practice. Michigan's now producing its own internet video on, uh, the internet:

There's also some BTN content, via MSC. CCHA fans will be delighted to see Shireen Saski getting her interview on; there is also a Greg Mathews interview on myspace.

Relativity. The statement "I was a cage fighter" is never not surprising. Unless it comes from a guy with an eyepatch, maybe. Revised statement: the statement "I was a cage fighter" is never not surprising coming from a guy without an eyepatch. But in terms of how surprising the surprise is when someone says "I was a cage fighter," this ranks pretty low:

"Barwis was a cage fighter. He was 36-0 and never missed a match. He was telling us about 50 different injuries and never missed a match, and some of those injuries probably would have ended my career."
Well, yeah. Of course Barwis was a cage fighter.

Blow it up. A biglong study purporting to dispute the legitimacy of recruiting rankings recently appeared on something called "omninerd" and got some play around the blogosphere, especially with the group of folks headed by the Wizard of Odds (who is, not coincidentally, an Official Journalist; Official Journalists always but always love dumping on recruiting sites) that take every opportunity to declare recruiting rankings bunk.

It was a crap study and SMQB destroyed it capably:

If you didn’t know better – or if, like the author, you assume a normal distribution in which most of a sample falls into the median ranges (two and three stars) and narrows at either end – you'd think this data suggests the "star system" is random, and not much more predictive of elite success than pulling prospects’ names out of a hat.

We do know better, though, and so, it seems, does the author, who did begin late in the article to look at the number of prospects within each "star" category. Unfortunately, he didn’t get very far at this crucial distinction, only comparing the number of five-star designations awarded by each of the two services in question over the last six years, and failing to compare these numbers with the number of prospects in other star levels because "the necessary data isn’t available."

Still, even without this information, he goes on to make conclusions based on the raw numbers and the assumption of normal distribution: the data is not "biased high" toward the four and five-star end of the scale as it should be if those labels were accurate predictors of success; there’s an "abnormally large number" of 0-star outliers on the all-America teams; and finally, in the "Concluding Comments," the author writes,

    ...the prospect rankings exist with the sole purpose of predicting the likelihood a player [will] succeed at the generalized college level. Accurate rankings should take these factors into account and still show a much greater percentage of 5-star recruits making the All-America team than 0-stars.
    - - -
with the clear implication that the rankings in question have failed to accomplish that purpose. ...

Five-star prospects were about three times as likely to earn an all-America vote than four-star prospects, five-and-a-half times as likely as a three-star prospect, eleven times as likely as a one, two or zero-star prospect. If the setting was 'random; – if the rankings were worthless – every level would show roughly the same 1 in 59 odds of producing an all-American. Three, four and five-star prospects all fared better than that, the top two much better than that. Zero, one and two-stars were not close. If you pay attention to the distribution of the star rankings, the results are nothing like a bell curve.
So that's that, basically. I would like to add the following objections to those voiced by SMQB:
  • "All American" is a stupid metric. AA status is frequently a product of media hype and not necessarily actual ability, especially on the lines and in the secondary. Second, there are plenty of kickass players who don't make the AA team, and restricting the study to just All-Americans provides a major sample size limitation. Better would be all-conference teams from the BCS conferences, preferably coaches, and definitely for more than one year.
  • Sample size. One year is not a good sample size.
  • Kickers and punters are included. Recruiting sites pretty much throw up their hands about specialists, never ranking them higher than three stars; this is a major distorting factor.
The big kahuna is the one that SMQB tackled, though: there are like 25 five star players and nearly 1000 three-stars.

All this is totally invalid for Terrelle Pryor -- henceforth known as The Next Marcus Vick until such time as he opens a can of whoopass on Michigan, whereupon he will be known as Daddy Make The Bad Man Stop -- who is a headcase we didn't want anyway and will undoubtedly be a team cancer that will metastasize in the Buckeye bloodstream and cause the entire state to implode one day, leaving nothing but a foul smell and a sixth Great Lake, which we will call "Lake Steve".


OMG LOL. The Daily published reports of psychology professors flaming each other in the aftermath of the AA News piece:
The Michigan Daily obtained an e-mail message yesterday sent by Bill McKeachie, professor emeritus of the psychology department, to the entire department, saying he was "aghast" that Prof. Paris would allege academic misconduct by Hagen. He called the allegation "a crazy destructive thing."
"I did not reply to those reports, I never said a disparaging word about John, and I did not write the story in the Ann Arbor News," Paris wrote. "If being concerned about academic integrity in the department, and following standard procedures for reporting those concerns, 'burns my bridges' at UM, it will be unfortunate, but I chose to follow my principles about teaching at UM. I can live with that, and hope my colleagues can also."
Aaaaand this is why old people + computers == bad news:
Theresa Lee, who chairs the Department of Psychology, said she thought McKeachie might have sent the e-mail to the entire department by mistake, hitting "Reply to all" instead of "Reply."
Ah, "reply to all," the feature you should have to take a three-credit independent study course on before your email client is allowed to have it.

Hockey update: further fiddling with You Are The Committee reveals that even an 0-2 flameout by ND does not necessarily result in a Wisconsin bid if the right team (Princeton) wins the ECAC. There is also the possibility of a third team from HE making its way in via autobid. Two teams out of the tourney right now meet in one semifinal, the winner taking on the UNH-BC winner for all the proverbial marbles. So there are many paths to a friendly Madison regional, none of which occur if Michigan doesn't win at the Joe.

Etc.: More spring practice.