Archive for June, 2007

Good Job(a)!

June 29, 2007

I figured if I gave Alex Gordon some props, I better do the same for fellow former Northeast Rocket Joba Chamberlain.

This comes from an ESPN Fantasy Baseball Update:

Joba Chamberlain, RHP, NYY: A 6-foot-3, 225-pounder, Chamberlain is a 2006 draft pick who fell to the 44th overall pick last season because many teams were concerned about his physique and health. He has a pretty amazing story to tell. Putting it bluntly, Chamberlain was a chunky kid in high school, who didn’t play a lick of baseball until his senior year. He got serious about conditioning, went to a junior college and went 3-6 with a 5.23 ERA. The coaches at the University of Nebraska got a look at his fastball and recruited him. He then developed into a monster, leading the Huskers to the College World Series in 2005 with teammate Alex Gordon (Royals). This season, Chamberlain has been clocked at 98 mph, and he demolished the Florida State League to get a quick promotion to Double-A. Chamberlain also has a plus slider, a solid curve, and an improving changeup. The Yankees laud his work ethic and competitiveness. Let’s look at the numbers: He had a 2.03 ERA in high Class A, allowing 25 hits (no homers) in 40 innings with a 51/11 K/BB rate. Since moving to Double-A, Chamberlain has a 26/6 K/BB rate in 16.2 innings, allowing 11 hits (one homer) with a 3.24 ERA. Chamberlain could be better than Philip Hughes. I expect Hughes and Chamberlain to be battling for Yankees ace honors in a year or three.

Yankees ace? I’m only slightly impressed by that.

Nebraska and Home Field Advantage

June 28, 2007

An interesting take on the concept of home field advantage at The Straight Dope of all places. The Straight Dope is a question and answer site run by Psuedonymous columnist Cecil Adams. If you have a question about just about anything, chances are The Straight Dope have attempted an answer.

Regarding home field advantage (HFA), The Straight Dope says:

What explains HFA? Several possibilities are often cited, including familiarity with home turf, no travel stress, and what football fans call “the 12th man,” the home crowd. But establishing what’s most important isn’t easy. Take familiarity — one study of 7 baseball, 17 basketball, and 13 hockey teams that moved to new stadiums (without changing cities) between October 1987 and April 2001 showed a significant reduction in HFA in the season following the move. However, other studies purport to show that MLB teams do better in a new stadium. One clear-cut case of HFA arising from venue familiarity is the Colorado Rockies, who consistently display the largest differential between home and away records of any MLB team. All agree that’s because only the Rockies are acclimated to high-altitude Coors Field.

Crowd effects are easier to demonstrate, at least in some sports. A study of more than 5,000 English soccer matches found that teams scored an average of 1.5 goals at home vs only 1.1 on the road, with the difference growing by 0.1 goals per 10,000 spectators. The researchers attribute this to cowed refs’ giving the visitors more penalties. Schwartz and Barsky thought crowd effects explained why HFA for baseball and football was lower than for hockey (in the 70s anyway) and basketball — the latter two sports are invariably played indoors, where the noise is more intense. Travel stress is probably a minor factor, since HFA persists even among teams that are geographically close.

Whatever the reason, a home field advantage certainly exists in Lincoln.

  • Nebraska was 7-1 at home in 2006 and has won at least six home games in 17 of the past 19 seasons.
  • Nebraska is 116-11 at home in the last 18 seasons (since 1989), including a pair of losses against teams that went on to win the national championship–Colorado in 1990 and Washington in 1991.
  • Since 1986, only seven different schools have left Memorial Stadium with a victory (Colorado, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Southern Miss., Texas, Texas Tech, Washington).
  • During Nebraska’s run of success at home in the past 25 years, Nebraska has had three home winning streaks of 20 or more games.
  • Nebraska had a school-record 47-game home winning streak from 1991 to 1998, a 26-game home streak from 1998 to 2002 and a 21-game win streak in the early 1980s.
  • Nebraska has not been shut out at home since a 12-0 loss to Kansas State in 1968 (245 games), and has posted 40 unbeaten and untied home seasons.
  • All-time Nebraska is 481-129-20 (.779, 630 games, 117 years) in Lincoln.
  • The Huskers are 356-106-13 (.763, 475 games, 84 years) in Memorial Stadium (since 1923).
  • Quick Hits

    June 26, 2007

    · Maurice Purify is officially facing a July 18th trial for all of the charges related to his infamous barroom brawl. I have no idea how the trial will play out, but I would be shocked to see Purify suit up before September 15. Does he have the mental makeup to stay in shape and out of trouble?

    · The Huskers had a big recruiting weekend corralling linebackers Doug Rippy, and Shaun Mohler. Both of these guys seem like players on paper and fill a huge need for the ’08 class. Nebraska also added a much needed tight end in Tyson Hetzer a 6-foot-7 project from Redding, CA. I’m happy to see a TE, but I have to admit I’m not 100% in love with his high school coach’s tone:

    “He’s a big boy with a body a coach would love,” Hare said, “but when Tyson was here, he was unbelievably stiff. If you could get his motor running, he would run some people over. It didn’t always happen. But when he did get open, he would catch the ball.”

    · Neil Barduson of The Football Experts believes that the entire Big 12 is overrated.

    “The only team in the Big 12 that has the chance to make the national title game is Texas, which they are in the back of the pack of national title contenders. Other than Texas, the Big Twelve consists of average football teams. Oklahoma had Adrian Peterson and a supposedly great defense last year, yet lost to Boise State. Texas A&M will be as good as they have been in a while and could even pull out the Big 12 championship. As far as the North goes, all of the teams are not good as they once were. Colorado does not have players or coaches they once had. Kansas State is improving, under coach Prince, but need more time. Nebraska is getting better and has potential to win the Big 12 this year. However, I think the 8th best team in the S.E.C (Alabama), the sixth best team in the Big Ten (Iowa), sixth best team in the Pac – 10 (Arizona), heck even the fourth best team in the Big East (South Florida) could all beat every team in the Big 12 besides Texas.”

    I’m not even going to bother with a response. Except for that Neil Barduson is totally overrated.

    · The Big Red Network is continuing their never-ending quest to persuade us that all 22 positions on the field are the key to Nebraska’s success. The most recent version focused on the WRs. I’m eagerly awaiting a flashback to the work of David Seizys and a treatise on the importance of the holder on FG attempts. Just kidding guys.

    Erin Andrews Picture of the Week – Lucky Bastard Edition

    June 22, 2007

    And in case you missed it, the FanHouse notes that the Louisville baseball team had to be chastised to avoid trying to impress Ms. Andrews.

    HT – Jason at Big Red Network

    Ranking the Coaches Based on…Um, Coaching

    June 21, 2007

    I’m sure many of you remember Tom Dienhart’s attempt at ranking all of the BCS coaches. Like most of Dienhart’s columns the piece seemed to be based on little other than personal opinion. That’s fine as he gets paid to have an opinion, but there had to be a more scientific approach to the endeavor.

    Well, it turns out there was a better approach, like the one taken by LD at the The Corporate Headquarters of the San Antonio Gunslingers.

    LD based his rankings on several key factors:

    National Titles
    Conference Titles
    Winning Percentage
    Winning Percentage As Against School’s Historic Winning Percentage

    I’ve said it before, but this is another example of how the mainstream media gets outdone by bloggers. Anyway, you can see the spreadsheet of LD’s rankings here.

    Here are some of LD’s comments related to Nebraska and Bill Callahan

    Winning Percentage As Against School’s Historic Winning Percentage:

    Biggest upgrade by Dienhart from where a coach would be rated by this objective category: Bill Callahan (from 50th up to 21st).

    Coaches upgraded by Dienhart by more than 10 spots (my guess at a reason, and here I don’t consider a bad program as a good reason since it’s already accounted for): Hawkins (small sample), Bobby Johnson (???), Bill Callahan (???), Mark Mangino (???), Greg Schiano (???), Jim Leavitt (Shouldn’t be listed here – he’s the only coach at the program, so his comparison to history is neutral), Houston Nutt (???), Lloyd Carr (title), Kirk Ferentz (???), Tom O’Brien (???), Tommy Tuberville (???, near-title?), Frank Beamer (longevity), Nick Saban (title), Mack Brown (title), Rich Rodriguez (???), Jim Tressel (title).

    Looking at the various objective criteria, I think Dienhart overrates and underrates a few coaches, based upon their accomplishments.

    OVERRATED: Mark Mangino, Bill Callahan, Bobby Johnson, Rich Rodriguez, Kirk Ferentz, Tom O’Brien.

    UNDERRATED: Phil Fulmer, Ralph Friedgen, Mark Richt, Charlie Weis, Jeff Tedford, Les Miles, Tommy Bowden, Bret Bielema, Tyrone Willingham, Karl Dorrell, Bill Doba.

    A few more specific nits to pick considering all the categories discussed:

    Houston Nutt at #20 isn’t defensible. Guys behind him that best or equal him in every category: Tedford, Richt, Leach, Friedgen, Fulmer, Tiller, Bielema, Miles. Nutt’s objective rankings put him right in line with Tommy Bowden, whom Dienhart ranks 47th (though, arguably he shouldn’t be that low).

    Matt at Statistically Speaking also introduced another variable into attempts at rating coaches. He created a formula that looks like this:

    Win % Last Season (50%) + Win % 2 Yrs Ago (20%) + Win % 3 Yrs Ago (10%) + .500 (20%)

    The four components are winning percentage for the previous three seasons; with each season decreasing in importance as the distance from the current season increases and the final component is a winning percentage of .500 as teams tend to trend towards .500. Including this component ensures we don’t penalize coaches coming off undefeated seasons because improving upon a 100% winning percentage is impossible. Additionally, we don’t reward coaches who go winless because we assume they will improve at least marginally. Next we just subtract the team’s expected winning percentage from their actual winning percentage. This number is the coach’s rating.

    Here are the best and worst coaches in each conference according to Matt’s formula:


    Jim Grobe (Wake Forest) +.389

    Big East
    Greg Schiano (Rutgers) +.340

    Big 10
    Bret Bielema (Wisconsin) +.235

    Big 12
    Dennis Franchione (Texas A&M) +.215

    Pac 10
    Mike Riley (Oregon State) +.208

    Rich Brooks (Kentucky) +.309

    Conference USA
    Todd Graham (Rice) +.296

    Frank Solich (Ohio) +.271

    Mountain West
    Bronco Mendenhall (BYU) +.372

    Sun Belt
    Larry Blakeney (Troy) +.166

    Dick Tomey (San Jose State) +.392


    Chuck Amato (NC State) -.294

    Big East
    Randy Edsall (Connecticut) -.203

    Big 10
    Pat Fitzgerald (Northwestern) -.205

    Big 12
    Dan Hawkins (Colorado) -.367

    Pac 10
    Walt Harris (Stanford) -.354

    Mike Shula (Alabama) -.185

    Conference USA
    Tommy West (Memphis) -.427

    Shane Montgomery (Miami, Ohio) -.467

    Mountain West
    Chuck Long (San Diego State) -.181

    Sun Belt
    Darrell Dickey (North Texas) -.127

    Jack Bicknell (Louisiana Tech) -.329

    Obviously neither of these systems is perfect, but they have to be better attempts than what Dienhart and most pundits provide.

    Alex Gordon is Good

    June 19, 2007

    Not football related, but…

    Check out this amazing play by former Lincolnite (and Southeast Knight)Alex Gordon in KC. MLB hates on the YouTubes, so you’ll have to follow the link to see it.

    Pound the Rock – 2006 Rushing Highlights

    June 19, 2007

    SportsCenter Just Seems Irrelevant

    June 19, 2007

    I don’t know what brought this about, but I was thinking today that I just don’t pay attention to SportsCenter anymore. I have no idea when that happened.

    It reminds me of an anecdote about the Manning family that I once read in GQ. The story focused on the family’s crazed sports fandom. At one point it noted that Cooper, who was forced to leave football and get a “real job” was able to pinpoint the first day that passed in which he failed to catch SportsCenter.

    In my case, I don’t think I can point to the last time I actually watched SportsCenter from start to finish. I guess at some point I decided I didn’t need somebody in Bristol to tell me what the day’s most important sports story was. When I’m looking for information now, I’ll always turn first to the blogosphere.

    Or it might be because the last few times I watched SportsCenter it looked exactly like what is depicted below (Not entirely safe for work).

    HT for the video – Texas Tech Blog Disco Tech!

    Go Read This…

    June 15, 2007

    SMQ’s Reasonably Anticipatory Assessment of Nebraska is up. It is spot on as usual. Go there now.

    More on Mo P. – From the Comments

    June 14, 2007

    I heard on the 1480 A M talk show from a caller “Mo had 34 rec’s and 29 first downs”. Can this be right??

    That will be tough to replace!!
    oldtennisbum | 06.14.07 – 1:27 pm | #

    According to my data:

    Of Purify’s 34 catches…

    30 went for either a first down or a touchdown.
    23 gained 10+ yards
    14 gained 20+ yards
    6 gained 30+ yards
    2 gained 40+ yards
    1 resulted in a defensive pass interference penalty of 2 yards (half the distance to the goal).

    Of his four catches that did not result in a first down or TD…

    All 4 resulted in 8 yard gains.

    They set up down and distance situations of:

    2nd & 2
    3rd & 5
    3rd & 1
    3rd & 1