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Since When Does 3 = 6?

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Ed. - Well, after Kevin's fantastic HD post this morning I kind of feel like Bania. But I guess somebody has to follow Jerry. I just hate to push work like that down the page, but the blog must go on.

Quick. Tell me which team you would rather be?

Team A - 80% Red Zone Efficiency
Team B - 60% Red Zone Efficiency

Hey, Team A looks like a winner, eh? They score every four out of five times they get inside the 20 while Team B only scores three out of five times. But are you really sure about that? Does redzone efficiency really tell you how good a team is at finishing off a drive? MGoBlog touched on this question earlier in the week. 

Sigh. The second most annoying statistic on the planet is "red zone efficiency." (#1: time of possession.) It has an arbitrary cutoff point and mostly serves to confirm the idea that not scoring is bad. This does not count as enlightening.

But that's not even the worst part. The worst part is that they don't even calculate it right. The NCAA is now tracking the statistic officially. This is how they do it:

The NCAA grades on a percentage basis, and eight teams have a perfect 1.000. They range from undefeated Oklahoma, which is 18-for-18 with 17 touchdowns and one field goal in three games to winless North Texas, which has reached the opponents' 20 only five times in three games and has three touchdowns and two field goals.

Argh. No, no, no. If you are really attempting to measure who the best teams are when the field shrinks—not a completely crazy thing to do—you probably shouldn't come up with this equation:


AKA "3 = 7." Three does not equal seven. Three equals three.

The current system suggests that Northwestern and Oklahoma are equally proficient at scoring when they get inside the twenty. Sanity notes that Northwestern is acquiring 75% of the maximum points and Oklahoma is acquiring 96% and these are nowhere near equal.

Actually a touchdown is only six points, so three does not equal six. (Not that it equals seven either) But nonetheless BSD wholeheartedly agrees with this. It's always been a pet peeve of mine that the NCAA considers a field goal equivalent with a touchdown when calculating red zone efficiency. This is like saying a single is just as good as a triple in baseball because they are both base hits. But they are clearly not equal since it takes two field goals to equal a touchdown. That's two possessions, two drives, and two stalled trips to the redzone to equal one drive ending in a successful touchdown. This is why baseball came up with the slugging percentage statistic, because batting average alone doesn't tell you why Albert Pujols wins MVP awards and Ichiro Suzuki doesn't.

Now let's go back and take a look at our two teams in our hypothetical situation at the top. Tell me now which team you would rather be.

Red Zone Attempts    TD      FG   Red Zone Efficiency Total Points
Team A 20 2 14 80% 54
Team B 20 11 1 60% 69

Hmmm. Team A isn't looking so hot anymore. And team B would also get a benefit from nine more PAT attempts not included in those 69 points. So they would probably outscore Team A by 24 points or more. But according to the current NCAA standard they are "inefficient" when compared to Team A.

I propose they change the formula to more heavily weigh touchdowns over field goals. A touchdown is six points and a field goal is three points, so a field goal should count as half a touchdown. Here is a real world example to illustrate my point.

Red Zone Attempts    TD       FG    Equation Result
Current Case 20 13 4 (13+4)/20 = 85%
BSD's Proposal 20 13 4 (13+4/2)/20 = 75%

Somebody get Myles Brand on the phone and let's make this happen.