Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Does being unconventional mean you can't win at the top level

Last weekend was the off week for both Georgia and Georgia Tech and I listened to a bunch of the sports talk shows on 790 Saturday. There was a lot of discussion of whether the Yellow Jackets should fire their coach. They need to win 4 out of their last 6 games to keep their streak of years going to a bowl game alive and the Georgia game is the only one they should be an underdog in. Both GT and UGA have been to a bowl 16 straight years. The only teams with longer active streaks are FSU (30), Florida (21), and Virginia Tech (19).
Anyway, the consensus seemed to be that GT should be content being an above average football program that once in awhile competes for an ACC title but isn’t really relevant in national championship talk. The academic reputation makes it difficult to recruit top notch players and we don’t want to lower the standards any more or go out and hire someone like Nick Saban and emphasize football too much.
Furthermore, people are again questioning whether Paul Johnson’s “high school offense” can be win at the highest level of college football. Now I’m going to try to relate that to whether canapé can win at the highest level of bridge. The triple option and running style of Paul Johnson’s offense can demolish weak competition in much the same way that canapé can create a big advantage against weak to intermediate bridge players. The unfamiliarity of the offense/bidding system is just something that the masses just aren’t capable of handling effectively. Does that system edge go away when you start playing the cream of the crop or is it just that the talent isn’t there to beat the cream of the crop? Is the system holding back the team’s potential?
Certainly the top football programs will have more talent and naturally do better but is the trickiness of the option and persistent running game and opening 4 card suits and keeping 5 card suits hidden now more of an advantage to the opposition? My instinct is that system doesn’t matter. In terms of pure effectiveness against the best opponents, the advantages and disadvantages cancel each other out. But the extra mental strain to learn an unusual system might take away from one’s ability to perform the more basic tasks effectively.
There’s no doubt the learning curve is steep when starting to learn a new offense or bidding system but being different is fun. Since players are only in college at most 4 years, they’re spending disproportionally more of their time just getting used to the unconventional style at Georgia Tech so I kind of lean toward running a more typical offense, similar to what the masses run. In bridge, however, a strong partnership lasts a lot longer than 4 years so you can afford the growing pains of learning an unconventional system. Eventually, it will get to the point where bidding Swedish canapé is as easy and natural as 2/1. I don’t think it has quite reached that point with any of the few people I play it with – I mean, the basics of the system are still being defined – but it will get to that point soon, and that’s when results will get even better.
On that note, through 7 weeks, here are the top 30 in college football according to my computer. 
 Rank     Prev     BCS        W          L Team     Str. of Sch.    Total Rtg.
115 60 NOTRE DAME1094.097
241 60 ALABAMA4690.727
322 60 FLORIDA2689.042
458 50 OREGON STATE2587.107
5104 60 KANSAS STATE6183.422
6313 51 WEST VIRGINIA3280.797
71917 51 TEXAS TECH1778.999
86       NE 70 OHIO STATE6578.338
91818 51 TEXAS A&M4177.438
1093 60 OREGON8676.883
11229 41 OKLAHOMA2474.919
1287 61 SOUTH CAROLINA5173.838
131622 51 BOISE STATE7173.424
141412 60 Mississippi State11671.851
152015 60 RUTGERS11371.665
16720 42 STANFORD470.087
17246 61 LSU7569.610
181221 50 CINCINNATI11869.016
191111 51 GEORGIA8368.525
201714 61 FLORIDA STATE10767.031
212610 51 USC7866.760
221524 42 IOWA STATE364.809
2353  52 UCLA5864.744
2423  70 Ohio12364.644
2521  51 Louisiana Tech10064.578
262823 51 TCU10163.664
273016 60 LOUISVILLE12063.100
282519 51 CLEMSON10663.021
291325 42 TEXAS2162.398
3037  61 Northwestern10462.159

1 comment:

  1. I agree that the novelty of the systems will win some games for you, but i dont think they have inherent limitations. Obviously they will give you a greater boost against weak opponents. Both systems require extra practice to reach the precision necessary to win at the highest levels.