Swing Your Sword by Mike Leach

Now, I know this book has been out a while; but, I just now got around to reading (and finishing it in a day).  First off, I think Mike Leach has brought a lot of good to college football: from an innovative offense to actually making his players graduate and even though I’m a Texas grad, I always loved watching Tech play (and occasionally beat Texas and our stale offense powered by Greg Davis’ patented low-powered East-West offense).  It’s a shame that they fired Leach because I used to know the game with Tech would be a great game.. now, it just stinks (even with Texas being terrible, it still isn’t a good game).

The book starts out with Leach talking about his upbringing and he throws in stories here and there and it rambles around; much like I imagine any conversation with Mike Leach would go (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing).  He then talks about all his college coaching jobs and his various offensive philosophies and how to best run a football program.  Then, he also goes into detail about the whole Adam James scandal and you can probably figure out which side of the fence I fall on for that.

I can’t remember quite how long the book was other than the fact it took me one night to read it, so I’m going to say about 250 pages.  I found it well worth the time spent reading it, and it is an interesting book written by an interesting coach who is probably more interesting than the most interesting man in the world.

College sports investigations, sanctions, and other fun things we all know happen but don’t talk about since this is all amateur athletics and they don’t get paid for their performances

Looking at the college athletics landscape you can see multiple colleges in trouble with the NCAA and facing sanctions and investigations: USC’s basketball and football teams, University of Memphis’ basketball team, University of Tennessee’s football, and the list goes on.  The problem is, these sanctions never really solve the problem.  In many cases the breaking of the rules leads back to the head coach.  So why punish the school?  The coach can leave before the sanctions and fines hit and go away scot-free to the next school (for example, John Calipari and Lane Kiffin come to mind).

So an idea I discussed with my brother and father is to have some of the sanctions follow the coach (where appropriate).  The coach can either continue coaching at the same level through the sanction or sit out from coaching until the sanctions have run their course.  What do you, dear reader think?  Is this idea good, bad, or just plain stupid?  If so, what could be changed?

A coherent rant on why the BCS is crap

As college football fans we all hate the BCS.  It offers no resolutions to who truly is the best.  So everyone comes away cynical except for the team anointed number one (and even then there are issues).  So when I saw this article on Slate I was amazed.  First because it was on Slate and second because it was well written.  Bill James argues four points as to why the BCS is broken:

  1. That there is a profound lack of conceptual clarity about the goals of the method;
  2. That there is no genuine interest here in using statistical analysis to figure out how the teams compare with one another. The real purpose is to create some gobbledygook math to endorse the coaches’ and sportswriters’ vote;
  3. That the ground rules of the calculations are irrational and prevent the statisticians from making any meaningful contribution; and
  4. That the existence of this system has the purpose of justifying a few rich conferences in hijacking the search for a national title, avoiding a postseason tournament that would be preferred by the overwhelming majority of fans.

I’m sure there are more than 4 well-written arguments that can be made for why the BCS is such crap, but he does a good job in laying down reasons as to why the BCS is bad and why he thinks statistical analysts should steer clear of helping them.