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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Fun With Numbers: The David Hale Curse

Since I announced I was leaving, I've had several of you inquire as to where you might find some other quality Georgia bloggery (I just made that word up). While I think there are plenty of good options (UGA fans are very lucky in that respect) and I'm feeling certain that the person taking over for me will pick up the slack (hey, everyone who loved David Ching thought I was gonna suck, too), I'd say that you'll be hard-pressed to find a more astute observer of all things Red and Black than our pal T Kyle King over at Dawg Sports.

To wit, his take on my departure, which you can read HERE.

To summarize, however, here is King's basic theory:

"To recap, things were good for Georgia, then David Hale was hired, then everything immediately started to suck, then David Hale announced he was leaving, then everything immediately started to get better. Coincidence? I think not!"

Harsh? Perhaps. I mean, I didn't hire Willie Martinez as Georgia's DC, I just happened to cover much of his tenure. But then again... part of what I've tried to do with this blog is to dig deeper rather than accept or dismiss an argument at face value. So, one last time, let's dig into the numbers...

As some of you South Georgians may recall, I covered UGA (although not via a blog) for The Albany Herald during the 2005 and 2006 seasons. Then, after a year molding young minds as a journalism instructor, I returned for the 2008 and 2009 seasons. So, I figured we could go ahead and compare the Mark Richt era with me on the beat and without me on the beat to see if Mr. King's theory holds water.

First, Georgia's defense...

w/o Dave
Plays Faced 3314 4312
Yds Allowed
15,900 20,076
Yards/Play 4.80 4.65
Yards/Game 305.8 308.9

Then, the offense...

Stat w/Davew/o Dave
Plays 3205 4566
Yards 19,384 25,621
Yards/Play 6.05 5.61
Yards/Game 372.8 394.1

Hmm... this is pretty curious, eh? It would appear that during my time covering the team, the defense surrendered more yards per play -- but certainly not much more, and actually allowed fewer yards per game. On the other hand, the offense was more efficient, adding almost half-a-yard per play, but (in large part due to an NCAA rules chance) ran fewer plays per game.

But those are the underlying stats. Let's look at what matters.

w/o Dave
Pts/Game 28.77 ppg
29.46 ppg
Pts Allowed/Game 21.1 ppg 17.0 ppg
W-L (Pct)
36-15 (.706)
53-12 (.815)

So, let's look at this analytically. Without me on the beat, Georgia's offensive efficiency declined (ypp) and their defensive efficiency was only .15 ypp better. And yet, when we turn those into the raw numbers on the scoreboard, Georgia scored .75 more points per game without me around, and held opponents to four fewer points per game. But even those numbers wouldn't seem nearly as dramatic as the final results: An .815 winning percentage when I'm otherwise occupied, and just a .706 winning percentage when I'm covering the games.

This is tough to explain, and when the underlying stats simply don't add up to the final result, there's a clear indication that there is some larger force at work. And, I'm afraid, Mr. King has it right. That larger force is me. (And thanks to UGA's press box food, that force gets larger each year.)

Couple that with the fact that the basketball team has been brutal for much of my time here, the baseball team just had its worst season ever (and as Kyle notes, dropped its last two games in the CWS after my initial offer) and Georgia's football team is 0-4 against Florida during my tenure, and the evidence gets even more damning.

So there you have it, folks. Mark Richt doesn't need to be canned. Heck, maybe Willie Martinez could have turned things around if I had just left town a year earlier. In fact, I probably owe an apology to Bryan Evans for ruining his career. (I'm not sure, but I think Matthew Stafford left a year early in large part because he didn't like me, too.)

But all of this should be a nice little silver lining for those disappointed by my departure. It can only help the team.

Oh, and as a side note, I first began talking to my new employer about the Phillies gig in mid-May. Here are the Phillies numbers since May 18.

StatBefore May 18
After May 18
Games scoring
3 runs or less
13 20
Runs/game 5.73 3.71
Win-Loss 24-13 (.649)
15-19 (.441)

You're welcome, Braves fans.


Ludakit said...

Best. Post. Ever. I just bought SECC tickets.

Kidding (obviously). Good thing LOST ended or I'd have to read your Phiilies blog.

Best of luck man.

Anonymous said...

I worry much more about your fiancee after what you did dismantling the Gym Dogs this last year. You need to tell her of the Hale curse in my opinion. The ring should have a disclaimer attached as to your dark cloud on others.

On the bright side, you did stop the drought in Georgia, win us a fishing and Equestrian Natl Championship and stop Hurricanes from hitting Florida the past 2 years.

Forgetting for a moment your hand in the Michael Jackson death and the horrible Lost finale that you wrote, and I'd say you were a mixed blessing!

Let's hope she can say the same in 50 years!

Anonymous said...

Looks like I'm gonna have to point out your curse to Zolecki.