Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Trump/Clinton Problem



Some years back, I got into poll analysis for presidential elections and did well projecting the results of the 2000 and 2004 elections.  I was dismayed but not surprised by the 2008 results, but I just plain got the 2012 election wrong, due to overestimating GOP voter loyalty. This year, it seems that both the GOP and Democrats have a loyalty problem.

There are three new major polls out for the race for the White House, and they are similar in their message:  The race is wide open at this point.  

The CBS/NYT poll shows Trump and Clinton tied for the race;

Rasmussen Reports shows Trump ahead by 7 points;

and  Economist/YouGov has Clinton ahead by 2 points.

My point is not to argue which of these polls is the most likely to be accurate, or dig into them to find out what we already know about demographic preference, but what intrigues me, is that the three polls show between twelve and twenty percent of voters don’t support either candidate.  Since third-party candidates historically garner a very small part of the popular vote (and Bernie Sanders has already thrown his support to Clinton), this detail implies that both Trump and Clinton are facing serious motivation issues within their party.  Polls consistently cite unfavorable impressions for both Trump and Clinton, and neither candidate has done much to mend their image, preferring instead to attack their opponent. 

National voter turnout has ranged from 36.0% of the Eligible Voter Population to 61.6% between 2000 and 2014 (between 54.2% and 61.6% in Presidential elections). 


This is vital to understanding the race.  Bad weather, a late scandal for a front-runner, or emotionally-charged incidents right before the election could swing the decision in several key states.  If either Trump or Clinton were to reinforce their base, either could significantly improve their position by then focusing on winning independents and undecideds.  

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

FBS Football Rankings December 2 edition


Time again for an update for the College Football Playoff Committee imitation rankings. As of today, there are seven (7) remaining FBS schools which remain in playoff contention. This is the new ranking set.

For this report, I am also providing a ranking of ‘major’ teams, defined by Power 5 and Major Independent teams with 3 or fewer losses, and Group of 5 teams with 2 or fewer losses.  There are twenty-seven (27) such teams, which gives us a reasonable ‘top 25’ comparison by performance.


As a reminder, I took the average scoring offense and scoring defense for the contenders, and subtracted the defense from the offense to get the average scoring range. Then I tracked the games played and noted the difference between points scored and what the opponent normally allows, and what was allowed versus what the opponent normally scores. I then averaged those variances together, added it twice to the scoring range to find a grade. The totals for the seven remaining contenders range from 42.05 to 80.92. Here are the results, with variance from CFP positions noted:


1. Oklahoma (11-1, Big XII ) - average margin of victory: 25.0 Offense averages scoring 14.8 points more than opponents average allowing. Defense averages allowing 13.2 points less than opponents average scoring. Worst game is Texas (loss, net result is -11.8), best game is Kansas State (win, net result is +55.1). Overall rating 81.16 (#3 in CFP, variance of 2 places, #4 in USA poll, #3 in AP poll);


2. Alabama (11-1, SEC West) - average margin of victory: 20.2 Offense averages scoring 11.2 points more than opponents average allowing. Defense averages allowing 16.1 points less than opponents average scoring. Worst game is Ole Miss (loss, net result is +11.5), best game is Georgia (win, net result is +37.6). Overall rating 74.83 (#2 in CFP, variance of 0 place, #2 in both USA and polls);


3. Clemson (12-0, ACC Atlantic) - average margin of victory: 19.1 Offense averages scoring 14.0 points more than opponents average allowing. Defense averages allowing 9.1 points less than opponents average scoring. Worst game is S Carolina (win, net result is -0.6), best game is Miami (win, net result is +56.1). Overall rating 65.33 (#1 in CFP, variance of 2 places, #1 in USA poll and AP polls);


4. Ohio State (11-1, Big Ten East ) - average margin of victory: 21.0 Offense averages scoring 7.6 points more than opponents average allowing. Defense averages allowing 14.1 points less than opponents average scoring. Worst game is Indiana (win, net result is +6.1), best game is Michigan (win, net result is +42.4). Overall rating 64.50 (#6 in CFP, variance of 2 places, #6 in both USA and AP polls);


5. North Carolina (11-1, ACC Coastal) - average margin of victory: 20.5 Offense averages scoring 16.7 points more than opponents average allowing. Defense averages allowing 5.3 points less than opponents average scoring. Worst game is S Carolina (loss, net result is -9.6), best game is Miami (win, net result is +38.1). Overall rating 64.40 (#10 in CFP, variance of 5 places, still undervalued, #8 in both USA and AP polls);

6. Michigan State (11-1, Big Ten East) – – average margin of victory: 12.3 Offense averages scoring 5.6 points more than opponents average allowing. Defense averages allowing 10.1 points less than opponents average scoring. Worst game is Purdue (win, net result is -8.4), best game is Penn State (win, net result is +41.0). Overall rating is 43.82 (#5 in CFP, variance of 1 place, #5 in both USA and AP polls);


7. Iowa (12-0, Big Ten West) –polls); average margin of victory: 15.0 Offense averages scoring 5.9 points more than opponents average allowing. Defense averages allowing 7.6 points less than opponents average scoring. Worst game is Maryland (win, net result is +6.3), best game is Northwestern (win, net result is +34.3). Overall rating is 42.05 (#4 in CFP, variance of 3 places, #3 in USA poll, #4 in AP poll).


Dropped out: Baylor, Oklahoma State, Notre Dame, Florida

I found it interesting to track the teams that missed the playoff cut by a game or two, which results in a 27-team ranking by performance score as follows:

1.  Oklahoma (11-1)  80.92
2.   Alabama (11-1)    74.83
3.   Baylor (9-2)         70.05
4.  Clemson (12-0)    65.33
5.  Ohio State (11-1) 64.50
6.  N Carolina (11-1)  64.40
7.  Ole Miss (9-3)       58.77
8.   Florida State (10-2) 57.28
9.   Houston (11-1)     54.45
10. Navy (9-2)           53.64
11. W Kentucky (10-2) 51.10
12.  TCU (10-2)          47.83
13.  Notre Dame (10-2) 46.22
14.  Stanford (10-2)    44.48
15.  Michigan State (11-1) 43.82
16.  Michigan (9-3)     43.37
17.  Iowa (12-0)         42.05
18.  Oklahoma State (10-2) 41.85
19.  Toledo (9-2)        41.84
20.  BYU (9-3)            38.65
21.  Wisconsin (9-3)    38.08
22.   LSU (8-3)            37.57
23.  Temple (10-2)     34.98
24.  Florida (10-2)      33.38
25.  Georgia (9-3)      32.48
26.  Utah (9-3)          29.47
27.  Northwestern (10-2) 19.13


If the playoffs were expanded to 8 teams, I believe the quality of those games would be superior to what can be produced by the current system.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Nine Reasons why Baylor still owns TCU


A response to a rant posted on Frogsowar.com


Since Thanksgiving includes meaningless waste of time with games, TV, and sports, I think it’s fitting to respond point by point to ‘Bayou Frog Fan’ and his printed tantrum:

Prologue: I don’t truly hate anything …  I don’t hate Baylor. I won’t attempt to de-humanize Baylor people.”

This in a piece which starts with a large photo of an injured Baylor player, with no evidence of sympathy or compassion.  Let’s not forget that just last week a TCU player again was guilty of deliberately injuring an opponent, as Ty Summers was ejected for a dirty hit on OU’s Baker Mayfield.   

Baylor disgusts me. I look at Baylor like a backed-up toilet… in Cairo. To me, Baylor people don’t wash their hands after using the restroom. Baylor people use the word "irregardless". Baylor people kill endangered animals on captive trophy hunts. Baylor people eagerly await the next Kevin James film. (Expletive which means "to fornicate") Baylor.”

We shouldn’t be surprised.  After all, just a couple seasons ago Coach Patterson publicly admitted he wanted nothing to do with class.  This proves he was serious.


Reason #1: Waco – I’ve been to some of the more hopeless, desolate spots on the planet where shrapnel and overpressure are daily concerns.”

Sure you have.  There’s a reason there are no major pro sports franchises in Fort Worth, no prominent doctors, authors, or scientists from Forth Worth, and absolutely no one ever goes to Fort Worth for a vacation or to experience nirvana on earth.

Waco is located in a convenient location for travel to Dallas, Houston, Austin or San Antonio. Waco has several celebrities of note, and Baylor annually produces state and national leaders in many fields.   Waco has a low cost of living , relatively low crime compared to places like Fort Worth, and is downright beautiful at least half the year.   Fort Worth has cattle tramp through it every so often … which is the high point of their year. 


“Reason #2: Terminated for incompetence … This is how I felt when interacting with my former Baylor-alum-coworker on daily basis. Every morning, I sat in silent, soul-cleaving agony ignoring his droll platitudes, waiting for the moments where he mercifully stopped complaining about his aptitude-deficient offspring or his clueless wife.”

See #1 about alumni again.  Baylor produces prominent leaders in all fields, so his anecdote falls flat.  Not to disparage TCU too much, however.  Sewer cleaners have to come from someplace, and who better than a school whose mascot lives in muck and excretes all manner of fluids, to produce those workers?


Reason #3: Jeff Dunham  All comedy is born of tragedy”

Only someone completely lacking a sense of humor could believe that.   To be fair, TCU is a place with a great deal of tragedy, so I can’t blame them for desperately seeking meaning for all their suffering.

Dunham is just a glorified sword-swallower cashing in on the intellectual decline of America.”

When someone resents personal accomplishment by someone who brings joy and laughter to many people, that person proves themselves small, mean … and in this case a TCU student or alumnus.


“Reason #4: The Biker Shootout… – That’s right, an exchange of small arms fire among rival biker gangs that left 9 people dead.”

So I really need to point out the hypocrisy of pretending Waco has worse gang violence than Fort Worth, or crime in general?  And who seriously thinks this tragic incident has anything to do with Baylor University?


Reason #5: …the (verb which means "to fornicate" in present participle form) cult –Ask anyone who is aware of cults about the aforementioned topic, and you’re bound to get a Waco thread in your response.”

See response to #4 about complete lack of connections to Baylor University.  It occurs to me, however, that anyone using a psychotic cult reference from decades ago in a sports conversation may be a bit indicative of personal psychiatric deficiencies in the person making the reference.  


“Reason #6: Steve Irwin … “

See responses to #4 and #5.  Persistent obsession with death and tragedy in the context of a sports discussion is prima facie evidence of a serious mental disorder.  I’d suggest that is not the best environment for someone to represent a major university, nor even TCU.


Reason #7: Amateurism”

How very odd.  After using the word amateur, the writer cites numerous (but not all) examples of Baylor athletes who became professionals, while mentioning no TCU alumni in the pro ranks at all.   The dishonesty in ignoring the success of Baylor athletes besides the ones he mocks only further proves the opposite of his claim.  For the record, there are ten Baylor alumni currently active in the NFL.



Reason #8: A blueprint for coach behavior”

Art Briles has won the last two Big XII titles in football, two of his assistants are now FBS coaches in their own right, he has coached players every year to levels of success well beyond their initial evaluated talent, and media regularly comments about the courteous and team-focused character of both his players and his staff.   TCU?  Well, at least Patterson has that Rose Bowl ring he likes to show off so much … along with paranoid statements about imaginary events.


“Reason #9: Denial is not just a river in Waco

Apparently it runs deep in Fort Worth.  Briles beat TCU three of the last four years, including last year, which may have been TCU’s best team in the last half century. The writer admits Briles has “built a national contender with his high powered offense”, even while he throws lies and innuendo in an obvious display of his own paranoia and delusion.

Like so many of his other claims, this one tells us much more about TCU than the writer realizes, and demonstrates a sad lack of maturity in Dallas’ unsuccessful sister city. 



“There’s a ball game on Friday.”

Right.  And it scares the hell out of TCU.


Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Time again for an update for the College Football Playoff Committee imitation rankings. As of today, there are eighteen (18) remaining FBS schools which remain in playoff contention. This is the new ranking set.


Before I post the results, my analysis indicates that the CFP committee got most of their ranks wrong.  I base that on the fact that the three criteria they use for the final ranks, strength of schedule, conference championships, and head-to-head results, are premature at this time and so cannot be implemented.  The only two metrics available for an honest appraisal are the strength of opponents up to now, and the scale of the win.  That is, each game can be quantified by matching actual results against what the team’s opponents ordinarily do.  The committee ranked only eight of eighteen contenders within three places of where they should be ranked. One major contender was completely unranked by the committee, and five were ranked more than ten places from where their performance deserved them to be placed.


As a reminder, I took the average scoring offense and scoring defense for the contenders, and subtracted the defense from the offense to get the average scoring range. Then I tracked the games played and noted the difference between points scored and what the opponent normally allows, and what was allowed versus what the opponent normally scores. I then averaged those variances together, added it twice to the scoring range to find a grade. The totals for the eighteen remaining contenders range from 40.43 to 96.03. Here are the results, with variance from CFP positions noted:


1. Baylor (7-0, Big XII) – average margin of victory: 36.0 Offense averages scoring 23.6 points more than opponents average allowing. Defense averages allowing 6.4 points less than opponents average scoring. Worst game is Iowa St (win, net result +14.9), best game is Rice (win, net result is +44.4). Overall rating 96.03 (#6 in CFP, variance of 5 places, #2 in USA and AP polls);


2. Clemson (8-0, ACC Atlantic) - average margin of victory: 23.0 Offense averages scoring 18.6 points more than opponents average allowing. Defense averages allowing 12.5 points less than opponents average scoring. Worst game is Louisville (win, net result is +5.5), best game is Miami (win, net result is +57.4). Overall rating 85.05 (#1 in CFP, variance of 1 place, #5 in USA poll, #3 in AP);


3. Oklahoma (7-1, Big XII ) - average margin of victory: 23.3 Offense averages scoring 12.4 points more than opponents average allowing. Defense averages allowing 11.4 points less than opponents average scoring. Worst game is Texas (loss, net result is -15.8), best game is Kansas State (win, net result is +53.4). Overall rating 70.90 (#15 in CFP, variance of 12 places, #13 in USA poll, #12 in AP);


4. Ohio State (8-0, Big Ten East ) - average margin of victory: 23.4 Offense averages scoring 9.2 points more than opponents average allowing. Defense averages allowing 13.6 points less than opponents average scoring. Worst game is Indiana (win, net result is +2.8), best game is Rutgers (win, net result is +35.9). Overall rating 68.95 (#3 in CFP, variance of 1 place, #1 in USA and AP polls) ;


5. Alabama (7-1, SEC West) - average margin of victory: 17.1 Offense averages scoring 9.4 points more than opponents average allowing. Defense averages allowing 15.3 points less than opponents average scoring. Worst game is Ole Miss (loss, net result is +13.7), best game is Georgia (win, net result is +37.0). Overall rating 66.40 (#4 in CFP, variance of 1 place, #7 in both USA and AP polls);


6. TCU ( 8-0, Big XII) - average margin of victory: 23.5 Offense averages scoring 16.1 points more than opponents average allowing. Defense averages allowing 4.6 points less than opponents average scoring. Worst game is Minnesota (win, net result is +3.2), best game is Texas (win, net result is +34.2). Overall rating is 64.73 (#8 in CFP, variance of 2 places, #3 in USA poll, #5 in AP);


7. Houston (8-0, American West) – average margin of victory: 28.6 Offense averages scoring 11.2 points more than opponents average allowing. Defense averages allowing 6.2 points less than opponents average scoring. Worst game is Louisville (win, net result is +5.5), best game is Texas State (win, net result is +33.2). Overall rating is 63.40 (#25 in CFP, variance of 18 places, #18 in both USA and AP polls);


8. North Carolina (7-1, ACC Coastal) - average margin of victory: 21.7 Offense averages scoring 12.7 points more than opponents average allowing. Defense averages allowing 7.7 points less than opponents average scoring. Worst game is S Carolina (loss, net result is -10.0), best game is Illinois (win, net result is +34.9). Overall rating 62.45 (only major contender completely unranked by CFP! #21 in both USA and AP polls);


9. Notre Dame (7-1, Independent) – average margin of victory: 15.7 Offense averages scoring 11.5 points more than opponents average allowing. Defense averages allowing 8.3 points less than opponents average scoring. Worst game is Virginia (win, net result is -1.6), best game is Navy (win, net result is +32.1). Overall rating is 55.33 (#5 in CFP, variance of 4 places, #9 in USA poll, #8 in AP);


10.  Florida (7-1, SEC East) – average margin of victory: 15.5 Offense averages scoring 5.2 points more than opponents average allowing. Defense averages allowing 14.2 points less than opponents average scoring. Worst game is Kentucky (win, net result is +0.2), best game is Ole Miss (win, net result is +47.7). Overall rating is 54.18 (#10 in CFP, variance of 0 places, #9 in USA poll, #8 in AP);

11. Oklahoma State (8-0, Big XII) – 54.08 rating (#14 in CFP, variance of 3 places, #10 in USA poll, #12 in AP);
12. Memphis (8-0, American West) – 53.30 rating (#13 in CFP, variance of 1 place, #16 in USA poll, #15 in AP);

13. Iowa (8-0, Big Ten West) – 51.90 rating (#9 in CFP, variance of 4 places, #11 in USA poll, #10 in AP);
14. LSU (7-0, SEC West) – 50.13 rating (#2 in CFP, variance of 12 places, #4 in both USA and AP polls);
15. Stanford (7-1, Pac 12 North) – 49.90 rating (#11 in CFP, variance of 4 places, #8 in USA poll, #9 in AP);
16. Florida State (7-1, ACC Atlantic) – 48.68 rating (#16 in CFP, variance of 0 places, #15 in USA poll, #17 in AP);
17. Utah (7-1, Pac 12 North) – 42.45 rating (#12 in CFP, variance of 5 places, #14 in USA poll, #13 in AP);
18. Michigan State (8-0, Big Ten East) – 40.43 rating (#7 in CFP, variance of 11 places, #6 in both USA and AP polls).

Dropped out: Duke, Toledo, Temple, Pitt

I found it interesting to tally committee bias by conference:

AAC: 2 contenders ranked, ranging from 1 below to 18 below deserved ranks, avg 9.5 below earned position;
ACC: 3 contenders, two ranked within one place of deserved rank but one completely unranked despite top 8 performance, avg 5.7 below earned position;
Big XII: 4 contenders ranked, ranging from 2 below to 12 below deserved ranks, avg 5.5 below earned position;
Big Ten: 3 contenders ranked, ranging from 1 to 11 above deserved ranks, avg 5.3 above earned position;   
Ind.: 1 contender ranked, 4 places above earned position;
Pac 12: 2 contenders ranked, ranging from 4 to 5 places above deserved ranks, avg 4.5 above earned position;
SEC:  3 contenders ranked, ranging from 0 to 12 above deserved ranks, avg 4.3 above earned position.

The bias is obvious, and the partisan nature of the committee can be seen in the prejudicial rankings versus actual results.  The good news is that the season will play itself out, and teams ranked above their quality will be unable to maintain their position.  It is very likely, however, that the national champion will come from outside the top 2 seeds, as the committee should be expected to continue showing the partisan bias identified here.   The wild card here is North Carolina, which was greatly disrespected by the committee in the first poll.  If the Tarheels manage to win the ACC, will the committee give them the same appreciation shown to Clemson or will they continue to deny UNC its due respect?   


Note that this poll only tracks teams still contending for the playoffs, and so some 2+ loss teams may deserve to be ranked on the basis of quality but are not included here, since this is only for actual national championship contenders.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Contender Rankings October 15, 2015





Two weeks from next Tuesday, the College Football Playoff Committee will release their first set of rankings for the 2015 season.  After last year, there is a bit of information fans can use to help project who will be in the hunt this year, and why.  While a lot of people found the Committee arbitrary in their polls, especially the final one – even though I am a Baylor fan, I found it inexplicable that the Committee dumped TCU from 3rd to 6th in a single week, after the Frogs demolished their last regular-season opponent 55-3.  Of course, I also found the Committee’s various excuses unprofessional, but for all of that there seems to be a method at the base.  

First off, going undefeated is a premium, no matter who you are, but winning a conference title outright is also very important.  Power 5 schools have a strong advantage, but more than one loss and you are out of the running, no matter who you are.  At the time of this writing, there are thirty (30) FBS schools which have one loss or which are undefeated.   So my poll here seeks to rank those teams.

Here’s where it gets tricky.  Some folks make a big deal about Strength of Schedule, which I agree comes into play at the end of the season as a tie-breaker, but very few teams have played seriously heavy competition, and the ones which have generally took some losses.   Also, the polls show that decisive wins matter in the minds of most poll voters, which means that offensive and defensive excellence gets attention.  But to look further, a way to track performance in a manner which rewards effort and accomplishment regardless of the schedule and setting, is to see how a team performed against its opponents average results.  That is, laying 50 points on an opponent feels good, but it does not mean much if that team always lets offenses score heavy on it.  Similarly, a shutout looks great on a resume, but allowing a team 14 points that normally scores 40 is a better result than shutting out a team that averages 13 points a game.  So that’s how I graded our contenders.

First, I took the average scoring offense and scoring defense for the contenders, and subtracted the defense from the offense to get the average scoring range.  Then I tracked the games played and noted the difference between points scored and what the opponent normally allows, and what was allowed versus what the opponent normally scores.  I then averaged those variances together, added it twice to the scoring range to find a grade.  The totals ranged from 22.04 to 115.00.  Here are the results as of today:

1. Baylor (5-0, Big XII) – average margin of victory: 42.0 Offense averages scoring 23.7 points more than opponents average allowing.  Defense averages allowing 12.84 points less than opponents average scoring.  Overall rating 115.00;

2. Mississippi (5-1, SEC West) -  average margin of victory: 27.1  Offense averages scoring 18.3 points more than opponents average allowing.  Defense averages allowing 8.4 points less than opponents average scoring.  Overall rating 80.50;

3. Clemson (5-0, ACC Atlantic) -   average margin of victory: 18.8  Offense averages scoring 13.6 points more than opponents average allowing.  Defense averages allowing 15.98 points less than opponents average scoring.  Overall rating 78.00;

4. Alabama (5-1, SEC West) - average margin of victory: 19.0  Offense averages scoring 11.67 points more than opponents average allowing.  Defense averages allowing 16.7 points less than opponents average scoring.  Overall rating 75.87;

5. Michigan (5-1, Big Ten East) - average margin of victory: 23.2  Offense averages scoring 4.57 points more than opponents average allowing.  Defense averages allowing 20.05 points less than opponents average scoring.  Overall rating 72.43;

6.Duke (5-1, ACC Coastal) - average margin of victory: 22.2  Offense averages scoring 7.75 points more than opponents average allowing.  Defense averages allowing 16.28 points less than opponents average scoring.  Overall rating 70.27;

7. North Carolina (4-1, ACC Coastal) - average margin of victory: 20.6  Offense averages scoring 14.8 points more than opponents average allowing.  Defense averages allowing 9.04 points less than opponents average scoring.  Overall rating 68.20;

8. TCU ( 6-0, Big XII) - average margin of victory: 23.5  Offense averages scoring 17.5 points more than opponents average allowing.  Defense averages allowing 3.65 points less than opponents average scoring.  Overall rating 65.83;

9. Utah (5-0, Pac 12 North) - average margin of victory: 27.1  Offense averages scoring 10.7 points more than opponents average allowing.  Defense averages allowing 11.82 points less than opponents average scoring.  Overall rating 62.24;

10. Florida (6-0, SEC East) - average margin of victory: 17.9  Offense averages scoring 5.55 points more than opponents average allowing.  Defense averages allowing 16.6 points less than opponents average scoring.  Overall rating 62.20;

11. Florida State (5-0, ACC Atlantic) – 59.52 rating;
12. Texas A&M (5-0, SEC West) – 58.68 rating;
13. Stanford (4-1, Pac 12 North) – 55.68 rating;
14. California (5-1, Pac 12 North) – 55.50 rating;
15. Oklahoma State (6-0, Big XII) – 54.77 rating;
16. Oklahoma (4-1, Big XII) – 52.64 rating;
17. Houston (5-0, American West), 59.52 rating;
18. Ohio State (6-0, Big Ten East) – 51.73 rating;
19. Notre Dame (5-1, Independent) – 51.63 rating;
20. Temple (5-0, American East) – 48.52 rating;
21. Iowa (6-0, Big Ten West) – 48.27 rating;
22. LSU (5-0, SEC West) – 47.76 rating;
23. Toledo (5-0, MAC West) – 45.28 rating;
24. Memphis (5-0, American West) – 44.60 rating;
25. Northwestern (5-1, Big Ten West) – 42.23 rating;
26. Penn State (5-1, Big Ten East) – 41.77 rating;
27. UCLA (4-1, Pac 12 South) - 40.76 rating;
28. Pittsburgh (4-1, ACC Coastal) – 31.84 rating;
29. Michigan State (6-0, Big Ten East) – 31.27 rating;
30. Kentucky (4-1, SEC East) – 22.04 rating




It will be interesting to see how these grades change and whether the Committee’s rankings are similar.  Note that this poll only tracks teams still contending for the playoffs, and so some 2+ loss teams may deserve to be ranked on the basis of quality but are not included here, as this reflects only the playoff race at this date. 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Folly of Wealth Envy



Emotions can change your life.  Properly applied, they can motivate a person to accomplish great things, to create and build and be a stunning success.  Emotions can also corrode a person’s character, however, and drag the soul into a pit of hatred and malice.  This is sadly obvious when someone drives an effort to punish other people for being successful, especially in terms of wealth.  A lot of folks miss that error, because frankly there are not a lot of rich people compared to most of us, and most of us have never even met a billionaire.  Even so, hating someone just because they are wealthy is morally wrong and a big strategic mistake.

Let’s start with the guy in the photo:  Warren Buffett.  I chose him as an example for the following reasons:  One, I disagree with some of his opinions on politics and business, which means I am not some devoted sycophant. Two, he’s one of the wealthiest men in the world, so he should be an obvious target for the people who hate the wealthy.  Three, he’s been remarkably candid about how he makes his money, and what he does with it.  Four, like almost every other billionaire, Buffett created his own wealth; he started his first business at the age of 13 (delivering newspapers and created a horse racing tip sheet), and worked his butt off from there.  You may also want to note that Mr. Buffett is nearly 85 years old.  Like most other billionaires, Mr. Buffett gradually built his fortune over a lifetime.  So let’s stop right there and consider that billionaires for the most part are people who have worked really hard for a very, very long time, and they were ordinary folks when they started their work.  So hating these kinds of people means hating hard work and being careful with your money.  If you want to argue that wealth represents evil, you’re already abandoning common sense.  

Other things about Mr. Buffett that should be observed, include the fact that he changed his jobs as he progressed, replacing the newspaper delivery and horse race paper with stock investments, then later buying pinball games.  Buffett also understood the value of education, attending Penn, then Nebraska, then Columbia to study business and increase the scope of his knowledge.  Finally, it should be noted that there is no exact number for how much Mr. Buffett is worth.  This is due to several factors, including the fact that much of his wealth is in stocks and businesses, and their fluctuations in value affect his own worth.   Which brings me to another point that the haters miss – most wealthy people do not have all that much cash on hand.  A ‘billionaire’ is called that because his total wealth crosses a target number, but most of the wealth is tied up in investments and businesses; the percentage of their wealth available to spend is usually rather small.  This is another thing about money – it is meant to be used, and can create wealth only if it is put into motion.  The people who are worth the most, are actually among the least likely to just sit on money.  The stereotype is grossly false.


Wealth is not a zero-sum competition.  Farmers are a good example of how things really work.  They plant some seed after plowing the fields, they irrigate the plants and protect them from birds and insects, and watch carefully over the fields until it is time to harvest, then many times the original seed is harvested in crops.  Sometimes crops fail, but other times you break records.  It’s a combination of planning, careful time management  and lots of hard work, with some good and bad luck along the way, finishing with a lot more work to bring in the results.  But work makes wealth if you are smart and careful and do the work.  Sad to say, too many people miss at least one of those three parts of the formula.  A billionaire never kept anyone from success, any more than Bill Gates’ success with Microsoft kept Warren Buffett from becoming a success, or Oprah Winfrey’s success in media kept Mark Cuban from being a success as well.  It’s far better to work to become a success, than to hate someone for enjoying the rewards of their own hard work.    


Tuesday, June 02, 2015

The Road to Success Does Not have to Be Boring



See that guy in the picture?  That’s how he dresses for work, I kid you not.  That guy, you see, works under the stage name of ‘Piff The Magic Dragon’, and he does a mixture of card tricks and dry comedy.  He just showed up last week on American television, but he’s been working in the UK for a while, and seems to be doing all right for himself.   It’s too early to know how well he will do on the TV show, but what I like about him, is that he’s found a way to make his mark in a truly individual manner.

It’s no surprise to see phenomenal athletes succeed, or anyone else with an obvious advantage in ability.  But for most of us, it may be difficult to find our unique qualities, but if you find yours, sometimes you can do amazing things.



Consider this guy:

  


Sure, everyone knows Bill Gates, right?  But back when he started, who knew what the home computer and small business computer could be?  Well, Bill did, and he acted on that unique perspective.


Or consider this guy:



In an age where everyone in music is expected to be slim, American, and, well, ahead of the culture curve, how is it that a pudgy Korean with a heavy accent becomes the first artist to have over a billion YouTube views of a song which criticizes the pursuit of material consumption?  Psy knew his unique talent, and he played it to his advantage.



OK, so I’m pointing to obvious success stories, with names and faces everyone knows now.  Have you seen this guy?




Know this man?  Give up?  That’s Sean Connolly, and he is the CEO of ConAgra.   Never heard of ConAgra?  OK, how about Slim Jims, Health Choice, Swiss Miss, Hebrew National, Marie Calender’s, Bertolli, Chef Boyardee, Crunch & Munch, Pam cooking spray, Peter Pan peanut butter, Libby’s fruits, or any of more than forty-five brands of food products?  Yep, Mr. Connolly heads up a company that sold almost eighteen billion dollars worth of food last year, and is worth even more.  Impressed yet?

Mr. Connolly earned a BA from Vanderbilt, then an MBA from the University of Texas.  He’s worked his way up through Proctor & Gamble, Campbell’s Soup, then Sara Lee and the Hillshire Brands company, and now manages a global company which employs thousands of people and feeds hundreds of millions.  When the scope of his accomplishments is understood, Mr. Connolly becomes anything but boring.



Work can be boring, but your road to success does not have to be boring.  Dream big, then plan on how you will get there.  The suit you wear may vary







But your success depends mostly on believing in your purpose and acting on it.

Good luck.