6 min read

Leading & Lagging

Leading & Lagging

My original inspiration for this edition was going to be a lot about computer ranking systems and leading/lagging indicators but as I fleshed out the idea in my head it grew to be a lot more than that.

Predictive vs Retrodictive

I talked about this a bunch after the Boise loss - and I see it often when people question ranking systems. It's not uncommon (and on the surface it makes total sense!) for fans to say "how is it possible that team X is ahead of team Y when they lost to them!?" or "How is team A ahead of team B when they have 2 more losses!?"

There are a couple things at play here:

  1. Every system will have its outliers. Looking at a single team and disagreeing with its ranking doesn't invalidate the other 129 spots on the list
  2. Some systems are predictive, others are retrodictive and the rankings will be different.

A predictive system tries to predict future games or pose hypothetical matchups. Systems like will heavily use prior years data (usually weighted more heavily at the beginning of the season when there is no current data) to help with that.

You may hate it as a fan and you may think it makes that Jeff Sagarin dude an idiot, but push come to shove they do it because it makes the rankings more accurate. And most programs do not have insane turnarounds like Baylor has seen this season.

This is really hard in the college football world - you only have 12 games. There's very little interconference play. You have a revolving door of rosters year to year. Transfers are going up which makes this even more difficult. You have coaches moving constantly and schemes changing with those moves.

These rankings also do not care one bit about wins and losses. Those are lagging indicators - you can't make a prediction on a game from a lagging indicator. You can use it as a proxy for a quick  guess of "yeah they'll probably beat them because they've beat X,Y,Z" but to make a real, scalable, prediction you have to take HOW the game was played and see then how the teams match up.

Yards per play. Success rate. Explosive Plays. Tempo. Early down rush rate. Average starting field position. Percent of Possessions inside the 40 with points scored.

A sample of the myriad of things that all can be piped in - except turnovers.

Turnovers are random - so they cannot be predicted. But when they happen, they are huge. Let's take a look at 2 games this season:

Game 1: Outgain opponents by 111 yards. Average 8.2 yards per pass and 4.1 yards per carry. Defense holds opponent to 5.9 yards per pass and 3.1 yards per carry. Opponent converts 7/16 3rd downs

Game 2: Outgain opponents by 122 yards. Average 8.4 a pass and 6.1 a carry. Opponent averages 6.5 a pass but a tiny 0.9 yards a carry. Opponent converts 11/21 3rd downs - worse than game 1!

Overall pretty similar - But the first game was Boise State and the second Utah State. One game we were -6 including 4th downs and the other +2 in turnovers.

All of the inputs said we should have beat them. We played well against them - but the seismic, unpredictable variable of turnovers majorly affected the outcome. But we didn't move much in the rankings because we outplayed them in every way that is a repeatable process - and we are the better team. Which is why today in Massey Composite we are 17 and the Broncos are 30.

Retrodictive rankings show a resume - and that is what the CFP and AP Polls should be IMO - but they really aren't. They use Wins and Losses as the ranking because you can only win the games you play and predictions are la-la-land so we should ignore them when it comes to finding teams for a playoff.

The Leading Indicators Come Before the Payoff

You could look at all those inputs like an investment - if you spend time in practice on chunk plays, you will hopefully get more chunk plays in games. And more chunk plays than your opponent TYPICALLY leads to a win.

BYU has an invite in hand to join the Big 12 in 2023. We also have missions to deal with. If we wait to start investing to be on par with our Big 12 peers until 2023, we it may take 2 years to get the added recruiting and analyst staffs up to full speed and running and making a difference on the recruiting trail. That puts us at 2025.

Now those kids go on a mission and miss two years. They come home and need a year to re-acclimate and then a couple years to work up the depth chart. That's 25/26 on a mission, 27 home and getting in shape, 28/29 on the two deep and it's 2030 by the time they are an upperclassmen, 7 years into playing in the new league.

So the investment in staff and infrastructure are needed right now. It needs to happen this off season to be able to hit the ground running in our new league and make a statement that we are the program to be reckoned with. That money doesn't grow on trees - but like we wrote about last week about NIL - it is a new era of Cougar fans with open checkbooks and if we put out the call, the money is there.

To be on par with other Big 12 programs, BYU needs to add at least 15 bodies to the staff - that's an analyst assigned to every position coach and 5 more bodies to be in recruiting full time. The cost to the budget for that is 1.5MM to 2MM a year. The money will be there to cover it when the Big 12 TV money starts rolling in (we will get a 50% cut in 23/24 then whatever the new TV deal is in 2025 onward), but if Tom made the call, the money would be there today.

Pay Kalani (& Co)

Washington fired Jimmy Lake yesterday, and Kalani was #1 on most lists of possible hires.

USC is also open.

UCLA might let go of Chip Kelly.

ASU is under investigation and Herm Edwards could get canned there.

All of those schools will be banging on Sitake's door dangling cash in front of him.

Kalani isn't the guy to chase dollars for dollars sake - but he has coached in P5 programs and knows what resources are needed to compete. If BYU won't give the expanded  support staff budget, the job starts to feel like a "I'm really hampered and I don't have the tools to meet the expectations in place" which is never good.

Kalani Needs a Self Extending Deal

Give the man what he wants for his salary pool and what he says he needs to complete. He isn't going to go overboard - he understands BYU and respects the church's stance on being frugal. You have to trust that he isn't fleecing you - and he won't be.

There's guesses at what he makes now, and you might say "HE JUST GOT EXTENDED IN AUGUST!" - that was before a Big 12 invite, and before we were ranked again in the top 15 and before a bunch of jobs int he P12 opened that will want him. He is more valuable now than he was then and he needs to be compensated accordingly.

If it were up to me his deal would look like this:

  • $3MM base annually for 5 years - this is middle of the road for Big 12 salaries
  • Whatever he says he needs for his assistants and staff to get what he wants
  • Every year we win 8 games, one year gets added to the deal at a set % increase
  • Every year we win 10 games, two years get added in the same fasion
  • Bonuses for recruiting rankings and academic performance
  • $500k bonus for Conference Championship/New Year's 6 appearance
  • $1MM bonus for winning 40 games over any given span of 4 seasons.

It's more than just Sitake

There is also a salary pool for assistants - if we want to be able to hire coaches that aren't on their first job or promote FCS guys, or hire guys on the backend of their career where money isn't an issue anymore, we need a larger pool. We have a home run offensive staff - they will be in demand and if they leave for other jobs, we shouldn't have to run the risk of unproven hires. We should be past that stage as a P5 school with a national following.

Let's compare the WVU salaries that were brought up by a GEHB subscriber in our VIP Chat last night:

Head Coach: $3.9MM

Defensive Coordinator: $560k

O-Line: $440k

Running Backs/Off Coordinator: $430k

Tight Ends: $330k

QB: $240k

Wide Receivers: $200k

Linebackers: $225k

Corners: $250k

Safties: $250k

D-Line: $300k

The time for "ballin' on a budget BYU" is over. This is the new reality for what we need to compete. We need to be leading by putting the investment in place to be ready in 2023. If it is a matter of funds - put out the call. Start another All In campaign or open up the Coaches Circle. Hell, give me Kalani's Venmo and I'll pay him directly.

Jeff and I have upped our Cougar Club donations to do what we can in the effort and encourage you to do the same.