Like Brad Pitt in Moneyball, Hoiberg’s success has a statistical foundation

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The movie Moneyball detailed the story of the Oakland A’s successful use of sabermetrics – a statistical analysis of baseball based upon objective evidence rather than gut-feelings and human observation – to determine the value of players.

Starring Brad Pitt, Moneyball was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

For stat geeks (or Brad Pitt fans), the movie was a home run.

At the end of last season, Iowa State men’s basketball coach Fred Hoiberg got accolades for being the “best timeout tactician” in college basketball in a story by SI.com’s Luke Winn.

The author – citing several innocuous statistical measures – concluded that Hoiberg did more with possessions after TOs than anyone in the nation.

That’s coaching.

In the movie, there is a scene in which the Assistant General Manager tells Pitt’s character that “people are overlooked for a variety of biased reasons and perceived flaws. Mathematics cuts straight through that.”

When Hoiberg was hired at ISU, the skeptics spoke loudly about his lack of head coaching experience. That generalization was based upon perceived shortcomings.

Although some crazy formula said Hoiberg was the nation’s best tactician after timeouts, any Cyclone observer would note that 23 wins certified his coaching abilities even more.

It didn’t really take a Pythagorean calculation or a correlated Gaussian methodology to state that case.

Reader feedback is welcome at 2minutetimeout@iastate.edu. You can also follow me on Twitter at: twitter.com/SteveMalchow

Cyclones’ “Pillars of Success” provide foundation for exciting future

There were only 11 schools in Division 1A athletics whose football team played in a bowl game and the men’s & women’s basketball and volleyball teams participated in their NCAA Championships last season.

Iowa State was one of them.

Much of the credit should be directed toward coaches Paul Rhoads, Fred Hoiberg, Bill Fennelly and Christy Johnson-Lynch.

Hoiberg became the latest of them to show his allegiance to the Cyclones by agreeing recently to an eight-year contract.

“Our recent achievement has been achieved through hard work by many individuals, but the pillars of that success are Paul, Fred, Bill and Christy,” Director of Athletics Jamie Pollard said. “The common trait of these coaches is dynamic leadership. Each has also demonstrated a commitment to Iowa State and a desire to be Cyclones.”

Consider these facts:

·        Rhoads has guided Iowa State to two bowls in the last three years (it had been seven years since that happened)… Rhoads agreed to a 10-year contract extension in 2011;

·        Hoiberg led his Cyclones to their first NCAA Tournament since 2005… Hoiberg agreed to an eight-year contact in May;

·        Fennelly had coached his clubs to the NCAA Tournament six years in a row (unprecedented at Iowa State)… Fennelly agreed to a 12-year contract in 2007; and

·        Johnson-Lynch has taken her program to six straight appearances in the NCAA Championship (unprecedented at the school)… Johnson-Lynch agreed to a four-year contract in 2010.

When you are able to surround yourself with outstanding individuals in leadership positions, there is an opportunity for sustained success. The Cyclones seem pretty well primed for an exciting future.

Cyclones’ “Pillars of Success” form foundation for exciting future

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There were only 11 schools in Division 1A athletics whose football team played in a bowl game and the men’s & women’s basketball and volleyball teams participated in their NCAA Championships last season.

Iowa State was one of them.

Much of the credit should be directed toward coaches Paul Rhoads, Fred Hoiberg, Bill Fennelly and Christy Johnson-Lynch.

Hoiberg became the latest of them to show his allegiance to the Cyclones by agreeing recently to an eight-year contract.

“Our recent achievement has been achieved through hard work by many individuals, but the pillars of that success are Paul, Fred, Bill and Christy,” Director of Athletics Jamie Pollard said. “The common trait of these coaches is dynamic leadership. Each has also demonstrated a commitment to Iowa State and a desire to be Cyclones.”

Consider these facts:

·         Rhoads has guided Iowa State to two bowls in the last three years (it had been seven years since that happened)… Rhoads agreed to a 10-year contract extension in 2011;

·         Hoiberg led his Cyclones to their first NCAA Tournament since 2005… Hoiberg agreed to an eight-year contact in May;

·         Fennelly had coached his clubs to the NCAA Tournament six years in a row (unprecedented at Iowa State)… Fennelly agreed to a 12-year contract in 2007; and

·         Johnson-Lynch has taken her program to six straight appearances in the NCAA Championship (unprecedented at the school)… Johnson-Lynch agreed to a four-year contract in 2010.

When you are able to surround yourself with outstanding individuals in leadership positions, there is an opportunity for sustained success. The Cyclones seem pretty well primed for an exciting future.

Champions Bowl created a buzz because Big 12 & SEC teams have historically moved the TV needle.

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There was a great deal of buzz generated when the Big 12 and SEC announced that schools from their leagues will meet in a post-season football game called, for the time being, the “Champions Bowl.”

Prior to that announcement, the Rose Bowl (with Pac-12 and Big Ten participants) was the only major bowl with two league affiliations.

As college football moves towards a playoff, the arrangement for the “Champions Bowl” mirrors that of the Rose Bowl. Top schools from the Big 12 & SEC (“Champions”) and Big Ten & Pac-12 (Rose) – who don’t make the playoffs – are paired in bowls.

The “Champions Bowl” is getting a lot of attention and the reason is simple. Since the formation of the Bowl Championship Series in 1999, BCS games involving the SEC and Big 12 have been the most watched on television.

The highest-rated BCS game annually (based upon TV viewership) has featured an SEC team eight times and a Big 12 squad seven times. The Big Ten (three) and Pac-12 (twice) have played in the highest-rated game only five times combined.

Fans and TV execs like seeing the best teams play in post-season competition. That’s why there has been such a buzz about a game with a temporary name but matching up schools from the SEC and Big 12.

Reader feedback is welcome at 2minutetimeout@iastate.edu. You can also follow me on Twitter at: twitter.com/SteveMalchow

Requiring conference title for playoff admission in college football flies in the face of what has transpired in sports the last two years.

Followers of college football have been clamoring for a playoff so that a true national champion can be crowned.

What’s puzzling is that some fans, media and athletics administrators believe the playoff field should include only conference champions. That seems out-of-touch in light of what has transpired the last two years. Here is a partial list of the teams that won world or national championships in seasons they didn’t win their own division:

·         St. Louis won the 2011 World Series (they finished 2nd in the NL Central);

·         Green Bay won the 2011 Super Bowl (they finished 2nd in the NFC North);

·         Dallas won the 2010-11 NBA Championship (they finished 2nd in the Southwest);

·         Alabama won the 2012 college football championship (they finished 2nd in the SEC West);

·         UCONN won the 2011 college men’s basketball championship (they finished tied for 9th in the Big East);

·         Los Angeles & New Jersey are currently competing for the Stanley Cup (L.A. was 3rd in the Pacific and N.J. was 4th in the Atlantic).


Saying that conference champs only can make the playoff really means you want to limit the number of schools from any one league or division. That could eliminate a worthy contender if more than one great team competes in a division or conference.

Requiring a conference title for playoff admission in college football could be awkward.

Let’s say LSU wins the SEC West with a 9-3 record and undefeated Georgia (12-0) wins the SEC East. Let’s say UGA also registered a non-conference road win vs. a nationally ranked team and defeated LSU during the regular season.

Then, the Tigers defeat the Bulldogs by a field goal in double overtime of the SEC Championship game. If only league champs advance to the playoffs, it would mean a 10-3 team gets selected over a 12-1 squad with a much stronger full-season resume.

There have certainly been many conference, league and division winners who have gone on to the win championships. But, there have been others (non-champs) who got hot at the right time and made worthy championship runs, too.

Reader feedback is welcome at 2minutetimeout@iastate.edu. You can also follow me on Twitter at: twitter.com/SteveMalchow