clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Plagiarism is kind of a big deal

Update [2007-6-12 17:4:47 by Skin Patrol]: Resolution
Football Outsiders is one of my favorite NFL resources. The brilliant mathlete nerds over there have broken down football statistics in a manner unparalleled throughout the tubenets, and I defer to them, and their DVOA formula, as authority on many matters. In my opinion, the Outsiders have always represented the kind of in depth, impartial, and thoughtful analysis of football that is sorely lacking on the shout-a-thons of ESPN. Whereas conventional wisdom (which stated differently is just the most popular wrong opinion) dominates the airwaves through talking heads, The Outsiders have done an outstanding job of challenging that and creating their own methods. They approach football as a science, and viewers benefit in a way they couldn't from the front page of, for instance.

We've talked about David Lewin's QB projection system here, as it projects Jason Campbell as an outstanding QB prospect. That observation (that he did so well under the Lewin system) was far more intriguing to me than, say, Adam Schefter "Pro Bowl prediction" report. The Outsiders design their data systems for prediction, unlike the subjective pronouncements of JC's teammates or coaches or anyone else. Thus when FO projects X, you can know that is a founded and justifiable assertion (even if it proves wrong). I wish the guys at FO, who have been breaking into the mainstream at Fox Sports, had a larger role in shaping NFL debate amongst casual fans. We'd all be better off.

It is with both great pride as well as empathetic frustration for what's happened to them, that I point readers to a suspicious situation whereas's Gil Brandt writes something that sounds a lot like it was written by someone else earlier. You can guess my own conclusion based on the presence of this post, though I beg reader(s) reach their own conclusion in the comments section. First, what was written by FO Godfather Aaron Schatz:

In 1998, the Indianapolis Colts faced one of the most important decisions in franchise history. With the No. 1 overall pick, would they take Manning or Leaf? Peyton proponents argued that he was more mature and accomplished. Leaf backers argued he had the stronger arm and more growth potential. But all the Colts really needed to know was four numbers: Manning started 45 college games, completing 63% of his passes. Leaf started just 24 games, completing 54% of his passes. The future couldn't be more clear.

It's true: College statistics really can predict NFL performance. For our 2006 Pro Football Prospectus, we studied 10 years' worth of drafts and discovered that the greatest indicator of NFL success for QBs taken in the first two rounds is the number of college games they started. Philip Rivers, for one, started 51 games at NC State. Donovan McNabb started 49 college games and Carson Palmer started 45. On the flip side, busts-to-be Joey Harrington (28), Jim Druckenmiller (24), and Akili Smith (19) had relatively little starting experience.

And now, Gil Brandt:
There seem to be two important predictors for success when drafting quarterbacks. One is games started. Peyton Manning started 45 games and completed 63 percent of his passes. Ryan Leaf started 24 games and completed 54 percent of his passes. Philip Rivers started 51, Donovan McNabb 49 and Carson Palmer 45; all three have quarterbacked teams to playoff games. Joey Harrington started 28 games, Jim Druckenmiller 24 and Akili Smith 19. All were first-round picks in the past 10 drafts, two are no longer in the league and Harrington will be playing for his third team in three years.
As frustrating as this is, it must also be a real honor to have your work posted at I consider that vindication of the work those guys do, though it needs to be cited directly. As one FO commenter pointed out:
So, when the Outsiders are being plagerized by the insiders, does this mean you guys have made it?