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Why I’m not excited about Brian Kelly’s interview with Eagles…

While I was sleeping on the jobsite this week, the Eagles interviewed Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly. Upon learning of this, I suffered a Joe Kuharich flashback. But that's not the real reason I'm unimpressed by the Kelly interview.





It feels to me that this is one of those interviews where a college head coach decides to enhance his value to his current employer. Sure, it doesn't hurt to put your toe in the NFL waters and get to know a few influential folks for future reference, either. But I am dubious that Kelly has any real intention of becoming the Eagles head coach in 2013.

I have no empirical evidence to support my feeling about Kelly. My only real clue is something I heard Kelly's current boss Jack Swarbrick (athletic director at Notre Dame) say on ESPN radio Monday night before the BCS game: "We will do everything in our power to make sure Brian Kelly remains head coach at Notre Dame."

Brian Kelly would be at least the fourth college coach the Eagles have considered for their opening at the top, after Chip Kelly and Penn State's Bill O'Brien decided to stay where they are and Syracuse's Doug Marrone accepted an offer from the Buffalo Bills before the Eagles could interview him.

In Brian Kelly, the Eagles would get someone with a strong defensive background but no NFL experience. But if they decide he's their best choice, landing him will be tricky. Like O'Brien and Chip Kelly, Brian Kelly seems destined to stay where he is for at least another season, if not a bunch.

He's repeatedly stated that Notre Dame is his dream job. On the other hand, he hasn't ruled out making another leap after rising through the college ranks from his first head coaching job at Grand Valley State, which he led to a pair of Division II national titles. "For me to say I'll never coach in the NFL, I have no idea," Kelly said last week. "I'm not trying to be evasive. It's the truth of the matter. It's all about timing."

ESPN has reported that Kelly has already met with the Eagles but that he is out of the country now on vacation.

Before coming to Notre Dame, Kelly coached current Eagles center Jason Kelce at Cincinnati, where Kelce originally broke in as a walk-on linebacker before making the switch to center.

Eagles general manager Howie Roseman has not responded to an inquiry about whether they will reach out to Alabama's Nick Saban, who's hinted strongly that he has no intention of leaving Alabama but has never ruled it out either.

Luck-Driven Factors in Winning a Game in the NFL…

GK Brizer has often referred to the "bad-bounce" factor in his analysis of what influences the outcome of a single game. I try to search for quantitative metrics to illustrate and support his theorem.

Some good illustrations occasionally come from Football Outsiders.com, but this one comes from Causal Sports.com, a pretty nifty site written by Tyler Williams, which I recommend if you are into sabremetrics, or if you are simply gifted with Brizerian curiosity.

Especially in a one-and-done scenario like the Playoffs, it's important to account for the FUMBLE, which it turns out is nearly impossible to predict or who will recover it when it does happen.

Predicting a single game outcome needs to adjust for possible luck in fumble recoveries. In his article, Tyler Williams tries to come up with a pythagorean formula to factor in this particular bad bounce. But it's really difficult.

Stripping the ball is a skill. Holding onto the ball is a skill. Pouncing on the ball as it is bouncing all over the place is NOT a skill. There is no correlation whatsoever between the percentage of fumbles recovered by a team in one year and the percentage they recover in the next year. The odds of recovery are based solely on the type of play involved, not the teams or any of their players . . . Fumble recovery is a major reason why the general public overestimates or underestimates certain teams. Fumbles are huge, turning-point plays that dramatically impact wins and losses in the past, while fumble recovery percentage says absolutely nothing about a team’s chances of winning games in the future. With this in mind, Football Outsiders stats treat all fumbles as equal, penalizing them based on the likelihood of each type of fumble (run, pass, sack, etc.) being recovered by the defense.

The keys are:

  1. Fumbles are huge turning points in games
  2. Teams don’t maintain high or low recovery rates over time

To quantify #1, I determined the point value of a recovery. A simple regression of point differential in each game on total fumbles and fumbles recovered shows that, holding the number of total fumbles constant for each team, a home team fumble is worth about 2.8 points of point differential, and an away team fumble is worth about 3.7 points of point differential in the other direction.* Imagine a game where each team fumbles four times, but the home team recovers none while the visitors recover all four. Adjusting both teams to the average recovery rate of 2.2 out of four fumbles (about 56%, which includes fumbles nullified by penalties and replay reviews) changes the point differential by over ten points.

I almost get that! Or as Ollie once said to Stanley after Stan made a comically sound and logical proposal to start their own fishing business—"Wait a minute [pause for quizzical stare at Stanley]…"Run that by me again."