In 2003, Michael Lewis brought the baseball debate of `scouts vs stats' to a firestorm with the publication of his bestselling book Moneyball. A similar debate appears to be brewing right here in the CFB blogosphere. On the one side, the Highfalutin `Pologist and, to a lesser extent, College Football Resource, are throwing all their intellectual muscle behind the idea that complex, pro-style offenses are the present and future of college football utopia. Pushing back with equal force are folks like Kyle at Dawg Sports, arguing that defense, above all, is what wins you titles.
To be perfectly fair: proponents on each side aren't saying that both don't matter greatly, but there's a distinct difference in philosophy about which side is most important.
In a funny way, though, this debate is starting to look a lot like the scouts vs stats debate in baseball. With apologies for necessary generalizations, the debate breaks down essentially this way: scouts evaluate players with what they see, statistics be damned. On the other side, the data folks go Descartes: your eyes can deceive you. Thus, look at the numbers - they're a better predictor of future outcomes.
I'm a numbers guy. And though baseball is a sport which lends itself far better to drawing conclusions from numbers than college football, I prefer to have statistical evidence to support my conclusions.
And while I'm not going to go into a big breakdown of the numbers in this particular post, I'll point you to some basic statistical number crunching done at the end of the college football season in 2005 by SMQ (here, here, and here).
I'm not taking sides in this debate yet. Really, I'm not.
So rather than jump full force into this fray at this particular moment, I turn you instead to Kyle's most recent essay, which is absolutely terrific. Go, read, and come back. (Seriously.)
Okay. I draw your attention to that post because I'm going to be leading the charge for making the case that Texas is going to repeat as national champions. That may not sound like much from a guy who is an unabashed Longhorn freak, but long time readers of this blog know that Andrew and I tend to be pessimistic, or at the least cautiously optimistic.
Not this year. Over the next three months I plan to argue with as much vigor as I can summon that the 2006 Texas Longhorn defense is going to wreak havoc on its opponents' offenses in the same way that Vince Young wrought havoc on opponents' defenses last year. The front seven will be the best in the country. The secondary, despite losing Huff, will be just fine with Michael Griffin (he of Rose Bowl heroics) and Marcus Griffin, and return far more experience than most non-Longhorn obsessed realize.
You're gonna see a lot of this in Austin this fall.
Add in the fact that Texas returns a defensive coordinator for the first time in a long time, and the recipe is there for the best Mack Brown defense we've seen on the 40 Acres.
When you mix in the good enough offense, led by a phenomenal running game... and it just might all come together again. I won't be surprised if we lose a game, or even two. But I won't be surprised if this is the best team in the country, either.
Which just reminds me: 86 more days. Damnit!