Posted: December 17, 2011 in Social Commentary
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Every year for 100 years (something like that) I have made bowl picks with my friends. Even back in the 80s when I really didnt know much about the teams that didn’t possess the name Ohio State. Of course, back in the day, most of my forecasting centered around the NFL, for I was a HUGE NFL fan – when there was loyalty amongst players and management and a chance to build a real TEAM and not just rotating parts revolving around an overpaid “star”. I even called a bookie as a 12 year old to try to place a bet, not knowing there was an age minimum. Probably thankfully, I have never had much of an urge for gambling as an adult.

BUT, I have always been fascinated by the concept of Time and trying to see into the future – what works, what doesnt, and how much knowledge and intelligence can be used to solve this unknown. Even when I was a Physics Major back at Bucknell U, I was always questioning my Quantum Mechanics teachers about factors of time/space and predictability – much to their dismay – as for them and our whole Human race, these questions still remain an unsolved puzzle.

The first OBVIOUS QUESTION asked by most everyone the second they decide to take part in a “Pick-em” office pol,l or the like, is “what do I need to know?”, and/or “Does it matter how much I know?” Many times a lot of the fun is when members of said poll dont “have a clue” and actually get more picks right than those members who study furiously and/or brag of their knowledge. Still a mystery I am always observing and contemplating – “What part does knowledge play in the art of forecasting?”

I have some theories and observations that I will leave for another post at another Time. But for now, taking this simple concept, I will use this Bowl Season as a very “light” experiment. My good friend from Philadelphia, Dave, and I have been having a little two person poll since 1997. In the beginning I really didnt know much more than Dave. As the years went by and I ditched the NFL and became more of a College Football fan, the gap between our knowledge base widened like the Grand Canyon. Yet the overall numbers really didnt change much.

The bottom line was that I always tried harder and I ended up winning the 2 man poll every year except in the 2009 Season (I got my revenge last year :)). What does it all mean – its hard to tell, but ’09 was the first year where the temperatures dropped in the South and I got burned picking a lot of SEC teams who lost in cold conditions that year. I was really far behind Dave at one point, but adjusted accordingly and caught up to him the last week with the Title game as winner takes all! I lost when Colt McCoy went down after an early promising start for Texas making me wonder if it was simply in the “cards” that my streak had to come to an end some time and 2009 was the year.

But I do feel that a lot of what’s happening with constantly changing coaches/schemes and the battle between Old School and New School with these schemes, that we are seeing more unpredictability than ever before, which obviously helps to level the playing field. In fact, maybe the original 50/50 chance of any team winning any game at any time or place is in effect as much now as it was when they first started playing the game in the Ivy Leagues in the 1800s.

Or is it just a matter of understanding the Changing Face of Football – from weather conditions to schemes and the coaches who can implement and adjust the quickest? Does the forecaster now have to catch up to the times – like the coaches – and expand his knowledge base in an attempt to make the game more simple than it appears?

With that said, my knowledge base this year is unfortunately at its lowest since the 2001 Season when I first started getting the Phil Steele books and learning all the players and coaches for the upcoming year. I simply haven’t had time this fall due to entering the “Website Business”.

Ironically, this will also hurt Dave since I started offering Dave advice as a courtesy in recent years so that he would have more of a chance. I dont think that helped him much though in 2009 as Dave tends to be stubborn in his opinions, well informed or not, picks based on his “gut feeling” no matter how much I try to educate him. Though he says he does take my insight into account……hmmmm…..?

So here we are – Bowl Season 2011 and while I have accumulated a lot of knowledge over the years, I’m as clueless as I have ever been to a lot of the changes that happened in this particular year. Still, there’s a big enough gap between Dave and I (I think!) that it will still another year of experiment as to whether knowledge or the mystery of random luck has the upper hand in picking winners.

And, lastly, as a prelude to next year – I should be back to my usual obsessive College Football self in 2012, up to date on all the changes and happenings heading into next Bowl Season. Thus this is a general experiment in Half-Knowlege(Drew 2011) vs No-Knowledge(Dave Always) vs Full-Knowledge(Drew 2012).

Lets see if there’s any sense to be made of any of this??



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