What exactly is “game control” anyway?


The latest batch of College Football Playoff rankings have been released. Now a month into this new format, we know a few things about the way the selection committee for the College Football Playoff appears set on operating.

First, head-to-head competition matters, most of the time. Alabama just jumped Mississippi State to take over the top spot in the ranking after defeating Mississippi State on the field. However, Baylor continues to lag behind TCU even though the Bears defeated the Horned Frogs earlier in the season.

Second, strength of schedule is probably important. Mississippi State only fell four spots after losing, dropping from number one to number four after losing on the road at Alabama. The committee seems to view Mississippi State’s loss as the highest quality loss out of all of the one-loss teams. The overall strength of the SEC appears to counterbalance the lack of non-conference schedule Mississippi State played through, something sure to irk Baylor fans as well.

Third, it’s not just about winning games. You have to look good doing it. Which leads me to one final observation.

We have new buzz terms infiltrating our college football conversations. Forget about “margin of victory.” Now it is all about “game control.”

Uh, so what exactly is “game control?”

Game control is a new stat being used by the playoff selection committee and ESPN for its power rankings. As defined by ESPN, game control “[reflects] chance that an average Top 25 team would control games from start to end the way this team did, given the schedule.”

“As with going from basic W-L to Strength of Record, each team’s average in-game win probability gets translated to Game Control based on how hard it would be for a top team to achieve it, given the schedule. Game Control also ends up on a 0-to-100 scale, measuring how well a team controlled games from start to finish, accounting for the difficulty of the games it has played to date.” – ESPN.com, October 7, 2014

How this is calculated is anybody’s guess, so we are left to take it at face value for whatever it is. In a sense, it is what ESPN says it is.

College Football Playoff selection committee chairman Jeff Long, also the athletics director at Arkansas, used game control to explain a number of decisions the committee made with its most recent rankings. Specifically, Long used the term to explain why Alabama could jump to number one and undefeated Florida State could remain third for a second straight week behind two one-loss teams (Alabama and Oregon).

“We look at the games, how they’ve played them, whether they’ve controlled the game,” Long said about Florida State. “They’ve had a number of come-from-behind victories.”

Simply winning games, as referenced above, is not the most important thing in the eyes of the committee. They want you to dominate as well. It is true that Florida State has had to dig out of holes this season to remain undefeated. It is also plausible this year’s team may not be as good as it was in 2013 en route to a perfect season and BCS national title. But, Florida State has never lost actual control of any game on their schedule.

Alabama and Oregon have. How do we know this? They each lost a game. It is hard to suggest they had control of games they lost, if we are to go by the logic apparently being used by the committee.

Ole Miss transfer Breon Dixon confirms mutual parting with Nebraska

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Maybe the third time will be a charm for Breon Dixon?

First reported by Rivals.com, Dixon “will not be with the [Nebraska] program going forward.” Citing a source with knowledge of the situation, the Omaha World-Herald subsequently confirmed the initial report, writing that the linebacker “is off the team.”

Neither media outlet provided specifics as to the reason or reasons behind the apparent parting of ways.

Thus far, the football program has not yet addressed the reports, although the player did as he stated in a Twitter post that indicated a mutual parting of ways.

Dixon began his collegiate playing career at Ole Miss, but transferred to Nebraska in January of 2018 in the aftermath of NCAA sanctions levied on the SEC school.  Because of those sanctions, Dixon was granted immediate eligibility with the Cornhuskers.

After playing in four games this past season, Dixon, a four-star 2017 signee, was able to take advantage of the new redshirt rule that preserved a year of eligibility.

Georgia transfer Luke Ford denied waiver for immediate eligibility at Illinois by NCAA, will appeal

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If nothing else, the NCAA’s inconsistency is ridiculously and maddeningly consistent.

The dawning of a new morning yesterday brought word that Coastal Carolina transfer Brock Hoffman‘s appeal for immediate eligibility at Virginia Tech was denied because, one, Blacksburg is five miles outside of the NCAA-mandate 100-mile radius from the lineman’s home and, two, his mom’s health is improving two years removed from brain surgery that left her with myriad ongoing issues.  Fast-forward a few hours the same day and Luke Ford, a transfer from Georgia, took to Twitter to announce that his appeal for immediate eligibility at Illinois has been shot down by the NCAA as well.

The main reason for Ford, a native of Carterville, Ill., transferring to the Fighting Illini was so that the tight end could be closer to his ailing grandfather; a portion of the NCAA’s denial indicated that a grandparent is not part of the nuclear family as mandated by The Association’s bylaws.  Additionally, Ford’s home is nearly twice the distance allowed by the same governing body’s rules.

Ford will informally appeal the NCAA’s initial denial of a waiver before, if necessary, moving on to what would be a formal and final appeal.

“We’re all disappointed Luke Ford’s waiver request for immediate eligibility was denied,” a statement from the university began. “There is an appeal process that we intend to help Luke explore.”

The NCAA should be applauded for becoming much less restrictive when it comes to transfers and granting waivers of late to players whose sole motivation for a move was a better shot at immediate playing time (hello, Tate Martell and Justin Fields, for example); they can, though, do much, much, much better, especially as it pertains to cases such as Ford and Hoffman that involve nothing more than simple human decency.

Clemson confirms RB Tavien Feaster enters transfer database

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Clemson has, more than likely, seen its depth in a talented backfield take a hit.

With rumors swirling earlier in the day, Clemson confirmed Wednesday evening that Tavien Feaster has entered the NCAA transfer database and is looking to leave the Tigers.  The running back will graduate from the university in August and intends to “continue his college career somewhere else,” Dabo Swinney said in a portion of a statement released by the football program.

Feaster could always pull his name from the portal and remain with the Tigers, although that doesn’t seem likely at this point.

“We appreciate Tavien for everything he brought to Clemson University and our program and we wish him nothing but the best moving forward,” the head coach said in closing out his statement.

Feaster will apparently finish the Clemson portion of his playing career with 1,330 career rushing yards and 15 touchdowns on 222 carries, as well as 183 receiving yards and one touchdown on 23 receptions.  The Spartanburg, SC, native started 11 of the 41 games in which he appeared for the Tigers.

As a grad transfer, Feaster would be eligible to play immediately at another FBS school.  The upcoming season will be the back’s final year of eligibility.

Nick Saban back at work 48 hours after hip surgery, already putting walker and cane through ‘The Process’

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There’s no stopping Nick Saban. Certainly not a new hip.

The Alabama head coach, as some around the program no doubt expected, is not taking it easy at all after undergoing right hip replacement surgery on Monday. In fact, not 48 hours later he’s back in business at his office in Tuscaloosa.

Saban is supposed to spend the next 6-8 weeks recovering from the surgery but the 67-year-old does not appear to be sticking by that timetable for getting back to full strength.

“I had one day on the walker… Now I’m on the cane. I’ll probably throw that (SOB) away tomorrow,” Saban told TideSports.com. “I think in two weeks, I will be 100 percent.

“They won’t let me play golf for six weeks for some reason, but I am going to try and get that reduced.”

Ahh yes, even Saban’s rehab is getting put through the rigors of his famous ‘Process.’