That cohort has a similar number of great games but also a large bump around QBR 20, which are bad games by any measure — a bump that the Luck group avoids. Not surprisingly, the Luck group has a career win percentage of 59 percent, while the former cohort is only 53 percent. In the NFL, interceptions (a key component of a low QBR score) can drag a team, and a QBR, down.Now compare both of those groupings to the one with Ben Roethlisberger, Nick Foles, Philip Rivers and Russell Wilson.They, too, have a bump around QBR 25, but their peak checks in somewhere around a QBR of 85 — a score that gives a team a very good chance to win. That elevated number would explain why the group’s 64 percent win percentage is the highest of the three groups previously mentioned. The occasional bad game won’t break a quarterback as long as his good performances are strong enough.Other quarterbacks might not like their company. Alex Smith chafes at the idea that he’s a “game manager,” and talent scout Russ Lande thinks he might not be. “Smith is often referred to as [a game manager], but physically, he doesn’t limit you,” he says. “You don’t have to make him a game manager. I think it’s just that some quarterbacks have that philosophy, ‘I’m never going to throw it where it’s a risk.’ It’s more based on their mentality than their physical skill set.” And yet the stats group Smith with E.J. Manuel, Jason Campbell, Josh Freeman, Josh McCown, Matt Hasselbeck and Mark Sanchez. Among that company, perhaps game manager is a generous term.One of the most interesting groups involves a player who is no longer in the league. Favre’s games after 2006 landed in the same cohort as post-2006 Michael Vick and Vince Young, two quarterbacks known for making plays with their feet and not much else. We can explain this by breaking down Favre against Dalton. Although their average QBR is nearly identical, the vast majority of Dalton’s games fall between a QBR of 25 and 75. Favre, the ultimate freelancer, has a big bump around 15 QBR and another between 80 and 85. Dalton won’t win a team the game, but he probably won’t lose it. Favre, however, is likely to do either.That difference results from playing style, according to John Westenhaver, president of Football Evaluations and a long-time quarterback talent evaluator. An average quarterback makes about half of his throws using nontraditional mechanics because he’s forced out of the pocket or rushed, but the former Green Bay Packers star made many more than that, often to his detriment. “Favre, to me, put that to the extreme. Although he’s passed for a gazillion yards, I think he leads the league in interceptions.7Favre threw 336 career interceptions, well ahead of second-place George Blanda’s 277. Sometimes you have to make a decision: Am I going to throw from this alternative platform, or is it best to select some other alternative, which may be to take the sack, throw the ball out of bounds, run the ball?”Rivers and Luck offer similar stories. Their career QBRs — 61.5 and 60.8, respectively — aren’t quite Manning’s 76.1 or Brady’s 70.1, but they are good enough to rank the pair in the top 10 of quarterbacks whom we examined. Both can make all the throws and post huge numbers, but there’s a general perception that Luck — a Stanford graduate who has the reputation of being a football savant — makes fewer mistakes. We see this in their game curves. Luck has fewer bad games but fewer truly exceptional ones as well, while Rivers has more bad games and great ones, with less middle ground.This season’s playoff picture provides a look at one possible future. Whereas Rivers watched from home, Luck led the Indianapolis Colts to a win over Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals, then an upset over Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. He didn’t win the games with his play, but more importantly, he didn’t lose them. In other words, a team might not need a quarterback with a huge bump on the right side of the graph to prevail in the NFL, but one with a peak on the left probably dooms it to failure.We made an interactive tool with all the quarterback curves. Click here to graph density curves of your choosing, and look at the splits for home and away games. There’s a larger sample size of QBs in the interactive, which means players like JaMarcus Russell are involved. Because who doesn’t want to find out which QBs are most similar to JaMarcus Russell?CORRECTION (Jan. 16, 1:46 p.m.): A previous version of this article misstated Rivers’ and Luck’s career QBRs. This weekend, two perennial MVP candidates and two up-and-coming stars will be under center in NFL conference championship games. Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers are the establishment; Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson are the hopeful usurpers. They’ve all reached the conference title game, in part, because they’re among the highest-performing quarterbacks in football — all falling within a career average Total Quarterback Rating of 59.6 and 70.1.1ESPN’s QBR, measured on a scale from 0 to 100, debuted in 2006. It’s not retrofitted to quarterback performances before 2006.But that’s just an average, and sometimes averages can deceive. Turning several observations into a single metric like a Total Quarterback Rating (QBR) obscures some information. For example, post-2006 Brett Favre2His final five seasons. (average QBR: 52.1) and Andy Dalton (52.0) have roughly identical numbers, but would anyone think of Favre when thinking of Dalton?A more thorough analysis makes use of the complete set of observations. The distribution of each quarterback’s QBR can offer a more thorough understanding of performance. When we look at quarterbacks this way, we find some players who consistently minimize bad games and others who can be brilliant one week and horrible the next, regularly handicapping their teams.3Quarterbacks who post a single-game QBR above 90 in a game win 90 percent of the time, whereas a score of less than 10 corresponds with a loss more than nine times out of 10.Comparing each quarterback’s distribution of game-by-game QBR can be done using a density curve, which is used to estimate the fraction of a player’s performances that occurred in a given interval — in this case, the probability that a quarterback had a QBR of a specific number in any individual game.4For a description of density curves and its application to hockey players, see this post on the blog WAR on Ice. We looked at the 45 quarterbacks with at least 10 starts in the past two years or 50 career starts since 2006, and found that the quarterbacks stratified into 10 categories.5We used k-means clustering on different percentiles of each quarterback’s distribution. Although there is no correct value for k in implementing k-means, we found the best performance with between k=8 and k=10. As the curves looked much easier to interpret with k=10, we went with that. Once we had fixed 10 clusters, we ran the algorithm about a dozen times and used the clustering with the highest within-cluster similarity of those iterations. This helps justify the choice of player groups but doesn’t exactly imply that the QB groups are perfectly stable from one iteration to the next. That is because the k-means algorithm is non-deterministic — it doesn’t give the same answer with each run. Each quarterback is given his own density curve, which represents the distribution of game-by-game QBR. The dark black curve in each figure represents the average density for all quarterbacks in that group. The groups are designed such that quarterbacks within the same group are similar, but from one group to the next, there are differences in the centers, shapes and/or spreads of each quarterback’s density curves.Some groupings weren’t a surprise. Brady, Rodgers and Peyton Manning — widely considered the three best quarterbacks in the NFL and the trio ranked Nos. 1, 2 and 3 in average QBR — make up one group with a curve that spikes dramatically as QBR rises.Other groupings, however, offered some counterintuitive results. One cohort consists of five players: Luck, Colin Kaepernick, Matt Schaub, Teddy Bridgewater and Tony Romo. Each quarterback in this group had more bad games and fewer exceptional ones than the Brady/Manning/Rodgers set, but he posted more strong games than poor ones over his career.This would suggest that if you’re going to call one of these quarterbacks “elite,” you need to at least consider that all of them are or were. Even though the narrative around Kaepernick, Schaub and Romo is that they’re inconsistent, their curves suggest otherwise.Compare that with a larger group that includes Cam Newton, David Garrard, Donovan McNabb, Eli Manning, Jay Cutler, Joe Flacco and Robert Griffin III.6Given that company, would you want to pay Flacco’s $120.6 million contract?
The Houston Rockets have upped their offer for Orlando’s Dwight Howard, committing to take back even more long-term salary from the Magic than before in hopes of convincing Orlando to consent to trade Howard directly to Houston.Sources told ESPN.com that the Rockets, if they go ahead with their widely reported plans to release starting power forward Luis Scola via the NBA’s amnesty clause, are prepared to absorb the contracts of Jason Richardson, Glen Davis and Chris Duhon and send Orlando multiple future first-round picks and recent draftees — to give the Magic an opportunity to wipe their payroll virtually clean for their post-Howard rebuilding effort.Rockets general manager Daryl Morey is feverishly trying to construct a trade that will allow the Rockets to take back, in addition to Howard, some combination of Richardson, Davis, Duhon and even Hedo Turkoglu. With Scola’s three remaining seasons valued at roughly $21 million off the books, the Rockets believe they can create the needed cap space to do so.Today thus looms as a pivotal day in the Rockets’ all-out quest to trade for Howard. Not only is Houston expected to formally waive Scola , but sources say the Rockets will also finalize their long-awaited offer sheet to the New York Knicks’ Jeremy Lin. The Knicks have been adamant that they will match Houston’s four-year offer to Lin valued at just under $29 million, but they can take three days to do so once Lin signs.The Rockets have also committed a four-year offer sheet worth just over $25 million to Chicago Bulls restricted free agent Omer Askik. It’s believed that the Rockets will make Asik’s offer sheet official after the Knicks match on Lin, but Asik’s fate is less certain, with the Bulls said to be wavering on whether to bring the bruising big man back. The Rockets promised offer sheets to Asik and Lin early in free agency — and are thus honor-bound to go through with them to ensure that they’ll suffer no future repercussions from agents or players in free agency — but it’s possible that Houston is secretly rooting for both offer sheets to be matched. In that scenario, the Rockets would have more cap space to try to get the Orlando trade done, which is clearly their No. 1 priority.
Photo by nymag.comBoston Red Sox pitcher Ryan Dempster paid twice for hitting Alex Rodriguez in the back with a pitch Monday night. First, when A-Rod took him deep for a home run and again when Major League Baseball fined him an undisclosed amount and suspended him for five games.“You just can’t throw at someone because you don’t like him or disagree with the way something’s being handled,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “If a player is suspended for throwing at someone, they’re going to get their appeal. Are we going to throw that out, too? So, I mean, this is what’s been negotiated.”The “appeal” Girardi mentioned is a reference to Rodriguez’s appeal of his 211-game suspension on Aug. 5 for violating baseball’s drug and labor agreements. Rodriguez is allowed to play during the appeal.“It sucks any time you get suspended, it’s not a fun feeling to have,” Dempster said. “[Not appealing] has to do with just taking my suspension and putting it [in the] past. There’s no point in carrying out an appeal process. We’ve got other things to worry about.”“You can express your opinion and be upset with someone but you just can’t start throwing baseballs at people,” said Girardi, who was hit in the face as a player. “It’s scary.”Dempster’s five-game punishment will not impact Boston’s pitching rotation, which does not sit well with the Yankees.“If you suspend a position player three games, he misses three games. You can suspend a pitcher five games, even six games and they may not miss a start if the off days come into play,” Girardi said. “That’s why I think the off days have to be taken into account when you make a suspension.”Dempster denied that he had any personal problems with Rodriguez. “I don’t really know Alex much,” he said.After Rodriguez was hit on Sunday night, Girardi sprinted onto the field, screaming at home-plate umpire Brian O’Nora for not ejecting the pitcher. Girardi was tossed as the benches and bullpens emptied. Girardi said it was the most upset he’s been on a baseball field.“One of the reasons I was so upset is … I mean that baseball is a weapon,” he said. “It’s not a tennis ball or it’s not an IncrediBall that’s soft. It’s a weapon and it can do a lot of damage to someone’s life.”
The opening matches of the 2014 CONCACAF Championship were played on Wednesday, marking the start of the nine-month countdown to next summer’s Women’s World Cup. Although the focus Wednesday night was on the United States (six-time CONCACAF champions and the tournament’s host), the spotlight quickly shifted to the U.S. women’s opponent, Trinidad and Tobago. The Trinidadians managed to hold the Americans scoreless until the 55th minute, when Abby Wambach headed in her 171st international goal (the all-time record for any American player, male or female). The U.S. won 1-0.Up to five teams from the North American, Central American and Caribbean football associations might appear at next year’s World Cup. Only three CONCACAF teams played in the 2011 tournament (the U.S., Canada and Mexico). As next year’s host, Canada receives an automatic bid, which in turn allows for an “extra” CONCACAF spot. The top three teams from the CONCACAF Championship will automatically qualify. The fourth-place team will play in a two-game series against Ecuador, who placed third in the 2014 Copa América Femenina, to determine who goes to the World Cup.All of this to say that an otherwise unlikely CONCACAF team, like Trinidad and Tobago, could make its World Cup debut in 2015. But just how likely are the Soca Princesses to be one of the top four CONCACAF tournament teams?To calculate the expected wins and various probabilities for each team in the tournament, we used the FIFA Women’s World Rankings, which are based on a variant of our old friend the Elo ratings. FIFA provides a nice explanation of how to turn their ratings into win probabilities for a given matchup (though for group stage matches we had to adjust the formula a bit to account for the possibility of draws). Once we had the ratings and probabilities, we programmed a Monte Carlo simulation to run 1,000 simulations and track how well each team performed in the group stage, as well as how far it advanced in the knockout round.Despite last night’s disorganized formation and lack of finishing from the U.S. side, the Americans are still far and away the CONCACAF favorites, with a 95.5 percent chance of winning the tournament. Mexico is the next most likely team to win, but it has only a 3.8 percent chance. Trinidad and Tobago, on the other hand, has a less than 1 percent chance of winning.Below are the expected group points and win probabilities for every CONCACAF tournament team:Fortunately for Trinidad and Tobago, reaching the knockout round of the tournament is enough to give the team a shot at going to the World Cup, and it has a 51.2 percent chance of doing just that. Wednesday night’s quality performance, including 11 saves by Trinidadian goalkeeper Kimika Forbes, may bode well. Haiti sits just behind Trinidad in Group A, with a 45.3 percent chance of reaching the knockout round. Haiti also edged past Guatemala last night 1-0, despite going down a player in the 17th minute after goalkeeper Cynthia Chery was issued a straight red card.The Group B matches start Thursday night, with Costa Rica taking on top-seeded Mexico, and Jamaica playing Martinique (Martinique can’t qualify for the World Cup because it is not a member of FIFA, so we threw out the two simulations we ran where Martinique advanced). Mexico is the most likely team to advance from Group B, with a 94.4 percent chance, but Costa Rican standout Shirley Cruz Traña (who plays for the French club Paris Saint-Germain in one of the top women’s leagues) will likely be a major threat in Thursday’s game.The next Group A matches take place Friday, when the U.S. will resume play against Haiti. After Wednesday night’s performance, newly appointed head coach Jill Ellis may be looking to tweak a rather chaotic formation. The U.S. players veered from their typical 4-4-2 formation against the Trinidadians; Wambach sat in an attacking midfield spot but she often drifted forward, creating what looked almost like a 4-1-3-2 at times. Similarly, Trinidad will need to break from Wednesday night’s defensive 4-5-1 formation to put some points up against Guatemala.We’ll be updating our predictions periodically throughout the CONCACAF tournament.Oliver Roeder contributed analysis.CORRECTION (Oct. 24, 4:37 p.m.): A previous version of this post included a table with an incorrect column header. The table lists the chances of placing third, not reaching the third-place game.
What it was designed for was something more basic. In the 1930s, Eldon “E.F.” Wonderlic — friends called him Al — was working as the director of personnel at consumer loan provider Household Finance Corporation.5It’s now called HSBC Finance. His employer was looking for a more efficient way to hire entry-level workers at its branches, so it sent Wonderlic to graduate school at Northwestern in hopes that his research would yield a solution to the problem.E.F. Wonderlic acknowledged that the single best predictor of job performance was previous work experience. But as Charles Wonderlic put it: “How do you predict someone’s performance if they have never done that job before?” The second-best predictor of job performance, E.F. Wonderlic reasoned, was cognitive ability.“What he found was that different jobs had different cognitive demands ranging from very low to very high,” said Charles Wonderlic, E.F.’s grandson. “And there were really distinct IQs around each job. And the further away you got from that distribution, that’s when you started to experience problems.”The original Wonderlic Personnel Test was born out of that theory. The first copyrighted version of the test appeared in 1937. Its brevity and simple scoring system, Charles Wonderlic said, allowed virtually any manager to both administer the test and interpret scores. (This is also the likely reason for modern pundits’ love of Wonderlic scores: They’re easy talking points.)After a stretch at Douglas Aircraft Corporation during World War II, E.F. Wonderlic worked in finance and sold copies of his test. He didn’t advertise, but eventually big companies like Spiegel and AT&T started calling. In 1961, E.F. Wonderlic left his job as president of General Finance Corporation and founded E.F. Wonderlic & Associates. By then, Charles Wonderlic said, an estimated 4 million people a year were taking the WPT.In the early 1960s, Gil Brandt was a young scout with the expansion Dallas Cowboys. “We were not a very good team,” he told me. His bosses, general manager Tex Schramm and coach Tom Landry, were looking for ways to change that. After doing some research, Brandt said that the trio determined that successful businesses used the Wonderlic and the team should, too. It’s unclear exactly when the Cowboys began testing players. Brandt did say that at some point during the ’60s, he remembers watching spring practice at Northwestern and then stopping by the Wonderlic headquarters to learn more about the company.By the late ’60s, George Young was an ambitious personnel assistant for the Baltimore Colts. He’d been a public school teacher before transitioning to football full time, and he asked the head of the guidance department in Baltimore for a handful of different tests to peruse. Of the 10 he reportedly looked at, the Wonderlic stuck out, and soon the Colts began using it.Other teams followed suit by the 1970s, and the NFL eventually began to use it to assess college players en masse. Since 2007, Wonderlic, Inc. staff members have traveled annually to Indianapolis to administer the test at the Scouting Combine. As Charles Wonderlic drove from the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis to his company’s headquarters near Chicago on February 27, 2011, he made the mistake of turning on a sports radio show. The host, as Wonderlic remembers, was talking about Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy’s near-perfect Wonderlic score. Each winter, hundreds of football prospects take the multiple-choice test that claims to measure their intelligence. Results are supposed to be kept confidential, yet they always seem to become media fodder.In reality, there’s no way anyone could’ve known McElroy’s score. On that day four years ago, as reports of McElroy’s supposed feat trickled out, sealed boxes containing every single Wonderlic answer sheet were sitting in Charles Wonderlic’s car, still unscanned. Wonderlic, Inc. didn’t send an encrypted file of the players’ results to the NFL until March 1. Unsurprisingly, a variety of news outlets ran with the story anyway.1For example: purveyor of NFL rumors and gossip ProFootballTalk — which, has since mostly ended its coverage of Wonderlic scores — published three conflicting blog posts about McElroy’s alleged score. The first named McElroy’s alleged score, the second quoted an anonymous scout saying there was “no chance” McElroy’s score could’ve leaked that quickly, and the third claimed that McElroy didn’t score as high as initially reported. The third report was closest to the mark, as it turned out. The months leading up to the NFL Draft feel like election season: Everybody’s trying to dig up dirt on candidates.“Are we just so starved for information this time of year that we search for anything?” wondered NFL Scouting Combine director Jeff Foster, who only agreed to be interviewed for this article after I assured him that I wouldn’t be reporting individual Wonderlic scores.In an era when the NFL schedule release is treated like the premiere of the new “Star Wars,” the answer to Foster’s question is a resounding “yes.” We crave even the smallest bits of information about players entering the NFL Draft, even if it’s not meant for our consumption. Forget Foster’s estimate that half the Wonderlic scores he sees in news stories are incorrect. As long as the test is administered at the Combine, media and fans will fixate on it.“The only person it impacts is the player,” Foster said of a leaked Wonderlic score. “How would you like to be branded unintelligent because you scored a 5 on an intelligence test?”The story of the Wonderlic, however, is more than just a range of easily regurgitated numbers. It’s the story of how one guy’s American Dream helped shape a new American pastime. Eldon Wonderlic. Wonderlic Inc. But before we get there, let’s first look at what the Wonderlic purportedly tests. “What we’re measuring is not what you know — that’s what’s being measured on the ACT or the SAT,” said Charles Wonderlic, president and CEO of Wonderlic Inc. “This is really saying, ‘How quickly does your brain gather and analyze information?’” The 12-minute Wonderlic Personnel Test (WPT) features 50 questions arranged by difficulty, lowest to highest. Here’s a sample:Jose’s monthly parking fee for April was $150; for May it was $10 more than April; and for June $40 more than May. His average monthly parking fee was ___ for these 3 months?J) $66K) $160L) $166M) $170N) $2002The answer: M) $170A player’s Wonderlic score is always a number between 1 and 50, and across all professions, the average score is approximately 21. (Systems analysts and Chemists top the scale 32 at 31, respectively.) For pro football players, the oft-cited number is about 20. Tracking down the average scores by position is tricky, mainly because the buttoned-up NFL isn’t interested in sharing any broad Wonderlic data. In an email, Charles Wonderlic said that while his company has published “norms” for other industries, “we maintain the confidentiality of test scores for single organizations. Since the NFL is the only client by which we can produce a quarterback average, we would need their permission to provide this information. Traditionally, the NFL prefers to keep any information about tests scores internal to their own organization.”Like Wonderlic, Inc., the NFL declined to provide any historical data related to NFL players’ test scores for this piece.For his 19843The first edition of the book was published in 1970. classic “The New Thinking Man’s Guide to Pro Football,” Sports Illustrated writer Paul “Dr. Z” Zimmerman did get one anonymous staffer to spill some then-current averages. Offensive tackles led the way at 26, then came centers (25), quarterbacks (24), offensive guards (23), tight ends (22), safeties and middle linebackers (21), defensive linemen and outside linebackers (19), cornerbacks (18), wide receivers and fullbacks (17), and halfbacks (16). And what about place kickers and punters? “Who cares?” the source said.On its own, a solid Wonderlic score means little. Like a 40-yard dash time, it provides one tiny, standardized data point to employers who presumably take a holistic approach to hiring. But because teams have decades of data on file, they can compare the Wonderlic scores of current college players entering the draft to those of past prospects. “They simply use it to find the extremes,” Foster said. A very low score or a very high score, he added, could lead teams to conduct more testing or look into the prospect more closely.“Wonderlic gives you an area to investigate,” the late New York Giants general manager George Young told the Philadelphia Daily News in 1997. “If a guy doesn’t have a good score on the test, you don’t say he’s not smart. But you go in and investigate and find out [why he scored low]. You go in and talk to his coach. You find out how he did in school. You find out how he retains. If you think he’s a poor reader and did poorly because it was a verbal test, you give him a non-verbal test.”The most famous extreme occurred in 1975, when Harvard receiver and punter Pat McInally4McInally’s post-NFL life has been much more interesting than his football career. He’s the guy who invented Starting Lineup action figures. reportedly scored a perfect 50 on the Wonderlic. The Cincinnati Bengals picked him in the fifth round of that year’s draft, but not before his reputed intelligence reportedly scared some teams away. In 2011, McInally told the Los Angeles Times that Young informed him that acing the Wonderlic “may have cost you a few rounds in the draft because we don’t like extremes. We don’t want them too dumb and we sure as hell don’t want them too smart.”That slightly paleolithic line of thinking, however, wasn’t shared by everyone. “I don’t care about that stuff,” the late Raiders owner Al Davis said in “The New Thinking Man’s Guide to Pro Football.” “If a kid is street smart, that’s enough. Our coaches’ job is to make a kid smarter. I just wonder if they checked some of the coaches’ IQs around the league, how high they’d score.”By now, the value of the Wonderlic has been debated so vigorously, especially among NFL executives, that it’s easy to forget that the test wasn’t designed for football. But the Wonderlic is not without its detractors. Charles Wonderlic estimated that since the test’s inception nearly 80 years ago, it has faced legal scrutiny hundreds of times.In the summer of 1965, when the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission began operations a year after it was established by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Duke Power Company in Draper, North Carolina, began allowing its black employees to work in its higher-paying divisions. Until that point, black employees had only been permitted to work in the low-paying Labor department. Duke Power also instituted a policy that required all new applicants6Duke Power started permitting current employees without a high school degree to transfer to higher-paying departments in September of 1965, but to do so they still had to pass two aptitude tests. to have a high school diploma and pass two aptitude exams: the Bennett Mechanical Comprehension Test and the Wonderlic Personnel Test.These measures crippled the efforts of black workers to advance. At the time, the percentage of white men who both possessed a high school diploma and were able to pass the two aptitude tests was significantly higher7According to the 1960 North Carolina census, 34 percent of white men had a high school diploma while only 12 percent of black men had the same level of education. The newly formed Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found that in this case, 58 percent of white people and only 6 percent of black people who took the Wonderlic and the Bennett tests passed. than the percentage of black men who met the same criteria.Griggs v. Duke Power Co., a U.S. Supreme Court case argued in 1970, condemned the company’s requirements. Not only did they disproportionately affect black workers, but they also failed to show “a demonstrable relationship” to job performance, Chief Justice Warren Burger wrote in the majority opinion. He also noted that nothing in the Civil Rights Act “precludes the use of testing or measuring procedures; obviously they are useful.”While the Wonderlic test has shown itself to be a useful tool for workplace assessment, it has also faced longstanding criticism from those who argue that it is racially and culturally biased. It’s unclear whether the NFL, a league in which more than 67 percent of players are African-American, agrees with those accusations or if the league actually uses the Wonderlic to make personnel decisions.“How determinative it is depends on the club,” former Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi told ESPN.com in 2013, “but it’s usually not ‘the’ determinative factor.”When it comes to football, is the test a demonstrably reasonable measure of job performance? Because official NFL Wonderlic scores aren’t publicly available, it’s difficult to know for sure, but that hasn’t stopped researchers from attempting to find out. Brian D. Lyons, Brian J. Hoffman, and John W. Michel8At the time, Lyons, Hoffman and Michel were working at University of California, Fresno, the University of Georgia and Towson University, respectively co-authored a 2009 study examining the reported9They found the scores on NFLDraftScout.com and CBS.Sportsline.com. Wonderlic scores of 762 NFL players from three draft classes. They found that there was little correlation between Wonderlic scores and on-field performance, except for two positions: Tight ends and defensive backs with low scores actually played better than those with high scores. The researchers surmised that this “could be explained by the notion that performance for these positions entails more of an emphasis on physical ability and instinct” than general mental ability.Today, the NFL continues to ask potential draftees to take the Wonderlic, although the test now has company. In 2013, the league introduced the Player Assessment Tool, which was developed by attorney Cyrus Mehri, whose report led to the implementation of the NFL’s Rooney Rule, and psychology professor Harold Goldstein. Louis Bien of SB Nation recently reported that the PAT is a 50-minute exam that examines a player’s football smarts, psychological attributes, learning style and motivational cues. “Players are not given a numeric score, unlike on the Wonderlic, so technically there is no way to do poorly on it,” Bien wrote.Mehri’s hope is that the new test can measure what the Wonderlic can’t. “This kind of levels the playing field from a socio-economic point of view,” he told USA Today. “A lot of guys may be very intelligent, but are not as book-smart as others. Someone may not be the best reader, but they can still be very smart in picking up things.”As long as the Wonderlic is administered at the NFL Scouting Combine, Foster, the Combine director, will be fielding questions about it — and shaking his head at leaked scores. “It has some value,” he said of the test. “It does not have near the value of what we spend talking about it between February and May.”After all, a high or low score won’t automatically doom or anoint a prospect. Just ask Greg McElroy. After doing exceptionally well on the Wonderlic in 2011, the New York Jets picked the quarterback in the seventh round of the draft. Before announcing his retirement in 2014, he played in a total of two NFL games.
VIDEO: Gonzaga-WVU is the Sweet 16 game to watch Embed Code More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS | Embed FiveThirtyEight Welcome to the latest episode of Hot Takedown, FiveThirtyEight’s sports podcast. On this week’s show (March 21, 2017), we break down the first and second rounds of the men’s and women’s NCAA tournaments and talk about where teams stand going into the Sweet 16. Next, we discuss the U.S. women’s hockey team’s decision to potentially sit out the world championships amid negotiations with USA Hockey over pay. Finally, we’re ready for baseball to come back — and preview what to expect in the National League this season. Plus, a significant digit from the NBA.Links to what we discussed:A Duke loss was always going to look like the one they suffered Sunday, writes FiveThirtyEight’s Neil Paine.Neil also wrote about how Wisconsin ousted Villanova.Just how mad was the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament? ESPN’s Paul Sabin investigates.FiveThirtyEight’s Benjamin Morris noted that despite its continued winning streak, UConn’s chance of winning the women’s tournament dropped after round one.The Washington Post took a look at the origins of the U.S. women’s hockey team’s threat to boycott a tournament.ESPNW reported on the ongoing negotiations between USA Hockey and the women’s national team.Neil, Nate Silver and FanGraphs writer Craig Edwards recently had a chat about why the Cubs are the favorites to win the National League Central.Significant Digit: 77.7 percent, the “Charge Rate” of Sacramento Kings forward Anthony Tolliver. FiveThirtyEight’s Chris Herring created the metric — a “simple stat that measures how efficiently a player draws charges” — to try to figure out who the savviest charge-takers in the league are. Tolliver is No. 1.
Ohio State associate head coach and co-defensive coordinator Greg Schiano was cited by the Columbus Division of Police for failure to obey a traffic control device. The citation is a minor misdemeanor offense. The accident occurred Thursday morning at the intersection of West Lane Avenue and Fred Taylor Drive. Schiano’s vehicle hit a 26-year-old, male bicyclist who was taken to the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center.The Columbus police said that the victim was transported in critical condition with a head injury, but Sgt. Brooke Wilson, who was at the scene, said at the scene on Thursday that the bicyclist is expected to survive. There has been no update on the condition of the bicyclist.Schiano is scheduled to appear before a judge on Oct. 5 at 9 a.m. The traffic fine is $55 and, including court fees, the total cost due by Schiano is $152.
OSU senior Logan Melander takes his turn on the pummel horse against Penn State on Feb. 13, 2016. OSU won, 444.500-433.250. Credit: Courtesy of OSUThe Ohio State men’s gymnastics team will face Michigan in a co-ed dual meet on Saturday at 4 p.m. in St. John Arena. The Buckeyes will enter the competition with the third-best pommel horse score average in the country (68.000) and a 107-97 all-time lead against Michigan. OSU knocked off the Wolverines at a 2016 dual meet, the first time they had beaten Michigan in a head-to-head matchup since 2007.Ohio State men’s gymnastics is currently ranked sixth in the Collegiate Gymnastics Association Coaches Poll, while Michigan is ranked No. 10. With an outstanding record going for them, Buckeyes coach Rustam Sharipov said his team will undertake the competition with full confidence.“We’re not worried about the Team Up North coming to us,” he said. “It’s our home court and advantage, it’s in our walls and we’re going to have a good crowd … I’m looking forward to having a good fan base. We’re hoping to have close to 3,000 people.”While the rivalry between OSU and Michigan might be evident as the competition approaches, Saturday’s meet will be focusing on the team’s senior athletes.“It’s senior night, so most of the focus will be on five guys,” Sharipov said. “[This is] going to be the last weekend for them to compete at St. John arena. We’re talking about (redshirt senior) Jake Martin, (redshirt junior) Jake Dastrup, (senior) Logan Melander, (redshirt junior) Ryan Lemezis and (senior) Andrew Rickly.”To the seniors, Saturday’s meet will be more than a competition as they focus on doing their best while overlooking the rivalry against Michigan. “It will mean a lot. This is my fourth year here now and this is my last meet in St. john’s. The energy is always great in there, it’s always a good time,” Melander said. “There is a rivalry with the schools, but since gymnastics is such a small community we know a lot of the guys on the team and we’re pretty good friends with all the guys. Obviously that school rivalry is there, so we want to win and we want to beat Michigan, but we all know each other and it’s always a good time to go out and see some friends.” Saturday’s meet will be the last meet of the season held in St. John Arena. However, the team will participate in the Arnold Challenge in downtown Columbus on March 4.
The Ohio State men’s ice hockey team maintained their second-place tie with Notre Dame in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association standings over the weekend. After only allowing one goal in two games in a sweep against Michigan State in East Lansing, Mich., the Buckeyes are currently one point behind Miami (Ohio) which swept its weekend series against Alaska. OSU senior goaltender Brady Hjelle allowed only one goal on 54 shots from MSU. The performance moved him from third to second place in the NCAA in both goals-against average and save percentage. If Hjelle continues to play the way he has over the past several weeks, he could very well end up being the best goalie in the nation statistically. There was some doubt as to whether or not Hjelle would start both nights. Coach Mark Osiecki had said earlier in the week that he would make the decision about who would start the second game after the first game was over. After Hjelle stopped 31 shots in a shutout on Friday, Osiecki said the decision to start him on Saturday was “pretty simple.” Hjelle said he was happy to start both games, stating via email that it is easier for him to get in a groove when he doesn’t have to wait a week between starts. “It felt great to get out there both nights,” Hjelle said. “Everyone wants to play as much as they can, and it was nice to get rewarded with two games on the weekend.” The Buckeyes offense also had a solid series. Freshman forward Tyler Lundey had the team’s first multiple-goal game of the season Saturday night, scoring two goals, and sophomore forward Ryan Dzingel extended his point-scoring streak to seven games with two assists. “It always feels great to score and to get more than one is an awesome feeling,” Lundey said. While Lundey said he was happy about his accomplishment, Dzingel is trying not to pay attention to his streak. “I don’t think about it,” Dzingel said. “I am taking it one game at a time and trying to do anything I can to help us win.” The Buckeyes are scheduled to face Robert Morris University this coming weekend, with the first game in Columbus Friday night before moving to Pittsburgh for the final game on Saturday.