The Power Ranking Godfather, w/ Jeff Sagarin & Wayne Winston

Rob Collie

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The Power Ranking Godfather, w/ Jeff Sagarin & Wayne Winston

There’s a place where sports and data meet, and it’s as powerful a collision as on any football field!  Currently, sports analytics drives professional teams to make decisions that affect the future of the organization.

Jeff Sagarin has been a figurehead in the sports analytics realm for decades, and we’re thrilled to have had the chance to have him on to talk about his data journey!  There’s a fair mix of math AND sports geek out time in this episode.  And did we mention that Dr. Wayne Winston is sitting in on this episode as well?

References in this Episode:

2 Frictionless Colliding Boxes Video


Episode Transcript

Rob Collie (00:00:00): Hello, friends. Today's guest is Jeff Sagarin. Is that name familiar to you? It's very familiar to me. In my life, Jeff's work might very well be my first brush with the concept of using data for any sort of advantage. His Power Ranking Columns, first appeared in USA Today in 1985, when I was 11 years old. And what a fascinating concept that was.

Rob Collie (00:00:29): It probably won't surprise you if I confess that 11-year-old me was not particularly good at sports, but I was still fascinated and captivated by them. 11-year-old kids in my neighborhood were especially prone to associating sports with their tribal identity. Everyone had their favorite teams, their favorite sports stars. And invariably, this led to arguments about which sports star was better than the other sports star, who was going to win this game coming up and who would win a tournament amongst all of these teams and things of that sort.

Rob Collie (00:01:01): Now that I've explained it that way though, I guess being an adult sports fan isn't too terribly different, is it? Those arguments, of course, aren't the sorts of arguments where there's anything resembling a clear winner. But in practice, the person who won was usually the one with the loudest voice or the sickest burn that they could deliver to their friends. And then in 1985, the idea was planted in my head by Jeff Sagarin's column in USA Today, that there actually was a relatively objective way to evaluate teams that had never played against one another and likely never would.

Rob Collie (00:01:33): I wasn't into computers at the time. I certainly wasn't into the concept of data. I didn't know what a database was. I didn't know what a spreadsheet was. And yet, this was still an incredibly captivating and powerful idea. So in my life, Jeff Sagarin is the first public figure that I encountered in the sports analytics industry long before it was cool. And because it was sports, a topic that was relevant to 11-year-old me, he's really also my first brush with analytics at all.

Rob Collie (00:02:07): It's not surprising then, that to me, Jeff is absolutely a celebrity. As a guest, in insider podcasting lingo, Jeff is what we call a good get. We owe that pleasure, of course, to him being close friends with Wayne Winston, a former guest on the show, who also joined us today as co-guest.

Rob Collie (00:02:28): Now, if none of that speaks to you, let's try this alternate description. He's probably also the world's most famous active FORTRAN programmer. I admit that I was so starstruck by this that I didn't even really push as hard as I normally would, in terms of getting into the techniques that he uses. I didn't want to run afoul of asking him for trade secrets. At times, this conversation did devolve into four dudes sitting around talking about sports.

Rob Collie (00:02:59): But setting that aside, there are some really, really interesting and heartwarming things happening in this conversation as well. Again, the accidental path to where he is today, the intersection of persistence and good fortune that's required really for success in anything. Bottom line, this is the story of a national and highly influential figure at the intersection of the sports industry and the analytics industry for more than three decades. It's not every day you get to hear that story. So let's get into it.

Announcer (00:03:34): Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention, please?

Announcer (00:03:39): This is the Raw Data by P3 Adaptive podcast with your host, Rob Colley and your co-host, Thomas LaRock. Find out what the experts at P3 Adaptive can do for your business. Just go to Raw Data by P3 Adaptive is data with the human element.

Rob Collie (00:04:02): Welcome to the show, Jeff Sagarin. And welcome back to the show. Wayne Winston. So thrilled to have the two of you with us today. This is awesome. We've been looking forward to this for a long time. So thank you very much gentlemen, for being here.

Jeff Sagarin (00:04:16): You're welcome.

Rob Collie (00:04:18): Jeff, usually we kick these things off with, "Hey, tell us a little about yourself, your background, blah, blah, blah." Let's start off with me telling you about you. It's a story about you that you wouldn't know. I remember for a very long time being aware of you.

Rob Collie (00:04:35): So I'm 47 years old, born in 1974. My father had participated for many years in this shady off-the-books college football pick'em pool that was run out of the high school in a small town in Florida. Like the sheets with everybody's entries would show up. They were run on ditto paper, like that blue ink. It was done in the school ditto room and he did this every year. This was like the most fascinating thing that happened in the entire year to me. Like these things showing up at our house, this packet of all these picks, believe it or not, they were handwritten. These grids were handwritten with everyone's picks. It was ridiculous.

Rob Collie (00:05:17): He got eliminated every year. There were a couple of hundred entries every year and he just got his butt kicked every year. But then one year, he did his homework. He researched common opponents and things like that or that kind of stuff. I seem to recall this having something to do timing wise with you. So I looked it up. Your column first appeared in USA Today in 1985. Is that correct?

Jeff Sagarin (00:05:40): Yeah. Tuesday, January 8th 1985.

Rob Collie (00:05:44): I remember my dad winning this pool that year and using the funds to buy a telescope to look at Halley's Comet when it showed up. And so I looked up Halley's Comet. What do you know? '86. So it would have been like the January ballgames of 1986, where he won this pool. And in '85, were you power ranking college football teams or was that other sports?

Jeff Sagarin (00:06:11): Yes.

Rob Collie (00:06:12): Okay. So when my dad said that he did his research that year, what he really did was read your stuff. You bought my dad a telescope in 1986 so that we could go have one of the worst family vacations of all time. It was just awful. Thank you.

Jeff Sagarin (00:06:31): You're very welcome.

Rob Collie (00:06:39): I kind of think of you as the first publicly known figure in sports analytics. You probably weren't the first person to apply math and computers to sports analytics, but you're the first person I heard of.

Jeff Sagarin (00:06:51): There is a guy that people don't even talk about very much. Now a guy named Earnshaw Cook, who first inspired me when I was a sophomore in high school in the '63-'64 school year, there was an article by Frank Deford in Sports Illustrated about Earnshaw Cook publishing a book called Percentage Baseball. So I convinced my mom to let me have $10 to order it by mail and I got it. I started playing around with his various ideas in it. He was the first guy I ever heard of and that was in March of 1964.

Rob Collie (00:07:28): All right, so everyone's got an origin story.

Jeff Sagarin (00:07:31): The Dunkel family started doing the Dunkel ratings back I believe in 1929. Then there was a professor, I think he was at Vanderbilt, named [Lipkin House 00:07:41], he was I think at Vanderbilt. And for years, he did the high school ratings in states like maybe Tennessee and Kentucky. I think he gave Kentucky that Louisville courier his methodology before he died. But I don't know if they continue his work or not. But there were people way before me.

Rob Collie (00:08:03): But they weren't in USA Today.

Jeff Sagarin (00:08:04): That's true.

Rob Collie (00:08:06): They weren't nationally distributed, like on a very regular basis. I've been hearing your name longer than I've even been working with computers. That's pretty crazy. How did you even get hooked up with USA Today?

Jeff Sagarin (00:08:23): People might say, "You got lucky." My answer, as you'll see as well, I'd worked for 12 years to be in a position to get lucky. I started getting paid for doing this in September of 1972 with an in-house publication of pro football weekly called Insider's Pro Football Newsletter.

Jeff Sagarin (00:08:45): In the Spring of '72, I'd written letters to like 100 newspapers saying because I had started by hand doing my own rating system for pro football in the fall of 1971. Just by hand, every Sunday night, I'd get the scores and add in the Monday night. I did it as a hobby. I wasn't doing it for a living. I did it week by week and charted the teams. It was all done with some charts I'd made up with a normal distribution and a slide rule. So I sent out letters in the spring of '72 to about 100 papers saying, "Hey, would you be interested in running my stuff?"

Jeff Sagarin (00:09:19): They either didn't answer me or all said, "No, not interested." But I got a call right before I left to go to California when an old college friend that spring. It was from William Wallace, who was a big time football correspondent for The New York Times. That anecdote may be in that article by Andy Glockner. He called me up, he was at the New York Times, but he said also, "I write articles for extra money for pro football weekly. I wanted to just kind of talk to you."

Jeff Sagarin (00:09:49): He wrote an article that appeared in Pro Quarterback magazine in September of '72. But during the middle of that summer, I got a phone call from Pro Football weekly, the publisher, a guy named [inaudible 00:10:04] said, "Hey Jeff. Have you seen our ad in street and Smith's?" It didn't matter. It could have been their pro magazine or college. I said, "Yeah, I did." And he said, "Do you notice it said we've got a world famous handicapper to do our predictions for us?" I said, "Yeah, I did see that." He said, "How would you like to be that world famous handicapper? We don't have anybody."

Jeff Sagarin (00:10:25): We just said that because he said William Wallace told us to call you. So I said, "Okay, I'll be your world famous handicapper." I didn't start off that well and they had this customer, it was a paid newsletter and there was a customer from Hawaii. He had a great name, Charles Fujiwara. He'd send letters every week saying, "Sagarin's terrible, but he's winning a fortune for me. I just reverse his picks every week." So finally, finally, my numbers turn the tide and I had this one great week, where I went 8-0. He sent another letter saying, "I'm bankrupt. The kid destroyed me." Because he was reversing all my picks. That's a true story.

Rob Collie (00:11:07): At least he had a sense of humor. It sounds like a pretty interesting fellow on the other end of that letter.

Jeff Sagarin (00:11:13): He sounds like he could have been like the guy, if you've ever seen reruns of the old show, '77 Sunset Strip. In it, there this guy who's kind of a racetrack trout gambler named Roscoe. He sounds like he could have been Roscoe.

Rob Collie (00:11:26): We have to look that one up.

Dr. Wayne Winston (00:11:27): It's before your time.

Rob Collie (00:11:28): I don't think I saw that show.

Jeff Sagarin (00:11:29): Yeah. Wayne's seen it though.

Rob Collie (00:11:31): Yes. I love that. There are things that are both before my time and I have like old man knees. So I've heard this kind of thing before, by the way. It's called the 10-year overnight success.

Jeff Sagarin (00:11:47): I forgot. How did I get with USA Today? I started with Pro Football weekly and continued with them. I was with them until actually why don't we say sometime in the fall of '82. I ended up in other newspapers, little by little: The Boston Globe, Louisville Courier Journal. And then in the spring of '81, I got into a conversation over the phone with Jim van Valkenburg, who is the stat guy at the NCAA. I happened to mention that going into the tournament, I had Indiana to win the tournament. They were rated like 10th in the conventional polls.

Jeff Sagarin (00:12:23): And so he remembered that and he kept talking behind the scenes to people in the NCAA about that. And so years later, in 1988, they called me out to talk to them. But anyhow, I had developed a good reputation and I gave him as a reference. Wayne called me up excitedly in let's say, early September of 1984. He said, "Hey, Jeff. You've got to buy a copy of today's USA Today and turn to the end of the sports section. You're going to be sick."

Jeff Sagarin (00:12:53): I said, "Really? Okay." So I opened to where he said and I was sick. They had computer ratings by some guy. He was a good guy named Thomas Jech, J-E-C-H. And I said, "Damn, that should be me. I've been doing this for all these years and I didn't even know they were looking for this." So I call up on the phone. Sometimes there's a lot of luck involved. I got to talk to a guy named Bob Barbara who I believe is retired now there. He had on the phone this gruff sounding voice out of like a Grade B movie from the film, The War. "What's going on Kitty?" It sounds like he had a cigar in his mouth.

Jeff Sagarin (00:13:30): I said, "Well, I do these computer ratings." [inaudible 00:13:33] Said "Well, really? That's interesting. We've already got somebody." He said, "But how would you even send it to us?" I said, "Well, I dictate over the phone." He said, "Dictate? We don't take dictation at USA Today, kid. Have you ever heard of personal computers and a modem?" I said, "Well, I have but I just do it on a mainframe at IU and I dictate over the phone to the Louisville Courier and the local..."

Jeff Sagarin (00:13:58): Well, the local paper here, I gave them a printout. He said, "Kid, you need to buy yourself a PC and learn how to use a modem." So I kind of was embarrassed. I said, "Well, I'll see." So about 10 days later, I called him up and said, "Hey, what's the phone number for your modem?" He said, "Crap. You again, kid? I thought I got rid of you." He says, "All right. I'll give you the phone number." So I sent him a sample printout. He says, "Yeah, yeah, we got it. Keep in touch. We're not going to change for football. But this other guy, he may not want to do basketball. So keep in touch. Who knows what will happen for basketball?"

Jeff Sagarin (00:14:31): So every month I'd call up saying, "It's me again, keeping touch." He said, "I can't get rid of you. You're like a bad penny that keeps turning up." So finally he says look, after about five of these calls, spreading out until maybe late November, "Look kid, why don't you wait... Call me up the first Sunday of the new year," which would have been like Sunday, January 6 of 1985 I believe. So I waited. I called him up. Sure enough, he said, "You again?" I said, "You told me you wanted to do college basketball."

Jeff Sagarin (00:15:04): He said, "Yeah, you're kind of right. The other guy doesn't want to do it." So he said, "Well, do you mind if we call it the USA Today computer ratings? We kind of like to put our own name on everything." I said, "Well, wait a minute. During the World Series, you had Pete Rose as your guest columnist, you want not only gave his name, but you had a picture of him." He said, "God damn it." He said, "I can't..." He said, "You win again kid. Give us a bio."

Jeff Sagarin (00:15:32): An old friend of both me and Wayne was on a business trip. He lived in California, but one of the companies he did work for was Magnavox, which at the time had a presence in Fort Wayne. So he had stopped off in Bloomington so we could say hi. We hadn't seen each other for many years. So he wrote my bio for me, which is still used in the agate in the USA Today. So it's the same bio all these years.

Jeff Sagarin (00:15:56): So they started printing me on Tuesday, January 8 of 1985. On the front page that day and I got my editor of a couple years ago, he found an old physical copy of that paper and sent it to me and I thought that's pretty cool. And on the front page, they said, "Well, this would be the 50th birthday of Elvis Presley." I get, they did not have a banner headline at the top, "Turn to the sports and see Jeff Sagarin's debut." That was not what they did. It was all about Elvis Presley. And so people will tell me, "Wow! You got really lucky."

Jeff Sagarin (00:16:30): Yeah, but I was in a position. I'd worked for 12 years since the fall of '72 to get in position to then get lucky. They told me I had some good recommendations from people.

Rob Collie (00:16:42): Well, even that persistence to keep calling in the face of relatively discouraging feedback. So that conversation took place, and then two days later, you're in the paper.

Jeff Sagarin (00:16:54): Well, yeah. He said, "Send us the ratings." They might have needed a time lag. So if I sent the ratings in on a Sunday night or Monday morning, they'd print them on Tuesday. They're not as instant. Now, I update every day on their website. For the paper, they take whatever the most recent ones they can access off their website, depending on I've sent it in, which is I always send them in early in the morning like when I get up. So they print on a Tuesday there'll be taking the ratings that they would have had in their hands Monday, which would be through Sunday's games.

Rob Collie (00:17:26): That Tuesday, was that just college basketball?

Jeff Sagarin (00:17:28): Then it was. Then in the fall of 85. They began using me for college football, not that they thought I was better or worse one way or the other than Thomas Jech who was a smart guy, he was a math professor at the time at Penn State. He just got tired of doing it. He had more important things to do. Serious, I don't mean that sarcastically. That was just like a fun hobby for him from what I understand.

Rob Collie (00:17:50): I was going to ask you if you hadn't already gone and answered the question ahead of time. I was going to ask you well, what happened to the other guy? Did you go like all Tonya Harding on him or whatever? Did you take out your rival? No, sounds like Nancy Kerrigan just went ahead and retired. Although I hate to make you Tonya Harding in this analogy and I just realized I just Hardinged you.

Jeff Sagarin (00:18:10): He was just evidently a really good math professor. It was just something he did for fun to do the ratings.

Rob Collie (00:18:17): Opportunity and preparation right where they intersect. That's "luck".

Jeff Sagarin (00:18:22): It would be as if Wally Pipp had retired and Lou Gehrig got to replace him in the analogy, Lou Gehrig gets the first base job but actually Wally Pipp in real life did not retire. He had the bad luck to get a cold or something or an injury and he never got back in the starting lineup after that.

Rob Collie (00:18:38): What about Drew Bledsoe? I think he did get hurt. Did we ever see him again?

Thomas LaRock (00:18:43): The very next season, he was in Buffalo and then he went to Dallas.

Rob Collie (00:18:46): I don't remember this at all.

Thomas LaRock (00:18:47): And not only that, but when he went to Dallas, he got hurt again and Tony Romo came on to take over.

Rob Collie (00:18:53): Oh my god! So Drew Bledsoe is Wally Pipp X2.

Thomas LaRock (00:18:58): Yeah, X2.

Rob Collie (00:19:02): I just need to go find wherever Drew Bledsoe is right now and go get in line behind him.

Thomas LaRock (00:19:08): He's making wine in Walla Walla, Washington. I know exactly where he is.

Rob Collie (00:19:12): I'm about to inherit a vineyard gentlemen. Okay, so Wayne's already factored into this story.

Dr. Wayne Winston (00:19:23): A little bit.

Rob Collie (00:19:23): A bit part but an important one. We would call you Mr. Narrative Hook in the movie. Like you'd be the guy that's like, "Jeff, you've got to get a copy of USA Today and turn to page 10. You're going to be sick."

Jeff Sagarin (00:19:37): Well, I was I'm glad Wayne told me to do it. If I'd never known that, who knows what I'd be doing right now?

Rob Collie (00:19:44): Yeah. So you guys are longtime friends, right?

Dr. Wayne Winston (00:19:47): Yeah. Jeff, should take this.

Jeff Sagarin (00:19:49): September 1967 in the TV room at Ashdown Graduate's House across from the dorm we lived, because the graduate students there had rigged up, we call it a full screen TV that was actually quite huge. It's simply projected from a regular TV onto a maybe a 10 foot by 10 foot old fashioned movie projector screen. We'd go there to watch ballgames. Okay, because better than watching on a 10 inch diagonal black and white TV in the dorm. And it turned out we both had a love for baseball and football games.

Thomas LaRock (00:20:26): So just to be clear, though, this was no ordinary school. This is MIT. Because this is what people at MIT would do is take some weird tech thing and go, "We can make this even better, make a big screen TV."

Jeff Sagarin (00:20:38): We didn't know how to do it, which leads into Wayne's favorite story about our joint science escapades at MIT. If Wayne wants to start it off, you might like this. I was a junior and Wayne was a sophomore at the time. I'll set Wayne up for it, there was a requirement that MIT no matter what your major, one of the sort of distribution courses you had to take was a laboratory class. Why don't we let Wayne take the ball for a while on this?

Dr. Wayne Winston (00:21:05): I'm not very mechanically inclined. I got a D in wood shop and a D in metal shop. Jeff's not very mechanically inclined either. We took this lab class and we were trying to figure out identifying a coin based on the sound waves it would produce under the Scylla scope. And so the first week, we couldn't get the machine to work. And the professor said, "Turn it on." And so we figured that step out and the next week, the machine didn't work. He said, "Plug it in." Jeff can take it from there.

Jeff Sagarin (00:21:46): It didn't really fit the mathematical narrative exactly of what metals we knew were in the coin. But then I noticed, nowadays we'd probably figure out this a reason. If we multiplied our answers by something like 100 pi, we got the right numbers. So they were correctly proportional. So we just multiplied our answers by 100 pi and said, "As you can see, it's perfectly deducible."

Rob Collie (00:22:14): There's a YouTube video that we should probably link that is crazy. It shows that two boxes on a frictionless surface a simulation and the number of times that they collide, when you slide them towards a wall together, when they're like at 10X ratio of mass, the number of times that they impact each other starts to become the digits of pi.

Jeff Sagarin (00:22:34): Wow.

Rob Collie (00:22:35): Before they separate.

Jeff Sagarin (00:22:36): That's interesting.

Rob Collie (00:22:36): It's just bizarre. And then they go through explaining like why it is pi and you understand it while the video is playing. And then the video ends and you've completely lost it.

Jeff Sagarin (00:22:49): I'm just asking now, are they saying if you do that experiment an infinite amount of times, the average number of times they collide will be pi?

Rob Collie (00:22:57): That's a really good question. I think it's like the number of collisions as you increase the ratios of the weight or something like that start to become. It's like you'll get 314 collisions, for instance, in a certain weight ratio, because that's the only three digits of pi that I remember. It's 3.14. It's a fascinating little watch. So the 100 pi thing, you said that, I'm like, "Yeah, that just... Of course it's 100 pi." Even boxes colliding on a frictionless surface do pi things apparently.

Jeff Sagarin (00:23:29): Maybe it's a universal constant in everything we do.

Rob Collie (00:23:29): You just don't expect pi to surface itself. It has nothing to do with waves, no wavelength, no arcs of circles, nothing like that. But that sneaky video, they do show you that it actually has something to do with circles and angles and stuff.

Jeff Sagarin (00:23:44): Mutual friend of me and Wayne, this guy named Robin. He loves Fibonacci. And so every time I see a particular game end by a certain score, I'll just say, "Hey, Robin. Research the score of..." I think it was blooming to North against some other team. And he did. It turned out Bloomington North had won 155-34, which are the two adjacent Fibonacci, the two particular adjacent Fibonacci. Robin loves that stuff. You'll find a lot of that actually. It's hard to double Fibonacci a team though. That would be like 89-34.

Rob Collie (00:24:18): I know about the Fibonacci sequence. But I can't pick Fibonacci sequence numbers out of the wild. Are you familiar with Scorigami?

Jeff Sagarin (00:24:26): Who? I'd never heard of it obviously.

Rob Collie (00:24:29): I think a Scorigami is a score in the NFL that's never happened.

Jeff Sagarin (00:24:32): There was one like that about 10 years ago, 11-10, I believe. Pittsburgh was involved in the game or 12-11, something like that.

Rob Collie (00:24:40): I think there was a Scorigami in last season. With scoring going up, the chances of Scorigami is increasing. There's just more variance at the higher end of the spectrum of numbers, right?

Jeff Sagarin (00:24:50): I've always thought about this. In Canada, Canadian football, they have this extra rule that I think is kind of cool because it would probably make more scores happen. If a punter kicks the ball into the end zone, it can't roll there. Like if he kicks it on the fly into the end zone and the other team can't run it out, it's called a rouge and the kicking team gets one point for it. That's kind of cool. Because once you add the concept of scoring one point, you make a lot more scores more probable of happening.

Rob Collie (00:25:21): Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, totally. You can win 1-0.

Thomas LaRock (00:25:25): So the end zone is also... It's 20 yards deep. So the field's longer, it's 110 yards. But the end zone's deeper and part of it is that it's too far to kick for a field goal. But you know what? If I can punt it into the end zone and if I get a cover team down there, we can get one point out. I'm in favor of it. I think that'd be great.

Jeff Sagarin (00:25:43): I think you have to kick out on the fly into the end zone. It's not like if it rolls into it.

Thomas LaRock (00:25:47): No, no, no. It's like a pop flop.

Jeff Sagarin (00:25:50): Yeah. Okay.

Rob Collie (00:25:50): If you punt it out of the end zone, is it also a point?

Thomas LaRock (00:25:52): It's a touch back. No, touch back.

Jeff Sagarin (00:25:54): That'd be too easy of a way to get a point.

Rob Collie (00:25:57): You've had a 20 yard deep target to land in. In Canadian fantasy football, if there was such a thing, maybe there is, punters, you actually could have punters as a position because they can score points. That would be a really sad and un-fun way to play.

Rob Collie (00:26:14): But so we're amateur sports analytics people here on the show. We're not professionals. We're probably not even very good at it. But that doesn't mean that we aren't fascinated by it. We're business analytics people here for sure. Business and sports, they might share some techniques, but it's just very, very, very different, the things that are valuable in the two spaces. I mean, they're sort of spiritually linked but they're not really tools or methods that provide value.

Rob Collie (00:26:39): Not that you would give them. But we're not looking for any of your secrets here today. But you're not just writing for USA Today, there's a number of places where your skills are used these days, right?

Jeff Sagarin (00:26:51): Well, not as much as that. But I want to make a favorable analogy for Wayne. In the world of sports analytics, whatever the phrases are, I consider myself to be maybe an experimental applied physicist. Wayne is an advanced theoretical physicist. I do the grunt work of collecting data and doing stuff with it. But Wayne has a large over-viewing of things. He's like a theoretical physicist.

Dr. Wayne Winston (00:27:17): Jeff is too modest because he's experimented for years on the best parameters for his models.

Rob Collie (00:27:27): It's again that 10-year, 20-year overnight success type of thing. You've just got to keep grinding at it. Do the two of you collaborate at all?

Jeff Sagarin (00:27:35): Well, we did on two things, the Hoops computer game and Win Val. I forgot. How could I forget? It was actually my favorite thing that we did even though we've made no money doing the randomization using Game Theory of play calling for football. And we based it actually and it turned out that I got great numerical results that jive with empirical stuff that Virgil Carter had gotten and our economist, named Romer, had gotten and we had more detailed results than them.

Jeff Sagarin (00:28:06): But in the areas that we intersected, we had the same as them. We used a game called Pro Quarterback and we modeled it. We had actually, a fellow, I wasn't a professor but a fellow professor of Wayne's, a great guy, just a great guy named Vic Cabot, who wrote a particular routine to insert the FORTRAN program that solved that particular linear programming problem that would constantly reoccur or else we couldn't do it. That was the favorite thing and we got to show it once to Sam White, who we really liked. And White said, "I like this guy. I may have played this particular game," we told him what we based it on, "when I was a teenager."

Jeff Sagarin (00:28:46): He said, "I know exactly what you want to do." You don't make the same call in the same situation all the time. You have a random, but there's an optimal mix Game Theory, as you probably know for both offense and defense. White said, "The problem is this is my first year here. It was the summer of '83." And he said, "I don't really have the security." Said, "Imagine it's third and one, we're on our own 15 yard line. And it's third and one. And the random number generator says, 'Throw the bomb on this play with a 10% chance of calling up but it'll still be in the mix. And it happens to come up.'"

Jeff Sagarin (00:29:23): He said, "It was my eight year here. I used to play these games myself. I know exactly." But then he patted his hip. He said, "It's mine on the line this first year." He said, "It's kind of nerve wracking to do that when you're a rookie coach somewhere, to call the bomb when it's third and one on your own 15. If it's incomplete, you'll be booed out of the stadium."

Rob Collie (00:29:46): Yeah, I mean, it's similar to there's the general reluctance in coaches for so long to go for it on fourth and one. When the analytics were very, very, very clear that this was a plus expected value, +EV, move to go for it on fourth and one. But the thing is, you've got to consider the bigger picture. Right? The incentives, the coaches number one goal is actually don't get fired.

Jeff Sagarin (00:30:14): You were right. That's what White was telling us.

Rob Collie (00:30:14): Yeah. Winning a Super Bowl is a great thing to do. Because it helps you not get fired. It's actually weird. Like, if your goal is to win as many games as possible, yes, go for it on fourth and one. But if your goal is to not get fired, maybe. So it takes a bit more courage even to follow the numbers. And for good reason, because the incentives aren't really aligned the way that we think they are when you first glance at a situation.

Jeff Sagarin (00:30:41): Well, there's a human factor that there's no way unless you're making a guess how to take it into account. It may be demoralizing to your defense if you go for it on fourth and one and you're on your own 15. I've seen the numbers, we used to do this. It's a good mathematical move to go for it. Because you could say, "Well, if you're forced to punt, the other team is going to start on the 50. So what's so good about that? But psychologically, your defense may be kind of pissed off and demoralized when they have to come out on the field and defend from their own 15 after you've not made it and the numbers don't take that into account.

Rob Collie (00:31:19): Again, it's that judgment thing. Like the coach hung out to dry.

Dr. Wayne Winston (00:31:22): Can I say a word about Vic Cabot, that Jeff mentioned?

Jeff Sagarin (00:31:26): Yeah, He's great.

Dr. Wayne Winston (00:31:27): Yeah. So Vic was the greatest guy any of us in the business school ever knew. He was a fantastic person. He died of throat cancer in 1994, actually 27 years ago this week or last week.

Jeff Sagarin (00:31:43): Last week. It was right around Labor Day.

Dr. Wayne Winston (00:31:46): Right. But I want to mention, basically, when he died, his daughter was working in the NYU housing office. After he died, she wrote a little book called The Princess Diaries. She's worth how many millions of dollars now? But he never got to see it.

Jeff Sagarin (00:32:06): He had a son, a big kid named Matt Cabot, who played at Bloomington South High School. I got a nice story about Matthew. I believe the last time I know of him, he was a state trooper in the state of Colorado. I used to tell him when I was still young enough and Spry enough, we'd play a little pickup or something. I'd say, "Matthew, forget about points. The most important thing, a real man gets rebounds."

Jeff Sagarin (00:32:32): They played in the semi state is when it was just one class. In '88, me and Wayne and a couple of Wayne's professor buddies, we all... Of course, Vic would have been there but we didn't go in the same car. It was me, Wayne and maybe [inaudible 00:32:48] and somebody else, Wayne?

Jeff Sagarin (00:32:49): They played against Chandler Thompson's great team from Muncie Central. In the first three minutes, Chris Lawson, who was the star of the team went up for his patented turn around jumper from six feet away in the lane and Chandler Thompson spiked it like a volleyball and on the run of Muncie Central player took it with no one near him and laid it in and the game essentially ended but Matt Cabot had the game of his life.

Jeff Sagarin (00:33:21): I think he may have led the game of anyone, the most rebounds in the game. I compliment him. He was proud of that. And he's played, he said many a pickup game with Chandler Thompson, he said the greatest jumper he's ever been on the court within his entire life. You guys look up because I don't know if you know who Chandler Thompson. Is he played at Ball State. Look up on YouTube his put back dunk against UNLV in the 90 tournaments, the year UNLV won it at all. Look up Chandler Thompson's put back dunk.

Rob Collie (00:33:52): Yeah, I was just getting into basketball then, I think. Like in the Loyola Marymount days. Yeah, Jerry Tarkanian. Does college basketball have the same amount of personalities it used to like in the coaching figures. I kind of doubt that it does.

Rob Collie (00:34:06): With Tark gone, and of course, Bob Knight, it'll be hard to replace personalities like that. I don't know. I don't really watch college basketball anymore, so I wouldn't really know. But I get invited into those pick'em pools for the tournament March Madness every year and I never had the stamina to fill them out. And they offer those sheets where they'll fill it out for you. But why would I do that?

Jeff Sagarin (00:34:28): I've got to tell you a story involving Wayne and I.

Rob Collie (00:34:31): Okay.

Jeff Sagarin (00:34:31): In the 80 tournament, I had gotten a program running that would to simulate the tournament if you fed in the power ratings. It understood who'd play who and you simulate it a zillion times, come up with the odds. So going into the tournament, we had Purdue maybe the true odds against him should have been let's say, I'll make it up seven to one. Purdue and Iowa, they had Ronnie Lester, I remember.

Jeff Sagarin (00:34:57): The true odds against them should have been about 7-1. The bookmakers were giving odds of 40-1. So Wayne and I looked at each other and said, "That seems like a big edge." In theory, well, odds are still against them. Let's bet $25 apiece on both Purdue and Iowa. The two of them made the final four.

Jeff Sagarin (00:35:20): In Indianapolis, I'll put it this way, their consolation game gave us no consolation.

Rob Collie (00:35:30): Man.

Jeff Sagarin (00:35:31): And then one of the games, Joe Barry Carroll of Purdue, they're down by one they UCLA. I'm sure he was being contested. I don't mean he was all by himself. It's always easy for the fan who can't play to mock the player. I don't mean... He was being fiercely contested by UCLA. The net result was he missed with fierce contesting one foot layup that would have won the game for Purdue, that would have put them into the championship game and Iowa could have beaten Louisville, except their best player, Ronnie Lester had to leave the game because he had aggravated a bad knee injury that he just couldn't play well on.

Jeff Sagarin (00:36:11): But as I said, no consolation, right Wayne?

Dr. Wayne Winston (00:36:14): Right.

Jeff Sagarin (00:36:15): That was the next to the last year they ever had a consolation game. The last one was in '81 between LSU and Virginia.

Rob Collie (00:36:23): Was it the '81 tournament that you said that you liked Indiana to win it?

Jeff Sagarin (00:36:28): Wait, I'm going to show you how you get punished for hubris. I learned my lesson. The next year in '82, I had gotten a lot of notoriety, good kind of notoriety for having them to win in '81. People thought, "Wow! This is like the Oracle." So now as the tournament's about to begin in '82, I started getting a lot of calls, which I never used to do like from the media, "Who do you got Jeff?" I said confidently, "Oregon State." I had them number one, I think they'd only lost one game the whole year and they had a guy named Charlie Sitting, a 6'8 guy who was there all American forward.

Jeff Sagarin (00:37:06): He was the star and I was pretty confident and to be honest, probably obnoxious when I'd be talking to the press. So they make the regional final against Georgetown and it was being held out west. I'm sort of confidently waiting for the game to be played and I'm sure there'll be advancing to the final four. And they were playing against freshmen, Patrick Ewing.

Jeff Sagarin (00:37:29): In the first 10 seconds of the game, maybe you can find the video, there was a lob pass into Ewing, his back was to the basket, he's like three feet from the basket without even looking, he dunks backwards over his head over Charlie Sitton. And you should see the expression on Charlie Sitton's face. I said, "Oh my god! This game is over." The final score was 68-43 in Georgetown's favor. It was a massacre. It taught me the lesson, never be cocky, at least in public because you get slapped down, you get slapped down when you do that.

Rob Collie (00:38:05): I don't want to get into this yet again on this show. But you should call up Nate Silver and maybe talk to him a little bit about the same sort of thing. Makes very big public calls that haven't been necessarily so great lately. Just for everyone's benefit, because even though I'd live in the state of Indiana, I didn't grow up here. Let's just be clear. Who won the NCAA tournament in 1981?

Jeff Sagarin (00:38:29): Indiana.

Rob Collie (00:38:30): Okay. All right, so there you go. Right.

Jeff Sagarin (00:38:33): But who didn't win it in 1982? Oregon State.

Rob Collie (00:38:38): Yeah. Did you see The Hunt for Red October where Jack Ryan's character, there's a point where he guesses. He says, "Ramy, as always, goes to port in the bottom half of the hour with his crazy Ivan maneuvers and he turns out to be right." And that's how he ends up getting the captain of the American sub to trust him as Jack Ryan knew this Captain so well, even knew which direction he would turn in the crazy Ivan. But it turns out he was just bluffing. He knew he needed a break and it was 50/50.

Rob Collie (00:39:08): So it's a good thing that they were talking to you in the Indiana year, originally. Not the Oregon State year. That wouldn't be a good first impression. If you had to have it go one way or the other in those two years, the order in which it happened was the right order.

Jeff Sagarin (00:39:22): Yeah, nobody would have listened to me. They would have said, "You got lucky." They said, "You still were terrible in the Oregon State year."

Rob Collie (00:39:28): But you just pick the 10th rated team and be right. The chances of that being just luck are pretty low. I like it. That's a good story. So the two of you have never collaborated like on the Mark Cuban stuff? On the Mavs or any of that?

Jeff Sagarin (00:39:43): We've done three things together. The Hoops computer game, which we did from '86-'95. And then we did the Game Theory thing for football, but we never got a client. But we did get White to kind of follow it. There's an interesting anecdote, I won't I mentioned the guy who kind of screwed it up. But he assigned a particular grad assistant to fill and we needed a matrix filled in each week with a bunch of numbers with regarding various things like turnovers.

Jeff Sagarin (00:40:13): If play A is called against defense B, what would happen type of thing? The grad assistant hated doing it. And one week, he gave us numbers such that the computer came back with when Indiana had the ball, it should quick kick on first down every time it got the ball. We figured it out what was going on, the guy had given Indiana a 15% chance of a turnover, no matter what play they called in any situation against any defense.

Jeff Sagarin (00:40:44): So the computer correctly surmised it were better to punt the ball. This is like playing Russian roulette with the ball. Let's just kick it away. So we ended up losing the game in real life 10-0. White told us then when we next saw him, we used to see him on Monday or Tuesday mornings, real early in the day, like seven o'clock, but that's when you could catch him. And he kind of looked at us and said, "You know what? We couldn't have done any worse said had we kicked [inaudible 00:41:14]."

Rob Collie (00:41:13): That's nice.

Jeff Sagarin (00:41:14): And then we did Mark Cuban. That was the last thing. We did that with Cuban from basically 2000-2011 with a couple of random projects in the summer for him, but really on a day to day basis during a season from 2000-2011.

Rob Collie (00:41:30): And during that era is when I met Wayne at Microsoft. That was very much an active, ongoing project when Wayne was there in Redmond a couple of times that we crossed paths.

Dr. Wayne Winston (00:41:43): And we worked for the Knicks one year, and they won 54 games.

Jeff Sagarin (00:41:47): Here with Glen Grunwald. So they won more games than they'd ever won in a whole bunch of years. And like three weeks before the season starts or so in mid September, the next fire, Glen Grunwald. Let's put it this way, it didn't bother us that the Knicks never made the playoffs again until this past season.

Rob Collie (00:42:10): That's great. You were doing, was it lineup optimization for those teams?

Jeff Sagarin (00:42:15): Wayne knows more about this than I do. Because I would create the raw data, well, I call it output, but it needed refinement. That was Wayne's department. So you do all the talking now, Wayne.

Dr. Wayne Winston (00:42:26): Yeah. Jeff wrote an amazing FORTRAN program. So basically, Jeff rated teams and we figured out we could rate players based on how the score of the game moved during the game. We could evaluate lineups and figure out head to head how certain players did against each other. Now, every team does this stuff and ESPN has Real Plus-Minus and Nate Silver has Raptor. But we started this.

Jeff Sagarin (00:42:58): I mean, everybody years ago knew about Plus-Minus. Well, intuitively, let's say you're a gym rat, you first come to a gym, you don't know anyone there and you start getting in the crowd of guys that show up every afternoon to play pickup. You start sensing, you don't even have to know their names. Hey, when that guy is on the court, no matter who his teammates are, they seem to win.

Jeff Sagarin (00:43:20): Or when this guy's on the court, they always seem to lose. Intuitively since it matters, who's on the court with you and who your opponents are. Like to make an example for Rob, let's say you happen to be in a pickup game. You've snuck into Pauley Pavilion during the summer and you end up with like four NBA current playing professionals on your team and let's say an aging Michael Jordan now shows up. He ends up with four guys who are graduate students in philosophy because they have to exercise. You're going to have a better plus-minus than Michael Jordan. But when you take into account who your teammates were and who's his were, if you knew enough about the players, he'd have a better rating than you, new Michael Jordan would.

Jeff Sagarin (00:44:08): But you'd have a better raw plus-minus than he would. You have to know who the people on the court were. That was Wayne's insight. Tell them how it all started, how you met ran into Mark Cuban, Wayne, when you were in Dallas?

Dr. Wayne Winston (00:44:20): Well, Mark was in my class in 1981, statistics class and I guess the year 1999, we went to a Pacers Maverick game in Dallas.

Jeff Sagarin (00:44:31): March of 2000.

Dr. Wayne Winston (00:44:33): March of 2000, because our son really liked the Pacers. Mark saw me in the stands. He said, "I remember you from class and I remember you for being on Jeopardy." He had just bought the team. And he said, "If you can do anything to help the Mavericks, let me know." And then I was swimming in the pool one day and I said, "If Jeff rates teams, we should rate players." And so we worked on this and Jeff wrote this amazing FORTRAN program, which I'm sure he could not rewrite today.

Jeff Sagarin (00:45:04): Oh, God. Well, I was motivated then. Willingness to work hard for many hours at a time, for days at a time to get something to work when you could use the money that would result from it. I don't have that in me anymore. I'm amazed when I look at the source code. I say, "Man, I couldn't do that now." I like to think I could. Necessity is the mother of invention.

Rob Collie (00:45:28): I've many, many, many times said and this is still true to this day, like a previous version of me that made something amazing like built a model or something like that, I look back and go, "Whoo, I was really smart back then." Well, at the same time I know I'm improving. I know that I'm more capable today than I was a year ago. Even just accrued wisdom makes a big difference. When you really get lasered in on something and are very, very focused on it, you're suddenly able to execute at just a higher level than what you're typically used to.

Jeff Sagarin (00:46:01): As time went on, we realized what Cuban wanted and other teams like the next would want. Nobody really wanted to wade through the monster set of files that the FORTRAN would create. I call that the raw output that nobody wanted to read, but it was needed. Wayne wrote these amazing routines in Excel that became understandable and usable by the clients.

Jeff Sagarin (00:46:26): The way Wayne wrote the Excel, they could basically say, "Tell us what happens when these three guys are in the lineup, but these two guys are not in the lineup." It was amazing the stuff that he wrote. Wayne doesn't give himself the credit that otherwise after a while, nobody would have wanted what we were doing because what I did was this sort of monstrous and to some extent boring.

Dr. Wayne Winston (00:46:48): This is what Rob's company does basically. They try and distill data into understandable form that basically helps the company make decisions.

Rob Collie (00:46:58): It is a heck of a discipline, right? Because if you have the technical and sort of mental skills to execute on something that's that complex, and it starts down in the weeds and just raw inputs, it's actually really, really, really easy to hand it off in a form that isn't yet quite actionable for the intended audience. It's really fascinating to you, the person that created it.

Rob Collie (00:47:23): It's not digestible or actionable yet for the consumer crowd, whoever the target consumer is. I've been there. I've handed off a lot of things back in the day and said, "The professional equivalent of..." And it turned out to not be... It turned out to be, "Go back and actually make it useful, Rob." So I'm familiar with that. For sure. I think I've gotten better at that over the years. As a journey, you're never really complete with. Something I wanted to throw in here before I forget, which is, Jeff, you have an amazing command of certain dates.

Dr. Wayne Winston (00:47:56): Oh, yeah.

Jeff Sagarin (00:47:57): Give me some date that you know the answer about what day of the week it was, and I'll tell you, but I'll tell you how I did it.

Rob Collie (00:48:04): Okay, how about June 6, 1974?

Jeff Sagarin (00:48:08): That'd be a Thursday.

Rob Collie (00:48:10): Holy cow. Okay. How do you do that?

Jeff Sagarin (00:48:11): June 11th of 1974 would be a Tuesday, so five days earlier would be a Thursday.

Rob Collie (00:48:19): How do you know June 11?

Jeff Sagarin (00:48:19): I just do.

Dr. Wayne Winston (00:48:23): It's his birthday.

Rob Collie (00:48:24): No, it's not. He wasn't born in '74.

Dr. Wayne Winston (00:48:27): No, but June 11th.

Jeff Sagarin (00:48:29): I happen to know that June 11 was a Tuesday in 1974, that's all.

Rob Collie (00:48:34): I'm still sitting here waiting what passes for an explanation. Is one coming?

Jeff Sagarin (00:48:39): I'll tell you another way I could have done it, but I didn't. In 1963, John Kennedy gave his famous speech in Berlin, Ich bin ein Berliner, on Wednesday, June 26th. That means that three weeks earlier was June 5, the Wednesday. So Thursday would have been June 6th. You're going to say, "Well, why is that relevant?" Well, 1963 is congruent to 1974 days of the week was.

Rob Collie (00:49:07): Okay. This is really, really impressive. Jeff, you seem so normal up until now.

Thomas LaRock (00:49:16): You want throw him off? Just ask for any date before 1759?

Jeff Sagarin (00:49:20): No, I can do that. It'll take me a little longer though.

Thomas LaRock (00:49:22): Because once they switch from Gregorian-

Jeff Sagarin (00:49:25): No, well, I'll give it a Gregorian style, all right. I'm assuming that it's a Gregorian date. The calendar totally, totally repeats every possible cycle every 400 years. For example, if you happen to say, "What was September 10, of 1621?" I would quickly say, "It's a Friday." Because 1621 is exactly the same as 2021 says.

Rob Collie (00:49:52): Does this translate into other domains as well? Do you have sort of other things that you can sort of get this quick, intuitive mastery over or is it very, very specific to this date arithmetic?

Jeff Sagarin (00:50:02): Probably specific. In other words, I think Wayne's a bit quicker than me. I'm certain does mental arithmetic stuff, but to put everybody in their place, I don't think you ever met him, Wayne. Remember the soccer player, John Swan?

Dr. Wayne Winston (00:50:14): Yeah.

Jeff Sagarin (00:50:15): He had a friend from high school, they went to Brownsburg High School. I forgot the kid's name. He was like a regular student at IU. He was not a well scholar, but he was a smart kid. I'd say he was slightly faster than me at most mental arithmetic things. So you should never get cocky and think that other people, "Oh, they don't have the pedigree." Some people are really good at stuff you don't expect them to be good at, really good. This kid was really good.

Rob Collie (00:50:45): As humans, we need to hyper simplify things in order to have a mental model we can use to navigate a very, very complicated world. That's a bit of a strength. But it's also a weakness in many ways. We tend to try to reduce intelligence down to this single linear number line, when it's really like a vast multi dimensional coordinate space. There are so many dimensions of intelligence.

Rob Collie (00:51:11): I grew up with the trope in my head that athletes weren't very bright. Until the first time that I had to try to run a pick and roll versus pick and pop. I discovered that my brain has a clock speed that's too slow to run the pick and roll versus pick and pop. It's not that I'm not smart enough to know if this, than that. I can't process it fast enough to react. You look at like an NFL receiver or an NFL linebacker or whatever, has to process on every single snap.

Rob Collie (00:51:45): It's amazing how much information they have the processor. Set aside the physical skill that they have, which I also don't have and never did. On top of that, I don't have the brain at all to do these sorts of things. It's crazy.

Jeff Sagarin (00:52:00): With the first few years, I was in Bloomington from, let's say, '77 to '81, I needed the money, so I tutored for the athletic department. They tutored math. And I remember once I was given an assignment, it was a defensive end, real nice kid. He was having trouble with the kind of math we would find really easy. But you could tell he had a mental block. These guys had had bad experiences and they just, "I can't do this. I can't do this."

Jeff Sagarin (00:52:25): I asked this defensive end, "Tell me what happens when the ball snap, what do you have to do?" I said, "In real time, you're being physically pulverized, the other guy's putting a forearm or more right into your face. And your brain has to be checking about five different things going on in the backfield, other linemen." I said, "What you're doing with somebody else trying to hurt you physically is much more intellectually difficult, at least to my mind than this problem in the book in front of you and the book is not punching you in the face."

Jeff Sagarin (00:52:57): He relaxed and he can do the problems in the room. I'd make sure. I picked not a problem that I had solved. I'd give him another one that I hadn't solved and he could do it. I realized, my God, what these guys they're doing takes actually very quick reacting brainpower and my own personal experience in elementary school, let's say in sixth grade after school, we'd be playing street football, just touch football. When I'd be quarterback, I'd start running towards the line of scrimmage.

Jeff Sagarin (00:53:26): If the other team came after me, they'd leave a receiver wide open. I said, "This is easy." So I throw for touchdown. Well, in seventh grade, we go to junior high. We have squads in gym class, and on a particular day, I got to be quarterback. Now, instead of guys sort of leisurely counting one Mississippi, two Mississippi, they are pouring in. It's not that you're going to get hurt, but you're going to get tagged and the play would be over. It says touch football, and I'd be frantically looking for receivers to get open. Let's just say it was not a good experience. I realized there's a lot more to be in quarterback than playing in the street. It's so simple.

Jeff Sagarin (00:54:08): They come after you and they leave the receivers wide open. That's what evidently sets apart. Let's say the Tom Brady's from the guys who don't even make it after one year in the NFL. If you gave them a contest throwing the ball, seeing who could throw it through a tire at 50 yards, maybe the young kid is better than Tom Brady but his brain can't process what's happening on the field fast enough.

Thomas LaRock (00:54:32): As someone who likes to you know, test things thoroughly, that student of yours who was having trouble on the test, you said the book wasn't hitting him physically. Did you try possibly?

Jeff Sagarin (00:54:45): I should have shoved it in his face.

Thomas LaRock (00:54:49): Physically, just [crosstalk 00:54:50].

Rob Collie (00:54:50): Just throw things at him. Yeah.

Thomas LaRock (00:54:52): Throw an eraser, a piece of chalk. Just something.

Jeff Sagarin (00:54:56): I'll tell you now, I don't want to name him. He's a real nice guy. I'll tell you a funny anecdote about him. I had hurt my knuckle in a pickup basketball game. I had a cast on it and I was talking to my friend. And he had just missed making a pro football team the previous summer and he was on the last cut. He'd made it to the final four guys.

Jeff Sagarin (00:55:18): He was trying to become a linebacker I think. They told him, "You're just not mean enough." That was in my mind. I thought, "Well, I don't know about that." He said, "Yeah, I had the same kind of fractured knuckle you got." I said, "How'd you get it?" "Pick up [inaudible 00:55:32]. Punching a guy in the face." But he wasn't mean enough for the NFL. And I heard a story from a friend of mine who I witnessed it, this guy was at one point working security at a local holiday inn that would have these dances.

Jeff Sagarin (00:55:47): There was some guy who was like from the Hells Angels who was causing trouble. He's a big guy, 6'5, 300 whatever. And he actually got into an argument with my friend who was the security guy. Angel guy throws a punch at this guy who's not mean enough for the NFL. With one punch the Jeff Sagarin tutoree knocked the Hell's Angels guy flat unconscious. He was a comatose on the floor. But he wasn't mean enough for the NFL.

Rob Collie (00:56:17): Tom if I told my plus minus story about my 1992 dream team on this show, I think maybe I have. I don't remember.

Thomas LaRock (00:56:24): You might have but this seems like a perfect episode for that.

Rob Collie (00:56:27): I think Jeff and Wayne, if I have told it before, it was probably with Wayne.

Dr. Wayne Winston (00:56:31): I don't remember.

Rob Collie (00:56:32): Perfect. It'll be new to everyone that matters. Tom remembers. So, in 1992, the Orlando Magic were a recent expansion team in the NBA. Sometime in that summer, the same summer where the 1992 Dream Team Olympic team went and dominated, there was a friend of our family who ran a like a luxury automotive accessories store downtown and he basically hit the jackpot. He'd been there forever. There was like right next to like the magic practice facility.

Rob Collie (00:57:09): And so all the magic players started frequenting his shop. That was where they tricked out all their cars and added all the... So his business was just booming as a result of magic coming to town. I don't know this guy ever had ever been necessarily terribly athletic at any point in his life. He had this bright idea to assemble a YMCA team that would play in the local YMCA league in Orlando, the city league.

Rob Collie (00:57:35): He had secured the commitment of multiple magic players to be on our team as well as like Jack Givens, who was the radio commentator for The Magic and had been a longtime NBA star with his loaded team. And then it was like, this guy, we'll call this guy Bill. It's not his real name. So it was Bill and the NBA players and me and my dad, a couple of younger guys that actually I didn't know, but were pretty good but they weren't even like college level players.

Rob Collie (00:58:07): And so we signed up for the A league, the most competitive league that Orlando had to offer. And then none of the NBA players ever showed up. I said never, but they did show up one time. But we were getting blown out. Some of the people who were playing against us were clearly ex college players. We couldn't even get the ball across half court.

Jeff Sagarin (00:58:33): Wayne, does this sound familiar to you?

Dr. Wayne Winston (00:58:35): Yes, tell this story.

Jeff Sagarin (00:58:38): Wayne, when he was a grad student at Yale, and I'm living in the White Irish neighborhood called Dorchester in Boston, I was young and spry. At that time, I would think I could play. Wayne as a grad student at Yale had entered a team with a really intimidating name of administration science in the New Haven City League, which was played I believe at Hill House high school at night. So Wayne said, "Hey Jeff, why don't you take a Greyhound bus down. We're going to play against this team called the New Haven All Stars. It ought to be interesting."

Rob Collie (00:59:14): Wayne's voice in that story sound a little bit like the guy at USA Today for a moment. It was the same voice, the cigar chomping. Anyway, continue.

Jeff Sagarin (00:59:25): They edged this out 75-31. I thought I was lined up against the guy... I thought it was Paul Silas who was may be sort of having a bus man's holiday playing for the New Haven all-stars. So a couple weeks later, Paul Silas was my favorite player on the Celtics. He could rebound, that's all I could do. I was pitiful at anything else. But I worked at that and I was pretty strong and I worked at jumping, etc.

Jeff Sagarin (00:59:53): So a few weeks later, Wayne calls me up and says, "Hey Jeff, we're playing the New Haven All-Stars again. Why don't you come down again and we'll get revenge against them this time?" Let's just say it didn't work out that way. And I remember one time I had Paul Silas completely boxed out. It was perfect textbook and I could jump. If my hands were maybe at rim level and I could see a pair of pants a foot over mine from behind, he didn't tell me and he got the rebound and I'm at rim level.

Jeff Sagarin (01:00:24): We were edged out by a score so monstrous, I won't repeat it here. I'm not a guard at all. But I ended up with the ball... They full court pressed the whole game.

Rob Collie (01:00:34): Of course, once they figure out-

Jeff Sagarin (01:00:36): That we can't play and I'm not even a guard. It was ludicrous. My four teammates left me in terror. They just said, "We're going down court." So I'm all alone, they have four guys on me and my computer like my thought, "Well, they've got four guys on me. That must mean my four teammates are being guarded by one guy down court. This should be easy." I look, I look. They didn't steal the ball out of my hands or nothing. I'm still holding on to it. They're pecking away but they didn't foul me. I give them credit for that. I was like, "Where the hell are my teammates?"

Jeff Sagarin (01:01:08): They were in terror hiding in single file behind the one guy and I basically... I don't care if you bleeping or not, I said, "Fuck it." And I just threw the ball. Good two overhand pass, long pass. I had my four teammates down there and they had one guy and you can guess who got the ball. After the game I asked them, I said, "You guys seem fairly good. Are you anybody?" The guy said, "Yeah, we're the former Fairfield varsity we were in the NIT about two years ago."

Jeff Sagarin (01:01:39): I looked it up once. Fairfield did make the NIT, I think in '72. And this took place in like February of '74. It taught me a lesson because I looked up what my computer rating for Fairfield would have been compared that to, let's say, UCLA and NC State and figured at a minimum, we'd be at least a 100-200 point underdog against them in a real game, but it would have been worse because we would never get the ball pass mid-court.

Rob Collie (01:02:10): Yeah, I mean, those games that I'm talking about in that YMCA League, I mean, the scores were far worse. We were losing like 130-11.

Jeff Sagarin (01:02:19): Hey, good that's worse than New Haven all-stars beat us but not quite that bad.

Rob Collie (01:02:24): I remember one time actually managing to get the ball across half court and pulling up for a three-point shot off of the break. And then having the guy that had assembled the team, take me aside at the next time out and tell me that I needed to pass that. I'm just like, "No. You got us into this embarrassment. If I get to the point where like, there's actually a shot we can take like a shot, we could take a shot. I'm not going to dump it off to you."

Thomas LaRock (01:02:57): Not just a shot, but the shot of gold.

Rob Collie (01:03:00): The one time we did get those guys to show up, we were still kind of losing because those guys didn't want to get hurt. It didn't make any sense for them to be there. There was no upside for them to be in this game. I'm sure that they just sort of been guilted into showing up. But then this Christian Laettner lookalike on the other team. He was as big as Laettner.

Rob Collie (01:03:25): This is the kind of teams we were playing against. There was a long rebound and that Laettner lookalike got that long rebound and basically launched from the free throw line and dunked over Terry Catledge, the power forward for the Magic at the time. And at that moment, Terry Catledge scored the next 45 points in the game himself. That was all it was.

Rob Collie (01:03:50): He'd just be standing there waiting for me to inbound the ball to him, he would take it coast to coast and score. He'd backpedal on defense and he would somehow steal the ball and he'd go down and score again. He just sent a message. And if that guy hadn't dunked over Catledge, we would have never seen what Catledge was capable of. So remember, this is a team that's blowing us out 132-11 on an average basis. And then Catledge, there's more distance between Catledge who wasn't even like an NBA star, he was just like a replacement level player in the NBA. The distance between him and those guys we were playing against was even larger than the distance between these YMCA stars and us it was unreal. A force of nature.

Jeff Sagarin (01:04:35): I got a Wilt Chamberlain story I've read about like that. I've read that... You've heard of the [inaudible 01:04:40] tournament. This is way before it became, how would I put it? Public and sheek and everything this was back in the late '50s, maybe early '60s. Connie Hawkins was a high school legend who graduated high school at the time in '60.

Jeff Sagarin (01:04:58): It was on the playground in that '59 maybe the '61 Chamberlain was already Wilt Chamberlain. There was a guy on the other team named Jumpin Jackie Jackson who was a legend on the playgrounds who could really jump. He happened at the time of Chamberlain fadeaway jump shot and blocked it in midair. Chamberlain was so infuriated that the next 20 possessions, he just had the ball thrown into him and he would dunk very viciously and nobody even wanted to try to block it. He was sending the same message Catledge sent on that.

Jeff Sagarin (01:05:35): I've heard the same analogy. Wilt Chamberlain when he was about 50, he would play in pickup games. I think Magic Johnson told this story. At age 50 Chamberlain would be playing at quality pavilion is where all the guys would hang out, Magic Johnson, a bunch of the Lakers and Chamberlain. Chamberlain at age 50, he was pissed off somebody made a bad call. He said, "You fouled me on that Will or something?" Wilt would get enraged and suddenly start dunking where nobody wanted to even get in his way.

Rob Collie (01:06:07): Jeff, again, we're not asking for any secret sauce. But I was going to ask you about in a vague sense, sort of like methodologies that you found to be useful.

Thomas LaRock (01:06:16): So I was just going to say, Rob, I had an idea along what you were just saying about the myths and things like that. I was wondering if there's some type of common statistic that a lot of people just take for granted, but it's something that actually should be just ignored. Along the lines of Jeff and Wayne's experience, is there something out there that people kind of rely on but it's actually basis?

Dr. Wayne Winston (01:06:40): Well, I'll take that. In baseball, batting average is worthless and games won is worthless. But those are pretty well known.

Rob Collie (01:06:51): What about in the methodology department itself? Things that might be applicable in general outside of sports?

Jeff Sagarin (01:06:58): Well, I guess this actually... There's a lot of analogies as to real life. A famous example in sports is the Pittsburgh Pirates beating the Yankees in 1960, four games to three. You look up the scores, the Yankees out-scored them 55 runs to 27. Yet Pittsburgh won four of the seven games, the famous Mazeroski home run.

Jeff Sagarin (01:07:20): Well, in college sports, often it's more like college to pros, nobody cares about ratings because it's decided by wins and losses, which is kind of like what the Pirates did. But I once asked is that there was a restaurant in town where one of the guys who ran it was kind of connected in sports. And a lot of times there'd be some assistant coaches, coaches would meet in the back office and we'd all talk over stuff. I once asked them, and I got a 50/50 distribution on the answers.

Jeff Sagarin (01:07:49): I created a hypothetical league like a 10 team League, where one team won all nine of its games against the other nine teams in it by one point the game. The other team in this discussion, won eight of its games by 50 points and lost of course by one point to the team that won every game they had played by one point. I said, "Who's the better team?" Half of the guys in the room who were actually professionals, I mean, they were coaches, half of them said the team that was undefeated and the other half said, that was a fluke that that other team lost. The team that was winning by 50 a game against the same opponents the other team played, they're clearly the better team and it's just a fluke that they lost.

Jeff Sagarin (01:08:35): So when you're rating teams, you run into that problem, sometimes in real life. Some teams, as a cliche phrases, a friend of mine made this phrase up about this one team that was undefeated. It was Nebraska, I remember in 1972, when they were trying to repeat as national champions, where they've been undefeated in '71. They managed to lose two games and tie one. And every game they lost was by like this, really close. And then they had a streak in the middle of the season where they outscored their opponents 201-0. You could look that up.

Jeff Sagarin (01:09:12): The '72 Nebraska team. And so this friend of mine said, "Nebraska, they lost any game that they had an opportunity to lose." Most games, they had no opportunity to lose it. They were the snack good and they never had experience till they lost. They didn't know what to do when the game was close against somebody that could play with them.

Rob Collie (01:09:32): Okay, what's the right answer to the hypothetical 10 team league experiment?

Jeff Sagarin (01:09:37): It's dependent on the parameters you use. If you emphasize winning to the computer, you'll get the team that's undefeated. If you just say scores are all the matter, you'll get the team that's winning by 50 points a game and loses the one game by one.

Rob Collie (01:09:51): Okay, so you can definitely tilt the model toward one conclusion?

Jeff Sagarin (01:09:55): Yeah, you try to find out which works empirically the best predicting the most accuracy over a large sample of games. You'll test different parameter values to see which works, but it may not work and obviously in any one particular game better than the other method. And then when you're wrong, people say, "Oh, you're stupid. You should have been doing it this way."

Jeff Sagarin (01:10:16): And little did they know when you've tested it over a sample of 10,000 games, that the methods there, "stupid", for using is the more accurate method.

Rob Collie (01:10:25): But which one's the right answer?

Jeff Sagarin (01:10:28): I lean towards scores by the way.

Rob Collie (01:10:29): Yeah, I figured. I'm on that side, the team that won by 50 and then lost by one. I'm going to pick that team.

Thomas LaRock (01:10:36): I think you need more features. I think you need to know like was somebody hurt, where the game is being played.

Jeff Sagarin (01:10:40): Well, of course you know where the games are played. That's always built in, I know that. But you start saying, "Well, who had the flu? Who had a sprained ankle?" You can at that point, start putting in factors that make whatever team you want be the favorite team.

Rob Collie (01:10:55): Bring more and more of the human bias into it, yeah. I can see that. Do you still do any work with the NCAA or is that behind you at this point?

Jeff Sagarin (01:11:03): They can get my stuff online. But as a courtesy, just to keep my streak alive with them, I've been giving them my numbers for free since the spring of '84, technically winter of '84. I started with a real nice guy named Vic Bulbous. He used to be the coach at Duke back in the '60s and then he eventually ended as... With the NCAA, he was head of the tournament committee. In the early mid '80s, I've done that every, say March, commencing in 1984 but that's because he called me up and said Jim van Valkenburg.

Jeff Sagarin (01:11:39): Remember, I mentioned way at the beginning at the NCAA that I had talked to in 1981. Van Valkenburg told him to call me saying, "Hey, he had Indiana to win in '81." That's kind of all connected.

Rob Collie (01:11:52): One of the problems that basically all data professionals run into is when they try to get buy-in for their methodology and the value that they can bring to the table. They try to get non-data people to understand and/or believe in it. Are there any lessons learned from working with the NCAA over the years that might be relevant?

Jeff Sagarin (01:12:14): They wanted to talk to me directly in October of 1988 during the Dodger Oakland A's World Series and then I said, "We want to talk to you regarding our RPI and the difference with your system, etc." So I said, "Okay, we can talk." And they said, "We want to talk to you in person." I said, "Man, look, I'll talk to you for free over the phone. But I don't like to travel. And if you're going to make me travel to Kansas City, I want to get paid. But I'm not asking to be paid. Why can't we just do this on a speakerphone? I'm not interested in making money out of this. I just don't like traveling."

Jeff Sagarin (01:12:52): So they said basically, in a nice way, "We insist. We want you here in person to meet with the NCAA Tournament committee." So I said, "What's the most you pay anybody? I want to get paid that." So they paid me, I think it was $500. And I said, "And I need another $100 to pay for a friend of mine to drive me up to the airport early like at 5:00 am in Indianapolis, and then pick me up later that night at 11 o'clock at night."

Jeff Sagarin (01:13:18): So they paid me two separate checks, 500 and 100. So I paid my friend 100 bucks. I think we stopped at a bar on the way home to watch the Dodgers beat Oakland that night. Okay. That's how I remember that. What they told me was they said, "Look, we're the NCAA. RRPI does not use scores, because we can't, in good conscience, tell the teams, 'We're going to use scores,' because then we're sort of looking like we're encouraging teams to run up the score. But we don't want you to change your system to do that. Because we all know as ex coaches and athletic directors that scores tell you who the better team is."

Jeff Sagarin (01:13:58): They know that. And these are true professionals, former coaches and athletic directors. They're not some philosopher kings, they know that 50 point the game team, it's a fluke that they lost by one. That was their personal opinion. And so they said, "Don't change what you do. We don't want to have to officially acknowledge that though."

Jeff Sagarin (01:14:18): So ironically, their new system that they talked about in January 20th of 2017, a Friday, they said, "Yeah, we're going to start using scores." But they put a cap on it. I think that's so any victory greater than 10 points the computer collapses to be 10, it produces some inaccuracies, but it's okay and at least it differentiates teams better. I don't know how to duplicate that. And they have some other fancy things in it. But that's the basic underpinning is all victories are by no more than 10. I don't know what they do with the home edge. But that's not that important to me, but they acknowledged you need to use scores.

Rob Collie (01:15:00): Were you at all involved or did you have a ringside seat at all for the BCS era of college football?

Jeff Sagarin (01:15:07): I had more than a ring. I was in one of the guys in the ring.

Rob Collie (01:15:10): They kept talking about the computer rankings going into the BCS. Was that you?

Jeff Sagarin (01:15:14): Yeah, I was one of the... Actually, I was with them every year they did it. I think it was 16 years. I was with it all the years. The way I'd put it would be it really wasn't good for me to be in it. It would have been worse for me given that they had it, to not be in it. People say, "He must not be good enough to be in it." But all it did was bring you brief from fans.

Jeff Sagarin (01:15:36): I have a fun story. The very, very, very first year at Tennessee, I didn't have them number one. People in Tennessee were real unhappy with me and I was young and kind of stronger then. There was a friend of mine who was a bouncer at this local bar who was actually a native of Knoxville, but he was here. He's a real big guy, one of those 6'4, 350 pound guys. We had a fun, I call it rivalry. Whenever we see each other, we have some laughs today.

Jeff Sagarin (01:16:04): We were in fact in a mutual one of these pick'em contests for the tournament this past March. At the time I asked him, I said, "How would I do if I were in a sports bar right now in Knoxville, Tennessee?" And he laughed and said, "You'd need me with you." You get some weirdo fans out there. Very weirdo fans.

Rob Collie (01:16:26): The NCAA Tournament, it's a lot more, I don't know, almost like continuous of a problem. It's so many teams, the best teams in the country are going to be near the top. If you give someone a two seed when they think they deserved a one, it's not that big of a slight. Compared to you're in the BCS title game or you're not.

Jeff Sagarin (01:16:49): Correct.

Rob Collie (01:16:49): To add to that, I think that the football fan base is a bit more vicious than the basketball fan base.

Jeff Sagarin (01:16:57): Yeah, I'd say you're right.

Rob Collie (01:16:59): We had Michael Salfino, who's a sports writer for The Athletic and FiveThirtyEight and Wall Street Journal. He was a previous guest. And one of the things he was talking about was how, this is what Tom brought up is that analytics are changing sports too. They're not just predicting and helping people manage the game, but they're just completely changing the way the game is played. Like the NBA is famously now got a whole desert. The mid range jumper is gone from the NBA. Baseball has become all about nothing but home runs and strikeouts.

Jeff Sagarin (01:17:32): It's sort of like saying the three-point shot is the home run and if you miss it, it's kind of like a strikeout.

Rob Collie (01:17:38): Yeah, yeah. And so in those two sports in particular, there is a rising, especially baseball, I think. Really, baseball wasn't a sport that could afford to become more boring. It didn't have room for that. But is it making those sports less interesting to watch? I don't think it's making football less interesting to watch, at least not so far. Football, to me is still a peak, entertaining product.

Jeff Sagarin (01:18:05): In what ways? I don't know the answer, because I'm not involved in any of this stuff. I understand about baseball and basketball, the three-point shot and "home runs", how is it changing football? Maybe teams go for it more on fourth down. But that's not really changing the physical play in baseball. It changes how batters swing, their upper cutting, trying to hit a home run and then basketball, they're taking more three point shots. What are they doing different in football?

Thomas LaRock (01:18:31): I'll tell you. So here's a great example of running quarterback. I grew up your quarterback, he took five or seven steps back and that was it and he was in the pocket. And these days, you got guys who were just mobile. I think once you have one quarterback or two, have some success and you had some data to show, "Hey, this changes the nature of the game a little bit. Now, teams start to say, "Well, I'm going to imitate that success." My question was more about have you seen or felt that some of the statistics or things that you've uncovered has eventually helped shape the way sports get played?

Jeff Sagarin (01:19:06): I've never been involved in doing statistics from football. Wayne and I did the game theory thing, trying to say how you should randomly intelligently optimize your play calling mix. But it's not like I analyzed running averages and passing yards per pass attempt.

Jeff Sagarin (01:19:24): One thing I will say is when people compare they have the quarterback rating that the NFL has and it's just a simple algebra formula. I've forgotten it. But I have it. It's not that complicated. They'll say, "My God, guys like Johnny Unitas are a fraud. He only had a rating of let's say 80. And now the worst passer in the league has a rating of 80. And that makes them the worst guy in the league."

Jeff Sagarin (01:19:49): And I'll say why don't you compare guys to the league average when they played, when Unitas played league average in the way they do that NFL rating was like in the high 50s or early 60s. So being in 80 meant you were good. Now, league average I believe is in the 90s. Yeah, being an 80 now is below average, but they've changed the rules. Imagine let's say in basketball, let's say the basket, like the physical dimensions of a game define who the better players are going to be. Let's say in basketball, the basket were like oil barrels that came to about waist tie.

Jeff Sagarin (01:20:28): Well, maybe the best place would be these short, stocky, muscular construction workers who would dominate, play around the oil barrel. Being 7'2 wouldn't really be an advantage. Or what if the basket were like 20 feet high? Who would be the good shooters? Well, when Unitas was quarterback, offensive linemen were not allowed to hold. Defensive linemen were not penalized unless it was amazingly egregious for roughing the quarterback. And defensive backs could bump and run the entire route.

Jeff Sagarin (01:21:02): Now, offensive lineman can hold. Defensive backs can only touch the receiver in the first five yards. The defensive linemen are severely penalized if they hurt the quarterback in any way. It's not really fair to judge guys like Unitas on today's numerical standards. Unitas would have been delighted to play if nobody was allowed to try to injure them.

Rob Collie (01:21:27): You have to index to error, right?

Jeff Sagarin (01:21:29): I'm a Johnny Unitas fan. That's why I kind of get upset. All these numbers today guys throwing for huge amounts of yardage. Let's see how they would do if their linemen weren't allowed to hold and if defensive backs bump and run the entire length of the pass route.

Rob Collie (01:21:44): I had similar problems with like Titanic being constantly touted as the highest grossing film of all time forever. And I'm going, "What about inflation?" And I went through great lengths to prove that Star Wars was actually still number one.

Dr. Wayne Winston (01:22:02): Gone with the Wind.

Jeff Sagarin (01:22:02): Exactly, 1939.

Rob Collie (01:22:02): Especially when you index for total population of the country, Gone with the Wind is a runaway winner. And I wasn't as pleased with that conclusion as I was with the original Star Wars conclusion, for obvious reasons.

Jeff Sagarin (01:22:15): You were born in... So you were three years old when Star Wars came out?

Rob Collie (01:22:18): That's right. That's right.

Jeff Sagarin (01:22:20): And you were -35 when Gone with the Wind came out.

Rob Collie (01:22:24): That's correct. Yes. Yeah.

Jeff Sagarin (01:22:26): But Wayne will remember this. The theme music from Gone with the Wind went (singing). That was the theme music for Million Dollar Movie on Channel Nine in New York City.

Dr. Wayne Winston (01:22:37): Yeah.

Rob Collie (01:22:38): So back to the football thing for a moment. The rule changes have made a big difference. But even after the rule changes were made, it took a long time, I think for the style of play to react to the extent that it has today. The idea of having a strong running game in the NFL, the vast majority of its appeal has been lost.

Jeff Sagarin (01:23:04): I think the reason for that is you can pass easily now because your quarterback is not allowed to be physically attacked and your offensive lineman can hold and you can't be touching the receiver his whole route. If you put those rules back in, teams would want to run the ball again.

Rob Collie (01:23:19): Even then, it just took a long time for the NFL to come around to that conclusion because the rule changes, especially the way that you're allowed to interact with the receivers, those are now really old. And yet still, like in the '90s and 2000s, we had this obsession. It is very clearly the wrong move to ever pay a running back on his second contract. Take the rookie contract and as soon as they're off the rookie contract, go get another rookie. It's crazy.

Jeff Sagarin (01:23:49): I had a comment to make on Tom's remark about running quarterbacks. He's correct, but there's a problem for each given running quarterback. Remember Michael Vic? Nobody could stop them. Some linemen eventually got to him. They wrecked his knee, he got a broken leg and when he came back, he was no longer Michael Vick. He suddenly could not elude people.

Jeff Sagarin (01:24:11): Before he got hurt, I thought they'll never lose a game with this guy. He'll score every time they have the ball. But I guess NFL defensive players don't like a guy to be that good. They start when they get a chance to tackle him, after a while he doesn't stay that good.

Thomas LaRock (01:24:26): The running quarterbacks of today are quite a bit more solidly constructed than Michael Vic was. I guess Kyler Murray is the exception. Kyler Murray is not a big guy. He's a Mike Vick type runner. He runs a lot. I think he's really good at avoiding the hits.

Jeff Sagarin (01:24:44): Yeah, the guys that you're talking about, I'm going to guess the bigger running quarterbacks, they're not as elusive as Michael Vick. He's the most elusive NFL quarterback I've ever seen. But you don't stay elusive once you start being tackled a lot. I'm not trying to be funny. He was an amazing guy to watch.

Rob Collie (01:25:03): The hits really took their toll on him. Jeff, really appreciate you taking the time both of you.

Jeff Sagarin (01:25:09): I'm going to put in a commercial for Wayne and Wayne can correct a number. I believe Wayne was selected as Teacher of the Year in the business school a minimum of five times. Am I correct, Wayne?

Dr. Wayne Winston (01:25:20): I won the NBA Teaching Award six times and went over 40 teaching awards.

Jeff Sagarin (01:25:26): Yeah, he's the best teacher they ever had.

Dr. Wayne Winston (01:25:28): Well, maybe.

Jeff Sagarin (01:25:30): That's my vote. If there was a BCS, my ratings would have waned number one.

Rob Collie (01:25:35): The margin of victory in these votes is important.

Thomas LaRock (01:25:41): Yeah, it's not just the win. How much-

Jeff Sagarin (01:25:44): Decisively.

Rob Collie (01:25:46): He was a runaway first ballot. Hey, guys, thank you so much. I really super, super, super appreciate.

Thomas LaRock (01:25:56): Thank you.

Rob Collie (01:25:56): Thanks for being on the show guys.

Dr. Wayne Winston (01:25:57): Bye.

Jeff Sagarin (01:25:59): Thank you for calling.

Announcer (01:25:59): Thanks for listening to the Raw Data by P3 Adaptive Podcast. Let the experts at P3 Adaptive help your business. Just go to Have a data day.

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