Posted by Doug on July 25, 2006
Yesterday I described the Big Chief Conference. Another interesting case is the Big Cowboy Conference, consisting of Danny White, Gary Hogeboom, Steve Pelleur, Steve Walsh, Troy Aikman, Jason Garrett, Quincy Carter, and Chad Hutchinson. Roger Staubach is also in there, but since I only looked at seasons since 1978 he is not particularly relevant.
We all know that Troy Aikman's stats were not dazzling, but most people are willing to give him a pass because of the conservative system he was playing in. But Aikman has an 0-7 record, which means that Aikman never outproduced the quarterbacks playing in (roughly) the same conservative system with (roughly) the same supporting cast. You are free to make of that whatever you want --- I am certainly not going to argue, here or elsewhere, that Quincy Carter is a better quarterback than Troy Aikman --- I am just explaining why Aikman ranks last in this conference.
Let's check the interconference record of the Big Cowboy Conference. Danny White played no interconference games. Neither did Aikman, Pelleur, or Garrett. Hogeboom was 3-2 against Jack Trudeau (twice), Chris Chandler, Timm Rosenbach, and Neil Lomax. Walsh was 1-6 against Jim Harbaugh, Bobby Hebert, and Erik Kramer. Carter's lone out of conference contest was a close loss against Vinny Testaverde. Hutchinson, believe it or not, has a 3-0 out of conference record featuring very ugly wins over Kyle Orton, Kordell Stewart, and Chris Chandler.
Overall, the Big Cowboy Conference sports an 8-8 interconference record. So they are viewed by the computer as an average conference. Hence, the teams at the top of the conference (White and Hogeboom) rank high, and those at the bottom (Aikman) rank low.
Whatever you think of this exercise, you might have some fun finding some other interesting Conferences. This detailed "game-by-game" account will help. There's a lot of stuff there, so I'll give you an example here:
77. Jon Kitna 7 -0.36
cin 2003 vs. Carson Palmer ( -2.02) cin 2004: 1.65
cin 2001 vs. Scott Mitchell ( -0.81) cin 2000: 0.54
cin 2001 vs. Akili Smith ( -1.16) cin 2000: 0.23
sea 1999 vs. Warren Moon ( 0.50) sea 1998: 0.11
sea 1998 vs. Warren Moon ( 0.50) sea 1998: -0.65
sea 2000 vs. Matt Hasselbeck ( 0.20) sea 2001: -0.77
sea 1998 vs. Warren Moon ( 0.50) sea 1997: -1.37
Kitna played 7 games and his overall rating was -.36, which means that, according to this scheme, he is .36 adjusted yards per pass worse than an average QB. Then you see a list of all the games he has played. Kitna's 2003 Bengal stats get compared to Carson Palmer's 2004 numbers, and that is a game. Kitna won that game by 1.65. The -2.02 in parentheses is Palmer's rating. If I managed to hyperlink everything properly, you should be able to click on Palmer and see exactly how in the heck he ended up with a -2.02. And so on.
You'll notice that Kitna's 1998 season gets compared to Warren Moon's 1998 season. But, because we are allowing one-year lagged comparisons, Kitna's 1999 season gets compared to the same Moon season. I probably should eliminate those kinds of things. But it's not trivial to do and I'm not convinced that there is a high probability that it will lead to "better" rankings. Anyway, I'll do it eventually and report back.