The ABLE Act: Please Write Your Legislator

Normally I wouldn’t do this, but I urge you to write your state senator and state representative and ask them to support the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act.  It is legislation that directly supports parents and relatives of children with special needs.  It has already been passed at the national level but needs to pass at the state level to be fully implemented.

If you are not aware, in December 2014, the US Congress created subsection (f) of  Section 529 of  the Internal Revenue Code to allow the ABLE Act to follow all the requirements and regulations of a traditional 529 qualified tuition program.  This simply means that parents or relatives can contribute $13,000 yearly toward a child with special needs and that money can grow tax-free and be withdrawn tax-free for assistive technology, health expenses, transportation expenses, education expenses, and many other needs.

In addition, funds from tradition 529 plans can rollover to ABLE plans and vice versa.  For instance, if your gifted child gets into a car accident at 16 years and suffers severe brain damage, you will not be penalized for the money you saved for the college expenses.  If the ABLE Act passes, you will be able to use those funds to help make your child’s disabled life a little more comfortable.  Or you may have a child that is mentally capable but physically challenged.  Now you can pay for college as well as for mobility assistance.  And it’s all tax-free.

Please write your senator or represenative or even the President of the United States at the link that follows: http://capwiz.com/state-al/home/

01 Write Your Senator

1st Annual B&F Rising Star Awards

Rising StarsEvery February while growing up, we all learned about inspirational African-Americans who made a mark in history.  But what about inspirational African-Americans who are making or will be making a mark in history?

Luckily, we don’t have to wonder any longer.  Below are seven fascinating individuals—each with unique stories and backgrounds.  They are Marc Childs Moore, Brandon Chalmers, Candice Hale, Marquis Heath, Trey Moe, Kevin Peterson, and Latrisa Pugh.  Each have been asked the following two questions:

(1) What do you currently do? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

(2) How does your heritage help or hurt you in the path toward reaching your goals?

Marc Childs Moore

“I work in Copyright for BMG Chrysalis, the music arm of Bertelsmann Media Conglomerate.  Specifically, I work in music publishing www.bmgchrysalis.com.  I also play violin with the Grammy-nominated blues legend, Phil Wiggins. We perform throughout the country.  In 5 years, I see myself running my own arts company and developing as an expert in artist rights.

Being from Marion, Alabama prepares you for hardwork.  You work hard not because you expect some magnificent reward, but because your work is your reputation.  The quality of your work is a reflection of your seriousness of purpose.  I was taught ‘to whom much is given, much is expected’ and I carry that philosophy with me in all of my work.  There is a serious lack of resources and opportunities in the Alabama Blackbelt.  As a result, when one receives a blessing, we try to make the most of it and hopefully share that blessing with others.”

Brandon Chalmers

“I work in Higher Education at The University of Alabama.  More specifically, I help coordinate one of the university’s graduate programs.  You can find me at http://brandonchalmers.net/.

In 5 years, I hope to still be working in higher education.  It’s a labor of love; I really enjoy working with college students of all levels.  I previously worked with incoming freshman and transfer students, and I now work with graduate students.  Ideally, I would like to work with undergraduates again as I feel like there is something a bit more unique when you capture college students the first time around.

I think that being an African American male certainly created barriers that I had to overcome to get where I am today.  But as for my future trajectory, I don’t feel like I could encounter any obstacle that I couldn’t overcome.  A person I consider a mentor and a role model at the university once told me that he had been passed over for promotions before when he had performed the brunt of the work that got someone else recognized.  He told me to me to keep working hard and add credentials to my body of work and the opportunities would present themselves. He said ‘get your credentials and no one can deny that.’ Good sound advice for anybody to live off of.”

Candice Hale

“I’m currently working on my PhD in English at LSU.  I am concurrently teaching English composition classes, literature classes, and WGS classes for freshman to senior students.  In five years, I see myself professionally in an academic setting at a community college or a small liberal arts college teaching English comp and literature courses.  I would hope to remain in the South and enjoy my family.  I would hope at this point, I would, too, be married and enjoying family and my career as a professor in its fullest capacity.

I sometimes believe that my identity as a biracial black woman has its advantages and disadvantages in the college setting.  At times, it affords me advantages as one of the only “token” students or instructors of color because there are no others to fill a quota.  Then, at times, to be the student/instructor of color in these academic settings can make me appear hyper-invisible as if I do not exist to anyone.  To be overlooked and to experience these covert experiences of institutionalized racism can be very damaging to a workspace and a community.  And while I’ve experienced these types of racist situations and micro-aggressions from colleagues (but not my students), I’ve still managed to succeed academically and professionally.  With my own determination and perseverance to help others in my communities, I know that my experiences are important to the literary world and my social world. I enjoy teaching and spreading the word to all lovers of literature and critical thinkers.”

Marquis Heath

“I am a General Dentist at Rural Health Medical Program, Inc, a non-profit medical clinic under the Health Resources and Services Administration umbrella. I am also an associate dentist at West Princeton Dental Clinic and Clinical Professor at Fortis Institute.

In five years, I plan on being in a very similar position, as I am on the early end of my career.  I do not foresee any major changes in that short period.  A major goal is to incorporate and obtain 501(3)(c) status for my non-profit, which will serve to increase the affordability of dental care and dental education for those who need it.

My heritage has helped me by instilling in me the humility that allows me to be more compassionate in my field.  An often overlooked component of our heritage is the affinity for looking out for others—sticking together.  Being a beneficiary of that mindset, I will always have the goal of helping others.”

Trey Moe

“I’m a comedian and an entrepreneur of a few online businesses.  In five years, I will be working on my third stand up special, owning a few apartment complexes, and more than likely living in LA, but I will also have a place in ATL.

I come from a tough neighborhood and growing up we didn’t have much financially.  But regardless of what was going on outside, there was a plethora of love inside of our house at all times.  Not having much as a kid made it easy for me to make the move to LA.  My up-bringing taught me how to survive in any city—no matter the situation or financial struggles.  Being successful in something that goes against the norm and takes perseverance. It is all about weathering the storm and how much punishment can you take before quitting.  But I’ve been taking punishment my whole life so this LA struggle feels painless.”

Facebook.com/TreyMoeShow

Kevin Peterson

“I make YouTube videos and maintain an active social media presence. I’ve establish a decently audience of “fans” and engage with them any way I can using the internet. Since the internet changes and evolves rapidly, I have no idea where I’ll be in 5 years.  Hopefully my success will increase to the point that I will be more financially independent and be able to do more ambitious projects.

I don’t consciously think about my ‘heritage’ that much, but I grew up poor and I am black and I think the perspective I have gained from those experiences informs what I create and my viewpoints which obviously come across in my videos.  There aren’t very many “mega successful” black YouTubers, but it’s not a thing I think about as being a hindrance.  I feel that I have as much of a chance to make it as anyone else.”

Famous People That Are My Age (YOUTUBE)

Latrisa Pugh

“I am an accountant and instructor at The University of Alabama for the Division of Student Affairs.  As an accountant, I act as a liaison for the various departments under this umbrella which is anything that has to do with student life (housing, recreations center, career center, student media, etc).  As an instructor through the UA Honors College, I teach a financial freedom seminar class each semester. I am also the founder of Educational Cash Flow Youth Program where we teach financial education to youth and adults.  Currently, I am partnered with the LIFT program through the UA School of Accountancy to teach adults and students in the community.

Five years from now, I should have passed exams to be licensed in financial planning and public accounting. I do plan on continuing to work in higher education and move up in my career track. I also hope that the nonprofit be working throughout the state of Alabama and many families lives have changed for the better financially.

My heritage is very important to my career path. It has really been a driving force.  It has helped me with my goals because I do understand the many sacrifices that have been made.  The career path I have chosen is to improve the current and next generations.  I have a responsibility to make sacrifices of my own.”

Cheers to the first annual Baxter & Friends’ Rising Stars!

Top 5 Cars Under $3000 | Baxter

Recently, I wrote a blog entry (Click Here) that said the biggest money mistake in my early adult years was wasting a perfectly good $3000 savings on a down payment and loan for a $13,000 nearly new NISSAN Versa Hatchback.  If you re-read a bit further, you will see that I ended up paying $20,000 for that car, which I plan to drive until it dies a slow death.  But writing that blog made me wonder: what if I was smart enough to just buy a car with straight cash for $3000?  What could I have gotten?

For this exercise, I assume that all cars are being bought from a private party via Craigslist, newspaper classifieds, or some other method that is not a dealership.  As of February 2015, in no particular order, my top 5 list of used cars under $3000 is as follows:

1) Mercedes-Benz C-Class (2001 Model)

According to Kelley Blue Book, I can get this entry level luxury sedan in good condition for $2748.  That’s quite a steal if you ask me.  Plus, it still looks pretty slick for a car that’s almost 15 years old.

01 MB C-Class

2) BMW X5 (2000 Model)

This shnazy sports activity vehicle was the very first vehicle every produced in the United States by BMW.  If it were not for the success of this vehicle and others like it, the economy of the South would not be as strong and diversified as it is today.  This SUV is available currently for between $2700 and $3200.  But if you play your cards right, I’m sure you can get someone to sell you one for $2500 or lower.

02 BMW X5

3) Ford Mustang (2003 Model)

If you can find this car in excellent condition (which likely), you can buy it for under $3000.  In fact, KBB says that we should be able to buy one for $2964. That’s a real deal.  Pump up the engine package and the price will rise, but it is still very affordable.  The price is main reason why this is usually everyone’s first sports car.

03 Ford Mustang

4) Honda Civic (2002 Model)

This right here is ol’ reliable.  If you need a car and do not have a lot of money, then the Honda Civic is your car.  Not to mention, several independent body shops specialize in Honda vehicles so this makes maintenance very affordable as well.  Did I mentioned that it has whopping 28 MPG in the city and 36 MPG on the highway?

04 Honda Civic

5) Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Regular Cab (2002 Model)

I honestly do not have a preference for the F-150, Silverado, or Ram—all of them are good sturdy trucks for every day normal use.  Not only that, they tend to be cheaper than other vehicles but are still very easy to sell once you decide to upgrade in car.

05 Chevy Silverado

What’s your Top 5? 

Why I Traded My $300 Hoopty for a $13,000 Car and a $20,000 Loan

MirageA few weeks before I got married in late summer 2011, I suddenly wanted to buy a new car.  In fact, I felt I deseeeerved a new car.  Up until that point, I was perfectly fine with my loyal yet atrocious 1998 Mitsubishi Mirage that was gifted to me during my junior year of college.  However, at this point in time, the pressure of an approaching wedding and the excitement of an out-of-town bachelor party made me yearn to become what I thought to be a real adult—a person with a car loan and a credit score.

In my naivety, I searched online for a car and found a “good deal” on a 2010 NISSAN Versa during the 2012 car season.  To be fair, it actually was a good deal if I didn’t also have $25,000+ in student loans around my neck.  Despite this previous debt, I pressed forward towards purchasing my car.

With $3000 as a down payment, I marched down to the dealership to test drive my future auto.  It felt so good to hold the grip of a new steering wheel beneath my fingers, to have air conditioning and automatic locks for the first time ever, to utilize a functioning horn once more, and to hear the music from a working car radio again.  It was a thrill. It was an intoxication.  It was a gateway drug.

As it happens, all gateway drugs eventually lead to death or debt—my experience was no exception.

While my journey to a new car was smiles and rainbows on the dealership lot, it quickly became frowns and thunderstorms once I entered the financing office.  What was once a $13,000 car inflated into total payments of $20,000—and that’s only because I paid the loan off three years early.  These payments included a meager down-payment, bloated interest charges, high tax fees, an unnecessary maintenance pre-payment plan, and a ludicrous invention called gap insurance.

Never has Proverbs 22:3 been so true: “The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.”

Simple I was. So simple that I thought I pulled one over on the dealership.  Trust me folks, you will never pull one over on a dealership.  Salespeople are professionals, they study you, and they know how to push your buttons.  Please use my experience as words of caution: if you don’t have the money to pay something in full, then you can’t afford it!

—–

As a bit of fun, I know it will take some digging, but what are some good cars that I can purchase now for $3000 that would be better than buying a new car for thousands more?

The TRUE Effects of Free Community College

ObamaThursday President Barack Obama announced his plan to provide two free years of community college coursework “for anyone who’s willing to work for it.” In a video that he posted on the White House’s official Facebook page , the President spoke about education being the key to success not only for traditional aged students but for work force development as well. As he sat aboard Air Force One the President spoke, “It’s something that we can accomplish and it’s something that will train our work force so that we can compete with anybody in the world.” The hope is that all 50 states will buy into the President’s initiative, supporting 25% of the program while the U.S. Government foots the bill for the other 75% (Parsons,2015) . Now the President’s plan is groundbreaking on the Federal level, but it can trace its roots to a plan implemented by Republican Governor Bill Haslam of Tennessee, called the Tennessee Promise .

On the surface this looks to be a feel-good win for the President and an initiative that could do a lot of good in this country. When it comes to certain work force sectors in this country we are operating with serious gaps and deficiencies. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing has cited studies that show by 2025 due to an aging population the shortage of Registered Nurses in the workplace could exceed 500,000 . A 2012 survey of employers conducted by the Manpower Group showed that skilled trades positions have been amongst the hardest positions to fill due to lack of job-seekers with qualifications and the prerequisite training . Allied health programs and technical training programs are two of the niche areas in post-secondary education that community colleges tend to do well in, so this initiative could go a long way towards fulfilling those needs; however there are still many questions and potential drawbacks that need to be addressed.

For starters, will this program actually meet its aim and actually help the people most in need of an opportunity? Many times initiatives aimed at getting more people an opportunity to enroll in school, ends up being taken advantage of by those who probably would have gone to college anyway without help. Can we really afford to pay for this at the moment? The White House hasn’t put an estimated figure on how much this program will cost yet, but I imagine it will be significant and will come out of the U.S. tax payer’s pocket. There is also the theory of ratcheting and the revenue theory of costs (Bowen’s Law). Howard Bowen believed that when it comes to higher Education that costs are determined by sources of revenue relative to student enrollment. This program would essentially be providing another stream of revenue to colleges, perhaps as an unintentional consequence raising the tuition costs of those who fall outside of the qualifications for the program. With the potential influx of new students what about increases in faculty, staff, infrastructure? You just can’t add more students without people to teach them, people to assist in all areas of instruction, and areas to house and educate them. In addition to these issues what, if any effect, will this initiative have on the ever looming Higher Education Bubble that some predict will burst under the burgeoning student loan debt and costs associated with it (Wasik, 2013)?

In reality the president’s announcement was merely a teaser and more concrete information about how this program will be managed and operated will need to be known before anyone can say objectively whether this program will be a major success or waste of tax payer’s dollars. For those crafting the program, they will need to pay close attention to how Tennessee’s program fares as it rolls out this year. This isn’t something that we all should rush into lightly. If studied, thoughtfully planned and executed, I could see this initiative doing wonders to help with the issues of access, equity, and workforce gaps we have in this nation. If enacted haphazardly without proper forethought this could become another Albatross around the American taxpayer’s necks saddling us all with more debt and doing nothing to actually improve the real issues at hand. At events today in Tennessee, the President plans to deliver more details of his initiative. Hopefully we can learn more about his plans in enacting this landmark move.

  1. https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10153120229619238&set=vb.63811549237
  2. Parsons, C. (2015, January 8). Obama plan for free community college: U.S. would pay 75%, states 25%. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 9, 2015, from http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-obama-community-college-20150108-story.html
  3. http://tennesseepromise.gov/
  4. Nursing Shortage. (2014, April 24). Retrieved January 9, 2015, from http://www.aacn.nche.edu/media-relations/nursing-shortage-resources/about
  5. 2012 Talent Shortage Survey. (2012, January 1). Retrieved January 9, 2015, from http://www.manpowergroup.us/campaigns/talent-shortage-2012/
  6. Wasik, J. (2013, September 4). Three Reasons Why College Bubble Will Burst. Retrieved January 9, 2015, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnwasik/2013/09/04/three-reasons-why-college-bubble-will-burst/

Can You Live on $7.25 in Tuscaloosa? | YES or NO

Cashier CareerThere has been a lot of buzz about how no one can make it on minimum wage.  Well, I’m here to tell you that that’s a load of hot garbage.  Yes, it is tough, but it is nowhere near impossible.  And here are the facts to back that claim up.  Below are the financials (CHART) for an 18 year old Ben Baxter to survive in Tuscaloosa, Alabama in the year 2014.  For the example, let’s assume his parents or guardians are no longer involved.

Ben is a hard working young man.  He worked while in high school to help put food on the table, and while do so, he gained the opportunity to work 40 hours per week as a cashier at a local pharmacy when he graduated.  He’s still making the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, but working a full 40 hours per week really helps.  He has some other odd jobs that he does to earn money, but for now let’s focus on his base pay.

If we assume Ben works 40 hours per week (or 2080 hours per year), he will earn $15,080 before taxes.  That equates to $11,254.13 take-home pay after federal taxes, state taxes, Social Security, and Medicare are taken out.  He also lives with two roommates, Ruiz Chalmers and Harris Carr, in a median rental home for $720 per month.  Rent is split three ways with each person paying $240 per month.  Utilities are also split three ways.  He pays for his own food at $150 per month and his own health insurance at $25 per month.

Ben does not have a car, and nor does he need one.  Almost every route within the quadrant of McFarland Blvd, Lurleen Wallace Blvd, Interstate 20/59, and the Black Warrior River can be measured at around 3 miles or less.  At Ben’s current stride, he can easily commute by foot in approximately 45 minutes to almost anywhere.  This is great for his health as well since he will burn over 600 kilocalories during that routine 45 minute commute.

Ben assumes he will need to travel longer distances sometimes so he rents a BAMA Bike from a local university for $10 per month.  This university provides all maintenance on this bicycle.  Ben also budgets for education because he would like to make more than minimum wage by the time he is 25 years old.  He is attending Shelton State Community College.  And he is majoring in Air Conditioning and Refrigeration for his Associate in Applied Science Degree.

His yearly budget is listed below.  After one year, he stills has $500 leftover to go into savings for a rainy day.  You never know when that may come in handy.

Could you live on what Ben is living on? (SEE BELOW)

Ben's Budget

5 Tips for Full-Time Workers Who Go Back to School

Grad SchoolBeing a student—whether in high school, college, or grad school—can be challenging.  It can be even more challenging if concurrent full-time employment is involved.  And furthermore challenging if marriage and parenthood is involved.  However, even with all of those challenges, reaching your goal of gaining more education is still achievable—you just need a few tips to get you over the hump.

(1) Move to 2nd or 3rd Shift

Maybe don’t do this forever, but definitely try it while you are in school.  I have worked with several people who have done this, and it made taking traditional classes a lot more feasible.  Also, most people who work on off shifts get paid a little more than their dayshift counterparts because of the perceived inconvenience.  One man’s inconvenience is another man’s treasure.

(2) Take Online Classes or Weekend/Evening Classes

If you’re pretty much stuck on dayshift or irregular shifts, try taking online courses or weekend/evening courses.  Not only does this potentially give you more flexibility, it also keeps your employer from getting annoyed with all of the personal time off (PTO) you are using to attend classes during traditional daytime hours.

(3) Make the Most of Downtime

Do you have a 10 minute work break? Write flashcards.  Do you take a 60 minute lunch period? Read your textbook.  Is your baby asleep? Start a term paper.  Did your husband go to the home improvement store? Take a practice test.  Downtime is precious.  If you notice that you have some, make the most of it.

(4) Become a 7 Year Senior

Streeeeeeeetch out your time in school.  If you have a pretty decent job and can pay the bills, slow your academic pace so that you can spend more time with your family and friends.  Being able to socialize and stay connected may help the grunts of hard work be a little easier to bare.

(5) Utilize Employer Tuition Reimbursements

With the stress of working a job and going to school, money is the last thing many people want to worry about.  That’s why it’s good to check to see if your employer offers tuition assistance.  This will greatly decrease your financial burden and may help you sleep easier at night.  Better sleeping equals better reaping.

What are some other success tips not listed?

A Look at College Football’s First Quarter

We are now one-fourth of the way through the college football season. Ever so close to the eventual panic and hysteria that the college football playoff will assuredly bring. Before we start debating each other like we are on Hardball with Chris Matthews, lets look at some statistical norms and oddities from the season so far.

Statistics

As always, we are using everyone’s favorite advanced metrics source, Football Outsiders. The two formulas we are looking at are FEI and S&P. I will let FO describe the luscious little stats.

S&P – “The S&P+ Ratings are a college football ratings system derived from the play-by-play data of all 800+ of a season’s FBS college football games (and 140,000+ plays). There are three key components to the S&P+:

Success Rate: A common Football Outsiders tool used to measure efficiency by determining whether every play of a given game was successful or not. The terms of success in college football: 50 percent of necessary yardage on first down, 70 percent on second down, and 100 percent on third and fourth down.

IsoPPP: An explosiveness measure derived from determining the equivalent point value of every yard line (based on the expected number of points an offense could expect to score from that yard line) and, therefore, every play of a given game. NOTE: IsoPPP is in use for the first time in 2014. It looks at only the per-play value of a team’s successful plays (as defined by the Success Rate definition above); its goal is to separate altogether the efficiency component from the explosiveness component. This results in a new equation below. Success Rate now accounts for 80% of S&P below, while IsoPPP accounts for just 20%. For more information about IsoPPP, click here.

Drive Efficiency: As of February 2013, S&P+ also includes a drive-based aspect based on the field position a team creates and its average success at scoring the points expected based on that field position. It is factored in after seven weeks.
Opponent adjustments: Success Rate and PPP combine to form S&P, an OPS-like measure for football. Then each team’s S&P output for a given category (Rushing/Passing on either Standard Downs or Passing Downs) is compared to the expected output based upon their opponents and their opponents’ opponents. This is a schedule-based adjustment designed to reward tougher schedules and punish weaker ones.”

Hope you got all of that! Now lets see what FEI is.

FEI – “The Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI) is a college football rating system based on opponent-adjusted drive efficiency. Nearly 20,000 possessions are contested annually in FBS vs. FBS games. First-half clock-kills and end-of-game garbage drives and scores are filtered out. Game Efficiency (GE) is a function of the starting field position and outcome of non-garbage possessions. Opponent adjustments are calculated with special emphasis placed on quality performances against good teams, win or lose.”

To make it a little more simple, S&P will be used for determine how good a team is at certain aspects of the game, while FEI is more suited to tell us the overall story of how good a team is. Fantastic. Onto what they say about this season.

Offense

According to S&P:

Top 5 Overall Offenses

  1. Oregon
  2. Mississippi State
  3. Michigan State
  4. West Virginia
  5. FSU

It really should shock absolutely no one that Oregon is first in overall offense. But, did you know that Mississippi State was ranked 2nd? Crazy, right? Well, two juggernauts on the same war path as last year are FSU and Alabama. FSU, despite having a game with a lousy backup, ranks in at 5th overall while Bama is right behind them at 6. A very impressive statistic also tells us that 7 of the overall top 12 offenses in the country are from the SEC, including Auburn at 11. Not bad.

Top 5 Rushing Offenses

  1. TCU
  2. NC State
  3. Arkansas
  4. Texas A&M
  5. Marshall

Now I know this isn’t the sexiest list, but this is the list. How about Texas A&M? They seem to have recovered from the Johnny Football loss quite nicely. A weird stat is (again) FSU and Bama. FSU ranks 35 while Bama ranks 20. This is weird because both were top 5 rushing offenses last year. Long season, but that is pretty far out for most teams to recover. Another oddity? Ole Miss ranks 89 in rushing offense despite ranking 12 overall in total offense.

Top 5 Passing Offense

  1. Baylor
  2. Michigan State
  3. Oregon
  4. Georgia Southern
  5. California

Again, it seems like we have had some names rise that won’t be here towards the end, but this is not a season review…yet. One VERY surprising stat is that Bama is 6th overall. Surprising because just a few weeks ago fans were all but calling for Sim’s head. Jacob Coker sucks. Lets all just move on. FYI, Florida ranks 91. Just wanted everyone to enjoy that.

Defense

According to S&P

Top 5 Overall Defense

  1. Stanford
  2. Ole Miss
  3. Baylor
  4. Louisville
  5. Oklahoma

The Ole Miss ranking is especially intriguing. They have a big matchup with Bama (ranked 6th) and may actually give their offense fits. Clemson is a surprising 9th overall ranking. Probably boosted from playing a highly ranked FSU team. On the opposite end of the ACC, Georgia Tech is ranked 101. In SEC news, Florida is ranked 63. Florida sucks. We can confirm unbiasedly.

Top 5 Rushing Defense

  1. Baylor
  2. Mississippi State
  3. Louisville
  4. Stanford
  5. Boise State

Louisville looking strong! And according to the stats, Mississippi State is going to win the SEC! Lets move on before my head explodes.

Top 5 Passing Defense

  1. Ole Miss (watch out Bama!)
  2. Baylor
  3. Stanford
  4. TCU
  5. Temple

Ole Miss apparently is tough on defense in all phases. Alabama ranks a surprising 21, given their recent history of pass rush mixed with killer safety play. FSU, who was the best defense by far last year, is ranked 81 overall. Yeah, FSU may be in some trouble. Even the stout Auburn defense from last year is ranking 52 in the pass defense department.

Top 25 According to FEI

Remember that cool stat I told you about? This is how they would rank the top 25 if it were based on stats alone.

  1. Oregon
  2. FSU
  3. Auburn
  4. Alabama
  5. Texas A&M
  6. Stanford
  7. Oklahoma
  8. USC
  9. UCLA
  10. Missouri
  11. Ole Miss
  12. Mississippi State
  13. LSU
  14. Georgia
  15. Notre Dame
  16. Baylor
  17. Ohio State
  18. BYU
  19. Clemson
  20. TCU
  21. Oklahoma State
  22. Wisconsin
  23. Michigan State
  24. Utah
  25. Nebraska

Top 5 Heisman List (My Opinion)

  1. Todd Gurley – Georgia
  2. Ameer Abdullah – Nebraska
  3. Marcus Mariota – Orgeon
  4. Amari Cooper – Bama
  5. Rashad Greene – FSU

Playoff

(1) FSU vs (4) Stanford

(2) Bama vs (3) Oklahoma

FSU vs BAMA

 

 

The Next Great QB Debate

For what seems like 20 years now, the QB debate has been between Brady and Manning. Sure, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees have snuck into conversations when looking at an individual season, but Manning and Brady in some form or another been at the top of mountain when discussing great QBs. The debate has always centered around Manning’s video game numbers against Brady’s lack of supporting offense and Super Bowl rings.

The Picture of Tom Brady...

A stud on and off the field.

Interestingly enough, there are two young stud QBs who are starting to shape the next great debate. Hell, one of them even plays for the team Manning did! Already, the debate is taking a very similar narrative to that of the Brady vs Manning debate. We are going to look at these two QBs and see if the debate is warranted.

By the way, if you didn’t know it was Andrew Luck vs Russell Wilson, you do now.

Andrew Luck

He’s happy to be here.

Rookie Year

Lets start off by looking at the respective signal caller’s rookie campaigns. As always, I love the stats used from Football Outsiders. DYAR (defense adjusted yards above replacement) offers a look at total value, while DVOA (defense adjusted value over average player) gives us a glimpse at value on a per play basis. Both of these ranks above an average play.

Andrew Luck for BodyArmor Superdrink photo by Monte Isom #monteisom

Already a damn good QB.

Andrew Luck posted a 54.1% completion percentage while throwing 23 TDs to 18 INTs, his rookie year. Pretty good numbers for a rookie thrown into an immediate head of the offense role. Luck also had a nice number of 5 rushing TDs. While these are nice numbers on their own, we need more context, and this is where the DYAR and DVOA come into play.

Luck ranked 19th with 194 DYAR and 19 with a -5.1% DVOA. Not so hot. While Luck did put up some nice numbers and lead his team to the playoffs, he was pretty much an overall league average QB for his rookie year. This isn’t a bad thing because he was a rookie against 10 year veterans at the hardest position in sports.

Now, onto Wilson. Wilson had a 64.1% completion percentage while throwing 26 TDs against 10 INTs. That is pretty impressive. Although, we must point out Luck had over 200 more attempts than Wilson. Wilson also added in 4 rushing TDs. This looks very impressive, but alas, we need to look at advanced metrics.

Wilson posted an 872 DYAR for an impressive 8th ranking and absurd 19.7% DVOA, which is good for 6th…in the entire league! Not to mention, Wilson also went to the playoffs. While Wilson was not the main guy for his offense, he was already on par for league elite efficiency.

Rookie Year Edge – Wilson, by a fair margin.

Sophomore Compaign

Andrew Luck saw his completion percentage jump to the elite company level of 60.2%. He also cut way down on his interceptions from 18 to 9, while throwing for 23 TDs again. Luck ran for about 80 more yards and added in 4 more rushing TDs. Again, pretty impressive numbers that seem to mark improvement. So onto the advanced metrics.

Andrew Luck saw some improvement in his advanced stats, as he saw in his normal ones. He now ranked 14th in DYAR with 650. His DVOA also rose to 16 with a DVOA of 4.6%. Again, Luck has shown improvement, but the league overall showed some improvement as well at the QB position. However, he is getting better and turning the ball over less. It must also be noted Luck throws the ball a ridiculous amount and is saddled with Trent fucking Richardson as a running back. Needless to say, he doesn’t have the talent Wilson has. Still, you have to be efficient. But his progress is what you look for in the 2nd year.

Lets just get this out of the way, Wilson won a Super Bowl and was pretty good in the game. This automatically gives him the edge. But, lets look at the stats to see if he improved upon his already top 10-QB-in-the-league performance.

RUSSELL WILSON

Wilson telling Manning to have a seat.

Wilson had a 63.1% completion percentage while throwing 26 TDs to 9 INTs. Basically, he had the same exact year throwing the ball. He did rush for more yards but only added 1 rushing TD.

Wilson saw his DYAR of of 770 for a ranking 0f 12th in the league. His DVOA was 25.4% for a ranking of 8th. While he had the same season, the league got better around him. This isn’t really the worst thing, as he is still performing as a top 10 QB. Oh yeah, who also happened to win the Super Bowl.

Sophmore year winner – Wilson, by a fair margin, again.

RUSSELL WILSON

Yeah, he is pretty good at reading a defense.

This Year

Through 3 games, Luck is completing a ridiculous 68.3% completion percentage while throwing 9 TDs and 3 INTs. He also added in a rushing TD for good measure.

His advanced stats are still climbing, and he is poised to be in top 10 territory. His DYAR is 225 for a rank of 6. His DVOA is 13.4 for a ranking of 11. Again, Luck has improved every year while unquestionably being the only reliable option on offense. This is what you look for in a superstar. It took him 3 years, but he is now in the top 10 and has shown signs of getting better and better.

Wilson is also passing for a ridiculous 69% completion percentage. Throwing for 6 TDs and 1 INT while not yet running for a TD.

Russell Wilson

Great, Wilson is catching passes now.

His DYAR is 103, falling to 16th. And his DVOA 5.2% falling him all the way to 18th. While he has been good at face value, his advanced metrics say he has falling to the middle of the pack so far.

This year leader: Luck.

Colts QB Andrew Luck avoids LB Perry Riley and looks to throw.

So, Who is the Winner?

As of right now, Wilson owns this debate. He has had the better numbers and has won a Super Bowl. However, Luck is showing a pattern of getting better and better every year. I have a striking feeling Luck may even the playing field by years end or by next year. This is going to be awesome going forward. One thing is for sure, we are all winners being able to watch the next 2 Great Quarterbacks.

Expectations and Realities: Week 4 AP Top 25 College Football Teams

Welcome to the 4th week of breaking down the top 25 teams’ performance compared to their expectations as predicted by vegasinsiders.com. Results from previous weeks can be found at the bottom.

This week Louisville and Virginia Tech fell out of the top 25 and will not be included in this week’s results. Instead they will be replaced with Nebraska and Oklahoma State.

Week 4 Results

In the Table 1 and Figure 1 below you will find the 25 teams ranked in the AP preseason poll, the predicted spread, the actual result, and the percent error. The teams are sorted based on how well the team performed based on the spread for that game. Teams with a positive percent error performed better than expected, or covered the spread, while teams with a negative percent error underperformed, or did not cover the spread. Note: this is not a measure if a team won or lost a game, rather a measure of how well the team won or lost the game.

Rank Team Opponent Spread Actual %Error
1 Florida State Clemson -9.5 -8 -16%
2 Oregon Washington State -23.5 -7 -70%
3 Alabama Florida -14 -21 50%
4 Oklahoma West Virginia -8 -12 50%
5 Auburn Kansas State -7.5 -6 -20%
6 Texas A&M Southern Methodist -34.5 -52 51%
8 LSU Mississippi State -7 5 -171%
11 Michigan State Eastern Michigan -43.5 -59 36%
13 Georgia Trojans -41.5 -66 59%
14 South Carolina Vanderbilt -22 -14 -36%
18 Missouri Indiana -15 4 -127%
19 Wisconsin Bowling Green -26.5 -51 92%
20 Kansas State Auburn 7.5 6 20%
21 Brigham Young Virginia -15 -8 -47%
22 Clemson Florida State 9.5 8 16%
24 Nebraska Miami-Florida -8 -10 25%

Baylor, Notre Dame, Ole Miss, UCLA, Arizona State, Stanford, USC, and Ohio State each had bye weeks. They are not included in the Table 1 or Figure 1. Wisconsin beat the spread by the largest margin at 92%. LSU did not beat the spread with the worst margin at -171% after being upset by Mississippi State. Week 4 was important for the SEC rivalry between Alabama and Auburn. Week 4 was the first week that Alabama beat the spread at a 50% error and the first week that Auburn did not beat the spread at -20% error.

Weekly Summary

Now that we are past the 3rd week of college football we have enough data for some statistics. Every team has played at least three games, which is the minimum amount of data required for statistics. A single factor analysis of variance (ANOVA) reveals that there is no statistical difference in mean percent error across the first four weeks of play (p=0.829). The results of head to head Tukey multiple comparison statistical matchups can be found here. This means that, on average, all teams have performed in a similar manner relative to their expectations. This isn’t unexpected due to the variable nature of the data.

While there may not be any differences now, there might be some practical information to be taken from the data. Below are five boxplots to aid in understanding the data. Each boxplot contains five of the top 25 teams in order to reduce crowding.

Figure 2 reports the percent error for the first five teams. As stated earlier, this is the first week that Alabama has beaten the spread. Will they continue or revert back to their previous three weeks? Will Auburn continue to beat the spread after failing to do so for the first time this season? Baylor had a bye week but expect them to continue their trend of beating the spread this week vs Iowa State. Arizona State and Brigham Young are not consistently beating the spread.

Figure 2 – Boxplots of Percent Error for Alabama, Arizona State, Auburn, Baylor, and Brigham Young.

There are three important details in Figure 3. Firstly, Florida State has yet to beat the spread this season. However it should be noted there percent error for Florida State has increased over their three games indicating they might beat the spread in the near future. The performance of Clemson, Georgia, and Kansas State has been too variable. This is the first week that LSU did not beat the spread.

Figure 3 – Boxplots of Percent Error for Clemson, Florida State, Georgia, Kansas State, and LSU.

The data in Figure 4 is more straightforward. This group of teams has a variable percent error. Michigan State is scoring close to the spread each week. Missouri and Notre Dame are mostly beating the spread. Ohio State beat the spread in two of their three games, but the week they didn’t beat the spread was by a large margin (-240%) skewing their plot.

Figure 4 – Boxplots of Percent Error for Michigan State, Missouri, Nebraska, Notre Dame, and Ohio State

Figure 5 has two groups. Oklahoma, Ole Miss and Oregon have performed consistently each week. Meanwhile, Oklahoma State and South Carolina have performed inconsistently. Oklahoma has beaten the spread the past three weeks while only not beating the spread during week one with a -4% error. Ole Miss has beaten the spread by 52% or more this season.

Figure 5 – Boxplots of Percent Error for Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Oregon and South Carolina.

Figure 6 is an interesting group. Firstly, Stanford beat the spread in weeks one and three but fell short of the spread in week two by 200%. Texas A&M has beaten the spread by 51% or more in every week but week three. UCLA has not beaten the spread this season. Furthermore, UCLA hasn’t surpassed the -58% mark. USC beat the spread by more than 100% in weeks one and two but failed to beat the spread by more than 200% in week three. Wisconsin failed to beat the spread by -14% and -17% in weeks one and two, but after coming off a bye in week three smashed the spread by 92% in week 4.

Figure 6 – Boxplots of Percent Error for Stanford, Texas A&M, UCLA, USC, and Wisconsin.

This week’s takeaways: If Baylor, Oklahoma, and Ole Miss keep the same pace, expect them to beat the spread. UCLA won’t cover the spread if they continue the same pattern. Auburn and Alabama have broken their streak. The rest of the top 25 teams are not demonstrating any patterns after four weeks.

 

Important notes:

  1. Spreads can be found at vegasinsider.com.
  2. Percent error is calculated as (Spread-Actual)/Abs(Spread)
  3. I understand that spreads are typically used for gambling purposes and that the lines move. However, it is important for the spreads to reasonably accurate in order for the house or bookie to make money. Lines are a consistent source of weekly predictions.

 

Previous results – week 1 week 2 week 3