Sports Analytics Consulting, LLC

A  Discrete-Choice  Model  of  a College Football Recruit’s Program Selection Decision

Journal of Sports Economics (1/19/15)

McDonald P. Mirabile & Mark D. Witte
We formalize a discrete-choice model of program selection from the view of college football recruits. With a conditional logit model, we correctly predict the recruit’s preferred college for 65% of the 19,815 individuals, besting a purely random guess method (21%). We focus on the role football will play in post collegiate careers of high-rated, mid-rated, and low-rated prospects in choosing a school. High-rated and mid-rated recruits value historical on-the-field success, historical head coach success, stadium capacity, media exposure, facilities, and coaching expenditures. Academic considerations and more recent on-the-field success, however, are more dominant factors for low-rated recruits.

The Determinants of Attendance at Neutral Site College Football Games

Managerial and Decision Economics (4/11/14)

McDonald P. Mirabile

This paper develops a predictive model of attendance at neutral site Division 1-A college football games. From 2004–2012 seasons, 427 games were identified and split into training and holdout data sets. A Tobit model is developed using matchup-specific, game-specific, location-specific, and university-specific determinants. Results are generally consistent with the existing literature on attendance modeling, showing that these prior home team-specific models are adaptable to neutral site locations. Results are useful as they reveal how the selection of game location and matchup of opponents – decisions made by athletic directors or bowl officials – ultimately affect game-day attendance.

Collegiate and Professional Careers of High School Athletes
Journal of Issues in Intercollegiate Athletics (3/1/13)
McDonald P. Mirabile & Mark D. Witte
The authors examined approximately 1,000 high school quarterbacks that are recruited into collegiate athletics to determine what factors impact the player's decision to transfer to another school, change their position from quarterback, complete their eligibility (and presumably graduate), to be drafted into the National Football League and/or to make a professional roster at any level. Results suggest that minority student-athletes are more than twice as likely to change their position. Players that attend universities near their hometown see significant benefits, perhaps because of greater access to their hometown's social network. Attending a university closer to home decreases the likelihood that the player transfers to another school, increases the probability that the player stays a quarterback, increases the likelihood that the player completes their eligibility, increases the likelihood of being drafted into the National Football League and playing at any professional level.

Not so fast, my friend: Biases in college football polls

Journal of Sports Economics (8/1/10)
McDonald P. Mirabile & Mark D. Witte

The national championship game in Division IA football is selected in part by voters. Are the voters biased? Examining all weekly rankings from 2004 to 2008, the authors find the following results. Voters in the USA Today (Coaches’) Poll tend to rank their team’s recent opponents 4.3 places higher than the average voting coach and rank the recent opponents of their alma mater 3.2 places higher. Additionally, both coaches and sports media (AP Poll) over assess teams who play in certain Bowl Championship Series (BCS) conferences relative to non-BCS conferences and reward ‘‘running up the score’’ by voting teams with high offensive output above their peers.

The NFL Rookie Cap: An Empirical Analysis of One of the NFL's Most Closely Guarded Secrets

The Sport Journal (10/1/07)
McDonald P. Mirabile

This article presented an empirical analysis of the relationship between the portion of the "Entering Player Pool" (Rookie Cap) for each of the 32 National Football League franchises and that franchise's draft selections. Although the formula for determining each franchise's Rookie Cap is closely guarded by the NFL, the author hypothesized that it should be possible to model the deterministic structure used to calculate franchise spending for each rookie's contract. The OLS-estimated models revealed statistically significant relationships between groups segmented by draft selection order and each franchise's Rookie Cap. The model was verified in an out-of-sample test using the Rookie Cap values for the 2007 NFL season. It was found to have a mean absolute percentage error of 2.1%. The implications of these findings were contrary to language in the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement, as the majority of rookie contracts are implicitly determined by each franchise's Rookie Cap. The published estimates of each selection's NFL determined cap value will provide useful bargaining information for rookie contracts.

Intelligence and Football: Testing for Differentials in Collegiate Quarterback Passing Performance and NFL Compensation

The Sport Journal (5/1/05)

This article presents an empirical analysis of the relationships between intelligence and both passing performance in college and compensation in the National Football League (NFL). A group of 84 drafted and signed quarterbacks from 1989 to 2004 was selected for the study. The author hypothesizes that intelligence is the most important and perhaps most rewarded at this position, and a wide variety of passing performance statistics are available to separate the effects of intelligence and ability. The OLS-estimated models reveal no statistically significant relationship between intelligence and collegiate passing performance. Likewise, the author finds no evidence of higher compensation in the NFL for players with higher intelligence as measured by the Wonderlic Personnel Test administered at the NFL Scouting Combine.

The Peer Effect in the NFL draft

The Sport Supplement (11/1/04)

More than 300 NFL quarterback draft hopefuls between 1987 and 2003 and their offensive teammates are examined to determine to what extent playing with NFL caliber teammates will have on the draft position and salary of the quarterback prospect. These results suggest that NFL franchises draft based not simply on individual player characteristics but also on the caliber of an individual's teammates. These results are beneficial to both high school quarterbacks looking to make the transition to collegiate athletics and those college quarterbacks considering transferring.

Academic publications