The Numbers and the Talk Behind Politics, Economics and Now the NFL Draft – Commentary by MTSU Professor Larry Burriss

May 01, 2023 at 08:05 pm by WGNS News


Rutherford County, TN – Statisticians, the NFL Draft Picks and good players versus not so good players. With today's commentary, here is MTSU Professor of Journalism Larry Burriss... Listen to more commentaries by Larry Burriss by clicking on the link below.



Verbatim of Commentary: “We've talked here quite a bit about how writers, columnists and pundits, with the help of statisticians, have, well, gotten it flat wrong when dealing with politics and economics

But now, one of the biggest sets of mistakes in interpretation of the data has befallen sports reporters and the NFL draft.

At the start of last week, the odds-on favorite to be drafted number one was Will Levis of Kentucky.

And if Levis wasn't selected as number one, the presumptive next number one, or at worst number two, was C.J. Stroud of Ohio State.

One day Stroud was number one or two. All of the numbers said so. Except for a fairly new number, called the S2 Cognition Test, the new darling of statisticians, pundits, and so we were told, apparently of coaches and management.

Unfortunately, Stroud supposedly scored in the 18th percentile, meaning he was far, far worse than most other NFL prospects, who were scoring in the high 90s. So the record-setting Ohio State quarterback immediately dropped to seventh place, at best.

Apparently, all of his record-setting actual football performances were insignificant compared to his perceived lack of ability to recognize diamond shapes missing a point, or his ability to pick out a red triangle a midst a bunch of other red shapes.

Sports reporters and betting organizations wrote him off, while enshrining Levis as the top pick.

But then reality intervened. Stroud was taken as a second pick in the first round, and Levis finally made it as a number two in the second round; the 33rd pick over-all.

So what happened? How did all of the so-called experts get it so wrong? Simple, they ignored the people actually making the decisions.

And what were the writers, pundits and bookies now saying? Well, suddenly Stroud was being called the "best quarterback in this draft class," with no mention of S2 scores. Levis was now being written about as "over-hyped."

Isn’t it amazing how the adjectives changed when reality set in?

Maybe in the future, when the so-called professionals talk about statistics involving politics, economics, or football, they need to listen to one of my favorite quotations: "Bullfight critics ranged in rows, fill the enormous plaza full. But only one there really knows, and he's the one who fights the bull." - I’m Larry Burriss.”

About Dr. Burriss - Larry Burriss, professor of journalism, teaches introductory and media law courses. At the graduate level he teaches quantitative research methods and media law. He holds degrees from The Ohio State University (B.A. in broadcast journalism, M.A. in journalism), the University of Oklahoma (M.A. in human relations), Ohio University (Ph.D. in journalism) and Concord Law School (J.D.). He has worked in print and broadcast news and public relations, and has published extensively in both academic and popular publications. He has won first place in the Tennessee Associated Press Radio Contest nine times. Dr. Burriss' publications and presentations include studies of presidential press conferences, NASA photography, radio news, legal issues related to adolescent use of social networking sites, legal research, and Middle Earth.

Dr. Burriss has served as director of the School of Journalism, dean of the College of Mass Communication and president of the MTSU Faculty Senate. He was appointed by Gov. Phil Bredesen to serve on the Tennessee Board of Regents. He was a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force and served on active duty in Mali, Somalia, Bosnia, Central America, Europe and the Pentagon.


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