Monday was an eventful day for Lane Kiffin, to put it lightly. After landing in Oxford Sunday night to a hero’s welcome, he consummated his return to the SEC head coaching ranks with a two-part introductory press conference on Monday. The first part was a full-on pep rally in the Rebels’ basketball arena, complete with half-price beer available for purchase.
The circus then shifted to a smaller tent, where Kiffin took questions from the media.
The most interesting of those questions was this one, where Lane explain his evolved approach to incorporating analytics into his game day decision making.
“The old-school way, from an analytics standpoint, is extremely conservative. There’s so many more times you’re supposed to be going for it, you’re not supposed to be kicking long field goals, and people just punt and they go kick and they don’t realize, okay, there’s a 6 percent chance to make that field goal. As a coach you say, ‘I put him out there and he missed it. I did what I was supposed to do.’
A lot of coaches are afraid of the press conference afterwards and so they do the conservative thing or the easy thing, because then you guys don’t rip them. So, get ready to rip me.”
Ole Miss fans gets ready to embrace analytics in the Lane Kiffin era. Kiffin will use a company that'll provide weekly reports that'll help him make in game decisions based on data.
No more conservative football. Kiffin told reporters today: "get ready to rip me." pic.twitter.com/mze51CGw8F
— Sudu Upadhyay (@SuduUpadhyay) December 10, 2019
The biggest hole that’s been punctured by the evolution of game-day analytics is that conservative is not a synonym for safe. In fact, oftentimes the “conservative” decision is a reckless decision.
More often than not, punting on fourth and short in plus territory is a reckless decision, not a safe one. Kicking a field goal when the ball can sniff the goal line is, more often than not, a reckless decision.
Lane’s success at Ole Miss will bring even more legitimacy to analytics as a whole, so the entire analytics community spent Monday grabbing one of those half-priced beers and saying Hotty Toddy.