Belichick is an analytics MVP

Belichick is an analytics MVP
March 6, 2013, 3:00 pm
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If you were in and around Boston at all this past weekend you may have noticed that the city was a little smarter. And not only because John Lackey’s down in Fort Myers, but also because of the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference.
 
If you’re unfamiliar with the conference I won’t bore you with too many details (you can bore yourself over here, except for the following two items.
 
1. The conference was founded in 2006 by current Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey, who hoped “to provide a forum to discuss the increasing role of analytics in the sports industry.” Since its inception, the conference’s popularity has exploded to the point where there were nearly 3,000 folks at this year’s event and Fast Company Magazine recently named the SSAC the third most innovative sports company in the world (behind the NFL and MLB Advanced Media).
 
2. On Sunday, the SSAC gave Bill Belichick a Lifetime Achievement Award.
 
I first came across this info on ESPNBoston’s Patriots Blog, where they also provided a transcript of Belichick’s video-taped acceptance speech:
 
Here it is —
 
“I certainly respect the mathematical and statistical ways of looking at the game, looking at football, and try to use those methods and those results to improve our product on the field,” he said.
 
“In the end, football is ultimately determined on the field, and I know the Patriots wouldn't want me out there throwing passes and wouldn't want any of you out there trying to cover Rob Gronkowski. The analytics and different ways of trying to improve and construct a team are important, and we're all here to do one thing — whatever our role or job is, whatever team or organization we work for — and that's to try to find ways to improve, to find a better way to approach our team or business, to look at different strategies, and pick the best one, and ultimately try to motivate and instruct the people that we work with to perform to a higher level, including ourselves.”
 
Two quick thoughts:
 
1. Given his famous “stats are for losers” sound bite, you wouldn’t necessarily expect Belichick to be hero of the stat heads, but BB is one of the most analytical coaches out there. For proof, look no further than the most controversial decisions of his career: 4th and 2.
 
That was pure analytics.
 
2. I’d like to know when Belichick taped this speech, if only because of this part: “In the end, football is ultimately determined on the field, and I know the Patriots wouldn't want me out there throwing passes and wouldn't want any of you out there trying to cover Rob Gronkowski.”
 
Was it before the most recent Gronk drama, or before the DDT and arm infection? Based on the timing of the conference, I’d assume the latter, and either way I think it’s indicative of the admiration Belichick has for No. 87, how much he loves him as a football player, and why he’s willing to put up with more extra-curicular headaches with Gronk than any player in recent memory.

Anyway, congrats coach!

Stats might be for losers, but stat-based Lifetime Achievement awards are for you.
 
Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter @rich_levine.