A key to football decision-making (as detailed in my book Mathletics) is to assign a point value to each down, yard line and yards to go for first down situation. There are nearly 10,000 of these situations. In the Wall Street Journal (September 2009) we used this idea to show how valuable Michael Vick’s rushing offense was during 2006. Here is a brief history of point values in football. Let me know if I have left anything out of importance in this chronology.
- Carter and Machol 1971 derived points values for first and 10 situations in their Operations Research article.
- Cabot, Sagarin and Winston in 1983 derived point values for each down, yards to go and yardline situation. This was submitted to Operations Research and was discussed in a September 15, 1983 Bloomington Herald -Telephone article. See http://www.kiva.net/~jsagarin/sports/wham_bam.pdf.
3. Pete Palmer (1989) in his excellent book Hidden Game of Football discussed the concept of 1st down and 10 values and indicated how they might be used for football decision-making
4. In 2003 the website Footballoutsiders.com derived their own 1st down and 10 point values and estimated values for other situations and these values were used to rate players, team offenses and team defenses.
5. In 2006 economist David Romer published in the Journal of Political Economy an article that used his point values for 1st down and 10 situations to show that teams attempt punts and field goals much more than should.
6. In September 2009 Levitt (of Freakonomics fame) and Kovash derived values for every down, yards to go and yard line situation and used these values to analyze football decision making.