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I spend the vast majority of my college life drunk in the back row listening to people I assume are smart telling me things. “The data shows that X Americans believe that–,” “chlamydia usually spreads at a certain rate,” “physics states that it is impossible to jump over a building, son, no matter how many AMFs you’ve had.”
But it’s 2016. Donald Trump is president. The Cubs won the World Series. Leo got his Oscar. Science doesn’t work anymore, and nothing is the way you expect.
Which brings us to football.
Fans of college football have long wondered if the best college teams in the country could hold their own against a weak NFL franchise. This year pits an unstoppable Crimson Tide against the awful Cleveland Browns.
Trying to settle this dirty couch debate once and for all, some nerds at WhitIfSports.com ran a simulation that played a game between Bama and the Browns 1,000 times. Their program predicted Cleveland winning 94% of the time.
From The Wall Street Journal:
Let’s get this out of the way right now, you college football lunatics: Alabama can’t beat the Cleveland Browns.
Sensible football minds agree that not only would it not happen, it wouldn’t be close.
The argument is that the basic fundamental physical differences between pro and college teams make it no contest. The pros are massive, overpowered behemoths with many years of experience. College players, while competent, are a bunch of flashy amateurs.
The size, the speed, the athleticism, the mentality,” said Joe Namath, the Alabama and New York Jets legend. “A pro team would really have to beat itself by fumbling, interceptions, dropping the ball…it would have to play its worst”
The nerds say players who make the pros are the elite of the elite (even on the Browns roster) and they come from all over. So you’ve got the starters on an all-star college team, most go to the NFL maybe, only the best one or two start. Because of the way the draft works, even a shitty team like the Browns is going to have some amazing talent with outstanding college careers concentrated in one place.
They also say if a game like this were ever played, there would be something else.
For decades, top college football players did compete against the pros, in a preseason charity game in Chicago that pitted college all-star seniors against the reigning NFL champions.
Alabama and Jets veteran Joe Namath played in one of these games and said, “We won the game, thank goodness. It would have been downright embarrassing.”
The Browns are already the laughing stock of the NFL. Losing to Bama would be like the Oregon Ducks losing to a middle school football team. At some point, differences in competencies kick in and the NFL players have a lot more to lose than the college players have to gain.
The size question comes up again, too. The nerds are concerned that these are quite literally adults playing children. Not only is that a boringly one sided mismatch, but it’s physically dangerous for the college players.
Versus Alabama, the Cleveland Browns would almost surely be what they seldom have been in the pros: a beautiful, dominant winning machine.
Okay, get a room already.
It’s time for me to weigh in. I say don’t count Bama out. The Crimson Tide have been called “the only program that plays with the ferocity of the NFL,” and for good reason. The nerds say the main problem in a Bama/Browns game would be scoring and offensive mismatches. What parameters are they using?
Their model simulates games one play at a time, using real life possession and turnover statistics. Of course the nerds argue you can’t directly compare Bama stats with NFL stats because the games are different and the match is uneven. If you did, it would seem Bama would run all over the Browns and obviously that would be skewed. But the uncertainty weakens the nerds’ data, too.
They also throw in all this intangible, video game shit like “fatigue rating” and “star power.” Sounds like a technical guide for Mario Baseball. The only way to really settle this is to play the game.
I’m not going to come at you with a bunch of numbers and stats and try to shove them into a square peg. I’m not even going to rehash wisdom and intuition of NFL experts.
Why? Because 2016 is the Year of Impossible Things. Everybody’s been wrong. Everybody’s been humbled, and giants fall all the time. Don’t count anything out until you see the final scoreboard.
So let them play. Do a charity game. I’ll be betting on Bama..
[via The Wall Street Journal]
Image via Instagram/ @clevelandbrowns