moneyball for college football

Michael Lewis, chaser-down of those who make good use of limited resources, found Mike Leach at Texas Tech:

Four years ago, Hodges was a high-school senior with just one other offer to be a college quarterback, from the University of Wyoming. Now, two-thirds of the way through the 2005 N.C.A.A. football season, and with a throwing arm so dead that he required a cortisone shot to move it, Hodges was the nation’s leader in yards passed, total offense and touchdowns. Three weeks earlier, against a competent Kansas State defense, he threw for 643 yards and, had Coach Leach not pulled him in the fourth quarter, might well have broken the N.C.A.A. record for passing yards in a single game (716).

A lot of the players in the locker room had similar stories of rejection and redemption. In this part of the country, the University of Texas and Oklahoma University are the old-money football schools, with Texas A.&M. right behind. Those schools fish first in the local-talent pool. Tonight there would be very few players on the field for Texas A.&M. – for Oklahoma or Texas there wouldn’t be a single player – to whom Texas Tech would not have offered a football scholarship. Conversely, the Texas Tech locker room was filled with players rejected by the old-money schools. And yet – look around! Hodges led all of college football in passing. The team’s tailback, Taurean Henderson, had broken the N.C.A.A. career record for most passes caught by a running back. The top four receivers on the team were the four leading pass receivers in Texas Tech’s league, the formidable Big 12.

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