Friday, November 5, 2010

Quantifying the Missionary Advantage--A 2010 Update

Last season, we tried to dig into the commonly cited, but never quantified, claim that BYU's players are "significantly" older than their opponents and concluded that on average, Cougar players were 1.11 years older than their counterparts (see analysis here).  A difference to be sure, but a far cry from the "your 26 year-olds vs. our 19 year-olds" that is nearly always claimed.

I wanted to do an update on that for this season.  Granted we are already 2/3 of the way through this season, but given how it has turned out so far, it might be of particular interest.  All assumptions are handled in the same manner as the original analysis (linked above).  Thanks to Jordan Christiansen in the BYU Football Medial Relations office for the cooperation on the data collection.

The only mission-related age difference for BYU vs other schools this year is 1.01 years per player on average.  Per the previous write-up, this is due to not all players serving missions and the class mix (e.g. more underclassmen than other schools).  A few interesting notes:
  • 1.01 is nearly 10% younger overall than last year's team (averaged 1.11)
  • 59 return missionaries on the team (same as last year)--56%
  • Only 14 seniors on the roster, and only 9 of which start (kicker, 3 DBs, 2 OLs, WR, LB, DE)
  • 41 freshmen on the roster, 9 of which are RMs
Here is the actual analysis for anyone interested:

                                              Fr         So          Jr          Sr         Total
Average Age (US)                 18.5      19.5       20.5      21.5
Class Mix (US)                      37.6%  22.1%    21.7%  18.5%
Weighted Ave Age (US)                                                             19.71

BYU Players by Class           41          27          24         14         106
Class Mix (BYU)                 38.7%    25.5%     22.6%   13.2%
BYU Ave Age w/o Mission   18.5      19.5        20.5       21.5      19.60

BYU Former Missionaries      9           24          16          10         59
Percent of BYU Class          22.0%     88.9%    66.7%   71.4%   55.7%
BYU Ave Age w/ Mission     18.9        21.3       21.8       22.9      20.72
Actual Age Difference (yrs)   0.44      1.78       1.33       1.43       1.01

1 comment:

  1. So what does this mean? Is this 1.01 years really an advantage? The analysis doesn't go any farther.

    Interestingly, BYU is playing more young players than in recent years, and the season is not as successful as the last four years. Is this becuase BYU is playing less RMs or would it be expected at any other school playing so many true freshman and other underclassmen?

    I look at the drop off at Florida and Texas this year after they lost some key experienced players and it seems that it is not a missionary issue.