Are you a sports fan that’s bored with traditional coverage of the world of sports? You have come to the right place. This page will highlight “analytic oriented” information on the sports we all love to watch that you can’t find elsewhere on the web. And you don’t need to have a Ph.D. in statistics to comprehend what you will find here. From the hallowed grass of Wimbledon to the gridiron of the Iron Bowl, the research you find here will present you with a completely different view of the game, whatever your favorite sport might be.

Most articles are written by Samford University faculty, sports industry professionals that partner with Samford or students in one of the four sports oriented academic programs on campus (sports media in the Journalism and Mass Communications department, sports administration in the department of Kinesiology, sports marketing in the Brock School of Business, and sports medicine in the School of Health Professions).

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By the Numbers: Just How Much do SEC Schools Make and Spend in Athletics
Beyond the roar of the crowd and the excitement of victories, lies a complex financial terrain where revenues and expenses shape the game behind the game.
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Does Your NFL Team Draft to Win? New Research Reveals Rounds 3, 4, and 5 are the Key to Future On-Field Performance
Many fans underestimate the importance of the NFL draft beyond the first and second rounds, assuming that only early picks can truly impact a team's success. However, groundbreaking research from the Center for Sports Analytics at Samford University challenges this notion.
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How Does RPI Effect College Baseball and the NCAA Tournament?
The Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) is generally known to dictate which college baseball teams qualify for the NCAA tournament, but how can different strategies affect a teams’ RPI ranking?
 
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The Future of Football Evaluation: Impact% and Defensive Rating (DEFRAT)
Impact% is a stat that measures the percentage of times a player is in position to make a play on the ball. This is an upgrade from just looking at raw tackles because a play on the ball is more valuable than a tackle. Impact% gives you a broader scope of how much range and versatility a player has and their impact in every phase of the game. It's a statistic that measures how valuable a player is while he's on the field. The purpose of the stat is to reward defenders who are on time and in position to make a play on the football.
Photo Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell
Should the Lions Have Kicked the Field Goal?
Dan Campbell received a lot of attention for the Lion's 4th down decisions; let's use the data to see if the decisions to go for it were correct.
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Fielding: Does It Matter?
Throughout the history of baseball, the focus of the sport has changed and evolved. From the early Dead-ball era to the modern era of the long ball. Through it all one part of the game has remained largely unchanged: fielding.
 
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Affinity Rankings
In the analyses below, we explore differences in indexed affinity between competing brands.
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Combating Sports-Related Human Trafficking: Samford Students Offer Expert Consultation to Key Sports Organization
Whether you know it as ‘soccer’ or ‘football,’ the ‘beautiful game’ is so called because of its ability to bring diverse people groups together. But among all the beauty of the world’s game, there exists an ugly, dark side. Every year thousands of children, primarily from African countries, are recruited by unlicensed scouts and agents and promised the opportunity to travel to Europe to play for major soccer clubs. Families often leverage everything they own to help their sons pursue soccer stardom. However, most of these teenagers don’t make it onto a top professional team, leaving them to fend for themselves in a foreign country with little to no money.
Photo Bill Belichick on the Sideline
NFL Coaching: Improving or Declining Performances
Having the role of a head coach in the NFL comes with the challenge of battling through adversity. Depending on who the coach is, it can be the difference in a team having a positive or negative influence on their performance. The eye test can tell many things about a coach. This study will use data to discover new insights and interpretations about coaches and their ability to either lead a team to improve or struggle on a decline.
 
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The Tale of Two Teams: A Look at the 2023 World Series
The 2023 Texas Rangers showcased the dominance of power-hitting, while the Arizona Diamondbacks took a different approach. Is small-ball dead in the MLB?
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Swinging Rackets, Slam Dunks, Touchdowns, and Goals: Which One Attracts More Fans
In the growing world of sports, the heartbeat of sports fans is growing ever louder. The National Football League (NFL), the National Basketball Association (NBA), and the National Hockey League (NHL) continue to be the pillars of team sports in the US. These leagues shape identities of fans all over the country. However, amid the love of these national pillars of sport, there is one entity that demands more attention, the individualistic realm of tennis.
Photo 2017 Australian Open Jordan Spieth
“Moving Day” …how important is it really?
As the primary PGA season is in remission until the start of 2024, I wanted to look back and examine the previous decade and focus on just how significant each round is within a tournament weekend. For individuals who are unfamiliar or exclusively tuned into who the LIV golf tour, a standard PGA tournament entails 4 rounds of golf, with each round consisting of 18 holes.
 
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A Look Back: The 5 Best SEC Championship Games in History
When implemented by SEC Commissioner Roy Kramer in 1992 after the expansion to 12 teams, the SEC Championship Game was an unprecedented power move. The game has given fans great memories, heartbreaking losses, and has captivated us for over 30 years now.
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Spending Smart: A Comparative Look at Areas of University Spending Within Football Programs and Their Effect on Wins From 2005-2022
This project analyzes how different kinds of spending correlate to wins for Power 5 College football programs.
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Analyzing NBA Playoff "Risers" and "Droppers"
The NBA Playoffs consists of the best teams within the Western Conference and Eastern Conference during the Regular Season, with the best players during the Regular Season typically being featured in the Playoffs for contributing to the high regular season win total.
 
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Top 10 World Series Hitting Performances
To see the guidelines and a more in depth explanation of some of the metrics being used, as well as the methodology behind this ranking, check out the first part of this series of articles titled “Top 10 World Series Pitching Performances.”
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Top 10 World Series Pitching Performances
Postseason baseball is here! That means the champion of the league will soon be crowned in the World Series. I love baseball, but I understand why some people would think that the regular season goes on a bit too long, and watching any random regular season game can often feel a bit boring or pointless.
Photo Giannis Antetokoummpo
The Numbers Don’t Lie
The NBA MVP goes out to the most valuable player of every season. However, some view it as the award for the player with the best statistics, rather than the most valuable.
 
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Predicting NBA MVP Contenders
This study highlights the potential of machine learning in predicting NBA MVP contenders, supporting data-driven decisions in sports analytics
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Why Not Winning a National Championship is the Best Thing That Could’ve Happened to Alabama Football
Alabama fans have become immune to winning, and it creates an interesting dynamic for loyalty toward the team. This article explores why not winning a National Championship the past two years might be the best thing to happen to the Tide.
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Using Machine Learning to Predict the NBA MVP
Each year, the selection for the NBA Most Valuable Player award sparks intense debate throughout all fans of basketball. However, since the process of selection is very subjective, it is difficult to explain the exact criteria needed to be met for a player to receive the MVP, and thus it is hard to predict who will end up winning the award.
 
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Are Rookie Running Backs Worth Drafting in Fantasy Football? An Analysis of Player Value in Each Year of NFL Experience
An established veteran running back or an untested rookie? It sounds like an easy choice, but come playoff time, that rookie could be destroying your team in the fantasy football Super Bowl.
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Analyzing NBA Player Sentiment through Reddit
This project explores data from reddit in order to better understand the public opinion of different players in the NBA. The exploration included creating word clouds for players as well as tracking how different words were used in relation to players over time.
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7 Things I Learned from Working NASCAR at Talladega
This article goes to show that taking a shot may get you places you never would’ve imagined.
 
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Drive for Show, Putt for Dough?
How do you maximize practice with minimal time? How much attention should be given to different areas of the game? Should every player practice the same thing?
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Top 10 NBA Finals Performances
I’ve always had a fascination to determine which NBA players had the greatest performances on the game’s biggest stage. That is why I will be looking at the 10 greatest single game performances in NBA finals history.
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Does Controlling the Pace Win NBA Games?
We’ve heard it a million times, “If this team can control the pace, they’re going to win this game!”. Is controlling the pace good for a team’s winning chances? Or is it just a crutch for analysts to talk about?
 
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Sabermetrics 101: Understanding the Calculation of WAR
WAR, or wins above replacement, is an advanced baseball metric that measures the true value of a player. It is calculated uniquely by statisticians on different statistical websites. This paper attempts to help educate the modern baseball fan on the differences in the fWAR and bWAR calculation.
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Machine Learning Uncovers Nine Distinct Player Types in the NBA
One thing is certain, it's difficult to compare players from different eras when the NBA changes decade after decade.
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Behind the Data: Where is CrossFit Most Popular in the United States?
CrossFit is known for grueling workouts and their free market approach to gym affiliation resulting in strong communities with avid participants.
 
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The Interesting Connection Between Southwest Airlines and the Super Bowl Champions
There is meaning behind these sponsorships/partnerships, and none happen by accident.
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How I Built a Competitive NFL Prediction Model with Only Five Statistics
The 2022 NFL season officially concluded last Sunday with the Kansas City Chiefs’ 38-35 win over the Philadelphia Eagles, for Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ second Super Bowl win in four years. The game was arguably an all timer as Harrison Butker’s kick with seven seconds put Kansas City on top for good.
Photo Franco Harris 2022
A Look Back: Legendary Performances by Running Backs in Super Bowl History
This article uses ChatGPT responses to explore some of the best Super Bowl performances by running backs in the game’s history.
 
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A Look Back: Legendary Defensive Performances in Super Bowl History
This article uses ChatGPT responses to explore some of the best defensive Super Bowl performances by team in the game’s history.
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A Look Back: Legendary Quarterback Performances in Super Bowl History
This article uses ChatGPT responses to explore some of the best Super Bowl performances by quarterbacks in the game’s history.
Photo Samford University Belltower Icon
A Look Back: A Few of the Greatest Super Bowl Performances by Wide Receivers
This article explores a few of the best Super Bowl performances by Wide Receivers in the game’s history.
 
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Exploring Key Analytic Measurements to Predict the Super Bowl LVII Winner
This article explores 5 key factors that often predict success in the NFL. On paper, the Chiefs and the Eagles are almost evenly matched, but Philadelphia and Kansas City have a large differential in one main factor.
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In the Trenches: Quantifying Performance vs Expectation for NFL Offensive and Defensive Linemen
In this project, we seek to answer the question, 'can we evaluate if a player is performing as expected based on physical metrics and combine testing?' This project aims to give an overall rating to both offensive linemen and pass rushers on pass attempts, then comparing this to how they are expected to perform based on combine metrics, physical traits, and averages from previous in-game play.
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An Interactive Dashboard to Explore 2022 World Cup Data
Explore trends and performance metrics for every player and team at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
 
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Missed Potential: An Evaluation of Tua Tagovailoa’s Sponsorship Opportunities
One player who is utilizing sponsorships as a prominent source of income is Tua Tagovailoa, former quarterback of The University of Alabama who signed on as a rookie with the Miami Dolphins in 2020.
 

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