For the last seven years, the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference has provided a forum for sports industry professionals and students to discuss the increasing role of analytics. Sloan is the school of management at MIT, and the conference is put on by MIT students and has provided a host of interesting discussion topics over the years.
This year, the conference's agenda included a football analytics panel. The panel was moderated by Andrea Kremer, and featured 49ers COO Paraag Marathe, Rams VP of Football Operations and COO Kevin Demoff, former Chiefs GM Scott Pioli and Football Outsiders Editor-in-Chief Aaron Schatz. ESPN New England had a few take-aways from the panel, and Mike Sando took a specific look at some of the economics of the game that were discussed.
They raised some interesting points about how best to run a franchise, and we get a bit of an inside look into the thought process. What I found most intriguing was the discussion about job security and how it can impact good decision-making. Rams COO Kevin Demoff discussed the idea of patience when you have a coach and/or GM on the hot seat:
One of the things that you hear come up today constantly is how long it takes, the arc of time for decisions to come true," Demoff said. "Trading down is great in theory, but it doesn't work when you have a coach in the next-to-last year of his contract, or when teams are starting to look at things and you feel like you're in your window. That's the great thing about trades; everyone has a different vantage point of what they need now. ... Ultimately if the time frame for decision-making and how things play out for head coaches and GMs keeps shrinking the way it has over the last few years, it's harder and harder to convince them to make good decisions. To a team that just missed the playoffs because they don't have a return man or they need speed, it looks like a lot different. That's where the trading teams find value.
This is something the 49ers can potentially take advantage of as the draft approaches. Find a desperate team and fleece them. I don't think Andy Reid and the Chiefs were necessarily desperate, but I do think the 49ers were able to take advantage of a team with a serious need, and not a lot of opportunities to fill it this year. Now, the key will be finding teams that are desperate to move up in the draft, and then completely fleece them!
If you want to check out more of what went down at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, SB Nation had a couple writers up in Boston and live-blogged the event.