Wednesday, November 01, 2006

NFL Referee Report for the First Half of 2006

Today we analyze the first half of the 2006 season by NFL referee. Actually, the 2006 season has 17 weeks so we are analyzing slightly less than the first 50% of the season after 8 weeks. But let's call weeks 1-4 the first quarter of the season, weeks 5-8 the second quarter of the season, and weeks 1-8 as a whole as the first half of the season. How do the referees stack up?

We focus here on the following stats: total penalties, what proportion of the accepted penalties were called against the visiting team, and the win rate of the home team.

The following report is written based on three hypotheses: (1) some referees regularly call less penalties than others [we think this is true], (2) some referees call a greater proportion of penalties against the visiting team than others [not sure this is true], and (3) some referees call games where the home team wins more often [not sure this is true].

VP% = visitor penalty percentage -- if a ref calls all the penalties against the visitors, the VP% is 100%. So a higher VP% favors the home team.
HW% = home winning percentage -- if the home team wins every game a ref calls, the HW% is 100%. So a higher HW% favors the home team.

Post your comments on whether you think those three theories are true or not. Here we go, in alphabetical order, for all 17 head referees:

Walt Anderson: Visiting teams should be happy when Walt is the referee for their game. Home teams won only 29% of the games in the first half of the season (lowest or 17/17 for the refs). Walt has been pretty consistently bad for the chances that home teams will win -- in the first quarter, he was 16th out of 17 and for the entire first half he was worst for the home team, which is good news for the visiting team. Walt also calls a low number of penalties per game (1Q: 14th, 1st half: 15th). Week 1 controversial calls against home team New York Giants included offensive pass interference against Tim Carter and an illegal snap at the end of the game where the defense was not penalized for illegally calling a false snap count in a game that ended with the Indianapolis Colts winning 26-21. First half rankings: 15th in total penalties, 9th in VP%, 17th in HW%.

Gerry Austin: Gerry stands out for calling the highest proportion of penalties against the visiting team. For the first half, 64% of the penalties went against the visiting team. Otherwise, he is middle of the pack. First half rankings: 7th in total penalties, 1st in VP%, 7th in HW%.

Jerome Boger: Jerome stands out for tying for the worst winning percentage of the refs, with the home team, with the home team winning only 29% of the time. Jerome is climbing the ranks of total penalties per game, starting at 11th for the first quarter but at the halfway point has made his way up to 4th place. First half rankings: 4th in total penalties, 11th in VP%, tied for last in HW%.

Mike Carey: Mike is good news for home teams -- home teams win 86% of his games (best of the refs) and visitors are called for 60% of the penalties (3rd best). Mike also calls a large number of penalties, starting the first quarter with the most but cooling off to where he is now in third place at the halfway point. Week 6 controversial roughing-the-passer call helped home team Tampa Bay beat Cincinatti 14-13. Week 8 controversial call that Jets receiver Chris Baker was not forced out of the end zone while catching a potential tying TD pass in the last minute helped visiting team Cleveland beat the Jets 20-13. First half rankings: 3rd in total penalties, 3rd in VP%, first in HW%.

Bill Carollo: Bill has one of the lowest win-rates for home teams, ranked third-lowest of the refs. He is also trending upwards in VP% -- he started the first quarter with calling the lowest proportion of penalties against the visitors but has climbed to middle of the pack. First half rankings: 11th in total penalties, 8th in VP%, 15th in HW%.

Walt Coleman: Walt is great for the home team to win the game, even though he calls a large precentage of his penalties against the home teams. Go figure. He also calls some of the least number of penalties per game. Week 1 did not see Dolphins coach Nick Saban throw the challenge flag. First half: 16th in total penalties, 16th in VP%, tied-2nd in HW%.

Tony Corrente: Started off calling a large number of penalties (3rd in 1Q penalties) but cooled off and now is middle of the pack (9th). First half: 9th in total penalties, 15th in VP%, tied-13th in HW%.

Scott Green: Scott calls some of the highest proportion of penalties against the visiting team, yet the home team does not fare especially well in his games (winning only 43% of the time). First half: 8th in total penalties, 2nd in VP%, 12th in HW%.

Ed Hochuli: Ed is calling the most penalties per game thanks to a strong 2Q. After 1Q, he was only 9th but has rocketed to the top thanks to calling 17 penalties in week 5 and 16 penalties in week 6. But the inconsistency of his penalty numbers means he might fall out of the top spot in the second half. First half: 1st in total penalties, 14th in VP%, tied-8th in HW%.

Bill Leavy: Bill does not call many penalties per game, starting low at 16th in 1Q and rounding out the first half in 14th place. First half: 14th in total penalties, 7th in VP%, tied-4th in HW%.

Terry McAulay: First half: 12th in total penalties, 12th in VP%, tied-8th in HW%.

Peter Morelli: Peter is a shoe-in for calling the least number of penalties per game. He had 7.7 accepted penalties in the first half, well below the 8.7 accepted penalties per game for Walt Coleman who is his nearest competitor. Peter got the "lower hand" early on, with the lowest number of total accepted penalties in 1Q. Home teams do not fare well (43% win rate) in his games, could a hands-off attitude generally help visiting teams? First half: 17th in total penalties, 13th in VP%, tied-13th in HW%.

Larry Nemmers: Larry consistently has a large number of accepted penalties per game, 4th after 4 weeks and 2nd at the halfway point. Home teams win a good percentage of his games (71%). More fodder for the theory that a hands-on ref helps home teams and a hands-off ref is better for visiting teams? Week 8: ruled home team Vikings receiver Jerome Wiggins did not have possession before dropping the ball despite strong evidence suggesting otherwise and stuck to controversial call even after a replay challenge in a game where Patriots won 31-7. First half: 2nd in total penalties, 10th in VP%, tied-4th in HW%.

Gene Steratore: First half: 5th in total penalties, 6th in VP%, tied-8th in HW%.

Jeff Triplette: Jeff does not have many total penalties per game. Week 10: umpire Jim Quirk called Baltimore Ravens running back Mike Anderson down by contact and when Titans coach Jeff Fisher challenged, Triplette said there was a fumble, but no clear recovery, which Fisher criticized afterwards. First half: 13th in total penalties, 5th in VP%, tied-8th in HW%.

Bill Vinovich: started hot with the second most penalties per game after 1Q, but falling back where he is now in 6th. Home teams do well in his games (83% win rate), again supporting our growing theory that refs who call a large number of penalties are better for home teams (regardless of the fact that a large percentage of those penalties are called against the home team). First half: 6th in total penalties, 17th (last) in VP% (44%), tied-2nd HW%.

Ron Winter: Ron gets off without much commentary because he is last alphabetically. Anyone still reading this? Controversial call in Falcons 41-38 victory over the Steelers, with time running out in the fourth quarter, his crew called a false start penalty on Steelers Nate Washington with the 10-second runoff it ended regulation tied, which Steelers owner Dan Rooney criticized as "Those officials should be ashamed of themselves" (for which Rooney was fined $25,000) First half: 10th in total penalties, 4th in VP%, tied-4th in HW%.


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