(Refer to Part 1.)
So, Erik Glavic or Gary Ross?
Why even ask the question? One's the best QB in the CIS, on a team that outscored everyone but Laval, and he's already in Quebec City to play in the Vanier Cup. (And he's already won this trophy before, for that matter.) The other is a punt returner for an 0-8 team that barely scored two touchdowns per game, and while he sounds like a decent guy, he's probably in Sackville studying for exams now. So as far as "best football player" goes, we can stop there, right?
You'll remember that Glavic, as best as we can tell from the stats, added about four yards per rushing or passing attempt, and Ross added a little bit more depending on whether it was a running play or a special teams play. What does that mean?
Well, we know how many rushing plays were called in CIS this year: 6,540, or 242 per team. So we could say Glavic would have added 931 yards to that average team, if he ran the ball every time. Obviously that wouldn't happen, but we are dealing in the theoretical here (comparing across positions with limited statistics) so bear with me. Ross, who had 4.6 rushing yards per attempt vs. Glavic's 3.8, would add more yards in those 242 attempts; namely, 1,111 yards. Net result on the ground: Ross +180.
Same can be done with pass attempts/completions: Glavic adds 1062 yards, Ross 129. Net result in the air: Glavic +933. And then Ross has the obvious advantage in special teams: +618 (350 on punt returns, 268 on kick returns). Again, this is assuming both of these players are placed on the "average" team, and that they are (almost literally) "do-everything" players.
If you add up all those numbers, you get +135 for Glavic. This means, by some measure, Erik Glavic was 135 yards better than Gary Ross this year. Which isn't really all that much.
There are problems with this methodology, of course: as already mentioned, Glavic wouldn't take the ball himself on every single running play (no player does). But neither would Ross. So instead of a +180 margin there, maybe each player has his yardage cut in half, so it's +90 or something. We don't know, exactly. So we can't really conclude much. Odds are, Glavic's advantage in passing yards would overtake everything Ross did, but there's another problem there, because Glavic gets credit for yards-after-catch when, really, he has little to do with those.
In the end, I'd still vote for Glavic, but what this exercise shows us is just how valuable a player on a last-place team can be: Ross is (deservedly) in the same conversation as a quarterback who might win the Hec Crighton Trophy not just twice, but with two different teams, which would be unprecedented.
So, although athletes generally define themselves by winning and losing, Gary Ross can still look back on 2009 and know he accomplished something. Even if it took some mathematical gymnastics to illustrate the considerable impact he had on the Mounties.
But Gary won't mind a more scientific approach. After all, he is a Science major.
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