The recent MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference produced several notable exchanges, including one featuring an entertaining reference to Seahawks coach Pete Carroll.
Panelists included Patriots president Jonathan Kraft and Colts president Bill Polian, and both agreed that football coaches welcomed whatever data they thought might give them an edge. But some coaches are smarter than others, Kraft suggested, and that's where the Carroll reference surfaced.
Polian: "The coaches live by that [information]. ... We spend hundreds of thousands of dollars with computer application companies because they think they can find an edge. I don't know if they get it, to be truthful with you."
Kraft: "I agree completely with Bill and I think they are only limited by their own intellectual ability to then take that data and do something with it. I think they are all open to it. Some are just more intellectually capable than others. And I'll tell you, I've been lucky because, our first year in the league and the reason we bought into the league was the salary cap, we came into the league in '94, and I've had the chance to work with Bill Parcells, Pete Carroll and Bill Belichick, all of whom I think people would say are pretty good coaches. Their intellectual capacities are all dramatically different. And without going into --"
Laughter from the audience interrupted Kraft at this point. Another panelist then asked, "Without going into what?"
Kraft: "Without going into where each of them have their own strengths and weaknesses, I would just say all of them would gravitate to what Bill was just saying, but some of them, or individuals, might have an ability to do more with it than others."
More laughter and reaction from panelists and the audience.
Kraft, also laughing: "No, that wasn't meant -- they have all of their own strengths. Don't read anything into that. Please, no one tweet out ... that wouldn't be good."
Panelist Mark Cuban then pulled out his Blackberry and pretended to tweet the comments. More laughter.
ESPN has video of the panel discussion, which I found entertaining (good summary here). The comments about Parcells, Carroll and Belichick weren't intended to insult anyone, but the informal setting did result in high-ranking officials lowering their guards.
Those watching were the beneficiaries, regardless of intellectual capacities.