Book Review: Bill Connelly's "Study Hall"

K-State fans' favorite blogger has published his book, Study Hall: College Football, Its Stats and Its Stories. Why Bill Connelly's book is a must-read for any college football fan.

Here at BOTC, we have had an interesting relationship with SB Nation's Missouri blog, Rock M Nation, and its manager, Bill Connelly. First, there was the Unholy Alliance. Later, as Bill's advanced statistical system was continually unable to recognize K-State's renaissance in Bill Snyder 2.0, there was much angst, and even accusations that he had designed an entire system to slight K-State. (Seriously).

But Bill -- and I use the first name because we've become friends over the years -- has a much broader knowledge of college football than just an advanced-stats system. He grew up in the heart of Big 8 country, he watches a ton of games, and he reads more than should be humanly possible. I guess that's what happens when you consider a 4 a.m. wakeup call "sleeping in."

Bill's first book, Study Hall: College Football, Its Stats and Its Stories is now available. He was kind enough to provide me an advance copy of the book. When I told a good friend I was reading Bill's book, his response was effectively "I'm guessing he spends way too much time talking about numbers." But Study Hall is much more than a slog through numbers and abstract concepts. In fact, most of it examines the everyday events of college football. The pageantry, the friendships, tailgating, the NCAA. There's even an entire chapter dedicated to K-State football and Bill's difficulty in analyzing K-State with his system.

It isn't until Chapter 8 that we finally wade into Bill's stats. If this is the point at which you stop and decide you're not going to wallow in that morass, you'll be missing out. I'll admit that, over the years of reading Bill's posts, I mostly stuck to his verbal descriptions of what happened, rather than looking at the numbers. Most of the time, if I wanted to look into, talk about, or write about one of his advanced metrics, I'd have to look it up in the glossary he always links.

And I had feared that in the book, he may assume some level of prior familiarity with his system. Bill doesn't, and the explanations in the book helped me understand the metrics as never before, and gave me ideas for their practical application. Get ready for some posts this fall using the metrics in a K-State-specific fashion. For now, just know that one of the reasons K-State went 11-2 last year was because the Wildcats were awesome at special teams. Cue "fire Sean Snyder" calls in 3...2...1...

Anyway, for any college football fan, Study Hall is a worthy read. If you already have somewhat of an advanced-stats bent from baseball or basketball, then you should have even more reason to take a look. And if any of you coach, I highly recommend the chapters on stats, at a minimum, because Bill both interviewed several college coaches and approaches them in the book from a practical-application standpoint. In short, they're not just a tool that can be used by college football fans arguing on the Internet.

You can buy Study Hall here. Happy reading.

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