how would you use OR to run an NFL team?

The latest Engineering at Illinois news from my alma mater usually contains stories about faculty and students that more or less have to do with engineering. I was surprised to read that a former IE student and enterpreneur Shahid Khan (BS, 1971) is going to buy the football team the Jacksonville Jaguars (the story from Illinois is here, another story from the NY Times is here).

This is a great story of the American Dream lived to its fullest. Khan emigrated from Pakistan, started a small company that designs truck bumpers, turned his company into an empire (his designs are used on 2/3 of small trucks and SUVs in the United States), and then bought a football team (an American football team).

Even though Khan is more of an IE than an OR person, I can’t help but wonder how he could use OR and manufacturing methodologies to improve operations with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Anyone stuck in traffic on the way to the INFORMS Annual Meeting due to the Carolina Panthers game knows there is room for improvement

Do you know how football operations could be improved?

4 responses to “how would you use OR to run an NFL team?

  • Greg Glockner

    Sounds like Moneyball for NFL, or the type of research that Wayne Winston does. Though the more I think about it, the more difficult it is to apply ‘Moneyball’ principles to football, as it is much harder to isolate the performance of an individual as compared with baseball.

  • Laura McLay

    Greg, good point. Having a winning football team and managing expensive player salaries is the best way to stay profitable in the long-term as compared to, say, managing the queues in and out of a stadium.

    I agree that football is more of a team effort than baseball or basketball. My previous posts on quarterback ratings show a large degree of correlation between quarterback ratings and the quality of the offensive line (I didn’t specifically measure the offensive line–I eyeballed it). However, there are ways to chip away at the analysis to get closer to individual effort. I hope to blog about that some more when I find time to curl up with Wayne Winton’s book Mathletics.

  • Joe Wilck

    If Shahid Khan can get the Jaguars to win the Super Bowl, then perhaps he should also get the Frank and Lillian Gilbreth Industrial Engineering Award.

    And, in earlier posts you mentioned women in STEM, etc. Lillian Gilbreth was definitely a trailblazer.

  • Laura McLay

    I agree, Joe!

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