Who's on First: Simulating the Canadian Football League Regular Season

Keith A. Willoughby, Associate Professor
Associate Dean - Research and Academic
Associate Professor, Department of Finance and Management Science
Edwards School of Business
University of Saskatchewan


The emergence and soaring popularity of fan-driven fantasy leagues, increased data availability, and the success of the movie "Moneyball" have led to intensified attention for the field of sports analytics. Although quantitative approaches have been applied to sports since the 1950s, today's models are able to do so with more sophistication, thus permitting a deeper analysis into factors that contribute to a sports team's success.

The Canadian Football League (CFL) is a 9-team professional sports association. The teams are divided into two divisions according to geographic proximity. Teams play an 18-game regular season lasting from late June until early November. The season concludes with three weeks of playoff games, culminating with the bestowal of the Grey Cup to the championship team.

In this presentation, we describe an analytical model for determining the probabilities of any CFL team finishing first in its division. Deployed within an Excel spreadsheet, the model considers each team's current performance as well as the remaining opponents to be played in the regular season. It calculates the chance of any team finishing first in its division through simulating the outcome of remaining games.

Biographical Notes

Keith Willoughby is an Associate Professor and Associate Dean - Research & Academic at the Edwards School of Business, University of Saskatchewan. He obtained his Ph.D. in Operations Management from the University of Calgary. His research interests include developing analytical models in health care, transportation, materials management and sports. Previous industrial employment includes experience as a transportation analyst with the Vancouver Regional Transit System and a senior operations research specialist with the Saskatchewan Health Quality Council. He remains vexed by the four-way stop at Preston and Main, and by 'Rider fans who leave football games far too early.

Oct. 27,, 2014

Park Town Hotel

Cocktails 5:30, Dinner 6:00, Presentation 7:00

Tickets $25

For more information contact:

Kent Kostuk 244-3295 k.kostuk@fcl.ca

Winfried Grassmann, 966-4898 grassman@cs.usask.ca