Point 1: Position-specific drafting. As to my proposition, "Performance, not pedigree, is the best predictor of performance," Commenter responds:
[T]he proposition on the table [is] whether it is the ONLY predictor. . . . [I]t would be entirely rational to take into account [Adrian Peterson's] terrific performance so far, and proceed to ask why other teams passed on him IF they were similarly situated -- the inquiry might reveal, for example, reasonable suspicions about his longer term prospects, like being prone to injury. In this case, I suspect [that] . . . none of the other teams needed a RB as much as they needed to plug other holes. Peterson was, after all, the top RB drafted.Fair enough. If you need a left tackle, you might pass on a halfback, no matter how athletic or filled with "potential." For the same reason, a law school might recruit a tax teacher and pass on a comparably situated proceduralist.
Point 2: The college game. Commenter says that "liken[ing] CV entries to draft positions" is "not the right analogy." Instead, "[d]raft position is like other interviews, callbacks, or offers," while "CV entries are like making a determination about Peterson because he was recruited by, and excelled at Oklahoma."
Once again, fair enough. And now the issue is whether NFL scouts are as readily bamboozled by a player's alma mater as some law school faculty recruiters appear to be. For what it's worth, two former Minnesota Vikings, long gone before the team in purple started scouting Adrian Peterson, had relatively modest college pedigrees. Randy Moss went to Marshall; Daunte Culpepper attended Central Florida. Who cares? Those two were the most fearsome receiver/quarterback combination of their time. The only reason I know where Moss and Culpepper played college ball is the fatuous insistence of some sports commentators on reciting professional players' NCAA pedigrees.
Point 3: sports analogies. And now Commenter is really hitting her or his stride:
The basic issue with the grasp at sports analogies in your post, and on this site in general, is whether one can establish objective metrics and agree on which ones matter, something that's particularly hard in an area where who wins and loses doesn't show up in lights. I fear the [analogy] to running yards, yards per carry, or TDs might be number of publications, status of average journals, and top 10 journals. Even staying on the football field, my guess is that someone would want to know about the quality of the opponent's rushing defense (I think Chicago and SD aren't doing well this year), the success of the average back in the offensive scheme (it used to be thought that you could put a high schooler in the Denver offense and he'd gain a hundred), etc. Putting that aside, what one is after in a law school is more like the intangibles that govern why Charlie Batch still has a job, not the factors that Fantasy Football seizes upon and exaggerates.Hot damn, Commenter. You sure know your football.
One quick point in reply: I like sports analogies for a reason mentioned in passing by Michael Lewis in The Blind Side: The Evolution of a Game: "Sports [is] the closest thing in America to pure meritocracy, the one avenue of ambition widely thought to be open to all." This is wrong, of course, on normative as well as descriptive grounds. First, to the extent sports are meritocratic, we must "[p]ity the kid inside [Michael Oher's old housing project] who was born to play the piano, or manage people, or trade bonds." Second, the whole point of The Blind Side is how close Michael Oher's conspicuous physical gifts came to being missed and thrown away in the meat grinder of American social injustice.
Ultimately, Commenter, I agree that the real challenge "is whether one can establish objective metrics and agree on which ones matter." That quest is hard enough in sports, let alone in law or legal education. Football is notoriously much harder than baseball to evaluate, which may explain in part why this forum's authors resort more readily to baseball as a source of metaphors and analogies. In baseball, any outcome besides an out carries positive value for the team at bat. In football, fourteen-yard plays from scrimmage are usually quite valuable. But on third-and-15, a slant that goes for fourteen yards is disappointing, and the same play is downright lethal on fourth-and-15. Nevertheless, all sports offer clear-cut conclusions: The Red Sox won the 2007 World Series. The Rockies, alas, did not. Notre Dame has been mathematically eliminated from bowl consideration this season. Praises be . . . . And so forth.
Legal education offers few if any comparable clear-cut metrics. I'll close by suggesting some measures that have rarely arisen in discussions among law professors, even in this forum, and almost certainly never in many law school faculty lounges:
- What students made before they matriculated at a particular school.
- The rate at which they passed the bar, especially relative to other candidates for the bar who attended other schools.
- Those students' overall economic well-being, as measured by income, indebtedness, and other gauges of prosperity, after one, five, ten, twenty-five years beyond graduation.