Matt Manocherian is the Vice President of Football & Research at Sports Info Solutions and an Adjunct Sport Management Professor at NYU. He previously worked as a Scout for the New Orleans Saints and Cleveland Browns.
We caught up with Matt for this week’s Friday Five…
Who is your biggest mentor?
I have been lucky to have some impactful mentors over the early part of my career. One person who comes to mind is Vince Gennaro, who ran the graduate program that I attended at Columbia University and now oversees the program at NYU, where I am an Adjunct Professor. He was the person who convinced me to learn about how innovative thinking was changing the way other sports are played, coached, and managed so that I could apply this line of thinking to football, and he was instrumental in helping me land my current position at Sports Info Solutions.
From my time with the Saints I also had some great mentors, learning from the likes of Mickey Loomis, Ryan Pace, and Terry Fontenot. One person from that time who really shaped a lot of the way I think about scouting is Dwaune Jones, and he remains a key mentor of mine. My stint with the Browns was short-lived, but Michael Lombardi and Joe Banner were fantastic to work for, each bringing a unique, process-based approach to thinking about football. I still look up to both of them, and I constantly find myself inspired by their insights.
Sorry for the cliché, but without a doubt my biggest mentor is my father, Alan. He’s the best man that I know, and there is nobody that I have learned more from. I’ve been incredibly lucky in that regard.
What made you want to get into football analytics after being an NFL scout?
I love football. I never thought about it in terms of scouting versus analytics versus coaching. I have worked in all of these realms, and football is what drives me, not the specific job function of one area or another.
I think my affinity for all of these areas is really what makes me love my current job so much. In terms of the work that I do, I think of my function as a translator between the football and the data, so I really get to do a lot of both scouting- and analytics-related work. We have a full NFL-style scouting department at SIS, and I get to experience the coaching element when I have the opportunity to teach at our weekly “Scout School” sessions and develop relationships with our up-and-coming scouts.
In terms of what I like about analytics, it’s really not statistics or numbers that get me excited so much as the process-based approach to football. In my time with the Saints and Browns, the times that we made the best decisions were when we had the best process, and I don’t think that was a coincidence. Some people think that “analytics” are trying to devalue scouts, coaches, or even the players themselves, but my goal is always to find ways to enhance the value that they all create.
What are your future plans for the development of Sports Info Solutions?
We have big plans in the future! We have been growing quickly over the last year since we brought on our new CEO, Dan Hannigan-Daley, and have invested heavily in technology that is on par with our world class ability to collect intricate sports data and create meaningful insights for teams. The next thing that you can look out for on the public front is our NFL Draft Guide, which will be published on sportsinfosolutions.com before the end of March and replaces our annual SIS Football Rookie Handbook. The site will have scouting reports the way that NFL scouting departments write them alongside cutting edge analytics on over 300 NFL Draft prospects, and it will all be offered for free. This is the tip of the iceberg of what we will be able to create with our improved technology team, and we’re excited to enter a new era for our company.
What piece of advice would you give your younger self?
Work hard, have fun, and control the controllables. Try to get a little bit better every day. Be nice.
If you could invite any three people in history to dinner, who would they be and why?
This is a tough question with a lot of directions that an answer could possibly take, so I’ll try to pick a lane. A few people who I have been inspired by and would love to pick the brains of are Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr, and Pat Tillman. I believe that each of these individuals displayed bravery beyond my comprehension, and I have questions for each of them that would only be a fraction of how interesting their questions for each other would promise to be.