Thursday, January 3, 2013

Comparing BP and TO's first five seasons

Taking a quantitative look at the TO's and BP's first five seasons, I think it's reasonable to say that both are similar, with TO having outperformed BP in most areas.

Note: all charts are presented with seasons as rows and months as columns, with bowl games and CCGs presented separate from NOV/DEC games. All numbers are averages.

1. First, consider what each had to work with. To do that, I looked at the previous three seasons before the coaching changes.

TO took over a team that had won 2 NCs and had a combined win percentage of .92. BP took over at team that missed a bowl game twice in three years and had a combined win total of .58. Clearly, TO had a head start as a coach.

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2. Next, let's look at each coaches win percentage. Overall, both a very similar, with TO holding a slight edge at .77 to BP's .71. The biggest difference, IMO, is the record in bowl and CCGs. TO had a .80 record in these, BP has an abysmal .29 record. If BP had a similar record in bowl / CCG, he would probably be ahead of TO in win percentage for the first five years.

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3. Now, let's look at the average rank of opponents. For opponents not ranked in the AP Top 20/25, I used the calculated rankings at These are end of season rankings, so they aren't a perfect proxy, but in the absence of anything else, they serve the purpose.

What jumps out at me is that TO's opponents are, on average, 5-10 points higher ranked. When I look at the teams each played, I believe this is accounted for by the expansion of the season by 2 which are almost always filled with cupcake teams ranked in the 80-125 range and played in the non-conf season. TO played 13 teams ranked >=80. BP played 17 teams ranked >= 80. TO played 6 of those 13 in Aug/Sep, for an average of 1.2 per non-conference season. BP played 11 of the 17 in Aug/Sep, for an average of 2.2 per non-conf season.

BP has an win percentage advantage in the non-conf. This is a direct result of the difficulty of expanded number of low ranked teams played in the non-conf. What is significant in this chart is the average rank of bowl/CCG opponents. TO's opponent's ave rank was 11, BP's was 19. And yet, TO's win percentage is .80 in these games and BP's is .29. TO has a clear performance advantage here, but it should be considered in the light of point #1 - what each coach had to work with at the start of the five years.

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4. Fourth, consider the average MOV in each loss. For TO, I've included ties in the average MOV calculation.

BP's average MOV is much worse in Oct and in bowl/CCGs. Also, the MOV in BP's losses in three of the five seasons were by -20, -20, and -21 points. It is a serious concern when doesn't just get beat, but an average, gets blown out by 3 TDs. IMO, this is the most significant insight of this analysis. It may be the fatal flaw in BP's tenure at NU as well.

It's worth noting, though, that TO's losses in Nov/Dec were pretty bad as well. Three of the five years he had average MOV in those losses of -27, -25, and -31. I don't remember much (okay, anything) about these seasons), but I'm sure these blowouts didn't sit well with NU fans.

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5. Lastly, consider the average MOV in wins.

The average MOV in the non-conf is identical, but the ave MOV in Nov/Dec is 25 for TO and 12 for BP. Overall, the ave MOV is pretty close...24 for TO and 20 for BP.

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6. In conclusion, the results indicate that TO outperformed BP in almost all areas for the first five years. His ave opponent difficulty was greater than BP's and his win percentage against better teams is much better than BP's. Still, I think that the starting point for TO greatly impacted this. The only want to know for certain is to do this again in five years.

IMO, the numbers indicate that BP has done more than enough to make any talk of firing him utter fantasy...for at least a couple of years.

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