Arkansas Expats has a three-part interview with Phil Steele worth reading in its entirety if you’re interested in getting a handle on the Razorbacks’ prospects this season (hint: he’s pretty optimistic about their chances), but here’s the Q&A exchange that grabbed my attention:
Expats: One of the bright spots last year was that they forced a lot of turnovers. Is that something that you expect to happen again or is that kind of a random occurrence?
Steele: I’ve done studies on turnovers since actually the first year of my magazine. I started an article called “Turnovers Equals Turnaround.” Basically it shows that teams that are plus-double digit in turnover margin one year, about 75 percent of the time they have a weaker record the next year, which is a little disconcerting for me for Arkansas.
But keep in mind, if it is 75 percent, that still means there’s 25 percent of the teams out there that actually are the same or improve the next year. So there are teams that are able to avoid that particular predicament.
You look at Arkansas in 2008, for example: they were 5-7, and they were minus-nine in turnovers. That basically qualified them for the “turnovers equals turnaround.” They were one away from a double-digit [turnover margin].
Last year, they changed up to plus-15 and improved to 8-5. As mentioned, this is a team poised to be better than that. I don’t think they’re going to be plus-15 in turnovers this year. I would think the level would come down to more of a plus-3, plus-4. It’s just the way my research has shown. There’s very few teams that can put together back-to-back plus-double digit turnover seasons.
It will be interesting to see how Arkansas shapes up in that category.
If anything, Steele overstates the possibility that the Hogs repeat their plus-double digit turnover success in 2010, at least based on the conference’s track record over the past eight seasons. From 2002 through 2009, that feat was accomplished only once, by Arkansas in 2002 and 2003.