Are they experienced?

If you had to reduce the common perception of their 2011 prospects to soundbites, I think it would be to describe Georgia as a program whose coach is on the hot seat and Tennessee as a program that’s a least a year away from being a serious contender in the SEC East.  (For the latest confirmation of those, see Edward Aschoff’s and Chris Low’s picks for most likely conference upsets this season.)  One implication from that is the Vols’ talent base is markedly greener than Georgia’s; because his team is much less experienced, no one is expecting that Dooley’s team’s won-loss record should be as good as Richt’s.  (Before you go there, “should” isn’t the same thing as “will”.)

But is that really the case?  Two charts from Phil Steele seem to show that the experience gap between the two isn’t as great as the conventional wisdom makes it sound.

The first is his Combined Experience Chart.  Steele looks at the quality of each team’s returning seniors through a number of prisms and assigns a total which he labels “experience points”.  The 2011 numbers range from a high of SMU’s 90.5 to Auburn’s low of 25.4.  Georgia’s score is 60.8; Tennessee’s is 58.9.  That’s a gap of less than two points, which hardly seems that significant.  (Put it this way:  the gap between Georgia and South Carolina, a team the pundits believe Georgia should compete with this season, is almost six points.)

If you want to look at something more than just seniors, there’s a more broad-based measurement to compare in Steele’s breakdown of starters by class.  You can read his method at the link, but again, he ranks teams by points ranging from a high of 94 (Air Force) to a low of 38 (Auburn, once again).  Georgia and Tennessee find themselves scored even more closely by this metric, as Georgia (54) has only one point more than UT (53) does.  (South Carolina, for comparison’s sake, scored a 58.)

Now you can argue that the difference in perception is justified by a talent gap more than an experience gap, but I’m not sure how being “still a year away” fits in with that, as Tennessee’s incoming class isn’t considered more talented than Georgia’s.  So my question is simple:  is Dooley getting something of a pass on this, or are people expecting more out of Richt than is justified?

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21 Comments

Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, Georgia Football, Phil Steele Makes My Eyes Water

21 responses to “Are they experienced?

  1. The talent gap accounts for a good bit of this — or to look at it another way, when you talk about experience as an important metric (which it is), you also have to ask, what is it they’re experienced in: winning or losing?

    As an extreme example, Vanderbilt has the most returning starters of any team in I-A this year, while Auburn has the least, and it’s not even close. But if the two teams played each other this year, I don’t think you could find anyone who’d predict anything other than a blowout victory for the Tigers. I’d rather have six guys off the most recent national championship team than 21 guys off a squad that went 2-10.

    In Georgia’s case, the lion’s share of their “experience” comes from players who’ve gone 24-15 the last three seasons — not great by our standards, but certainly better than Tennessee, who’s limped in at 18-20 during that same period, and against easier schedules to boot. So to answer the question you actually asked, I’d say the closeness in rankings comes more from Dooley getting the benefit of the doubt than from Richt’s expectations being set too high. Consider, too, that Tennessee’s had three head coaches in the last three years, making Georgia’s coaching situation look rock-solid by comparison (even when you factor in the overhaul on defense). Constant upheaval like that will make it hard for a team to succeed no matter how much experience the players have.

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    • I tend to agree with you. So does that mean the whole “one year away” meme for UT is not reality-based?

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      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        UT has been “one year away” ever since Fulmer left.

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      • Tennessee is more than one year away. Fulmer’s late-career recruiting was a wasteland, but what people fail to realize is that the situation didn’t get any better under Kiffin, for all his supposed recruiting wizardry — tons of those kids have either left the program or gotten arrested. D-Dooley is now having to clean up both Fulmer’s and Kiffin’s messes.

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        • NRBQ

          DD made it apparent that he’s not so much concerned with arrests when he kept nine players that tried to kick two men to death.

          Barbara may be proud of him, but I wish him nothing but failure.

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        • I wanna Red Cup

          I agree. The orange are several years away. I think Dooley lasts less than 5 years and they start all over again.

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          • Mayor of Dawgtown

            Young Dooley was hired by Hamilton to take the hit for the failures of the 2 previous coaching administrations and it didn’t help that he was shown to be wanting in the integrity department (see above post re: 9 sociopaths still on the UT team). UT hires a new AD, probably Fulmer, and Dooley will be out in 2 more years max.

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  2. WH

    A year away is the best they can hope for, which is short-hand for: “If everything goes perfectly this year and the next offseason, they MAY contend.”

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    • WH

      Georgia, on the other hand, has a coach on the hotseat, which is shorthand for: Richt consistently has loads of talent, but his teams consistently underperform the last few years. Do the math.

      Expectations may be a little unreasonably high, but it’s hard to tell when performance is becoming unreasonably low. *cough 6-7*

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  3. paul

    Although I agree with Doug, I think it may be a little of both. Dooley gets a pass and expectations for Richt may be a little high as well.

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  4. Hobnail_Boot

    After all the talk last offseason about our experienced OL, this is the last thing I want to read about. This is probably more overrated than time of possession.

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  5. NRBQ

    Since it hasn’t come up, kudos on the Jimi reference, Bluto.

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  6. south fl dawg

    Dooley is still in his honeymoon period after the mess he inherited. Not saying Richt doesn’t have anything to prove because he does. But Dooley is like a dream who can do no wrong. He hasn’t proved anything yet though.

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  7. AthensHomerDawg

    Dooley’s career will likely follow the same course as Mike Shula…..5 years and done. I think Shula might be the better coach.

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