Looking back and hoping to move forward

It’s December, a time of reflection if you’re a college football blogger.  Bill Connelly looks back on the hits and misses from his preseason projections here.  The basic data was the subject of an earlier post I linked to, but Bill’s commentary is worth an added note.

Georgia, as we saw in the first piece, went through one of college football’s biggest drops in advanced stats, but wasn’t alone in that department.  Bill looks for some similarities among the underperformers and finds this:

You can find some themes here, too. Six of these teams (BGSU, Baylor, Georgia, Syracuse, Rutgers, Georgia Southern) were led by first-year coaches, as were Illinois (off by 26 spots), Virginia (26), and Maryland (25). Sometimes even good coaches just don’t get all the pieces in the right places in the first 12 or so games.

Another commonality: Most of these teams have had great seasons recently. Bowling Green won 28 games from 2013-15 before losing Dino Babers to Syracuse. Oregon was in the national title game in 2014. Georgia won 50 games from 2011-15 but decided that wasn’t good enough and made a change. Baylor won 50 from 2011-15 but headed into 2016 with an interim coach after Art Briles’ swift downfall. Marshall won 33 from 2013-15. Sometimes your slope for regression to the mean is pretty stark, especially if you also have a first-year coach.

One more correlation worth mentioning: Eight of these 18 teams were among the top 25 in 2016 recruiting, and nine were among the top 28 in two-year recruiting. There is a strong correlation between good recruiting and good play, but it’s scattershot. It doesn’t affect each team the same in the short-term, and for all the predictive value recruiting can have (the top six teams in two-year recruiting are among the top 11 in S&P+, as are seven of the top nine in five-year recruiting), there will be misses.

That goes for all projection factors. Recent history wasn’t helpful in projecting Oregon’s or Georgia’s S&P+ rating…

Advanced stats have expectations, too.

The interesting part is where he looks for correlations among the overachievers.

What do these teams have in common? First of all, 12-of-13 are from Group of 5 conferences. Colorado is the only exception.

Second, seven of the 13 are led by coaches in either their second or third seasons in charge. Three others are in their fourth. Only Memphis (under Mike Norvell) was led by a first-year guy, and only ODU was led by a guy who’s been around at least six years.

If you’re going to take a leap, your second or third season is probably when you’re going to do it.

The experience stuff seems pretty obvious.  And when you think about it, the non-P5 stuff does, too.  Those aren’t typically your heavy hitting programs when it comes to recruiting and that’s going to show up in Bill’s preseason projections.

What does that say about Mike Bobo, whose CSU program finished the regular season with the greatest improvement in S&P+ ratings this season and who cut his teeth recruiting well in the SEC wars?  It says to me that if he keeps it up, he’ll wind up treading the Jim McElwain path to bigger and better times.

There’s hope in that experience factor for Kirby Smart, of course, and, while there’s no guarantee, it certainly doesn’t hurt that at this early point he appears to be even more skilled in hauling talent to Athens than Bobo was.  But there’s also Bill’s final word to consider.

Of the current S&P+ top 10, nine were projected in the top 11 at the start of the season, and the only outsider (Louisville) was projected 18th. The current six best have spent exactly one week outside of the top 11. There was, and will always be, chaos and turmoil in the middle, but the top of college football fell into place mostly according to plan.

In other words, to be the best you… uh, gotta be the best.  Maintaining at the top seems to be easier than the climb to get there, at least in 2016.  Grab your backpacks, peeps.

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73 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

73 responses to “Looking back and hoping to move forward

  1. Excellent post, Senator. Most of the time the advanced stats seem like a bunch of noise to me, but the idea of using them as a measuring stick of performance versus expectations seems to be a good data point. What is it going to take to get there?

    Better Jimmies and Joes – Kirby seems to be taking care of this
    Better player development – While the current roster has holes, you look at the offers most of these kids had in high school. They weren’t chicken —-. Most claimed many high D1 offers. The jury is very much out on this one.
    Better game preparation – This team looked asleep for every noon or earlier start we had this year. That’s on the coaches, period. I hate the new DawgWalk, both the timing (too early) and the suits (it’s a football game not a business meeting for crying out loud).
    Better game planning – I’ll admit I’ve been hypercritical of Chaney this year. He acts like he’s never coached a freshman QB before. Tucker and Smart’s defense has regressed over Pruitt. Some of that is NFL departures. If this one doesn’t get fixed one way or another, the Smart era will not end well.
    Some luck – This team needed a couple of breaks to win some close games. We didn’t get them. Hopefully, that’s a regression to the mean issue.

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    • Macallanlover

      Yep, those suits in the DawgWalk look silly. I don’t even understand the suits and ties sportscasters wear for football, golf, etc. With relaxed dress in business environments these days, it seems particularly silly. Now it can get out of control and become sloppy if not managed but polos with a CBS is a uniform as such….just no jerseys for the Florida guys, please!

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      • I liked the way the guys looked for the Dawg Walk under the previous regime (jerseys, matching Georgia polos, etc.). No, this isn’t meant to start a Smart vs. Richt debate.

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      • 92 grad

        This is funny to me because everyone I talk to looks at me like I just landed here from Pluto when I comment that the tv people wear all these fancy suits when they talk about football narratives. The people on tv and especially the NFL guys on Sunday look silly to me with all their 3 piece stylized fashion. I mean really, it’s football….

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    • Red Cup

      When you start complaining about the attire for Dawg Walk, it’s time to take a break. As long as it’s not the jersey/colors of opposing teams, who cares. You obviously need some real problems to worry about.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You think the team looked prepared for those noon starts at home? I didn’t and I think the changes to the DawgWalk is one of those reasons why.

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      • Macallanlover

        Actually, people taking issue with opinions about the change would appear to have the bigger issues. Express your opinion, or just ignore and move on. His comment was legit, I didn’t see him rank that as one of the ten most troubling things. There have been dozens of differences commented on in the past year, few seem life threatening but most come with an opinion and few are offended enough to act like an ass.

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  2. CB

    Hopefully Smart can continue to do better than passing on Cam Newton and DeShaun Watson and signing guys like Hutson Mason and Brice Ramsey.

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    • Atticus

      And Jacob Park…..

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    • That Stafford guy and Aaron Murray were real stiffs. Newton was never coming to Georgia, and no one really knew about him until he came out of JUCO because he sat behind Tebow. He was still a big gamble for Auburn in 2010.

      On Watson, I agree with you. If we had recruited Watson harder, he was a better version of DJ Shockley. Alas, that was at a time when we weren’t making offers to 9th graders. Dabo did and built a better relationship with him.

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      • CB

        Newton was never coming to Georgia bc we wanted him to play tight end. Stafford didn’t come into his own until about 2010 which is why we never won the east, and Aaron Murray put up great stats against such teams like Kentucky etc. not saying they sucked, but I’ve watched lesser talents have much better careers as far as winning goes (Tim Tebow, Colt McCoy, Colt Brennan, AJ McCarron, Connor Shaw to name a few)

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        • Aaron Murray put up great stats against such teams like Kentucky etc…

          Didn’t realize that 2013 schedule was so mediocre.

          I wish Kirby would just go ahead and hire Coach Hindsight. There would never be another whiff in recruiting.

          BTW, while you’re going on about missing on Cam, go ahead and add in that he wouldn’t have gotten in trouble in Athens and been expelled from the program.

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          • Senator, don’t let nasty things like facts get in the way. Murray against Clemson, USCe, and LSU was fantastic. His game against LSU in particular was the stuff of legends. It’s too bad his entire offense was decimated the next week in Knoxville. Even in that game, he put the entire team on his back and willed them to win.

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            • I forgot to mention Auburn in both 2010 and 2013. He played his freshman heart out against $Cam (do you think McG would have allowed him to play under the cloud of suspicion swirling that week?) in 2010. Murray’s performance against our thief in 2013 was one of the best performances I’ve ever seen in a losing effort.

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            • CB

              Turned the ball over in every single one of those games.

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              • Calidawg

                What in the love of pixelated fuck is your point? AM is a DGD and one of the best quarterbacks in UGA history. Even stubborn bastards like Spurrier said Murray was the best quarterback in the SEC during his time. Cherry-picking stats to rag on the kid does what exactly?

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          • CB

            It’s not that we missed on Cam, it’s that Bobo wanted a future Heisman winning NFL MVP QB to play tightend. As for Watson…

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            • Brandon

              Sorry I don’t normally toss around insults for differing opinions which are most certainly welcomed here but trying to argue that Murray wasn’t a good QB or some sort of liability is nothing short of idiocy… stop trolling and go write your letter to Santa or something.

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              • CB

                He was definitely good, but his greatest accomplishment was erasing Tim Tebow from the SEC record books. I could’ve used a little more personally. Grab some neosporin if that hurts your butt.

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                • Charles

                  Well, unfortunately for your sake, and for that of your butt, you aren’t entitled to more. Loser.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • CB

                    Loser? I’m not the one throwing all the picks in this discussion. Come on dude, don’t call names. Makes you seem small.

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                    • Charles

                      You’re not “throwing picks” because you’ll never have the chance. Loser.

                      The epitome of small is nitpicking one of the best collegiate quarterbacks in the history of Georgia football because he “turned the ball over,” whatever that means. Loser.

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                    • CB

                      You don’t know what a turnover is?😂 How was it nitpicking if a quarterback averages one per game? Sometimes word definitions are hard I guess.

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        • Stafford was in the pros in 2010. On your comparisons to Murray:
          Tebow – was surrounded by one of the best supporting casts and especially defenses you can imagine.
          McCoy – darn good college QB and played in a much easier neighborhood in the Big XII
          Brennan – that’s laughable. He was a product of the system and the schedule Hawaii played (did you watch the 2008 Sugar Bowl?)
          McCarron – another guy with an incredible supporting cast and Murray outplayed him in the 2012 SECCG
          Shaw – did he maximize his talent? Yes. He also sat at home while Murray’s team went to Atlanta twice.

          Teams miss on evaluations all the time (hell, someone in San Diego thought Ryan Leaf was worth a 2nd selection overall and Oakland thought Jamarcus Russell was an overall #1), but Stafford and Murray deserve a lot more thanks from the Bulldog Nation than they seem to get.

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          • Russ

            I’m just amazed at how Bama, Florida and all the other teams faked us out by recruiting Jacob Park and Brice Ramsey so hard. Man, they really pulled a fast one on us, even trying to flip them late in the game.

            Heard the announcers talking last night about Colorado State and how their offense had taken a quantum jump halfway through the season. They attributed to better QB play, and that made me wonder how much better Eason and the offense would have been this year with Bobo running it (I’m just talking OC – no comments on HC).

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            • Good comments, Russ. Park and Ramsey were both highly recruited. Park was South Carolina’s Mr. Football if I remember correctly (just like those stiffs A.J. Green and Jadeveon Clowney). Who knows what happened with Ramsey? You’re right that Saban guy tried to flip Ramsey.

              On Bobo, from 2007 forward, the guy showed he could coach offense and QBs. His departure wasn’t good for CMR’s job security.

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          • CB

            “Stafford was in the pros in 2010”

            That was my point.

            As I recall, Tebow didn’t have more offensive weapons around him than Stafford or Murray, and defense really doesn’t effect QB play.

            As for everyone else you are using two arguments that essentially off set each other. Either they had more talent around them than Murray or they had an easier schedule. What you aren’t realizing is that in every single case you can also use the opposite argument against Murray. Ie Colt Brennan had less talent around him than Murray, McCarron faced a much tougher schedule in the SEC West. At the end of be day all those guys were less talented than Murray and had more success.

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            • You actually think Colt Brennan was a better QB than Aaron Murray. That’s mind boggling to me.

              Defense does affect QB play. There’s this part of the game called field position. When you have a great defense and great special teams, you have more options available in the playbook. Tebow had that in addition to be an excellent player at his position. You do realize Corch wanted Murray to be Tebow’s successor after $Cam got kicked out at Florida?

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              • CB

                Brennan won more and had better stats against less talent, but also with less talent around him. What’s so hard about that? You can disagree, but if you don’t see the argument then your bias is giving you the old Stevie Wonder treatment.

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            • Charles

              You know, Zach, maybe if you had waited for that young lady to return your texts instead of following her into the ladies room, this whole discussion would be moot. Not sayin’, just sayin’.

              Enjoy the jambalaya!

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              • CB

                Well, I ended up starting more NFL games than your boy so it has worked out for me.

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                • Charles

                  So did Johnny Manziel. But, you knew that already.

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                  • CB

                    Well, that is a really bad argument because Johnny Manziel was 10 times better than Aaron Murray

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                    • Charles

                      And yet, Zach, he washed out. So, there’s not much of a correlation between “who’s better” and “who ended up starting more NFL games,” is there?

                      “Well, that is a really bad argument…” Well, to you it is seeing as you’re a loser AND a dumbass.

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                    • CB

                      Haha, you can’t be serious. Yes, there absolutely is a direct correlation between who’s better and who started more NFL games. Of the three Manziel is the best and he started more games. Try to keep up with yourself, your thought process is backfiring. 😂

                      Look, you’re the one who started the weird Met analogy. I get it, you were trying to be cute, and I give you credit for creativity, but at this point you’ve confused yourself and it’s getting a little pathetic.

                      I think Aaron Murray was a very good QB, and I’m glad he played for Georgia, but he just didn’t do enough for me in big match ups. I can back that up with stats, facts, and many examples. You might disagree and that’s fine, but if my point of view pisses you off that much then I would suggest that you take a cold shower, go to church, and reevaluate your life’s purpose.

                      I might be a loser and a dumbass, but at least I don’t have to resort to personal insults to cover the fact that my own line of reasoning is falling apart.

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        • PTC DAWG

          AM was never the problem…

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      • dawgman3000

        I find it interesting that for all the praise thrown out to Murray and Stafford, and rightfully so, Shockley was the last qb to win anything of significance. Where’s the praise for him?

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  3. Jim

    Just think of how awesome Bobo is going to do with all of Kirby’s recruits!!

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    • I’m not sure Mike Bobo would come back to Athens to work for the current AD. I hope he doesn’t get the chance because Kirby ends up being successful in spite of the AD.

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      • Jim

        Going to respectfully disagree with that. Bobo and his wife have so many ties to Georgia. South Georgia is among the most fertile recruiting territory in the country and Bobo has a long history and roots there. And the HC job would be a considerable jump in pay (like 3x). So I’m thinking he could overlook the fact he was underpaid as an OC

        I doubt we will ever know though – if Kirby flames out McG probably is out with him

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        • The amusing thing to consider in that scenario is if Bobo would want Smart as his DC.

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        • There would be plenty of reasons to come back to Georgia … don’t get me wrong. I agree if Kirby fails, the AD is likely out with him. I would just be very wary of stepping into the role if McG were still there.

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          • charlottedawg

            Bobo would have been and still is more qualified to replace Richt than Kirby. There i said it. Both guys are great recruiters but there is/ should be no doubt that Bobo was the architect behind his unit’s success and he had head coaching experience. Neither of which was true about Kirby when we hired him.

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            • I’ll say it too. If I could choose between Bobo and Smart right now, I would choose Bobo as UGA’s HC. I don’t hate CKS, I hope he does great. I just think in this day of high powered offense I would rather have CMB. Does anyone really think the O this year would look like it did with CMB as coach?

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              • Russ

                I’ll agree. I think it’s been shown that offensive coaches seems to have better results as a HC than defensive coaches. Of course there are exceptions, and I think Kirby is about as well prepared as any assistant could be. Regardless, we’re “all in” now, so I’m pulling for Kirby.

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            • I can’t disagree with either you or Gurkha. Of course, the heavy hitting donors would have never let Bobo come in to replace CMR.

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          • Cosmic Dawg

            I think ADMR will probably hire CMB in 2020 or so.

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      • Russ

        While it would be fun to see Bobo as HC, I also hope it never happens unless Kirby decided to retire at 50 after his 5th MNC.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. DawgPhan

    It’s almost like this team didnt meet even the most reasonable of expectations for the season. But I am guessing that is just part of the process.

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  5. 69Dawg

    What you people don’t want to see is Bobo back in the SEC playing us. The way Saban has the AD’s chasing their tails there is a real chance Bobo will be back before the jury is in on Kirby. How do you think Bobo would work out at say UT. I really don’t want to find out.

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    • HVL Dawg

      You are probably right. I’m sure Kirby has at least 4 years to stake his claim, so who is hiring in the next 2-3 years?
      LSU- no
      Alabama- ain’t gonna hire Bobo.
      eUSC will give Muschamp 7-8 years to do his thing.

      Tennessee and Kentucky are likely. aTm will have a new coach but it won’t be Bobo. I don’t consider Ark, the Mississippis, Mizzou to be part of Bobo’s SEC. Auburn is a possibility (God help us). Florida- maybe, but probably not. Vanderbilt- Bobo wouldn’t take it.

      So, here it is. If Bobo returns to the SEC in the next 4 years it would be (in order of likelihood) to:
      Auburn,
      Tennessee
      Kentucky
      Florida

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  6. AusDawg85

    I’m not a stats guy…how does Bill’s S&P ratings take into account throwaway seasons?

    BTW, shouldn’t “throwaway season” make the lexicon? I guess the challenge is in its definition…is it something declared secretly before the season begins or loudly after a losing season?

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