Pythagoras ain’t played Alabama, PAWWWLLL.

If you’re one of those folks who’ve been consoling themselves with the thought that Georgia was this close to being 10-2 in the just concluded regular season, you’re probably not going to be comforted by this Team Speed Kills post on Pythagorean expectation for the SEC in 2017.

PE, in case you’re wondering, “measures total points scored and points allowed multiplied by the number of games played to get a projected win total (Pythagorean wins)”.  It took the bowl game to accomplish it, but Georgia barely finished in the black in net scoring in 2016, and based on that should have finished just shy of seven wins.

Now, the post’s author goes on to define the spread between Pythagorean and actual wins as “luck”, but I think it’s a little more nuanced than that in some cases.  Good coaches can steal a win here and there; bad coaches can snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory.  (I’ll leave it to you to decide where the credit lies for Georgia +1.3 win spread.)

As 2016 is in the barn, what’s of interest is what PE says for next season.  As you can probably guess, our old friend regression to the mean is in play.

In short, winning more games than your Pythagorean Expectation tends to mean a team will decline the following season, while falling short of expectations tends to mean a team will improve…

… Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, and Tennessee may all take a step back next season, and it would likely come at the hands of resurging Vandy and Missouri teams.

Yeah, well, let’s slow down and unpack this a bit for a sec.  First, play the caveat.

Pythagorean projection is just one tool for projection. It doesn’t encompasses an unlucky streak of injuries or turnover margin, or account for early departures and new coaching hires, but it’s historically been a more significant way to base future assumptions beyond simple wins and losses.

Urp.  Georgia didn’t suffer an unlikely streak of injuries last season.  The Dawgs finished +8 in turnover margin, tops in the SEC (with one game left for Alabama).   Both of those would feed into an unfavorable regression story for next season.

On the other hand, we know the story about early departures and it’s very favorable.  Georgia has already taken its lumps on the new coaching hires front, and as we saw in this Bill Connelly post, second year coaching time is usually the right time.  So those factors would seem to cut against regression to the mean.

Also working in Georgia’s favor next season is yet another fairly soft schedule.  Maybe things will change — they often do — but from this early vantage point, it doesn’t appear to be loaded with an abundance of ranked opponents.

The wild card, of course, is the relative talent levels of teams in the SEC East.  Georgia, as I’ve already mentioned, has that quartet of returning juniors that’s unmatched by any other team in the division.  Tennessee, in fact, is losing some monster talent early to the NFL draft, and there are other SEC East schools, like Florida and Missouri, also losing contributors.  The other part of this is where the 2017 recruiting class wind up in a month.

Obviously, a lot can happen in a month, but right now…

… the Dawgs are lapping the divisional field.  And, no, even if things held as they project, not every one of those studs would play next season, but you’d have to think Georgia’s odds of finding significant contributors in the next freshman class are better than any other East program’s, simply based on sheer numbers.

Honestly, you can say we’re looking at a half empty/half full glass for 2017, and I get your point.  I still think the two biggest factors for Georgia stepping up are Jacob Eason and Kirby Smart mastering their learning curves and nobody can say for sure how that goes.  But it’s not hard to argue that the program will be facing something of an uphill struggle against regression to the mean; it’ll be up to Smart to come up with enough improvement in other areas to overcome that.

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67 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, SEC Football, Stats Geek!

67 responses to “Pythagoras ain’t played Alabama, PAWWWLLL.

  1. FarmerDawg

    Right now UGA football is Schrodinger’s cat and we can’t open the box until we are well into next season.

    Like

  2. The other Doug

    “I still think the two biggest factors for Georgia stepping up are Jacob Eason and Kirby Smart mastering their learning curves …”

    Interesting. To me it’s the OL and whether 2017 is a throw away season. Eason looks good enough when he isn’t under center and I believe Kirby has learned a few things during his freshman season. Don’t get me wrong though, I agree that Eason and Smart need to take a step forward.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. CPark58

    Its going to be a long off-season.

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  4. Aladawg

    With the supposed talent level(we never really know til they hit the field) of the incoming class, the returnees and the very soft schedule anything short of the east title AND a competitive championship game will be a major shortcoming and it will be on the head coach. We made a change to get championships and we damn well better get there in 2017.

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    • We might win the East in 2017. It would take a minor miracle to win the conference. We would need some chaos on the other side to avoid Bama/LSU.

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    • Russ

      I agree that we need to make a strong run at the East, meaning somebody better beat us for it, rather than we gack it up. I’ll worry about the SECCG performance in 2018.

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  5. so what we’re getting here is if we stay as healthy next year as we did this and we we lead the league in turn over margin again talent and experience will probably make us better BUT we probably will regress to the mean in health/injuries and turn overs so we’re 10-3 if we’re lucky and could have another throw away season. Why the F*** did we make this change again?

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    • jrod1229

      Because CMR was never going to lead us to the promised land. Period.

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      • MLB2

        Never? Can you please give me lottery numbers for this weekend?

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        • He would have had to make history to do it.

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          • simpl_matter

            Richt got 15 years. Dooley’s record in his 15th year was 6-5. What history do you speak of?

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            • Richt had gone 10 years w/o winning the SEC. tThe rest of the league had caught up/passed him. To go 11+ years between conference titles would have been bucking a huge historical trend: once you window closes, it closes for good.

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              • simpl_matter

                Bowden went 16 years at FSU before winning the title. The huge historical trend is schools getting antsy and firing coaches well before that. Richt was one play away from the title in 2012, but it’s whatever. I just think you’re citing history in a very casual fashion. Most coaches don’t last 6 years at the same school, that’s history I’ll agree with you on.

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                • To win a NC, presumably Richt was going to have to win the SEC (no one benefits from Bama privilege in the SEC except Bama). To win the SEC, Richt was going to have to buck history.

                  You can think that a throwaway point of view or that it doesn’t mean anything. My point is simply that Richt’s next SEC title at UGA would have been historical given the gap in time between them.

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    • Because we weren’t getting any better than we had already seen. Whether we made the right hire is inconclusive and debatable. IMO however, there was no question that it was time for a change.

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      • PTC DAWG

        Anyone happy with our last 10 years doesn’t deserve a chance to see us get better. Miami needs fans too.

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        • /fart noise

          I had lots of happy moments watching Georgia football the last 10 seasons as well as some not so happy moments watching Georgia football the last 10 seasons. Doesn’t mean making a change was wrong, but it also doesn’t mean I wasted 10 years of my life either.

          If the only way you enjoy your team is seeing them win a championship, Alabama’s got room for fans as well. I’m so sick of this bullshit that those of us that weren’t apoplectic over the last 10 years somehow aren’t Georgia fans.

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        • I have no idea if Kirby will be better long term or not. All I’ve wanted is for the program to take advantage of the considerable resources at its disposal.

          We’ve finally got the IPF. Kirby beat increased spending out of BM during negotiations. He has made and is locking down the state in recruiting.

          The on-field product isn’t what anyone wanted in 2016, but I’m still optimistic going forward (if for no other reason than that the structural, operational improvements Kirby was able to negotiate are going to hard to ever roll back). If we can build the correct support and infrastructure, then I believe we can get the right coach, whether it’s Kirby or not.

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          • If we can build the correct support and infrastructure, then I believe we can get the right coach, whether it’s Kirby or not.

            I’m with you there. The only silver lining if Kirby isn’t successful is that it means McGarity and the last vestiges of the Georgia Way go as well and the next coach will have the resources at hand to make hay.

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            • McG or not, there is no debate that these things are trending upward like never before at UGA. As mentioned, we finally got an IPF. Recruiting in terms of both spending and results is at an all time high.

              The next thing will be a locker room improvement in Sanford. These things are going to pay dividends, it’s just a matter of how long it takes. I’d say to look at Clemson as a model. After they canned Bowden, they spent several years modernizing their facilities, support staff, etc.

              I have some concerns about Kirby, to be sure. I also expected this year to be much, much rougher than almost any other UGA fan I know.

              The results will flush out whether they hire the right guy or not over the next few years, but the foundation that Kirby beat out of them during his negotiations (which supposedly were sticking points back in 2010), is what I’m most excited about.

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              • PTC DAWG

                I think we all have concerns about CKS….that’s very reasonable. You make great points here about all the things that have changed since his hire. Hopefully, things are headed in the right direction. One thing I am sure of, if it doesn’t work out, it will not because of a lack of recruiting great talent..at all positions..OL included.

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                • Olddawg 55

                  I would just like to see CKS act like a HC on the sidelines rather than an excitable position coach…let the DC coach on the sidelines..the HC can get his points across in game planning and not take control during the game and add to the confusion. CKS has to grow up as a HC and get under control for the big decisions…not every decision!!

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                  • Macallanlover

                    Yes, that is pretty bad. You could understand if he were in his twenties, or his previous coach had been Sgt. Carter but show some emotion but please, no cartwheels and pompoms. And telling the players to call him Kirby isn’t what you want either. Neither of these two actions were a part of the process.

                    Kirby is a great recruiter, but we don’t need a Mr. February like Texas had. This class could be a big step to improvement but we have to capitalize. Saban didn’t do this with 1-2 classes. Get the details right and raise the bar, the schedule is soft enough that Atlanta in 2018 should be the least he accepts.

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          • Sanford222view

            You may want to ease off the “Kirby has locked down the borders” meme. He has will in the 2017 class but 2018 isn’t looking good on that front at this point. Five to the Top 10 in GA have already committed elsewhere. Granted that could change but it still doesn’t look good. One of those five committed elsewhere is even from Bainbridge.

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            • This is all relative. There is no question that 2017 is the best we’ve done in state in many, many years. 2018 is a long way out, to your point. We’ll see this time next year what it looks like.

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    • PTC DAWG

      Good grief.

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  6. 81Dog

    If we are depending on resurgent Missouri and Vandy programs to regress UGA to the Pythagorean mean, I have to say I like our chances. However, I hated geometry, so I could be wrong.

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    • It’s certainly a stretch to include Vandy, but there’s a little voice in the back of my head whispering not to take Mizzou lightly next season. The Tigers may have the only offense in the SEC East with a pulse.

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      • zdawg15

        Glad the game is in Athens

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        • Our AD will make sure the game is at noon, so we can save a few bucks on post-game clean-up of campus. As a result, we’ll sleepwalk into the game (both team & fans) and have to fight like mad to beat them.

          If you’re in charge of Georgia athletic scheduling, you beg for the noon slot on the SEC Network. It’s what you do.

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      • Russ

        I agree about Mizzou’s offense, but I don’t think they’ll have a defense.

        And that’s the frustrating thing about coaching changes – Mizzou changes and their offense picks up immediately, same at Florida. We change OCs twice and the performance has been terrible both times, despite better offensive talent.

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      • PTC DAWG

        I’ll believe Mizzou is back when I see it.

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  7. Scorpio Jones, III

    So lemme see now…if the quarterback learns to see Sony waving his arms and….Kirby learns something, we should get 10 wins?

    I hope, somewhere in the known world, there is a punter who can average more than like 30 yards a punt for the season, which might make some difference.

    I hope what Kirby has learned, among other things, is that if you got a punter who averages something like 46 yards per punt net dead, you proly don’t lose to fucking Vandy, and maybe not Tennessee.

    But, of course, what the fuck do I know? Right?

    What I hope is that Kirby and Eason know more than I do. And we find a damn SEC caliber punter. And we don’t hurt Pinky’s feelings any more than we have.

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    • I hope what Kirby has learned, among other things, is that if you got a punter who averages something like 46 yards per punt net dead, you proly don’t lose to fucking Vandy, and maybe not Tennessee.

      No team in the country averaged 46 yards per punt net this season.

      Whatever else Kirby’s learned this season, I hope it includes not taking advice from blog comment threads.

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      • 81Dog

        Come on, Senator. You know advice like “Quit letting other teams score,” “quit turning the ball over,” and my personal favorite “convert more third downs into first downs” is GOLD. You can’t get quality advice like that just anyplace. KS would be wise to take heed.

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      • Scorpio Jones, III

        Ok…I revise. 41 yards per punt net, over the course of a season. 46 would obviously be better, but that would also probably mean the punter was kicking from our side of the middle more often, which even Kirby knows is proly not a good thing.

        But of course I am only a blog commenter who also notices Georgia is not in the listed 50 teams.

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      • Scorpio Jones, III

        “And we find a damn SEC caliber punter.” Read much?

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      • PTC DAWG

        Well played..

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  8. Got Cowdog

    Schrodinger’s cat. Occam’s Razor. Pythagorean expectations. Maggie’s drawers I say. My pigeon entrails and cat bones say that with experience, practice, and an improved O Line Georgia could contend for the SEC east, and possibly the SEC next season!
    Skorp, what say the Karma Bitchez?

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    • Scorpio Jones, III

      The Bitchez don’t meet again till Tuesday morning. They hadda call off the bowl meeting cause they could not stop laughing at Georgia’s net punt average.

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  9. Snoop Dawgy Dawg

    Entering summer camp, from the last 3 classes, UGA will have a roughly 46 players who were 4 and 5 starts, on top of the juniors who returned. That is one heck of a talent base to go out and win some games.

    Kirby better win the East next year. It ain’t ever going to be easier. We may not have the hosses at offensive line, but I’ve seen teams over the years win a heck of a lot of games, masking their weaknesses at offensive line, buoyed by a stout defense and all world running backs.

    Kirby has zero excuses in my book to not win the east next year.

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    • Normaltown Mike

      what gives me a sickish feeling is that it seems our coaches don’t want to mask our weaknesses at OL.

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      • You could be right. Or maybe trying to mask OL while also breaking in a true freshman QB was just too much. Idk. I suppose it will come out in the was over the next couple of years.

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        • Snoop Dawgy Dawg

          I think there was a whole lot more of the “imposing the will of Chaney and Kirby on the team” than the team’s inability to do anything other than what we saw this season.

          the offensive gameplan for UTk and 2nd half TCU were lightyears more efficient and effective than much of the rest of the season. they also were very different, at least to my untrained eye. If Kirby’s “process” doesn’t involve adjusting what you’re gameplan to maximize the skillset of your team, then his “process” won’t be long for athens.

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          • Brandon

            Why was it “lightyears more efficient and effective” because the running plays we called actually worked? Our offense only clicked against teams we could run the ball on. Shut our run game down… our offense folded. There wasn’t any “magical adjustment” in the games or halves you speak of. We were just able to execute our running plays. Its really that simple.

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            • Snoop Dawgy Dawg

              I’m no football savant, but even I could see a difference in style in UTk and 2nd half TCU versus most of the rest of the season.

              two major difference. More no huddle with sideline checks. Also, more spread formations with run plays running to space(not holes, space) versus attacking the 4 yards between the two guards.

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              • Will (The Other One)

                Yeah, it was a lot more of this to my eyes (also the Mizzou game, where Chaney largely gave up on the run, went to Eason in the shotgun, and salvaged a win.) But it’s made him so much more maddening than Schotty — because he has made adjustments that work, but then abandons them a game later. Where was running out of the pistol that worked so well vs TCU vs Tech? Why did none of the shotgun runs or late-huddle break stuff from the UT game seem to make it to the UF gameplan?

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    • PTC DAWG

      Sounds fair enough to me..barring going 11-1 and not winning it…I could probably live with that…probably play OSU in the Semis. 🙂

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      • Snoop Dawgy Dawg

        hah. Winning the east =/= 11-1 and making the semis.

        We will have the talent and depth to win the east. realistically, 10-2 ought to be the expectation. We should beat tech. Notre Dame isn’t any good. App State. UK, USC, Mizzou, Vandy, UK, Directional St. Miss St. Those should all be wins.

        UT, UF, AU are the only games we have any business losing, and tell me which 2 of those 3 is going to have more talent on campus than UGA next year?

        If Kirby is the coach I and all of us hope he is, wins the east next year.

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  10. drakew

    35 seconds away from 9 wins (Tenn Hail Mary and GT). 99% chance of winning both. We’ll always have that.

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  11. doofusdawg

    Defense brings back at least 10 of 11. Offense adds depth at wide receiver and hopefully at least three new starters on o line. Fromm provides a real option at quarterback if we want to implement some zone reads and bootlegs. If we can actually field a punt and prevent thirty yard rolls then that should solve field position woes.

    We could go 12-0 or 7-5. Only thing for sure is that next season at least one coach is coaching for his job.

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    • Sanford222view

      Fromm isn’t really much of a running threat is he? I know he ran more his last season than he had previously but he still only had like 300 yards on the season didn’t he?

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    • W Cobb Dawg

      “Defense brings back at least 10 of 11.”

      That, and the recruits coming in, are the things that gives me hope for 2017.

      I have zero confidence in Chaney, Pittman and Beamer. Thirteen games in 2016 is proof aplenty they don’t belong. I honestly don’t understand how people can expect these assistants to improve. I’ve checked their bio’s. There’s essentially nothing in their respective histories to support that argument.

      Kirby’s got a top school, an relatively easy schedule, with returning talent, and top recruits coming in. Good assistant coaches should be salivating for a chance to coach here. Need to strike while the iron is hot. At least get a real QB coach, and fill that available ST quality control position with somebody who knows WTF he’s doing. Bump Chaney to support staff, like BVG.

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  12. Aladawg

    Anyone happy with THIS year needs to gack it up themselves. Throwaway seasons are not on my wish list. I’m too close to the grave to be patient. Think of poor old Mike Woods going to his grave after a “throwaway” season!

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  13. sniffer

    I still think the two biggest factors for Georgia stepping up are Jacob Eason and Kirby Smart mastering their learning curves and nobody can say for sure how that goes.

    I am remembering ’06 and my conviction that Stafford was about to become an elite qb. The freshman seasons of Stafford and Eason are similar in ways, but I don’t have the same conviction about Eason entering his sophomore year as I had with Stafford. Am I missing something? Was Stafford’s Oline and receivers better?

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  14. Ed Kilgore

    If I’m not mistaken, the whole Pythagorean Expectation thing was first promulgated by Bill James as MLB analysis (with runs scored and allowed being the variables). It seems more plausible there since there are usually only incremental roster changes in that sport. In CFB, graduation and retention of talent is arguably more important than “regression to mean” factors, and there UGA ought to be stronger than any team in the conference. Obviously getting the improvement from returning players you might expect is not automatic, and there is an OL problem that won’t likely be fixed soon that could screw up everything else on offense (and hurt the D too via time on the field). But factoring in the combo of a large number of returning contributors and a very good (we hope!) 2017 recruiting class only makes sense.

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