Daily Archives: April 2, 2017

Is football bad for basketball?

If you’re a mid-major program, Matt Melton makes an argument that it sure is.

Why have mid-major teams been squeezed out of the tournament over the past few seasons? You can blame football, and more specifically conference expansion. It began with a small ripple in the middle of the aughts when the ACC grabbed Boston College, Miami, and Virginia Tech from the Big East. The Big East responded by raiding Conference USA, Conference USA took some teams from the WAC and the MAC, the WAC stole some teams from the Sun Belt, and the MAC and Sun Belt pretty much stood pat. This is an abbreviated retelling, but that’s most of the important stuff. Aside from a few teams joining FBS, things were quiet for about five seasons, but then there was a seismic shift.

Beginning with the 2011 season, the Big 10, Pac-10, and SEC brought the Big 12 to the brink of extinction. The Big 10 added Nebraska, the Pac-10 added Colorado and also called up Utah from the Mountain West to get to twelve teams, and the SEC poached Missouri and Texas A&M. To survive, the Big 12 added West Virginia from the Big East and called up TCU from the Mountain West. Elsewhere in the major conference landscape, the Big 10 eventually added Maryland from the ACC and Rutgers from the Big East, while the ACC further depleted the Big East by adding Louisville, Pittsburgh, and Syracuse. The Big East again bolstered their membership by grabbing school further down the food chain from Conference USA. The Big East eventually ceased to exist after the 2012 season, but was rechristened as the American Athletic Conference. Conference USA again seized teams from the Sun Belt, the Sun Belt acquired teams from the WAC, as did the Mountain West who also lost BYU to independence. With no pipeline to replenish their lost members, the WAC went extinct and exists solely as a basketball conference now.

While these changes were driven by football, they also had and continue to have a profound impact on college basketball. When football teams change conferences, the basketball programs often move as well. While college football only has ten conferences (formerly eleven when expansion began) at the FBS level, college basketball has 32 leagues in its ecosystem. Changes at the top trickle down to the mid and low-major conferences. For some teams, this has been beneficial as they have been called up or graduated to major conferences and seen their profile expand. However, one needn’t ask Kirk Cameron what life is like for those left behind.

When programs graduate to better leagues, it makes it even harder for the remaining mid-majors to garner at large bids.

Eat or be eaten.

I suspect we’ll look back in another decade or two and realize we severely underestimated the effect of conference realignment as it went through.


Filed under College Football, It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major

Wrinkles on top of wrinkles

In light of Friday’s quickie post about tight end teasing, this Ian Boyd piece on the role of tight ends in the evolution of what he calls college’s pro-style spread is definitely worth a read.

It would be nice to hit a spot where Georgia’s offense can use twin-tight end sets not to provide extra grunt on runs up the middle against a stacked defense but as a legitimate threat in the passing game.  There’s no reason Chaney shouldn’t be able to deploy Blazevich and Nauta the way Michigan used Jake Butt.  Well, except for the o-line needing to step up its blocking game…


Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Forget it, Jake. It’s the offensive line.

Phil Steele will be the first to tell you that returning starts on the offensive line is a big deal.

There’s always an exception to every such rule, though.  Let Patrick Garbin explain.

Next, I wanted to see if there was a correlation between a Bulldogs squad’s offensive line starts entering a season and its winning percentage at the end of the campaign. Therefore, I used the trusty correlation coefficient measurement. A few times before, I’ve used/explained this quantity, ranging from -1 to +1, like how there is a strong relationship between Rivals’ team recruiting rankings and how a team performs in terms of their final placement in the AP Poll, a moderate relationship between Georgia’s time of possession and winning percentage, and a near-strong relationship between the average Rivals rating of Georgia’s starters from 2008 through 2015 and the winning percentage of each respective team.

Yet, as far as offensive line career starts and winning percentage, there’s no positive relationship at all. In fact, there’s a moderate negative relationship of -0.318. For instance, take a look at the table above. Georgia’s top four seasons of career offensive line starts returning yielded an average record of just 8 wins and 5 losses, whereas the bottom four remarkably wound up with an average record of 11 wins and 2.5 losses.

So, as far as a good indicator over the last 27 years in terms of how a Georgia team will perform, “a returning offensive line” has not necessarily equated to wins for the Bulldogs. In fact, if anything, the opposite has been the case.

Gee, why am I not surprised?

The more interesting question is how Georgia has managed to buck Steele’s trend.  Bad line coaching?  Good enough offensive scheming to offset substandard line play?  Knowshon Moreno, Todd Gurley and Nick Chubb?

Honestly, I have no idea.  I just hope they’re not wasting their time with Coach Pittman and a great recruiting class.


Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!