Monday, July 18, 2011

A Snapshot of the Big Ten from 2005-2010

As it turns out, I've been really busy lately. You know with life and all that kind of stuff. I've actually had this piece sitting around for a couple of days, but have been too busy to proofread and publish it. I'm probably going to continue being busy for a while, so the posting will be even more sporadic here than it already is during the offseason. As a result, this isn't one of my usual long-winded posts. Instead, you get a chart and a list. Fun for everyone!

Anyway, I decided to look at every B1G team's S&P+ over the last six years. Why? Well, because S&P+ data only goes back that far. I got the numbers from the Football Outsiders database, which you can find here (For those of you that aren't familiar with S&P+, read their definitions at the top of the link). Remember, these are where a team ranks nationally (out of 120), according to S&P+. So, the lower the number, the better.

I added Nebraska in here, even though they haven't played in the B1G yet. S&P+ adjusts for strength of schedule, so every team is comparable. They are the black line on the chart, because Wisconsin and them are kind of hard to tell apart color scheme wise. You can think of it as black for the Blackshirts (You're welcome, Husker fans. I won't be this nice come football season).

For the chart, I used a rolling average for each team that took into account each of the years previous. I did this for a couple of reasons: 1) To try to pick up on trends that give us a visual snapshot of each football program over the last six years. 2) To smooth out the team lines, and make the chart look a lot less jumbled.
Below, you will find each team's six year average in order from best to worst, along with some quick commentary.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

A Quick Post on 2010's Fourth Quarter Collapses

I think we all remember what happened just before this... (Nam Y. Huh | AP)
Last Friday, Bill Connelly, of Football Study Hall, released two Google spreadsheets full of special rankings on every team in college football. Naturally, I was giddy as a damn school girl to have this data at my disposal. And once I opened up these spreadsheets, what was the first thing I wanted to look at? Why Iowa's S&P+ rankings by quarter, of course.

For those of you not familiar with the stats used at Football Study Hall, they come from Football Outsiders. Basically, it's like Sabermetrics (if you're a baseball fan), but for football. S&P+ is basically a combination ranking of two of their stats. The first stat is Success Rate, which basically measures how good a team is at moving the ball on offense or stopping the opposing team from moving the ball on defense. The second stat is Equivalent Points Per Play, which measures how explosive an offense is or how good a defense is at not allowing big plays. These two stats get added together like on-base percentage and slugging percentage do in baseball (OPS) to create S&P+. (To get full definitions of these stats check out this link)

Anyway, why did I look at Iowa's S&P+ by quarter for 2010? Because I wanted to see what the hell happened during Iowa's famous fourth quarter collapses last year. Let's find out.

To the graphs!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Trip Down Memory Lane: Remembering the Dominance of Evy, the Coach

Lately, I've found myself over at Sports Reference's college football site quite a bit, looking at Iowa's past results throughout history. After going back through the Ferentz and Fry years, I found myself gravitating to the late 1950's (you know, since the 60's and 70's were such a clusterfuck) and the fantastic Iowa teams led by none other than Forest Evashevski.

Evy, as most people called him, had an interesting career at Iowa. He coached a total of nine years for the Hawkeyes. The last five of which, are some of the greatest football Iowa has ever played. In the late 1950's, Evy (known for his stubborn ways) and Iowa's Athletic Director Paul Brechler had a public feud. Brechler left that year to be the commissioner of the Skyline Conference, and Evy tried to lead the Hawkeyes to more glory from above in 1961. As most Hawkeye fans know, however, Evy was a better coach than he was an AD. After he left the coaching seat, Iowa went into a tailspin that would take decades to correct.

So, to review very briefly: 1) Evy was not the most pleasant man in the world. 2) He was a terrible Athletic Director. But, this post isn't about either of those. Instead, this post is about his nine year career as the head coach of the Iowa Hawkeyes, and just how damn good he was at his job.

Let's start off by looking at the stat that coaches are most judged by. Wins.

It's pretty clear that it took Evashevski a couple years to build the program up. The first four years saw mediocre results, at best. Over the final five years, though, he made Iowa a powerhouse. Since the schedule was shorter back then, compared to how many games teams play now a days. Let's look at win percentage.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

A Trip Down Memory Lane: The Most Disappointing Season Ever? 1997

One of the few pictures I could find of the 1997 season. And it doesn't go with this post at all!
Maybe the title is a little harsh. Maybe I should change it to the most underachieving season in the last 32 years, considering I only did the math going back to 1979. But, holy shit was this a spirit breaking season. Luckily for me, I was only 10 years old when this season happened, so I wasn't really aware of how much this team underachieved. My memories of this season were watching Tavian Banks and Tim Dwight make opposing players look stupid. Being that I was too young to understand how good that 1997 Iowa team should have been, 2010 was my most heartbreaking season. Throughout last year's collapse though, people kept comparing the 2010 team to the 1997 team. I didn't really think much of it at the time. Like I said, I had good memories of that team, and I figured that people were just making more of that team because they had two once-in-a-lifetime playmakers.

Then Black Heart Gold Pants came out with a post, talking about using points scored and points allowed to calculate a team's expected winning percentage. Football's Pythagorean Theorem, if you will. Naturally, being the Hawkeye nerd that I am, I decided to calculate Iowa's Pythagorean win percentage for every year all the way through 1979. Season by season, I entered points scored and points allowed into an Excel spread sheet and came up with an expected win percentage.

Naturally, the 2010 team really underperformed. They were expected to win about 2 more games than they actually did. However, their difference of 2.13 more expected wins than actual wins, was not the worst. Not even in the Ferentz era. The 2008 season 2.46 was slightly worse (as BHGP pointed out here). When you add Fry's twenty year career into the equation, 2010 was the fifth most underachieving team as predicted by the Pythagorean Theorem. So what season was number one, you might ask? And by a very large margin? Why, 1997 of course.

Let's look at the Top Five Most Underachieving Iowa Teams since 1979 through the eyes of football's Pythagorean Theorem: