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.

The Best

1. Ohio State- Six Year Average S&P+ 4th in Nation: I'm interested in seeing what happens to their trend line from 2011 on...
2. Penn State- Six Year Average S&P+ 16th in NationThe 2010 team (42nd in S&P+) was only the second Penn State team in the last six years to finish outside the top 13 in S&P+ (2007 team was 27th in S&P+).  

The Very Good

3. Nebraska- Six Year Average S&P+: 29th in Nation: Initially, I was kind of surprised to see the Huskers up quite this high. You know, because of how much their fans complained about the whole Bill Callahan era. But then I remembered they have a similar record as Iowa over the past ten years or so. So, never mind. I'm not really surprised.
4. Iowa- Six Year Average S&P+ 30th: in Nation: Iowa's recipe for success? Consistently very good to great defenses, with a few very good offenses every couple years. I mean, 2007's offense was 105th in the country in S&P+. The defense was 23rd... God bless you, Norm.
5. Michigan- Six Year Average S&P+: 31st in Nation: The Wolverines' six year average shows them trending in the wrong direction. However, Rich Rod had Michigan's S&P+ going in the right direction every year since he took over (68th in 2008, 46th in 2009, 30th in 2010). His one big mistake? Hiring Greg Robinson.
6. Wisconsin- Six Year Average Average S&P+: 33rd in Nation: Remember back in 2008, when Badger fans were questioning if Bielema could win with his own recruits? Yeah, me too.
7. Michigan State- Six Year Average S&P+:  37th in Nation: Mark Dantonio has been very consistent at Michigan State: 2007 S&P+ 36th, 2008 S&P+ 31st, 2009 S&P+ 32nd, 2010 S&P+ 25th. He has them trending in the right direction.

The Still Above Average

8. Illinois- Six Year Average S&P+: 50th in Nation: The Zooker can be quite the punch line. But, water skiing photos and in-game adjustments aside, here are his last four seasons: 2007 S&P+ 19th, 2008 S&P+ 25th 2009 S&P+ 76th, 2010 S&P+ 31st. They were going in the wrong direction, but Zook hired new coordinators right in the nick of time.
9. Purdue- Six Year Average S&P+: 51st in Nation: Purdue has fluctuated slightly over the last six years. Their trend line can't decide whether to move up or down because they sprinkled a couple of good seasons in-between some mediocre ones. The trend line is going in the wrong direction, however, after finishing 80th in the nation in S&P+ last year.
10. Minnesota- Six Year Average S&P+: 58th in Nation: This is my favorite one, by far. Minnesota fired Glen Mason because he couldn't get them to that next level. So who did they hire to take them there? Why Tim Brewster, of course. And holy hell, did he take them to new levels. Miss you, Timmy.

The Not Very Good

11. Northwestern- Six Year Average S&P+: 63rd in Nation: In 2005 the Wildcats were the 25th best team in the nation, according to S&P+. Since then, they have been consistently bad, except in 2008. Of course, just as the Wildcats have frustrated our beloved Hawkeyes recently. So too, have they frustrated S&P+. Fucking smart people, man.

12. Indiana- Six Year Average S&P+: 78th in Nation: Indiana's trend line shows them trending in the right direction. Too bad that's just because they were going from number 92 in S&P+ in 2005, to four years in a row of finishing between 68th and 79th in the nation. Oh yeah, and then finishing 86th last year. Bill Lynch, you and your gum tossing antics will be missed.

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