Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Quest: Coaches

As my quest continues to find a new favorite college football team, here's a brief recap of what I've covered already:

Today I'm going to delve into one of the most important aspects of the college game: coaching. In the college football atmosphere where players can change from year-to-year with transfers, graduations, and early departures for the NFL draft, a coach is the one stable constant factor that you can hang your hat on as a fan. Of course, most of the schools in my final 34 have coaches who have been at the school for less than 7 years. But the experience factor also counts for something, with 15 of the 34 having over 10 years of being a head coach at the D-1 level. Much like the NCAA Football video games, I have broken coaching out between two categories: Coaching Experience and Coaching Prestige. 

Coaching Experience
Level of Interest: Average

Given that the bandwagon I'm jumping off of just fired the winningest coach in NCAA Football history who had over 40 years of experience, I know I am going to have to tone back my expectations in a coach. To be honest, I don't need a team with a coach that has a ton of years, but I want to see success.

In calculating the Coaching Experience ratings, I considered 3 factors: Total Years as a Division 1 Head Coach, Overall Winning Percentage as a D-1 Head Coach, Bowls Made During Coaching Career. To properly scale these components into a formula to yield a 1-10 score, I did the following calculations:
  • Years as Head Coach divided by 2. This yielded results anywhere from 0 (Penn St, UCLA) to 12.5 (Virginia Tech). I considered 12.5 to be close enough to 10 not to scale these results any further. Plus, Frank Beamer's experience is impressive and should be properly rewarded.
  • Winning Percentage multiplied by 10 to give a number between 0 and 10.
  • Bowls Per Season (Number of Bowls made divided by Years as Head Coach) multiplied by 10 to give a number between 0 and 10.

Virginia Tech (Frank Beamer - 25 years), South Carolina (Steve Spurrier - 22 years), Kansas State (Bill Snyder - 20 years), Texas Tech (Tommy Tuberville - 17 years), and Alabama (Nick Saban - 16 years) were the top scorers in the Years As Head Coach category. 

In the Overall Record category, Boise St (Chris Peterson - 92.4%), Oregon (Chip Kelly - 85%), Stanford (David Shaw - 84.6%), Ohio St (Urban Meyer - 81.9%), and TCU (Gary Patterson - 78.6%) were the winningest coaches. 

Finally, there were 8 coaches who had been to a bowl every year of their coaching career: Frank Spaziani (Boston College), Dabo Swinney (Clemson), Larry Fedora (UNC), Brett Bielema (Wisconsin), Gary Patterson (TCU), Chris Peterson (Boise St), Chip Kelly (Oregon), and David Shaw (Stanford). Yes, I do know that Shaw has only been at Stanford 1 year, but that factor was addressed in the "Years as Head Coach" component so I'm not too worried about the offset in the Bowl Appearances component.

These three factors were then averaged to give the final score for Coaching Experience. The top scorers in Coaching Experience were:

1t. Virginia Tech (Frank Beamer) - 8.8
1t. South Carolina (Steve Spurrier) - 8.8
3. TCU (Gary Patterson) - 7.8
4. Kansas St (Bill Snyder) - 7.7
5. Alabama (Nick Saban) - 7.6
6. Boise St (Chris Peterson) - 7.4
7. Georgia (Mark Richt) - 7.3
8. Ohio St (Urban Meyer) - 7.1
9. LSU (Les Miles) - 7.0
10t. Texas Tech (Tommy Tuberville) - 6.9
10t. Wisconsin (Brett Bielema) - 6.9
10t. Washington St (Mike Leach) - 6.9

As a final note, you may be surprised to see Washington St appear in the Top 10 here, but it's important to remember they just hired Mike Leach who had a run of successful seasons at Texas Tech, so while Leach has yet to coach the Cougars, his experience still counts positively for the program.

Coach Prestige
Level of Interest: High

A coach's Prestige can be a difficult thing to measure. The metric to be used needs to take into account all of the accomplishments a coach has achieved, both at their current school and throughout their career. Coaching loyalty is another important factor in Coaching Prestige, as I don't want to cheer for a school whose coach is going to jump ship on them at the first sign of a job in Arizona. What a coach has done at their current school is important to me, along with the number of championships (either Conference or National) the coach has won. With that in mind, here is how I devised the Coaching Prestige Rankings.

Since a coach's entire career plays into their prestige, I included the 3 components (Years as Head Coach, Overall Record, Bowls per Season) that were used to determine Coach Experience in the Coach Prestige calculation as well. In addition to these 3, I added 5 more factors to the calculation: Coaching Loyalty, Record at Current School, Conference Championships Won, National Championships Won, Bowl Winning Percentage.

Coaching Loyalty was determined by the percentage of a coach's career they had spent at their current school. I know I could have included more data here, but I did enough data gathering so I went easy on this calculation. The percentage was multiplied by 10 to get a 0-10 number. Frank Spaziani (Boston College), Dabo Swinney (Clemson), Mike London (Virginia), Frank Beamer (Virginia Tech), Kirk Ferentz (Iowa), Brett Bielema (Wisconsin), Bill Snyder (Kansas St), Mike Gundy (Oklahoma St), Gary Patterson (TCU), Ken Niumatlolo (Navy), Chris Peterson (Boise St), Jon Embree (Colorado), Chip Kelly (Oregon), David Shaw (Stanford), Steve Sarkisian (Washington), and Mark Richt (Georgia) have all spent their entire head coaching career at the same institution. 

Record at Current School simply took the coach's winning percentage and multiplied by 10 to get a 0-10 number. Schools like North Carolina, Ohio St, Penn St, UCLA, Washington St, and Texas A&M suffered here because they just hired their coaches this offseason. Boise St (Chris Peterson - 92.4%), Oregon (Chip Kelly (85%), Stanford (David Shaw - 84.6%), Alabama (Nick Saban - 82.1%), and LSU (Les Miles - 81.5%) were the highest scorers in this category. 

Conference Championships was taken as a straight number and not scaled for the calculation. Frank Beamer (Virginia Tech) and Steve Spurrier (South Carolina) have both won 7 conference titles. Gary Patterson (TCU) has won 5 and Chris Peterson (Boise St) and Urban Meyer (Ohio St) have won 4.

Only 5 coaches on the list have won National Championships. Nick Saban (Alabama) leads the pack with 3, followed by Urban Meyer (Ohio St) with 2, and Gene Chizik (Auburn), Les Miles (LSU), and Steve Spurrier (South Carolina) round out the list with 1 each. Due to the importance of the National Championship, each National Title was multiplied by 5 for the final calculation.

Bowl Winning Percentage was a relatively simple calculation that took Bowl Wins divided by Bowl Appearances. I multiplied the number by 10 to get a 0-10 number that could be used in the final calculations. Auburn's Gene Chizik led all coaches with a perfect record in bowl games. Urban Meyer (Ohio St) was second with an 88% winning percentage, followed by Duke's David Cutcliffe who ran up an 80% mark while the head coach at Ole Miss (mostly thanks to Eli Manning) and NC State's Tom O'Brien who also has an 80% bowl record.

These five factors, combined with the 3 that went into the Coaching Experience ranking were all averaged together to yield a Coach Prestige score. Here are the top scorers:

1. Alabama (Nick Saban) - 7.1
2. Virginia Tech (Frank Beamer) - 6.8
3. TCU (Gary Patterson) - 6.6
4t. South Carolina (Steve Spurrier) - 6.5
4t. Boise St (Chris Peterson) - 6.5
6t. Georgia (Mark Richt) - 6.0
6t. LSU (Les Miles) - 6.0
8. Kansas St (Bill Snyder) - 5.7
9. Oregon (Chip Kelly) - 5.6
10t. Ohio St (Urban Meyer) - 5.5
10t. Iowa (Kirk Ferentz) - 5.5

With these two factors added into the overall calculation, here is the updated Top 25 Rankings:

3Ohio St208.4
4Virginia Tech195.0
7Boise St186.1
8South Carolina183.2
15Georgia Tech161.6
16Michigan St161.5
18Boston College156.4
19Texas A&M153.2
20North Carolina146.5
22Wake Forest144.9
25Oklahoma St137.7

Dropped out: Penn St, UCLA, Virginia

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Quest: Championships and Stadiums

If you've been reading over the last few days, you know about my decision to search for a new college football team to cheer for. I also determined a mathematical methodology to create a set of "Rankings" for the 34 teams that I have deemed to be "in the hunt" for my fandom (in true college football fashion, I'm doing Top 25 rankings). I have identified 14 different categories which I will provide teams a score between 0 and 10. Each category will come with a multiplier based on how much I care about that subject. Today, I tackle two more topics in my search for a school.

Championship Contender
Level of Interest: Above Average

Let's face it, I'm not going to cheer for a team that is bottom-of-the-barrel and has no hope of contending for a championship. Given the nature of the college football world, only two teams per year actually have a chance to compete on the field for the National Championship. Therefore, I have decided to also include Conference Championships in my category of "Championship Contender." 

Taking these two factors (National Championship and Conference Championship) into consideration, I looked back over the last 5 seasons and compiled the teams finish in the final AP Poll and their finish in their conference to give me 10 subcategories.

Points were awarded based on inverse order of the AP Poll (25 points for first, 24 for 2nd, etc). This made the total possible points from the AP Poll portion of the calculation 125. I did this to weight the AP Poll (competing for a national championship) heavier than competing for a conference championship. Since there are conferences with different numbers of teams, I divided a team's final position in the conference standings by the number of teams in the conference to normalize the data. Then I multiplied that number by 10 to give me a value between 0 and 10 for the "Conference Championship" portion of the calculation. This gave me a total of 50 possible points a team could earn in the "Conference Championship" section of the calculation.

Given the two remaining values derived from the AP Poll and Conference Finish, there were a total of 175 possible points. Since I am using 0-10 scores for each school in the overall calculation, I divided a team's Championship Contender score by 17.5 to get the final 0-10 value. Here are the top schools in the Championship Contender category:

1. Alabama 7.15
2. Oregon 7.14
3. Ohio St 7.04
4. Boise St 6.77
5. LSU 6.72
6. TCU 6.71
7. USC 6.41
8. Virginia Tech 6.08
9. Wisconsin 4.87
10. Oklahoma St 4.87

Level of Interest: Above Average

A team's home atmosphere can make or break a game, whether it be from the level of crowd noise, the intimidation factor, or something else. Every school has a tradition, whether it's Howard's Rock at Clemson, Glory Glory Hallelujah at Georgia, night games in Death Valley, the 12th Man at Texas A&M, or Script Ohio, nothing compares to just flat out dominating on your home turf. College football is deeply rooted in tradition and carrying on the legacy of those that came before you. The intimidation factor of over 100,000 fans screaming can be enough to derail even the most unflappable opponents. 

Therefore, to create a rating for Stadiums, there were two factors taken into consideration: Seating Capacity and Home Winning Percentage over the last 10 years. Stadium Capacity was ranked by dividing total capacity by 10,000. Schools with stadiums over 100,000 seats were given the slight bonus of having a score over 10.0 in this category. Home winning percentage was multiplied by 10 to give a 0-10 number. These two components were averaged to get the final score for Stadiums.

As was to be expected, Big Ten and SEC teams dominated this category, thanks in large part to 100,000+ seat stadiums at Penn State, Ohio State, Alabama, and Tennessee. TCU and Boise State were buoyed by the top home winning percentages, but the low seating capacities at their stadiums (two of the lowest on the list) brought them in at 19th and 20th overall. Ohio State, with the 3rd biggest stadium (behind Penn St and Tennessee) and the 3rd best home winning percentage (88.3%) came in first in the Stadium rankings. Here are the rest of the top schools in the Stadiums category:

1. Ohio St 9.50
2. Penn St 9.10
3. LSU 8.95
4t. Alabama 8.70
4t. Georgia 8.70
4t. Tennessee 8.70
4t. USC 8.70
8. Auburn 8.40
9. UCLA 8.00
10. Wisconsin 7.90

Adding these two into the overall rankings and taking the Level of Interest multiplier into account, here is the new Top 25:

2Ohio St147.0
6tPenn St130.5
10Texas A&M121.0
11Virginia Tech119.0
12Boise St117.5
16Michigan St111.5
17tGeorgia Tech109.0
17tSouth Carolina109.0
19Boston College108.0
22tNorth Carolina103.5