I always look forward to your posts and Im glad that you're gonna have your own little research team in a few years.
Coaching Search by the Numbers
Wanted to throw some numbers and charts up to look at the six candidates Brian outlined, the two that are in the media but off of his list and the dream candidate who won’t quite go away.
For the uninitiated or the those who used to know but haven’t seen anything for the last month or two (which would be all of you!) all numbers are in PAN, Points Above Normal. 0 is average +5 is really good and anything over +10 is incredible. It is adjusted for opponent/strength of schedule. The data I have goes back to the 2003 season but nothing before.
Coaches will appear in the order that Brian had them ranked. I looked at each coach versus who the program did in the two years preceding their arrival and the two years after in the case of departure. Where they were coordinators in some cases, I looked only at the appropriate side of the ball. Caveats apply in all situations depending on who was hired before or after. Stan Parrish can make my 2 year old son look like he can coach football but following a national championship season under Nick Saban is a tough act to follow.
#1 – Dan Mullen
Big increases in year 1 and from year to year 2. The offense improved by 3 points immediately in year 1 but stayed flat into year 2. The defense jumped 2 points in the first year and 4 more in year 2. Based on the Miss St experience, Mullen’s team has shown dramatic improvement, but not a ton (except against us) on his historical side of the ball.
Gaps between pre and post are pretty strong but asterisks abound on this one. First of all three of the four years Mullen was at Florida, they had this guy you might have heard of playing quarterback. At least he used the talent there as the cupboard was far from bare the last two years when the performance regressed significantly.
Utah was a similar story going from nearly +9 in 2003-04 to +3 in the two years after his (and Urban Meyer and Alex Smith’s) departure.
Lots of caveats apply but the guy can clearly coach with proven improvements at every stop and drop offs after his departure.
#2 – Pat Fitzgerald
Obviously off the table at this point. His numbers were nothing impressive but his “luck” has been off the chart. Northwestern finished this past year #1 in my annual luck rankings (luck = actual wins vs. statistical expectation) and is a clear number one over the last five years. NW has been the only team in the country to exceed expectation by at least a game each of the last five years and has been first or second nationally in three of the last four years. Guy is doing something right.
#3 – Gary Patterson
TCU total team PAN:
Patterson’s been at TCU as long as I have data for so their are no comparisons but the team has made consistent improvement over the years. Even though the program was ranked the year before he took over, it was the only time in 40 years that TCU had finished in the top 25 and they have been in the top 25 7 of 9 years and will probably be top 3 at the end of this year’s Rose Bowl winning run.
My personal first choice, FWIW.
#4 – Charlie Strong
Only one season, that followed the immortal Kragthorpe and always be wary when N=1, but man, that was a nice season Strong’s Cardinals put together.
Improvements of at least 4 points in all three phases of the game. Went from 104th in 2009 to 44th in 2010.
Florida saw a dropoff in their first year without Strong from +7 to +4 but also lost a host of talent from the previous year’s squad. One season means a change is highly unlikely and the results above may be an aberration but it’s about as good as you can expect for a one year change.
#5 – Chris Petersen
Another highly unlikely candidate but has certainly taken Boise to new heights after the foundation had been laid. As head coach he took the offense that he formerly coordinated from +4 to +6 but showed he knew both sides by overseeing a climb from +1 on defense to +6. Has a number of big institutional advantages but has exceeded the progress of those before him.
#6 – Kyle Whittingham
Haven’t heard much on Coach Whittingham and the move to the Pac-12 makes it that much less unlikely. Probably the toughest comp of the bunch being preceded by Urban Meyer and an undefeated season. Has shown modest improvements on defense and special teams since taking over but hasn’t been able to recreate any of the offensive magic of the Meyer/Mullen/Smith.
“Michigan Man” #1 – Brady Hoke
Better than I expected, actually. Slow steady growth taking the program from terrible to average over four years and then a big leap forward. The team obviously fell apart in two years under Parrish. The good news is that the team progressed well over a long period of time, the bad news is that during all the period at the helm, Hoke only produced one above average team.
San Diego St has shown nice improvement during Hoke’s time there. The Aztecs have improved by over 7 points each of the last two seasons. The big jump has been repairing a terrible defense (-11 in two preceding years) and turning them into an above average group by year 2. The offense has improved as well, but the majority of change has been driven by the defense.
“Michigan Man” #2 – Les Miles
Miles has been at LSU a while now and the comps are a little tougher. His Bayou Bengals have averaged +10 a season, the 10th highest program average over the same span. This is actually a decrease from what they have achieved in the two years prior, which includes the aforementioned Saban National Championship.
Oklahoma St saw a drop-off upon his departure. The Cowboys were +7 in 2003-04 under Miles and fell to +2 in Mike “I’m a Man” Gundy’s first two seasons.
What’s Your Deal – Jim Harbaugh
hitting refresh to check if status has changed
Michigan may or may not be out on this one, but the Harbaugh effect on Stanford has been impressive.
Improvement has come each and every year with big jumps in the last two. The only question might be defensively as the year’s squad was decent after two really bad years under Harbaugh.
What does it mean?
Heck if I know, this whole thing has turned into a disaster. Strong, Mullen and Patterson all seem like very good long-term prospects if we can get one of them. Obviously Harbaugh is first choice if Brandon can pull a coup. Miles would probably appease enough of the base in the short term but doesn’t have the upside of some of the other candidates. Hoke at least has indications he could be good, but there is also huge risk involved hiring someone’s who’s success is so limited at such lower levels.
Sorry I don’t have anything to satisfy the “who is going to be” question but hopefully this sheds some light on the pros and cons of the names being thrown around these parts.
On a peronsal note, probably won’t see many more posts from me in the offseason and very low likelihood next season. Just found out this week that my wife is having triplets this summer so I’ll be lucky if I even get to watch any games this fall!
Always a pleasure to look through your posts. Always so informative. Your input will be missed.
Congratulations on the start of what looks to be a great challenge for your wife and yourself.
Triplets holy #(@(#&(#!!! Congratulations and best of luck!
Congrats on the new additions to the family. If you are looking for a birthing coach, do not let DB assist in any way.
Huge congrats on the new family and thanks for the great work on the site!
Nice work, and congratulations!