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Inspired by the general concensus that the number of returning starters in college football matter and a diary by NOLA Blue in which he discussed how Michigan would fare against opponents in 2011-12 based on returning starters, some of the comments (including my own) criticized looking at pure numbers of returning starters rather than the actual players returning.
It got me thinking if there was any predictablity to be found in pure numbers of returning starters (from now on referred to as RS) and if that translated into wins the next year by having a high amount of RS or losses by having a low amount.
Using Phil Steele's lists of RS I looked at the record for every team in a BCS conference plus Notre Dame in 2008-09, then listed how many starters they would be returning for the 2009-10 season, then added their record for the 2009-10 season, and noted the change in the amount of wins between the two seasons. I repeated that for the 2009-10 season going into the 2010-11 season.
One important note is that I had to decide what to do when teams played a different amount of games in consecutive seasons. For example a team plays 13 games in season one and goes 10-3. The next year in season two the same team plays 14 games and goes 10-4. Technically, they won the same amount of games in both years and the difference in wins is 0 but the team had an extra game to get 10 wins. I decided to handle this by using 0.5's In this case I would give the team a win change of -0.5 for winning the same amount of games but having an extra game to do it in. This also works to the benefit of some teams.
Here is what I came up with:
Seasons 2008-09 to 2009-10
|Team||2008-09 Record||2009 Returning Starters (* Denotes QB Return)||2009-10 Record||Net Win Change|
And here is a table of number of RS and how many won more games, less games, or no change
|Number of RS||No Change||+ Wins||- Wins||
Total of Teams in
Here is some info to take away from this.
When I refer to same, more, or less I am talking about the amount of wins between the two seasons.
Overall Win Amount: 13 same (19.69%), 29 more (43.93%), 24 less (36.36%) Total: 66 teams
RS with a QB win difference: 10 same (23.26%), 19 more (44.19%), 14 less (32.56%) Total: 43 teams
RS without a QB win difference: 3 same (13.04%), 10 more (43.48%), 10 less (43.48%) Total: 23 teams
9-13 RS: 5 same (27.78%), 6 more (33.33%), 7 less (38.89%) Total: 18 teams
14-16 RS: 5 same (16.13%), 13 more (41.94%), 13 less (41.94%) Total: 31 teams
17-20 RS: 3 same (17.65%), 10 more (58.82%), 4 less (23.53%) Total: 17 teams
I figured teams would be more successful with a returning QB and while that is supported somewhat in these years with 44.19% of teams going on to a better record the next season the teams without a returning QB were equally as likely to be more or less successful proving the lack of an experienced QB didn't significantly lessen the chances of improvement.
As the number of RS increased more teams did improve but I was surprised to see that not until a team returned 17 starters was it significantly more likely to. In the 15 or 16 RS number it still seemed close to a 50/50 to expect more or less wins.
More after the break