I briefly mentioned this before the start of the last season, but I have built a model for Michigan football wins, based on tracking data since the 1990 season. It is not that sophisticated, and I don't have any charts to put up on the front page, but I thought it was relevant because it projected us for 7.3 wins last season (clearly impossible, but I didn't round for precision's sake).
I won't get into all of the nuts and bolts, but the model's "expected wins" is based solely on the quality of play from all the major positions on a football team: QB, RB, WR/TE, OL, DL, LB, DB, and Special Teams. Each category receives a +1 (good), 0 (neutral), or -1 (bad). Below is a chart summarizing historical wins versus expected wins since 1997:
As you can see, the model has been accurate in predicting the number of wins to within one win for 10 out of the last 14 seasons. The four years that stand out as abberations:
- 2002: Breakout years from Chris Perry and Braylon Edwards. Really solid year from Navarre. Beat expectations.
- 2004-2006: My model is a little tough on Lloyd and his coaching staff for these years. The model assumes that based on the quality of players, we should have had more wins during the winding down of Lloyd's tenure at coach. I could be being a bit harsh on Lloyd here, but I feel that many posters would agree - and the prior years are clearly not "anti-Lloyd" (he had a net positive influence in four of the previous six years).
Enough of the background. Where does the 8.2 come from in the 2011 column? Well, it's all based around what we'll inherit from the 2010 team (again, this is based on players only - the coaching shows up in the variance). I assume that "+1" will remain for QB/WR/OL, and the "-1" for DBs and Special Teams will go to net zeroes. Based on a total of +3, you get to 8.2 expected wins for next year.
Now, to take a look at the best and worst case scenarios.
- Best case: One of the RBs steps up and gets a stranglehold on the starting spot (+1). DL improves so much under a 4-3 scheme that it also becomes a +1. LB, DB, and ST play all remain a net zero. Under this scenario, the model projects +5, or 9.8 wins.
- Worst case: We don't sign a kicker in this class and ST remains -1. The young DBs remain a -1 as they are confused by a new scheme and are still relatively raw. No one is able to fill Mouton's role, and LB takes a dive to a -1. All offensive rankings stay the same. Under this scenario, the model projects breakeven, or 5.7 wins.
I know that range is pretty tight, but I believe in it. I do believe Best Case is more reasonable than Worst Case, because we've brough in Hoke-Mattison and to expect the defense to actually take a step back would be a hard pill to swallow. Also, the model lends itself to being more accurate in years where there isn't great attrition (such as this year).
I'm interested to get your guys' thoughts as I try to make some improvements and what categories I can include. Hopefully this is at least interesting for a Wednesday morning/mid-morning thread.