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Some charting of talent in college football

by suave_andrew, Thursday, October 10, 2013, 19:47

I've been keeping track of a weighted talent index statistic over the past few years. I actually thought about making some posts about some of this in the summer but never found the time.

My yearly talent index is nothing more than a team's rivals rating divided by the average rivals rating for every team that year. This generally filters out the 'rating inflation' that has occurred as more and more players are rated each year and you have a lot more three star players heading to smaller programs simply due to more players being rated and not because those programs have improved their talent pools. The index makes it more of an apples-to-apples comparison.

The four-year index rating are the yearly indexes weighted by the number of players in each of the four previous year's recruiting classes.

On the chart below, the "max" and "min" are whomever has the most and least talent in a given year.

My takeaways below are:
1) The difference between an average team and the most talented teams are shrinking generally, but there still remains a major have's and have-not's gap.

2) I would argue that ND has not closed the talent gap between itself and whomever is considered the most talent-laded team since Weis has left. Thankfully, it has not dropped off either. Given that Kelly's M.O. coming into Notre Dame was player development, it's not ideal, but also not necessarily bad that ND has more or less only maintained its relative talent levels. It might actually be an accomplishment given the amount of stress from the fan base that recruiting would suffer under Kelly.


The explanation below is that the compound annual growth rate is quantifying how well teams have grown their talent on average on a year-to-year basis since 2005. Posting these ones without commenting and wondering if anything stands out?




Growth Rate takeaways into broad categories:

by Savage, Around Ye Olde Colonial College, Friday, October 11, 2013, 05:20 @ suave_andrew

Gains from:
* Rise of the mid-majors and former mid-majors. There have been several schools who have found significant success as mid-majors, and an overlapping-but-not-identical set that have managed to move into a better conference. Both of these should improve talent. The former group includes Utah, Houston, TCU, . The latter group includes the CUSA expansion into the BE the year before your data begins (Cincy, USF, Louisville), Utah, TCU.

* Teams who made a transformational coaching hire during or just before the period in question. Alabama (Saban), Vandy (Franklin), Cincinnati (Kelly), Houston (Briles, Sumlin), Baylor (Briles), Louisville (Petrino, Strong). Admittedly this opens up a question of causation and circularity -- do we consider these coaches awesome because they're getting good results with the uptick in talent, or are they getting more talent because the coach is awesome.

Losses from:
* Teams at the end of a historic period of excellence: Miami, FSU, Tennessee. History has shown that even seemingly invincible teams cycle down after 5-10 years. Miami went 55-7 in the years preceding your data, absolutely filled the draft with players, lost its coach to the pros, and had nowhere to go but down. FSU had 15/18 double-digit winning seasons preceding your data, filled up the draft board every year, and may have already been on the slight downslope, again with nowhere to go but down. Similarly, although Oklahoma has been quite good even since your data began, the years before it they were more of a juggernaut than their current "run-of-the-mill top team". Although Tennessee was not quite as excellent in the 2000-2004 period, your data still captures a major transformation out of the Fulmer era.

* Teams at the end of a period of punching above their traditional weight class, often correlated with a special coach: BC (end of TOB and into Jag/Spaz), Maryland wunderkid Fridge into 50/50 Fridge.

* "Old Economy Steve" teams, the traditional powers in declining regions, who even though they're still good just continue to downgrade talent available in their region inexorably over time: Colorado, Michigan.

* The ACC, perhaps as the biggest loser to the rise of the SEC as the dominant conference.

* I'd be interested to see KSU's numbers and if there's a direct correlation with the Snyder->Prince->Snyder transitions.


This is a good write up, but I'm not sure that I would agree

by Mike (bart), Friday, October 11, 2013, 06:50 @ Savage

with your description of Colorado. I think the Buff's struggles have come on account of institutional poverty rather than any trends statewide. Colorado's been growing faster than the nation as a whole for quite some time.


A couple of questions

by Jeff (BGS), A starter home in suburban Tempe, Thursday, October 10, 2013, 20:40 @ suave_andrew

Do you track recruited talent, or actual talent on the roster, or even on the roster and starting? Along those lines, a school that oversigns can get away with a lower average talent rating as they'll take more 3-stars, but then cut the ones that don't pan out.

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