One statistic that virtually guarantees a winning season
Want to win games next season? Force more turnovers than your opponent. And in other news, water is wet, the sun is hot and that friggin’ dress was black and blue.
We all know that teams that can simultaneously force takeaways and limit giveaways are more likely to win games, but did you know just how powerful the turnover statistic is? So powerful that, at a certain point, the right turnover margin makes victory almost guaranteed. A year ago, SB Nation’s Bill Connelly revealed that teams that register a plus-four or greater turnover margin win more than 90 percent of the time, and often in a blowout. This makes sense.
But what about at a macro level? FootballScoop examined the last seven seasons of turnover margins and found that among the 53 teams that forced an average turnover margin of greater than one per game, 52 of them posted winning seasons. (Why seven seasons? That’s as far as back as the CFB Stats database goes.)
Fifty-two out of 53. Force a fraction more than one turnover per game than your opponent and your team has a 98.11% chance of a winning season.
Teams that master turnovers aren’t just winning, most of them are winning big. Fifty of them won eight or more games, 40 won nine or more games, 32 won 10 or more games, 27 of the 50 eligible teams (excluding independents Navy and Army and FBS transitional club UTSA) won or shared a conference or division championship, three went undefeated and two won national championships. The clubs listed below averaged 9.9 wins per season, and most of them took claimed some sort of hardware along the way.
Of the teams that forced 1.01-or-more turnovers per game than their opponents…..
98.11% had winning seasons
94.33% won at least 8 games
75.47% won at least 9 games
60.38% won at least 10 games
54% won at least a share of a conference or division championship
There are a number of examples of teams using an exceptional turnover margin to post historic seasons. Army’s only winning season since 1996, a 7-6 mark in 2010, can be explained third-best 1.23 turnover margin in 2010. Rice experienced a smattering of winning seasons in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, but the Owls’ 10-win season in 2008 was the programs first since 1949.They posted a 1.15 turnover margin that season. Buffalo’s only winning seasons over the past seven seasons, eight-win campaigns in 2008 and 2013, coincide with 1.43 and 1.15 turnover margins.
Even the lone outlier makes sense. A Baylor team led by first-year head coach Art Briles and quarterbacked by true freshman Robert Griffin III went 4-8 despite posting a fourth-best 1.33 turnover margin. Baylor has now completed five straight winning seasons and back-to-back Big 12 championships while posting an even 1.00 turnover margin in each season.
Every team in college football wants to force turnovers while preventing its own, and few prove capable. The 53 clubs listed below represent a notch above six percent of the total seasons played since 2008. But there is no surer bet on a Saturday and over the course of the fall to winning games and hosting a trophy than mastering the art of ball control.
2014 TO Margin Record Oregon* 1.53 13-2 Michigan State 1.46 11-2 TCU* 1.38 12-1 Georgia 1.23 10-3 Louisiana Tech^ 1.14 9-5 Arizona State 1.08 10-3 2013 TO Margin Record Houston 1.92 8-5 Louisville 1.31 12-1 Florida State*! 1.21 14-0 Oklahoma State 1.15 10-3 Buffalo 1.15 8-5 Missouri^ 1.14 12-2 Arizona State^ 1.07 10-4 2012 TO Margin Record Oregon 1.62 12-1 Boise State* 1.54 11-2 Kansas State* 1.54 11-2 Kent State^ 1.43 11-3 Mississippi State 1.23 8-5 LSU 1.23 10-3 UTSA 1.20 8-4 Fresno State* 1.15 9-4 Florida 1.15 11-2 Ohio 1.15 9-4 SMU 1.08 7-6 Northwestern 1.08 10-3 Louisiana Tech 1.08 9-3 2011 TO Margin Record Oklahoma State* 1.62 12-1 LSU* 1.43 13-1 Toledo^ 1.23 9-4 Houston^ 1.14 13-1 Wisconsin* 1.14 11-3 N.C. State 1.08 8-5 2010 TO Margin Record Virginia Tech^ 1.36 11-3 Tulsa^ 1.31 10-3 Army 1.23 7-6 Ohio State* 1.15 12-1 Maryland 1.15 9-4 Wisconsin* 1.08 11-2 2009 TO Margin Record Air Force 1.69 8-5 Rutgers 1.54 9-4 Boise State* 1.50 14-0 Alabama*! 1.36 14-0 Ohio State* 1.31 11-2 Arkansas 1.15 8-5 2008 TO Margin Record Oklahoma* 1.64 12-2 Florida*! 1.57 13-1 Buffalo^ 1.43 8-6 Baylor 1.33 4-8 Wake Forest 1.31 8-5 Ohio State* 1.23 10-3 California 1.15 9-4 Rice^ 1.15 10-3 Navy 1.15 8-5
* won or shared conference championship
^ won or shared division championship
! won national championship
Inside Scoop: Talking recruiting with Matt Dudek
Inside Scoop is back with Arizona’s director of on-campus recruiting Matt Dudek. The man behind Arizona’s recruiting efforts and social media branding, Dudek has been a frequent FootballScoop interview subject for some time now. This time around Scott and Matt discuss the lay of the land both in the Arizona program and the college football recruiting world at large.
A few of the topics:
– The over-the-top ridiculousness of Arizona’s Wildcat Olympics.
– How Rich Rodriguez emphasizes family in every aspect of the Wildcats’ program. The first thing visitors see upon entering the football offices is a photo of the entire staff with their families.
– “Something Coach Rodriguez asks in our recruiting meetings: does he play any other sports?” Why? It keeps a player in competition all year round versus devoting three months to games and nine months to workouts, and movements learned in basketball and baseball, for example, are things a kid won’t learn in football but prove useful on the gridiron nonetheless.
– How to rise in the recruiting industry, and more programs looking to hire women in recruiting and operations roles.
– Why Instagram is the most popular social media hangout of recruits, but Twitter is the preferred medium for recruiters.
Sark is adding a challenge to the end of spring practices to help finish games strong
Sark and his USC squad don’t take the field for another six months, but they’re already finding creative ways to simulate the end of games during spring practice.
After reflecting on their 2014 season and the tough losses that came in the final minutes, and realizing the impact that they had on the rest of the season, Sark and his staff decided something needed to be done.
“If we win those two games, we’re playing for a conference championship. You stop and think of the ramifications of that, of course we’re going to address that and get better.”
To remedy the situation, Sark and his staff decided to add a challenge at the end of practices to help simulate the final two minutes of regulation in the fall. In 2015, they’ll make sure their players are better prepared.
“We’re going to have a challenge at the end of every practice that will really exemplify the final two minutes of every game. We want to find who we can count on, and who those guys are that we can make plays in critical moments.”
“The defense came out today, and it was the best of five, the defense came out the first three plays and got off the field and won the game.” Sark noted.
“Hopefully, that idea of our ability to not only take the field and be excited and take the field at beginning of practice, but to also be our best at the most critical moment at the end of practice, and that’s something that we’re going to continue to work on.”
Want your coordinators more involved on social media? Take a page from NC State
For all the programs out there that wish your coordinators were more active on social media, NC State has provided an interesting idea to put your own spin on.
After each spring practice, Wolfpack defensive coordinator Dave Huxtable is tweeting out some recognition for two #BallHawks. Junior linebacker Ernie Robinson and grayshirt corner Juston Burris took home the honors on day one.
— Dave Huxtable (@CoachDHux) March 4, 2015
This is a simple way to accomplish a number of things for your program via social media; it gives your coordinator’s a presence on social media, it praises players who deserve recognition, and it updates your fan base on a daily basis.
The applications are nearly limitless. Whether you choose to highlight daily play makers, the most improved players, biggest hitters, or best scout team players, it’s a win-win for everyone involved and takes a minimal amount of time.
Why Brian Kelly hired Mike Sanford: “We wanted somebody that was going to turn the room upside down.”
In his quest to revamp Notre Dame’s offense, Brian Kelly had options. There was Charley Molnar, who spent six seasons under Kelly at Central Michigan, Cincinnati and Notre Dame before taking the Massachusetts head job in 2012. After two seasons in Amherst, Molnar is now the wide receivers coach at Idaho. There’s also Jeff Quinn, whose history with Kelly goes back even further, all the way to 1989 at Grand Valley State. Quinn never worked at Notre Dame, taking the Buffalo head job at the same time his boss left Cincinnati for South Bend, but he owns two solid decades in the Kelly system.
If Kelly wanted to his new quarterbacks coach to hit the ground in a dead sprint, options were plenty. Except Notre Dame’s head coach didn’t want to do that. In fact, he was looking for the exact opposite.
“(Mike Denbrock and I) agreed at the end that what we were looking for was somebody that could turn the room upside down,” Kelly told Blue and Gold Illustrated. “We didn’t want somebody to be equal. We wanted somebody that was going to turn that room upside down, that was that good. We weren’t going to settle for somebody that was on the same plane. We wanted somebody that was going to challenge us on a day-to-day basis. (Sanford) does that.”
Sanford will be tasked with shaping the considerable talents of quarterbacks Everett Golson and Malik Zaire. Golson led Notre Dame to a national championship appearance in 2012 but displayed a penchant for turning the ball over in 2014, including a five turnover meltdown in a blowout loss to Arizona State. Zaire led the Irish to a win over LSU in the Music City Bowl but lacks experience.
However, Sanford has one of the most impressive assistant coaching resumes in college football. The son of a coach (who, incidentally, spent two years as a teenager in South Bend), Sanford spent three seasons at Stanford and one at Boise State. He has a personal record of 46-9 with three conference championships and four BCS/New Year’s Six bowls over the past four seasons.
“When I first heard about it, I had a different reaction because it’s Notre Dame. I think knowing that this place stands for something I want to be a part of: elite academics, the chance to explore from a spiritual standpoint, which is very important to me in my life and also, this is the mecca of college football,” Sanford said. “I really was excited quite frankly when the Notre Dame opportunity came about. I was fired up. There was something inside of me that felt different than any other job that had been out there in this offseason.”