Skip to main content

Matt Rhule for Coach of the Year

We don't do Coach of the Year awards for head coaches here at FootballScoop, which allows me to sit back and say most people do their head coach of the year awards wrong. The typical Coach of the Year award goes to the head coach of the team that best outperformed its preseason expectations. Basically, if you do better than the sportswriters expect you to do in July, expect some hardware by December.

This approach ignores that this is not the NFL, and the head coach is also his own general manager. If you've got the most talented roster, well, how good of a coaching job could you have done with all those talented players on your roster, right? Look no further than the fact an Ohio State coach has not been named Big Ten Coach of the Year since 1979. Jim Tressel and Urban Meyer led the Buckeyes to at least a share of 10 Big Ten titles but did not win their conference's coach of the year award once.

All that said, you'd have a hard time convincing me anyone other than Baylor's Matt Rhule is the national Coach of the Year through this season's first two months.

Rhule's Bears were picked sixth in the Big 12 coming into the year and now, as the calendar flips to November, the Bears are alone in first place and ranked No. 12 in the AP poll after a 7-0 start.

There were some close calls among those seven wins -- they beat winless Rice by eight points, nearly blew a 20-0 lead to Iowa State and needed significant help from the refs to hold off Texas Tech. But the Bears also own a 31-12 win over No. 22 Kansas State -- the same K-State team that just dropped 48 on Oklahoma -- and a 45-27 win at Oklahoma State.

If a straight reading of Baylor's resume doesn't do it for you, the metrics will. ESPN's David Hale on Wednesday

Explosiveness Differential
1 Baylor +10.2%
2 Bama +9.39
3 Okla +9.15
4 Clemson +9.04
5 OhioSt +8.13
7 Minn +6.69
8 Utah +6.61
9 UGA +5.71
12 Oreg +4.95
13 LSU +4.94
29 PennSt +2.39
61 UF, -0.04
96 UVA -2.23
117 Duke -4.13
121 Tx Tech -4.78
127 Cuse -6.76

— 👻Happy Hale-o-ween🎃 (@ADavidHaleJoint) October 30, 2019

" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">tweeted a list of the teams with the best explosiveness differential in college football. Basically, it's the percentage of explosive plays your offense produces minus the percentage of explosive plays your defense surrenders. The higher the number the better.

On that list you'll find a who's who of college football elite -- Alabama, Oklahoma, Clemson, Ohio State -- and you'll find them looking up at Baylor.

  1. Baylor -- 10.2 percent
  2. Alabama -- 9.39
  3. Oklahoma -- 9.15
  4. Clemson -- 9.04
  5. Ohio State -- 8.13

A hair under 18 percent of Baylor's snaps turn into explosive plays (trailing Oklahoma for the most in FBS) while 7.8 percent of Baylor's opponents plays turn into explosives, the fifth fewest in college football.

And all this is happening at a program that went 1-11 two years ago.

On a down-to-down basis, Baylor is fifth in yards per play (7.32, up from 72nd in 2017) and 25th in yards per play defense (4.90, up from 119th a year ago).

Five games still stand between Baylor and the finish line -- and, if things go well, that number will grow to six. After hosting West Virginia on Thursday, the Bears visit TCU, then get consecutive home games against Oklahoma and Texas before the finale at increasingly-dangerous Kansas. That's a lot of football, and Baylor could very well fall back to earth by then.

But, as of the end of October, Matt Rhule is the national Coach of the Year.