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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Ranking the Coaches Based on...Um, Coaching

I'm sure many of you remember Tom Dienhart's attempt at ranking all of the BCS coaches. Like most of Dienhart's columns the piece seemed to be based on little other than personal opinion. That's fine as he gets paid to have an opinion, but there had to be a more scientific approach to the endeavor.

Well, it turns out there was a better approach, like the one taken by LD at the The Corporate Headquarters of the San Antonio Gunslingers.

LD based his rankings on several key factors:

National Titles
Conference Titles
Winning Percentage
Winning Percentage As Against School's Historic Winning Percentage

I've said it before, but this is another example of how the mainstream media gets outdone by bloggers. Anyway, you can see the spreadsheet of LD's rankings here.

Here are some of LD's comments related to Nebraska and Bill Callahan
Winning Percentage As Against School's Historic Winning Percentage:

Biggest upgrade by Dienhart from where a coach would be rated by this objective category: Bill Callahan (from 50th up to 21st).

Coaches upgraded by Dienhart by more than 10 spots (my guess at a reason, and here I don't consider a bad program as a good reason since it's already accounted for): Hawkins (small sample), Bobby Johnson (???), Bill Callahan (???), Mark Mangino (???), Greg Schiano (???), Jim Leavitt (Shouldn't be listed here - he's the only coach at the program, so his comparison to history is neutral), Houston Nutt (???), Lloyd Carr (title), Kirk Ferentz (???), Tom O'Brien (???), Tommy Tuberville (???, near-title?), Frank Beamer (longevity), Nick Saban (title), Mack Brown (title), Rich Rodriguez (???), Jim Tressel (title).

Looking at the various objective criteria, I think Dienhart overrates and underrates a few coaches, based upon their accomplishments.

OVERRATED: Mark Mangino, Bill Callahan, Bobby Johnson, Rich Rodriguez, Kirk Ferentz, Tom O'Brien.

UNDERRATED: Phil Fulmer, Ralph Friedgen, Mark Richt, Charlie Weis, Jeff Tedford, Les Miles, Tommy Bowden, Bret Bielema, Tyrone Willingham, Karl Dorrell, Bill Doba.

A few more specific nits to pick considering all the categories discussed:

Houston Nutt at #20 isn't defensible. Guys behind him that best or equal him in every category: Tedford, Richt, Leach, Friedgen, Fulmer, Tiller, Bielema, Miles. Nutt's objective rankings put him right in line with Tommy Bowden, whom Dienhart ranks 47th (though, arguably he shouldn't be that low).
Matt at Statistically Speaking also introduced another variable into attempts at rating coaches. He created a formula that looks like this:
Win % Last Season (50%) + Win % 2 Yrs Ago (20%) + Win % 3 Yrs Ago (10%) + .500 (20%)

The four components are winning percentage for the previous three seasons; with each season decreasing in importance as the distance from the current season increases and the final component is a winning percentage of .500 as teams tend to trend towards .500. Including this component ensures we don’t penalize coaches coming off undefeated seasons because improving upon a 100% winning percentage is impossible. Additionally, we don’t reward coaches who go winless because we assume they will improve at least marginally. Next we just subtract the team’s expected winning percentage from their actual winning percentage. This number is the coach’s rating.
Here are the best and worst coaches in each conference according to Matt's formula:


Jim Grobe (Wake Forest) +.389

Big East
Greg Schiano (Rutgers) +.340

Big 10
Bret Bielema (Wisconsin) +.235

Big 12
Dennis Franchione (Texas A&M) +.215

Pac 10
Mike Riley (Oregon State) +.208

Rich Brooks (Kentucky) +.309

Conference USA
Todd Graham (Rice) +.296

Frank Solich (Ohio) +.271

Mountain West
Bronco Mendenhall (BYU) +.372

Sun Belt
Larry Blakeney (Troy) +.166

Dick Tomey (San Jose State) +.392


Chuck Amato (NC State) -.294

Big East
Randy Edsall (Connecticut) -.203

Big 10
Pat Fitzgerald (Northwestern) -.205

Big 12
Dan Hawkins (Colorado) -.367

Pac 10
Walt Harris (Stanford) -.354

Mike Shula (Alabama) -.185

Conference USA
Tommy West (Memphis) -.427

Shane Montgomery (Miami, Ohio) -.467

Mountain West
Chuck Long (San Diego State) -.181

Sun Belt
Darrell Dickey (North Texas) -.127

Jack Bicknell (Louisiana Tech) -.329

Obviously neither of these systems is perfect, but they have to be better attempts than what Dienhart and most pundits provide.