Monday, July 21, 2008

Tennessee and Close Game Variance Ratio

One thing that has always fascinated me is the propensity for some college football teams to have wild swings in wins from season to season. Phil Steele started this metric, and I gave it a name and update all of you. Now, before I go much farther into this, let me link you to 2007's CGVRs and also link you to an explanation of CGVRs in case this is all new to you.

Even more interesting to me than CGVRs is trying to figure out why teams that fall in the parameters don't produce results that follow the theory. Every year you have a handful of teams who won more than their fair share of close games, only to have a better season the next time around. Tennessee has been one of those teams. Here are the W/L records, CGVRs, and following W/L records for every Volunteer season under The Papa.

YearRecordCGVRExpectationNext SeasonCorrect?

What does this tell us? Not a lot more than we already assume through CGVRs. There have been 9 years where a Fulmer-led team had a CGVR that fell within the parameters. In 6 of them, or 66.7%, resulted "correctly." What I find a tad more interesting is that in 8 of those 9 seasons where UT had a CGVR in the parameters, 8 of them we had positive CGVRs. That tells me that The Papa wins more close games than he loses (which I really like). In 5 of those 8, or 62.5%, our team followed the theory and had the same or worse record the following season.

The exciting prospect of this (sort of) is that Fulmer is better than the rest of the country, on average, at not following a "lucky" season with a "lesser" season. The national average for positive CGVRs is 77% of them either have the same or worse record the next year, whereas Fulmer's teams have the 62.5% ratio.

What does all of this mean for 2008? Well, if you click the link at the very top for the 2007 CGVRs, you'll see that Tennessee's 2007 squad racked up 3 net close wins, which is considered "lucky." Nationally over the last 6 years, 73% of teams with a +3 CGVR have finished with the same or worse record the following year; that's not good news for the prospects of our 2008 season. However, because of the comparison above, I'm not panicking, as The Papa has shown he bucks the trend, at least a little bit.

In the end, it boils down to this: the +3 CGVR is a sign that Tennessee won't improve on the 10-4 record of 2007.

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