Saturday, June 27, 2015

10-Year Anniversary: Dominance Points in Conference USA and the MAC

As I noted in the last post, this blog is celebrating its 10-year anniversary this summer. In that last post, I introduced the concept of ‘Dominance Points’ to determine who has dominated their respective conferences. This system is not designed to compare across conferences (say the Big 12 against the Big 10), but it is designed to compare within conferences (the Big 12 in 2005 versus the Big 12 in 2011). In the last post, we looked at two leagues that no longer exist. In this post we’ll examine a pair of extant conferences.

We'll begin with Conference USA. The Dominance Points for Conference USA teams from 2005-2014 are listed below. The core 12 teams that made up the conference for the majority of that time period are listed first with the eight new members listed separately.
Conference USA still exists, but it has undergone quite the makeover in the last decade. Seven of the twelve teams that populated the conference in 2005 (East Carolina, Houston, Memphis, SMU, Tulane, Tulsa, and UCF) have moved on to the American Athletic Conference and one team has ceased playing Division I football altogether (at least temporarily). To replace the octet, Conference USA has called up teams from the Sun Belt, WAC, FCS, and in direct opposition to the laws of thermodynamics, from nothingness. While the teams that departed were of varying quality, with the four most dominant teams (East Carolina, Tulsa, UCF, and Houston) being joined by a pair of second division squads (Memphis and Tulane), the heft the league lost was significant. From 2005-2012, 14 of the 16 berths in the Conference USA Championship game were held by teams that are now members of the American Athletic Conference with Southern Miss (2006 and 2011) being the lone holdover who appeared in the title game in that span. And recently, the Eagles have gone through a bit of a dry spell. It is entirely too early to get a handle on how the neophytes will perform in the conference, but Middle Tennessee has finished as a runner-up in the East division during both of their campaigns.

Here are the Dominance Points for MAC teams. Once again, the core teams are listed first, with a pair of teams that have been members at different times in the last decade listed separately.
Northern Illinois has dominated the MAC, particularly in the recent past. The Huskies have an active streak of five consecutive West division titles (six overall) and three championships. Central Michigan has also captured three MAC championships, emerging victorious in each of their championship game appearances. In the East division, things have been a little different. Four teams have won the MAC from the East (Akron, Bowling Green, Buffalo, and Miami). Each winner also engineered a mild to massive upset in the MAC Championship Game. Ohio has reached the limits of how dominant a team can be without ever quite reaching the mountaintop. The Bobcats have been consistent winners under coach Frank Solich since his second season in 2006, owning three East division titles. However, the Bobcats have never been able to break through and win the MAC Championship Game, losing twice to Central Michigan and once to Northern Illinois. Bowling Green is the only school from the East division to win consecutive division titles. Temple enjoyed a brief productive period in the MAC, first under Al Golden and then under Steve Addazio before returning to the Big East and later the American Athletic Conference. The Owls never played in the MAC Championship Game, but they did tie for the East division crown in 2009 (with Ohio) and finish a strong second to the Bobcats in 2011.

No comments: