Thursday, July 14, 2011

2011 Big East Preview

We have crossed the 50 day threshold. Exactly seven weeks, or 49 days, is all that separates us from for real football. Today, Statistically Speaking tells you how the Big East will shake out in 2011. To decide how much you want to trust these projections, here's the link to last year's Big East preview.

Skip Holtz and the Art of Winning Ugly
In his relatively brief head coaching career, Skip Holtz has been pretty successful. He boasts a career record 46-32, had had just a single losing season (his first at East Carolina in 2005), and has won a pair of conference titles. However, Skippy, like his father, has certainly not been flashy in his winning ways. His East Carolina teams also posed significant problems to my projection system as they frequently finished with sterling won/loss records in Conference USA despite mediocre SDPI numbers. The table below illustrates those discrepancies.As you can see, with the exception of his final year at East Carolina, when his Pirates rated out as the second best team in the league, his teams have usually ranked around the middle in terms of performance. However, Skip always seems to get the best out of his teams. One was he has done this is by posting a phenomenal record in close games. Since 2006, teams coached by Skip Holtz have gone 13-7 in one-score conference games and 22-11 in one-score games overall. How have his teams been able to post this strong record in close games? One reason may of course be randomness and small sample size, but there is one statistical category where his teams have consistently performed well--blocking kicks.His teams have blocked 18 kicks over the past five seasons. Perhaps more importantly, those blocked kicks have aided the cause greatly in close games. 11 of the 18 blocks have occurred in 9 one-score games since 2006. His teams' record in those 9 games? 8-1. Drop those 9 games from the ledger and his teams have gone a more 'normal' 14-10 in one-score games since 2006. The system did not project South Florida to win the Big East this season, but it wouldn't shock me if the Bulls steal a BCS bid despite an underwhelming statistical profile.

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