Tag Archives: college football

Top 25 Letdown

The Wall Street Journal recently had an interesting item about the win-loss records of the football coaches in all the major conferences against AP top-25 teams. Here’s the current ACC coaches’ records:

School Coach W-L Career W-L Current
Boston College Steve Addazio 1-6 1-4
Clemson Dabo Swinney 9-18 9-18
Duke David Cutcliffe 9-26 3-14
Florida State Jimbo Fisher 12-6 12-6
Georgia Tech Paul Johnson 10-22 10-13
Louisville Bobby Petrino 14-19 4-7
Miami (FL) Al Golden 3-13 3-8
NC State Dave Doeren 1-4 0-3
North Carolina Larry Fedora 3-9 1-5
Pittsburgh Pat Narduzzi 0-0 0-0
Syracuse Scott Shafer 0-7 0-7
Virginia Mike London 4-9 4-9
Virginia Tech Frank Beamer 45-50-1 45-50-1
Wake Forest Dave Clawson 1-9 0-2

Add it all up and these guys have won 39% of their games against Top 25 teams while coaching at their respective schools (the current number above), which is only nominally better than the 36% collective career average. Why’s that important? Because many of these coaches came from head coaching positions at smaller schools and you would expect them to have more losses there since they would have been homecoming/early season fodder for larger football schools. You would think that once they got to the larger schools their records would have improved with access to more resources, but that doesn’t appear to be the case.

Of course you can also look at it this way: it takes time to build a winning program and in today’s “win now” culture these guys just don’t get the time to lay the groundwork needed to have a strong sustainable program. That’s why Virginia Tech stands out. Beamer might have a sub-.500 record, but he’s had almost 100 games against Top 25 teams which indicates that they don’t run away from a tough schedule and they also give their coach plenty of opportunities to build and rebuild.

Love it or hate it, the reality is that college football is big business on college campuses and the head coaches are among the highest paid people on campus. And to be clear the ACC isn’t the only conference with coaches with numbers like these – the vast majority of coaches have losing records against Top 25 teams – so you have to wonder how so many keep their jobs right? That’s why we have the FCS which is chock full of teams from smaller football programs willing to take a beating in exchange for some cash. Everyone wins – the big schools get two or three almost-guaranteed wins a year, the coaches get to pad their records and the small schools get their biggest paydays of the season before playing their peers. It’s the American way.

Cupcakes – The Secret to Success for College Football Coaches

Despite the headline, this post is not about whether multi-million dollar football coaches provide a good return on investment, because quite frankly that’s the kind of debate that has all kinds of rabbit holes. No, this post is about how those multi-million dollar coaches’ teams perform on the field against good competition and the Wall Street Journal has a fascinating graphic showing that very few are all that good against non-cupcakes. Here it is:

Source: Wall Street Journal

Source: Wall Street Journal

You’ll notice that only 14% have career winning records and only 9% have winning records with their current teams. For those of us here in ACC country here are the most pertinent numbers:

School (Coach): Career Record/Current School Record

Boston College (Addazio): 0-4/0-2
Clemson (Swinney): 9-13/9-13
Duke (Cutcliffe): 8-25/2-13
Florida St. (Fisher): 9-5/9-5
Georgia Tech (Johnson): 7-20/7-12
Louisville (Petrino): 14-17/4-5
Miami (Golden): 3-11/3-6
UNC (Fedora): 2-8/0-4
NC State (Doeren): 1-3/0-2
Pittsburgh (Chryst): 3-4/3-4
Syracuse (Shafer): 0-3/0-3
Virginia (London): 3-6/3-6
Va. Tech (Beamer): 43-50-1/43-50-1
Wake Forest (Clawson): 1-7/0-0

So one out of 14 coaches (7%) in the ACC has a career or school winning record against top-tier teams. Sounds terrible, but when you compare it to the other conferences it really isn’t all that bad:

SEC – 4 out of 14 (29%)
Big 12 – 2 out 10 (20%) + one coach with a .500 record
PAC 12 – 1 out of 12 (8%) + one coach with a .500 record
Big Ten – 1 out of 14 (7%)

Luckily these guys get to coach against each other a majority of the time so it’s all good.

Another Reason to Hate the BCS

I'm going to keep this simple: I hate big-tim college football's BCS.  There are many reasons for my hatred, not the least of which is that because of the BCS the national "champion" in football is determined in the same fashion that figure skaters and diving champions are crowned in the Olympics.  If you need more reasons than that to hate the BCS then all you need to do is read this Sports Illustrated article.  Here's a highlight for you academics out there:

Of the 120 athletic departments that play I-A football, 106 lost money in 2009, according to an NCAA report. Budget shortfalls forced the University of California in September to cut five sports. Virginia hit up students for $11.9 million in fees for the 2008–09 school year to offset athletic department operating expenses. Cincinnati reached two consecutive BCS bowls and still found itself $24 million in debt. All over the country, schools are turning to student fees, academic funds and taxpayer support to balance the athletic department's books, which helps explain the uptick in so-called pay games (Hey, LSU, good luck this Saturday against Louisiana-Monroe!), conference realignments and expansion of the men's basketball tournament.

Really, you need to read the article to see how bad this really is.

Personal aside: when I was at George Mason U back in the 80s the school was considering adding an intercollegiate football program, but eventually decided on building a Fine Arts Center.  Many students were aghast because we wanted a football team.  I mean, seriously, homecoming basketball games just don't do the trick.  If memory serves the school's president argued that the expense just wasn't worth it, though we students suspected that he'd used some inflated numbers since everyone knew he preferred the Fine Arts Center.  In retrospect I think he may have been right if they were looking at adding a D-1 program, but I'm still not convinced that a 1-AA program wouldn't have worked. Well, I'm proud to say that students at my alma mater didn't wait for the school's administration to put a team together.  In 1993 they started a club football team and it seems to be going pretty strong in the Seaboard Conference.  I have a lot of admiration for students who will go to that level of effort to play a game they truly love; to me they're true student-athletes.