Monday, July 20, 2009

Big Performance Turnarounds in Year 2

How many currently active head football coaches were lucky enough to witness a major change in on-field performance by the second year of their program?

I compiled a list of the top current and active college head football coaches in the land and recorded their career record to-date at that school, winning percentage at current school, and their team records in Year 1 and Year 2. I then looked for the largest delta in number of victories between Year 1 and 2 for each coach.

I counted 22 individual cases where the new and currently active head football coach demonstrated:

A. A greater number of football victories from year 1 to year 2 (+1 win or more)


B. The ability to get to a post-season bowl in Year 2

This approach excludes some pretty good coaches and some good football teams (like an LSU, Tulsa, Boise State) that may have had a brilliant 11-2 record in year 1 and a good 10-3 record in year 2, as an example. They’d be excluded from the count because they did not technically “improve” in the win column the second year.

Also, what I am showing only takes into consideration active head coaches at their current head coaching positions, not past jobs the coach might have held. Therefore, Rich Rodriguez’s 3-8 to 9-4 miracle work between 2001 and 2002 at West Virginia is excluded here because his current job is at Michigan.

Here's what I found (sorted by highest delta in year 2 victories):

CoachTeamYear 1Year 2Year 2 Win Delta
Jim TresselOhio St.2001: 7-5 Lost the Outback Bowl2002: 14-0 Won the Fiesta Bowl (NC)7
Bobby StoopsOU1999: 7-5 Lost Independence Bowl2000: 13-0 Won Orange Bowl (NC)6
Pete CarrollUSC2001: 6-6 Lost Las Vegas Bowl2002: 11-2 Won Orange Bowl5
Mark RichtGeorgia 2001: 8-4 Lost Music City Bowl2002: 13-1 Won Sugar Bowl5
Bobby BowdenFSU1976: 5-61977: 10-2 Won Tangerine Bowl5
Bronco MendenhallBYU2005: 6-6 Lost Las Vegas Bowl2007: 11-2 Won Las Vegas Bowl5
Nick SabanAlabama2007: 7-6 Won Independence Bowl2008: 12-2 Lost Sugar Bowl5
Urban MeyerFlorida2005: 9-3 Won Outback Bowl2006: 13-1 Won BCS NCG4
Gary PattersonTCU2001: 6-6 Lost Bowl2002: 10-2 Won Liberty Bowl4
Chris AultNevada2004: 5-72005: 9-3 Won Hawai'I Bowl4
Mark ManginoKansas2002: 2-102003: 6-7 Lost Tangerine Bowl4
Butch DavisUNC2007: 4-82008: 8-5 Lost Meineke Car Care Bowl4
Dan HawkinsColorado2006: 2-102007: 6-7 Lost Independence Bowl4
Joe PaternoPSU1967: 5-5-01967: 8-2-1 Tied Gator Bowl3
Skip HoltzECU2005: 5-62006: 7-6 Lost Bowl2
Brian KellyCincy2007: 10-3 Won Bowl2008: 11-3 Lost Orange Bowl1
Kyle WhittinghamUtah2005: 7-5 Won Emerald Bowl2006: 8-5 Won Armed Forces Bowl1
Jeff TedfordCal2002: 7-52003: 8-6 Won Bowl1
Ralph FriedgenMaryland2001: 10-2 Lost Orange Bowl2002: 11-3 Won Peach Bowl1
Charlie WeisND2005: 9-3 Lost Fiesta Bowl2006: 10-3 Lost Sugar Bowl1
Steve SpurrierS.Carolina2005: 7-5 Lost Independence Bowl2006: 8-5 Won Liberty Bowl1
Tom O'BrienNC State2007: 5-72008: 6-7 Lost Bowl1

It’s kind of interesting to take note which coaches faced the fire of year one and survived the hate storm long enough to tell about it. Some coaches never faced any such fire their first and second year out.

There were three cases where a national championship was won in Year 2: Ohio State (Tressel 2002), Oklahoma (Stoops 2000) and Florida (Meyer 2006).

I'll revisit the list again at the conclusion of the 2009 football season in January 2010.

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