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DaggaStats 2015 FBS Coaching Year in Review, Part I: The G5 Conferences

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Coaching performances around the country - elucidated, illuminated, reintegrated, digi-quantified, fortified with vitamin Δ

Tom Herman, G5 darling.
Tom Herman, G5 darling.
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Hello and welcome again to your annual-ish installment of coaching performance analysis, via OOH CHARTS WID PREDDY COLORS SHINY SHINY.

If you care to get the low-down on what you're about to witness, START HERE.

tl;dr:

Q = Quality,

T = Talent,

C = Coaching,

CxT = Adjusted Coach Quality, i.e., "This is How Impressed You Should Be With This Coach".

It's a bit more complicated than that, but if you want to know more, click the link.

A quick word about changes for this year:

Since I put this off until August, I've made notes about coaching changes from this past offseason.

If you're not colorblind: the red names got fired, the green names got a better job, and the brown names retired.

(If you're colorblind: there's um, brown names? Yeah. Those coaches are gone.)

Since we're not in the middle of discussing coaching searches, I've put the good ol' RSI (Replacement Suitability Index) on the back burner. If you want to know what that is, click the link.

I've also decided to use whole numbers instead of decimal values, because going past the decimal point lent an air of false precision to the results. This isn't hard science. It's a slightly ridiculous let's-attach-numbers-to-chaos-and-see-if-we-can-explain-it exercise. Honesty, bruh.

And I've paired each conference capsule with stats and links to Bill C.'s great preseason work at the Mothership. For quants in need of a harder fix, here I am stirring ordinal opium into your statistical sizzurp. Just pace yourself. Those links lead to nearly 120 1000+ word profiles for every team in FBS college football, and you have a family to feed.

OFF WE GO:

#11 - Sun Belt Conference (mean CxT: 56.20)

SUNBELT

Sun Belt

Team 2015 Record (Conf.) 2015 S&P+ Rk Proj. 2016 S&P+ Rk Proj. 2016 Wins (Conf.) 5-Yr Rec. Rk Ret. Experience (Off. / Def.)
App St. 11-2 (7-1) 43 59 8.2 (6.1) 113 75% (72%, 78%)
Ga. S'ern 9-4 (6-2) 39 52 8.1 (6.1) 106 69% (89%, 48%)
Ark. St. 9-4 (8-0) 79 89 6.8 (5.1) 85 53% (37%, 69%)
Troy 4-8 (3-5) 90 101 5.8 (3.8) 110 55% (57%, 52%)
Georgia St. 6-7 (5-3) 91 105 5.4 (3.7) 129 56% (45%, 68%)
UL 4-8 (3-5) 107 106 5.1 (3.6) 99 65% (54%, 75%)
Idaho 4-8 (3-5) 109 108 5.2 (3.9) 128 79% (82%, 76%)
USA 5-7 (3-5) 103 115 4.5 (3.3) 103 49% (34%, 64%)
NMSU 3-9 (3-5) 116 117 4.1 (2.8) 118 79% (88%, 71%)
TXST 3-9 (2-6) 112 120 4.5 (3.0) 92 57% (52%, 62%)
ULM 2-11 (1-7) 122 125 3.7 (2.6) 123 65% (78%, 51%)

>> Link to Bill C.'s Sun Belt capsule <<

Idaho and New Mexico State will be leaving after 2017, giving the Sun Belt a geographic footprint that finally makes sense. And that footprint is now fully in the shadow of the SEC. Smart move. Appalachian State and Georgia Southern were excellent pick-ups in recent years, too. And suddenly the Sun Belt is on the verge of no longer being the most pathetic FBS conference. But alas, until the western hangers-on vacate and they pick up a not-embarrassing southeastern school to get back to 10, they suck the most.

They should try to pick up Houston. I hear they're looking for a new conference.

My Pick to Win: Appalachian State

Most Likely Art Briles Landing Spot: Arkansas State

#10 - Conference USA (mean CxT: 56.97)

CUSA

C-USA East

Team 2015 Record (Conf.) 2015 S&P+ Rk Proj. 2016 S&P+ Rk Proj. 2016 Wins (Conf.) 5-Yr Rec. Rk Ret. Experience (Off. / Def.)
WKU 12-2 (8-0) 11 45 8.6 (6.1) 89 47% (34% / 59%)
Marshall 10-3 (6-2) 64 75 7.6 (5.4) 72 62% (72% / 53%)
MTSU 7-6 (6-2) 82 90 6.4 (4.6) 102 68% (80% / 55%)
FAU 3-9 (3-5) 93 100 5.9 (4.1) 87 58% (54% / 62%)
FIU 5-7 (3-5) 108 113 4.4 (2.9) 98 64% (80% / 48%)
ODU 5-7 (3-5) 110 111 5.1 (3.3) 120 71% (65% / 76%)
Charlotte 2-10 (0-8) 124 123 4.4 (2.8) 112 87% (92% / 82%)

C-USA West

Team 2015 Record (Conf.) 2015 S&P+ Rk Proj. 2016 S&P+ Rk Proj. 2016 Wins (Conf.) 5-Yr Rec. Rk Ret. Experience (Off. / Def.)
So. Miss 9-5 (7-1) 58 72 8.3 (6.0) 82 67% (65% / 69%)
La. Tech 9-4 (6-2) 54 84 7.0 (5.0) 81 39% (42% / 37%)
Rice 5-7 (3-5) 119 119 4.7 (3.2) 91 66% (51% / 80%)
UTEP 5-7 (3-5) 126 126 4.9 (2.8) 125 73% (89% / 56%)
UTSA 3-9 (3-5) 113 116 5.0 (3.5) 94 60% (61% / 58%)
UNT 1-11 (1-7) 128 128 3.4 (2.0) 109 59% (42% / 76%)

>> Link to Bill C.'s C-USA capsule <<

If you believe that Tom Herman is the most impressive-looking offensive head coach in the G5 conferences, maybe you should take a peek at Western Kentucky and Jeff Brohm. Petrino's protege is makin' bacon (and unlike Petrino there's no double meaning there).

I'll be interested to see if David Bailiff and Rice can rebound from a disappointing year, with a fresh start injury-wise and 80% of their defensive production returning. Also curious to see if Seth Littrell can infuse some danger into the UNT offense. Otherwise, meh. You've got one good team, three OK teams, then a rapid slide to the deep end of the pool.

My Pick to Win: Western Kentucky

Most Likely Art Briles Landing Spot: Western Kentucky

#9 - Mid-American Conference (mean CxT: 61.07)

MAC

MAC West

Team 2015 Record (Conf.) 2015 S&P+ Rk Proj. 2016 S&P+ Rk Proj. 2016 Wins (Conf.) 5-Yr Rec. Rk Ret. Experience (Off. / Def.)
WMU 8-5 (6-2) 53 65 7.6 (5.3) 83 70% (79% / 62%)
Toledo 10-2 (6-2) 21 58 7.9 (5.3) 84 43% (44% / 43%)
NIU 8-6 (6-2) 69 79 6.9 (4.6) 122 74% (85% / 63%)
CMU 7-6 (6-2) 78 85 6.5 (4.3) 101 73 % (80% / 67%)
Ball State 3-9 (2-6) 111 101 5.2 (3.3) 108 82% (78% / 87%)
EMU 1-11 (0-8) 121 121 4.0 (2.0) 119 77% (78% / 75%)

MAC East

Team 2015 Record (Conf.) 2015 S&P+ Rk Proj. 2016 S&P+ Rk Proj. 2016 Wins (Conf.) 5-Yr Rec. Rk Ret. Experience (Off. / Def.)
BGSU 10-4 (7-1) 19 60 7.9 (5.6) 97 46% (29% / 62%)
Ohio 8-5 (5-3) 66 95 6.5 (4.1) 111 52% (64% / 40%)
Akron 8-5 (5-3) 80 97 5.3 (3.6) 115 63% (72% / 53%)
Kent St. 3-9 (2-6) 115 104 5.0 (3.2) 124 89% (94% / 83%)
Buffalo 5-7 (3-5) 96 109 4.8 (2.9) 114 46% (18% / 73%)
Miami 3-9 (2-6) 117 107 4.6 (3.3) 105 79% (84% / 74%)

>> Link to Bill C.'s MAC capsule <<

The MAC has easily the most talent parity of any conference so it's always interesting to see which coaches and systems come out on top. P.J. Fleck at Western Michigan might finally have a chance to break out with a dominant conference performance, as Northern Illinois released their stranglehold on the conference last year and WMU's other top two competitors have lost their head coaches and more than half their on-field production.

On the other side of the ledger this might be Chris Creighton's last year to pull Eastern Michigan from the mire of Kansas-level suckitude. He's finally returning a bunch of starters and his system is established but man, EMU is a pile of hot garbage. They've won more than two games exactly once in the last seven years. Bill C. projects them to win four this year. Cross your fingers.

My Pick to Win: Western Michigan

Most Likely Art Briles Landing Spot: Northern Illinois

#8 - Mountain West Conference (mean CxT: 61.20)

MWC

MWC Mountain

Team 2015 Record (Conf.) 2015 S&P+ Rk Proj. 2016 S&P+ Rk Proj. 2016 Wins (Conf.) 5-Yr Rec. Rk Ret. Experience (Off. / Def.)
Boise St. 9-4 (5-3) 41 36 9.1 (6.4) 69 70% (87% / 53%)
Air Force 8-6 (6-2) 52 80 7.7 (4.7) 121 60% (34% / 85%)
Utah St. 6-7 (5-3) 46 73 6.6 (4.7) 107 49% (57% / 41%)
CSU 7-6 (5-3) 81 96 5.7 (3.5) 86 49% (58% / 40%)
UNM 7-6 (5-3) 101 102 5.7 (3.3) 104 78% (76% / 80%)
Wyoming 2-10 (2-6) 114 110 4.2 (2.4) 117 71% (60% / 83%)

MWC West

Team 2015 Record (Conf.) 2015 S&P+ Rk Proj. 2016 S&P+ Rk Proj. 2016 Wins (Conf.) 5-Yr Rec. Rk Ret. Experience (Off. / Def.)
SDSU 11-3 (8-0) 45 55 8.6 (5.8) 74 66% (52% / 79%)
Nevada 7-6 (4-4) 99 91 6.4 (4.3) 93 84% (95% / 73%)
SJSU 6-7 (4-4) 89 92 5.7 (3.9) 90 62% (69% / 55%)
Fresno St. 3-9 (2-6) 100 94 5.8 (3.9) 78 76% (89% / 62%)
UNLV 3-9 (2-6) 106 114 4.4 (2.7) 95 56% (56% / 55%)
Hawaii 3-10 (0-8) 118 118 3.9 (3.0) 100 67% (66% / 69%)

>> Link to Bill C.'s MWC capsule <<

Boise State was an unlucky team last year as Air Force edged them out in division play despite being 11 spots behind them in S&P+ rank. Bryan Harsin has 87% of his offensive production returning, and they've probably finished installing all the spider holes and trap doors in the SmurfTurf by now. So expect them to ball out.

Rocky Long had a pretty great season at SDSU last year after four years of consistent above-average play. If he repeats, look for the P5 schools to come calling.

Tim DeRuyter at Fresno State saw his team performance collapse the last two years after a rip-roaring start to his Fresno State career. Having a future NFL draft pick at QB (Derek Carr) is helpful, it turns out. He also had some bad luck last year, losing two close games when they gave up return touchdowns. With most of his offensive production returning it'll be interesting to see if they can turn it around.

My Pick to Win: Boise State

Most Likely Art Briles Landing Spot: San Diego State

#7 - American Athletic Conference (mean CxT: 64.12)

AMERICAN

AAC West

Team 2015 Record (Conf.) 2015 S&P+ Rk Proj. 2016 S&P+ Rk Proj. 2016 Wins (Conf.) 5-Yr Rec. Rk Ret. Experience (Off. / Def.)
Houston 13-1 (7-1) 44 53 7.7 (5.3) 68 58% (72% / 44%)
Memphis 9-4 (5-3) 55 77 6.5 (4.2) 88 54% (40% / 68%)
Navy 11-2 (7-1) 20 66 7.3 (4.8) 96 45% (34% / 56%)
Tulsa 6-7 (3-5) 94 93 5.5 (3.6) 79 70% (73% / 67%)
SMU 2-10 (1-7) 104 98 4.7 (2.9) 76 81% (97% / 65%)
Tulane 3-9 (1-7) 120 122 3.8 (1.8) 80 64% (54% / 75%)

AAC East

Team 2015 Record (Conf.) 2015 S&P+ Rk Proj. 2016 S&P+ Rk Proj. 2016 Wins (Conf.) 5-Yr Rec. Rk Ret. Experience (Off. / Def.)
USF 8-5 (6-2) 50 41 7.9 (5.4) 49 79% (89% / 70%)
Temple 10-4 (7-1) 49 61 8.0 (5.0) 73 63% (73% / 53%)
Cincinnati 7-6 (4-4) 74 70 6.9 (4.2) 64 69% (55% / 82%)
UConn 6-7 (4-4) 87 81 5.8 (3.7) 77 82% (94% / 70%)
ECU 5-7 (3-5) 76 78 6.0 (4.1) 75 73% (85% / 60%)
UCF 0-12 (0-8) 125 99 4.7 (2.9) 59 92% (99% / 84%)

>> Link to Bill C.'s AAC capsule <<

Tom Herman and Gary Ward Jr. for the win, but it's really something to see all of the young buck coaches in this league. There's six or seven coaches in this league that I could see coaching in the P5 within two or three years and that estimate might be low.

I'll be watching Scott Frost and Mike Norvell closely. Frost has taken on a program that collapsed into a sucking vortex last year that George O'Leary's MIT astrophysics degree was somehow unable to prevent. Frost returns virtually the whole two-deep, but is that a good thing? Maybe if they're hungry for a change.

Meanwhile Norvell inherits a Memphis roster that's been performing way above their heads for years running but now may be somewhat depleted.

Also, might we finally see a decent season from Chad Morris and SMU?

Lots of ambitious football minds dealing with interesting challenges here.

My Pick to Win: Houston

Most Likely Art Briles Landing Spot: Houston