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Tale of the Tape: Part 1

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"Well, hello ladies. . ."

This post, the first in a three part series, will attempt to get to address the question, "Who is the better coach?"

Tuberville or Leach?

In the course of this discussion, these posts will also attempt to validate and disprove some of the perceptions about Leach and Tuberville's past accomplishments. 

Based on a simple reading of Overall Winning Percentage, a common sentiment is that while Leach might have a higher winning percentage (66.1%)  than Tuberville (64.7%) overall, Tuberville’s teams played and beat more challenging opponents than did Leach’s Texas Tech teams by virtue of playing in the SEC and playing more substantive non-conference competition. 

Leach supporters counter that Leach did more with less. Tubervillites point to Auburn’s undefeated 2004 season as the ultimate trump card.

Table 1. Overall Winning Percentage

Coach Winning Percentage

Leach

66.1%

Tuberville - Auburn                          

68.0%

Tuberville - Mississippi

55.4%

Tuberville - Aggregate

64.7%

So which side has the better argument?

I make no promises to answer that question (sorry), but I do hope to provide you with enough ammunition to make you dangerous.

Let’s get the ball rolling with our favorite topic - Non-Conference Patsies.

Wins versus Non-conference Patsies

Non-conference patsies can sometimes be hard to define, but to paraphrase former Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, you know one when you see one.

It has been claimed by some that Mike Leach's record benefited from an overly soft schedule.  Whether that is the case will not be addressed here, however, as the list below reveals, both Tuberville’s and Leach’s records were amply padded by road kill in the form of patsies over their respective tenures.

Table 2. The Patsies – A Walk Down Memory Lane


Leach           Tuberville-  Auburn   

   

     Tuberville - Mississippi    

2000

UL Lafayette     

Utah State

New Mexico  

North Texas

 

1999

Appalachian State

Central Florida

Idaho

 

1995 

Indiana State

Tulane

Memphis

2001

New Mexico

SF Austin

NorthTexas

 

2000

Northern Illinois

Louisiana Tech

Wyoming

 

1996

 Idaho State

VMI

Arkansas State

2002

 SMU

2001

Louisiana Tech

Ball State

1997

Central Florida

SMU

2003

 SMU

 

2002

Western Kentucky

Louisiana Monroe

Syracuse

 

1998 

Memphis

SMU

Arkansas State

2004

 SMU

 

2003

Western Kentucky

Louisiana Monroe

 

 

 

2005

 Indiana State

Sam Houston

Florida International

 

 2004

Citadel

Louisiana Tech

Louisiana Monroe

 

 

 

2006

SE Louisiana

SMU

UTEP

 

2005 

 Ball State

Western Kentucky

 

 

 

2007

 Rice

SMU

UTEP

NW State

 

2006

 Buffalo

Tulane

Arkansas State

 

 

 

2008

East Washington

SMU

UMass

 

2007

Tennessee Tech

New Mexico State

 

 

 

2009

North Dakota State

Rice

New Mexico

 

2008

Tennessee-Martin

Louisiana Monroe

 

 

 

Totals

26-0 

 

 

25-0 

 

 

11-0 

Notes:  Texas Tech played New Mexico 6 times during Leach's tenure, but the Lobos only appear 3 times on this list.  The New Mexico teams of 2002, 2003, 2004 all received bowl bids, hence none of the New Mexico teams from those years appear on this list.  The 2001 New Mexico team was 6-5 in 2000, but did not receive a bowl bid, hence that team remains on this list.  In Tuberville’s case, I did not include 5-7 Kansas State (2007); 7-6 bowl bound Southern Mississippi State (2008); 9-4 bowl bound South Florida (a 2007 Auburn loss); 6-6 non-bowl bound Washington State; or 7-6 bowl bound Georgia Tech (2003), but chose to include 4-8 Syracuse (2002). Feel free to add our subtract these opponents as you will.

As we can see, both Leach and Tuberville, while at Auburn, scheduled an almost equal number of patsies over their respective tenures.  Leach played 26 patsies at Texas Tech.  Tuberville played 25 patsies while at Auburn. If we were to deduct games versus patsies from the both coaches' overall records, we would adjust their record as follows:

Table 3. Overall Record – Adjusted for Patsies


    Leach      

  Tuberville Auburn

Tuberville Mississippi

Tuberville Aggregate   

Actual Total Wins

84

85

25

110

Actual Total Losses

43

40

20

60

Actual Total Winning Percentage

66.1%

68.0%

55.6%

64.7%

Patsie Adjusted Wins

58

60

14

74

Patsie Adjusted Losses

43

40

20

60

Patsie Adjusted Winning  Percentage

57.4%

60.0%

41.2%

55.2%

Patsie Adjustment Factor

-8.7%

-8.0%

-14.4%

-9.5%

When you account for the Patsie Factor, Leach’s overall winning percentage declines by 8.7% while Tuberville’s Auburn winning percentage declines by 8.0%, and Tuberville’s aggregate winning percentage drops by 9.5%.

For the sake of not splitting hairs, I think it is probably fair to say that both Tuberville and Leach got a similarly nice bump in their overall records by deigning to play their fair share of patsies over the years. 

Schedule versus Ranked Opponents

Putting the patsies to one side, what about Auburn’s purported superior schedule and specifically its more challenging non-conference schedule you ask?  Didn’t Auburn, by virtue of playing in the SEC and its more masculine non-conference schedule, have a higher degree of difficulty than Texas Tech over the years?

We break down the schedule into three components

  • Number of games versus ranked non conference opponents

  • Number of games versus ranked bowl opponents

  • Number of games versus ranked in-conference opponents


Table 4. Breakdown of Ranked Opponents


 Ranked Non Conference       Opponents      

  Ranked Conference Opponents

Ranked Bowl Opponents

Total Ranked Opponents 

Average Number of Ranked Opponents per Year

Leach            

3

26

3

32

3.2

Tuberville-Auburn

3

33

5

41

4.1

Tuberville-Ole Miss

0

13

0

13

3.3

Tuberville-Aggregate

3

46

5

54

3.9

 

In 10 years Leach’s teams played ranked opponents on 32 occasions – of which 3 of those opponents were non-conference opponents while another 3  were ranked opponents in bowl games.   On average Texas Tech played 3.2 ranked teams per year including bowls.

In 14 years, while at Auburn and Ole Miss, Tuberville’s teams played ranked opponents on 54 occasions – of which, like Texas Tech,  three of those opponents were non conference opponents while another 5 were ranked opponents in bowl games.  On average, Auburn played 4.1 ranked opponents per year during Tuberville’s tenure. While at Mississippi, Tuberville played 3.5 ranked teams per season.   In Tuberville’s aggregate tenure he played 3.9 ranked opponents per year. 

When we examine Texas Tech’s schedule and Auburn’s schedule, we see that Auburn’s marginal advantage in the number of ranked opponents is a function of playing in the SEC and not an overly taxing non-conference schedule. 

Non Conference Schedule - Ranked Opponents

During Leach’s tenure at Texas Tech and Tuberville’s tenure at Auburn, there was relatively little difference between the two schools’ non-conference schedules.  Each school actually played the same number of ranked non-conference teams during Tuberville’s and Leach’s respective tenure. 

Table 5. Ranked Non Conference Opponents

Leach

Tuberville-Auburn

Tuberville-Mississippi

2002:  Ohio State (1), L

2002:  NC State (12), L

2003:  Mississippi (13), W

2001:  Syracuse (16), W

2002:  USC (4), L

2003:  USC (1), L

No ranked Opponents

Record 1-2

Average Opponent Rank:  8.7   

Record: 1-2

Average Opponent Rank:  7.0

Leach and Tuberville achieved the same record against ranked non-conference opponents.  Tuberville’s degree of difficulty was slightly higher than Leach’s.

Note: All references to ranked opponents are based on end of season AP polls only.

Bowl Schedule versus Ranked Opponents

Over a 10 year period, Auburn played against 5 ranked bowl opponents while Texas Tech played against 3 ranked bowl opponents:

Table 6.  Ranked Bowl Opponents

Leach Tuberville - Auburn Tuberville - Mississipi

2004: California (9), W

2008: Alabama (8), L

2009: Mississippi (14), L

2000: Michigan (11), L

2002: Penn State (16), W

2003: Virginia Tech (10), W

2005: Wisconsin (15), L

2006: Clemson (21), W

No Ranked Opponents

Record 1-2

Average Opponent Rank: 10.3

Record: 3-2

Average Opponent Rank: 14.6

As we see from the discussion above, Tuberville played two more ranked bowl opponent than did Leach.  Tuberville had a better record, but Leach’s degree of difficulty, based on end of season AP Polls, was higher.

Ranked In-Conference Opponents

Finally, let's take a look at the ranked in-conference opponents faced by both coaches during their respective tenures.

Table 7.  Ranked Conference Opponents


    Leach                 Tuberville-  Auburn   

   

     Tuberville - Mississippi    

2000

Oklahoma-1

Nebraska-8

Texas-12

1999

Tennessee-9

Florida-12

Mississippi St-13

Georgia-16

Arkansas-17

Mississippi-22

1995

Florida-2

Alabama-21

Auburn-22

2001

Texas -5

Nebraska-6

Oklahoma-8

 

2000

Florida-10

Florida-10

Georgia-20

LSU-22

Mississipi State-24

 

1996

Tennessee-9

Alabama-11

LSU-12

Auburn-24

2002

 Oklahoma-5

Texas-6

Colorado-20

 

2001

Florida-3

LSU-7

Georgia-20

 

1997

Tennessee-7

Georgia-10

Auburn-11

LSU-13

 

2003

Oklahoma - 3

Texas -12

 

2002

Georgia-3

Alabama-11

 

1998 

Georgia-14

Arkansas-16

2004

Oklahoma-3

Texas-5

 

2003

LSU-2

Mississippi-13

Tennesee-15

 

 

 

2005

 Texas-1

Oklahoma-22

Nebraska-24

 

 2004

Georgia-7

Tennessee-13

LSU-16

 

 

 

2006

Oklahoma-11

Texas-13

 

2005 

 LSU-6

Alabama-8

Georgia-10

 

 

 

2007

Missouri-4

Oklahoma-8

Texas-10

 

2006

Florida-1

LSU-3

Arkansas-15

Georgia-23

 

 

 

2008

Texas-4

Oklahoma-5

Oklahoma State-16

 

2007

LSU-1

Georgia-2

 

 

 

2009

Texas - 2

Nebraska -14

 

2008

Georgia-13

 

 

 

Record

7-19

 

 

13-18

 

 

1-12

Winning %

36.8%

 

 

41.9%

 

 

7.7%

Degree of

Difficulty

8.8

 

 

11.2

 

 

13.2

Leach generated a 7-19 record against ranked conference opponents over 10 years, a winning percentage of 36.8%.   The majority of those wins were generated over the past five years when Leach went 6-7 against ranked opponents.

While at Auburn, Tuberville generated a 13-18 record against ranked conference opponents over 10 years, achieving a winning percentage of 41.9%.  The majority of those wins occurred during the six year period spanning 2002 to 2006 during which time Tuberville’s teams went 11-5 against ranked opponents.

While at Mississippi, Tuberville generated a 1-12 record against ranked opponents over 4 years, achieving a winning percentage of 7.7%.  Mississippi’s lone victory came against #13 ranked LSU in 1997.  

In aggregate, Tuberville generated a 14-30 record, good for a 31.8% winning percentage against in-conference opponents, slightly less than Leach’s 36.8% winning percentage.

Although Tuberville’s teams played more ranked in-conference opponents (3.3 ranked in-conference teams per year) than did Leach’s teams (2.6 ranked in-conference teams per year) , Leach’s degree of difficulty, based on the average ranking of his opponent (8.8) was higher than Auburn’s Tuberville-led teams (11.2) and Tuberville's Mississippi teams (13.2).

Conclusion

This discussion illustrates that the scheduling differences between Auburn and Texas Tech during Leach's and Tuberville's respective tenures are not as disparate as some might presume. 

Although Tuberville's Auburn teams played a total of 7 more ranked opponents in the regular season than did Texas Tech under Leach, that difference came from playing in-conference ranked opponents.  However, Leach's teams, based on taking the average  rankings of its ranked in-conference opponents,  actually faced a higher degree of difficulty than did Tuberville's Auburn teams versus ranked in-conference opponents.

Some Texas Tech fans hope that with Tuberville on board, Texas Tech should strive to improve its non-conference schedule to be more in line with a program like Auburn.  However, this sentiment is somewhat misplaced. 

As we see from this discussion, there was little difference between the football programs' non-conference schedules.  Both programs also benefited roughly equally from  playing out-matched non-conference opponents.

It appears that having learned the lesson that scheduling quality non-conference competition  does not actually benefit a team's final record, ranking or bowl placement, neither Leach’s teams nor Tuberville’s teams have actually played a ranked-non-conference opponent since 2003.

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Next Post:  Tale of Tape Part 2:  Comparing Performance