More Numbers: Randy Edsall and Connecticut SOS

Full disclosure before getting into some of these numbers:  I'm not terribly pleased with the Edsall hire.  Had the situation been different, and Edsall were brought in (instead of Franklin, perhaps) after Fridge retiring on his own terms in a few years, I would be perfectly pleased.  I won't bore you (yet) with my reasons for disliking the hire, I just thought it was necessary so that I'm not pretending to be 100% objective.

I think Edsall should be respected for bringing UConn into Division 1A, and leading them to some pretty good years.  But part of me wondered if he was beating anybody that was any good while he was doing it. 

I looked at the years 2002 to 2010.  I didn't consider Edsall's first 3 years with UConn in Div. 1A, as they were all pretty bad records which can be easily attributed, almost in full, to the transition to the big time.  In 2002, Connecticut went 6-6, so I thought that was a fair year to start analyzing.

Over the 9 seasons from 2002 to 2010, Connecticut went 65-46.  A pretty impressive record.

However, their strength of schedule in those 9 years, according to the Congrove Computer Rankings, came to an average of 71.22 in the country.  For comparison's sake, Maryland's was 48.67.  (Note, this is a ranking of all Div. 1A teams for those years, so the lower numbers are best, i.e., a team is awarded "1" if they have the hardest schedule in the country for that year).

This isn't damning in and of itself, but I looked a bit closer.  I broke down Edsall's W/L record into two groups--games against BCS opponents, and games against non-BCS opponents.

Obviously there are terrible BCS teams (Duke for many years), and there are pretty good non-BCS teams (Boise St., TCU, etc)--but for those most part, the BCS/Non-BCS breakdown let's us see if UConn was beating decent programs, or padding the W/L record with cupcakes.  Also for these purposes, I counted Notre Dame as a BCS team.

Record against BCS teams:  35-43

Record against non-BCS teams:  30-3

For comparison's sake:  Friedgen was 46-45 against BCS teams, and 19-3 against Non-BCS teams from 2002 to 2010.

Interesting Stats:

#1:  Almost half of Edsall's wins (46.15%) during the "good years" at UConn came against Non-BCS opponents.  Meanwhile, Fridge, during the same timeframe, had more than twice as many wins against BCS opponents as non-BCS opponents.  Only 29% of Fridge's wins from 2002-2010 were against non-BCS teams.

UConn played 11 more non-BCS teams than Maryland in those 9 years.  That basically comes to 1 more "win" a year, gained simply from scheduling cupcakes.

#2:  We know that UConn had a lower SoS than Maryland, which is backed up by the fact that they played a significant number of non-BCS opponents.  But that wouldn't really matter if UConn was also consistently beating the "big boys."  But Edsall went 35-43 against BCS opponents (.448 winning percentage), whereas Fridge had a winning record (.506 winning percentage).


Look, these numbers don't tell us anything we don't already know:  Maryland is a better program than UConn. 

Edsall's value is not in his win/loss record, but in the fact that he turned UConn from a Div-1AA program into a solid D-1A program in less than a decade.

BUT, didn't Fridge do a similarly Herculean task?  He took Maryland from a nothing program, to a solid Div-1A program.  He may have started out in a bit better position than Edsall, but he also performed better.  I think they both did commendable jobs in building programs from basically nothing into above average programs.

I also understand that we didn't have the option of just maintaining the status quo.  Read my posts from the past few weeks--I was 100% behind the decision to replace Fridge.  But I really see this as a totally lateral hire--we replace a coach that made Maryland a solid program with a coach that made UConn a solid program.  On-the-field, I wonder if we will actually see improvement.

And business/publicity-wise, I think this was a terrible move.  Safe, sure.  But anyone that has actually looked into the Leach "baggage" has come away with the feeling that many of the allegations were way overblown.  I was considering making the 7-hour drive to see the Terps play Notre Dame next year--and I'll be honest, it is a bit less enticing with Edsall as coach.

So basically, we look to have made a lateral move on-the-field, and created no excitement around the program in making it.  In fact, we probably took a PR hit, in that we made a pretty harsh decision to remove Fridge from the job, and we failed to justify that decision with a "splash."

We have a quickly-closing window, before Miami and FSU return to dominance, where we could establish ourselves as a top-25 program.  I just don't see this move doing it in the short-term, which may be our only real chance.  If the Florida teams get back on track, it could be awhile before we can unseat them and Virginia Tech.

I hope he succeeds, but from my view, we just made a "boring" hire of a guy that padded his W/L record with a bunch of cupcakes, and couldn't consistently beat BCS teams, even though the vast majority of his BCS opponents were from the "mighty" Big East.  Disappointing.

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