The Anatomy of Underperformance



Back in July I wrote an article about why Texas had the makings of a National Title contender. As ridiculous as that possibility was in July, it seems even more absurd now.

Preseason "formulas" for national title contenders are always error prone and serve only to entertain us during the off season. However, I thought it would be a good time to revisit "projected" success against what's actually happening right now in the season.... and in doing that look at exactly how far UT is or isn't under-performing compared to its peers.

Here's a table of the current BCS standings for the Top 25, with the recruiting data I used in July to try and project the top tier teams.

BCS Standings

Rank Team Recruits Diff Record
1 Alabama 1 0 6-0
2 Florida 8 +6 6-0
3 Oregon 16 +13 6-0
4 Kansas State 77 +74 6-0
5 Notre Dame 11 +6 6-0
6 LSU 4 -2 6-1
7 South Carolina 19 +12 6-1
8 Oregon State 48 +40 5-0
9 Oklahoma 9 0 4-1
10 USC 2 -8 5-1
11 Georgia 6 -5 5-1
12 Mississippi State 30 +18 6-0
13 West Virginia 29 +16 5-1
14 Florida State 5 -9 6-1
15 Rutgers 39 +24 6-0
16 Louisville 44 +28 6-0
17 Texas Tech 33 +15 5-1
18 Texas A&M 17 -1 5-1
19 Clemson 23 +4 5-1
20 Stanford 26 +6 4-2
21 Cincinnati 50 +29 5-0
22 Boise State 75 +53 5-1
23 TCU 70 +47 5-1
24 Iowa State 71 +47 4-2
25 Texas 3 -22 4-2

Interesting information on the table. Empirical proof that Bill Snyder is a witch. Taking a team who's recruiting is in the 70's and putting them in the Top 5 while playing a BCS conference schedule is impressive. That man deserves his stadium.

Notably absent from this list are teams with solid recruiting, but who are not ranked. In parenthesis is the recruiting rank of that school:

  1. Auburn (#10)
  2. Michigan (#12)
  3. Tennessee (#13)
  4. Miami (#14)
  5. UCLA (#15)
  6. North Carolina (#18)
  7. Ole Miss (#20)
  8. Penn State (#21)
  9. Nebraska (#22)
  10. Washington (#24)
  11. Arkansas (#25)

Best Over Performers in 2012:

  1. Kansas State (+74)
  2. Boise State (+53)
  3. TCU (+47)
  4. Iowa State (+47)
  5. Oregon State (+40)

Boise State may be squeaking into the polls because of name recognition, but if anything the differential here should highlight just how remarkable Boise's accomplishments over the last few years have been. Also, it should be clear here on why Rhoads and Patterson's names get tossed around in the discussions about outing Mack Brown. Both have taken middle of the road recruits and created solid programs.

Now we all know how wrong recruiting agencies can be, so recruits for more popular programs might receive better ratings just for being recruited by that "name brand". However I think the numbers are illustrative. Every single team with a Top 10 recruiting composite rank over the last four years is ranked in the Top 25, with the notable exception of Auburn who won a BCS National Title within that same time frame, but is imploding in 2012.

Just like Texas, I imagine the fans of Michigan, Tennessee, Miami, and Auburn are similarly upset with their on the field performance. 3 of those 4 programs are wallowing in nearly a decade of under-performing teams.

Whether Texas is able to stay in the rankings this week, or drops out to join the likes of Auburn and Tennessee will be known on Saturday.

If Texas can clear the Baylor hurdle, they then get to finish the season with four currently ranked teams: Texas Tech, Iowa State, TCU, and Kansas State. They are teams that Texas out-recruits by an average of 60 places over the last four years, but who all currently are playing very disciplined and well coached football. Three of those teams place on the Top 5 "over performing" list.

Winning out will be thankless for Mack, because if he wins out it's because he should. If he doesn't, he's rubbing shoulders with other big time program under-performers. Standing in Texas' and Mack Brown's way to redemption is a slate of three of the most over-performing, and possibly best coached, teams in college football in 2012.

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