Turnovers Are Football October 29, 2012
I have the best readers ever. I’m all “we have to be the worst team EVAR at turnover margin” and some commenter who goes by “vg” is all “hey, I’ll use the magic of mathmatics to find out just how bad we are”.
I’d like to think he (she?) took hours and hours in a dark room, slaving away at the numbers, attaching photos to the walls and running red strings between the connected statistics, John Nash style. But he probably just found a place where he could cut and paste the statistics into a spreadsheet. Which I could have done. If I wasn’t lazy.
Anyway, here is the list he put together. This takes the final Turnover Margin ranking for each team over the last 10 years and ranks each FBS team from best to worst. The shocker – we’re not the worst! We’re THIRD worst. Eat our dust, New Mexico State and Idaho.
Remember, that list is just turnover margin. It reads like a list of “best teams over the last 10 years”, but it’s really not. It’s simply the best teams at taking care of the ball/forcing turnovers. But since turnovers are football, yes, it’s a list of the best teams over the last 10 years.
His list includes the three teams who have reclassified to FBS this year – Texas State, UT-San Antonio, and UMass. Because their statistics are simply from one year, I’ll toss them out and just list the top-12 and bottom-12 out of the 120 FBS programs before this season. Here’s our brethren at the bottom:
112: Western Kentucky
116: Fresno State
120: New Mexico State
I could write about this 1,500 times and still get angry. My heart rate is easily up 35 bmp over normal right now. Three different coaches over 10 years and we’re third from last in all of football at Turnover Margin.
Turnovers are football. Force ‘em, prevent ‘em, and you’ll win and win and win some more. Don’t believe me? Here’s the top 12 teams on vg’s list. Remember, this has nothing to do with passing yards. Or rushing defense. Or third down conversion percentages. This is simply a list of the teams over the last 10 years that force turnovers and don’t give the ball away.
1: Boise State
7: West Virginia
8: Wake Forest
10: Virginia Tech
When I’m named head coach of Illinois in 2021, here are my opening remarks at the press conference:
“Turnovers. Turnovers turnovers turnovers. We’re going to force turnovers, we’re going to obsess over hanging onto the ball, and we will win football games because of it. By the third year of my Champaign reign, you will see a team in the top 10 nationally in Turnover Margin. Quite honestly, I’m probably going to under-practice on offense and defense. We might look like crap for a while in our schemes. But you have to trust me – we look like crap because every practice is geared towards two things: field position and turnovers.
That’s honestly all we’re going to care about. We’re going to spend hours and hours on special teams, because the field position the special teams provide is vital to college football success. And then we’re going to spend more hours and hours on taking care of the ball and forcing fumbles. If we have time left to practice some bubble screens, we might try to fit that in. But for the most part, all this coaching staff will care about is field position + turnovers.
I looked up the stats, and this team probably lost 35 games the last 20 years simply because no coach seemed to ever care about turnovers and field position. The coaches who obsess over it – the Chris Petersons, the Nick Sabans, the Bob Stoopseses – are all beloved by their fanbases. I want to be beloved here. So I’m going to emphasize turnovers and field position over everything else.
Especially turnovers. Because turnovers are football.”