Andy Hodges

Charting programs’ trends heading into another season

We take a look at the trends in SEC teams’ winning percentages and we find out who’s at the top and who’s looking to climb.

Who will break their trend?

Who will continue down the path their trend, sometimes decades in developing, has laid out for them?

This is a story good to look at twice a year. Before the season, you can guess who might break their trend, especially if it’s been flat for a few years. More often, though, it tells you who is going to remain where they are.

If nothing else, history has shown us that in college football, you are what you are over the long haul. And a word of note, not much has changed in the SEC over the years in relation to the teams that win the most games.

Much like anything else, you can analyze numbers and pretty much find justification for any result you want to obtain if you narrow things down enough, but over the long haul you pretty much end up where you belong in the college football pecking order.

We start with the records from 1972 as that was when virtually all teams were integrated and the 11th game on the schedule was pretty much standard for everyone.

Winning Percentages from 1972-2015

  1. Alabama 73%
  2. Georgia 70%
  3. Florida 69%
  4. Auburn 67%
  5. Tennessee 66%
  6. LSU 65%
  7. Texas A&M 64%
  8. Arkansas 61%
  9. South Carolina 53%
  10. Ole Miss 51%
  11. Missouri 51%
  12. Mississippi State 46%
  13. Kentucky 42%
  14. Vanderbilt 33%

Overall, this is pretty much like you would expect.

Now, to look at trends, we go from 1992 when the SEC expanded the first time, bringing in Arkansas and South Carolina into the fold.

Winning Percentage from 1992-2015

  1. Florida 75%
  2. Georgia 71%
  3. Alabama 68%
  4. LSU 68%
  5. Auburn 67%
  6. Tennessee 67%
  7. Texas A&M 64% (non-SEC until 2012)
  8. Arkansas 55%
  9. Ole Miss 54%
  10. Missouri 54% (non-SEC until 2012)
  11. South Carolina 53%
  12. Mississippi State 50%
  13. Kentucky 39%
  14. Vanderbilt 34%

You can see that things pretty much stayed the same at the top, with some adjusting. As hard as it may be today for youngsters to grasp, the first decade and a half of the SEC realignment saw the power primarily in the East.

To continue looking at the trend and refining it to get another way to look at the 2016 season, you take the past decade to see if anything changed.

Winning Percentages from 2006-2015

  1. Alabama 80%
  2. LSU 77%
  3. Florida 72%
  4. Georgia 71%
  5. Missouri 67% (non-SEC until 2012)
  6. Auburn 65%
  7. South Carolina 62%
  8. Texas A&M 60% (non-SEC until 2012)
  9. Arkansas 58%
  10. Mississippi State 55%
  11. Tennessee 53%
  12. Ole Miss 51%
  13. Kentucky 44%
  14. Vanderbilt 41%

The result of this is we see the Crimson Tide jumping back to the top with the consistent success Nick Saban’s hiring in 2007 brought to Tuscaloosa. We also see the success of Steve Spurrier having his best years with the Gamecocks.

Maybe more startling is the similarity with the rankings from the period of time when the SEC started expanding for the first time, which leads to a look at how things have gone after the second expansion.

Winner Percentages from 2012-2015

  1. Alabama 89.2%
  2. Georgia 75.4%
  3. LSU 72.5%
  4. Texas A&M 69.2%
  5. Ole Miss 65.3%
  6. Mississippi State 65.3%
  7. Missouri 63.4%
  8. Florida 62.7%
  9. South Carolina 62.7%
  10. Auburn 57.6%
  11. Tennessee 52%
  12. Vanderbilt 50%
  13. Arkansas 44%
  14. Kentucky 29%

This last trend cycle shows how programs like Florida, Auburn, Tennessee and Arkansas fell following problems within that all three schools are hoping was addressed with their present coaches.

Texas A&M and Missouri, the schools joining the SEC in 2012, have improved themselves in somewhat of a surprise, but it’s only been four years, so there is still some time required before a definitive trend can be seen.

We could see a change in these trends as Florida and Tennessee are projected to trend upward from their present position. Many are putting Auburn and Arkansas anywhere from the middle to the bottom of the pack in the West this year.

This will be an interesting year in the trend cycle as programs at the bottom of the current four-year cycle are all looking to have better years while some (Vanderbilt, Missouri) are trending downward based on preseason projections.

It will be interesting to see how the composite recruiting rankings are reflected in the trends of the results.

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