We have come to the end of the 2019 Predictive Power Ranking journey for Nebraska. There will be new rankings after the conference championship game and at the end of the bowl season. Maybe the Huskers' rating will shift a little bit based on how other teams do, but the part they can control is over.
The close loss to Iowa, now 9-3, didn't hurt Nebraska in terms of ranking, but its rating did drop slightly in SP+ and Sagarin (and rose in FPI). Here's the full season in those three systems.
There are two things I'm interested in looking at here. First is what you can see in the chart above. Where was Nebraska at the end of the year relative to the start of the year?
In SP+, Nebraska had a 7.4 rating which ranked 39th. I can't tell you specifically why the Huskers were rated that way, but we know SP+ includes three components in the preseason––a four-year look at recruiting (NU ranked 20th), returning production (58th) and recent performance (42nd). Because SP+ is meant to correspond with points above/below average, the Huskers' 2.9 rating at the end of this season left them 4.5 points worse than projected.
In FPI, which has a similar points output, Nebraska was 3.8 points worse than projected in the preseason. In Sagarin, which uses a different scale, Nebraska dropped 8.4 points from the preseason.
I don't think there's much debate over whether 2019 was a disappointment for Nebraska, but if you want an idea of how disappointing I'd look to SP+ or FPI. Both had Nebraska as about a touchdown better than the average team coming into the year and the Huskers finished the season about a field goal better.
The other data point of note here is where Nebraska finished in these rankings last season. In the view of these rankings, were the Huskers better than they were a year ago?
In two of three, Nebraska was . . . but barely. Sagarin had Nebraska at 73.01 (54th) at the end of 2018 and it's 73.19 (49th) now. FPI would make 2019 Nebraska (50th) about a 1.5-point favorite over 2018 Nebraska (55th) on a neutral field (which I guess would just be Memorial Stadium?). SP+ would have last year's team (55th) as a less than a 0.5-point favorite over this year's group (52nd).
Yes, per SP+, 2019 Nebraska was a tiny bit worse than 2018 Nebraska at this point last year. That leaves Nebraska's two-year trajectory under Scott Frost looking like this: In Year 1, the Huskers were +2.9 points in SP+ over what the current coaching staff inherited. In Year 2, Nebraska was -2.5 from its Year 1 rating for a total change of +0.4 from 2017.
What does that mean big-picture? Hard to say at this point, but it's worth taking a look at this thread:
Filtering this down to "successful" hires, which I'm defining as a coach lasting at least five years, the trend is even more profound:
Year 1: +3.7
Year 2: +1.5
Year 3: -0.4
Year 4: +0.8
Year 5: -0.3
Successful coaches tend to get most of the improvement in upfront in Year 1. https://t.co/mm4gCmsPka
— CollegeFootballData.com (@CFB_Data) December 1, 2019
Definitely go beyond the initial tweet there, which shows you the overall trend. The threaded responses get into some specific (and well-known) trajectories, some of them tied to Sunday's firings.
Speaking of which . . .
The Carousel Whirs to Life
It was a busy weekend on the coaching-change front, kicked off with Missouri moving on from Barry Odom on Saturday. That left Missouri, Florida State and Arkansas open in the P5 ranks entering Sunday.
Then a whole lot more opened. Here's a quick recap.
>>Rutgers got its man after all as Greg Schiano will be the Scarlet Knights' next coach. I rarely like running things back, but I honestly don't know what the answer is at Rutgers.
>>Steve Addazio took Boston College to bowl eligibility in six of seven seasons, including this one, but was never better than 7-5, so the Eagles' brass made the choice to move on.
>>Matt Luke inherited a mess at Ole Miss. It's not his mess anymore.
>>Not P5, but close enough––Charlie Strong is out at USF.
>>There was a report that Clay Helton was out at USC, but he's still the Trojans' coach as of today.
>>Beyond the head-coaching ranks, Northwestern will be in the market for a new offensive coordinator. Mick McCall coordinated the Wildcats' offense for 12 seasons.
>>Keep an eye on Texas. Tom Herman let go of defensive coordinator Todd Orlando and passing game coordinator Drew Mehringer after the Longhorns went 7-5. Former Nebraska assistant Tim Beck remains employed but lost his co-coordinator title.
The Grab Bag
- Here’s our staff end-of-the-year roundtable.
- Derek Peterson looks at leadership among the wide receivers, defensive improvement, Dedrick Mills’ role and more in his Monday column.
- Nebraska volleyball earned the No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament and will host the first and second rounds.
- Greg Smith gets you ready for a key recruiting period for the Huskers.
Today’s Song of Today