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What was Missouri's best football decade?

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The Savitar

Back in 2010, I crafted an estimated S&P+ rating for the purposes of posting a Top 100 Ever list at Football Outsiders. I used that as a jumping-off point for grading Missouri teams as well. (Example.)

This week, in support of my ongoing Kickstarter, I went back to the drawing board, revisited some of the new ways that I now calculate S&P+, and made a new-and-improved Estimated S&P+ rating. I'll be posting about it all week at SBN, but I thought I'd follow along with some Missouri-specific content here.

First up: Decades. Today's SBN piece shared the top 10 programs from each decade based on average percentile rating. Missouri doesn't make the top 10 in any one decade -- the Tigers came up about 1.4% short of making it in the 1960s -- but let's look at how Mizzou graded out from decade to decade.

(To best compare eras, I broke everything down into average percentile ratings. That's how I present it on the S&P+ page, too.)

Decade Avg. Percentile Rating Rk Off. Percentile Rk Def. Percentile Rk
1960s 79.9% 1 55.5% 5 88.9% 1
1970s 76.6% 2 68.0% 2 74.6% 3
2010s 76.3% 3 61.9% 4 85.2% 2
1940s 65.0% 4 76.2% 1 47.1% 9
2000s 62.3% 5 64.2% 3 54.1% 6
1920s 62.2% 6 50.3% 8 69.3% 4
1950s 52.6% 7 49.8% 9 53.1% 7
1980s 52.0% 8 51.9% 7 51.1% 8
1990s 45.6% 9 54.9% 6 39.8% 12
1930s 40.3% 10 38.8% 10 45.9% 10
1910s 39.7% 11 24.9% 12 55.9% 5
1900s 33.1% 12 31.7% 11 42.0% 11

The results here are pretty predictable. The 1960s, which both began and ended with conference titles and nearly featured a 1960 national title, remain the gold standard for 10 years of Missouri football. Meanwhile, the 1970s and 2010s have both featured highs (23-5 in 2013-14, rankings-boosting upsets in the 1970s) and lows (1-10 in 1971, 5-7 in 2012 and 2015). The 2000s were raised up by the results of 2007-08 but dragged down by the end of the Larry Smith era (and a couple of setbacks for Gary Pinkel). The 1940s featured five top-30 teams and four that dropped below the 50th percentile.

And in case you're curious...

  • Average Percentile Performance (Dan Devine era): 76.8%
  • Average Percentile Performance (Warren Powers era): 77.1%
  • Average Percentile Performance (Al Onofrio era): 74.5%
  • Average Percentile Performance (Gary Pinkel era): 69.9%
  • Average Percentile Performance (Don Faurot era): 62.0%

Big wins catapulted Onofrio's team to strong rankings (No. 12 in 1975 and 1976, No. 21 in 1973), but his Tigers could never completely stay out of their own way in that span. Powers, meanwhile, raised the bar and then failed to maintain form. His Tigers ranked No. 16 in Est. S&P+ in 1978, No. 18 in 1980, and No. 10 in 1983. But tight, disappointing losses in 1983 kept Mizzou from putting together a truly elite season, and more tight losses in 1984 got him fired. That was maybe one of the bigger mistakes Missouri has made.

Pinkel, meanwhile, started slowly and finished with a dud, but he averaged 83.2% from 2007-14. Devine's best eight-year average was 78.8% (1962-69). So Devine is the decades king, but Pinkel was a hell of an eight-year man.

I'll share more tidbits as the week unfolds.