Consider the 2015-16 Missouri Tigers. Er, you know, if you want.
In 2015, 28 of the 54 players (51.9 percent) of the players on the Tigers’ two-deep to start the season had zero to one years logged in the program. That included eight of nine receivers and six of 10 defensive linemen and defensive backs.
In 2016, 24 of the 48 (50.0 percent) of the guys on the two-deep were in the zero-to-one-year range. That included seven of 11 offensive linemen and four of eight defensive linemen.
Those teams went 5-7 and 4-8.
Here’s something interesting about the past five years of Tigers football. I’ll lay out the numbers, then we’ll talk about it a little afterward.
(First, some method. We got the average years in the system by taking the year each player on the depth, how many years he had been in the system, then divided by the total number of players on the depth. I also got a weighted Rivals average ranking by multiplying the number of players in each class by the national class ranking and dividing by the total number of players on the depth. That’s not perfect — since some players were walk-ons or transfers not included in the class rankings — but it’s good enough.)
Avg. Years in System
2013 — 2.39
2014 — 2.09
2017 — 1.84
2015 — 1.69
2016 — 1.65
Weighted Rivals Rank
2013 — 34.1
2015 — 34.9
2014 — 35.9
2016 — 35.9
2017 — 38.3
Notice anything? Especially about the average years in the system?
It’s a pretty perfect correlation between average years in the system on the preseason depth and eventual success. Much stronger correlation than the weighted Rivals rank.
Pretty interesting, huh?
So where does 2018 fit in? At least with what we know from the media days depth chart?
Average years: 1.91. Weighted Rivals rank: 41.7.
So the recruiting ranking isn’t as good. But the average years are trending up. And, as we’ve established, that’s what matters.
BUT WAIT: 2012 is here to ruin things.
That preseason depth chart had 2.24 average years in the system and a weighted rank of 31.8 which, given the rest of the years in the study, would probably predict it around 10-11 wins.
And those Tigers went 5-7. Those Tigers also sustained injuries at key positions. So maybe that’s the moral of the story: rely on decently talented experience, and hope for no injuries.
See the work below.
(Also, another short note: I got a great suggestion for a post on Twitter, but I didn’t have time to execute it in a thorough enough manner. So, soon...soon...)