Another round, looking at some UW history. …
Q: I was able to go back to 2000 to see if the UW and WSU had ever both lost to the same non-conference football team in the same season as has happened this year when each lost to Notre Dame — UW 37-30 in overtime, WSU 40-14. Any occurances of this prior to 2000?
A: Wow, what an interesting question. One that also required a bit of research. Excluding Idaho (each has played the Vandals in the same season in recent years but never both losing) I had to go back to 1983 to even find the last time they each played the same non-conference team in the team season. That year, UW beat Michigan 25-24 while WSU lost to the Wolverines 20-17. They also each played Minnesota in 1976, UW winning 38-7, WSU losing 28-14. They also each played Michigan State in 1970, UW winning 42-16, WSU losing 28-14. And in 1963, they each played Iowa, UW losing 17-7, WSU forging a 14-14 tie. But that was the closest I could find to what has happened this season when each lost to the same non-conference team going back to the beginning of conference play in 1916.
Q: I’ve been hearing alot about the turnaround the Dawgs have made this year quantified in terms of their win/loss record but I think that doesn’t really quantify the improvement of this team well enough, being how bad most of our losses were last year vs how close they are this year. Do you have any idea what the biggest improvement in average point margin would be from one season to the next? Or for a new coach in his first year?
A: As I’ve stated on here before, I’m not sure how relevant statistical comparisons are to last year in a lot of ways given that I think a lot of players began mailing it in about midway through the 2008 season and Jake Locker was hurt, etc.
But for the sake of the question, at the moment UW is being outscored 31-24 per game — last year it was 38-13. So the Huskies have improved by 18 points per game.
That’s a pretty significant improvement but nowhere near the school record which was set in 1970. That season, UW went 6-4 and outscored opponents an average of 33.4-21.4 a year after going 1-9 and being outscored 30.4-11.6. That’s an improvement of roughly 31 points per game, which as far as I can tell is the most significant in school history.
As for a new coach in his first year, the game is so different now than it was, say, 50 years ago that I’m thinking only the coaches from Darrell Royal on are really relevant.
So here’s the points scored total for each new coach since Royal took over in 1956
Royal — His teams outscored foes 23.2-20.6 after the 1955 team outscored foes 14.1-9.3, so no improvement.
Jim Owens (1957) — His teams were outscored on average 21.2-12, so a fall of roughly 12 points per game from the previous year.
Don James (1975) — His first team was outscored an average of 22.7-15.6 (due largely to a 52-0 loss at Alabama) after Owens’ last team was outscored an average of 25.9-24.7, so no improvement.
Jim Lambright (1993) — His first team outscored foes 26.1-18 after James’ last team had outscored foes 25.5-12.3, so no improvement.
Rick Neuheisel (1999) — His first team outscored foes 25.9-23 after Lambright’s last team was outscored an average of 24.8 to 23, so a slight improvement.
Keith Gilbertson (2003) — His first team outscored 26.6-26, after Neuheisel’s last team had outscored foes an average of 28.3-26.3, so no improvement.
Tyrone Willingham (2005) — His first team was outscored 30.6-21.5 after Gilbertson’s last team was outscored 30.3-14, so an improvement of about seven points.
So Sarkisian’s team is improving, in terms of average margin per game, more than any other UW first-year coach in the last 53 years. But he also had the most room for improvement. I’ll leave it to you guys to decide what any of it means.