under construction

under construction

October 29, 2014

When Les Is More

Miles' mark representing late-game success
is no laughing matter. Richt's on the other hand...
You too may have seen the same staggering statistic ESPN showcased while recapping LSU's fourth-quarter comeback win over Ole Miss last Saturday night: since he became the Tigers' head coach in 2005, Les Miles has actually won more games than he has lost when trailing entering the fourth quarter. 

According to the ESPN graphic, the top four teams in winning percentage when losing entering the 4Q from 2005 to the present

.511- LSU (24-23)
.346- Texas (18-34)
.300- Ohio State (9-21)
.292- Boise State (7-17)

After the astonishment had worn off that a team could be so much better at winning games late than everyone else over nearly an entire decade, I was next surprised Miles had actually entered that many fourth quarters losing to his opposition. Forty-seven games trailing in the 4Q equates to about five annually, or 37% of the head coach's games since he's been at LSUa rather high percentage considering Miles has guided the Tigers to an overall winning percentage of around 80%.

As I like to do, I wanted to figure the same for our Georgia Bulldogs, and not only since 2005, but for the last 50+ seasons covering the last four head-coaching regimes.  First, the percentage of his total games each UGA head coach trailed entering the 4Q:

31%- Dooley
44%- Goff
37%- Donnan
26%- Richt

It just so happens that the ranking of coaches lowest to highest by percentage of games losing entering the 4Q is the exact same listing of the coaches by winning percentage (Richt-Dooley-Donnan-Goff), which certainly makes sense. Next, and most telling, the winning percentage and record of the four head coaches when trailing entering the 4Q:

.313- Dooley (26-59-3)
.153- Goff (5-30-1)
.318- Donnan (7-15)
.196- Richt (9-37)

Notably, both Dooley and Donnan's late-game mark would rank an admirable 3rd if compared to the top four programs since 2005 in fourth-quarter success. As for Goff and Richt, not so much.

Specifically, Richt's teams since 2005 when trailing entering the 4Q have won just 6 of 35 games, or a winning percentage of only .171, which my guess is wouldn't even crack the nation's top 50, much less be among college football's best.

It may appear on this blog that my nerdy statistical comparisons at times are an attempt to "pile on" Coach Richt; I receive the complaining emails saying as much. However, as they say the "numbers never lie" (speaking of ESPN...).

Nevertheless, Georgia has experienced fourth-quarter success in the past, resulting under two different head coachesone tenure lasting for a quarter-centuryboth of which, although not on the level of Coach Miles, would rival the very best since 2005 in late-game comebacks.

Evidently, with Dooley and Donnan at the helm, if the Dogs were down entering the final quarter, they still had a legitimate shot at a victory. However, seemingly under Richt, if Georgia is trailing entering the 4Q, like during the Goff years, you probably might as well chalk it up as a loss. 


Tommy said...

It would be interesting to look at which individual games those coaches' teams won after trailing in the 4th quarter. I suspect, especially with Donnan, we pulled out a lot of games against teams we should have been beating all along. The same might be true of Miles as well. Whereas Richt probably came by most of his losses pretty honestly (i.e., not a lot of upsets).

Patrick Garbin said...

Hi, Tommy. Thanks for reading and your comment. I thought you made a really good point, so I dissected Donnan's 7-15 fourth-quarter-trailing record and Richt's 9-37 in terms of if the coach was favored or the underdog entering those games. My findings:

Of the 7 times Donnan's teams won when trailing entering the 4Q, 4 times they entered the game as underdogs, 3 times as the favorite. Of Richt's 9 wins, just once were they underdogs, 8 times the favorite.

Of the 15 times Donnan's teams lost when trailing entering the 4Q, 8 times they entered the game as underdogs, 7 times as the favorite. Of Richt's 37 losses, 19 times they entered the game as underdogs, 18 times the favorite.

So, if anything and for what it's worth, although the losses are about equal for both coaches, it appears Donnan's comebacks were mostly upsets while nearly all of Richt's were against teams he should have been beating all along.

Thanks, again.--Patrick

Lori said...

I enjoyed this post, thanks for sharing.