For Mullen is to return UF to the championship; A comparative analysis

SORT14
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As is well-documented, Dan Mullen has taken over a Florida Gators team that is coming off one of their worst seasons in recent history, a 4-7 campaign. So what arc should we expect from Mullen if we are to believe he has Florida on the right track to return to the top? To answer this question, I analyzed the last ten national championship coaches and found some interesting trends.



1. *=projected totals; took over mid-season
Of interest here, is that it took, on average, these championship coaches 3.2 years to win a Natty. However, they didn't all walk into similar situations. As the table shows, Swinney and Brown took 7 and 8 years to garner a title, respectively. Meyer (Florida) and Chizik took only one year. Of interest in this equation, is how good was the team they took over.



On average, the recent champs took over teams that had been 6-6 the prior season. As this table shows, only Saban and Brown took over teams with 4 or fewer wins, like Mullen has. If you make the logical assumption that Florida would have posted a 5-7 record in 2017 (presumably winning the cancelled game against Norther Colorado), then Pete Carroll and Chizik would have inherited a comparable team. So, as far as quality of team inherited, Mullen is likely in trouble. For Mullen to be on track with the recent champs, he needs to get Florida to around 8 wins in his first year.



Recent champs have averaged a record of 9-4 in their first year, 11-3 in year two, 10-3 in year 3, and 11-3 in year four (see full table below). 8 of the 10 most recent championship-winning coaches have won their title in 3 or fewer years, except for the aforementioned Brown and Swinney. In the key second year, only Brown (9-5), Swinney (9-5), and Fisher (9-4) had fewer than ten wins. If Mullen does worse than 6-6 in his first year, he will surpass Carroll as having the worst first year. But if he follows Carroll's 2nd (and subsequent) years, he will be doing great.
All in all, this study is encouraging for the Gators. It clearly shows that the first year is, as suspected in most cases, a rebuilding and familiarization year. However, the steep improvement expected in the second year is significant to watch for. With UF currently having the 7th most talented roster (based on current 4-year average 247 composite ratings) in the SEC, they clearly need an influx of good players. Let's hope Mullen can have some success on the recruiting trail this year and get things going next year. Florida has some good young players and if they can keep that going, I suspect Mullen will get to the 10-11-win range in year 3, a little behind schedule. However, as we discovered, he is starting a little bit behind the 8-ball in taking over a 4-7 team. As such, it would make sense that he may need an extra year to get UF back in the hunt.



Sgun2.0
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Cool post. Curious, of these coaches and respective years , how many were in their first year as a head coach when taking over a program?

SORT14
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Thank you. Only Fisher and Swinney had no prior head coaching experience. Carroll had never been a college coach prior to USC, but coached in the NFL for several years before taking over the Trojans.
Eric-UF
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SORT14 said:

All in all, this study is encouraging for the Gators. It clearly shows that the first year is, as suspected in most cases, a rebuilding and familiarization year. However, the steep improvement expected in the second year is significant to watch for.
I was with you up until here. How do you draw this conclusion? If most of the teams were 6-6 (or worse) before they hired their HC and then that next year they went 9-4 (average), how is there hope for Florida given we just got blown out by Kentucky?

It would seem that the analysis says if you don't take a big step forward in that first year...probably isn't going to happen.

What am I missing?
---Go Gators!
SORT14
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For comparison, the last ten 25th ranked teams (at the end of the season) had an average shallower arc:

Record of team prior to arrival: 6-6
1st year: 7-6
2nd year: 10-4
3rd year: 7-5
4th year: 7-6

SORT14
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It is encouraging in this sense- Mullen took over a team that was, on average, worse than the teams taken over by the study group. Therefore, he is starting from more of a deficit. If he can get beyond 6-6 in his first year, which is quite plausible, then he will be ahead of the arc going into his second year. It also means that Mullen should be given into his 3rd year before we expect a realistic championship-level team, again because of the deficit.

This is a season-based outlook, not a game-based outlook. Losing to UK is not encouraging, but that is a different discussion.
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