Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Mountain West Wins Stack Up Well

The Mountain West is a “tweener” conference. It hasn’t yet been accepted as a BCS conference, but it has already leaped from the ledge of the little guys and is currently mid-air over the gulf separating the haves from the have-nots. This flight of faith was undertaken hoping that the landing spot doesn’t move out from under it. The conference set out on this course a few years ago by spurning ESPN’s offer for meager pay and weeknight football games, and then recommitted recently by going alone (without the WAC, for example) in its quest to achieve AQ BCS status. The magic carpet in all of this being on field performance, and so far this season (to the relief of the suits and ties in MWC circles), the collective performance of teams in the MWC has been much more similar to the BCS conferences than the non-BCS conferences. After four weeks this season, here is how the MWC stacks up in non-conference games (stats compiled on Phil Steele’s Tuesday blog at www.philsteele.com/Blogs/DailyBlog.html ):

Total Overall Winning Percentage:
SEC          43-5       89.6%
Big Ten     34-10     77.3%
Big East    30-10     75.0%
Big 12      34-14     70.8%
ACC        33-15     68.8%
Pac 10     19-11      63.3%
MWC     22-14      61.1%

CUSA     20-28      41.7%
WAC       16-23     41.0%
MAC       15-37     28.8%
Sun Belt    10-26     27.8%

In overall games (including games against FCS teams), the conference is 7th. Not really newsworthy except for the fact that the conference appears to have separated itself from the other four non BCS conferences and is clinging to its 7th place spot with hopes that it brings a permanent place at the table.

Winning Percentage vs. FBS Teams Only
SEC          32-5      86.5%
Big Ten     26-10    72.2%
Big East     20-10    66.7%
Big 12       25-14    64.1%
ACC         20-14    58.8%
Pac 10      15-11    57.7%
MWC      16-14     53.3%

CUSA      11-28     28.2%
WAC         9-23     28.1%
Sun Belt      7-25     21.9%
MAC          7-36     16.3%

After removing games against FCS teams, the conference is still in a solid seventh place, and again is much closer to joining the top six than the bottom four. In fact the winning percentage gap between the MWC and the next closest conference widens from 20% to 25% after removing wins against lower division teams.

Winning Percentage vs. BCS Teams Only
SEC         10-4      71.4%
ACC         9-10     47.4%
Big East     7-8       46.7%
Pac 10       7-8       46.7%
MWC       5-9       35.7%
Big Ten      4-9       30.8%
Big 12        3-8       27.3%
CUSA       6-19      24.0%
WAC         2-13     13.3%
Sun Belt     2-20       9.1%
MAC         2-27      6.9%

In games against teams from the best conferences, the MWC actually jumps up to 5th place passing the Big Ten and Big 12, putting it squarely as a peer to all non-SEC BCS conferences. If the conference can keep up this kind of performance consistently, its peers will have no choice but to reluctantly acknowledge the landing.

Conference Teams with Records Below .500

Big 12         1       8.3%
SEC            1       8.3%
PAC 10       1      10.0%
Big East      1       12.5%
ACC            2       16.7%
Big Ten       2        18.2%
MWC          2       22.2%

CUSA        5        41.7%
MAC         7        53.8%
Sun Belt     5        55.6%
WAC         5        55.6%

Finally, when looking at the number of teams in each conference with losing records, the MWC with only two such teams also fits much more closely with the six conferences above it than the four below it.

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