Saturday, November 30, 2013

Akron Extends Head Coach Bowden's Contract

Slipping under my radar, the University of Akron has extended head football coach Terry Bowden's contact for an additional two years.  I think that at a time of coaching changes or contract extensions is a good reason to look at the on-field performance of the football team.  So here is a look at Akron since Bowden's taking the reigns of the Zips for the 2012 season using the Complex Invasion College Football Production Model.

At the time of Bowden's contract extension, Akron was 4-7 - with the best won-loss record since 2008.  Akron's best victory to date was a 16-7 victory over currently ranked #89 Kent State and their worst loss was a 3-43 loss to currently ranked #83 Ohio.  As of last weekend, Akron had the #97 ranked team in overall production.  On the offensive side of the team, Akron was ranked as the #101 team and on the defensive side Akron was the #78 best defense.

Hence in terms of the Complex Invasion College Football Production Model, Akron is slightly more productive overall this season as compared to where the Zips finished the prior season, but only slightly.  Akron's offense has slipped and their defense has improved as compared to the previous season.  The Zips have played against a strength of schedule equal to 64.27 as compared to the "league's" strength of schedule (SOS) of 68.20, which is "average" since the Zips SOS is within one standard deviation from the leagues average SOS.

Terry Bowden's first season as the head football coach of the Akron Zips was horrible.  The Zips finished 1-11, with their only win over FCS Morgan State.  Hence the Zips finished their second straight season without a victory against a FBS opponent.  The good news was that Akron had what ended up as the worst team in the FBS - the Massachusetts Minutemen but the bad news is that the Zips were defeated by the worst team in all of the FBS.  That said, Akron was not the worst team in the "league".  In fact Akron had improved from the prior season in terms of their relative ranking in all of the Football Bowl Subdivision.

Akron finished as the #101 team in overall productivity, even with only one victory.  This is a good time to recall that the NCAA FBS Production Model does not use wins and losses to rank teams, nor does it use points scored and points surrendered directly to rank teams.  Rather the model looks at factors that allow teams to gain and maintain possession, move the ball forward, scoring efficiency and makes adjustments for teams in different conferences.

Turning back to the Zips on-field performance, we see that Akron had the #87 ranked offense and the #101 ranked defense.  Both are improvements over the 2011 season, which if you are an optimist is a good sign.  I am an economist, and I am unconvinced that teams (in general) show much production consistency.  (Although I have not rolled up my sleeves to date and tested this hypothesis.  Sounds like a off-season project).  Anyway, the Zips played against an average strength of schedule of 69.00 as compared to the "league" average of 65.53.

Does this nearly two year result warrant a contract extension?  Who know, but since Akron is improving in the win-loss column, it looks as if the university administration is at least willing to give Bowden more time to improve the football program.  Since I am also unconvinced firing a coach will make teams better (again a hypothesis that I have not empirically tackled) giving Bowden more time seems to be a reasonable strategy.

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