Thursday, April 26, 2007

Tuberville sucks?

No he doesn't. A lot of people here seem to think so, but I think by any objective measure you have to say that Tommy Tuberville is probably as good of a coach as there is in the SEC.

Let's look at the last five years of SEC football. Auburn's record is 50-14 in that time. LSU is 52-13 over the same span. Alabama's record over that same span is 36-27. Of course, Bama was ravaged by sanctions during most of that time.

Auburn won the SEC West twice in that time, and had an undefeated season: the only SEC team to do so in that span.

Alright, so Auburn has had the best or second best SEC West program over the last 5 years. Why does that mean that Tuberville is such a good coach? My answer to that is simple. If recruiting is the life-blood of a football program, Auburn has been anemic compared to LSU. Here is Auburn's recruiting breakdown over the same span of time (according to Rivals):

2003 (after 2002 season): 1 five-star, 6 four-stars, 17 three-stars, and 3 two-stars, average: 3.19

2004: 0 five-stars, 4 four-stars, 10 three-stars,13 two-stars, average: 2.67

2005: 1 five-star, 7 four-stars, 10 three-stars, 3 two-stars, average: 3.29

2006: 1 five-star, 14 four-stars, 7 three-stars, 3 two-stars, average: 3.52

2007: 0 five-stars, 13 four-stars, 15 three-stars, 2 two-stars, average: 3.37

Over the same time period, LSU has done significantly better in terms of getting the top level recruits into the organization. We have recruited 9 five-star players, 67 four-stars, 41 three-stars, and only 1 two-star. Our overall average is 3.71 stars per recruit. Our overall average rating of our recruits over a 5 year period is better than Auburn average in any one year. And yet, Auburn's record is very close to ours over that same period, and they are 3-2 against us head-to-head in that time period.

If you accept the notion that star-ratings are based on overall athleticism, then Tuberville, using less athletic players, has done almost as well as LSU.

Wait, but doesn't that just mean that Tuberville is a bad recruiter compared to LSU's recruiters?

No, it doesn't. Recruiting doesn't happen in a vacuum. Recruiting is not a level playing field. LSU has recruiting advantages based as much on geography as anything else. Advantages Auburn doesn't share.

LSU: only major football program in the state.
Auburn: shares the state with one of the most storied programs in the country, a school which is beloved by the overwhelming majority of the state.
LSU: rabidly supported by most of its home state.
Auburn: rabidly despised by a significant percentage of its home state.
LSU: one hour drive from New Orleans.
Auburn: one hour drive from... Montgomery.

All of these translate to recruiting disadvantages, which are then manifested in less effective recruiting. Auburn has to compete for every in-state prospect with a more beloved and more storied program. Auburn probably has to convince a number of born-and-raised Bama fans to not just bypass Bama, but to go to Bama's biggest rival every single year. That's gotta be tough. If you gave Tuberville the geographic advantages that are present at LSU, what would happen? I don't know and neither does anyone else.

I don't really like Tuberville very much. I don't like how he allowed his players to smoke cigars on the field at Tiger Stadium after their last win there. I don't like his smug attitude. I do, however, think he's a great coach. He's probably the best coach in the SEC.

And now the guy I think is the best coach in the SEC West is going against the guy who built LSU into the powerhouse it is. I think Tuberville is overall a better coach than Saban, but Saban has a recruiting advantage over Auburn (though LSU has a recruiting advantage over both). It'll be fun to watch.

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