I have had the Experience Chart in the magazine since 2002. That 2002 was Volume 8 of the magazine and the 2nd year since moving from black and white on newsprint up to color print and glossy pages. That first Experience chart had 8 categories. They were Senior Starters then Seniors in the two deep, Junior Starters, Juniors in the two deep, Sophomore starters, Sophomores in the two deep and Freshmen starters and Freshmen in the two deep.
Thru the years I have continued to improve the Experience Chart by adding in many more factors. The Experience Chart was the same from 2002-2008. In 2009 I kept the Senior starters and Seniors in the Two deep category but added percentage of lettermen returning, percentage of yards returning and percentage of tackles returning. I also added OLine Career starts. A few years back I added percentage of big plays (Sacks, TFL’s, Int’s, pbu’s) on defense returning.
One thing I have not done is gone back and researched how the chart had done as being a predictor for the upcoming season. If you check out page three of this year’s magazine you will notice the All Meathead team which is produced by Jacob Hester and Bobby Carpenter. Every time I have been on Off Campus Jacob has brought up the Experience Chart and many times, he has asked me how the Experience Chart has done and I never had the answer. While I have added to the Experience Chart I have never taken the time to analyze how the chart has done as a predictor. This year I have, and I was VERY pleased with the results!
I looked at the Experience Charts from 2022, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012 and 2011. I did not bother to look at 2020 as that was a strange year with some teams sitting out the year or playing just 6 games while some teams played a full schedule. Games were postponed, rescheduled, cancelled, etc. Some teams would be missing a third of their roster for some games. Not much can be culled from that type of year. In 2021 almost every roster had everyone back and how do you compare a teams record from a full regular season to playing 6 games the year before? I did not look at either 2020 or 2021.
Here is what my 10 years of researching the Experience Chart has uncovered. There were 150 teams ranked in the Top 15 of the Experience Chart and 90 of them improved their record with 20 having the same record and only 40 of the teams 27% had a weaker record the next year. Teams ranked in the #16-30 slot had a 65.6% success rate with only 52 of the 150 having a weaker record. Teams in the #31-45 group were almost the same with a 64.24% success rate with 54 of the 150 teams having a weaker record. The rest of the upper half of the chart was solid at well with a 60.67% success rate and only 59 of the 150 teams having a weaker record.
The other end of the chart had even better success. Of the teams at the bottom 15 of the experience Chart 83.2% of the teams had a weaker or the same record as the previous year with just 20 teams managing to improve their record. Of the teams from #102-#116 only 53 of the 150 years managed to improve their record for a 64.9 % success rate of teams near the bottom having a weaker or the same record the next year. The next level of teams from #87-#101 had an even better 68.6% success rate with just 48 of the 150 teams improving their record. As you would expect teams in the next level (middle of the pack) were about a 50/50 proposition. I was very pleased with the results.
Let me give you a few examples of teams that ranked in the Top 15 of the Experience Chart. Last year Tulane, TCU, Troy and Tennessee ALL ranked in the Top 15 of the Experience Chart. TCU was picked 8th in the Big 12 but played in the National Title game! Tulane went from 2-10 to 12-2 and beat USC in the Cotton Bowl finishing a remarkable #9 AP. Tennessee went from 7-6 to 8-0 and was actually #1 in the first Playoff rankings and finished 11-2 and #6. Troy was off 3 straight losing seasons and went 12-2 and was #19!
It was not just last year. Let me give you some of the other Top 15 teams and how they fared. In 2018 Oregon was unranked, they were #1 on my Exp Chart in 2019 and went 12-2 and finished #5 in the country. UAB was not even playing football in 2016 but in just their 2nd year back was #7 on the Experience Chart and went 11-3 in 2018. TCU was 6-7 in 2016 but was #3 on my Exp Chart and got to the Big 12 title game and finished 11-3 and #9 AP. Georgia was 8-5 in 2016 but was #8 on my Exp Chart in 2017 and won the SEC and made it to the National Title game before losing to Alabama.
Now let me take a look at some of the teams from the bottom of the Experience Chart. Last year Texas A&M was #124 on my Exp Chart and came into the season ranked in the Top 10. They finished just 5-7 and missed out on a bowl. Nevada was 8-5 in 2021 but was dead last in my Exp Chart last year and fell to 2-10. In 2018 Fresno St was 12-2 but was just #129 on my Exp Chart in 2019 and fell to 4-8. Stanford won an average of 10 games per year from 2015-’18 but was #118 on my Exp Chart in 2019 and went 4-8. Central Michigan was 8-5 in 2017 but was #124 on my Exp chart in 2018 and went just 1-11. Notre Dame was 10-3 in 2015 but was just #121 on my Exp Chart in 2016 and fell all the way to a rare losing season at 4-8.
OK, this blog has me fired up to dig into the Experience Chart even more. In the next week I will have an upcoming blog on the biggest changes each year of the Experience Chart. As an example this year Texas A&M goes from being #124 on my Exp Chart all the way up to #14!. I will look at how team have done when making a similar jump and also how teams do like TCU which falls from #3 to #110 on my Exp Chart. I am expecting more positive results!
I will have a blog at least 3 days a week this summer and check out my twitter @philsteele042 to find out if I am on a radio show in your area this week.
Remember the magazine is at every Barnes and Noble and most Books-A-Millions and they are our exclusive retailers this year. You can also buy the magazine from me direct by going to philsteele.com and when you purchase direct it costs more (shipping) but you this week you will get the digital magazine (updated thru September) Free with all magazines ordered on philsteele.com.