Leave it to college football guru Phil Steele to keep the entertained during the offseason with all sorts of interesting statistics. This week it's a look at starts lost to injury. Steele's research has shown that teams that suffered a lot of injuries the previous year will generally have a better year the next season. This makes logical sense when you figure backups were forced into action, gaining valuable game experience, and the team won't be snake-bitten by injury as much the following year.
Here's the money stat:
"In a study over the last 7 years, my research shows that if a team had 32 or more starts lost to injury the prior season, they improved or had the same record the next year on 56 out of 67 occasions for an 83.5% success rate."
What's this mean for ACC football in 2010? Well North Carolina led all FBS programs with 89 starts losts, a good portion of those due to suspensions handed down by the NCAA. Virginia also makes the list of programs with a high number of starts lost in 2010, tied with South Carolina for 14th overall (34 starts lost). If Steele's starts lost trend continues this season, look for North Carolina (8 wins) and Virginia (4 wins) to match or best their win totals in 2011. Luckily for BC, the Eagles miss both these programs in 2011.
Here's a look at the total starts lost to injury in the ACC in 2010:
|Rank||Program||O Starts Lost||D Starts Lost||Total Starts Lost||Starts Lost Pct.|
You can see the Eagles rank third in the conference with 26 missed starts, just missing Steele's 32 start lost threshold. At the bottom of the conference table is N.C. State, where the Wolfpack lost just 7 starts last season. Steele's threshold for least amount of starts lost is 6, but the trend here is the opposite of that observed in teams that lost a lot of starts:
"Over the past 7 years only 17 of the 56 teams (30.3%) that had this good fortune managed to improve their record the next year. Last year there were NINE teams on this list and ALL NINE had a weaker record with SIX of them bowl teams from 2009 that finished with a losing record in 2010!!!"
Both N.C. State (9 wins) and Maryland (9) had a lot of good fortune last year. It will be interesting to see if the Pack and the Terps can buck this trend this season. My guess is both programs will fall short of 9 wins this season, even with N.C. State's light and fluffy non-conference schedule of Liberty, South Alabama, Cincinnati and Central Michigan.