Where are the Wins? (Part 3)
Who's likely to join the 10+ win club in 2022?
This post is Part III in a series we’ve been posting the last month and a half:
If you haven’t read both of those yet, I highly recommend you start there before proceeding further. Having both of these posts under your belt will make the content below much more sensible.
Last Time Out
With that out of the way, let’s do a brief synopsis of the topics this series has already covered:
In Part I, we discussed win totals in general, noting that while their average has been roughly steady at 4.9 wins a year, their variation has been growing. This increase in variation was due to more teams going winless and fewer teams getting 10+ wins; we termed this phenomenon the “Rich get Richer” effect.
In Part II, we expanded this analysis to look at individual teams, hoping to answer which teams specifically were responsible for the “Rich get Richer” effect. We saw that the lower divisions was where this was most pronounced, where a handful of top teams are occupying a larger and larger % of the ‘top’ of the sport each year
This leaves Part III. Here, we hope to look forward a bit, and analyze which teams might be likely to contribute to the “Rich get Richer” effect in the near future.
Will Anyone Join Them?
In Part II of this post, we discussed that the top teams in our sport skewed towards the smaller divisions - just 1 of our 15 teams to average 10+ wins over the last 8 years was from Divisions 1 or 2 (Muskegon Mona Shores).
Will this trend continue? To find out, we can analyze which teams are likely to jump into the 10+ 8 Year Win Average category in the near future.
One way to do this is to look at teams currently just outside of the 10+ win category: of the 506 teams that played 11 man football in 2021, 75 have an 8 Year Win Average of between 7 and 10. These teams are spread the following way across divisions:
Who Has Momentum?
With an understanding of who is ‘on the verge’ of joining our 10+ win group, we can now apply a second framework to this smaller group: momentum.
The theory of this framework is the following: if a team has been winning above 10 games a year in recent history (say, over the last 3 full seasons), we might expect that they’re more likely to jump out of the ‘on the verge’ group in the near future.
Shown above are the 10 teams that fall into this category: these teams are both ‘on the verge’ of joining the 10+ 8 Year Average Win Group AND averaging 10+ wins over our most recent 3 year period (2018, 2019, 2021). These are the teams that are trending positively towards our proverbial ‘rich’ from Part II.
Analyzing this group, you again see the small school predominance that we identified in Part II jump out: 4 of the 10 teams in this group are from divisions 7 and lower.
One other interesting note that perhaps bucks this trend is the appearance of Belleville and Chippewa Valley: should these two schools join the 10+ 8 year win average group in coming years, these two schools would be the first and only division 1 teams in the group.
Other Teams With Momentum
While we’re on this track, let’s take at some other teams trending positively: shown below are teams not necessarily on the verge of joining the ‘rich’ (they all have an 8 year win average of <7 wins); however, all of have 3 year win totals that are 2.5+ wins higher than their 8 year average win totals.
In lay men’s terms, all of these teams own recent histories that are substantially improved over their longer term history. If things continue, look for these teams to move up to our ‘on the verge’ category in the next few years.
What about 2021?
Now that we have a sense of who is ‘on the verge’ of joining our ‘rich’, we can move onto an even more granular analysis: how did teams’ 2021 performances compare to their recent win averages?
We’ll take a look at comparing 2021 performance to both 8 and 3 year win averages, and, to limit our list to just the large movers, we will assess only those teams that outperformed either of their metrics by a large amount in 2021 (an outperformance of 3.9+ wins vs a team’s 8 or 3 year win averages is our threshold).
When you strain the data this way, you end up with 32 teams. Broadly speaking, these teams fall into 3 ‘buckets’:
Those that outperformed just their 3 year win average (we will term these teams as “Returning to Form”)
Those that outperformed just their 8 year win average (we will term these teams as “Continuing Positive Trends”)
Those that outperformed both their 3 year win average and 8 year win average (we will term these teams as “Teams to Watch”)
Returning to Form
Just one team falls into this bucket - Grand Rapids West Catholic’s 10 win season in 2021 was a large improvement over its most recent 3 year win total; however, it marked only minimal improvement over its 8 year win total.
It’s quite interesting that of our 32 teams with 3.9+ win improvements, only one falls into this category - this perhaps suggests that it is quite hard for a program to return to success once they’ve lost it.
Continuing Positive Trends
17 of our 32 teams fall into this category, whereby their 2021 win total marked a 3.9+ win improvement over their 8 year average, but only a smaller improvement over their 3 year win average. Said another way, these team’s 2021 performances were consistent with recent positive trends within their program (say, since 2018) that are not yet reflected in these program’s 8 year win averages.
Teams to Watch
Our 14 remaining teams fall into our ‘teams to watch’ category - these teams posted 2021 performances that marked vast improvements over both their 8 AND 3 year win totals. We’re hopeful that these teams post these type of performances once again - if they do, they will soon move from this category into the ‘Continuing Positive Trends’
That’s all for now - stay tuned for our by division ‘most improved’ analyses, which we will posting on twitter all of next week. These will show which teams had the largest improvement this year over their 8 year win average.
Lastly, did you miss out on Parts I & II of this post? If so, you should subscribe below.
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