Who Should Be Named SunBelt Coach of the Year?

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The end of the college football season kicks off a series of events that spark quite a bit of discussion and debate from the coaching carousel picking up its pace and adding seats to who should make which bowl game or playoff to who should win –insert name of award- here.

One such award that will be up for debate is the SunBelt Coach of the Year.

A year ago that honor was bestowed upon Georgia Southern coach Willie Fritz who led the Eagles to a conference title in the team’s first year as a Division 1 program and member of the SunBelt.

If the SunBelt were to approach me and ask for my vote, I would make my determination based on how well a team performed from the previous year to the current year and add any additional accomplishments, including conference titles, wins over highly ranked teams, etc.

While there is still a game left to play for most in the SunBelt, I compared each teams Total Offense, Total Defense and Winning Percentage from 2014 to up to this point of 2015. Then I took those three categories and ranked them 1 to 11 and took the average of those rankings to come to my decision.

For a bit of spice and drama…  I will only list these as Team A, B, C… and so on.

First, let’s take a look at Total Offense. Team D is the most improved team from a year ago averaging 71 more yards per game, followed by Team E with 16. Team C is average 50 less yards per game in 2015 than in 2014.

YPG Offense
Team 2014 2015 Chg Rank
D 375 446 71 1
E 421 437 16 2
H 417 428 11 3
B 462 471 10 4
K 349 340 -10 5
J 363 352 -11 6
F 376 360 -16 7
G 417 387 -31 8
A 476 440 -36 9
I 464 420 -45 10
C 487 437 -50 11

Next, we look at yards per game allowed by each team’s defense. The defense for Team C has improved by allowing 66 less yards per game and Team D is right behind them with 62. Team K is allowing 90 yards more per game than in 2014.

YPG Defense
Team 2014 2015 Chg Rank
C 388 322 -66 1
D 497 435 -62 2
J 454 399 -55 3
B 348 314 -34 4
A 421 398 -23 5
G 406 418 13 6
F 399 412 13 7
H 463 488 25 8
E 483 542 59 9
I 446 521 75 10
K 373 464 90 11

Finally, the one statistic that most fans care the most about – Winning Percentage. How well a team performs on offense or defense matters not if the games do into result in a win. Team D leads the SunBelt with the most improved winning percentage going from 8 percent to 45%. Team H follows with an improvement from 9 percent to 33 percent. Team G rounds out the bottom of the conference dropping from a 69 percent winning percentage to 36 percent.

Winning%
Team 2014 2015 Chg Rank
D 8% 45% 37% 1
H 9% 33% 24% 2
B 58% 82% 23% 3
A 54% 73% 19% 4
E 17% 27% 11% 5
J 25% 27% 2% 6
F 46% 45% -1% 7
C 75% 73% -2% 8
K 33% 9% -24% 9
I 58% 27% -31% 10
G 69% 36% -33% 11

Overall, Team D has shown the most improvement from 2014 to 2015 with an average ranking of 1.3 across all three categories. Who is the Head Coach of Team D?

Team Head Coach Avg Rank
D Georgia State Trent Miles 1
B Appalachian State Scott Satterfield 4
H Idaho Paul Petrino 4
J Troy Neal Brown 5
E New Mexico State Doug Martin 5
A Arkansas State Blake Anderson 6
C Georgia Southern Willie Fritz 7
F South Alabama Joey Jones 7
K Louisiana-Monroe Todd Berry 8
G Louisiana-Lafayette Mark Hudspeth 8
I Texas State Dennis Franchione 10

Many will point to the first half of the season with losses to FCS opponents Charlotte and Liberty, two losses which should have been guaranteed wins for Georgia State, and many discussing Miles (not Les) job security but the data shows this team is the most improved team in the conference with plenty of accolades to back it up.

Miles was hired by Georgia State because of the turnaround job he and his staff performed at Indiana State and work the same magic with the Panthers. Heading into the preseason Miles was asked at Media Day if Georgia State is running a parallel to the success he and his staff managed at Indiana State. His answer is the two are not comparable. I disagree.  The two programs are almost identical.

Sycamores Panthers
2008 0-12 2013 0-12
2009 1-10 2014 1-11
2010 6-5 2015 5-6*
2011 6-5 *First 11 games of 2015
2012 7-4

Miles has previously been honored with the Missouri Valley (2010) and American Football Coaches Association (2010 and 2012) Coach of the Year Award. The numbers don’t lie, and the remarkable amount of improvement the Panthers have shown from just a year ago makes Coach Miles a true contender and should be named the 2015 SunBelt Coach of the Year.

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Woody Bass is a staff writer at Peach State College Sports and can be found on Twitter as @WoodyBass.

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