Kentucky Wildcat Football: Measuring Performance (or Failure)

Nick Saban digs process. - Andy Lyons

Everyone is excited about the upcoming season because it gives us our first opportunity to see what Stoops & Company can do on the field of play. The excitement is palpable, but the expectations for a winning season is reasonably low after coming off a 2-10 season in 2012. The 2013 season isn't necessarily about winning and losing as much as it is about improving upon the past.

This why you measure performance.

Can you imagine a football team with this kind of attitude?

I spent the last five years of my career as Director of Quality for a government contractor. I was promoted into the position because executive management felt I had the leadership qualities to take them where they wanted to go: ISO 9000 registration.

They had been trying to get that registration for the past four years. It took me 18 months to get it done. Quality Management is all about developing quality standards, developing processes and measuring those processes in an effort towards continuous improvement. The goal of Quality Management is to attain Six Sigma in the process system, or process management. A six sigma process is one in which 99.99966% of the products manufactured and/or business practices are statistically expected to be free of defects (3.4 defects per million). Six Sigma applies to all business processes. You will find explanations at the end of the article by clicking on the links.

Recruiting

With that in mind, that's how I will be looking at UK Football going forward. I have already applied the principles with Kentucky's recruiting. I've shown that Stoops & Company have produced a 95.16129% improvement in recruiting since 2012 (rounded to 95%). That was when we were 3rd in the Rivals Rankings. How has he done that?

There is a business strategy theory called Blue Ocean Strategy. My belief is that Stoops either knowingly or unknowingly has employed this strategy. There are five principles applied to developing a Blue Ocean Strategy:

1. Create an Uncontested Marketplace

2. Make the Competition Irrelevant

3. Create and Capture New Demand

4. Break the Value/Cost Tradeoff

5. Align the whole system of the organization's activities in pursuit of differentiation and low cost.

John Calipari has applied these principles with his recruiting, i.e., employing the one-and-done strategy, for example. Again, I don't know if he's even heard of Blue Ocean Strategy, but he has accomplished all five principles. Stoops is in the process of doing the same. Look what Stoops has accomplished so far with the same $500,00 recruiting budget that the previous staff had available.

Coaching

The game of football is all about processes. Each play is a process and if run correctly on offense each play should generate a first down (Six Sigma) at the minimum and a touchdown at its maximum (Perfection). Perhaps the biggest proponent of process is Nick Saban. He's always talking about process. Some Alabama fans have gone so far as calling the result and opponent, "Processed!," after a victory.

Some analysts measure with very sophisticated measures and analyze every play. Phil Steele is one. Nick Roush and Jonathon Shruette at KSR are others. I am sure we have people at ASoB who like to measure the nuances. It is usually called Advanced Statistics. Others like to look at the box scores and comment on them. Me? I like to keep things simple. I intend to use the NCAA statistics for my measurements.

In order to properly measure, you must have a baseline, or something to measure against. My baseline will be the 2012 season's stats. There are other measures contained in the NCAA stats. Conference and national rankings are included in each category reported by the NCAA. So, those are other measure of success.

Below is an example from Kentucky's 2011 season to show how I will measure, except my measures will include many other categories such as Red Zone, 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th down success on both sides of the line of scrimmage. All of these things are measured by the NCAA. Of course, wins and losses are the ultimate measures, but how you get them is important as well. For example, you can see below that UK was great at punting (something we have done well with over the years), but not so great at returning punts. You will also note that our passing game was horrendous.

120 teams ranked in Football Bowl Subdivision

12 teams ranked in the Southeastern Conference








Category

National
Rank

Actual

National
Leader

Actual

Conf
Rank

Southeastern
Conference Leader

Actual

Rushing Offense

90

124.17

Army

346.50

11

Alabama

214.46

Passing Offense

114

135.58

Houston

450.07

12

Arkansas

300.69

Total Offense

118

259.75

Houston

599.07

12

Arkansas

438.08

Scoring Offense

117

15.83

Houston

49.29

12

Arkansas

36.77

Rushing Defense

87

183.17

Alabama

72.15

10

Alabama

72.15

Pass Efficiency Defense

29

117.89

Alabama

83.69

9

Alabama

83.69

Total Defense

58

377.00

Alabama

183.62

10

Alabama

183.62

Scoring Defense

53

24.67

Alabama

8.15

10

Alabama

8.15

Net Punting

13

39.58

Oregon

41.45

2

LSU

41.15

Punt Returns

119

1.84

FIU

15.93

12

Ole Miss

15.64

Kickoff Returns

85

20.26

Purdue

28.68

11

Auburn

24.65

Turnover Margin

T-49

.08

Oklahoma St.

1.62

6

LSU

1.43

Pass Defense

21

193.83

Alabama

111.46

8

Alabama

111.46

Passing Efficiency

118

96.22

Baylor

191.22

12

Arkansas

148.46

Sacks

83

1.67

Texas A&M

3.92

10

LSU

2.79

Tackles For Loss

75

5.33

Cincinnati

8.62

11

LSU

7.57

Sacks Allowed

106

2.92

Boise St.

.62

12

LSU

1.29

T=tied at this ranking

As the season progresses, you will be able to spot the team's strengths and weaknesses. Games are often won or lost through penalties and turnovers. You will get those stats.

Some will see the value while others will simply use the eye test. Do we "look" better or worse than in the past? I will show you why we look better or worse.

I have some other measures (long term goals) to show how the Cats progress or regress. I don't plan, however, to interpret the measures because I believe they should speak for themselves. this is a "things are what they are" philosophy. I may, however, point out where we excel or are doing horribly wrong.

I also intend to give you the same stats (hopefully every Tuesday) for every upcoming opponent during the week before the game in order for you to better predict the outcome of the game, if any of our writers run a prediction contest (it won't be me).

Links:

International Organization for Standards (ISO)

ISO 9000 Now 9001 due to revisions

Continuous Improvement or Kaizen (as Toyota Motor Manufacturing calls it)

Six Sigma Striving for Perfection

Blue Ocean Strategy Operating in a Blue Ocean vs a Red Ocean

2012 NCAA Football Statistical Categories

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