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Kentucky’s Football Regression Since 2007

Judging from internet message boards and call in shows, there seems to be a growing segment within Kentucky’s fan base that wishes to remove Joker Phillips from his coaching duties.  After watching Sunday’s performance against Louisville this group of disgruntled fans is only growing larger in number. There are numerous reasons for this sensation, but it’s safe to assume this feeling is present because of the product placed on the field.  There are any of number things we can do to investigate this issue, compare passing/rushing stats from previous seasons for instance, or even looking at past win/loss totals.  But, there’s another way.  Since every single sport is about the final outcome, I thought it’d be interesting to compare Kentucky’s teams since 2007 with tempo-free scoring margin to see if power among teams is remaining consistent from season to season.  Below is a table containing the data, along with an explanation.

First an explanation of what you see above, everything is tempo neutral, meaning teams who run fast paced offenses won’t be favored over teams who run slow offenses.  Since scoring margin can be skewed by tempo, it’s important to remove it from the equation.  Offensive Points Per Possession (PPP) is simply points scored divided by total possessions.  It tells how many points a team scores on average when they possess the ball. Defensive PPP is identical, but it tells how many points are allowed per possession.  The FBS average is usually around 2.1 on both offense and defense. Expected win percentage is a simple formula that explains what a team’s expected winning percentage is based off points scored and allowed.  It isn’t perfect as it doesn’t account for strength of schedule or home field advantage (my upcoming 1-124 football ratings will though), but it usually gives a very good reflection on team strength.


During the later Rich Brooks years, as you can see, the strength of his teams remained consistent and hovered around 7 predicted wins per season. Even in Joker’s first season the strength of his team remained near that area.  Year two, however, brought a significant drop in performance, mainly due to horrid offensive production (one could even call it…offensive).  Enter season three.  Now, I’m the first to say that this number is skewed due to lack of data, it will eventually correct itself as the season progresses, but it’s concerning nonetheless when your defense is absolutely dismantled by an arch-rival.  It’s especially concerning when the offensive production only increased slightly from the previous season.  One positive note on offensive production though, efficiency tends to increase at Kentucky when more experienced Quarterbacks are at the helm.


In a brief amount of time at Kentucky, Joker Phillips has seen the mathematical strength of his teams fall drastically.  But, we all know games aren’t played on paper.  This season appears to be make or break in terms of job security, so if the production somehow doesn’t improve as the season progresses we could be looking at a team who wins very few games and could become one of the worst Wildcat teams in quite some time.

Article written by Jonathan Schuette

21 Comments for Kentucky’s Football Regression Since 2007

  1. Nurse Ratchett
    8:02 pm September 6, 2012 Permalink


  2. Nurse Ratchett
    8:08 pm September 6, 2012 Permalink

    Realistically, Rich Brooks wasn’t all that good or bad; he just wasn’t all that and a bag of chips either. I like the guy; I like Joker too. But statistically, the facts are facts; its all on record. Corporations utilize metrics. Universities do too. Sub par and declining begs the question: When will UofK hire a real football coach?

  3. schwing
    8:20 pm September 6, 2012 Permalink

    what happens when you factor points per minutes:seconds of possession rather than just the number of possessions? i’d be interested to see those numbers.

  4. Duke sucks
    8:33 pm September 6, 2012 Permalink

    #2 I’ve said it before and I’ll say it agian Cutcliff WILL be our next coach. I don’t know if it will work out or not but he will be the man. No way any big name coach would come here. Just too much working against us

  5. Duke sucks
    8:37 pm September 6, 2012 Permalink

    This is bull. You can’t hold Brooks having the best year we have had aginst him. When you lose Woodson Tamme, and Little there will be a drop off. Brook still was competitive untill the end. Any time you lose a class of 3 year starters it will set us back we are not Bama and never will be.

  6. Nate
    8:54 pm September 6, 2012 Permalink

    a 1 game sample and this team is headed to be one of the worst in quite some time? They may not be very good, but basing these numbers for 2012 off of one game is laughable.

    Statistics like these are great, but not after one game.

  7. BBN
    9:09 pm September 6, 2012 Permalink

    Joker has ruined all of the positive progress realized from Rich Brooks’s achievements in record time. He was an awful hire who was lost from the beginning. For the Joker apologists that point to him being a good offensive coordinator, remember that UK ranked #93 & #103 nationally in total offense his final two seasons as OC. This is the guy Mitch Barnhart promotes to HC? In what universe is that a good decision? No responsible AD makes that type of stupid decision.

  8. UKBlue
    9:14 pm September 6, 2012 Permalink

    This whole year is effectively a throw away year; Mitch got caught between doing something at the end of last year or take the gamble of letting this throw away year play out, he decided to let Joker be his own judge & jury. Mitch already knows with our schedule, Joker has no chance to turn this around.

    Joker is getting fired because the fans ie season ticket holders are demanding it. You can’t run a football program/athletics dept with fans not buying season tickets. Fans & season tickets holders have effectively already had a vote of no confidence.

  9. Obama
    9:15 pm September 6, 2012 Permalink

    I wish yall would lay off the brotha. What do yall want from Joker – yall are UK football.

    Joker needs more time. And Bush didn’t do him any favors in recruiting those last couple years either.

  10. BBN
    9:25 pm September 6, 2012 Permalink

    #8 – You sir, are correct! I completely HATE the idea of a “throw away year.” And I know if I was a player I’d be pretty upset with ole Barnhart. I doubt any of the players think Joker can / will turn this around – I bet they figure IF a change is inevitable – do it sooner than later.

  11. BBN
    9:25 pm September 6, 2012 Permalink

    Joker needs more time do the team can lose 50-60 points a game against SEC teams…

    9:35 pm September 6, 2012 Permalink

    Victoria’s Secret coming to Lex if you VOTE at:
    Super Quick, Super Easy Voting.
    Right now, UofL is BEATING US AGAIN!!! VOTE!! EASY!!
    Ends Friday at noon.

  13. DustinUK
    9:58 pm September 6, 2012 Permalink

    Joker may not be the right guy, but the mistake here is taking a season the was a positive outlier and assuming that should be the norm. 2007 was at or very close to the high end of UK’s range, it can’t reasonably be viewed as what an average UK season should be.

  14. TylerBrausecaughtinspace says
    11:21 pm September 6, 2012 Permalink

    Petrino to UK picking up steam? Its all over message boards.. Can this happen?

  15. Not going to happen
    11:55 pm September 6, 2012 Permalink

    #16 No way Petrino would consider UK.

  16. Dave in Bangkok
    1:44 am September 7, 2012 Permalink

    Bama lost half of their starters to the NFL and came out thumping Michigan.

    Don’t give me that “players left” bull. Players are gonna leave. That’s why a coach has to recruit.

  17. Beavis
    7:34 am September 7, 2012 Permalink

    # 9,,,,thats good,,Damn Bush ruined everything,,,LOL Maybe if we vote the King out of office,,,Joker will go with him.

  18. UKBlue1!
    10:26 am September 7, 2012 Permalink

    UofL is probably at best the 6th best team on our schedule. If Strong hadn’t called off the dogs UK would have lost by 21 more points. Right now, I have doubts we will beat WKU. I really can’t see 1 SEC team on the schedule that we “know” we can beat. I fully expect, unless drastic changes take place in the next 3 games, USC to beat us by 7-10 touchdowns.

  19. blueneck
    11:52 am September 7, 2012 Permalink

    Anytime someone uses expected win they are total DB and don’t listen to their numbers.
    Point #1 – When Manning was with the Colts they typically averaged an expected win total in the 8.9-9.5 range while actually winning 10-12 games per season. Manning and the coaches were praised for OUTPERFORMING their numbers. UK’s expected wins last year were only 3.7 while they actually won 5.
    Point #2 – in a small sample size of 12 games, the numbers are completely skewed by games like a 54-3 beatdown by USC. UK could have won their next 5 by 10 each and only had a .500 expected win % for those six games (half season).
    Point #3 – playing non-con cupcakes also distorts the numbers, and that makes 1/4 of the season. Is a 40 point win really more valuable than a 25 point win? Using these numbers makes one blowout so much better than another.