Optimism obviously abounds with regards to the WSU Cougars football team right now, but at least one source thinks we all should be tempering our optimism a little bit.
SB Nation's own Bill Connelly -- who also manages Rock M Nation and Football Study Hall, contributes to Football Outsiders and is just an all-around good guy -- is the man behind S&P+, an efficiency based metric that you saw Craig cite often when writing opponent previews back in the fall. S&P+ combines with the Fremeau Efficiency Index to form Football Outsiders' official NCAA rating metric, F/+. (If you're curious, you can learn about the differences between S&P+ and FEI here.)
For the past couple of years, Connelly and FEI creator Brian Fremeau have worked on preseason F/+ projections, and they've got a rough version of their 2012 projections up now over at Football Study Hall. So far, they are incorporating returning starters, two-year recruiting rankings, and 2011 performance. So how do their laptops see the Cougs in 2012?
Just 97th overall -- up only three spots from the final F/+ rankings of 2011.
Here's how the entire Pac-12 stacks up:
Looking at what goes into these projections, it's not difficult to see why the Cougs don't rank highly. They do return a fair number of starters, but not an exceptional amount -- and they return those starters to a team that's been one of the worst BCS conference teams in history. And the Cougars have been nothing more than a mediocre recruiting team over the past two years. Additionally, the final F/+ projections don't yet but are going to include more years of past performance and updated roster attrition -- neither of which are going to be kind to the Cougs, either.
Obviously there are factors that can't be measured in numbers, most obviously the impact of changing coaches -- specifically the impact of hiring a guy who ostensibly should be a better coach than his predecessor. Still, it makes me wonder if we're not overestimating the improvement this team should be expected to make.