2020 Thankfulness: A Statistical Look at Mac vs Mullen

I’ve seen some threads on a few Gators forums drumming the idea that former Florida coach Jim McElwain’s first two years were pretty similar to that of current coach Dan Mullen. The eye test certainly doesn’t make it seem like so to me. However, I wanted to take a look at some of the metrics and see if maybe there is some justification for this view. There aren’t many people on board with this view from what I’ve seen, but it did get me curious as to how some of the stats may differ between the two coaches.

The general thinking of those that are opining that Mac and Mullen’s first 2 seasons are similar is that they both had 10* win seasons (assuming Mac would’ve gotten the 10th win in a canceled game). I broke down each of their first two seasons along several dimensions and charted these below:

Wins/Losses:

W.L Mac vs Mullen

As we can see in this bar graph, Mullen has 2 more wins, 3 fewer losses and enjoys a win percentage advantage of 11%.

Margin of Victory (MOV) and Margin of Defeat (MOD):

Here I took a look at how the teams did in victory and defeat under the respective coaches:

modMOV

This chart shows that Mullen is enjoying a larger MOV and smaller MOD than Mac did in his first 2 years. Mullen is averaging 6 more points per victory and 6 fewer points in defeat.

Points For (PF) and Points Against (PA):

Both Mac and Mullen were hired, at least in part, for their offensive acumen. Both have benefited from having good defensive coordinators on staff, with Mac having Geoff Collins and Mullen with Todd Grantham. The main thing I wanted to look at here was the offensive production, but since offenses and defenses do not exist in a vacuum, and how one performs impacts the other, I included the PA data.

PA.PF mac vs mullen

Out of all of the comparisons, the PF in Mullen’s favor seems to be the strongest. I wanted to see if there was a statistically significant difference here because of the disparity in PF being so large (almost 11 PPG). I found there was a significant difference with a large effect size (independent T-Test with p = 0.005, Cohen’s D with .810, assumptions of normality- Shapiro Wilk- and equality of variances- Levene’s Test- were met).

pfPA

As we can see from this descriptive plot, Mullen’s offensive production is far superior. In this plot, the blue lines around the mean are the confidence intervals (CI). Mac’s interval width is 18.73 to 28.38 and Mullen’s is 29.01 to 39.22. The top end of Mac’s CI is less than the lower end of Mullen’s.

Limitations

This analysis does not account for the strength of schedule, injuries, suspensions, etc. Any of those things could impact the overall outcome for each coach. The point here was to look a little closer at the two coaches and their performances at UF two years in. Though Mac had a decent run his first two years, his teams never looked as good (to me) as Mullen’s have. There’s nothing in this analysis that convinced me that I was wrong about that and this puts the disparity between the two into a bit clearer picture. Mullen is superior in win percentage, has, on average, a larger margin of victory, smaller margin of defeat, significantly more points for and ever so slightly more points against (17.73 vs 17.56).

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