The mood in Aggieland is pretty sour this week, which is completely understandable after watching our team not just lose, but look completely dysfunctional and out-of-sync for a majority of the 48-31 loss to Mississippi State. People are searching for answers to understand the regression since South Carolina, ignoring that South Carolina isn't very good, and that most of us predicted a season with some growing pains and a 3-4 losses.
Searching for answers is OK when done rationally, but many - too damn many - are already starting to sow the seeds for a quarterback change, are blaming our fancy new facilities for creating distractions, or are getting way too worked up over actual distractions like cute girls on the sidelines. This loss has revealed a truth about us as a program: Our Fans Have Been Really Spoiled
Johnny Manziel spoiled the hell out of us, and it's never been more apparent than this week. Instead of the hot and cold moments you normally see with a new quarterback, we got a Heisman trophy and superhero like game saving performances that our future grandkids will get sick of hearing every Thanksgiving. We lost a lot of talent, we still lack depth defensively, and our new starting quarterback was thrown into a spotlight so bright that even an off-the-cuff remark about his nickname was a top story on SportsCenter.
So the question I'm wondering today is: What should we have reasonably expected after our Heisman winning quarterback left?
I pulled all of the the win-loss records for the last 50 years of Heisman winning quarterback seasons, and then pulled their team's record the following season. The data is below. "W-NextYr" and "L-NextYr" are the team's Win/Loss numbers from the year immediately following the Heisman QB's departure. The "W-Best" and "L-Best" columns are Win/Loss numbers from the season with the highest win total that the Heisman QB had during their tenure, which is not necessarily the year they won the Heisman.
|2012||Baylor||Robert Griffin III||8||5||10||3||-2|
|2007||Ohio State||Troy Smith||11||2||12||1||-1|
|2006||Southern Cal||Matt Leinart||11||2||13||0||-2|
|2003||Southern Cal||Carson Palmer||12||1||11||2||1|
|2001||Florida State||Chris Weinke||8||4||12||0||-4|
|1994||Florida State||Chris Ward||10||1||12||1||-2|
|1985||Boston College||Doug Flutie||4||8||10||2||-6|
|1965||Notre Dame||John Huarte||7||2||9||1||-2|
|1963||Oregon State||Terry Baker||5||5||9||2||-4|
Looking at all 50 years, a team losing a Heisman winning quarterback will average 2.66 fewer wins the following year. A team's win total decreased by one or more games 79.16% of the time. A team's win total decreased by three or more games 50% of the time.
Many teams with Heisman winning QB's had incredibly talented skill-position players that helped them win it, and a drop-off in wins may not be the sole-result of losing that QB in many cases. Teams averaged 3 fewer wins when they lost a Heisman QB in the last 20 years. Traditional powerhouse schools like USC, Oklahoma and Ohio State - schools that typically reload talent faster than others - averaged 2 fewer wins following a Heisman QB loss. Non-traditional powerhouses averaged closer to 4 fewer wins during this same period.
Heisman-worthy talent can't be replaced overnight. It's even harder to make up for that loss when you aren't from a traditional powerhouse program. None of this will make anyone feel any better about Saturday's loss, but perhaps it can help shape more reasonable expectations about this squad's development going forward.