Stanford Cardinal 2011 CFBMatrix Profile
For all of the praise given Coach Harbaugh before he left for the 49ers, the one most often overlooked was the total recruited talent he brought in to Palo Alto. Three straight top 25 classes and a 4 year average class rank of #26 in the country. The strongest Cardinal team in recent years may be what is on the field in 2012 if a top 20 class can be pulled in the next cycle.
A new coach is always going to mess with the modeling that used trends and consistency in producing the outcomes. However, the average new coach has little impact (-.57 games) on the performance in their first year and will start with a -1 game value for 2011.
The team has vastly outperformed the ‘norms’ for a team with their level of talent, but a top QB and a top coach can overcome a lot of shortcomings. The issue is that Stanford, like many other teams, has hit a win ceiling. I did not expect them to have 11 regular season wins last year as the model project 9+ and to exceed the 2009 win total of 8. The positive trend for fans in the rise in talent on The Farm and the expectations of 9+ wins every year will remain in place as long as the recruiting remains high.
Stanford Recruiting Rank Links:
2011 Schedule Overview
Overall, the Cardinal has an above average SOS and middle level EOS for the 2011 season. The OOC SOS is strengthened by the home game with Notre Dame as they are trending up in power once again as Coach Kelly gets the already existing talent to finally perform.
The Cardinal season is really broken in two halves. The have-nots, who the play in their first half of the season, should result in no worse that a 5-1 start. This will should keep them Washington at home (critical). USC, the Beavers, Ducks and Cal will determine whether Stanford goes to the Rose Bowl or the Holiday Bowl.
Andrew Luck and the ability to coach for the new staff will make or break the season again for Stanford. They will exceed their baseline number of 7 wins in their push for the conference title. However, a season with more than +3 games over the recruiting ranking baseline is unlikely in consecutive years putting the range at 8-10 wins. With a new coach and the home/away adjustment for the Cardinal, 9 wins with 7 in conference, is the most likely outcome.
Cardinal Win/Recruiting Trend Chart
No team in the PAC12 has seen a great uptrend in recruiting and win totals than Stanford. They have gone from mid 50s classes to Top 25s for three straight years. This is one of the strongest turns in the country as the average change over the last four years is less than +/- 10 ranking spots (vs over 30 for Stanford). However, they are not yet above the ‘elite’ line and in position to battle for NC title berth. This will take continued top 25 recruiting with top 10-15 classes mixed into the program. What we can be certain, if they made the right hire, is that continued success in recruiting will keep expectations of 9+ wins every year a ‘minimum’ of expectations.