Big East – Returning Starters in the Matrix – 2012

Quick Links to other 2012 Returning Starter Articles
2012 Returning Starters chart – All AQ and non-AQ Teams
National Overview of Returning Starter Stats and Importance

Conference Breakdown Links   SEC      PAC12    BIG TEN     BIG 12     ACC    Big East

Big East Returning Starters Stats over the last 4 years

QBs and Kickers

The Big East teams from 2011 returns every starting QB for 2012

  • 65% of Big East teams that have returned their starting QB since ’07 have won as many or more games the next season (13 of 20).  Those 20 teams were +5 games above the previous seasons win total.
  • 45% of Big East teams that lost their starting QB in the last 4 years (5 of 11) have won as many or more games the next season.  Those teams were -6 games under previous season total wins.
  • 6 Big East teams have returned neither starting kicker in the last 3 years.  50% had as many or more wins the next season with a win total exactly as that of the 6 teams the previous year. Nothing
  • 9 teams brought back only one starting kicker.  8 of those teams went on to as good or better following seasons and were +10 games above the previous season win total.
  • However,  teams that got both kickers back the next year, just 8 of 16 teams, for -11 total wins less, had as many or more wins the next year.
  • Conclusion: The kicking metrics for returning starters in the Big East has no value which goes against the .  The returning starting QB has some value, but certainly nothing reliable.  A returning starting QB does bring value with a 65% better record rate and about .6 games per team better total wins.


Finally a conference that shows a definitive pattern in performance with returning starters on Offense.   It should not have been a surprise as the Big East, although much less talented than the other 5 AQ conferences, is the most evenly balanced.  Therefore, reducing the ability for the elite teams (there are none) to reload with talent versus playing up on experience.

  • In the last 4 years, teams with greater numbers of returning starters on offense in the Big East simply won more games at a higher rate.  Teams returning 7 or more on offense had as good or better records the following season 14 of 19 times (73%).  Teams returning 8 or more that jumped to 78% (11 of 14).
  • Going the other direction on 4 of 12 teams returning 6 or fewer on offense had an improvement on their record the following season.  Of those 4 teams, three of them returned at least 7 starters on defense.
  • Conclusion: With talent very even in the top half of the Big East, total offensive experience is more relevant for determining odds on improving a team’s record in the coming season.  With the Big East in flux with conference realignment and it’s deteriorating average talent level with the losses of West Virginia and Pitt, I expect these numbers to be changing in the coming seasons.  For 2012, Pitt, South Florida and UConn should all expect improved records but with the new HC at Pitt, a net negative game effect coach at USF and no talent at UConn, it is really all up in the air for 2012.


  • In the last 4 years, only two Big East teams have returned 10 or 11 starters on defense.  Those two teams finished a combined +8 games better than their previous season win totals.  It is a very small sample size, but it holds some hope for the South Florida fans that keep hoping for a top 25 finish with top 50 talent and a sub par head coach.  Clearly, 5 or fewer wins at USF this year and a new coaching search will be the bowl season headlines.
  • The break line of performance for returning starters on defense in the Big East is 7 or more guys back in the huddle.  68% of the teams that have returned 7+ starters on D went on to as good or better win totals the following season.  On average, it is just over a half game per team with 7+ returning.  There are 5 Big East teams returning 7 or more.  Odds say we can expect 3 of them to be better in 2012. Cincinnati, UConn, Rutgers, South Florida, Louisville.
  • Of the 15 teams that brought back 6 or fewer on the defense side, only 5 of them (33%) had a better record the next season.  Those 15 were -10 games under the previous season win total.  In 2012, Syracuse and Pitt have 5 and 6 starters back on defense.  Using the returning starter odds, Syracuse is the most likely to see a reduction in 2012 from their 2011 regular season win total.

Total Returning Starters

  • Returning fewer that 14 total starters the last 4 years nets each team approximately -1 game off their previous season’s win total and only  of 16 teams were able to improve their record (31%).  The 5 teams that did, only 2 added more than 1 win to their previous season win total (12%).
  • 74% of the Big East teams that returned 15 or more starters won as many or more games the following season.
  • Conclusion:  With only 2 Big East teams returning 15 or more players, it is going to be a very competitive year for the conference title.  The loss of WVU and the addition of Temple is a huge boost to the other 7 teams.  Temple is nearly as good as a bye for most of the conference and WVU would have been the favorite to win at least 7 games and another Big East title.  From the returning starter numbers, only South Florida should be expected to make a jump in their win total.  Syracuse has the best odds of taking a step back.  For the rest, focus on the best FARR ranking, total returning starters on offense and at the QB position.

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