The Gus Malzahn Effect

In 2005, Gus Malzahn was coaching football in Springdale, Ark. (population: 69,000) at Springdale High School.

In January of 2011, he was hoisting a national championship trophy and looking forward to earning \$1.3 million per year as Auburn’s offensive coordinator.

As you probably know by now, at Coaches By The Numbers we rate coaches using a formula that looks at several factors and weighs them accordingly. The output of this formula is a great metric to measure the success of a particular coach. Obviously Malzahn is a great offensive coordinator and likewise receives five stars in our system. However, what is interesting is his “effect” on the success of the head coaches he works under.

So, just how good of an offensive coordinator is Gus Malzahn?

Let’s dig into some numbers and see if we can put it into context.

1.) Below are Houston Nutt’s CBTN ratings (bold numbers are with Gus Malzahn as offensive coordinator):

Average CBTN Rating without Malzahn: 53.86

CBTN Rating with Malzahn: 65.90

Differential = 12.04

Houston Nutt’s CBTN Rating was 23 percent better with Malzahn than without. Also, since 2001, Houston Nutt has only played in two SEC Championship games and one of those appearances came in 2006 when Gus Malzahn was calling the offensive plays.

Now, don’t take our word for it based on our ratings system. Let’s look at the impact Malzahn had on Nutt’s winning percentage (bolded numbers are with Malzahn):

Average WP% without Malzahn = 55.28%

WP% with Malzahn = 71.4%

Differential = 16.12%

Avg. Conf. WP% without Malzahn = 43.68%

Conf. WP% with Malzahn = 77.80%

Differential = 31.12%

2.) Now, let’s look at Todd Graham‘s CBTN Head Coach Ratings (bold numbers are with Gus Malzahn as offensive coordinator):

Average CBTN rating without Malzahn: 42.57

Average CBTN Rating with Malzahn: 51.62

Differential = 9.05

Todd Graham’s CBTN Rating was 22 percent better with Malzahn than without him.

Again, let’s look at the impact Malzahn had on the winning percentage (bolded numbers are with Malzahn):

Average WP% without Malzahn = 57.47%

Average WP% with Malzahn = 75.00%

Differential = 17.53%

3.) Finally, let’s look at Gene Chizik’s CBTN Head Coach Ratings (bold numbers are with Gus Malzahn as offensive coordinator):

Average CBTN Rating without Malzahn: 18.90

Average CBTN Rating with Malzahn: 76.53

Differential = 57.63

Gene Chizik’s CBTN Rating is 305% better with Malzahn than without him.

Now, let’s look at the impact Malzahn had on the winning percentage (bolded numbers are with Malzahn):

Average WP% without Malzahn = 20.85%

Average WP% with Malzahn = 80.75%

Differential = 59.90%

The numbers with Chizik are hard to draw too many conclusions from, given how drastically different the Iowa State and Auburn jobs are (Auburn is the ninth-rated CBTN job and Iowa State is the 61st-rated CBTN job).

Here at CBTN, we are trying to let the numbers speak for themselves as much as possible.

Maybe it’s just one really big coincidence or maybe there are other factors that explain the trend, but head coaches seem to perform better and win more games with Gus Malzahn calling plays than without him.

For more from Coaches By The Numbers, go to CoachesByTheNumbers.com or follow them on Twitter at @CoachesBTN.