I'm a bit behind on this in so much as it's a companion to my piece on the offensive coaching staffs, but the timing actually works out nicely as LSU welcomes a shiny new Defensive Coordinator. I'll dive into the specifics there in a moment, but if you needed any further convincing that the move was an absolute boon for LSU, this should do it.
One quick note, last season, I'm not sure what data I used, so this chart reads a bit different. Defensive S&P+ ranks better with a lower number (like golf), so I inversed the y-axis to ensure the chart maintains a natural look and feel. But don't be confused if you hover over a data point and notice that a school well above the trend line has a very low Defensive S&P+ number. That's a good thing.
How'd LSU Do?
Badly. Look, LSU isn't dramatically below the trend line, but the fact that they are says enough. We'll never know the true story on Steele's departure, but all the data points suggest, to me at least, Les politely told him to look around and Auburn just so happened to be a perfect landing spot for him. Les takes a lot of flack for "hiring his bbq buddies" and whatever nonsense, but each time we've fielded an incompetent defense, he's acted swiftly and responded with very strong hires in retaliation.
Only six schools paid more for their defensive staffs than LSU and four of them got better performance, some dramatically so. Of the two beneath LSU, both are in the SEC West (Thanks, Chavis) and neither possess the talent presently in Baton Rouge. This is unacceptable performance and it's been swiftly corrected.
Oh, and the guy LSU hired? Only four teams fielded better defenses than his... all of them paid at least 800K more for their coaching staffs. His defense isn't just above the trend line; it absolutely destroys the trend line. Handsome raise is well earned for Mr. Aranda.
What About the Rest?
- In a case of "you get what you pay for," Alabama lead the pack in Defensive S&P+ while having the second highest defensive staff payroll right behind...
- Auburn. That whole Muschamp thing really didn't do so hot on the Plains. Auburn paid more than anybody for horrendous performance. The good thing is they sought to rectify this with an up and coming defensi... oh god, they hired Kevin Steele. No seriously, despite his struggles at UF, Muschamp kept the Gators up high defensively and that was with having to patch through some shoddy recruiting by Urban Meyer. Auburn hasn't recruited that badly. If a genuinely great defensive coordinator can't fix it, what's Steele gonna do? The final days of Gus are upon us.
- Georgia played good defense in 2015, but finally fielding a horrendous offense drove them to fire one of the better coaches in their school's history. We'll see how that works out for them.
- South Carolina was beneath the trend line on offense and considerably beneath it on defense. Maybe the game really did pass the Ole Ball Coach by.
- Tennessee finished a healthy amount above the trend line. They just fired their defensive coordinator. Good luck. With that.
- Clemson kicked ass again. Is Brent Venables waiting for Bill Snyder to croak or something?
- Western Kentucky was comfortably above the trend line on offense and defense. Gonna go out on a limb and say Jeff Brohm knows what he's doing out there.
- LSU got to play Auburn, Texas Tech, Eastern Michigan and South Carolina. At least Eastern Michigan got their ineptitude at a discount.
- Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan State, Ohio State, Minnesota, Michigan and Maryland all sat comfortably above the trend line. It feels like the B1G is about where the SEC was 10 years ago, fielding gobs of great defenses without much offensive support.
- No one paid less than Idaho this year, and, well folks, it showed on the field.
LSU made out like bandits getting Dave Aranda. It's a shame private school data keeps us from seeing how units at Notre Dame and Boston College fare. Notably because Boston College's Defensive Coordinator jumped to a strong Michigan defense.
What other data points interest you?