So there has been a lot of gnashing of teeth recently about Iowa's offensive woes. Complaints often go into how the offense has been mostly awful since 2005. I was also under this impression, but wanted to be sure. Over at OTE there's a commenter named hoegher who has compiled a bunch of stats about offense and defense. I asked him for his numbers so I could look up how Iowa's offense rates out. I was more than a little surprised.
First a quick explanation of the numbers. Basically it's how many points do you score vs how many points does your opponent usually give up. So, a rating of 0.5 means you score half the amount of points your opponents usually give up (really terrible). Conversely, a rating of 2 means you score twice the amount of points your opponents give up (think Oregon). A 1 means you score exactly the amount of points your opponents usually give up (average). You can see all of the data in spreadsheet form here.
So, where does Iowa fall?
Here are the numbers:
Overall average under Ferentz: 1.04
Average since 2005: 0.99
To take this half a step further, if you then rank every school by their average rating Iowa ranks 52nd overall and 64th since 2005.
So what the hell does that mean? Well here are rankings of the offense using these numbers out of 120 FBS schools:
Overall average ranking: 54.1
Average ranking since 2005: 60.6
To take this half a step further, if you then rank every school by their average ranking Iowa ranks 51st overall and 60th since 2005.
So, it would seem that overall Iowa's offense under Ferentz has barely been a tick above average and basically average since 2005. Only a very small drop off.
BUT THAT DOESN'T FIT THE NARRATIVE!!! IOWA'S OFFENSE SUCKS, ESPECIALLY SINCE 2005!!! RABBLE, RABBLE, RABBLE!!!
I also was surprised by this. So, let's go ahead and play around with the numbers a little. Maybe we'll see where all of our intuitive frustration comes from. Well, I think I found it. I think everyone will agree that the first 2 years under Ferentz were his ramp up and should probably be discarded to get a more fair view of what the program has looked like under his regime. When you take those first 2 dreadful years out Iowa's rating creeps up to 1.09 which ranks 42nd overall and their ranking improves to 37th overall during that time frame (2001-2012). The numbers for just those years (2001-2004) are astoundingly good for Iowa, with a rating of 1.28 that ranks 13th over that time period, and an average ranking of 21, which ranks 10th over that time period.
After disregarding the first 2 years there are 2 distinct eras of offense under Ferentz, 2001-2004 and 2005-present. From 2001-2004 Iowa had a borderline elite offense, one that was in the top 10% of all of FBS. Since then Iowa's offense is not the tire fire we might have assumed, it has merely been average. However, there has been a significant dropoff. Also, as Vint has said, this is totally a 2007 redux. 2007 is by far the worst offense under Ferentz (even worse than his first 2 years), however 2012 is next in line when disregarding the first 2 years. Scary revelation as to how bad 2007 was: the 2012 offense is still significantly better.
To see some math in how the ratings were created click here. To see the spreadsheet with the data, in case you want to see it, and play around with it, click here. If you're hopelessly confused: Iowa's offense used to be really good; it's not anymore; 2007 was awful, anything more ask a question.