Why We Are Average and the Importance of Attrition

I couldn’t help myself while watching that game on Saturday, I got a little depressed. It felt like we are miles away from competing with Oregon. Their talent just seemed so much better than ours, it felt like no progress has been made at all and that the program is basically the same as it was in 2009. I sat there with my wife trying to figure out what the hell has happened and why are we still so far away from being elite when so many people are out there telling us that Steve Sarkisian has brought us back, and that we are loaded with talent. Reality, however, has different things to say about the state that this program was left in.

To be sure there is some high end talent on this team, specifically on defense. Danny Shelton, Hau’oli Kikaha, Shaq Thompson, and Marcus Peters are all high level players. John Ross on offense is a difference maker. But outside of those players who on this roster is a great talent? Budda Baker is certainly flashes at times, but he is just a true freshman. This team just seems so average at so many positions, and they are just that – Average.

So as my wife and I were watching the annual Duck plunger game come to a conclusion we tried to figure out how we got to where we are. I thought back to something Chris Petersen said just a few days before the game during his weekly Coaches Show on KOMO Radio. He was asked about recruiting and its importance for the program, he had this to say that stood out to me, “Nothing will set you back further as a program than a bunch of misses in recruiting.” So we started to look at UW recruiting from the 2010 class on, as these are the players that could still be in the program as 5th year seniors. The following is what we found and in my opinion it really helps explain why this team is what they are. WARNING: These findings are painful to look at.

No, your eyes do not deceive you. From 2010-2013 UW had 103 players sign letters of intent to play football at UW. Over those four years 39 (!!!!!) players have left UW before completing their eligibility, which is an attrition rate of 37.86%. Both the 2010 and 2011 classes nearly had attrition of 50%! Only two of those that left early were NFL early entrants (Bishop Sankey and ASJ), so the rest were almost exclusively major misses on the recruiting front for UW. That is atrocious roster management, some attrition is needed from each class, or else you would be signing classes of five players if everyone stays, and that would not be good. But if you get over seven lost players in a class I would argue that is too much.

I can already hear some people wanting to argue by saying the following, “Well, if you know a player isn’t good or is a bad person than we should be getting rid of them!” Well that is fine, but as I said getting rid of seven players from a class because they aren’t good enough or they are a bad apple is one thing, but getting rid of 14, 11 and nine players from one class is a failure by the coach. You are basically putting yourself on probation at that point, especially when those classes are consecutive. Every player you lose to attrition is a player you have to start over with by bringing in another freshman. These numbers are startling and quite frankly I am surprised I was surprised by them considering the lack of attention to detail by our previous staff.

So we wanted to look and see what Oregon has done in the attrition arena over the same period of time. Obviously, Oregon is one of the most successful programs in the PAC12 right now, and they just beat us handedly, so why not start with them? Here are what their numbers look like:

The 2011 class had pretty high attrition, but other than that everything is acceptable from a numbers standpoint so far. So, in total, Oregon has signed 86 players from 2010-2013 and 23 players have left before completing their eligibility, which is an attrition rate of 26.74%. That compared to UW’s attrition rate of 37.86% is pretty startling.

Needless to say I will be keeping a close eye on attrition for the 2014 class and on for UW. The hole UW is in right now is incredible, and it really does explain why we have been pointing out how average the roster is outside of a few players. When you have that many misses on the recruiting trail it is a killer for a program.

NOTE: We are in the process of compiling attrition charts like the above for all of the PAC12 teams. It will be interesting to see the numbers for teams, or not. I will follow up with a post at some point with all of the charts of the PAC12 teams.