I've wanted to start playing with some of the data that Bill C. posted over at Football Study Hall for a while and I wanted something simple to get my feet wet. As a fan of the B1G, one thing immediately sprang to mind:
My goal was to save the B1G from continued ridicule as the punt-happy conference it's always made out to be. Using the CFBstats.com datasets (found here), I put together each conference's total punts and number of teams for each year (2005-2011) and averaged everything out by conference. First, a look at the data over that whole time period.
As it turns out, the B1G falls in the upper half but only barely:
The Sun Belt tops out at nearly 65 punts/team each year, followed closely by the Atlantic Coast (#goacc). The B1G is only in the upper half by a mere .12 punts. Down at the other end, the independents are almost 4 punts/team better than our FBS leader at 54.6 punts/team.
But wait, you say, that graph up there is an average over the years. Surely the B1G led the nation in punting at some time recently, why else would we mock them so thoroughly (this is rhetorical, please don't answer). Well if we look at things over each of those years we see hints of why the B1G has a punting stigma:
As we can see, in both 2005 and 2006, the B1G finished 2nd overall in punts/team behind the ACC. However, in 2007 the ACC skyrockets to 72 punts/team while the B1G ends up in the middle of the road. In an astonishing turn of events, the B1G had the 2nd lowest punts/team in 2008 before starting to creep back up. As we move towards 2011, even while creeping up into the top half, the B1G still stays below the Sun Belt and Big East (Sun Beast?) and never ends up higher than 3rd overall.
In summary, the B1G is unjustly mocked for it's punting. As we have learned, a few punt-happy teams do not make a trend. Furthermore, I propose that #goacc should replace #B1G as the go-to hashtag when making punting jokes on twitter.