A transformation like Washington State’s 3-9 to 9-4 doesn’t happen all that often. Improvement year-to-year usually is less pronounced.
Not for the Cougs in Year Four under Mike Leach.
Strictly speaking, WSU improved by six wins this season.
But the NCAA calculates ‘most improved’ teams a little differently. The NCAA formula: add the difference in victories between the two seasons to the difference in losses, then divide by two. For WSU, that comes out to 5.5.
A 5.5 improvement in wins would have rated fifth in the nation last year.
This season, it might be tied for No. 1 after the bowl games come to a close.
A preliminary check indicates at least four other teams have or could match the Cougs’ improvement depending on bowl game outcome: Iowa, North Carolina, Southern Miss and Northwestern.
True, such a large improvement from one year to the next is double-edged sword, generally mandating a disappointing first season in the year-to-year comparison.
But with WSU returning a good amount of the firepower next season, including record-setting quarterback Luke Falk, it’s doubtful Cougar fans are thinking much about 2014 these days.
They’ll just take the six-win improvement, thank you very much.
Phil Steele published his list of the 15 teams he expected to be the most improved teams in the 2015-16 college football season. The Cougs weren’t on his list.
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