<
>

Is playing experience overrated?

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

One thing that my readers will learn is that I absolutely love statistics and rankings. And while the nature of football doesn't lend itself to detailed numbers-crunching study like baseball or even basketball, I'll still let you know about something if I think it's intriguing.

That's why I like the chart that football guru Phil Steele came up with where he broke down team experience rankings in his most recent yearbook.

Steele has developed a scale that gives the most benefit to a team with seniors in the starting lineup or the two-deep, and also accounts for juniors, sophomores and freshman players in the roster.

His system gives a team 3 points for every senior starter, 2 1/2 points for a senior in the two deep, 2 points for junior starters, 1 1/2 points for juniors in the two deep, 1 point for a sophomore starter and 1/2 point for a sophomore in the two deep. He then subtracted 1 point for every freshman starter and 1/2 point for every freshman listed in the two deep.

Here are his rankings for Big 12 teams, ranked in terms of the conference and national rankings.

It's interesting that the most experienced teams in Steele's study were Navy and Army, followed by Memphis, Troy and Hawaii.

The five teams at the bottom are Florida, Texas, Colorado, Boise State and Washington. If I was a gambling man, I'd bet there were more bowl teams among the bottom five at the end of the season than from the top five.

It leads me to believe that experience is overrated. Kansas State and Iowa State will field more experienced teams, but they still likely will be two of the three worst Big 12 teams this season. And Texas and Colorado's young players might be better than most of their older ones. Look for the Buffaloes to get a huge boost from Darrell Scott at tailback and Texas to also get a shot in the arm from a multitude of strong, young players.