What Does FEI Say About Texas A&M Football’s DC?
Let’s consider FEI, another advanced statistical system. The Aggie defense last year was 30th in the nation—not quite as high as SP+ had it, but still definitely more than adequate. Durkin’s Ole Miss defense in 2021 was the 28th-ranked in the nation per this metric, so better than SP+’s rating, and better than adequate. In accordance with SP+, FEI views 2020 Ole Miss as a decidedly bad defense, slotting them at a lowly 117th in the nation.
Due to Football Outsiders’ website experiencing issues, I am unable to retrieve any SP+ ratings from 2018 or before, so I cannot comment on how 2016 and 2017 Maryland stack up in those ratings. Suffice it to say, though, that if they’re anything like FEI’s rankings, they would be viewed unfavorably. But it is also worth mentioning that lumping these in with the other statistics is potentially treacherous, because Durkin was the head coach at Maryland—not the defensive coordinator.
Now, every Texas A&M football fan is aware that sometimes head coaches are responsible for calling one side of the ball or the other, even though they may have a nominal coordinator there. But—and this may admittedly be my historical ignorance speaking—I cannot find any evidence that Durkin was the one in charge of calling the defense in the way that Jimbo has been in charge of calling the offense over the past five years here. And even if he was, it remains true that there are some guys who “lose their edge” once they step into the head coaching role while still trying to micromanage either the offense or the defense, and are thus better suited to a coordinator position (Will Muschamp, a close friend of Durkin’s, is a great example here).
We can consider the quality of those Maryland teams, yes. But to lump all of these statistics together runs the risk of inaccuracy in representation of reality—indeed, it almost certainly is inaccurate in that regard.
Speaking of lumping statistics together, let’s get to the second thing about this article: weird sample sizes.