SB Nation's Bill Connelly penned an exhausting study on Texas A&M's chances for football title contention on Friday. The good news is that Ryan Tannehill's effect on the offense isn't something that is easily found by the study, nor is the improvement seen under new defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter likely to shrivel up and die. The bad news? A pesky little friend called regression to the mean.
So basically, we're talking about degrees here. Is A&M going to be good? Absolutely. Just probably not "Top Five" or "Top Ten" good. And expecting that level of play from a group whose four-year F/+ rank is 56th (behind programs like Wake Forest, Rutgers and N.C. State) is a bit unfair. A&M has made significant strides since the incredible lows of Mike Sherman's first year (2008), but they most likely aren't an elite team just yet, nor did they play like it even late last fall.
But they'll most likely be somewhere closer to 3-2 or 4-1 and hoping to position themselves for second or third in the conference. Those who remember the still-recent lows of 2008 should remain very impressed by that; those expecting darkhorse national title contention will find that disappointing.
I have a love/hate relationship with systems like the one that Connelly employs. On one hand, I think systems are great at getting the overall big picture right. But too often you will see a system fail on the smaller scale when you look at independent variables: like the addition of DeRuyter and the insertion of Tannehill, that it just doesn't account for.
I would say a Texas A&M title run is more likely than Connelly gives it credit for in the piece, but he does bring up some warning signs that should be accounted for.