The Second Half Is Not Ty Willingham’s Happy Place


The fact that the Huskies have led undefeated Ohio State and Arizona State at the half, only to get blown out in both games, is causing consternation. Is Willingham sinking a top 10 team by getting out-2nd-half-adjusteded?

ty willingham

It struck me that you’d want to look at Willingham’s whole coaching career to see if this 2nd-half incompetence is a consistent feature of Willingham-coached teams, or just an in-season statistical anomaly.

I tallied up points by quarter for Willingham teams from 1996-2007 (I couldn’t find data for 1995, his first year at Stanford). Then I figured out the points differential for both the first and second half, so you can compare. Here’s the chart.

As you can see, Willingham teams have historically done worse in the 2nd half than in the 1st half. With a -5 differential in the 1st half and a -170 differential in the second, his teams have done 165 points worse. Not good, right?

But we’re talking about 11.5 seasons–those 165 points are only 2.5% of all the points scored. And, before this year, Willingham had six seasons when his teams did better in the 1st half, and five when they did better in the 2nd. It’s hardly a massive indictment.

What is troubling, however, is the differential in the past two seasons at Washington. For the second straight year, the Dawgs are headed toward being better then their opponents in the first half, but far worse in the 2nd.

Here’s the whole spreadsheet, including breakdowns by 3rd and 4th quarter, if you want to check it out.