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Evaluating the Travis Ford Era (So Far)



True: it’s not over yet. Travis Ford still has one game left to coach this year (maybe more…OSU has a 34 percent chance of beating K-State on Wednesday night). Even so, after eight years at the wheel, it appears the Ford era is coming to an end. Let’s take a look at how the Travis Ford era stacked up to the competition.

I took the average of every NCAA teams’ rating in Ken Pomeroy’s system from 2009 to current. Go ahead and take a guess: where does OSU rank during that time period?

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OSU has been the 39th-best program during the Travis Ford era. It’s not great, but not terrible. You can see the programs most similar to OSU during this time period: Butler, UCLA, Memphis, Vandy.

How does this compare to our peers in the Big 12?

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Ford’s Cowboys finish 7th compared to current Big 12 teams during this time period – better than OU, which came as a surprise to me. It’s easy to forget how bad OU was for a while…they had three years that were worse than any Travis Ford season. Kansas is the No. 1 program over the 2009-16 time period, and never finished worse than No. 14. Silly.

Next, I weighted the rankings so that the most recent season counts most and 2009 counts the least, to give an indication of the direction each program has been heading in.

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Using this “what have you done for me lately” weighted average, OSU slips below OU to 8th in the conference. I believe this analysis is a fairly accurate measure of each program’s strength over the last eight years, but a couple final thoughts come to mind:

1. What should OSU fans expect? Kyle and Carson agreed on the Pistols Firing Podcast that OSU should generally expect to finish in the top half of the league and have a team good enough to get to the Sweet 16. This doesn’t have to happen every year, but it should be a general expectation. That expectation would translate to OSU being a top 30ish team on average. Baylor and Texas managed a top 30 ranking six times out of the last eight years, while WVU and Iowa State got there five out of eight times. OSU was a top 30 team just three times during the Ford era.

2. Ford’s Tourney Success. If Travis Ford had more success in the NCAA Tournament, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. He made the Tournament five out of eight seasons (including three out of the last four). This sounds good enough for a coach to keep his job until you look a little closer and see that Ford won a solitary tournament game, and (by the way) none since he signed a 10-year extension. OSU fans haven’t had a vested interest in a second round since March 22, 2009. The lack of excitement in the postseason feeds over into each subsequent season, and leads us where we are today … waiting on a press conference after this season mercifully ends.

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