This ESPN stat should make USF, FSU football fans optimistic about 2022

The Bulls and Seminoles both return a lot of production. Here’s what that means.
USF quarterback Timmy McClain is still with the Bulls, which is a bright sign for the program's future.
USF quarterback Timmy McClain is still with the Bulls, which is a bright sign for the program's future. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times (2021) ]
Published Feb. 8, 2022

USF and Florida State fans hoping for a 2022 turnaround can take solace in a set of numbers published Tuesday morning on ESPN.

The Bulls and Seminoles both rank in the top 11 nationally in returning production. USF, according to the data from Bill Connelly, only loses 12 percent of its production. That’s fifth best in the country. The Seminoles are six spots lower, losing only 18 percent.

UCF (No. 19) also ranks pretty high, while Miami (46th) and Florida (62nd) are notably lower.

Related: Does conference realignment pay off? No, according to this research

Teams that return at least 80 percent of their production typically improve the next year by about six points in Connelly’s SP+ advanced metrics. A similar growth for USF would boost the Bulls from 110th nationally (where they ranked last season) to 93rd. FSU would rise from 53rd into the top 25.

These metrics are, of course, imperfect, even though Connelly weights returning production by position group to try to make his data more meaningful. Bad teams that return a lot of talent might be ready to take a step forward because they’ve gained experience. It’s also possible that the team was bad last year because it’s players simply aren’t very good, so bringing them back won’t help.

We don’t know which way USF or FSU will go yet. But as we wait for spring football to begin, ESPN has provided at least one reason both fanbases can be optimistic about the autumn.

Related: National signing day: What we make of good, not great classes at Florida, FSU and Miami

Check out ESPN’s full numbers here.

• • •

Never miss out on the latest with the Bucs, Rays, Lightning, Florida college sports and more. Follow our Tampa Bay Times sports team on Twitter and Facebook.