Give him points for creativity

Phil Steele.

Of all those who put out preseason college football magazines, his is the most thoughtful and innovative.

He’s always coming up with some creative way to measure the nation’s college football teams against one another.

In a recent blog, Steele outdid himself with his Experience Chart, which takes the nation’s 126 major college football teams and assigns them point values based on the following factors: number of returning senior starters, number of other seniors on the two-deep depth chart, percentage of lettermen returning, percentage of yards returning, percentage of tackles returning and career starts of the returning offensive linemen.

The results, if you are familiar with the personnel of our high-profile teams, are rather predictable.

Coming in at No. 124 of 126 was West Virginia University, which ranked ahead only of California and Louisiana Tech.

That’s not at all surprising considering the Mountaineers not only suffered heavy graduation losses but did so at the key offensive positions.

So, what does this mean? It simply means that the Mountaineers go into the 2013 season with an inexperienced team.

That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I’ve seen teams that had dreadful seasons who return nearly everybody the following year. But reality usually hits and the same group that previously failed does so again.

Yes, the Mountaineers must replace a lot of key players. Whether they have the players in camp to do that will determine the level of success of the 2013 season.

It’s interesting that the most experienced team in the country using Steele’s chart is the Texas Longhorns. WVU beat Texas last year, showing the Big 12 it wasn’t going to be a pushover. Texas returns 92.3 percentage of its yards compared to 15.5 for WVU. Its offensive linemen have made 124 career starts compared to 41 for West Virginia.

Marshall, interestingly, comes in at No. 22, in a virtual dead heat with UNLV (which proves bad teams can be rated high) and Louisville (which proves good teams can be rated high).

The Herd returns 87.7 percent of its yards from a year ago.

Ohio State is No. 29, returning an impressive 95.3 percent of its yards but lacking in the number of seniors on its two-deep depth chart.

The Ohio Bobcats are No. 39, returning 89.3 percent of their yards but lacking in number of career starts by its returning offensive linemen.

Steele’s top 10 doesn’t include a list of powerhouse teams. Following Texas are Rice, Texas San Antonio, Washington, Bowling Green, East Carolina, Boston College, North Texas State, Indiana and Old Dominion.

I’m going to put this chart away and get it out come December, when we will see if it has any value.

It’s certainly interesting, but does it have merit?

Only time will tell.

Contact Dave Poe at