This graph plots UW rank by SRS over the past 41 years. Comments are below the graph..
Here are various thoughts…
If we take out 2008, the trend has been up since 2004 though obviously not fast enough. Clearly, 2008 was a total aberration and Sark lived off that during 2011 and 2012 when he couldn’t get the program into the top 40.
40, which can be considered average for a major program, has been a key level. Note that Don James only went below 40 once in 1985, albeit barely, and UW went below it again barely in 1998.
The program fell apart as per SRS in 2003 a year before it did in W/L terms. Also the huge drop from 2000 to 2001 (from #8 to #34 was a warning sign on Rick Nueheisel.
Note Don James’ big jump from year 2 to year 3. Could that be in store for Chris Petersen?
Despite a rebuilding year with among the fewest returning starters in the conference, a year that Brock Huard said would be Pete’s toughest, UW came in at #26 which was its highest finish (ex 2013) since 2000. Heading into the year I realistically thought we’d win 5 games and finish 45-55 in SRS. Given the circumstances, finishing #26 was outstanding as it should lead to continued improvement.
And that improvement should show in SRS. With a very easy schedule, UW could go 6-3 in conference and win an easy bowl game and be 10-3. But that 10-3 could be #23 and that would be a disappointment. I’d rather win the north in that scenario than not win the north and finish 10-3 and #13. However, it is obvious which team is better.
The same comparison could be said regarding 2014 vs 2015. The 2014 team was a late fumble away from going 9-4 in the regular season, whereas the 2015 team was 6-6 in the regular season. SRS shows that one team was better by quite a margin.