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Arizona football: Wildcats fans are unhappiest in Pac-12, per ESPN metric

And only one Power Five school has unhappier fans

USC v Arizona Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images

Analytics say that Arizona Wildcats football fans are currently “distraught,” and are the unhappiest fans in the Pac-12, according to ESPN’s Fan Happiness Index.

The Wildcats ranked 116th out of 128 programs in the index, which not only makes them last in the Pac-12, but second to last among all Power Five programs, only ahead of the Kansas Jayhawks.

The Fan Happiness Index is comprised of six elements: program power, rivalry dominance, coaching stability, recruiting trend, revenue growth and Twitter buzz.

The elements are graded on a 0-100 scale. Here’s how Arizona did on each one:

Program power: 62

Arizona’s program power scored a 62 out of 100, which combines the strength of records from 2012-2016 and current FPI compared to recent history.

Non-conference play at Arizona has been absolutely horrendous, playing one power five school in the past five seasons — Oklahoma State back in 2012.

The FPI, Football Power Index, measures a team’s strength that gives the best predictor of a team’s performance going forward for the rest of the season, representing how many points above or below average a team is. Arizona’s 2017 FPI index is currently 1.7, which ranks 54th in the nation.

Rivalry dominance: 47

The next category is rivalry dominance, which combines wins above expectation over rivals in the past five seasons, and how a team’s FPI compares to their rivals. Arizona scored a 47 out of 100, meanwhile Arizona State was at 60.

Rich Rodriguez is 2-3 against Arizona State, pulling off a win in 2014 to clinch the Pac-12 South, and avoided a winless Pac-12 season in 2016. Both of those games were played in Tucson.

The ‘Cats probably should have beaten Arizona State in 2012, but virtually had no chance in Tempe in 2013 and almost pulled off a huge comeback with Brandon Dawkins in 2015.

Coaching stability: 5

Coaching stability is based on how close a coach is to being fired. And while many felt like Greg Byrne should have fired Rodriguez after last season, it will be up to Dave Heeke to make that long-term, financial decision.

This was Arizona’s lowest category, with five points.

Recruiting trend: 82

Recruiting trend was the next topic, and that was based on the difference in percentage of five-, four- and three-star recruits in the current class vs. expectation.

The way I interpret this is looking at the 2018 class right now, and basing it off expectations on National Signing Day.

I don’t think this recruiting class is as solid as the 2016 or 2017 classes looked, but there are a few good pieces. There are some big time pieces on the defensive line with Mykee Irving and Josh Walker. Jamarye Joiner is one of the most electrifying quarterbacks in the country and I think Issaiah Johnson and Jhevon Hill are very solid prospects.

But right now recruiting is hard to gauge, because if Rodriguez is fired, the class could end up looking completely different just a few days after the news.

Arizona scored an 82, which is rather high in my opinion.

Revenue growth: 99

Revenue growth was Arizona’s highest score, with a 99. This compares the 2016 revenue relative to the 2012-2015 average.

In 2016, Arizona football recorded $41 million in total revenue, however the department failed to make a profit as a whole.

Twitter buzz: 69

The last section is Twitter buzz, which is a percentage of tweets from fans that are positive based on social media analysis, where Arizona scored a 69.

That’s nice, however I have always felt that compared to most programs, the social media following for Arizona football isn’t as large as other programs, and it might not even be half the size of Arizona basketball’s social media following.

Just based off pure Twitter followers, Arizona basketball is at roughly 222,000, meanwhile Arizona football is at roughly 92,000.

But I think this section might contradict Arizona’s ranking of 116th. Scoring a 69 seems fairly high for being a program that is second to last in the Power Five, and dead last in the Pac-12.

Now, given the metrics, this seems to be geared more towards program success from 2012-present, not necessarily fan happiness.

So we’ll ask the fans: Are you happy with the state of Arizona football?


Are you happy with the state of Arizona football?

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