- Chantel Jennings, ESPN Staff Writer
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What is the value of a veteran team?
It's a compliment that writers often give teams, but those "veteran" or "experienced" groups aren't always the ones that finish the year at the top of the rankings. But there's certainly something to be said for teams that start older players -- perhaps they're less shaken by big moments and bright lights, perhaps not. It's an interesting debate if nothing else.
And Phil Steele is helping us to push that debate along as he just came out with his "Experience Chart" for the 2015 season, which looks at the two deep of every Division I team and then grades them out based on the years of each first- and second-stringer.
"I awarded 3 points for every senior starter (2.5 for every additional senior in the two deep) 2 points for every junior starter (1.5 for every additional junior in the two deep) 1 point for a sophomore starter (0.5 for every additional soph in the two deep) then subtracted 1 point for every frosh starter and .5 for every frosh in the two deep," Steele explained.
So, the long and short of it is: Teams that have older players in the two deep get higher scores than those with younger players in the two deep. So while Oregon sophomore running back Royce Freeman might put up better numbers than plenty of junior or senior running backs across the conference, in this chart, he doesn't score as well as Storm Woods or Daniel Lasco.
Based on Steele's experience rating, here's how the Pac-12 shook out:
59. Arizona State
75. Colorado, Washington State
99. Oregon State, UCLA
Though it's not often we see some of those teams in the lower half of any ranking, it makes sense here. Just looking at the losses that some teams had, it's almost a surprise to not see them lower. But, since this takes into account the incoming depth chart, a team like Oregon State, which lost nine defensive starters, could still grade out better than another team just because it's replacing those lost starters with juniors and seniors.
It's not a perfect judgment of experience, but it's a good place to start. And considering two of these teams face off against the most experienced team in the country (Michigan) during the nonconference season, it'll be fun to see exactly how all of this "experience" plays out on the field.