Though conference realignment talk has simmered a bit over the past week, it’s still a hot topic in the back of everyone’s heads as we await news on what the college football playoffs will look like. Teams like Florida State claim they pull more than their own weight when it comes to the product on the field in the ACC. But there’s also plenty of other schools that either fail to do so, or consistently do so, yet are mum on the subject. This is where our debate starts today.
We’ve broken down each of the six current “BCS conferences,” calculating the average wins over the last five years on both a per-conference, and per-school basis. While wins aren’t the only factors in conference realignment, the thought is that actual football performance may still matter somewhat in the game of “who brings the most televisions to market” — or at least that’s what we hope. As a forewarning, for some this exercise was a point of validation (Oregon, Alabama, in particular), while for others it was a sobering glance at ineptitude (Washington State and Syracuse, to name a few). Enjoy…
Also before continuing, please note that only schools playing in the same conference for the time period (2007-2011) were included (for consistency’s sake). So this eliminates just three teams from the 2011 BCS group (Colorado, Nebraska and Utah)
The conferences, sorted by average number of wins per team, per season:
The top two are to be expected, while the bottom may appear surprising in that order. This may also give some clues as to expansion patterns (all three leagues added at least one school in the latest round of realignment). But we’ll touch more on that further down.
The top five teams, sorted by average number of wins per team, per season:
Of those five, only VPI hasn’t appeared in a National Championship Game in the time period, and they’re also the only team of the five mentioned in current expansion rumors (coincidence?).
Teams above their conference’s average wins for the time period:
ACC: Virginia Tech, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Clemson, Boston College
Big 12: Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Missouri, Texas Tech
B1G: Ohio State, Wisconsin, Penn State, Michigan State, Iowa
Big East: West Virginia, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, USF
Pac-12: Oregon, USC, Stanford, California
SEC: Alabama, LSU, Florida, Georgia, Auburn, Arkansas, South Carolina
Obviously, the more teams listed, the less top-heavy it is, hence why six of the Big East’s eight teams are listed. The ACC lists just five due to both parity from the top-to-middle, and a very low bottom (Duke). Same goes for the B1G, while the Pac-12 is probably the worst league in terms of competitive balance.
Average wins, and how/if they correlate to confirmed realignment moves:
- Missouri: 9.6 (SEC in ’12)
- West Virginia: 9.6 (Big 12 in ’12)
- Pittsburgh: 7.6 (ACC in ’13 or ’14)
- Texas A&M: 6.6 (SEC in ’12)
- Syracuse: 4.4 (ACC in ’13 or ’14)
So based on the numbers, just three of the five confirmed moves actually show a positive impact on the new league’s overall averages. Missouri’s 9.6 would bump the SEC into the eight wins-per-year range, while West Virginia’s add to the Big 12 is an even swap with the Tigers. Pitt provides a slight bump for the ACC, and (coupled with WVU), a big knock on the Big East figures — or at least it would be, if Syracuse wasn’t leaving as well. Sadly, my alma mater’s 4.4 is the most troubling figure in the bunch, as they actually drag down the ACC average.
Average wins, and how/if they correlate to speculated realignment moves:
- Virginia Tech: 10.6 (Big 12/SEC?)
- Florida State: 8.4 (Big 12?)
- Clemson: 8.4 (Big 12?)
- Georgia Tech: 8.2 (Big 12/B1G?)
- Connecticut: 7.6 (ACC?)
- Rutgers: 7.6 (ACC?)
- Miami (FL): 6.8 (Big 12?)
Again, the only team that makes a big splash here is the Hokies, while FSU, Clemson and Georgia Tech would also provide gains for any conference. To credit Florida State with a valid complaint, adding SU/Pitt/UConn/Rutgers to the ACC fails to really add a whole lot on the football side based on wins alone, and the television numbers aren’t much better. For comparison’s sake on Miami, their averages are similar to Kansas State, if they were to move to the Big 12.
So who has a complaint? Removing SEC and Big 12 teams: Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Oregon, USC, Cincinnati, Ohio State and Wisconsin. With one of those schools (WVU) headed elsewhere anyway, and another four staying pat, VPI and Cincy are the only schools with true gripes. As for Florida State and Clemson? If we’re looking at these numbers alone, both are better-than-average, sure. But not by much.