Restarting College Football From Scratch: Which 120 Schools Would Sponsor Football?

Is Your School One of the 120 Best Equipped to Play College Football?

Is Your School One of the 120 Best Equipped to Play College Football in Today’s Landscape?

Back in March, SB Nation’s Jason Kirk took a look at an interesting question: Where would you place a college football program if you were starting one completely from scratch? The considerations included current program geography, potential fan bases and to some degree, recruiting as well. Using these factors, both Jason and the commenters (myself included) recommended a flurry of current and hypothetical universities, with no clear choice above the rest. As it is the offseason, this is quite the entertaining exercise.

But taking that idea a step further, what if we decided to start the whole thing from scratch? Blow up the current college football landscape — structure, traditions, records, existing programs, etc. — and just completely start fresh. The only hard-and-fast rule? We’re choosing 120 schools, all of which either currently sponsor Division-1 or -II NCAA athletics and/or have an institutional endowment over $1 billion. Additionally, to narrow the consideration pool down a bit, I avoided all schools with less than 5,000 students, since it’s highly unlikely they’d be able to support football from a talent or fan standpoint (at the collegiate game’s highest level anyway).

Using these factors as guides, I built an available pool of 318 schools, and compiled the following information for each:

  • Endowment: In many cases, endowments are a nice measuring stick of a school’s ability to raise money. Since college football programs cost money and need similar fundraising to function, this should certainly come into play when considering a school’s ability to sponsor the sport.
  • Enrollment: It’s not the end-all, be-all of whether you can sponsor football, but fan support usually starts with students. If you don’t even have 7,000 students on campus, how are you supposed to draw more than 20,000 to Saturday’s game?
  • State Recruiting Ranking: This is a big one, because it examines how sustainable football is from a local recruiting level. If you’re a big school, but have no local base, that means you’re utilizing a national strategy. Likewise, if you’re a mid-size school, but exist in a large local base, you still have a significant chance of recruiting success.
  • Public/Private: Obviously, there are more public schools than private schools at the FBS level today, and in our setup, that’ll still be the case. Private schools won’t be eliminated from consideration at all, but if a decision must be made between a private school and public school, the public school will win out. Public institutions have an easier road toward attracting local talent, and in many cases support too, so that was taken into consideration on a few choice occasions.

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Ranking the Best ACC Football Matchups of 2013: #100-91

Pitt's One of Several ACC Schools That Scheduled A Few Less-Than-Stellar Opponents

Pitt’s One of Several ACC Schools That Scheduled A Few Less-Than-Stellar Opponents

The 2013 ACC football schedule has officially been released, meaning we finally have some clarity as to whom the conference’s 14 teams will face-off with from week-to-week next season. So with that in mind, we thought it would be an entertaining undertaking to rank all 112 ACC football games for 2013 because, well… it’s the offseason.

Today, we take a quick glance at numbers 100 through 91; wrapping up FCS opponents, along with a smattering of terrible FBS teams. As part of the conference’s continuing PR battle, the volume of cupcake opponents actually goes a long way. In the past, teams have fallen victim to difficult slates devoid of “easy” matchups — something every school looked to avoid this year.

#100: Old Dominion Monarchs at Pittsburgh Panthers (Saturday, October 19)

#99: Idaho Vandals at Florida State Seminoles (Saturday, November 23)

#98: Boston College Eagles at New Mexico State Aggies (Saturday, November 9)

#97: Richmond Spiders at NC State Wolfpack (Saturday, September 7)

#96: Florida Atlantic Owls at Miami Hurricanes (Friday, August 30)

#95: New Mexico Lobos at Pittsburgh Panthers (Saturday, September 14)

#94: Duke Blue Devils at Memphis Tigers (Saturday, September 7)

#93: Old Dominion Monarchs at Maryland Terrapins (Saturday, September 7)

#92: Villanova Wildcats at Boston College Eagles (Saturday, August 31)

#91: Tulane Green Wave at Syracuse Orange (Saturday, September 21)

Some additional notes on today’s list:

  • Old Dominion, which is in the process of upgrading to the FBS, appears on this list twice (and once yesterday as well); a result of playing as a FCS independent
  • Of the 10 opponents (nine different teams), four are from the FCS and six are from the FBS
  • The 10 games appear on eight different dates, including three on Saturday, September 7
  • Breakdown of opponent conferences: Conference USA (3), CAA (2), FBS Independent (2), FCS Independent (2), Mountain West (1)
  • Breakdown of opponent home states: Virginia (3), New Mexico (2), Florida (1), Idaho (1), Louisiana (1), Pennsylvania (1), Tennessee (1)
  • Public vs. private universities: Seven public, three private

Previously: #112-101

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ACC Football Top 25 Players of 2012: #2, Giovani Bernard

Giovani Bernard Was One of the Country's Most Exciting Players Week-In and Week-Out

Giovani Bernard Was One of the Country’s Most Exciting Players Week-In and Week-Out

As part of our 2012 season review, we’re counting down the top 25 players in the ACC this season, from no. 25 to no. 1. Obviously these lists are always completely subjective — and thus completely bulletproof, obviously — so feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments, too.

No. 2, Giovani Bernard, RB/North Carolina (Preseason Rank: 6)

Giovani Bernard was not the conference’s leader in all-purpose yards. He missed out on that honor by about 80 to Miami‘s Duke Johnson. But considering he played in two less games than Johnson, and yet still managed 1,981 yards (198.1 per game), I’d say Bernard’s still pretty pleased with his accomplishment.

Slated to be among the ACC’s best running backs — if not the outright best — in 2012, it’s no surprise that the UNC sophomore was able to perform well. And while his two- (nearly three-) week hiatus due to injury may have glossed over his success early on this past season, his presence was realized by everyone by the time his record-setting performance (23 carries, 262 rushing yards) against Virginia Tech wrapped up on October 6. Bernard was a one-man wrecking crew from the get-go though; the problem was his team was playing too well to keep him on the field. In three of his first four contests, he averaged 10 or more yards per carry (including 35 per carry on just two touches against Idaho). And in a season full of bright spots (four games of 140 or more yards rushing, six games of two or more scores from scrimmage), perhaps none sticks out more than the effort he put together against NC State: 304 all-purpose yards (182 of which were in the fourth quarter) and three score, plus this game-winning punt return for a touchdown that was among the best things I saw in college football last year.

Next year, he’s headed to the NFL, but that won’t allow us to forget what a truly impressive 2012 Bernard put together.

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2012 ACC Football Season Recap: North Carolina Tar Heels

In Its First Year Under Larry Fedora, North Carolina's Offense Exploded to New Heights

In Its First Year Under Larry Fedora, North Carolina’s Offense Exploded to New Heights

Team: North Carolina Tar Heels

W-L: 8-4 (5-3)

Postseason: N/A

Top Offensive Performer: Giovani Bernard, RB

Top Defensive Performer: Kevin Reddick, LB

After a very encouraging 2011 season, 2012 was supposed to be the year that UNC put it all together and finally won the Coastal division. And technically, they did. But due to a postseason ban, the school was not allowed to play for the ACC title, nor win the Coastal division. When looking at head coach Larry Fedora’s first year on the job though, it’s tough to argue that the Heels’ season was anything but a success — and another step toward the team’s goal of playing for a league championship.

When Fedora showed up at Chapel Hill, there appeared to be trepidation surrounding his spread offense. Quarterback Bryn Renner had always played in a pro-style attack, while running back Giovani Bernard was unsure how he’d continue to play a key role for an offense that appeared to be moving away from the running game. As evidenced by the team’s 14th-ranked offense this year, everything actually turned out just fine. Renner was a natural for the spread, and grew my leaps and bounds in comparison to his sophomore campaign. While attempting 72 more passes than 2011 (in one less game), the now-junior only saw a slight dip in accuracy, while throwing for more TDs (28 versus 26) with less sacks and interceptions. And Bernard actually thrived as both part of the passing game, and as a result of its importance in the offense. As a receiving option out of the backfield, Bernard caught 47 passes for 490 yards and five scores (in just 10 games). Plus, because of the spread’s emphasis on the passing game, the slashing sophomore back also saw more holes between the tackles as defenses feared Renner throwing the ball. The result? A campaign that should’ve gotten more Heisman buzz, as Bernard racked up another 1,228 yards on the ground with 12 TDs — again, in 10 games and on 55 less carries compared to last season. Not to be completely outdone, backup (and 2013 starter) A.J. Blue even got in on the act, rushing his way to 433 yards and nine scores on top of that. Overall, the UNC offense averaged 92 yards per game more than they did last year; a phenomenal jump in just one season.

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ACC Football 2012 Previews & Predictions: Week Five

Duke Johnson and the Miami Hurricanes Look to Extend Their Surprising Start with Another ACC Win

Byes aplenty this week, as the ACC has just 10 teams in action amidst what ends up being a fairly dull slate of games nationwide, somehow. In fact, the guys over at Shutdown Fullback will tell you it’s downright awful (like Ibis-on-a-jet-ski-plus-explosions awful). Still, we trek on and highlight the best of ACC action, in the hopes that it surpasses the pure boredom that will be College Gameday this week (OSU-MSU). The B1G: Where they can’t field a postseason-eligible team that could finish in the top 15.

Game of the Week

NC State Wolfpack (3-1) (0-0) at Miami Hurricanes (3-1) (2-0): Both of these teams have fared poorly in their big non-conference tests thus far. For the Wolfpack, they were run off the field by Tennessee to open the season and Miami was embarrassed by Kansas State in week two. Since those losses, however, both teams appear rejuvenated, relying on some unexpected skill players to show them the way, in freshmen Duke Johnson (Miami) and Shadrach Thornton (NC State). If the ‘Canes can generate an efficient rushing attack with Johnson and veteran back Mike James, they’ll have a shot against the Pack. But, given how porous the Miami defense is, Thornton and senior QB Mike Glennon may be all NC State needs to win their first conference game of the year. Prediction: NC State 24, Miami 21

The Rest of the Slate (in order of start time):

Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders (2-1) at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (2-2) (1-2): Middle Tennessee State allows over four yards per carry, which is going to be a bit of a problem against Georgia Tech’s triple-option. Despite their loss to Miami last week, the Wreck still ran for 287 yards; no small number, and they’re likely to equal or surpass that figure this week. So the Blue Raiders obviously have an uphill battle ahead. The only saving grace may be their own respective ability to move the ball on the ground — but it’s also against some pitiful competition. Tech’s looking to bounce back after their disappointing result on Saturday, and will definitely do so. Prediction: Georgia Tech 45, MTSU 17

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ACC Football 2012 TV Schedule & Spread: Week Five

After a Big Win Last Saturday, Miami Hosts NC State as Both Try to Notch Their Fourth Win on the Year

Every week, we’ll be providing a quick rundown of which ACC football games are on television, and also list the latest spread on each game (should you choose to engage in gambling-related activities). Please plan your days accordingly.

ACC Football Week 5 Television Schedule & Spreads

Saturday, September 29

Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (-27.5), noon ET, ESPN Gameplan

NC State Wolfpack at Miami Hurricanes (-2.5), noon ET, ESPNU

Duke Blue Devils at Wake Forest Demon Deacons (-3), 12:30 p.m. ET, ESPN Gameplan

Idaho Vandals at North Carolina Tar Heels (-24.5), 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN Gameplan

Clemson Tigers at Boston College Eagles (+9.5), 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs at Virginia Cavaliers (+2.5), 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN3

Virginia Tech Hokies vs. Cincinnati Bearcats (+7), 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU

Florida State Seminoles at USF Bulls (+17), 6 p.m. ET, ESPN

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ACC 2012 Spring Practice Expectations: Virginia Cavaliers

Does Virginia's Michael Rocco Have What It Takes to Guide His Team to an ACC Title?

As spring practices get under way, we’ll be previewing what needs to happen for the teams and players of the ACC, culminating with notes on all 14 spring games.

Today’s featured team: Virginia Cavaliers

With all the good that came out of Virginia’s surprisingly successful 2011 season, the one thing truly missing were points on the board. Though the team ran a balanced offensive attack, ranking in the country’s top 60 in both passing and rushing, they had a difficult time punching it into the endzone — averaging just 23.2 points per game. Bringing back just seven starters on offense probably won’t make changing that number any easier, but collective experience may. In his first full season as a starter, then-sophomore Michael Rocco showed poise and leadership in completing nearly 61 percent of his passes for 2,600+ yards and 13 touchdowns. If the unit is looking to take it up a notch this spring, it’ll all start with Rocco’s improvement and the passing game overall. Last year’s leading receiver Kris Burd is graduating, but fellow starter Tim Smith will be back in a more active role for 2012. Competing for the spot alongside him will be sophomores Darius Jennings and Dominique Terrell — two receivers who combined for just 28 catches last year in limited action. At running back, senior Perry Jones will also continue his jack-of-all-trades act this spring. As the motor that runs the Virginia offense, he racked up 1,400 total yards on 220 touches, and will once again serve as the main safety valve for Rocco in the passing game. Continue reading