What’s In A Name – A CFBGab Investigation
Picking up on Jon’s lead from yesterday, I took a look at the 10 winningest teams in college football history, where they started in the AP Poll the last five seasons, where they finished and what that might indicate for what name recognition means for them. Just to clarify on my method, if they were unranked, I treated them as though they were simply ranked 26th.
And this is far from scientific, as it leaves out teams that have made a name for themselves in recent years and are perennially overrated, such as Virginia Tech, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Miami and California. I’m not one to buy easily into the east coast bias argument, but it’s hard to argue against when east coast teams are so constantly overrated. It also can’t take into account “fad” rankings, where a team makes it much higher than they should because voters allow one or two wins to overshadow the rest of their season.
At any rate, this is what I found when I looked at the ten winningest teams, their average starting position, average ending position and how far up or down they moved.
|Team||Starting Rank||Ending Rank||Difference|
There are a couple of different ways to analyze this. One is looking at the starting rank to determine if there is a name bias going on. The team that has been ranked highest is USC. However, based on the difference between average starting and ending rank, it seems that’s also the one that voters have gotten the most correct the last five years. USC is bonafide.
Next highest is Texas, but again, their margin of drop is very small. And they have actually finished higher than they started three out of the last five years, and one of those times was a move from second to first. That’s impressive.
Then there’s Ohio State, and despite their national championship chokeration the last few years, I have to say that they’re legitimate. They finished in the top 5 three times and really only got hit for finishing 20th the year after their championship when they suddenly found themselves without the services of Maurice Clarrett.
The last average top-10 starter is Oklahoma, and I think we have ourselves a winner here. They have the largest average drop for teams in the top 10 at -3.6. It’s not drastic, but I soon expect voters to get tired of putting Oklahoma in BCS Bowls only to have them lose. They’ve got to get disaffected at some point.
By that same metric, the team that has benefited the least from their name is Alabama. To be fair, Alabama had some really bad teams over the last five years. They only started the season ranked once and only finished ranked twice. But, both of those times, they were in the top 10, which is why they have moved up the most on average. All told, it seems to me the Crimson Tide has benefited from name the least.
The other way to look at it is by sheer difference of ranking, and the team that has fallen most is Michigan. The worst was 2005, when they started preseason #4 and finished unranked. They started in the top 10 only to finish outside the top 10 three times in the last five years. That’s more than any other team, and two of those years, Michigan started in the top 5. Clearly, Michigan has benefited the most from name recognition without actually doing what it takes on the field to justify it.
Tennessee is another bad one, dropping an average of almost six spots. They have finished lower than they started three times, the most severe of which was 2005, when they started #3 and finished unranked. East coast bias strikes again.
I want to close by giving a shout out to Notre Dame, which does not appear to experience much bias based on average starting rank and average drop. However, a couple of things should be pointed out. Their stats are skewed because they only started in the top 25 once. That was 2006. In 2005 they had a surprisingly good season and made it to a bowl game, finishing the season ranked 9th after starting unranked. The next year, following a surprise season and a BCS Bowl beatdown by Ohio State, they started ranked second. That’s right – #2. They finished 17th. There was also a season where they did not start or finish the season ranked, but jumped into the top 25 two different times. Don’t be fooled by the table above…there is a very strong pro-Irish bias in the polls.