College Football Rankings, Is it a Popularity Contest?

College Football Rankings

What the Committee Isn’t Telling You

In his press conference the day following the 42 – 21 trouncing of the Florida Gators, Coach Saban mentioned the 5.1 viewership rating, sort of in passing. He inserted that tid bit of information in the middle of a sentence and it was completely out of context with what he was asked and the answer he was giving.  It was as if he was inserting a subliminal message like titillating pictures mixed in the ice cubes in a Coke ad .  Why?  Because in the new era of the 13-member College Football Selection gang, viewership matters and it matters a lot.

The big question on every college football fan’s mind is, “where will my team rank when the Playoff Selection Committee releases their official college football rankings? The committee has intentionally divulged nothing of the selection process, no criteria, no methods.  The only information they have revealed is their voting process.  Over the past six months the College Football Playoff Committee Members have offered only the tiniest of bread crumbs of information, not enough to draw a seagull to your beach chair.

How should teams be ranked?

Teams should be ranked based on Wins and Losses, of course!

Playing a tough schedule and winning those games should be all it takes to get to the playoff bracket.  Those things matter if you are looking for the best four teams in college football to play in the college football playoff and the championship game.

Is the Playoff Selection Committee creating college football rankings of the best four teams?

Not really. The committee wants a great game with high attendance, ticket sales and most importantly, viewership.  The committee’s priority is viewership.  The committee’s priority is viewership.  (Repeated intentionally.)

They want fast ticket sales, full stadiums, and most of all TV viewership. When the camera is on that stadium, they want it to be all a buzz and packed with crazy fans.

The Saban Prophecy

About this time last year Coach Saban explained to his Alabama faithful, particularly the students, the importance of staying the entire game. As good little Tide Soldiers, now the fans stay until the final down of the ball.  One fan held up a sign in Bryant-Denny that said, “We’ll stay as long as you do, Coach!”  We all know that every word Coach Saban utters to the press is carefully calculated and spoken for a distinct reason.  Saban knew the playoff was in the works and he knew that full stadiums was going to matter.  Are we suggesting a full stadium will get your favorite team into the College Football Playoff?  Of course not, but if the Selection Committee has a tie between two equally qualified teams, you better believe they will send the one with the most panache.

New Meaning to an Old Cheer

“We’ve Got SPIRIT Yes We Do, We Got in The Playoff, How Bout You?

Jackie Sherrill said it’s going to be about fanbase ratings. Sherrill said, “17 Million is better than 2.4 Million and that’s why Notre Dame will not be in the playoff.”  He went on to say he will “tell the truth and not speak politically” correct.  Jackie Sherrill is an alumna of The University of Alabama and a former head football coach at Texas A&M and Mississippi State.

The highest TV viewership for any college football team in 2013 was Alabama and the viewership in 2014 shows The Crimson Tide is once again the most highly viewed team. Alabama was ranked highest three of the first 8 weeks.  Florida State is second, which spikes every time their notorious quarterback has another run-in with the law or NCAA rules.

The Notre Dame Vs Florida State Game drew the highest ratings in the 2014 football season so far. It did not top 8.2 for Alabama/Auburn last November and an 8.5 for Alabama/Texas A&M last September.  Every good story needs a villain and The College Football Playoff Selection Committee may keep Florida State around, because people will tune in to pull against the Noles.

College Football Rankings

This football season, like the last, the SEC is showing the highest viewership with Alabama being the most viewed team.

College Football Rankings

College Football Rankings

A NEW Formula for College Football Rankings

With the death to the BCS also went the death to the BCS formula.  It would have made perfect sense to allow the College Football Playoff Selection Committee to use the BCS for the rankings and then allow them to make the playoff and bowl selections.  Oh no, they had to scrap the entire process and now we have no clue how our top four teams will be selected.  All we know is that we are now dependent 100% on the human element.

The Index Rankings is a ranking of the top fifteen teams in college football plus a couple spares. It is the average of three factors that will no doubt be considered by the College Football Playoff Selection Committee, Win/Loss Record, Other Polls and Viewership.  Yes, Viewership, show me the money.  This is the base formula and the calculation of the three factors is explained below:

(Ranking + Viewership + WinLoss) divided by 3


“Ranking” is calculated by taking the average of a team’s college football rankings in three polls, AP, USA Today Coaches Poll and Dave Bartoo Matrix.  We included the Bartoo Matrix, because of its simplicity and genius.  You can study stats until your teeth ache and you want to throw your laptop out the window.  Bartoo figured out that third down conversions, yards per play and per game gained, yards per play and game given up by defense, and so on, all boil down to two numbers, points per play gained and points per play given up.  He subtracts one from the other and ranks the teams.  Perfecto!  So we used the Dave Bartoo Matrix in the Index.

(AP + Coaches + Bartoo) divided by 3


“Viewership” is calculated by taking the average of team viewership ranking, conference viewership ranking and stadium size based on our stadium size ranking scale below.

(Team Viewership Ranking + Conference Viewership Ranking + Stadium Size Grade) divided by 3

College Football Rankings


“WinLoss” is the most heavily weighted factor in our Index.  Because WinLoss is the most important criterion, we multiplied the number of losses by 10.

Losses X 10 = WinLoss

College Football Rankings based on the Index Ranking

College Football Rankings Index Oct 2014

The committee won’t be able to avoid a bunch of SEC teams at the top, because that’s where all the polls rank them currently and two of the three undefeated teams are in the SEC. They won’t be too bothered by putting them there for a while, because the two Alabama teams and two Mississippi teams play each other in four more games.

The Playoff before the Playoff in the SEC

AU at Ole Miss, Nov 1,

AL Vs Ms State November 15

November 29, Iron Bowl in Tuscaloosa and Egg Bowl in Oxford

Will the Playoff Committee Spread the Love?

In order to show parody across the conferences, the committee might rank Michigan State, Oregon, Ohio State, and Nebraska a little higher than they deserve.

College Football Rankings Prediction

Michigan State is going to be a Playoff Committee darling. Michigan State, who sold out its Rose Bowl allotment last year in the blink of an eye, completely unexpectedly outdrew the BCS National Championship Game, which was played at the same stadium. Stanford-Michigan State drew 95,173 and Auburn-Florida State had 94,208.

The highest two-loss team will be Oklahoma, because they have 4 competitive markers with Alabama and Auburn and won three of the four.

They will want to keep Oregon ranked highly, because they are the only PAC 12 team that stands a chance of making it to the playoff.

For the last three years, bowl attendance for college football showed its lowest average in more than 30 years.  Twenty of the thirty-five bowls reported a decline in attendance again last year.

Alabama was the exception, again.

The Sugar Bowl was one of the exceptions, for Alabama Vs Oklahoma, bowl attendance was up 30% over the previous year.

The committee will have no problem putting Alabama in the four-team playoff if they have one, possibly even two losses. Alabama is the most viewed team in college football history.

If you’re a fan of a team in a conference to the north or west of the SEC who thought the purpose of this new playoff era was to slow down the SEC from winning seven national championships in seven straight years or having a national championship game with two SEC teams in it again, then you may want to check your meds.  This new committee was the brain child of Mike Slive, SEC Commissioner, who started working on this project in 2004 when Auburn was undefeated and did not have  a shot to win a national championship.  Some want parody across conference champions, which is like giving trophies to the kids who lost the game.  Some want to slow the SEC machine.  That will require more than one narrowly lost championship last year.  The only thing we know for sure is that when the college football rankings come out every Tuesday at 6:30P, everybody whose team is ranked from number five on will be fuming.

From Song Writer Bob Dylan,

“Chaos is a friend of mine.”



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