Recently, while watching sports with a friend (Hi Evan!), he lamented that it must be sad that my alma mater, Boston College, currently has the worst combined football and basketball programs among power conference schools. Desperate to refute that statement and at least meddle in mediocrity, I tossed out potential cellar dwellars.
All received no more than a shurg and a maybe before we turned to the topic that many, many more people would find intriguing, who would be atop that list, rather than at the bottom.
Determined to both answer that question AND prove BC’s worth, I set out for a statistical answer.
I decided on a formula with a variety of variables that measured success in both football and basketball over the last five seasons. Here are the essential nuts and bolts of that formula:
1 point for every basketball win
2 points for every NCAA tournament berth
2 points for every NCAA tournament win
8 points for every Sweet Sixteen
10 points for every Final Four
15 points for every basketball national championship
3 point for every football win
2 points for every bowl berth
6 points for every bowl win
8 points for every BCS or New Year’s 6 Bowl appearance
10 points for every BCS or New Year’s 6 Bowl win
15 points for every football national championship
I call it FABRIC (Football and Basketball Recent Index Calculation) because… I don’t know. It works!
The numbers were tweaked and prodded as I went along to best represent reality. For example, football wins are obviously worth more due to the amount of games and 3-1 works out to about the same success rate. NCAA tourney wins are worth much less than bowl wins because football teams can only win 1 bowl per year, while basketball teams can collect up to 6 tourney wins.
I then ran these numbers for every power conference team, including Notre Dame. I also included a select group of outsiders that I felt might be able to compete (UConn, Cincinnati, Memphis, Houston, and BYU).
You can find the complete spreadsheet, with a variety of tabs that sort the information every which way RIGHT HERE.
But the important stuff, I’ll cover in detail.
Ohio State is #1, with Michigan State right on their heels.
It’s important to note that this past football season that concludes tonight was used as the most recent football season (Clemson and Alabama were credit with half of a national championship for now), while last year’s basketball season was included as the most recent basketball season.
Come April, there’s a good chance Sparty leapfrogs the Buckeyes into the top spot. They trail by 23 points right now. They already have 5 more wins than Ohio State and a tourney bid and Sweet Sixteen trip would be worth 14 extra points.
But for now, thanks to their football championship, Ohio State takes the top.
Louisville with a strong 3rd place finish.
I did not expect the Cardinals to place so highly. The Teddy Bridgewater era was good for Louisville football, with a lot of wins and that coveted Sugar Bowl victory. Obviously, Rick Pitino hasn’t had any trouble and the national championship certainly helps, but going into this exercise I did not expect Louisville to be among the nation’s best. Good for them!
My alma mater wasn’t last!
Yes!! Eat it, Wake Forest! Take your dumb terrifying mascot and get out of my face! Continue to be littlest brother in a four team state. At this point, when asked to name their rivals, most Duke and Carolina fans would forget you exist.
Meanwhile, in Boston, 2nd to last is terrible. BC hasn’t had a relevant moment in either sport since Matt Ryan was on campus (and no, I’m not counting a one-off fluke upset of top ranked Syracuse as a relevant moment). The sad truth of the matter is that most BC fans or grads wouldn’t care or would be quick to point out how good the Eagles have been in hockey. That’s great…but no one else really cares.
Kansas has won 9 football games in 5 years.
What in God’s name is going on in Lawrence? Bill Self has more Big XII titles than home losses and the Jayhawk football team is a walking disgrace. Their 6th best basketball score was completely dragged down by the worst football program in the nation.
Somehow this was not the biggest gap in programs, as Kentucky was the runway #1 in basketball but a measly 3rd to last in football.
SEC FOOTBALL IS A MONSTER.
The other 4 conferences’ average football scores were a separated by a mere 4.3 points. SEC teams averaged 14.1 more football points than the closest competitor, the ACC.
Meanwhile on the basketball side, the ACC was the winner in a three horse race with the Big 10 and Big XII. The PAC-12 and SEC were a ways behind them. Nine Pac-12 and a whopping eleven SEC schools finished below the national average for basketball.
Big XII expansion is coming…but how?
The Big XII nearly died when all of the tectonic shifts in conference alignment occurred a few years ago. Thanks to the strength of Texas, the league survived with ten members. After being passed over for the college football playoff last year, it is still the only major conference without a football championship game. No big game means less money and money is king in college sports.
They recently pitched for the right to have a title game between the league’s top two teams but the NCAA rejected that proposal. The only way the Big XII is getting a championship game is by expanding, and the thought of having a huge game down at Jerryworld is too good to pass up. So who joins the fold?
I included Memphis and UConn in this exercise because I thought they’d have an actual chance to compete. UConn’s two basketball championships certainly helped. But as you look at the rankings, the teams I included are natural contenders to join the Big XII.
UConn may already play in a conference with Houston, Tulsa, and Tulane but I’m no enemy of geography. I feel for the non-football athletes of Connecticut who would need to catch random weekday flights to Lubbock and Norman. Sorry, UConn, but once again you’re left out. Football is king and your football score is 63rd out of 69.
Meanwhile, three other teams on this list would make logical additions to the conference.
Houston makes all too much sense. The league already has 4 schools in the state of Texas but none in the Houston metro area. The Cougars also hold the 14th best football score, a welcome addition to any conference. Part of that is due to their competition level in the AAC, but they could compete in the Big XII.
UConn’s partner-in-left-behind-crime has been the Cincinnati Bearcats. Left by the Big East and never catching onto one of the current power conferences, Cincy has still performed. Their 19th best FABRIC score is better than all but two Big XII schools. Location in the 26th biggest market doesn’t hurt either. Plus, now the Big XII has TWELVE SCHOOLS.
(Apologies to Memphis, who were beaten out by better markets and better FABRIC scores. Maybe next time!)
So years after adding West Virginia, which made no geographic sense, the league slides it’s footprint a tad east, which is better than their alternative of heading further west to acquire lesser athletic successes like…New Mexico or Colorado State.
No one is happier than West Virginia, who saves thousands in travel costs and finally has a natural rival in Cincinnati.
Making things all that much easier, the conference has logical divisions by splitting them into North and South. The five Texas schools (Texas, TCU, Baylor, Texas Tech, and Houston) plus Oklahoma is the Big XII South. Oklahoma State, Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, Cincinnati, and West Virginia are the Big XII North. Texas will complain that their division is harder and Texas is the king so they’d get their way, but this at least makes sense.
Learning that Penn State’s football program finished behind Washington, Iowa, and RUTGERS was better than any drug or substance could ever make me feel.
Overall the seemingly powerful Nittany Lions finished 15 spots from the bottom, behind athletic stalwarts like Virginia, Vanderbilt, and Memphis.
What did you find interesting in there? What surprised you? What was obvious? Let’s chat about it in the comments below.
Header image via FoxSports.com
Shane McNichol is the founder, editor, and writer at PalestraBack.com. He has also contributed to SALTMoney.org, Rush The Court, and ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter @OnTheShaneTrain. If you have any suggestions, tips, ideas, or questions, email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.