2011 College Football Program Power Rankings

Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor hands off the ball to tailback Dane Sanzenbacher in the third quarter at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans during the 77th Annual Allstate Sugar Bowl January 4, 2011. The Buckeyes won 31-26 UPI/Dave Fornell

Almost a year ago we decided to try to quantify the stature of college football programs so that we could rank them against one another. (Click here for the 2010 Rankings.) Then our football guru, Anthony Stalter, wrote a little bit about each program and the direction that it’s headed.

Here’s how the total points are determined — 20 points for a national championship, 10 for a BCS title game loss, seven for a BCS bowl win, five for a BCS bowl loss, five for a BCS conference championship, three for a mid-major conference championship, two for a BCS conference runner-up and one for a major bowl appearance (i.e. a bowl that has a recent payout of more than $2 million, so for 2011 that would be Capital One, Outback, Chick-fil-A, Cotton, Gator, Insight, Holiday, Champs Sports and Alamo.) You’ll see the total points in parenthesis after the team’s name.

We put some thought into the point values for each accomplishment, paying special attention to how the point values are relative to one another. For example, we figured that one national championship would equate to four BCS conference championships, or three BCS bowl wins. We only looked at the last five years, as college football has increasingly become a fluid and fickle sport, and that’s about how far back a recruit will go when deciding amongst a list of schools.

Lastly, since a program is so dependent on the guy in charge, we added or subtracted points if the program saw an upgrade or downgrade at the head coach position in the last five years. A max of 10 points would be granted (or docked) based on the level of upgrade or downgrade. Again, we tried to quantify the hire relative to the program’s other accomplishments. For example, hiring Nick Saban is probably worth two BCS bowl appearances, or 10 points. (Sure, he might lead Alabama to more, but he also might bolt for another job in a year or two.)

So, without further ado, here are the rankings. Every year we’ll go through and update the numbers based on what the program did that year (while throwing out the oldest year of data), so don’t fret if your team isn’t quite where you want them right now. Everyone has a chance to move up.

1. Ohio State (58)

Previous Rank: #2 (+1)
Some college football fans will take issue with the Buckeyes being No. 1 because of their “soft schedule.” But this is a team that has dominated its conference five of the past six years and has finished no worse than second in each of the past six seasons. They’ve also appeared in two title games (though they lost both) and nine straight BCS bowl games, winning the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl in the past two years. They’ve got an interesting season coming up though. Five of their players including quarterback Terrelle Pryor, running back Dan Herron and receiver DeVier Posey will miss the first five games next year after being suspended. Can the Buckeyes stay unscathed until those players return?

2. Florida (51)

Previous Rank: #1 (-1)
If it weren’t for Urban Meyer leaving the program (and their lousy 2010 season), the Gators would probably still be ranked No. 1. They have three conference championships and two national championships in two years, but the lose of Meyer hurts big-time in these rankings. But don’t fret Florida fans, if Will Muschamp gets the program back on the right track then the Gators won’t be at No. 2 for long.

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Five Ohio State players suspended

The Buckeyes will be shorthanded to start the 2011 season, as five players (including QB Terrelle Pryor) will miss the first five games of the season for receiving improper benefits. Per ESPN:

Five players were found to have sold awards, gifts and university apparel, plus receive improper benefits in 2009. In addition to missing five games next season, Pryor, Mike Adams, Daniel Herron, Devier Posey and Solomon Thomas must repay money and benefits ranging in value from $1,000 to $2,500. The repayments must be made to a charity.

Jordan Whiting must sit out the first game next year and pay $150 to a charity for the value of services that were discounted because of his status as a student-athlete.

All of the players be eligible for the Jan. 4 Allstate Sugar Bowl, however.

What did they sell, you ask?

Pryor must repay $2,500 for selling his 2008 Big Ten championship ring, a 2009 Fiesta Bowl sportsmanship award and his 2008 Gold Pants, a gift from the university.

Herron must repay $1,150 for selling his football jersey, pants and shoes for $1,000 and receiving discounted services worth $150.

Posey must repay $1,250 for selling his 2008 Big Ten championship ring for $1,200 and receiving discounted services worth $50.

Adams must repay $1,000 for selling his 2008 Big Ten championship ring.

Thomas must repay $1,505 for selling his 2008 Big Ten championship ring for $1,000, his 2008 Gold Pants for $350 and receiving discounted services worth $155.

Good grief. Leave it to the NCAA to come down hard (five games?) on a program for breaking the rules, but still allow the players to still play in the upcoming bowl game. While these players were in the wrong, it’s telling that these unpaid student-athletes, who generate millions in revenue for the NCAA, have to resort to selling their championship rings to put some cash in their pockets.

Looking ahead to the Buckeyes’ 2011 schedule, they’ll have to face Akron, Toledo, Miami (FL), Colorado and Michigan State without their star QB. Their first game back will be on Oct. 8 at Nebraska.

What do you think — is what amounts to a half-season suspension fair for what Pryor and the other players did?

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