College Football Program Power Rankings

Welcome to a new feature on The Scores Report. We thought it would be interesting to tally up all the major accomplishments of a college football program and assign a point value to each category in order to rank them against one another. Then our football guru, Anthony Stalter, wrote a little bit about each program and the direction that it’s headed.

Here’s how the points are calculated — 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 — Capital One, Outback, Chick-fil-A, Cotton, Gator, 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 upgraded or downgraded its head coach 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. Florida Gators (61)

National Championship: ’08-W, ’06-W
BCS Bowl: ’09-W
Conference Championship: ’09-RU, ’08-W, ’06-W
Major Bowl Appearance: ’07, ’05

It’s hard to argue that the Gators don’t deserve the top spot with two national championship victories, three BCS bowl wins, two conference championships and five bowl appearances in the past five years. Considering they play in college football’s toughest conference, what Urban Meyer’s program has been able to accomplish in the past five years has been incredibly impressive. The program dodged a bullet when Meyer rejoined the team.

2. Ohio State Buckeyes (58)

National Championship: ’07-L, ’06-RU
BCS Bowl: ’09-W, ’08-L, ’05-W
Conference Championship: ’09-W, ’08-RU, ’07-W, ’06-W, ’05-RU

The Buckeyes are subjected to criticism every year because they play in a weak conference that doesn’t have a title game, but keep in mind that they have absolutely owned the Big Ten over the past five years. They have finished no worse than second in each of the past five seasons and have also appeared in two title games. While it’s true they lost in both of those appearances, just getting there helped them greatly in these rankings.

3. Texas Longhorns (49)

National Championship: ’09-L, ’05-W
BCS Bowl: ’08-W,
Conference Championship: ’09-W, ’05-W
Major Bowl Appearance: ’07, ’06

The Longhorns have been a model of consistency. They’ve made a bowl appearance in each of the last five years, won a national championship in 2005 and made a title appearance this past last year. It’ll be interesting to see how Mack Brown’s program fares in 2010 now that Colt McCoy has graduated and youngster Garrett Gilbert is set to take over at quarterback.

4. Alabama Crimson Tide (43)

National Championship: ’09-W
BCS Bowl: ’08-L
Conference Championship: ’09-W, ’08-RU
Major Bowl Appearance: ’05

Chances are that Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide will steadily climb to the top of these rankings over the next couple years. The 2009 season proved that there is a changing of the guard in the SEC (especially now that Tim Tebow has graduated) and with Heisman winner Mark Ingram set to return next year, ‘Bama has a very realistic shot to repeat as national champions. (Alabama gets 10 extra points for a big upgrade at head coach.)

5. USC Trojans (41)

National Championship: ’05-L
BCS Bowl: ’08-W, ’07-W, ’06-W
Conference Championship: ’08-W, ’07-W, ’06-W, ’05-W

There’s a chance that USC could fall in these rankings now that Pete Carroll has decided to coach in the NFL again. That said, if Lane Kiffin (and more specially, Monte Kiffin) can turn around a defense that failed the Trojans last season, then USC might not skip a beat. Their offense should be explosive again next year now that quarterback Matt Barkley has a full year of experience under his belt, but the Trojans could still have a tough time gaining the power back in the Pac-10. (The Trojans are docked 10 points for losing Pete Carroll.)

6. LSU Tigers (37)

National Championship: ’07-W
BCS Bowl: ’06-W
Conference Championship: ’07-W, ’05-W
Major Bowl Appearance: ’09, ’08, ’07

After winning the national championship and a conference title in 2007, Les Miles’ program has taken a small step backwards the past two years. The Tigers have failed to make a BCS bowl appearance in each of the last two seasons and must find a way to become more consistent on offense in order to climb back to the top of the SEC standings.

7. Oklahoma Sooners (36)

National Championship: ’08-L
BCS Bowl: ’07-L, ’06-L
Conference Championship: ’08-W, ’07-W, ’06-W
Major Bowl Appearance: ’05

After making a title appearance in 2008, Oklahoma was supposed to have at least one more shot at a national championship with Sam Bradford under center before he went to the NFL. But a shoulder injury destroyed Bradford and the Sooners’ 2009 season and with his decision to skip his senior year, the Oklahoma program is now in a state of flux. The only good thing that came out of Bradford’s injury was that young quarterback Landry Jones got plenty of snaps last season and if the offensive line can come together, the Sooners should challenge for more Big 12 titles over the next couple years.

8. Boise State Broncos (28)

BCS Bowl: ’09-W, ’06-W
MM Conference Championship: ’09-W, ’08-W, ’07-W

Just because they don’t play in a BCS conference doesn’t mean that Boise State hasn’t been one of the most impressive programs in college football over the past couple years. In fact, they have. They’ve won their conference championship three years running and have two BCS bowl wins in the past five seasons. Chances are that Chris Petersen will have the Broncos atop the WAC again next year, although they might not climb much higher in these rankings because they don’t have a legitimate shot at playing for a national title thanks to the BCS system. (The Broncos get five points for hiring Petersen.)

T-9. West Virginia Mountaineers (27)

BCS Bowl: ’07-W, ’05-W
Conference Championship: ’09-RU, ’08-RU, ’07-W, ’06-RU, ’05-W
Major Bowl Appearance: ’09, ’06

It’s easy to forget how good the Mountaineers have been over the past five years, because the last time they made an appearance in a BCS bowl was in 2007. But they have finished no worse than second in the Big East over the last five seasons and have made a bowl appearance every year since 2005. Even after losing Pat White and Steve Slaton in the past two drafts, WVU still found a way to compete in the Big East. While it certainly wasn’t any fault of their own, the Mountaineers lose five points for losing Rich Rodriguez. Although Bill Stewart has proven to be a fine coach, Rich Rod brought WVU its two conference championships the past five years and thus far, Stewart has not been able to duplicate that success.

T-9. Virginia Tech Hokies (27)

BCS Bowl: ’08-W, ’07-L
Conference Championship: ’08-W, ’07-W, ’05-L
Major Bowl Appearance: ’09, ’06, ’05

Georgia Tech unseated Virginia Tech in the ACC last year, but the Hokies did win the conference twice in the last five years and also made two BCS bowl appearances. VA Tech has always found a way to compete at a high level under Frank Beamer and will probably continue to do so for years to come.

11. Penn State Nittany Lions (25)

BCS Bowl: ’08-L, ’05-W
Conference Championship: ’08-W, ’05-W
Major Bowl Appearance: ’09, ’07, ’06

Penn State has challenged Ohio State several times over the last couple years for supremacy in the Big Ten. Although USC embarrassed them in the 2008 Rose Bowl, the Nittany Lions have an impressive five-year resume, which includes BCS bowl appearances in ’08 and 05, as well as conference championships in those same years.

12. Georgia Bulldogs (19)

BCS Bowl: ’07-W, ’05-L
Conference Championship: ’05-W
Major Bowl Appearance: ’08, ’06

Georgia fell significantly short of expectations in 2008, but they still secured a BCS bowl appearance that year by winning the SEC. While in-state rival Georgia Tech is breathing down Georgia’s neck in these rankings, the Bulldogs still remain a top 12 program in college football.

T-13. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (18)

BCS Bowl: ’09-L
Conference Championship: ’09-W, ’06-RU
Major Bowl Appearance: ’08, ’06

The Yellow Jackets were definitely aided by their BCS bowl appearance last year and the hiring of Paul Johnson. If they can continue to stay atop the ACC, it’s only a matter of time before GA Tech leapfrogs up these rankings. (Georgia Tech gets four points for upgrading from Chan Gailey to Paul Johnson.)

T-13. Oregon Ducks (18)

BCS Bowl: ’09-L
Conference Championship: ’09-W, ’08-RU, ’05-RU
Major Bowl Appearance: ’08, ’05

Chip Kelly did an outstanding job avoiding a disaster last year after the Ducks were embarrassed by Boise State in the opening week of the season. Oregon went on to win their conference while also clinching a BCS bowl appearance and if the power has in fact shifted in the Pac-10, then the Ducks will climb in these rankings next year. (The Ducks get two points for hiring Kelly.)

15. Cincinnati Bearcats (15)

BCS Bowl: ’09-L, ’08-L
Conference Championship: ’09-W, ’08-W

Due to the loss of Brian Kelly, there’s a ton of uncertainty surrounding the Cincinnati program. However, if new head coach Butch Jones does a similar job in Cincinnati as he did at Central Michigan, then there’s no reason to think the Bearcats can’t win their third straight Big East title next season. (Cincy loses five points for losing Kelly.)

16. Nebraska Cornhuskers (13)

Conference Championship: ’09-RU, ’06-RU
Major Bowl Appearance: ’09, ’08, ’06, ’05

Bo Pelini is doing great things in Lincoln and although he lost some major talent this offseason, Nebraska should still have a dominant defense next season. Now, if only Pelini can figure out how to get more firepower on offense, then the Huskers could add a Big 12 title to their five-year resume. (Nebraska gets five points for hiring Pelini.)

T-17. Florida State Seminoles (12)

BCS Bowl: ’05-L
Conference Championship: ’05-W
Major Bowl Appearance: ’09, ’08

The Seminoles are staying afloat in the top 20 because of their BCS bowl appearance in 2005, but they’ll need to add at least a conference title if they want to move up in these rankings. They were runners up in 2009 and they have some talent on the offensive side of the ball so maybe they can put it all together in 2010.

T-17. Iowa Hawkeyes (12)

BCS Bowl: ’09-W
Conference Championship: ’09-RU
Major Bowl Appearance: ’08, ’06, ’05

The Hawkeyes made a ton of noise in 2009, but an injury to quarterback Ricky Stanzi in the second half of the season ruined their chances of beating Ohio State and winning the Big 10. Nevertheless, Iowa continues to be one of the top 3 teams in the conference and more BCS bowl appearances aren’t out of the question.

T-17. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (12)

BCS Bowl: ’06-L, ’05-L
The Irish are at a disadvantage in these rankings because they don’t belong to a conference, but that’s their own fault. There’s plenty of reason for optimism in South Bend now that Brian Kelly has been hired, but this is a program is in much need of consistency. Kelly has won everywhere he’s gone, but can he recruit will enough to win at ND over the long haul? We’ll find out. (The Irish get two points for hiring Brian Kelly.)

20. TCU Horned Frogs (11)

BCS Bowl: ’09-L
MM Conference Championship: ’09-W, ’05-W

TCU was a juggernaut last year, but Boise State proved how valuable experience is because the Broncos made the Horned Frogs look completely befuddled in the Fiesta Bowl. Still, Gary Patterson has this program on the right track and even though they won’t have a legitimate chance to compete for a national title every year, more BCS bowl appearances and conference championships are well within reach.

Just missed the cut: Utah (10), Wake Forest (10)

Photos from fOTOGLIF

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