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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Florida officially cuts ties with Urban Meyer to avoid violations

The SEC and NCAA was suspicious when Urban Meyer signed a deal to become a college football analyst less than two months after he resigned from Florida. So to avoid being USC’d, the Gators officially cut ties with Meyer on Wednesday.

From the Orlando Sentinel:

Meyer had remained on UF’s payroll in an undefined role since resigning as coach in December. But earlier this week when he signed a deal to become a college football analyst for ESPN, it raised red flags with the SEC and NCAA. After UF contacted those organizations about the potentially problematic situation, the wheels were set in motion for Meyer to being taken off the university’s payroll.

It would have been a dicey situation for UF and possibly against NCAA rules had Meyer, who is appearing today on ESPN’s coverage of National Signing Day, publicly discussed potential recruits as a paid employee and representative of UF.

Former coaches join TV networks all the time, so it’s not surprising that Meyer would do the same after resigning as head coach at Florida. But one would think that UF was paying him more than ESPN, right? Not that he needs the money, but this wouldn’t be Meyer’s way of forcing Florida to cut ties with him so he would be free to sign with another school, would it?

Nah, you’re right. He’s not that devious. No way he doesn’t resurface at Ohio State in a couple of years…

On a semi-related note, did a bitter Gator fan write the intro for Meyer’s Wikipedia page? Check this out:

Urban Oscar Meyer, III (born July 10, 1964) is a college football analyst for ESPN, a retired American college football coach and former bench warmer…He is best known for his exclusive, romantic relationship with quarterback Tim Tebow, as well as coaching the Florida Gators to two BCS National Championship Game victories during the 2006 and 2008 seasons…

Former bench warmer? His exclusive, romantic relationship with quarterback Tim Tebow? Ouch.

Hey, I’m not saying those two references aren’t statements of fact. I mean, look at that photo up above and tell me you know exactly where Meyer’s hands are (and aren’t). But one would think that someone with Meyer’s best interest at heart wouldn’t have painted him in that light.

Charlie Weis ditching Chiefs to return to college football?

The success the Chiefs have enjoyed this season under offensive coordinator Charlie Weis may be short lived.

ESPN.com’s Chris Mortensen reports that Weis will likely part ways with the Chiefs in order to become the University of Florida’s next offensive coordinator. He has ties with new Gator coach Will Muschamp, who was hired at Florida to replace Urban Meyer.

The thought is that Weis eventually wants to become a head coach again at the college level. If he has success at Florida and in the SEC, he would be on the fast track to land another coaching gig soon. What’s interesting is that he’ll implement his pro-style attack after the Gators ran the spread for six years under Meyer. The question is, does Florida have the personnel to make a switch like that?

For now, Weis will coach the Chiefs during the playoffs. They’ll host the Jets next weekend in the Wildcard Round and he’ll stay with them throughout the postseason. Matt Cassel has really come on as a passer under Weis, so it’s unfortunate that Kansas City will lose its offensive coordinator after only one season. But the Chiefs had to figure that Weis wouldn’t be around long if he found success.

Would Chris Petersen leave Boise State to coach at Florida?

Nov 6, 2010; Boise, ID, USA; Boise State Broncos coach Chris Petersen during the game against the Hawaii Rainbows at Bronco Stadium. Boise State defeated Hawaii 42-7. Photo via Newscom

If this were Bobby Petrino, it would take him all of four minutes to clean out his office at Arkansas and be on the first plane to Gainesville.

But Bobby Petrino Chris Petersen is not. To Petersen, loyalty still means something, which is one of the reasons he may stay right where he’s at in Boise.

Since Urban Meyer stepped down at Florida, Petersen’s name has been brought up in connection with the Gators’ open head coaching job. And why not? He’s compiled a 60-5 record at Boise State and has turned the program into a yearly national title contender (even though the BCS would never allow the Broncos to actual contend for a championship). He should be the type of coach that Florida wants to replace Meyer. He has a great work ethic, his players love him and perhaps no coach in college football gets the most out of his recruits as Petersen does at Boise State.

But would he even want to leave Idaho? The assumption is that every head coach wants to land a bigger and better job, but the SEC is a different animal. If he took the Florida job, Petersen would have to recruit in the SEC (something he’s never done) and coach SEC-caliber talent (another thing he hasn’t had to contend with at Boise). Former Bronco coaches Dirk Koetter and Dan Hawkins also struggled when they left Idaho, so that’s something to consider as well.

That said, it would be insane to think that Petersen couldn’t recruit in the nation’s best conference or that he couldn’t handle blue chip prospects. But maybe he doesn’t want to either. He has long stated how happy he is coaching at Boise and seeing as how he’s not Petrino, I tend to believe him.

Petersen has a good thing going at Boise and it’ll be interesting to see if his name grows synonymous with the Florida job over these next couple of months. For right now though, it seems likely that he’ll stay put.

Urban Meyer stepping down at Florida – will he reunite with Tim Tebow in Denver?

NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 01: Quarterback Tim Tebow #15 hugs head coach Urban Meyer of the Florida Gators after scoring a touchdown against the Cincinnati Bearcats during the Allstate Sugar Bowl at the Louisana Superdome on January 1, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

It hasn’t quite been a year since Urban Meyer first said that he was stepping down as head coach of the Florida Gators. Right after Christmas last year, he cited health problems as the reason he would resign but then he changed his mind a day later.

Apparently he’s changed his mind again.

According to a report by AOL Fanhouse’s Brett McMurphy, Meyer will step down on Wednesday. McMurphy tweets that there will be a press conference this evening (rumor has it that it’ll be at 6:00PM ET) to announce the decision.

Considering his short leave of absence in between the ’09 season and the 2010 season (as well as the down year Florida just experienced), I guess this news isn’t all that shocking. He didn’t appear to bring the same excitement and passion to the sidelines as he did in previous years when Tim Tebow was his quarterback. He’ll leave Florida after compiling a 64-15 overall record, which includes two national championships.

Speaking of Tebow, what are the chances Meyer joins his former pupil in Denver? It’s probably just coincidence that the Broncos fired Josh McDaniels just days before Meyer quit at Florida, but all the pieces fit. He loves Tebow. Tebow loves him. The Broncos need a head coach and oh, what’a know – Meyer needs a job now.

Another thing to consider is that the Broncos are in a tough spot. Not every coach wants to work with a massive project like Tebow and McDaniels left them as a team without an identity. Meyer could remedy both of those situations but who knows if he’ll even want to coach again in the near future. There’s a strong possibility that he needs time off (for health reasons and otherwise) and hasn’t even considered joining the NFL ranks.

I’m sure within the next couple of hours the Broncos will deny wanting anything to do with Meyer and Meyer will do the same. “The Broncos? Yuck – I hate that team,” Meyer will say. But how many times has a college head coach lied about his future plans? Bobby Petrino just lied to someone, somewhere two and a half seconds ago.

A Meyer-Tebow reunion in Denver seems a little to perfect right now but nothing should be ruled out.

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