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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Notre Dame’s Crist out, probably for a long, long time

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 23: Dayne Crist  of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish rushes against the Navy Midshipmen at New Meadowlands Stadium on October 23, 2010 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Dayne Crist tore his ACL on Halloween a year ago, playing mop-up duty against Washington State. Now, 364 days later, the Notre Dame quarterback has suffered another devastating knee injury.

Crist ruptured his pattellar tendon in today’s game against Tulsa, according to NBC. If that’s accurate, it likely means Crist’s season is over, and the Irish will have to finish out the season with true freshman Tommy Rees taking the snaps. Rees took over after Crist was hurt today, and looked very solid early on in leading three touchdown drives and throwing two TD passes (the other came on a hook and ladder play). But he also threw an interception at the end of the half which was returned for a touchdown which brought Tulsa to within two points.

Crist was 174-of-292 for 2,033 yards and 15 touchdowns this season. He had also thrown seven interceptions, and his 59.6% completion percentage has been pointed to by many as a big reason the Irish haven’t yet gotten Brian Kelly’s high-octane spread offense into full gear.

It’s a huge setback for Crist and the Irish, who are in danger of not being bowl eligible this season with games remaining against Utah and USC.

Whitlock: Notre Dame must fire Brian Kelly

SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 25: Head coach Brian Kelly of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish watches as his team takes on the Stanford Cardinal at Notre Dame Stadium on September 25, 2010 in South Bend, Indiana. Stanford defeated Notre Dame 37-14. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

FOX Sports columnist Jason Whitlock has weighed in on the death of Notre Dame student Declan Sullivan and writes that head coach Brian Kelly should be fired for his negligence in the situation.

Kelly should not coach the Irish on Saturday when they take on Tulsa.

We don’t need a thorough and exhaustive investigation to recognize Kelly’s negligence. A coach’s most important job, particularly at the amateur level, is to take every reasonable precaution to ensure the safety of the young people under his control.

Kelly failed in the worst way possible.

Mitigating circumstances do not matter. Notre Dame’s video coordinator should not be held responsible. Declan Sullivan, who tweeted before and during practice the weather conditions were terrifying and life threatening, certainly isn’t to blame.

The head football coach has final say over everything that transpires on the practice field. Everything. That’s why Ohio State’s Jim Tressel moved the Buckeyes’ practice inside on Tuesday when wind gusts made conditions unsafe.

Whitlock goes on to write that he understands why Kelly had his team practicing outside and also takes time to rip AD Jack Swarbrick for essentially making sure that the media knew he wasn’t at the practice long enough to tell Sullivan to come down.

I don’t know. My emotions say yes, fire Kelly and Swarbrick for their irresponsibility and extreme negligence. Sullivan should have never been on the lift in the first place and if Kelly thought it was dangerous enough to keep his team inside the day before because of a tornado warning, then he should have known not to have students filming practice from that high up during swirling winds. It was absolutely moronic for anyone to ok Sullivan being up on that lift.

That said, do we have the full details here? Do we know who was actually responsible for sending the young man up there? Was it Kelly, someone on his coaching staff, Sullivan’s boss, who? Did someone force him to go up there? If someone forced him to go up there, then done deal – someone has to lose their job. But if this was just a case of people not using their heads (as in, Sullivan went up there as he normally would and nobody thought to tell him to come down), then it’s up to the University to decide what the right course of action should be. Don’t follow up one irresponsible decision with another by firing people without compiling all the details.

Either way, a young man lost his life and for the time being, everyone should be morning his passing and not trying to assess blame. I imagine there will be plenty of time for that later.

Notre Dame student killed after video tower collapses during football practice

Mar 26, 2010 - South Bend, Indiana, USA - University of Notre Dame football players gather in a huddle Friday during the first spring practice as head coach Brian Kelly officially takes over after Charlie Weis was fired last fall.

In tragic news, a Notre Dame student who had been videotaping a football practice was killed after the tower he was standing on collapsed due to a strong gust of wind.

From FOX Sports.com:

Declan Sullivan, a 20-year-old junior from Long Grove, Ill., died Wednesday at a South Bend hospital after the hydraulic scissor lift he was on fell over at the LaBar practice complex. Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick promised there would be a full investigation, but did not say who was responsible for allowing the student to use the lift.

Speaking to reporters for the first time since the accident, Swarbrick described a normal practice that quickly became chaotic on Wednesday. He said he was walking along the football field when suddenly, the wind picked up and equipment began flying.

Swarbrick said training staff, medical trainers, coaches, players responded to Sullivan, but after emergency workers arrived, the team went back to the field so the rescuers could help the student. Sullivan was taken to a South Bend hospital, but Swarbrick said he received a call from the ambulance before it arrived that Sullivan was no longer breathing.

The National Weather Service said winds in the area were gusting to 51 mph at the time when the hydraulic scissor lift, which can be lowered or raised depending on needs, fell over. The football team had practiced indoors the day before because of the blustery conditions caused by a fierce storm.

It was not clear specifically who authorized Sullivan to go up in the scissor lift to videotape Wednesday’s practice, but Swarbrick said it was the decision to practice outside was left up to individual programs at the university. As a student worker, Sullivan reported to a video coordinator associated with the team.

According to the article, many media outlets reported that Sullivan sent out a tweet shortly before practice that said, “Gusts of wind up to 60 mph. Well today will be fun at work. I guess I’ve lived long enough.”

Why was he up on the tower in the first place? If everyone knew the winds were that bad, then why didn’t someone think not to allow him to go up there? It just doesn’t make any sense and it’s sad that such a tragic accident could have been avoided had someone used their head. Obviously they were worried enough about the winds the day before that they had the football team practice inside, yet they didn’t think to keep the students off these towers with wind gusts of 60mph? Talk about irresponsibility.

My thoughts go out to Sullivan’s family and friends.

Sorry, Brian Kelly, but getting blown out by Navy is unacceptable

SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 04: Head coach Brian Kelly of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish watches as his team takes on the Purdue Boilermakers at Notre Dame Stadium on September 4, 2010 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Brian Kelly is still in the first year of his contract, so he won’t be fired. That might be the only way he finds a way to get to sleep tonight.

His Notre Dame team is getting absolutely dominated by Navy. Not just having an off day and getting beat, but getting absolutely dominated. By Navy.

One of the reasons Charlie Weis didn’t last in South Bend, and there were many, was that he was unable to beat the teams that Notre Dame should be beating on a consistent basis. Losses like Navy (twice), Syracuse and UConn at home were the black marks on the Weis era that stung the ND faithful worse than any blowout loss at the hands of USC or Michigan.

One thing Weis never did, however, was get blown out by Navy, and that’s what’s happening to Kelly’s first Notre Dame team. On national television, no less.

The Midshipmen did whatever they wanted on the ground in this one, whether it was Alexander Teich on the fullback dive or Ricky Dobbs on a keeper. Navy averaged at least 113 yards a play in gashing the Irish, and if it wasn’t for a few select plays from stud linebacker Manti T’eo, it would have been 120 per play.

But getting gashed by Navy’s offense is something that happens, even if you spend extra time preparing for it. The option — run at its best — is tough to duplicate. It’s the fact that Notre Dame’s offense has struggled as much as it has that is probably the most disturbing thing for Notre Dame fans. Dayne Crist threw two horrible interceptions at completely inopportune times, and the offensive line struggled to get a push despite averaging about 100 extra pounds per man. Or protect Crist, for that matter.

What Notre Dame is displaying right now is a lack of heart and intensity. It’s something that plagued Weis’ teams often, and apparently Kelly hasn’t been able to get rid of that. He’ll get a pass this year, and maybe even next. But ND fans don’t put up with losing, no matter how much of it they’ve had to deal with in the past few years. And they definitely don’t put up with losing to Navy in a blowout fashion.

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