Saturday, January 10, 2009

Oklahoma: A State for Winners!

Sorry Sooner fans. The title of this post doesn't mean that Florida had to forfeit last night's BCS National Championship Game after receiving what amounted to a Brennaman/Davis FOX tongue bath of Tim Tebow and the Florida Gators. Nope, you still lost the BCS National Championship Game, Oklahoma, but I'm hear to tell you all is not lost.

You may have heard of a silly thing ESPN came up with called the Bowl Challenge Cup, where they take the cumulative record of each conference's bowl participants and award some dumb trophy to the conference that has the highest winning percentage. This year, after playing terrible, terrible football and watching the Mountain West Conference drink their milkshake during the regular season, the Pac-10 took home the trophy, posting a 5-0 record in this year's bowls (Rose, Vegas, Holiday, Sun, and Emerald, to be precise).

I find the ESPN Bowl Challenge Cup pretty silly considering:
  1. Sample size is way too small to be significant (Fr. McGowan's stats classes did teach me a thing or two after all)
  2. There isn't an even playing field (differing number of teams playing in bowls per conference)
  3. The level of competition varies according to your conference's bowl tie-ins (I'm looking at you, Big East!)
  4. 33 of 34 bowl games don't really count for anything; as I've stated on the blog before, bowls are glorified scrimmages

So I personally don't put much weight into ESPN's Bowl Challenge Cup, but I got to thinking about a similarly inaccurate measurement of college football teams that answers the following question ...

How would US States compare if you tried to measure them in some Bowl Challenge Cup-type challenge?

What we did was add up the year-end records for each of the 120 FBS college football teams and grouped them by state to determine which US State claims college football supremacy in 2008.

Everyone knows that Florida is this year's National Champion ...
That Florida, Texas and California are considered the football recruiting hotbeds of America ...
And that you should buy the SEC and the Big XII this year, and sell the Big Ten and the Big East (ACC too?) ... but how do states stack up with one another?

We took a look at 41 of the 50 US States* and tallied up the winning percentage for the FBS schools in that state.

Being a Boston College blog, we were interested in seeing where the state of Massachusetts - as New England's lone FBS state representative (Connecticut? Nah.) - stacked up to the rest of the country.

The results are surprising. Without further ado, here is your Top 10:

RankStateW LPctTeams
1Oklahoma3290.7803 - Oklahoma, OK State, Tulsa
2Georgia1970.7312 - Georgia, Georgia Tech
2Oregon1970.7312 - Oregon, Oregon State
4Missouri1040.7141 - Missouri
5 Nebraska940.6921 - Nebraska
6Utah26120.6843 - Utah, BYU, Utah State
7Pennsylvania25 130.658 3 - Penn State, Pittsburgh, Temple
8 Massachusetts950.6431 - Boston College
9Connecticut 850.6151 - Connecticut
9Maryland16100.6152 - Maryland, Navy
9New Jersey850.6151 - Rutgers

Interesting ...
  • That the Sooner State takes the top spot, with impressive showings by the Big XII's Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, and Conference USA's Tulsa.
  • A couple of midwest states benefit from having only 1 school playing FBS ball. Mizzou reps the Show-Me State with a 10-4 record and comes in 4th place while fellow Big XII North member Nebraska is one spot behind at No. 5.
  • And for those of us who voted Utah No. 1 in the final AP poll, not so fast my friends! Despite strong showings from the state's Holy War participants - Utah and BYU - you can always count on perennial underachiever Utah State (3-9) to drop the state to No. 6 overall.
  • Having more than a few teams (greater than 3, it seems) in one state seems to be a disadvantage, with Florida finishing as the highest ranked state with more than 3 teams (finishing in the No. 12 spot). Florida claims 7 FBS schools - Florida, Florida State, Miami (FL), UCF, USF, FIU, and FAU
  • And who said great recruiting talent doesn't come out of the Mid-Atlantic and New England states? Pennsylvania (Penn State, Pittsburgh and a halfway decent 5-7 showing for Temple) come in at No. 7, BC represents Massachusetts at No. 8, and Connecticut, Maryland, and Rutgers: The State University of New Jersey round out the Top 10.

What about the other end of the spectrum? Here is your Bottom 10 state cellar-dwellers:

32Tennessee23270.4604 - Vanderbilt, Memphis, Middle Tennessee State, Tennessee
33Arkansas1113 0.4582 - Arkansas, Arkansas State
34Ohio45 540.4558 - Cincinnati, Ohio St., Bowling Green, Akron, Ohio, Kent St., Toledo, Miami (OH)
35Louisiana28340.4525 - LSU, La. Tech, La.-Lafayette, La.-Monroe, Tulane
36Iowa11140.4402 - Iowa, Iowa State
37Kentucky14230.3783 - Kentucky, Louisville, Western Kentucky
38New York14 240.3683 - Buffalo, Syracuse, Army
39Wyoming480.3331 - Wyoming
40 N. Mexico
7170.2922 - New Mexico, New Mexico State
41Washington2230.0802 - Washington State, Washington

Your winner? Wasn't that obvious! The Apple State breaks perhaps a new record of State Challenge futility posting a 2-23 record (both wins tallied by Washington State and 1 of those wins coming against I-AA Portland State and the other coming against their winless, Washington State bedfellow Huskies).

New Mexico would like to thank the state of Washington for keeping them out of this year's basement. New Mexico and New Mexico State won a combined 7 games, and as a result of such futility, both head coaches were fired this offseason.

Also worth nothing that there are some powerhouse states on that list, including Tennessee, Ohio, and Louisiana. But upon closer inspection, you come to realize that there is a whole lot of mediocrity in the State of Ohio for programs not named Cincinnati or Ohio State. And it seems like Ohio State plays 4 of those teams on that list out of conference every season!

And the programs in the state of Louisiana who are not LSU usually take their requisite $1-2m SEC beatdowns in stride. This year, however, the previous defending National Championships finished a pedestrian 7-5 before waking up and realizing they shouldn't be that bad of a team and pounding Georgia Tech in the Peach Bowl.

But what about Texas? The state with the most FBS teams (10) couldn't capitalize on great seasons by:

Texas 12-1
Texas Christian 11-2
Texas Tech 11-2
Rice 10-3

as these teams' seasons were offset by abysmal performances by:

North Texas 1-11
Southern Methodist 1-11
Texas A&M 4-8
Baylor 4-8

The state finishes 67-58 (0.536), good for 20th on the list.

Finally, we thought it would be fun to compare the States that contain ACC schools ... of which there are 7. From North (best?) to south, they are Massachusetts, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida:

RankStateWLPctACC Teams
2Georgia1970.731Georgia Tech
8Massachusetts950.643Boston College
12Florida53370.589Florida State, Miami (FL)
13Virginia15110.577Va. Tech, UVA
16North Carolina 35300.538Wake, UNC, NC State, Duke
16South Carolina14 120.538Clemson

Your winner here is Georgia, which tied for 2nd nationally with Oregon. Strong seasons by both Georgia Tech and Georgia propelled them to the top stop in the conference.

BC's 9-5 season was good for 2nd place. At the bottom of the standings are the Carolinas, weighed down by sub-.500 season from Duke (4-8), North Carolina State (6-7) and vastly mediocre seasons - given preseason expections - by both South Carolina and Clemson (each 7-6).

So there you have it. Congratulations, Oklahoma! Even though you have gone 1-3 in BCS title games under Bob Stoops, you can take comfort in the fact that the State of Oklahoma played the best football in 2008.

And to Paul Wulff and Steve Sarkisian, best wishes for 2009. You have a lot of work to do up in the Pacific Northwest. But I guess the good news is, the only direction you can go is up?

* With apologies to Alaska, Delaware, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont and the District of Columbia - who don't know the pleasure that is FBS football.

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