The NEW Uncle Popov College Football Ranking

So, last year, I set up an amazing “secret” formula to determine the king of college football.  The formula not only incorporated winning into it, but also measures for offensive and defensive efficiency, scoring efficiency, conference “power”, and even recruiting.  AND, it did so covering three-plus seasons of stats.  It was tweaked a bit as the season progressed, but I found it to be fairly objective.  Offensive production was compared to the defenses that the teams face (same for defensive production vis-a-vis offenses faced); recruiting numbers were balanced against the conference for a given team.

The only problem is that it is time consuming to produce.  Once I got down the pattern, it would not take too long.  But, conference realignment meant that I had to adjust for teams that switch conferences.  So, Utah drew three seasons from the Mountain West and one [at the time, the current season] from the Pac-12.  This was going to be made even more challenging this season with more changes, and next season with Boise State pulling stats from three different conferences.

In other words, while I loved the ranking, it was becoming a pain in the ass to produce.  And, it would be a pain to set up for this season.  So, I decided to say fuck it and move on from it [for now…I might re-instate it later].

In its place, however, I am putting forth a new ranking system.  This one will draw its inspiration from the English Premier League, the NHL, and an article from the Wall Street Journal.  Yes, it is a promotion/relegation system, and it is built off of last season’s Uncle Popov Ranking.

The idea here is dividing all 124 FBS tier schools into four sub-tiers.  Because I cannot force schools to schedule according to sub-tier, I have to rely on factors with which I can control/account for.  So, teams are placed into tiers based on two factors from the old Uncle Popov ranking — winning/scheduling and offensive/defensive production.  By combining these together, teams are order based on their points accumulated from the measures.  The four new FBS teams — Massachusetts, South Alabama, Texas State, and UT-San Antonio — were all placed into the fourth tier.

The four tiers are as follows:





Alabama Air Force Arkansas State Akron
Arkansas Arizona Army Bowling Green
Auburn Arizona State Ball State Buffalo
Boise State Baylor Central Michigan Colorado
Cincinnati Boston College East Carolina Colorado State
Florida Brigham Young Fresno State Duke
Georgia California Hawaii Eastern Michigan
Georgia Tech Central Florida Iowa State Florida Atlantic
Houston Clemson Kansas Florida International
Iowa Connecticut Kentucky Idaho
Louisiana State Florida State Louisiana Tech Indiana
Miami (FL) Illinois Louisiana-Lafayette Kent State
Michigan State Kansas State Louisiana-Monroe Marshall
Missouri Louisville Maryland Massachusetts
Nebraska Michigan MTSU Memphis
Nevada Mississippi Minnesota Miami (OH)
Ohio State Mississippi State Ohio Nevada-Las Vegas
Oklahoma Navy Purdue New Mexico
Oklahoma State North Carolina San Diego State New Mexico State
Oregon North Carolina State Southern Methodist North Texas
Penn State Northern Illinois Syracuse Rice
Pittsburgh Northwestern Temple San Jose State
South Carolina Notre Dame Toledo South Alabama
Southern Cal Oregon State Troy Texas State
Stanford Rutgers UCLA Texas-El Paso
Texas South Florida Utah State Texas-San Antonio
Texas Christian Southern Miss Vanderbilt Tulane
Utah Tennessee Virginia UAB
Virginia Tech Texas A&M Wake Forest Washington State
West Virginia Texas Tech Washington Western Kentucky
Wisconsin Tulsa Western Michigan Wyoming

Now, here is how it works.  For all games won in regulation, the winning team earns three points; losers earns nothing.  If the game goes to overtime, the winning teams earns two points and the losing team earns one point.  Fairly straight forward.

Ah, but if all wins are created equal, what is the point of the tiers?  And, how do we differentiate between beating Alabama and beating South Alabama?  Good questions.  Glad I asked.

All wins against Tier 1 teams garner an extra two points for the winner.  So, if Michigan State beats Boise State, the Spartans will receive a total of five points (three for the win; two for beating a Tier 1 team).  Wins against a Tier 2 team will garner one additional point; wins against Tier 3 gives the winner 0.5 points.  No additional points are given for beating Tier 4 schools.

But wait…there’s more!  Since Tier 4 teams are ofter scheduled by teams in the top two tiers, there is a bonus built in for the Tier 4 team.  Losing to a Tier 1 team will give the Tier 4 team one point; losing to a Tier 2 team will give them one-half point.  For a Tier 3 team, only losing to a Tier 1 team will give them a compensation — 0.5 points.  There is no loser compensation for Tier 4 beating a Tier 3, or a Tier 2 beating a Tier 1.

Furthermore, beating an FCS school gets you zero points.  However, losing to an FCS school will deduct one point from your total.  So, for example, Minnesota would have received -1 deduction for losing to eventual National Champions North Dakota State.

Lastly, I am considering giving the lower Tiers an additional bonus for winning against higher-tiered teams.  So, if Western Kentucky pulls off a miracle against Alabama, they should be rewarded for that.  It may also ensure more fluidity in the promotion and relegation.

At the end of the regular season, I will revisit the table and see how it has played out.  I am debating between a full-scale promotion/relegation system where teams ranked in the final standings 1-31 are placed in Tier 1, or if I should rank the four tiers individually and promote and relegate from there.

Nevertheless, football kicks off soon…and I cannot wait to see how this new ranking shapes up.

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