With the college football media days kicking off across the country this week, it’s time to get into analysis mode. And with our friend Brett Ciancia from Pick Six Previews, we’ve come up with a new kind of efficiency ranking – a coefficient of revenue collected off the pitch and performance generated on it.
Have you ever wondered which college football programs pay off the most? Well, we’ve designed and calculated an analysis that assesses just that. I’m certainly not saying it’s the only way. But I think that’s fair considering the data we need to analyze.
The method we chose was to cross two rankings – one for gross revenue figures from Equity in Athletics Data Analysis, averaging the 2017, 2018 and 2019 seasons; the other for Ciancia’s Game Grader formula, combining the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
For field performance, we could have used any number of measurements, including single records won and lost. But that wouldn’t have represented the highlights of the schedule. Game Grader does. This is an aggregate metric that combines several key game stats to most accurately reflect a team’s effectiveness both from match to match and, in this case, over the course of both. last seasons.
Likewise, we could have chosen any number of revenue figures to rank how much money a program should spend each year. We chose the EADA numbers simply because they ask schools to provide apple-to-apple figures on the gross income generated by their football programs. These include everything else as annual conference payments from various broadcast media contracts, which are not included.
First, I provided Brett with my EADA income rankings and he averaged the rankings for each of the three seasons. We have chosen to use a revenue window that is slightly earlier than the performance window to more logically track the progress from collecting money to using it. And also, because no turnover is yet available for fiscal year 2020-21; they will not be posted until next spring.
Next, Brett averaged his overall Game Grader rank for each of the past two seasons. When we finished we had two leaderboard numbers – one for income, one for performance. Next, we subtracted the Game Grader rank from the EADA revenue rankings and came up with a positive or negative number. The more positive the number, the more efficiently this program used its money. The more negative the number, the less effective they were.
This is the most fun type of project to calculate because you are not at all certain of the results, but you have educated guesses. I knew, for example, that Texas had been the uncontrollable leader in earnings for as long as I compiled the EADA numbers, while the Longhorns haven’t exactly kicked their asses between the lines lately.
So, without further ado, here are the top 10 most effective Power Five programs in the country, the ones that did the most with the least:
Now I’m going to say right away that West Virginia has always seemed to be the only outlier in the way they report their income to EADA. They’re consistently at the bottom of gross earnings among P5s and I’m not sure about the caveat. But if we report the negative, we have to accept the positive. We can only report the numbers provided by WVU, add the asterisk and move on.
Otherwise, I feel like the rest of the top 10 most effective are pretty accurate. I would have guessed, for example, that Matt Campbell’s Iowa State hurricanes would be there somewhere, and they are (# 6). I would have guessed Clemson in 5th place as well because Dabo Swinney’s Tigers performance has consistently achieved a healthy but not outrageous annual income cache. Clemson is like a small market professional franchise with a relatively small alumni base that has continuously excelled and hosted CFP tournaments.
I wouldn’t have guessed either Missouri or the state of Mississippi in the top 3. But again, you’re talking about a traditional basketball school in Mizzou without an avid football fan base that has grown up. hooked on the SEC competition; and another one of those relative mom-n-pop operations in the state of Mississippi with probably the least urban, least wealthy, or smallest fan base in the league.
Pitt surprised me a bit too, but probably shouldn’t have. Its # 10 ranking is testament to the competitiveness of Pat Narduzzi’s program with relatively modest resources and no stadium on campus.
And now here are the last 10 in reverse order; in other words, the least efficient P5 programs, those that do the least with the biggest budgets:
Again, there are some schools that were obvious. Tennessee (# 63) has consistently done less with a huge stadium and a dedicated fan base than any program in the country for most of the past decade, let alone the past two seasons. Texas (# 56), as noted, has not come close to realizing the potential that their wealth would suggest. And neither Nebraska (# 62) nor Michigan (# 57) is shocking. Both have been chronic underachievers with huge budgets.
I has been surprised Arkansas is all the way down in 65th place, but I guess that’s an out of sight, out of sight case. The Hogs have been so far off the radar lately that I honestly haven’t realized how futile they have been under the guidance of a few anonymous coaches since Brett Bielema left.
Anyway, for those who’d like to totally geek out, here’s the full list:
As you can see, Penn State at No. 48 isn’t exactly a model of efficiency. James Franklin’s program has an overall score of -9, which ties him to Kansas.
But you should also note that there really isn’t much of a difference between the overall ratings of the 30 or so middle, up to # 19 Iowa (+7). Also, it should be noted that the Hawkeyes hold the highest efficiency rank in the Big Ten. Then you have to go down 11 other locations to find the next conference member – # 30 Ohio State. And remember, the annual conference media rights payment of $ 54 million per school is do not included here. Not a terribly thrifty band with money, are they?
More PennLive sports coverage:
• How Bucks added tough guys around Giannis, rather than just another superstar, is a role model for the Sixers.
• Will the US basketball team win gold in Tokyo? In a globalized game, does it really matter?
• A chat with Phil Steele, who predicts that Penn State will be the most improved team in all of college football.