Some people just love to talk realignment when it comes to college football. I will admit, I can be guilty of that at times (I’m telling you that updated Big Ten logo is just itching for 16 teams). It seems there is always some way to reimagine the college football landscape, and in the dream world inside our minds there is no end in sight to the options to play with. While most of us will have to settle for configuring our make-believe conferences in the virtual world of NCAA Football 14, others will map it out for us using (virtual) pen and paper. The Wall Street Journal is the latest to get in the fun.
In a story titled “A Radical Realignment Plan for College Football,” The Wall Street Journal suggests placing college football powers in conferences based not on geography, but on overall strength as a program. For example, the first “cluster” conference would feature Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Texas. No Florida State, the defending national champions? Did The Wall Street Journal even watch Florida last season? Or Michigan? Or Texas? As it is explained, two representatives from Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports used a formula based on financial implications as well.
Per The Wall Street Journal;
What a “Division IV” in college sports would look like is still anyone’s guess. But two Ohio State sports researchers have an idea: What if schools were sorted into conferences based on their football strength?
To do that, Jonathan Jensen and Brian Turner chose to ignore geography and tradition, the typical forces in conference realignment. Instead, they focused solely on football and its financial implications, coming up with a formula that factored in every team’s football revenue, winning percentage, computer ranking and attendance between 2003 and 2013. Then they sorted teams into clusters to figure out which schools were most alike—and should be playing each other.
Using this formula, the defending Big Ten champion (Michigan State) and Pac-12 champion (Stanford) would be in Cluster 2 and Cluster 3, respectively. Last year’s Big 12 champion, Baylor, is nowhere to be seen in the four clusters assembled, but West Virginia, Utah and Boise State are. So is Arkansas.
Maybe The Wall Street Journal should stick to finances.