OT: USNews rankings of FBS schools and conferences

For those who were in the thread concerning DD's flip to Auburn and his citation of "academics" as one of the reasons, I decided to bring any tangents to this new thread.

I generally make this list every year for my personal enjoyment, but for some reason 2018 and 2019 escaped me. So let's start afresh with 2020. The link to my listings, broken down into conferences and order from best to worst, can be found in this Google Doc here.

A few thoughts:

  • Not to disparage any institution, but Louisville's ranking brings the ACC WAY down. Despite them, the ACC still has the highest average ranking of the 10 FBS conferences
  • They must have changed their methodology over the past few years, because a few schools made huge jumps compared to where they were in '17 (Florida State the most apparent improvement, going from near the bottom of the conference to a tie with Miami and Pitt). And... a few schools in some conferences fell off the wagon.
  • Tech would be 2nd in the Big 12, 11th in the Big Ten (that fragment makes no sense), 6th in the Pac12, and 5th in the SEC.
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Hence why I don't want to go to the SEC. Academics partnerships/cheerleader effect > better football competition.

I will never understand why people care about the average academic ranking of an athletics conference. I want us to be in the best position financially/recruiting-wise/competition-wise. Whether that is the ACC or the SEC so be it.

I think there are a lot of good reasons why the ACC is a better conference for us. But I don't see how the ACC having better academics is going to help us win football games.

Last I checked Georgia, Florida and Vanderbilt are all highly regarded institutions while being in a conference with Arkansas, the Bama schools, and the Mississippi schools.

its not about academics winning football games. its about academics and our academic reputation being things that affect every graduate. Academic reputation of a university plays into the ability of students to get jobs / grad schools / etc, not to mention everyone has a bit of pride in their degree. We are used to not getting recruits/not winning natties, but to have someone publicly demean (and incorrectly) the academic aslect of the university hits home for many graduates.

Danny is always open
23 can't read

Academic reputation of a university plays into the ability of students to get jobs / grad schools / etc, not to mention everyone has a bit of pride in their degree.

I think the point I was making is that I don't believe that being in the ACC over the SEC has any meaningful impact on our academic reputation. Not that academic reputation doesn't matter.

Maybe not for the athletes, but for the other 99% of the student body it does.

You are staying it does, but providing no reason or argument for why.

How does being in the ACC help our academic reputation? Last I checked Vanderbilt, UF and Georgia are universally ranked above us in major rankings (A&M edges us out by 4 spots in the US new rankings.) if one of those teams joined the ACC would they magically get a bump? There is no reason to believe that. (UL was ranked in the 160's when they joined the conference in 2014, this year they are in the 190's. It's not exactly like the conference affiliation has provided much them much value.)

Unfortunately I think that our fanbase has a manufactured sense of academic elitism that comes with being associated with some of the schools in the ACC, simply because we play them in basketball and football. There is no real inherent academic value, at least in any way that anyone has been able to quantify, that we get for being in the ACC.

If we didn't want manufactured academic elitism, then why did we join the ACC, I thought that was the entire point! /s

I agree that conference average academic standing is meaningless for the football team, but my understanding is that it matters a lot to the school, and that - from a political perspective - it has a lot of impact about who we partner with, what grants we get, etc.

The example I've always heard is that if VT was to leave the ACC, professors/administrators at other ACC schools would be encouraged NOT to collaborate with VT, and this would result in lost revenue from research. That said, this is just what I've read on the interwebs over the years; I'm sure some of the VT employees on here can speak much more intelligently about this than I can.

FWIW, Research efforts bring in around half a billion annually for VT, more than double the revenue Texas's entire athletic department creates in a year.

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The example I've always heard is that if VT was to leave the ACC, professors/administrators at other ACC schools would be encouraged NOT to collaborate with VT,

I would need some source to entertain that idea. I have a hard time believing that 99% of professors would remotely care which conference we are in.

I don't have a source; this is mostly internet speculation from years ago when realignment was always being rumored. And my interpretation wasn't that individual professors would each decide not to partner with VT, but rather, that university presidents would encourage against it.

That said, UMD is a public institution; it would be interesting to see if they are partnering with the same schools that they did prior to leaving the ACC.

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GuitarMan would likely have an insightful take here

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

I think Biomed Hokie would have the answer to this: Would the collaboration between Wake Forest's med school and VT's engineering school not happen if we were never in the ACC?

A lot of folks point to the ACC Academic Consortium and us being unable to do without access to that research funding and collaboration it allows. However some have said that the real impact of this is peanuts and mostly all for show to somehow conflate an athletics conference with academic prestige. I don't think the SEC membership is hurting Vanderbilt.

I'm OCD, so here's a spreadsheet version with sorting capabilities:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/17SywSjfp06pR7rh-bsCNHSUxZj2Dffmd...

Warning: this post occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)..

Good man.
To this day I don't know why I've been doing these in document form all these years...

No, I *don't* want to go to the SEC. Why do you ask?

We don't love dem Hoos.

11th in the Big Ten (that fragment makes no sense)

Is this a joke about the name of their conference? Or are you implying you think we should be higher than 11th?

Recruit Prosim

the first -- ranked 11th out of "10"

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

Gotcha

Recruit Prosim

Just as I thought, Liberty still sucks. Good to know.

How are these rankings done? Do they only consider undergraduate programs? Do they account for job prospects or revenue driven by research? I find it hard to believe that a liberal arts school like Wake is in the same conversation as Georgia Tech - which is so STEM obsessed that they don't even offer a Bachelor of Arts; only Science.

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Their methodology

It's also very possible that Wake could rank up there with GT because they do offer a diversity of degrees that are not strictly STEM-focused.

No, I *don't* want to go to the SEC. Why do you ask?

We don't love dem Hoos.

Thank you for sharing.

TL;DR - I now have little to no respect for this ranking system.

There's 4 high level factors:
Outcomes (35%)
This title is very misleading - the rankings don't even factor post-college career opportunities, but they to heavily factor graduation rate. This makes me think that schools with easier majors, where you're more likely to graduate and less likely to drop out - regardless of major - will score higher. They do account for social mobility, which is probably necessary, but I'm shocked at how they don't measure post college opportunities anywhere.

Faculty Resources (20%)
Consists of Faculty salary, faculty size, and class size? I suppose I see value in a high faculty-to-student ratio, but not this much. Good god.

Expert Opinion (20%)
What a joke.

Financial Resources (10%)
Honestly, better metric than the other three.

Measures financial resources by using the average spending per student on instruction, research, student services and related educational expenditures in the 2017 and 2018 fiscal years. Spending on sports, dorms and hospitals does not count.

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Expert Opinion (20%)
What a joke.

I don't know if they treat it as stringently as departmental external review, but at least it's other universities giving their impressions... and not the scholastic equivalent of Skip Bayless.

No, I *don't* want to go to the SEC. Why do you ask?

We don't love dem Hoos.

This title is very misleading - the rankings don't even factor post-college career opportunities, but they to heavily factor graduation rate. This makes me think that schools with easier majors, where you're more likely to graduate and less likely to drop out - regardless of major - will score higher. They do account for social mobility, which is probably necessary, but I'm shocked at how they don't measure post-college opportunities anywhere.

So this is why UVa's engineering school's curriculum is set up the way it is. From what I've been told, VT's curriculum builds off every semester which makes it difficult to graduate on time if you hit a snag somewhere. UVa's is a lot more flexible which makes it significantly easier to graduate in four years. They don't do this for the students' benefit, they do this to artificially inflate their graduation statistics because USNWR is life to them.

Ding ding ding. Because rankings and money are more important than effective education at a lot of places. People want to go to the best schools, and if you can game the rankings, it's good for business and keeps the money rolling in.

I think if you talk to most UVa alums, they would rather have a higher ranking than a better education.

Having recently graduated from business school, I get, and somewhat agree with, this take. The reality is, a better education does not necessarily lead to better job prospect; professional networking does.

Also, When a school gets ranked higher and builds up prestige, smarter people start attending the school, and it becomes really difficult to determine if students are successful because they are smarter, or because they are getting a better education. So often times, ranking does matter more on job prospects, because it attracts candidates who are more likely to land a good job. That said, I do think that accounting for social mobility (which the US News rankings do) should, in theory, help account for this.

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I'm learning more and more that education is all what you make of it and how you can network/market yourself. The further I go in higher education honestly the less I feel I have really learned. It's all about your ability to be a fast learner and have a combination of expertise and soft skills that make you a valuable employee.

But you are correct in the fact that a lot of employers are hiring people from particular schools right out of college because of ranking. Then we get into a chicken or the egg argument - is the school higher ranked because the education is truly better, or does the higher ranking attract a higher percentage of smart, capable people that would be desirable employees, regardless of where they are educated? I tend to think it's the latter. Thus, rankings have mostly just become a game where institutions develop means of inflating or keeping their rankings high based upon the metrics. Law school is a huge, huge culprit of this.

For those that pay attention, did UNCheats academic rankings take a hit when they chose to throw their overall academic integrity under the bus to save their athletics dept?

No.

No, I *don't* want to go to the SEC. Why do you ask?

We don't love dem Hoos.

I am surprised we were as low as 74th. This is probably because I get all of my Tech academic news from the college of engineering. If you take out the worst school in both the Big 10 and the ACC, the ACC jumps to an average rating around 47 and the Big 10 to 57, both conferences are head and shoulders above the rest.

I agree that it seems like the academic partnerships within the ACC are overrated. If we were join the SEC athletically, what would prevent us from partnering academically with schools in our geographic region? I can't imagine any university would enter into an agreement stipulating academics has to abide by athletic lines.

Whatever. It was one bad year.

Seasonal Brew means High ABV for football season and standard the rest of the year.

It's not that we're a bad school just because we're 74th. It's just that there are a ton of schools whose academic reputation is stronger than ours. Considering that USNews has 391 universities that they designate as "National Universities," 74 isn't a bad place to be.

The academic association that is the ACC may be somewhat overrated, but it follows the pattern of the Big Ten and the Ivy League. We do maintain partnerships with non-ACC schools, though... Vet Med is the biggest one that comes to mind.

No, I *don't* want to go to the SEC. Why do you ask?

We don't love dem Hoos.

The one interesting thing is that our med school is ranked #81 despite only being around for 10 years. That's incredible.

For context, MCV is ranked #68th and was founded in the 1830s.

I remember before we let Louisville in how I used to hold it over my cousin's head that we'd never let in a school like WVU because the ACC cares about academics. Then we let in UofL and I had to eat my words.

Warning: this post occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)..

I think the Kentucky bourbon appeal factored in... way tastier than mountain moonshine.

I think Lousiville coming off of mens and womens basketball natty appearances (the men won, but had to vacate later) had more to do with it. (and yes, I know it was a joke)

Warning: this post occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)..

I'll just say this...to all those that got way offended that a kid of 17/18 who had never even taken a single college class in his life made a comment about academics...well...maybe he didn't know what he's talking about. And maybe, it's not a huge thing to go crazy over, like calling Auburn grads dummies, tweeting out things, posting on FB about it...Let. It. Go.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

Little surprising to see schools like Florida State, Ohio State, and Georgia ahead of us on this list. You'd be hard pressed to find a majority that would choose those schools over VT based purely on academics.

Same goes for Maryland...maybe it's because it's the only good school in Maryland while Virginia is pretty stacked with good colleges? Who knows.

Maryland has gone thru a renaissance of sorts...bringing themselves way up in the past decade. Heck, mid 90's, they lost accreditation of quite a few programs.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

VT isn't what I would call well rounded academic institutions. We are like 6th for engineering in public universities (15th overall). Business is top 40 and top 25 for public university. We have some fantastic majors. But outside of STEM and business we have a lot of work to compare to other universities.

However, how schools do per major or per college is just one piece to how good a university is academically. Research plays a big roll. Most top universities have museums on campus with experts in those subjects, that do research in those subjects. FSU does a lot of research.

You can get a fantastic degree from VT or you can get a good degree from VT. So there is room for growth.

I mean yeah we're good at engineering and whatnot but I want to be good at football too.

Academic prestige isn't really a thing when it comes to winning football games. Never has been. Never will be.

It does have an impact, but only for a couple of schools, namely Stanford and ND. For the rest it doesn't, unless you are well on the other end of the spectrum with regard to academics.

@hokie_rd

Are we at least still top 25 in engineering?


My bad.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

2nd in the ACC after GT. I will take that.