OT: College Football Job/Program Rankings (x-post /r/CFBAnalysis)

This is original content created by u/SlamDunkley33 and posted to r/CFBAnalysis.

I haven't seen a formulaic/quantifiable approach to ranking programs, so I thought this was pretty cool and worth sharing here, especially since there's been a lot of debate over where VT sits in the college football pecking order. By this ranking method, VT sits as the 32nd best program in college football.

There's definitely some flaws with his methodology, but I think the thought process is good. Here's the original post. Here's u/SlamDunkley's methodology:

Recruiting Category Total: 50%

  • 2020 247 Talent Composite 5%
  • 5 Year Recruiting Average 10%
  • 10 Year Recruiting Average 10%
  • The Athletic Recruiting Expectation of 7.5% (note - I'm not sure what this refers to. Possibly something published by The Athletic?)
  • Blue Chip Recruits in Home State (over past 5 years) 12.5% Total
    • 2019 - 3.5%
    • 2017-18 - 4.5%
    • 2015-16 - 4.5%
  • '14-'17 NCAA Report on % of in-state HS Players recruited by a D1 School- 5%

Finances- 20% total:

  • 2018-19 Revenue- 4%
  • 247 Facility Rankings up to 25 then filled in with SlamDunkley's personal job rankings to complete formula 2.5% total
    • 1% for 2020
    • 0.75% for 2019
    • 0.75% for 2018
  • Conference Payout 7.5% Total (1.5% for 2020, 2% for every 2 year stretch until 2026)
  • Coaching Salary Pool- 4% total:
    • 2% Head Coach
    • 1.25% Ast Coach Pool
    • 0.75% Strength Coach
  • Forbes Value 2.5% Total - 1.5% for 2019, 1% for 2018 filled the same way as the Facility Rankings after 25

Past Success and NFL Production- 30% total:

  • AP History Ranking- 3.75%
  • AP 2010s Ranking- 3.75%
  • NFL Picks Since 2000- 7.5%
  • NFL 1st Rd Picks since 2000- 7.5%
  • # of players on a current NFL Roster- 7.5%

Here's OP's spreadsheet, and his final rankings:

  1. Ohio State
  2. Alabama
  3. Georgia
  4. LSU
  5. Florida
  6. Texas
  7. Florida St
  8. Texas A&M
  9. Auburn
  10. Michigan
  11. Penn St
  12. Miami- private
  13. Oklahoma
  14. USC-private
  15. Tennessee
  16. Clemson
  17. ND-private/Ind.
  18. Stanford- private
  19. South Carolina
  20. UCLA
  21. Washington
  22. Oregon
  23. TCU-private
  24. Wisconsin
  25. Michigan St
  26. Ole Miss
  27. N Carolina
  28. Nebraska
  29. Arkansas
  30. Mississippi St
  31. Va Tech
  32. Iowa
  33. Maryland
  34. California
  35. Baylor- private
  36. Kentucky
  37. Arizona St
  38. Missouri
  39. Oklahoma St
  40. Utah
  41. NC State
  42. Pitt- private
  43. L'ville
  44. WVU
  45. Virginia
  46. Georgia Tech
  47. Texas Tech
  48. Vandy- private
  49. Illinois
  50. Purdue
  51. Rutgers
  52. Minnesota
  53. NW-private
  54. Colorado
  55. Indiana
  56. Duke- private
  57. Arizona
  58. Oregon St
  59. Wake Forest
  60. Washington St
  61. Iowa St
  62. Kansas St
  63. Syracuse-private
  64. BC- private
  65. Kansas
DISCLAIMER: Forum topics may not have been written or edited by The Key Play staff.


BC at 64 and GT at 46 stand out to me as poor placement. Especially if you are going to put Vandy at 48. I personally would put us top 25, but 32 is probably fine. We're either the 4th or 5th best job in the ACC depending on how you feel about UNC, and one of the few I'd say can win a national championship if things broke our way.

Vandy might be high, but I think GT is a SIGNIFICANTLY better job than BC. Also, this system has us as the 5th best job in the ACC, but just doesn't think that highly of the ACC (which is fair lol)

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The revenue component is weighing us down heavily compared to teams in the SEC or BIG?

Sometimes we live no particular way but our own

Correct. Which is completely reasonable IMO.

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BC is a tough job, you're not in Boston, the northeast doesn't have the recruits the south east does, you're overshadowed by 4 other teams. I went to a BC game once and every one left early to get to a Bruins preseason game. We weren't blowing them out, there was still a chance to come back, but preseason hockey is just more important.

Clemson at 16. Anyone still want to bash what dabo does for clemson? Championships and owning the acc at no 16

Personally, Clemson at #16 to me pretty much highlights that there might be some significant flaws with the backing data to create these rankings.

Clemson is one of the top 2 programs in the country right now. Full stop. If that job opened up tomorrow, the only people who won't be seriously interested if called would be Saban, Belichick, Carroll, and maybe Sean Payton (but maybe he'd be looking for an out now that Brees is nearing retirement). They have the prestige to sway any recruit just by walking in the door. They might not have the TV deal, but don't think for a second that they aren't flush with cash. They have the legitimate blue blood image that allows them 1 or 2 losses and to still make the playoff with the added bonus of playing in the ACC where you might have 1 loseable game on the schedule every year.

If the Clemson, Auburn, Penn State, and Florida State jobs opened tomorrow, these rankings say that Clemson would be the lowest ranked of them all. I would say that the Clemson job would be the top one on the list of any potential candidate.

"I have a PLAN. You just need to have a little goddamn faith, Whit. I just need. more. MONEY." - Justin van der Linde

Auburn just had to take its 6th choice at head coach. Penn State I could maybe see as being close but Clemson is an easy top 5 job in the country

I think there's kind of a different between 'what's the best job now' and 'what's the best program.' I'd intepret these rankings as the latter.

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Recruiting is 50% of this formula, and in state recruiting accounts for the dip in Clemson's overall rating. Compare to FSU, where, its Florida, there's a blue chip recruit at every high school.

If he did this with a 6 hr drive radius to blue chippers vs. in state, I think it'd make the overall rating higher. They have metro Atlanta, Charlotte, Raleigh Durham, TN, Richmond, and Northern Florida within that 6 hr drive.

Finances are the other 20% that hurts Clemson because of ACC money. CFP appearances the past 7 years netted the conference extra money, plus basketball monies. But when you add it up, with the poor ACC Network comparative to SEC and B1G network, that brings the program down.

TKPhi Damn Proud
BSME 2009

Recruiting hasn't been regional in at least the last decade. I mean proximity definitely helps, and is certainly a main driver for Tier 2 schools, but for the true elites, they have a reach that stretches nationally. So I would absolutely say the logic he's using is flawed if he is saying recruiting, and especially the quality of recruits in one's own backyard, is weighted that much.

"I have a PLAN. You just need to have a little goddamn faith, Whit. I just need. more. MONEY." - Justin van der Linde

Agreed, but regional proximity is a big driver. Here's Clemson's roster:


Alabama, GA, SC, NC, Tennessee, Florida, VA, MD are the pipeline. That 6 hr radius is a major source of success, one Beamer spoke of for many years when it came to recruiting battles.

TKPhi Damn Proud
BSME 2009

Clemson under Dabo has recruited well but rarely had a top 5 class. They have done amazing at identify the correct talent they needed without the top tier ratings.

They have had Jeff Scott there for 11 years, Venables for 9 years and Tony Elliot for 10 years. Their OC/DC have been in the program a long time. They have the best DC currently in the game. A lot of credit should be given to their coaching staff.

Their football budget isn't high compared to the other top programs. They have done more with less with their money. Georgia is spending money, Bama is spending money, Texas has $100 bills their toilet paper holder.

Jimbo Fisher proved he can win at FSU and left because they weren't spending the money on the program. The not having massive football budget is going to drop them down a bit.

They have had Jeff Scott there for 11 years, Venables for 9 years and Tony Elliot for 10 years. Their OC/DC have been in the program a long time. They have the best DC currently in the game. A lot of credit should be given to their coaching staff.

Staff continuity has certainly been huge for them. I am curious to se see how they can recover when/if Venables, Elliot, and other key assistants leave.

Their football budget isn't high compared to the other top programs. They have done more with less with their money. Georgia is spending money, Bama is spending money, Texas has $100 bills their toilet paper holder.

They use their money well... that football only facility, a few years old now, is still the most ridiculous building I've ever seen or been in. That kind of thing really separates you from all but like 2-3 other teams in terms of facilities no matter how much bigger their budget might be.

Clemson under Dabo has recruited well but rarely had a top 5 class. They have done amazing at identify the correct talent they needed without the top tier ratings.

This is true that they don't have the pure stockpile of blue-chip guys (60's% instead of 80% like Bama, UGA, Ohio State types), but they have recruited at a very high level and in particular they have had 5* and high 4* guys at the most important positions on the field every year of their playoff run. I also think their roster management style has caused of few of their recruiting classes to be underrated for being small, despite being top 3 in avg recruit rating and having lots of five stars in them, like the 2018 class (five 5*, two more guys over .97)

I think there is this idea that they are putting 3*'s all over the field, when the reality is that they have elite recruits at the most important positions in the modern game every season: QB, DL, CB, WR in particular.

Let's look at their 2015 team:
DE - Kevin Dodd - (here's one gem, there won't be many after this) .8378
DT - Carlos Watkins - .9677
DT - DJ Reader - .8903
DE - Shaq Lawson - .8944

CB - Mackensie Alexander - .9853
CB - Cordrea Tankersley - .9090

QB - Deshaun Watson - .9794

WR - Artavis Scott - .9675
WR - Ray Ray McCloud - . 9621
WR - Deon Cain - .9901
WR - Charone Peake - .9786
WR - Hunter Renfrow - walk on (but let's pretend this is common, as people tend to do with Clemson)

2016 team:
DE - Clelin Ferrell - .9468
DT - Dexter Lawrence - .9992
DT - Carlos Watkins - .9677
DE - Christian Wilkins - .9893 (yes 300+ lb Wilkins played 4-3 DE in 2016)

CB - Tankersley - .9090
CB - Ryan Carter - 2*, I listed him because he started, but they rotated their corners this year.

QB ""

WR - Mike Williams - .9111
WR - Deon Cain '''
WR - Ray Ray ""
WR - Renfrow ""
WR - Artavis Scott '''

2018 Team:
DE - Clelin Ferrell - .9468
DT - Dex Lawrence - .9992
DT - Christian Wilkins - .9893
DE - Austin Bryant - .9190

CB - Trayvon Mullen - .9613
CB - AJ Terrell - .9745

QB - Trevor Lawrence - .9999

WR - Tee Higgins - .9900
WR - Justyn Ross - .9765
WR - Renfrow '''
WR - Amari Rodgers - .9453
WR - Derion Kendrick - .9855

2019 Team:
DL - Xavier Thomas - .9988
DL - Tyler Davis - .9401
DL - Justin Foster - .9339
EDGE - Isaiah Simmons - .8746
(hard to pick these players because they ran a weird formation-less 3-3-5esque thing and rotated a lot of guys, had higher rated players on the bench most of the time).

CB - AJ Terrell - .9745
CB - Derion Kendrick - .9855

QB - Trevor Lawrence - .9999

WR - Tee Higgins - .9900
WR - Justyn Ross - .9765
WR - Amari Rodgers - .9453
WR - Cornell Powell - .9314
WR - Diondre Overton - .9227

So my point is that maybe we need to pump the brakes a little bit on pretending like they are stacking the field with 3*'s and developing all these underrated guys into NFL stars. Their DL, QB, and WR talent has been higher than anyone we have had on the roster in over a decade, and one thing you to remember is that depth is important, but you can only put 11 players on the field at a time, Clemson can usually put a majority of elite recruits onto the field at any given time.

Also their depth at key positions is as good as anyone in the country, the 2020 roster features four 5* DL and one more who is .9829, as close as you can be without tripping the 5* threshold. That's more than Alabama has on their roster lol (1), though you can argue some semantics on how to count their OLB's as they are EDGE defenders. That said, the most 5* players Bama put on the field at the same time together on their DL this current season was 2 if we are counting OLB's in Will Anderson and Labryan Ray, but Ray was injured for the vast majority of the season.

Edit for additional notes:

I limited this to positions I consider to be key athletically in general terms of college football and where it's at and to save me some time because I am at work right now (lol). However, I can tell you some spots where they have succeeded with some 3* guys consistently over this run, and that is at ILB and Safety, both positions that require a lot of specific gap fitting responsibilities in Venables' defense that are not so different from Bud's defense in some ways. Venables' defense can cover for these mid 3* guys schematically as long as they are good at doing their job, guys like Skalski, Kendall Joseph, and Tanner Muse. However, even some guys you might have thought weren't high rated guys actually were, like Ben Boulware (4*) and Tre Lamar (near 5*).

Additionally, I didn't mention OL because while it definitely helps to stack talent there, some of the consistently best OL's in college football are filled with 3* guys, it is still IMO the hardest position to scout. Clemson's OL during this run has been mixed between 3, 4, and 5* guys. For example, all four title games they have appeared in they had 5* LT Mitch Hyatt protecting the QB's blindside. Oops, Hyatt started from 2015-2018 (correct), but 5* Jackson Carman was the LT for the 2019 title game.

I wasn't trying to compare Clemson's recruiting to ours, this is why Clemson might not be a top 5 job, not why VT at 31 can do what Clemson has done. Clemson has always out recruited VT.

The top half of 5* recruits has an insanely high success rate. Clemson has an insanely high success rate outside of those recruits. They still have great recruits, but up until the last year or two they got the really high guys at QB, DE, RB, WR and hit on 4* and low 5* everywhere else. That is great scouting from their staff.

I agree it will be interesting to see what happens if Venables leaves. We do have a year of stats after their co-OC left. While it is very hard to compare other years to this year I will anyways, because stats!

Etienne had a terrible year this year (for him). All stats are vs P5 ....
His ypc was Fr: 6.85, So: 8.12, Jr: 7.17, Sr: 5.29. All are good most teams would love 5.29 ypc, but it's a big drop off. Carries per TD was Fr: 9.1, So: 8.2, Jr 11.7, Sr: 11.4.
His senior year was the most carries per game (by .2 carries)
Now they did use him more in the receiving game, but he had 11 more catches and ~170 yards in 2020 than 2019, but he had 2 less TDs (we'll see lack of passing TD later).

On a whole Clemson rushed 3 less times a game in 2020 than in 2019, they also had 70 less rushing yards per game. They had 1.5 yard less per carry on average. Though their rushing TD total per game was on par with 2019. This would be very hard through stats to show that they did something different in the run game (NOTE: Elliot is the RB coach, Scott was WR).

Now lets look at Trevor Lawrenece (again p5 games only):
His rushes per game were on par with last year, but he rushed for 2 yards less per carry in 2020 than in 2019.
Passing was a different story, they really let him through the ball more. He through 6.3 more passes again in 2020 than in 2019 and 6.9 more than 2018. So they really put more on him than they did the last 2 years. Now they weren't trailing much this year when he played, so it's not like they had to throw. They just wanted to. Tony Elliot even mentioned they would throw more to the slot to take advantage of their personnel and overall the offense would be slightly different than in the past now that he had full control. I did not watch enough of their games to know if this was true.
But for those 6+ more passes a game he threw less TDs per attempt. He need 9.6 attempts to get in the end zone in 2020, but only 7 in 2019, and 8.6 in 2018. In addition, his completion % went up every year, but his yards per attempt was the same in 2020 as it was in 2019 at 13.6 ypa (1 yard less in 2018). His intercept rate was about the same for 2020 and 2019. So from a pure stats standpoint he is throwing the ball the same distance so most likely the same routes yet not going into the end zone as much. If i had to make a guess based on stats, Clemson's play calling in the redzone changed.

If you take out the two games Lawrence didn't play in, Clemson scored 44 ppg. which is up from 42 ppg in 2019. But that difference wasn't from Lawrence or Etienne scoring. Those are two players that are at the tops of their positions for the NFL draft that have a large number of games started for Clemson.

I can't really say if Jeff Scott leaving had any effect of the offense as it was a weird year and lots of defenses were bad, and the numbers look OKAY for Clemson, but their stars on offense didn't produce like you would want. So it will be interesting to see how Clemson does with Tony as the sole OC. Will they become a large passing team under Elliot? We shall see.

It's hard to know what exactly Jeff Scott's role was, given Elliot has always been the play caller, but I think the rushing stuff had more to do with subpar OL play this season.

Yeah, i didn't watch them except our game, and loosing that many rush yards per attempt would seem to mean they aren't getting to the 2nd level blocks like they should be.

There was an article I read about how Tony wanted to change the offense now that Jeff was gone. So that kind of stuck out at me that Jeff had a bigger say in what they did. Again this was just some one interviewing Tony and writing about their past offense so who knows what really happens behind closed doors.

One of the things they definitely changed, from a player on the team, is they added a bunch of the interior option routes they saw from LSU for their slot and TE. They knew losing Higgins and Ross would hurt them on the outside and force them to go to Amari Rodgers and Galloway more, their interior passing game weapons. They definitely utilized them more this season, but with the benefit of hindsight I don't think they had quite the success they expected.

I don't think so. I think it highlights that if Clemson falls off, they will have a hard time climbing back up to this peak.

Recruit Prosim

That's a fair point.

I think they need to factor in the path to success. For example. While I would agree that maybe Miss St is a better job at face value, the fact that they have to play Bama, LSU, A&M every year makes it a much harder job. We have a much easier path and I think that's a huge deal.

Otherwise the methodology is pretty spot on IMO.

I think this is incredibly overrated tbh. I think to win a Natty, you need the best players, and the best players want to play in big games, so they go to schools that play the most big games, which happen to be the schools that have a tougher path to a conference championship.

Go back and look at every national champion recently. I think they all have had pretty challenging paths to the championship.

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I agree with this. But not every team is even capable of winning a Natty. And winning a division is a solid goal for a lot of teams.

If you're goal is just to win the division, then your division isn't that tough. Like, at no point is Mississippi State looking to just win their division. If they win their division, they're competing for a national title. The teams who are just looking to win their division (like VT) have a week division where it's unlikely that anyone makes it through unscathed.

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.... that's what makes us a more valuable job. That's what I am saying should be factored in.

I know, but I disagree because (1) easier path appears to hurt recruiting and (2) historically speaking, there aren't many teams that won a natty with an easy path. Other than Clemson 2018, no one else has really done it.

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A lot of the early BCS teams won with a fairly easy regular season, if I remember correctly Tennessee went though a gauntlet and then we didn't see a team with that kind of resume for until 2006.

EDIT: Years ago I tracked SoS and the winner of the BCS championship game was routinely the one with the worse SoS. That is not to say the schedule was easy, i'd have to dig through old databases for that.

I think it works fine for this model, but only because I do think in this instance Clemson is an exception to those rules that are otherwise smart guidelines to apply to the model. Relative to their ACC peers, they are way ahead in terms of facilities and support staff, and shadow staff beyond the officially listed support staff. I also do think that Clemson rise to the elite tier coinciding perfectly with the introduction, and eventual ultra-focus on the playoffs did create a unique situation where they really are the "guaranteed path to the playoff" team in recruiting and it does work, but it only works for them. They have just enough proof of concept to justify the pitch, whether understated or directly mentioned that you will probably play in the playoff 3/4 years if not every season if you come here. The ACC is simply that bad, and any recruit can pull up the 247 team rankings and see nobody close to them until UNC and Miami this year.

While I don't think anyone could come in and win national championships at Clemson, I do think that many coaches could come into that program with where it's at right now in terms of infrastructure, fan support, IPTAY, and be a 10+ win team every year, with an all out "horrible" floor being a 9-3 regular season if you catch some 2007 chaos or a 2016 type ACC gauntlet (2016 Clemson easily could have lost 3 reg season games, NC State makes 25 yard fg, James Quick cuts up field instead of running out of bounds short on 4th).

It is the exact opposite of more valuable. It means less excitement, less money, worse recruits, and if you do finally get a good coach, they will leave if they find success

Recruit Prosim

not related to the rankings per say but Pitt (#42) is actually a public school. They do give off major private vibes though by being in a city and having 30% attendance at each of their games

Pitt and PSU thanks to strict Pennsylvania laws don't have to share a lot of information with the public or media. It's one reason why it took so long PSU details to come to light.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

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This is totally OT from the methodology listed - purely a qualitative take that would be pretty much impossible to capture quantitatively in a formula. I would argue that Alabama and Clemson could actually be far from good jobs for many a new HC now as they have to replace legends at the school who have had massive success. Fuente faced a little bit of this, but nothing like the next Alabama or Clemson coach would face because VT was just not that good the last few years Beamer was there. Any new coach coming into Alabama or Clemson could be looking at going 10-2 or 11-1, losing the conference championship game, winning a NY6 bowl and having a record of 11-3 or 12-2 considered a failure by many. Need to have a great deal of self-confidence to take over a HC like that and I'd argue - again, purely from a qualitative fashion - that makes it a very tough job on that level.

Recovering scientist working in business consulting

I actually think it's easy taking over when a legend leaves on top (eg; Dennis Erickson taking over for Jimmy Johnson). When the team is on top, the university/donors/athletic department are still aligned. Morale is good. You don't have to make many changes.

It gets harder when the legend has fallen off; nearly everyone near the program wants change, nearly everyone has competing priorities, but nearly everyone has the same high expectations. It's inevitable that you'll disappoint someone.

TLDR - if Saban/Dabo leave now, the next coach will walk into a good situation. If Saban/Dabo have three 7ish win seasons before leaving, it gets much more difficult.

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