Rating the 2017 Non-Conference Slate: Prologue

And we’re back!

Let’s start with the usual explanation. Since 2008, each summer, my brother and I surveil all of the Power 5 teams and selected Group of 5 teams and assign each a “legit” rating. This rating is on a scale of 0 to 1 in increments of .25. The rating system is extremely subjective: a third party reading would probably reveal our biases. However, we don’t declare the work done until we assign a rating for 72 different teams and agree on it. An explanation of the ratings:

  • 0: these are generally teams that aren’t and haven’t been very historically good, or otherwise do not generate any excitement when you see them on your non-conference schedule. Examples include Iowa State and Rutgers. This year 24 of the rated teams earned zeroes. It’s worth noting we didn’t use this rating until 2012. Last year 19 teams were rated at this level.
  • 0.25: these are teams that might generate some excitement if you’re college football geek, or we think they may be interesting this year. Examples this year include Washington State and Minnesota. We rated 10 teams at 0.25 this year, down from 11 last year.
  • 0.5: This is the passing lane of ratings, featuring either teams on an upswing (like Pittsburgh and Utah) or teams on a downswing (like Mississippi and Michigan State). Boise State also appears here, as our highest rated Group of 5 team. 10 teams were also rated at this level, down from 14 last year.
  • 0.75: this is usually the domain of power conference teams that have stagnated that are still interesting, or teams that we’d probably like to see play but feel like would be underrated by the community at large. Teams of this stripe include Texas A&M and Virginia Tech. Full disclosure: this is also where we put Georgia Tech, because as noted above these ratings are subjective. We also rated 10 teams at 0.75 this year, up from 7 last year.
  • 1: These are the blue-bloods impervious to changes, or teams that have been really good to national title contenders over the past 10 years or so. Essentially, this is Notre Dame: it doesn’t matter if they went 4-8 last year, they’re still a 1 because they’re Notre freakin’ Dame. There were 18 of them this year, down from 21 last year.

As usual, we list all the teams that earned a 1 this year: Alabama, Auburn, California-Los Angeles, Clemson, Florida, Florida State,  Georgia, Louisiana State, Miami, Michigan, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Southern California, Stanford, and Texas. The teams in bold have been 1’s every year we’ve done the rankings. Yes, even Notre Dame got pipped from the 1’s one time, pulling a 0.75 in 2012, but I don’t think what I wrote above is a contradiction.

Other than Notre Dame, the other non-Power 5 teams to earn ratings this year were Boise State (0.5) and Houston (0.25). The average overall rating was 0.4583.

With that, let’s close with the rating of each conference:

  1. Southeastern: 0.536
  2. Pac-12: 0.521
  3. Atlantic Coast: 0.482
  4. Big 12: 0.472
  5. Big Ten: 0.429

I guess we don’t go in for gray skies and the Iowas of the world. At any rate, the first up will be the home of the defending national champions and the banes of the SEC East: the ACC.

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