National signing day is complete, which means it's time to start looking ahead to the 2016 college football season.
It also means there is enough information for ESPN Stats & Information to run its initial Preseason Football Power Index (FPI) to determine the best and worst teams heading into next season.
Preseason FPI is designed to take the guesswork out of preseason ratings. It is an automated ranking intended to measure team strength going forward. It is not a ranking of who will have the highest win total (which is dependent on schedule) or who is most likely to make the College Football Playoff.
The model comprises four major components: the last four seasons of performance on offense, defense and special teams, with the most recent season counting most; information on offensive and defensive returning starters, with special consideration given to a team returning its starting quarterback or gaining a transfer quarterback with experience; a four-year average recruiting ranking of four systems (ESPN, Scouts, Rivals and Phil Steele); and head coaching tenure. These four components interact and are assigned different weights depending on the team to produce preseason FPI.
More detail on how Preseason FPI is determined and why LSU is No. 1 is available in this post.
There will be multiple iterations of preseason FPI before the season to capture the most up-to-date information on returning starters and other factors that impact the rankings. Full season projections, which will include a team’s chance to win its conference, projected win total and more, will be available this spring. For more on the model and how it was created read this article or this companion piece.