Chat with ESPN researcher Harold Shelton
Shelton and fellow researchers Nick Loucks and Chris Fallica ranked college football programs based on their prestige formula. Shelton will explain how the rankings work and where your team fits in. On Monday we released teams 21-119, Tuesday had teams ranked 16-20, and Wednesday showcased teams ranked 11-15. We unveiled 6-10 on Thursday and will finish off with 1-5 on Friday.
Send your questions now and join Shelton in The Show Thursday at 2 p.m. ET!
Harold Shelton (1:55 PM)
Hello sports fans. I'm Harold Shelton (channeling my inner Troy McClure). You might know me from other ESPN entities such as last summer's MCBB Prestige Rankings and College Football Live (Sparty). I'll be around for an hour and some change so let's get started!
Josh (Chantilly, VA)
What school accumulated the most points in a single decade?
Harold Shelton (1:58 PM)
Florida State in the 1990s had an unbelievable run. They accumulated 640 points. The next best run was Oklahoma in the 1950s and 60s with 581. Keep in mind that spanned 2 decades. That FSU dominance was a main reason why they are in our Top 10
Avillion Greensboro, NC
How can you honestly put Miami in the top 10??? It is rediculous to me to have Miami and Prestige in the same cataegory. Where are the negative points for off the field interactions, felony charges, murders, or lack of graduation rate??
Harold Shelton (2:01 PM)
Miami was definitely penalized for having probation. However, you can't deny their dominance over the past 2+ decades. They were the team of the 1980s and in the top 5 of the 90s and the BCS era. These rankings are based on what these programs do on the field.
Brandon (Philadelphia, PA)
Did national recognition have anything to do with the picks? Because it seems as if Miami should be much higher than it is--4th or 5th.
Harold Shelton (2:05 PM)
Lots of 'Canes questions in the early going. National recognition didn't have anything to do with the picks. It was based strictly on the numbers. What hurts the "U" is they had relatively zero history until the 1980s.
joe (chicago, IL)
what sort of time and effort goes into this sort of project, and what sort of benifits arise from it?
Harold Shelton (2:07 PM)
Chris, Nick, and myself all felt that it was a great water-cooler talking point and a way for fans of other programs to compare themselves against each other over the years. It did turn out to be fun and it helped me learn even more about one of my favorite sports. However, it did take months of work to finish with a lot of hands on deck.
Nick ( Livonia, Mi)
The winningest program of all time didn't even get in the top 5? Granted the past season did nothing for Michigan's immediate reputation, but what gives? We invented the two platoon system, taught Notre Dame to play football, and taught OSU their precious script OHIO routine. I feel like a red-headed step child getting no love.
Harold Shelton (2:10 PM)
I had a feeling this question would come up today. The fact of that matter is that Michigan had a lot of dominance BEFORE the AP Poll came into play. They still had some very nice runs and is one of the most consistent programs in America. The 1950s and 60s weren't kind to you guys (21st overall) and the fact that the Wolverines have won just 2 major bowls since 1992 hurt them as well.
i dont mean to sound rude, but it seems like you guys put a bunch of time into something that a lot of bored office workers like myself will flock around for a week, then forget about forever. are there any lasting elements to this project?
Harold Shelton (2:12 PM)
No worries James. This is always something that can be put to use. Since we have the data, we can easily update it after each season and see where each program stands.
David (Champaign, IL)
You guys did a college basketball one of these? Where can i find that, post a link maybe? come on i know you want to do it.
Harold Shelton (2:16 PM)
We did it last summer, around July or so. If you do a search for MCBB Prestige Rankings, it should be there. Good luck!
were you surprised with any of the outcomes? did any rankings make you rethink the formula?
Harold Shelton (2:17 PM)
I was surprised by a couple of things. I was a little suprised that Alabama didn't crack the Top 5 and I was surprised that UCLA was as high as they were.
Mark (Lawton, OK)
What are your thoughts on how the rankings might appear through 2018?
Harold Shelton (2:19 PM)
Haha that's a good question. I'll say that if the landscape of CFB remains close to the same over the next 10 seasons that a Pac-10 team will be first and there is the potential to have 3 Florida schools in the Top 10.
joe (chicago, IL)
for 2003, did you give the NC to LSU, USC, or both? what about split NCs before the BCS like in 97?
Harold Shelton (2:20 PM)
In the case of a split national title, we rewarded both the AP and Coaches Poll/BCS/UPI champion.
Jimi (Orlando, FL)
Your system is horrible! The Canes have 5 titles, more than FSU and UF combined. You must be out of your mind.
Harold Shelton (2:24 PM)
Thanks for your support Jimi ;) Miami is one of the 10 best programs according to our system. However, it is about more than just national titles. For instance, Michigan State has just as many titles as Florida State since 1936. Does that make them equal?
by your figures, what was Notre Dame's most dominant decade?
Harold Shelton (2:25 PM)
Notre Dame was first from 1936-49 with 410 points, nearly 170 more than 2nd place in that span.
You're right, it is about more than just titles. Can you please explain how Bama rated so low?
Harold Shelton (2:30 PM)
Alabama is great in a lot of areas. They were the 2nd best program in the 1970s and 3rd in the 1950s and 60s. However, they are 28th in the BCS era and they haven't won a major bowl since 1992. The gap from 4th to 6th is relatively small in this study so they could be back in the Top 5 in a year or two.
J.B. (Dunmore, PA)
Would one more National Championship have gotten Penn State into the top ten. If so I'd like to blame Richard Nixon and the Tom Osborne sentimentalists for keeping the Nittany Lions in the second tier.
Harold Shelton (2:31 PM)
There is no doubt that Penn State got the shaft. The 1994 team was one of the best I've ever seen as a Big Ten fan. They should have at least earned a share that year. Another title or two definitely gets the Nittany Lions in the Top 10.
Marvin (Portland OR)
Will Pete Carroll use this to pull in more talent?
Harold Shelton (2:33 PM)
Marvin I'm not a recruiting expert by any means. But if i had to guess, I'd think that USC and Coach Carroll will still bring in the top talent every year for a while. This could help him but he hasn't had any issues recruiting thus far.
joe (chicago, IL)
is it odd that the military academies didnt garner higher rankings? granted they arent much to speak of today, but they ran the table before the ap rankings came out. none of that success carried past 1936?
Harold Shelton (2:37 PM)
Well Joe, Army was 2nd behind Notre Dame in the 1936-49 era and Navy was in the Top 15 in the 1950s and 60s. But the losing seasons and lack of bowl appearances/wins over the years kept knocking them down as other programs moved up.
It would appear that there isn't a single SEC team in the top 5. Are you suprised by that?
Harold Shelton (2:39 PM)
It is a little surprising. The SEC has been great for a long time. I do feel that with Nick Saban at the helm, the Tide will be back in the Top 5 very soon if he continues with this pace. The strength of the conference as whole might have actually hurt them in this case.
Bill (Detroit, Mi)
Ummmm you say U of M has 2 national championships. Can you count to 11??? 1901, 1902, 1903, 1904, 1918, 1923, 1932, 1933, 1947, 1948, 1997
Harold Shelton (2:41 PM)
You are a funny guy Bill. We can play this game too. Can you read where the study says "SINCE 1936?" Or how about the fact that we only used the AP or the UPI/Coaches/BCS Poll. Michigan didn't win a title under those polls in 1947.
Dan J (Orange County)
USC has routed all 4 of the other top 5 programs (neb,nd,ou,osu) in the last 4 years. That has got to mean something in this what have you done for me lately sport, right?
Harold Shelton (2:44 PM)
USC has been near the top of the college football world for most of the last 70+ years (excluding the 1990s). They will be rewarded as such.
Harold, I love it when you totally embarrass the people that do not understand the system. I was cracking up when you put Bill in his place.
Harold Shelton (2:46 PM)
Kevin I do what I can. I do appreciate the passion of the fans on here though. It's what makes the sport so great. I have no issue with answering people's questions. I know the system isn't the end-all be-all but we felt it was pretty fair and a good gauge of the last 70+ years of college football.
Roger, Manhattan, KS
I know you have a formula to figure up where a team falls in the list, and I realize Nebraska is going to end up ranked higher than Florida State, but I am still peeved by the fact that anyone calls Florida State the team of the '90s. The one national championship they won was over Nebraska, on several questionable calls. Nebraska went on to win three championships over the next 4 years, and they just narrowly missed one in '97. Regardless of the numbers, Nebraska was the one and only "team of the '90s."
Harold Shelton (2:48 PM)
It's funny you should mention that about Nebraska. They were 2nd behind Florida State in the 90s according to our study. In fact, their point total was higher than any other team for any decade besides USC in the BCS era. They were definitely rewarded for having a dominant decade.
Ben (Carrollton, GA)
If Billy Lothridge and Joe Hamilton had both won Heisman trophies instead of finishing as the runner up, would that have moved Georgia Tech any higher?
Harold Shelton (2:50 PM)
Unfortunately Ben they wouldn't have moved up. It would've made it a lot closer between them and Washington though. I loved watching Joe Hamilton play by the way.
hey Harold, whos your team, or alma mater? did you send a couple extra points there way?
Harold Shelton (2:51 PM)
Goose I am a Spartan of the Michigan State variety. I had to be fair so no I didn't send any extra points their way (even though I wanted to!). If not for their probation under Denny Stoltz and George Perles, they would've cracked the Top 25.
Chris (Bethany, OK)
What's the point total of #1? You can tell us that without giving away who it is.
Harold Shelton (2:52 PM)
Team A has close to 2,000 points, 71 more than Team B for 2nd place. Team C isn't even in the realm of catching A or B for right now.
Any thought to making USC's Rose Bowl wins, Miami's Orange and Texas' Cotton Bowl wins worth less b/c they were "home" games?
Harold Shelton (2:54 PM)
If you are the best team, then you will go out and win no matter where you are. I'm not going to lie and say that it doesn't matter where you play because it does help, but it seems like Texas took care of business in USC's backyard just a few years ago too.
Lamar (hearne, TX)
hey harold, who has the outside chance too rise like Alabama did?
Harold Shelton (2:55 PM)
If Urban Meyer stays there, I think Florida will be a team that could crack the Top 10 in another 5-10 years. That program is on fire right now.
Am I right in guessing that 3-7 are relatively close, with big gaps between 1-2 and 2-3?
Harold Shelton (2:57 PM)
There are 186 points separating 3-7. The real logjam is between 4-6, where only 45 points separate 4 from 6.
Steve (Chicago, IL)
Shouldn't Notre Dame unquestionably be #1? I recognize that the team has suffered recently, but if you're going back to 1936, it seems like a no-brainer to me given the number of championships and Heisman winners.
Harold Shelton (3:00 PM)
There is definitely some question as if they should be #1. It's true that they've been in the Top 10 in most eras, the BCS era places them 30TH! Behind the Kansas State's, Boston College's, and Iowa's of the world. That will have to take it's toll.
Harold Shelton (3:00 PM)
I've only got time for a couple more questions so make them good!
How did Archie Griffin comeinto play for the computation? Was it X amount of points per Heisman name or per Heisman trophies?
Harold Shelton (3:02 PM)
Good question. But no worries Buckeye fan (I apologize if that assumption is wrong) but he was counted twice.
How about Texas' luck with Heisman runner-ups... VY and Colt. I'm surprised Texas isn't rated higher in the BCS era, having the longest consecutive 10 win seasons at 8 years, and being one of the most consistant teams since Mr. February arrived in Austin. Your thoughts?
Harold Shelton (3:03 PM)
Texas is just 1 point behind LSU for 7th right now. If FSU and Miami continue their slides, they could catch both of those schools relatively soon and be in the Top 5.
Hah, baesd on your point totals, that means 1-2 have to be OU and USC and 3 lackluster ND
Harold Shelton (3:03 PM)
Not a bad guess. That's not correct but definitely not a bad guess.
Harold Shelton (3:04 PM)
Nils - Lincoln Nebraska
I may be in the minority, but I think this is a good exercise and you got it mostly right. I can't wait to see where the Huskers score out. Your partner yesterday suggested the 95 Huskers or the 01 Hurricanes might be the best teams of all time. Where do you fall in that discussion?
Harold Shelton (3:07 PM)
I'm in agreement with my friend Nick here. Those two teams definitely stick out in my mind as among the greatest ever. I'll have to learn towards the 1995 team though. They didn't have one close game (including a 50-10 win in East Lansing) and outscored their opponents 638-174. That's just remarkable.
David (Gainesville, FL)
No extra points for Florida for fielding God's Gift to Mankind aka Tim Tebow?
Harold Shelton (3:08 PM)
I know I said last question but this one is too good to pass up. We initially thought about awarding Florida for a Tim Tebow factor because he is the greatest human being walking this earth. However, we decided that it would make Florida the best program of all-time and that just wouldn't be fair! KIDDING!!!
Harold Shelton (3:09 PM)
This was fun folks. Check back in tomorrow for Ivan Maisel's chat and the release of the 5 best programs of our study. Good luck to your teams and may your programs sign nothing but 5 stars on signing day!
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